I love to travel alone

I love to travel alone

I tried not to trip on the cobblestone streets as I walked through Poland. It was late at night and I had my huge backpack on, making me a vulnerable target. It marked me as a tourist plus I couldn’t run with it dragging my ass down. 

I couldn’t find the front door of the youth hostel. This was in the 1990s before smartphones made everything easy. I’d been traveling through Europe on my own for weeks and had discovered that most hostels had strange entrances off the beaten path. You can think it’s either nuts or brave, but I didn’t even carry a travel book back then. I would just trust that I’d run into someone cool who would advise me on where to stay next. I can’t believe I did that!

I started to get nervous. I couldn’t find the entrance and it was getting later and later, so I broke down and asked someone for directions.  

They looked at me quizzically and pointed right behind me at a huge well-lit building that looked like a hotel.

Ahhhh, THAT is my hostel! It was

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I can not shut up

I can not shut up

I lied about something. You know by now how important it is that I’m honest with you. I may be off by a year or so in my stories, but everything I share is how I remember it and can be verified by friends.

But I did omit the truth during a story I shared last summer. I mentioned how a (male) friend asked me “How did you know kids and cooking and food would become a thing?” And I wrote “I said I didn’t know, I did what interested me.”

It’s taken me months to be honest WITH MYSELF about how that is a lie.

The truth? I HELPED MAKE KIDS AND COOKING AND NUTRITION A *THING* - yes, that’s right I’m giving myself credit, which as you have figured out by now, I struggle with. So much easier to put myself down! It’s so innate to downplay things. Plus, people love to hate women who tout their accompaniments. 

If a man does it, he is confident, not cocky. I hate this double standard.

I’m not saying I helped make it a *thing* by MYSELF. Pam Koch (Columbia Univ), Lynn Fredericks (Family Cook Productions), Alice Waters (Edible Schoolyard) and a woman in Texas (whose name is escaping me) and I are a handful of pioneers that started doing the kids and cooking work in the 90s. 

How do we make it into a *thing?* We

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I couldn't enjoy my body

I couldn't enjoy my body

I woke up to my friend asking me what I what kind of cocktail I’d like to drink. Still half asleep, I muttered “I don’t day-drink.” She just laughed and went back downstairs. I was visiting her in Charleston with another friend from Seattle. I could the clinking of glasses downstairs. It’s around 2003.

We’d bought tickets to an all-day concert with Jack Johnson as the headliner. The plan was for us to go on the boat with some of her friends, come back and get dressed for the concert. I was secretly glad about getting off the boat after only a couple of hours. I knew my pale skin wouldn’t be able to handle all day in the sun.

We had a blast on the boat, it was a GORGEOUS day. I’d never seen this area of the country before, so it was cool to explore. 

At around 3pm, I casually said “doesn’t the concert start now?” In response, “Yes, Julie, chill out…we’ll get there.”

6pm rolls around and we FINALLY

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I closed down my heart

I closed down my heart

“I want a girlfriend,” he said, “but not you as my girlfriend.” oooooohhhh, stake through the heart. “In fact, I’m thinking about asking [mutual friend] out.”

We hung up the phone and whatever was left of my broken heart shattered into a million more pieces.

I don’t think men understand how easily they can crush our souls. 

He was a close friend in my twenties. We’d talked on the phone every day for months after my other relationship ended. 

I really let him in, to see the *real* me, during a really, really vulnerable point in my life. We talked for hours. We shared everything. 

When he made a move, I thought we’d be boyfriend/girlfriend. That’s all I’d experienced. I knew I wasn’t every guy’s cup of tea. But the ones that dug me, didn’t let go.

I didn’t realize how scared he was. All I thought at that time, which seemed to fossilize in my heart was: If he didn’t want me, then who would?

I kept dating but with every relationship

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I was a mouthy girl

I was a mouthy girl

My older brother and I were fighting in the kitchen of our Redmond home. I was around 8 years old, which would put my brother at 11. We were arm wrestling while standing, fighting over who knows what - probably some food related. We were always fighting over baked goods.

My Papu, my mom’s father, entered the room. Him and my grandma often drove up from Tacoma for Sunday night dinners where my cousins would join us from across the street, and other family members would pile into the house for an impromptu barbecue or my mom’s famous spaghetti. 

He tried to separate my brother and me who were really into it. This was around the age that I stopped being so shy. It frustrated me how small I was, surrounded by five roughhousing boys, so I began to do things like curse  Knowing I’d lose this fight, as I always did because he was much bigger and stronger, I hollered what I thought meant “fuck you” in Italian - courtesy of the movie Grease.

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I should have kissed him

I should have kissed him

I sat in a small English pub by myself sipping my beer. It was the very last night of my year of traveling, working on kibbutz and crashing with friends in Europe. That particular night, I was staying with a friend’s sister in London. I was 25 years old and wanted to have some fun before I headed back to grad school and reality. 

Suddenly, this super cute guy is walking towards me. Much taller than I prefer (I’m barely 5 feet tall so…), dark-haired and adorable, he ambles even closer while I hold my breath.

He smiles at me and then sits down next to me! He starts chatting with his friend who is on the other side of him. I remember thinking this shit never happens! His friend had a blond shaggy beard

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Do you have a boyfriend?

Do you have a boyfriend?

“What have you been up to?” an old friend as at a local restaurant in Seattle.

I paused, took a deep breath, and blurted out, “I’m working on my master’s degree in nutrition, I managed to heal that digestive disease I’ve had since 17! Which was really hard!! I traveled abroad last year and I’m juggling a couple of part-time jobs now while in school”

I smiled broadly, knowing what was coming next and dreading it.

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

My smile wavered. I’d just mentioned healing a disease, acquiring a degree, and traveling the world, but none of that was valued as much as my next answer.

This is what I wanted to say: “I went through basically a divorce from someone I loved madly, followed by being dumped by my best guy friend and then a brief, disastrous engagement with a European man who was not nice to me. All by the age of 25. My heart has been shredded, faith tested, my spirit wrecked. All I want to do right now

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I hated being a redhead

I hated being a redhead

I have no memory of not being touched by strange men - of ALL ages. My hair, silky and bright red was too shiny and hard to resist. This was especially apparent with men who loved redheads.

I was far too little to understand what a “fetish” was but somehow I did.

It was clear that they couldn’t stop themselves. At the grocery store, at the playground, it did not matter. They’d have a specific gleam in their eye while they touched my hair and exclaim, “what beautiful hair you have.” Ew. 

I hated being a redhead. I hated how it made me stand out. I hated how strange men would touch me. I hated how they leered at me throughout my life. 

In my late twenties, I developed more noticeable curves and larger boobs. That plus the red hair ended up as the archetype for “tavern wench.”

Men LOVE to cop a feel with the tavern wench!

One date literally reached across, unzipped my jacket and started touching

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I was born a fighter

I was born a fighter

I was born with two crooked feet. I had a metal bar between my leg for MONTHS to push them into the right form, as well as some seriously orthopedic shoes to bend them in the correct direction (which you can see in the photo).

The doctor told my mom I’d “outgrow” the deformity. But thankfully, she was as skeptical of doctors then as she is now and insisted they give me treatment. 

It was 1971 and my mom had just gotten her first credit card in her name. The Civil Rights Movement was winding down. My dad, mom and older brother lived in a small house in Ravenna in North Seattle. 

I was a tiny redheaded runt. But feisty. Tot this day, my mom and dad have never figured out how

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New Stories Coming: Gen X is Changing the World

New Stories Coming: Gen X is Changing the World

ANNOUNCEMENT: NEW STORIES COMING #womenrising

"I remember seeing a man carrying a baby in public for the first time," I said to a younger friend on the phone earlier today. "I was at an airport in my early twenties and of course, in my progressive family I'd seen men hold kids, but never in public. That's how much the world has changed in the last 25 years." All she said was "woooooahhh."

I was born in 1971, smack in the middle of Generation X. In eighth grade, we watched in horror as the space shuttle blew up. I was a freshman in college when the Berlin wall came down.

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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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My Online Memorial "30 Stories of Life Before Disability" #JulesStories

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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