You Filthy Animal

The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Done (A Motivational Tale for the Holidays)

See that sign above?
It’s hanging in South Dallas, in a fun area called the Bishop Arts District.
It’s also where I went to hide this weekend after pulling the dumbest stunt of my life.
My family was visiting from out of state and we had planned, like we always do, to take a Christmas-light carriage-ride that very night. We do it any time my family visits for the holidays and it’s something we all enjoy. It isn’t cheap so we usually share the cost, but this year my husband and I picked up the bill, as our gift to everyone. We were discussing our concerns about the weather that day, when my husband got a call from the carriage company.
“Julie…was our carriage ride LAST night?”
My husband had a look of panic in his eyes, because he probably already knew the answer. The world might be filled with people who wouldn’t make that kind of mistake, but he knows he isn’t married to one of them.
“NO,” I screamed. “It’s tonight! Why would they even say that?”
I kept insisting it wasn’t possible but an awful feeling settled into my stomach because, deep down, I also knew. Continue reading →


PUT THAT THING AWAY: A Tale of Unwanted Pickles

It’s come to my attention that my daughters occasionally read my blogs. While I don’t relish the idea of them seeing this particular story, I think it’s an important one to share. See, women don’t often talk about the unwanted junk they’ve been flashed in their lives. It happens with far more regularity than I think the world is aware of, though. Maybe it’s time we shared these stories, even though they’re gross. That’s why I’ll be referring to penises as “pickles” from here on out. For the sake of my girls.
The first Unwanted Pickle I ever saw was in middle school. I was 11-years-old and my 6th grade teacher had an awful smoking habit. She left us alone in the classroom several times a day, which was when the boys took over. Most of them (I can’t honestly remember if it was ALL of them) would whip out their pickles as soon as she shut the door, and dance around the classroom. We, the girls, would cover our eyes or bury our faces in books to try to block it out, while the helicopter dance played out around us. I remember one young man skirting disaster after laying his pickle on my friend’s desk. She had a hefty textbook nearby and tried to smash that mini-gherkin, but he got out of the way just in time. This Lord of the Flies display went on for a few days before someone finally told on them. It led to a separation of the boys and girls for a “What IS and IS NOT Appropriate” discussion, but that was about it. I don’t remember any of the boys getting into trouble and the whole situation eventually went away. I never even talked about it with my classmates after that. Most of those boys grew up to be good guys, and some were even my friends. Continue reading →

Mass Shooting

ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING: It’s Time to Change the Conversation

There was a loud noise in the back of my church Sunday. We were right in the middle of the service, so it was a little alarming. I still don’t know what it was. Maybe a hymnal falling on the floor or a door shutting, but it startled me.
That’s when I started to imagine it.
I saw us all jumping to the floor as an unseen person from the back took shots. I imagined my husband and I diving to cover our children. Then I thought of the aftermath, and how quickly a small congregation like ours could be decimated. How entire families would be lost.
That’s when I shook back to reality and mentally scolded myself for those awful, paranoid thoughts.
I hate to admit it, but I have them often now. Anytime I hear a loud noise and I’m in a public place. Like the balloon that burst during the Parkinson’s Foundation walk I attended Saturday or the falling chair at the mall last week. I hear the sound and then the What Ifs play out in my head.
I scold myself. I tell myself I’m being morbid and paranoid.
But yesterday, right around the same time that the What Ifs were playing out in my head, they were playing out in someone else’s reality.
My stomach lurched when I heard about Sutherland Springs, just as I’m sure yours did. We are all shocked and horrified, but are any of us really surprised?
We aren’t because, for some reason, this is what happens today. This is the world we live in and despite the legislation battles that will wage now, then slowly die off until the next shooting, nothing will change.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Nothing. Will. Change.
Is that really what we want? And before anyone takes this opportunity to spout some pro or anti-gun mantra, let me remind you that it isn’t working. Every comment about guns that’s been screamed into the void of social media or printed on a bumper-sticker has changed nothing. Continue reading →

Legend of Two Wolves

The Great Facebook Wars & The Battle of Two Wolves

Facebook had me completely annoyed by 6:15 this morning.
I think that’s a new record for me.
I woke up at 5:30, made coffee at 6, turned on the computer at 6:10 and was almost immediately annoyed. A battle was raging, like usual, and everyone was voicing their opinions. I made the comment that maybe no one really CARED about our opinions, which was met with even more heated opinions. I deleted the comment in a huff and got the kids ready for school.
An hour later, we were carpooling with the neighbor boys and the kids had turned my attitude completely around. They were so funny and full of life that it caused me to pat my daughter’s leg and say, “Thank you. This is what I needed.”
It made me think of the parable about the two wolves, so I told it to the kids as we drove to school. I had to paraphrase it this morning, but here’s what I found online:

A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.
One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, “The one you feed.”

My daughters groaned and rolled their eyes. Continue reading →

Pixels, mother!, Alien: Covenant

Your Opinion ≠ Reality (A Film Critic’s Lament)

A friend of mine just saw the movie mother! and made an interesting statement about it on social media. She didn’t like the film at all, and she went on to say that anyone who said it was “brilliant,” was just jumping on some artsy-fartsy bandwagon.

She’s not alone in this opinion. I’ve watched the mother! debate rage all around me, and even took part in a few of them. Not because I loved the movie. I didn’t. In fact, I’m still not sure how I feel about it, even after reading countless explanations and a dissection from director Darren Aronofsky himself (find that HERE, and see if it makes any sense to you). I debate in favor of mother! because I recognize it has artistic merits and that it spoke to many people in a way that it didn’t speak to me. That’s an important and sometimes difficult lesson to learn when you’re a critic of anything:
Your opinion DOES NOT EQUAL reality.

I might think that a movie is good, while other people consider it a complete waste of time. I liked that stupid Adam Sandler movie, Pixels, while every other critic in the world torched it like a dumpster. I also hated the new Alien: Covenant, and stood in abject horror as the critics around me screamed “Brilliant! Instant Classic!!!” Continue reading →

Flags Lining Street

Am I a Good American?

I took a walk yesterday and noticed the American flags that lined my street. It was 9/11 and an important day of remembrance so I wasn’t surprised to see them. I was, however, surprised when an unexpected feeling washed over me:


It took me a minute to put a name on it but as I stood and looked at those flags, I felt an unmistakable sense of guilt and a question popped into my mind:

Am I a bad American?

It wasn’t something that had ever occurred to me before. I’ve always been proud of my country and felt that I knew my place in it but I’m not so sure anymore. The things I feel strongly about, like freedom of speech and the belief that all men and women are created equal, are actually topics of debate now. Concepts that have always been pillars of truth to me are now disputed and sometimes even considered unpatriotic. In fact, about 50% of my country disagrees with my core and most basic beliefs.

So who is right? What does patriotism mean when an entire country is split on what is patriotic? Continue reading →


What My Mom Remembers About 9/11 (written by my daughter)

My daughter had a special assignment from her History teacher this weekend, in honor of 9/11. The students were asked to interview their parents and get their accounts of September 11th, 2001. Neither one of my girls had been born by that day, so the only things they know about it are what we’ve told them. The story below is what Emma wrote during our interview, and she was sweet enough to let me share it here.

Everyone remembers what they were doing when they received word that the World Trade Center was under attack. While most people stopped what they were doing and huddled around a TV set, my mother reported the whole thing live as it was happening. She was part of the Jagger & Julie Morning Show on 102.1 the Edge, and her main job was to report the news. She had an Associated Press feed on her computer that she watched throughout the morning to collect breaking news. They were live on the air when a news headline came up that said, “Plane Crashes into World Trade Center.” Mom clicked on the link to get more information, but the story only said that the price of stamps was going up. She was confused and announced live that she had received word that a plane had crashed in the World Trade Center but the story was about stamps. Her co-host, Chris Jagger, went to the phones to see if anyone knew what was going on. That’s when they saw that all of the phone lines were lit up with callers trying to tell them what was really happening. Continue reading →

Trusted World

HOW TO BE A BETTER DONATOR (for the sake of Harvey’s Victims)

I spent a few hours at a donation center this morning, sorting through items collected for Hurricane Harvey victims. I encourage everyone to do the same, and not just because it’s so desperately needed right now. I learned a lot today, about the items that are donated and how, despite good intentions, they aren’t always useful. Volunteering some time at a donation center can teach us all to be better DONATORS in the future because, let’s be honest, this won’t be the last time we have to pull together and help.

First of all, think about packaging. Countless old shopping bags showed up today, filled to the brim and often tearing along the sides. Recycling is great but a plastic or paper bag filled with goods is flimsy doesn’t stack well. Boxed items are easier to pile on a pallet and move around. Think about separating and labeling your donations, as well. Valuable time is spent digging through bags and filtering goods into specific stacks, but boxes filled with soap and labeled SOAP, for example, had an immediate home.

Volunteering at the donation center gave me insight into what NEEDS to be donated, as well. I saw thousands of water bottles and diapers, but some of the donated items had never occurred to me, like adult diapers and baby formula for sensitive tummies. There was a stack of back-to-school items as well, which evacuated kids who are visiting North Texas schools now will definitely need. That hadn’t even crossed my mind.

Smells like armpits & onions.

The enormity of the task at hand really hits home when you start sorting through the donated clothes. See that pile above? It’s a day’s worth of stained, torn or just plain STINKY clothes that were donated but considered not-usable. I even pulled a few pairs of used panties out of the bags (thank God for rubber gloves). Gently worn clothes are OK, but consider donating a cheap pack of undies from Target instead of cleaning out your own underwear drawer. Continue reading →

Film Festival

The Women Texas Film Festival (& Why You Should GO!)

We talk so often about the lack of representation in film and the rotten roles women are usually offered. We complain loud and long about the sad number of female directors, writers, and even critics but we know the truth. The film industry runs on $$$$$$ and that will ALWAYS be the deciding factor when it comes to what-gets-made-and-when.
That’s why we need to show up.
We need to get behind every solid piece of film-making that is offered by women and, if you aren’t already on board, The Women Texas Film Festival is a fantastic place to start.
The Women Texas Film Festival runs August 16th through the 20th and is the only full-fledged, female-focused film festival in Texas (read it’s D Magazine feature HERE). Continue reading →

McGarry & Fisk

OUT & ABOUT: Back-to-School Events, Concerts & Cary Elwes (Plus My “Annabelle: Creation” Review)

I was on Good Morning Texas recently, talking about all the events you need to hit before the kids head back to school. Yes, it’s already that time! I’ve got everything you need to know about new movies, sports and activities for the kids so watch the segment HERE, then find the links below. Continue reading →