My cooking buddy on kibbutz

My cooking buddy on kibbutz

His name was Boris. If it wasn't for him, I would have never learned to speak any Hebrew. He was 17 years old and had just immigrated from Russia to Israel. There was a group of us from all over the world that lived in a dormitory on kibbutz.

Kibbutzim (plural) are Israeli collective communities that are generally based on agriculture. 

Our entire group would work somewhere on the kibbutz for all or part of the day. And then we took Ulpan classes where we learned Hebrew. 

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Jules Online Memorial "30 Stories of Life Before Disability"

Transforming from an independent, able-bodied working gal into a dependent, unemployed disabled person has been the most traumatic experience of my life. Worse than chemo. Worse than surgery. Worse than anything.

At least during those experiences, I knew they'd be over in a finite amount of time. They would end, and I'd either live or die. 

This. This has been the biggest mind-fuck of all. I kept thinking over and over again that I would get back to my old self, or close to it. So many times, I used the analogy of trying to swim back to shore. For years, I kept swimming toward a shore that seemed to get further away instead of closer. 

It was only this summer that I realized that I wasn't getting any closer to that shore of my previous life because I would never, ever get there.

Instead, I was marooned on an island for the Disabled. It's been the most humbling and eye-opening experience of my life.

When I felt like I couldn't go on this past summer, it was because I couldn't go on WITH THAT SAME OUTLOOK/PERSPECTIVE/PERSONALITY of the able-bodied person I was. I had to let her go. And embrace the outlook/perspective/personality of my newly Disabled Self. That's the only way to get through this.

I felt like I had to honor the woman I used to be before I let her go. So I wrote 30 stories from my able-bodied life leading up to 2013. Here are links to each post

Photo #1 I was miserable when I was hot

Photo #2 I felt like an alien

Photo #3 I like being aggressive

Photo #4 I hate the drug prednisone

Photo #5 I so weird

Photo #6 I lived in Lake Placid

Photo #7 I worked on a kibbutz

Photo #8 He wanted to buy me

Photo #9 I visited concentration camps in Poland

Photo #10 I went to grad school

Photo #11 I was a disco angel

Photo #12 I've always been a mama

Photo #13 I was one of the guys

Photo #14 I went to Costa Rica alone

Photo #15 I lived in NYC on 9/11

Photo #16 I loved being slutty

Photo #17 I landed my dream job

Photo #18 I was on the Today Show

Photo #19 I got a tattoo in Brazil 

Photo #20 I was an awful dater

Photo #21 I jumped out of a plane

Photo #22 I was on Sesame Street

Photo #23 I started my business

Photo #24 I worked for Dr. Oz

Photo #25 I became an auntie

Photo #26 I spoke at conferences

Photo #27 I went to the White House

Photo #28 I published a cookbook

Photo #29 I got melanoma

Photo #30 I moved to California

Thanks for reading this far! I'll be sharing more stories in the near future. Right now I'm doing everything I can to prevent the government from repealing the Affordable Care Act so I can stay covered and alive! 

Stay tuned for the next batch of stories.... 

Much love,
Jules

Today is 3-year Chemo-versary

Today is 3-year Chemo-versary

Today is the anniversary of my last day of chemo. It's so strange to me that it was three years ago. I remember being so scared of the chemo, of losing my hair, of what it would feel like.

Now, it feels like a million years ago. I'd shave my head again now, doesn't feel like a big deal. In fact, it was kind of fun playing around with different styles. I'm a million more times afraid that I'll never get to eat anything close to normal again than I was of chemo. But of course, fear changes with every new crisis.

I had 18 weeks of Taxol and 7 weeks of Carboplatin. I had an adverse reaction to the Taxol the first time so that's why I ended up with an extra dose of the Carboplatin. Most ovarian cancer patients get six weeks of each with two week breaks in between.

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IT IS MY RE-BIRTH

IT IS MY RE-BIRTH

Dear Former Self,

Looking through old photos of you has been insightful, painful, entertaining and bittersweet.

I think I’d forgotten how much fun I had making things fun. And that I didn’t always used to feel scared all the time.

I miss that strength, that optimism, that belief that it’s all going to work out somehow someday.

It’s hard to remember it. It feels like a teeny tiny string in the palm of my hand that’s attached to my former self, my former life.

All this time, I’ve held onto it for dear life. Feeling like if I let go

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I moved to California

I moved to California

I was only paying $600 for the one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side. I don't think I'd even get a closet for that in Seattle now.

The reason I was paying so little for this place was because it was an old-school rent controlled place and my friend was splitting it with me. She needed a place for her stuff since her boyfriend's (now husband) place was so tiny.

I didn't want to officially move back to Manhattan. But how often does a cheap, furnished Manhattan apartment fall into your lap? It was the middle of the recession and all my work contacts were in NYC.

As ready as I was to get out of New York, I knew how lucky I was to have that apartment (thank YOU Jess!) and plenty of work. People were throwing me gigs left and right. But I was laid up! 

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I got melanoma

I got melanoma

I begged the nurse to numb the area well. Although my red hair has faded away, I still have the weird mutant gene that makes it difficult to numb with local anesthesia.

I could tell she stopped sticking the needle in and I grew nervous. This was my second surgery to remove melanoma from the back of my leg. The first surgery was in November, 2010. 

My dermatologist had noticed it the previous year but chose not to biopsy it. In Sept, 2010, I asked her to biopsy it and she did.

When she phoned l in the fall of 2010 from her - the same week I got a hard copy of my cookbook - it was my *first* "you have cancer" call. 

The first surgery was much more difficult than I anticipated. My mom and aunt, who both had melanoma before

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I published a cookbook

I published a cookbook

I finally held it in my hands. My baby was blue and teal with a little orange, and adorable colorful magnets as the title. 

While my friends were still birthing real children, I gave birth to my very first book. I think I started dreaming of becoming an author after I read my first Beverly Clearly books in the first grade. I finished all of the Judy Blume books by fourth grade and was onto Danielle Steele and The Thorne Birds by the fifth grade (my parents gave up trying to monitor what I was reading by then. I'd just check them out at the library).

I still say words incorrectly because I first read them in books, instead of hearing them used in conversations.

Except for my graphic designer and a handful of friends who helped recipe testing, I created the book entirely by myself. 

It was one of the most difficult challenges of my life.

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I went to the White House

I went to the White House

I heard this from some culinary colleagues who scored a spot but didn't work with kids.

"Julie, you have to be there, you're actually working with the kids! This is your thing!"

It was May 2010. I remember sitting in the room I was subletting in the apartment on 108 and CPW. I had a mattress on the floor and a metal chair. That was my furniture. No, wait, I'd found a lamp in the closet so I had that too. I lived out of my suitcase for months.

I would sit on the end of my bed and type with my computer on my lap. 

I worked with my computer on my lap a lot. I even made horrible jokes,

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I spoke at conferences

I spoke at conferences

The corn fields were eery. Every stalk looked exactly the same. I couldn’t put my finger on what felt so creepy until our tour guide pointed it out.

“Butterflies, bugs, animals all stay away from GMO crops,” he announced. “That’s why you don’t see any sign of life in these fields.”

I was attending a food conference in Iowa. Part of our tour was visiting farms and meeting with ranchers and farmers. It was incredibly enlightening to speak with them and learn about their own frustrations about our food system.

I’m grateful I was able to learn this crucial information while standing in a corn field talking to people *living* it rather than from a book or in a classroom.

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I became an auntie

I became an auntie

The night my first nephew was born, I was partying in Philadelphia with friends I'd met in Costa Rica.

I remember getting a phone call around 2am east coast time. Got the news, hung up and announced to the entire party "I JUST BECAME AN AUNT! WHOOOOOOO" And the entire room cheering.

It's not talked about much. How freaking awesome it is to have nieces and nephews.

You get ALL the fun without having to clean up the 2am puke. The kids get an extra adult paying them attention. AND you give the parents breaks

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I worked for Dr. Oz

I worked for Dr. Oz

Before I left my JCC job, I started pitching myself around town. My friend worked for Dr. Oz at Columbia Presbyterian (I met her through my "made up" job!). Well before he hit it big, she recommended his organization Healthcorps as something I may be interested in.

Healthcorps is a non-profit organization that sends recent college grads to teach health education in at-risk high schools around the country. The Healthcorps trainees are called coordinators. 

The reason you've never heard of it is because...well, I don't know why since it's AWESOME and thousands of kids have received health and nutrition education that they otherwise would never received.

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I started my business

I started my business

After I left the JCC, I launched my business as a food educator at julienegrin.com (which now it lives at www.mykitchennutrition.com). The economy hadn't melted down yet. 

I was still cancer-free.

I had a hearty nest egg and was ready to live on the west coast again. I moved out of my Brooklyn apartment and crashed with family in Seattle until I figured out my next move.

If only I'd gone traveling for a couple of months instead! It will be a regret I will always live with. 

Instead, I dumped all my time and money into launching my business.

Most of my work contacts were back in NYC so I'd

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I was on Sesame Street

I was on Sesame Street

In 2008, I made the very difficult decision to quit my culinary director job at the JCC in Manhattan. The program was thriving and I was ready for a change.

I gave my boss multiple months notice. I knew it would take time to interview and train someone new. I planned on departing in the summer.

It's not easy leaving a comfortable and prestigious job. I was definitely nervous about it. But it was time to move on.

In spring, 2008, I arrived back from a Seattle trip to an overflowing voicemail box. Anyone that spends time with me knows that I'm not the greatest at listening to my voicemail messages in a timely manner. (I currently have 63 unheard vm messages - the majority of which are appt reminders but still...it's not like they're very exciting!).

I panicked when I finally got around to listening to them. There was one that I had to replay because I wasn't sure I heard them right.

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I jumped out of a plane

I jumped out of a plane

The more accurate description would be "I scooted out of a plane" but "jumping" sounds so much better!

My friend arranged for a group of five to go to Snohomish (north of Seattle) on a beautiful September day. It was my 35th birthday and sky diving had been on my bucket list since college. It was time!

We each met the tandem instructor we'd attach ourselves to. Mine reminded me an adorable friend from college (Jim Clark!) so that settled my nerves. For awhile. I started getting very scared when we got on the plane. 

Before I could even ask if I could land with the plane instead of jump, I heard one of the other instructors say that nobody can stay in the plane because they don't have seats or seatbelts.

Shit.

I paid for the extra time during the free fall (not worth it, couldn't tell) and started regretting that immediately. Why the FUCK am I trying to be in the air WITHOUT A PARACHUTE any longer than necessary?

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I was an awful dater

I was an awful dater

I may have mastered the pick-up scene in Manhattan but I was horrible dater. I mean, how hard is it to find a drunk dude to flirt with for the evening? Shooting fish in a barrel.

But to find someone I connected with? IN A CITY OF 8 MILLION PEOPLE?

That was definitely the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Going out was fun but got old. So I dated. And sucked at it.

For one, I'm not great at masking my face when I think someone is full of shit or saying something awful. Kind of a handicap in any town but definitely a problem in a huge city full of huge ego. 

And I was a little too west coast for some of these east coast guys.

One guy was shocked and surprised that not only did I OWN

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I got a tattoo in Brazil

I got a tattoo in Brazil

I'd never been to South America. So when I met a friend of a friend, Tie from Brazil, and she offered to host me, I warned her, "I'm the person that actually shows up." She said "do it."

I saved up my miles and money and booked a trip to Sao Paulo where Tie owned a cafe/boutique. She was also a well-known musician. She was literally a model/rockstar! SO COOL. 

I'd never been to South America. So when I met a friend of a friend, Tie from Brazil, and she offered to host me, I warned her, "I'm the person that actually shows up." She said "go for it."

I spent a week in Sao Paulo sight seeing and hanging out at Tie's boutique and getting to know her chef, Fabiana who was hysterical. The shop was near MTV so we often got visitors from people that worked there because they rented Tie's clothes from the boutique. I could have spent weeks hanging out at the boutique. After a "tough" work day. We'd light up every afternoon around 4pm. 

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I was on the Today Show

I was on the Today Show

My first ever television appearance was live in front of millions of viewers.

I was still getting the hang of my culinary director job at the JCC when I got a call from from a co-worker telling me that the Today Show was looking for a challah expert for their Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) segment.

"Um, yeah, I mean I've made it before and I've even taken a challah bread baking class but I've never TAUGHT it. I don't know...."

I soon discovered that YES was the only answer expected of me.

I had thirty days to become a challah expert. Trying not to panic, I called

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I landed my dream job

I landed my dream job

Before we closed down the 9/11 non-profit in 2002 I weaseled my way into a gig at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. We'd had a meeting with them about collaborating and they'd offered me a position. The partnership never materialized. But I had no other job options. Post 9/11, the city was still not hiring. One friend stood in line with dozens of people just to interview for a bartender job.

I didn't have family in NYC or a trust fund. All I had were my hustling skills.

So I just showed up one day at the hospital and said that I had a job. And they gave it to me! Not my proudest moment but hell, I wasn't moving home. It was boring but the pay was good and the staff appreciated my organizing skills.

Eventually, I heard about a Culinary Director job opening at

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HELP KEEP ME ALIVE! #julesjourney Fall 2017 RV TRIP U.S.A.

HELP KEEP ME ALIVE! #julesjourney Fall 2017 RV TRIP U.S.A.

If you're new to my story, I've had four cancers due to a genetic disorder called Lynch Syndrome: colon, ovarian, endometrial, and melanoma. Because I lost four organs, I'm now disabled and had to move in with family. I've fought HARD for the Affordable Care Act since November, 2016. I was honored to speak with Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell in May and with Representative Pramila Jayapal in July. And I was on King 5 News in Seattle because I pledged to refuse medical treatment if the ACA was repealed - thankfully, all of you worked hard to prevent that from happening! 

The ACA is still not safe though!

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I loved being slutty

I loved being slutty

It was early 2000s. Sex in the City was the hottest show on television. At that time, women openly discussing vibrators and orgasms while eating brunch in a restaurant was a big deal. 

I'd been a "relationship girl" for college and most of my twenties. I often felt confused about how to flirt, what I was supposed to do, supposed to say.

I was also confused about what I wanted and how to make it happen. 

I didn't yet understand my feelings - especially my conflicted feelings - or how to address them. 

I didn't yet understand that I had poor communication skills or how to improve them.

I didn't yet realize that I was an alpha female that preferred sweet betas. 

I didn't understand a LOT of things back then. Hell, I still don't.

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