Mystery Blogger’s Award

The mystery bloggers award image which looks like a foggy forest at dusk Gary LumGood morning!

Gaz (Dr. Gary Lum to some) nominated me for the Mystery Blogger’s Award.  As part of this, I am required to answer his questions five.  If I do not, I will be tossed into the pit of fire.

Wait, that was in a movie.

Image result for monty python and the quest answer me questions three

The deal with The Mystery Bloggers Award is:

  1. Post the award logo/image on your blog [see above].
  2. Thank whoever nominated you and give a link to their blog ✓
  3. Mention the creator of the award and give a link as well✓
  4. Nominate 10–20 deserving bloggers and notify your nominees by commenting on their blog ✓
  5. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; including one weird or funny question ✓

This award was created by Okoto Enigma and you can find her blog here.

The five questions that Gaz asked are:

  1. What is your favourite food?

Gaz is from Australia, so he spells words with extra vowels.  “Favourite” instead of “Fav”, for example.

Well, Gaz, as a true American, I could eat pizza every day.  Put cheese on just about anything and it’s delicious: cheeseburger (yum!), eggplant parm (oh yes!), mac & cheese (soooo decadent), creme brulee…ok, maybe not *everything*.  But these are a few of my fav things.

Caveat: I am gluten, soy, garlic, and diary free.  Except for cheese.  So any food referenced should be assume to be of the gluten free variety.  My sister says that I’m High Maintenance, and that’s why I’m still single 😉

I say that I have high standards.  Gluten, you don’t make the cut!

2. What one word describes you best?

Interesting question.  I am intense, innovative, a lifelong learner, energetic, and optimistic.  I am an engineer, a mother, a runner, a hiker, an innovator, and a writer.  Since I’ve moved to California, though, I’ve realized that no matter where I live, I shall always be a Texan.

I’m also a space enthusiast, which is why I’m moving to Pasadena.  More on that subject tomorrow!

3. How do you define friendship?

Oh, good question!  Friends are many things to me.  Here is a small, but important, subset.

I believe a friend will support you, but will also tell you when you’re doing something wrong or stupid.  “That guy is a douche!  But, you know, if you want, invite him to the party on Friday.  But, seriously, you should drop his broke ass.”

Friends will be happy for your accomplishments.  “You got the job in Pasadena?!  YAY!!!  OMG we’re going to miss you.  But, I’m so happy for you!  I hope it’s everything you want and more!  But I hope you hate it and move back to Dallas!”

Friends will understand when you don’t have the energy to move from the couch.  As a person with a chronic disease (Celiac), I sometimes have this problem.  Hard to believe, I know!  Seems like I’m always hiking a mountain or going out on a date!  But it’s true.  My friend told me last night, “I don’t feel like going out should totally be a reason to stay home.  People shouldn’t get mad about that.”  Right!  “But you can lie and tell him that you’re sick if you want.”

Friends should never say, I told you so.  Well, at least, not while the wound is raw.  “He broke up with you?!  That jerk!”  The I told you so will come later, for example, “I told you not to date his broke ass.  But, no, you said that he was good in bed, so you dated him anyway.  Ok, so that was a really good reason.  But STILL, I told you so!”

And a friend will always offer to help.  “You want me to help you hide the body?  Should I buy shovels or kerosene – is this a burial or a cremation?  Do you already have him tied up, or do I need to get rope, too?”

Ah, good times!

  1. What’s your favourite social media platform and why?

Facebook is so easy to use and reaches so many people instantaneously.  I also love that I can see what my friends and family are doing.  I have watched my nieces and nephews grow up through the pictures posted.  I can cyberstalk my latest crush and see if he’s worth dating, or if he was out with some ho on Friday night.

  1. Do you like the smell of your own farts?

Gaz, only you would ask such a question!  OMG, no!  I am smart enough to know that my shit *does* stink!  I think that if I thought otherwise, and was a true narcissist, that we wouldn’t be friends.

Now, cow farts should be captured, because they’re high in methane.  We could use them to power generators.  Ohhh, pig farts, too.  Why no one has figured out how to capture all that gold (in the form of nauseous clouds), I don’t know!

As part of this award, I must nominate fellow bloggers.  I must confess that I don’t follow a whole lot of other bloggers, but I would like to nominate:

  1. Gary Mathews of Skipah’s Realm
  2. Human Interest
  3. KS Beth, I didn’t have my glasses on
  4. Dacia, Britest Fyrefly
  5. Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society, for promoting Space.

My questions to all of you are:

  1. What is your happiest memory?
  2. What is your passion?  That is, if you had a Mission Statement for your life, what would it be?
  3. If you had a million dollars and had to spent it in a month, what would you buy and why?
  4. If you were a superhero, what would be your power and why?
  5. What was your best blog, or the one of which you are most proud?

Thank you again, Gaz!  And I’d love to see you answer these questions!  ❤

Cheers!

P.S. I have awesome news to share!  Which, I basically already told you, but I have more details and it’s official now!  More tomorrow.

 

Moving Again (Maybe)

 

Iron_Mtn_170331

Iron Mountain, San Diego, 3/31/17 – I have hiked this mtn four times now.

I’m moving to Pasadena!

Maybe.  I think.  Perhaps.

On my company’s internal job posting website, I found and applied for multiple jobs.  Sure, I have a job now, in the beautiful city of San Diego.  More accurately, I’m updating internal processes while I wait for a program to pick me up, which would be the equivalent of hiring me, even though I already work for the company.  Basically, I can stay where I am and continue to get paid, or I can look for something else in the same company.

Still with me?

So I looked for something else.  Like in my dating life, in my work life, I’m always looking for something better.  Unlike my dating life, in my work life, I found it.  The job is in Pasadena, northeast of Los Angeles.  Pasadena is awesome on many levels:

  • The Rosebowl (famous for the football game, though the huge rose-covered floats are amazing as well)
  • CalTech – a center of learning.
  • CalTech – where the guys from “The Big Bang Theory” TV Show work.
  • Jet Propulsion Lab – NASA and CalTech founded JPL to work on space projects.
  • The Planetary Society – I visited and stood in the CEO’s office. Seriously, the office manager Chelsea was very generous with her time, and gave me a tour, which ended in Bill Nye’s office.  I touched a table which once sat in Carl Sagan’s office!!!
  • Adjacent to LA, which has many companies working on Space projects, including SpaceX!

If you’re not nerdy enough to follow all of that, it boils down to: Pasadena is heaven for nerds who like space.

I’m a nerd who loves space.  Therefore, Pasadena is my Heaven-on-Earth.  And I get to move there!  I applied for a position, and the hiring manager invited me up for an interview, which went GREAT!  I’ll be working for a female team lead and a female project lead, who report to another female.  Go Girl Power!

During the interview, the hiring manager said, “We have three jobs that you’re qualified for, and all three managers want you on their team.  They’ll explain the jobs, then you’ll get to pick one.”

WAAAAAAITT a minute!  I get to CHOOSE from three AWESOME jobs?!  Ya, buddy!  Without revealing too much about my work (that’s not really the point of this blog), the jobs were:

  1. What I did for the past 10 years, so I know that I can do it and do it well.
  2. What I’ve done a little bit of, and what Gala Pear does; a stretch for me, with new challenges.
  3. A job that would use my master’s degree and build on what I’ve done in the past.

I listened to the managers describe each job, knowing that I really could do any of them.  But #2 stood out to me.  I’d get to walk around, talking to different people on different teams, solving problems and writing up reports.  There would presentations in front of managers and experts.  The work would be challenging and keep me on my toes.  I’m so excited!

The team lead led me to meet another team lead, and said, “I like that you have STEM activities on your resume.  I like inspiring the younger generation, too.”

OMG this woman shares my passion for STEM?!  I am going to LOVE this job!

My interview started at 9 a.m. on Thursday.  At 9 p.m., a job offer was in my email inbox.

After returning to San Diego and spreading the word that I have the job, my friends encouraged me to have a going away party.  I planned it for the following Thursday, because my boss wanted me to start the Monday after that (just over a week away).  I spent the weekend going through my magazines, taking donations to Goodwill, and looking at Pasadena houses on the internet.  I told my San Diego realtor that I was moving, and she put me in touch with a Pasadena realtor.  I’d find a house there in no time.

“Whoa, buddy!  Not so fast!” said Fate.  I can’t imagine that God would put the brakes on at this point; I prefer to envision a gremlin, who stole the car which is my LIFE.  A green-scaled, evil-smiling, wicked little gremlin who thinks that f-ing with my happiness is funny.

This is what happens whenever I get excited about damn near anything, whether it’s a new guy or this new job.  Like Keith, who seemed amazing until he started talking about himself in third person and invited me to hang out in the woods with him, “Bad Keith.”  Or the contractor who had really low rates, so I was excited to have him work in my house, until he told me, “You need sex.”  Or the Coast Rican vacation with a handsome man, which seemed like I won the lottery, until it became a Trip from Hell.  Sigh, here we go again!

Since I just moved from Dallas to San Diego, the company doesn’t want to pay for a new Relocation Package.  Sure, I could move myself; Pasadena is just a couple of hours north of San Diego, no big deal, right?  Except…

  • I would be walking away from thousands of dollars promised under my current Relo Pkg.
  • I would have to pay for movers, which could be $2k.
  • Since this is an internal transfer, the hiring manager cannot offer me a sign on bonus. So any benefit ($$$$) must come in the form of a Relo Pkg.
  • If I move before a year is up (which would be the end of November), I have to repay all the money that the company paid to move me out here ($$,$$$).
  • For me to get another Relo Pkg so soon and avoid having to refund my previous Relo Pkg, I need an Exception Form signed by the Vice President*.

*That’s the VP of the company, not of the United States of America.  Altho, it might be equally difficult to obtain the signature!

To recap: I need a program.  Pasadena has a program.  I want to move to Pasadena. I can’t move to Pasadena.

I expect the Marx brothers to come out and go “Woot Woot Woot!” or throw a pie in my face.  I mean, this can’t be real, so it must be a Saturday Night Life skit, right?  I mean, companies are perfectly logical, so there is an easy way to fix this, right?

Why do my friends start laughing hysterically when I said, “Companies are perfectly logical?”

Dating

In the meanwhile, this is how all the above is affecting my dating life:

  • Cancelled a date with a great guy (a Longhorn, nonetheless!).
  • Changed my Match profile to show my location as Pasadena.
  • Received several winks and likes from 56-year-old men in Pasadena.
  • Found a cute guy who said that he worked in Space, emailed him a “Hey, Rocket Scientist! I’m a mechanical engineer!  Let’s get together,” and waited for him to email back.
  • Found out I might not be moving after all.
  • Deactivated my account. After all, I might not be moving; but I might.

So here I am, in limbo.  Again.  I feel like I’ve been in limbo for over a year; first, waiting to hear if I got the job, then waiting to learn my start date, then waiting to find a program.  I’ve been living in an apartment, waiting to find out whether I can get a job in Pasadena or LA.  If not, I can buy a house here by the end of the year and settle down.  I’m pretty blessed to know that I’ll be ok either way.  But limbo sucks.

Going Away Party

Thursday night, I went to my “Going Away Party,” which became a “You’re Going to Have To Put Up With Me For A While Longer Party.”  My friends were happy about that, and hopeful that there would be a quick resolution to my situation.  We drank and ate and were merry.

As for me, I’m still dreaming of moving to Pasadena and dating a CalTech professor.  Or maybe a rocket scientist who works at JPL.  Sally will attend graduate school at CalTech and move in with me.  She’ll be married to Penny by then, so we’ll all live happily ever after.

Did you hear that?  I swear, I just heard a gremlin snicker!

Cheers!

Mountain_Sunset_170331

Sunset as seen from my apartment’s balcony.

 

California Country

Stampede Flags crop e.jpg

Texas State Flag, US Flag, and California State Flag – Feels like home!

Stomp, kick, step, step, step, kick, turn…

I tried to follow the line dance, but Californian style is much different from Texan style.  This was the Electric Slide, which is one I’ve known since I was a teenager, but the stomps and kicks were new to me.  In Texas, we do more shuffling.  Heather S. and I were at Stampede, a honky tonk in Temecula, California (north of San Diego).

Laughing, I continued to follow, failing miserably and admiring Heather’s grace. (Heather is a friend from work.)

“How did you learn to do all these dances?” I asked her later, out of breath, sitting at our table.

“I lived in Lancaster, on the desert, where there isn’t much to do.  So we’d go dancing three nights a week,” she answered.

Ah!  Nothing like boredom to inspire you to get off the couch and go to dance class!

Eva texted me, “Where are you?  We have a problem.”

I stood up and looked around, finding Eva and walking toward her.

“Steve’s driver’s license is expired, and they won’t let him in!” she told me.  “They say it’s a state law.  We moved, and I thought that he had updated his address, but I guess he didn’t, so we didn’t even realize that it expired.”

“Oh, no!  Well, you stay, and we’ll make it a girl’s night!” I implored.

She shook her head.  Country isn’t her thing and she didn’t really want to come out in the first place.  That’s fine, I wouldn’t go to a techno club if I could avoid it (which I regularly do).

She left and I texted Steve, “BOO!”

About an hour later, Renee arrived.  This isn’t Renee Raspberries, but rather, Renee Love.  She was friends with my sister Sue in high school, so she’s a fellow Texan.

“OhMyGod I almost couldn’t get in!  My license was expired!  Can you believe that?!” Renee said in a rush.

I laughed.  “What are the chances of that happening to two friends in a row?!  Steve and Eva aren’t here, because his license was expired!”  I said.  “How did you get in?”

“Get this!  I told the bouncer that I had lost my license about 6 months ago, which about the same time that I was here last.  I asked him to check the safe, and he said, ‘What’s your name?’  I told him, ‘Renee Love,’ and he said that the name didn’t sound familiar, but he checked anyway.  And there it was!  Look, I have it right here!” Renee held up her unexpired license.  She smiled.  “I’m so happy that I found it!  Now I can come back tomorrow night for my friend’s birthday party!”

I introduced Renee to Heather S and to our new friend Mila.  Mila had been alone at the next table, and when I realized that she wasn’t waiting for anyone, I invited her to join us, which she was happy to do.  Mila and Lauren S. weren’t drinking, since they were driving.  Renee had taken an Uber.  Let me tell you, Designated Drivers rule!

I surveyed the crowd and remarked to Renee, “They all look so young!”

“Yes,” she said, “They’re marines, you can tell by their high and tight haircuts.”

Heather saw an older man (50 years old, perhaps) swing dancing with a similarly aged woman, and hopped up to find their group.  Soon she was spinning around the floor with him, like a pro!

I’d like to tell you about the Marine who fell in love with me, and now texts me every day, begging me to meet him at Stampede for another dance.  However, that didn’t happen.

Maybe next time.  😉

“How do all these people know all these different dances?!” I asked Heather.  “I lived in Texas most of my life, and I don’t know all of these!”

“They learn them in high school,” Heather answered.  “When you grow up learning them, they’re easy!”

We watched the dancers – young, beautiful, some of them bored, others scanning the crowd who were watching them – as they went through the intricate steps as easily as walking down the street.  I realized that I either needed a lot of dance lessons, or I needed to find a new hobby.  Ya know, hiking doesn’t require fancy foot work; maybe I’ll stick to that.

“You should stay at my house next time!” Renee said warmly.  “Then you can both drink, and you can stay later.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that this wasn’t the right crowd for me.  I smiled and appreciated her southern hospitality.  Listening to her, you’d think that she and I were old friends, instead of her and my sister.  I guess that when you’ve known each other half your life, the details of the association matter less!

As it happens, I won’t be returning to Stampede any time soon, because I found out this week that I’m moving.  Sure, I’ve only been in San Diego for 4 months, but why not pick up and move again?  More about that in my next post!  (It’s good news, I promise!)

So, Texans, and my other friends, if you ever find yourself in Temecula, California (‘bout an hour north of downtown San Diego), check out Stampede.  But be prepared to learn some new moves, ‘cause these fellas boot scoot a mite bit differently than back home.  Y’all come back now, ya hear!

Cheers!

 

3 Mountains in 3 Days!

 

Sally_Penny_JNS_hike

Sally Strawberry, Penny Pineapple, and me (Jules Strawberry).  Hook ‘Em Horns!

Mountain_View_Woodson.jpg

“Mom’s stripping, it’s fine,” Sally said to Penny.

I had stopped to unzip the lower half of my hiking pants, to convert them to shorts.  Penny had asked why we were stopping.

“That’s my daughter!” I said of Sally to Penny, showing her what I was doing, and that I was not, in fact, removing all of my clothes.

***

“Hike!” Sally responded when I asked what she wanted to do while she was here.

And so we did.

Sally Strawberry and Penny Pineapple came to visit last weekend, the second time since I’ve moved to California.  We hiked last time, too, but Blacks Mountain wasn’t very memorable.  And since we’re not beach people, our December trip to La Jolla was enough to keep Sally satisfied for a year or so.

We hiked Cowles to get a view of San Diego, and Sally said, “I’d rather see mountains than city.”

So I answered, “We’re going to Iron Mountain tomorrow.  It’s about the same level of difficulty and has great views.”

The next day, as we were huffing and puffing up Iron Mountain, Sally informed me, “This is harder than Cowles.”

“Oh, I guess if I can hike it, I figure it’s about the same,” I responded.

The view from Iron pleased my little girl, and Penny didn’t scowl too much (she’s not as into hiking as we are), so I figured it was a good hike.  At the bottom of the mountain, I had extra energy, so sprinted a few feet and back again, passing a road runner.  Meemeep!

Penny was looking like she was at the end of her energy reserves.  You know, kinda like a zombie, who keeps forcing one foot in front of another, determined to go on.  She didn’t argue when I offered to get the car and pull it around, saving her from walking 40 feet.

In the car on the way home, Sally asked me, “Should we serve enchiladas at your funeral?”

The question wasn’t totally out of left field.  That is, we’ve discussed my funeral before, when I told her that I wanted her to play, “One less problem without you,” by Ariana Grande.  I’ve always wanted more of an Irish wake then a tear jerker.

“That’s more of Mom’s thing,” I replied, referring to my mother, who passed in 2008.  She ate enchiladas almost every day.  She’d cook a large casserole dish of them and then eat one for lunch with a pile of chips and queso.  “Maybe gluten free pizza?”

“I’ll have to practice,” Sally said, referring to the family recipe that Mom perfected when she wasn’t cooking TexMex.  Of course, Mom’s version was full of gluten, so the recipe needs to be modified.

I laughed.  While we had been discussing my funeral arrangements, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell came on the radio.  “Is this a sign?” I asked.

Sally laughed.  “A warning!” she said.

On the third day, I took them to Mount Woodson so that we could get pictures on the famous Potato Chip Rock.  By “we” I mean “them,” of course.  I’m an engineer; I know that cantilevered beams will break after cyclic loads are placed on them.  The only question is, “when.”  And after seeing families of 4 and 5 people pose on the rock, and others jump on it, I avoided stepping onto it myself.  As in, hell to the no, I’m not getting on that thing!

The climb up Woodson was a lot longer than I remembered.  Like I said, if I can climb it, I figure it’s a good hike, but moderate.  The number of hours to hike or miles don’t register with me as much.

Two and a half hours later, when we reached Potato Chip Rock, I wondered if Penny would ever go hiking with me again.  She was breathing hard, sweating, and moving rather slowly.

Thankfully, standing in line to take a picture on Potato Chip Rock gave us time to catch our breaths.  We waited while an 8-year-old boy and his 13-year-old sister climbed up and posed for their parents.  Then we waited while their mother joined them and more pictures were taken.  And we waited some more while the father showed a nice stranger how to work the drone that he had brought (a quad copter), so that he could jump in the picture.  And they posed in several different poses.  FINALLY they declared themselves done and scrambled off the rock.

Then we waited while the next family did the same.  Damn.  Thing.  Except, everyone in that family wanted a picture of themselves alone on the rock, jumping, before they gathered as a family.  All the while, their little dog yipped and yapped, not liking all the strangers standing around him.  I may have told it to be quiet or shut up once or twice.

Really, people, if there’s a line, then take one or two pics and get off.  #Impatient #WTF #BeConsiderate

FINALLY it was our turn.  Sally and Penny climbed up as quickly as they could and sat on the edge of the rock.  They did not jump, and held only that pose while I snapped close up and wide angle shots.  One kiss, another pic, and down they came.  #ThatsHowItShouldBe #ShortAndSweet

Sally_Penny_PotatoChip_wideSally_Penny_PotatoChip_closeup

The climb down the mountain went more quickly than the climb up.  After all, the hardest part was behind us, we were refreshed, and there was the promise of air conditioning and a shower at the end.

“I’m starving,” Penny confided.  “Should have brought some cashews or something.”  The dried apple chips just weren’t enough for this 7.5 mile trail.

As we stumbled to the car, at the very end of this 4.5 hour hike, I thought, “They’re never coming hiking with me again.”

But then Sally said, “WE DID IT!” and I smiled.

We actually did more than *just* hike.  We shopped for Sally’s first professional business suit.  When we found out that Banana Republic was having a 50% sale, the clothes piled up, and we ended up buying Sally an entire wardrobe.  Then we found out that she could get an extra 20% off by signing up for a store credit card.  DONE!

One night, we met my friends Heather and Scott for dinner.  Sally loved them!

Scott’s first reaction to finding out that she’s an astrophysicist was to tease her, “Are you going to go after the really hard stuff, like Dark Matter?”

Her answer was, “YES THAT’S WHAT I DO!”

Then they were off on a nerd tangent that even I couldn’t follow.

Heather was equally charming and I think Sally was ready to move in with them.  “Can I invite them to my wedding on the beach next year?” she asked.

Wow.  After one meeting.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised, my friends are pretty darn amazing.

On Monday night, we had dinner with another friend, who was also named Heather.  When I first introduced Heather to Heather, I laughed and said, “I feel the need to watch the movie Heathers again!”

Since they are both a tad younger than me, and the movie with Winona Ryder and Christian Slader came out in 1988, I had to explain my comment.  “It’s a dark comedy about the popular girls and one other girl—Winona’s character—and how hard high school can be.”

“Oh!  It’s like Mean Girls!” Heather said.

“Ummmm…kinda?” I responded.  “But darker.  Christian Slader’s character is a bit like Johnny from the Breakfast Club, but darker.”  How does one explain Heathers without giving away the plot?

I scheduled a movie night at my house to watch it.  We laughed at the wacky plot and the 80’s fashion.

“Colored tights?!  I thought that was for children!” Heather exclaimed.

“The shoulder pads!” I said.

We’ve been fast friends ever since.  Nothing like bonding over old movies with retro fashion and homicidal plots.

Her last initial happens to be “S,” so I told Sally, “To keep them straight, remember that Heather S is Single.  Heather P is married.”

I felt a little bad assigning that label to Heather, since she is a beautiful, intelligent woman who may find a nice guy any day now.  But then I remembered that my last initial is also S, and I’m single too!  Doh.

We got on the subject of health, and Sally said, “My doctor told me that I need to take Vitamin D, since I’m not getting any.”  Her smile and reference to her lesbian lifestyle made it clear that this was an innuendo and the “D” stood for… “Dude.”  Yes, Dude.  We’re going with that.

Heather blushed and said, “I don’t take pills, I take my Vitamin D straight!”

WELL THEN!  I’m glad that my children are adults, so that we can have conversations like this.

Cheers!

P.S. My next post will be about Country dancing in California.  Yes, there are honky tonks in Cali, and I’ll compare one to Billy Bob’s.

P.S.S. As always, follow me on Instagram (jules_rules_strawberry) or Facebook for more pics!  And I tweet occasionally, too (@JulesSBerry)!

Sally_Woodson

Sally Strawberry, Explorer, Conquerer of Mountains

 

Southern Hospitality

 

img_20170220_161736_542

Drunk Jules went shoppin’ at Billy Bob’s Texas on Saturday night.  That’s a whip in the middle.  Why she thought I needed a whip, I don’t know!  

 

“Bless his heart!” is a Southern phrase used to mean everything from:

  • If he were any stupider, he’d be a stump.
    • Also known as, “When God was handing out brains, he was at the back of the line.”
  • If she were any uglier, little children would run screaming.
    • Also known as, “She was beaten with the Ugly Stick.”

When Southerners are little boys and girls, we learn the more direct insults.  But then our parents beat us to within an inch of our lives with a hickory stick (not literally, that’s another idiomatic phrase), and we learn to be more respectful.  Some of us take longer than others to learn the lesson, and have more bruises on our behinds to prove it, but most of us eventually learn that we can say, “Bless his heart!” without any painful side effects.

Why are Southerners more likely to likely to greet you when walking past?

I’ve been in California for 3 months now, and I am appalled when I walk down the hall at work.  My coworkers avert their eyes, as though they must—MUST—not acknowledge my presence.  At first, I thought maybe the company had gone a little overboard with Sexual Harassment Training.  After all, a good way to avoid getting trouble with a female coworker, is to not look at her.  But then I realized that even the ladies would look right past me.  This happens on the streets, too.  Hmmm, must not be the training; it appears to be a cultural behavior.

I mentioned this to one of my female coworkers, who always smiles a big smile and makes eye contact when she sees me coming.  She moved from Dallas about two years ago; she’s good people.

“My theory is population density,” she wisely informed me.  “See, in the South, people are more spread out, and there are smaller towns.  So the people that you pass by, you see all the time, and there’s a small number of people in that group.  Conversely, in a large city such as San Diego, there are a LOT more people.  Therefore, it’s more difficult to greet everyone and to know everyone.  If you tried to say hi to everyone, you’d never get anything done!  You’d spend all day making small talk.”

AH!  That makes sense!  The small town in Louisiana where I attend middle school and my first two years of high school was Sulphur, Louisiana.   At the time, Sulphur had a population of 20,000 people.  While I didn’t know everyone (obviously), I saw the same people at church, school, and around the neighborhood.  Plus, contrast that with the 1.4 million people in San Diego.  That’s .02 versus 1.4 million.  Sulphur had less than 1.5% of the current population of San Diego.  Yep, that’s a BIG difference!

Another way of looking at this is, imagine you live in that small town.  You have a fight with Millie, the baker’s daughter.  At church, your mom says, “How come you ain’t sayin’ hi to Millie like’n you usually do?”

You can blow her off by asking, “What’s for lunch, Momma?” But it’s your Momma; she’s going to find out eventually.

“Daryl told Emma Jean who told Bobbi Jo who told Elvin that you crossed the street to avoid her on Friday after school,” your sister will not-so-helpfully offer.

Brother chimes in (because this is the South and we believe in having large families), “She gave you the Evil Eye when you wurtn lookin’, too.”

Then your other sister will add, “I heard from Kelvin who said that Millie stole your beau.”

And if you manage to wiggle out of that conversation, you’ll see Millie at school the next day.  And at the grocery store.  And at the church picnic.  It’ll get to the point that it’s either the Hatfield and McCoys (i.e. a blood feud that lasts generations and involves a few gun fights), or you make the peace.

Face it, making the peace is easier.  So you may end up making a statement like this, “Millie, I’m sorry that I blew spit wads at you in class after you talked to Jimmy.  Even though I had my eye on him, I had no true claim—I mean, I didn’t brand him like a cow or anything—so let’s just be friends, ok?  Momma made some peach cobbler, come on over.”

And so, Southern people are friendly because they can (low population density) and must.  ‘Cause you see the same folks all the dang time, so to the keep the peace you smile and say nice things.  Bless their hearts!

Cheers!

img_20170218_184746_176

I have lived in the South most of my life: Alabama, Louisiana, and my beloved Texas.

This post was in answer to a question from Dr. Gary Lum, “Why are Texans so friendly?”  If you’d like me to answer your question, email JulesRulesStrawberry@gmail.com.  My specialty is dating advice, but I have opinions and theories on just about everything.   Thanks, Gaz, for the question!

Next up: a summary of all the places I’ve visited in San Diego.  There’s a long list, my friends, because I don’t like to sit still!

Be good.  And if you can’t be good, be good at it!

img_20170218_184650_806

Wipe your boots before you come in side, y’all.

Bloggers on the Beach

 

jns_gm

“Sorry I’m late, I stopped at the liquor store to buy some hooch,” Gary Mathews told me.  His accent is a thick southern Indiana drawl.  Don’t say, “Kentucky” because he hates that state, but the accent is super close.

We stood in front of Rubio’s Coastal Grill, a restaurant which specializes in fish tacos.  Since Gary had tasked me with finding the best fish tacos in San Diego, I had asked him to meet me here.  He crushed me in a bear hug, made the comment about the hooch (liquor, for those of you who are not well-versed in Southern slang), and we went inside.

Gary_fish_tacos.jpg

“OhmyGod these are so good,” he mumbled around his first bite.

Whew, he likes ‘em!  He likes ‘em!  Mission accomplished!

That was Wednesday night and we only had a short time together before he jumped back in his rental car and cruised into the night.  He was in town for a Dad’s Blogger Convention.  That is, a bunch of bloggers who are fathers and blog on fatherhood were having a convention in downtown San Diego.  Gary is so famous, that he received a scholarship to attend, and was as excited as a tick at a dog convention.

Gary and I met each other online, when this blog was new.  We became a Mutual Admiration Society, posting comments and likes on each other’s posts, until finally we moved to texting.  We skyped a few times and I became his dating coach.  Seriously, he’d send me usernames for the women that he was interested in on Match, and I would read between the lines to tell him what the profile was REALLY communicating.  I’m happy to say that I helped him woo Ms. Madison, a charming school teacher and single mom who is now his fiancée.  Hey, Gary, can I put you down as a reference when I become a full time Dating Coach?  I’ll count you as one as my first success stories!

He paid me back by reviewing Match profiles of guys for me, too.  Unfortunately, his dating coach skills aren’t as good as mine.  Gary, stick to what you know!  Don’t quit your day job!

BTW, Gary is a riot!  He made me laugh so hard I doubled over!  Honestly, this is a regular occurrence, whether I’m reading his blog or texting him.  For example: on Thursday night, he wanted to go out, so I told him to check out the Gas Lamp District.  It’s the famous downtown with all the clubs and bars.

Gary said, “If I were 20 years old and loaded, I’d tear it up!  This place is outta my league!  The bartender is dressed like a hooker.  Man, I’m outta here!” He sent a picture to back up his assertion, and I must admit, her short skirt was almost a belt.

The man can also be smooth, I found out.  He made a comment on one of my Facebook posts that rubbed little Sally Ann the wrong way—she’s very protective of me—and I thought World War III was about to commence.  Instead, Gary commented back to her, “I meant no offense!  Why, your mom talked my ear off about you on Wednesday, so much that I’m ready to adopt you myself!”

Sally was mollified and properly flattered.  She thanked Gary and called off the nuclear arsenal that she had been prepping.

Luckily, Gary (aka The Skipah) made time for me on Sunday, too.  We visited the famous Cove in La Jolla, which is only 30 minutes from my apartment.

Pause for a minute.  How awesome is it that the beach is 30 minutes from my apartment?!  And that the mountains are a short 20 minute drive in the other direction?!  OH MY GOD I LIVE IN A POSTCARD!!

Ok, I’m back now.  Gary looked at the sea lions and said, “You’re right, they do look kinda like slugs.”  A few minutes later, he added, “I smell ‘em now!  I’m ready to go – I need more fish tacos!”

He was a trooper!  Our hosts (one of my coworkers and his fiancée) led us a few miles around town.  We walked along the beach, then back through town for fish tacos (which weren’t as good as Rubio’s) and gelato.  Gary and I bought trinkets at some souvenir shops, which reminds me: Gary, I need a pic of Sloane in her new t-shirt!  It’s day-glo yellow, which I think is gawd-awful but which seems to be in style.  I hope she likes it!

Gary’s overall assessment of La Jolla was summed up in two sentences, “Waaaah!  I have to go home tonight!  WHY?!”

That’s how Sally & Penny felt when they visited, Gary, so you’re in good company.

Gary texted me after he got home, “#FriendsForLife.”

I replied, “#ForeverFriends.”

Yep, I’m headed to a wedding in Indiana in the near future.  Stockpile the hooch, there’s a Texan headed to Madison!

See more pics on my Instagram (jules_strawberry_rules) or Facebook page (Jules Strawberry).  I also tweet amusing things occasionally under the handle “JulesSBerry.”

Dr. Gary Lum sent in a question which I’ll answer next week.  He asked, “Why are Texans so friendly?”  I have a theory, folks, which will knock your socks off!

Ok, maybe the socks will stay on, but it’s still a fabulous theory, endorsed by several California engineers!  These engineers may know nothing about social engineering or psychology or sociology, but they’re friends of mine, so they *must* be right.  Right?

Anywho, check back next week for more entertainment!

Cheers!

La_Jolla.jpg

Ugh, I’m bored

Jules_Curls_160827.jpg

“Ugh, I’m bored,” he texted me at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.

He was not my son, nor was he a teenager, like you might expect.  He was a friend that had previously asked me out, later cancelled, and never rescheduled.  AND he’s 45 years old!!  Old enough to KNOW BETTER!!

Here’s a tip for you: if you want to see me on Saturday night, ask me out by Wednesday.  Don’t wait until Saturday night and express your boredom, however elegantly.

Of course, this was a booty call.  He expected the convo to go something like this:

“Me, too,” I text.

“Why don’t you come over?  We can watch a movie or something,” he’d reply.

Warning!  “Something” in this context means sex!!

“Eh sure,” I’d say, bored and possibly clueless.

I may not be psychic, but I’ve had one or two or ten similar convos in my lifetime.  Sometimes, they even cured my boredom, if you know what I mean (wink, wink, nudge nudge!).

*Back To Reality*

My real response was, “I’m having a great time.”  Because truthfully I was out with friends having a blast.  (Shout out to my homies – you rock!)

Then I thought about it, laughed a bit with my friends, and we sent him, “I’m drunk!  Whatcha doin’?”

Note: this was a trap.  Anything sent back to me would been read out loud and mocked by everyone present.  This is what happens when you send a stupid text to me and I’m out drinking, though I think most people would do the same. At least, that’s what my friends tell me, while they’re egging me on.

Plus, I may have mocked him even if I wasn’t drinking.

That gentleman (wisely) didn’t text again.  Maybe one of the other women that he texted replied.  Because men who send out texts like that ALWAYS text more than one woman.  Sorry, Suzy*, you’re not the only one, so quit thinking you’re special when you get that booty call.

I did receive another text that night, only from someone else.  “How was the rest of your day?” The gentleman asked. This was a guy who had taken me to lunch.  And yes, he had contacted me prior to Wednesday to set it up—on Monday, in fact!

I smiled as I answered that text.

Jules’ Rules

  1. If you want to see me on Saturday, contact me by Wednesday.
  2. If you send me a stupid text when I’m drinking, you will be mocked. (And possibly when I haven’t been drinking, too.)
  3. Asking me how my day was, is much nicer than a booty call, and much better received.

Cheers!

*I do not know anyone named “Suzy.”  This comment was for naive women in general.

PS In other news, my titties are normal!  #AnnualMammogram