Summer To-Do List

21 Jun

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Eat so much watermelon my fingers are forever sticky and my stomach always feels slightly sloshy

Go to outdoor movies and don’t complain about the traffic to get there

Walk on the beach

Rollerblade

Eat peaches and cherries until I can’t eat peaches and cherries anymore

Never say anything bad about my body in a swimsuit

Only read the books I truly, genuinely want to read

Homemade Caesar salad once a week, twice!

Farmer’s market meals on Sunday night

Outdoor yoga

Fourth of July with my parents

Jam making

Popsicle making

More sunsets

No makeup

No bra

Cheap sunscreen as perfume

Ice cream cones again and again

A summer wedding on the beach in Cape Cod, five years after our first trip there together. A personal, fun, dream event with the people I love the most in this universe.

Repeat

(Except for that last one)

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Everything happens, we make the reasons

19 Jun

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When I was 17 years old I started work on what would be my first adult novel. It was an idea my friends and I came up with and worked on together, in between AP tests and end-of-the-year festivities. It was so much fun, writing and creating with no pressure whatsoever, just for the joy of it.

Over the next 8 (!!) years, that seed of an idea became an actual book. I worked on it through several degrees, a move to a different country, some friends dropping out, and one staying on. In the bitter end it was me and that friend, having gone through our early 20s and the heartbreaks and changes and stresses it caused, this book our ever-constant companion.

I worked on it on many birthdays. She texted me when she found out she was pregnant since we would be writing together day-in and day-out. It was this looming thing, this thing I Had To Finish, and we were both sure when we finally did, the book would Be Something.

I just know in my gut when we finally finish it will be picked up

If I were to die, I would want you to finish it in my stead

There is a particular sort of mental break that occurs when you write a book. I’ve seen it in my life and my friends’ lives. The world has become so small, just those pages and you, and you’ve poured your soul and sacrificed your life.

I’ve had others ask me to finish their books if they were to die.

We are never joking.

 

When we finally finished our book, years and years later, we were not the same girls we used to be. It was a relief to end that time of our lives, to rid ourselves of a relationship that was past done.

We sent it out with a lot of hope and mania and 2,920 days of dreams and wishes.

 

It was rejected.

 

We all knew the end of that story.

I don’t have a published book, this was years ago. And it was rejected.

 

Every time my writing is rejected it hurts, but this was a special sort of pain. Eight years of my life…for what? Eight years of my life and I wasn’t good enough, this wasn’t good enough.

It seemed a parallel to so many other things happening to me at that time. It seemed like why did we do this?

 

Years later, with the benefit of perspective and time, I’ve come up with a few reasons why.

Why we did this. Why it was important in my life. Why it happened.

I should clarify though, I’m not an everything happens for a reason person. I believe that a lot of things are simply choices or accidents. That the meaning behind them, the reasons things happen are reasons we create for ourselves. Lessons we learn through these events, if we so choose.

I’ve chosen the following reasons for why I needed to write my first book even though it didn’t bring me fame, fortune and a new life. Even though no one picked it up. I’ve chosen these, but there are others I could have chosen. Other narratives that I could have created.

Instead, this is what I know:

The book bonded me and my friend in a way nothing else will ever bond us. It kept us close through some tumultuous years.

The book kept me writing through my early 20s, a time when I wasn’t officially pursuing writing in the way I am now. It kept me hungry to create.

The book taught me things as a writer. I can see what I would do differently now. How that book was flawed, how it could have been better.

This week I saw a new book that’s being released that has a lot of parallels to my first book. It stung a little, someone else writing the story I wanted to and seeing it published, seeing it receive acclaim.

It stung a little, in a sort of vague way, the way things in your heart ache from years ago.

It stung a little, but not as much as it used to.

 

You see, everything happens for a reason.

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The Key To Life

18 Jun

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It’s a busy time right now. There are apartments to see and new jobs to start and 700 million wedding things I think of at all hours of the day.

You know before Lorelai opens the inn where she calls and leaves herself messages in the middle of the night so she doesn’t forget anything?

That’s the stage I’m at.

So

Today, when I realized I had no plans whatsoever, today when I looked at the next week which includes errands and doctors’ appointments and The Sound of Music Sing-along and a Broadway show and Roxane Gay with one of my favorite feminists and dinner plans with friends and normal living and wedding planning and apartment hunting and and and

I took a deep breath and said, OK then. Today is just for me.

Today I take care of me.

Taking care of myself looks like this:

 

Cleaning

Eating three solid meals full of vegetables and real food

Going on a long walk

Reading

 

That’s it.

That’s the secret of life.

Anne Lamott says, “It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do.’ And mostly, against all odds, they do.”

When I was a kid, I too imagined that the keys to happiness! Peace! Stability! Success! Love! were something other than the obvious things.

 

Cleaning

Moving my body

Eating nourishing foods

Reading

 

And then, as I discovered that these were the keys, I realized just how hard they really are. How most of us don’t live in a world set up for these things, we have to carve out that time. We have to fight for it. It’s harder to eat vegetables than it is to eat McDonald’s. It’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard and yet it’s the only thing worth it.

I love the above illustration by Mari Andrew:

What do you do in your life?

Oh well I do yoga and I write in my journal and I make myself a fabulous dinner every night.

 

That’s the key right there.

The key to it all.

Kids, listen up. You won’t get it, but bookmark it and return when you’re a little older.

I’m sorry it’s so easy and so hard.

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I Can Do Hard Things

14 Jun

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I got off work at 3:00 and made the journey to Koreatown. Without traffic this was supposed to take a half hour. With traffic…

(Scary music)

NO ONE KNOWS.

(Banshee scream)

It took an hour and a half. I listened to a podcast featuring Speidi, which later sent me into a spiral looking into their current lives. They live rent-free in my dream town and Snapchat and housewife all day.

I shall work my whole life and never afford this town.

Life isn’t always fair.

But then again, I don’t want to be Speidi.

My friend Bailey recently performed at an open mic poetry night. That is a story for another time, or perhaps those characters will just be in a book of mine. The social justice poet who cast a spell. The aspiring alien researcher wearing planet pants. Truly those in this world not trying to fit into whatever standards we have collectively decided are “normal.”

I admire that and them.

Bailey read a poem about mental health, and at one point she talked about the questions you’re asked in a mental health journey—questions by a therapist, by those who monitor such things.

“Do you feel suicidal?”

“No, but I feel hopeless.”

Hopeless is a word I know well.

It’s a word I felt yesterday, for no reason at all.

When you’re low, or sad, or anxious, or whatever your particular brand of struggle is, it’s easy to go hopeless. Your life stretches out before you and you say, well, what I’ve known is sadness/anxiety/this struggle and I’m supposed to keep doing this forever? This never ends? What’s the reward? How do I get through?

It feels hopeless.

Yesterday’s hour and a half car journey was so I could go to a live recording of my one of my favorite podcasts.

This is the time when I wholeheartedly recommend Harry Potter and the Sacred Text as something very, very special.

I told a friend who is a middle school English teacher about the podcast and she has incorporated it into her Harry Potter unit at school, listening to it, doing some of their practices.

I put it on on days when I can’t take the news, when I need something comforting and filling.

It’s like mashed potatoes and pot roast all covered in gravy with those really buttery vegetables on the side.

This podcast reads one chapter of Harry Potter each week under a specific theme. It examines the text as we would a religious document. It blesses characters, does a spiritual practice, and generally uplifts the world.

This week’s theme was Truth.

This week’s chapter was Book Three, Chapter 12.

The Patronus

After some discussion on the text, we were asked to write down a truth about our lives that we wanted to remember.

I thought about it, not very long, and wrote in large font

I can do hard things

It’s the antidote to hopelessness, I think. Not only remembering truths about ourselves and the world, but a reminder that you’ve been here before and you got out OK.

It’s what I tell myself when it’s late and hopelessness hits hardest. Tomorrow is another day. When you wake up you will feel differently.

And also

I can do hard things.

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Leave Good Reviews

9 Jun

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Rob and I took our engagement pictures in a dive bar after eating mac and cheese, buffalo wings, a burger and garlic fries. I list it all out there because it’s one of the reasons I love Rob the most. We go to a restaurant and implicitly agree, yes, all of it.

Yes, all of it, is a good approach to life, I say. Or at least it’s the approach I’ve attempted.

It works sometimes, I say.

In order to reproduce our photobooth strip, I tried out the local copy shop. The man at the counter looked at me like I was insane and then told me he could “make a copy on paper.”

No, good sir. I want these to be photos?

He had no suggestions for how I should proceed and told me I probably shouldn’t.

It was a pretty discouraging conversation, honestly. I left thinking we were dumb for taking $4 engagement photos and also that that man deserved to live in Arizona during the summer!

(Only sort of.)

(Only briefly sort of.)

Next I tried CVS.

Yes, that CVS.

A worker instantly came to my aid. He experimented with different sizes. He printed off a bunch of attempts. “We’ll get there,” he said, over and over.

He gave me a nice discount because of the number of prints we ordered and because we weren’t using a full sheet. An experience that could have been very expensive and disheartening was positive and easy.

I decided to leave a review on Google. The first that this CVS had ever received.

Five stars. “Very helpful and patient with an unusual photo order.”

I’ve never left a Google review before.

I still have inside my soul a scathing takedown of a dentist in Calabasas who felt the need to argue his frightening political beliefs before fixing my tooth, but this man is old  and clearly unhappy and do I really want to end his career?

So no, I’ve never left a Google review.

Anne Lamott says in her brilliant Ted Talk: “Food–try to do a little better. You know what I mean.”

This was greeted with thunderous laughter by the crowd. Because it’s a truth. Because we seem to think we can do more than a little better? I know I do.

I think, oh no problem, this week I’ll revolutionize my food life. My writing life. My everything life.

When the reality is, life is in small steps. We try to do a little better.

We lurch forward, as Anne would say.

Leave good reviews.

That’s my lurch this week.

Leave good reviews because we live in an age where we check Yelp before we leave the house, where new businesses and CVS businesses and all businesses benefit from kind public words.

Leave good reviews because it’s free and it’s simple and because you can brighten someone else’s day and put kind words into the universe, so why shouldn’t you?

Leave good reviews.

You know what I mean.

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For The Right Reasons: Me and The Bachelor

4 Jun

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(I am in this picture)

 

Reasons I Wouldn’t Go On The Bachelor

I’m wildly sensitive and internet trolls would ruin my life

The type of guy I’m into would rather do anything on this earth than go on a reality tv dating show

After the show I would enter the Bachelor dating pool and I despise them all except JP Rosenbaum who is already taken

This experience would forever follow me and people would require I write Bachelor recaps for life

Did I mention internet trolls

 

Reasons I Would Go On The Bachelor

 

They give book deals to former contestants whether or not they can write

Writing fodder forever

Never work just sell hair gummies?*

 

Reasons They Wouldn’t Cast Me On The Bachelor

 

I’m 40 lbs larger than their average contestant and they don’t seem to be looking to expand the body diversity of the cast

I would not get drunk (though I would still probably say wild things to the camera)

I would most likely lead the other girls in a rebellion against the Bachelor, “Sisters unite!” wherein we walk out of the mansion in protest and the Bachelor is left single and embarrassed as he should be

 

Reasons They Would Cast Me On The Bachelor

 

I’m from Utah, their favorite state

I cry easily

I would most likely lead the other girls in a rebellion against the Bachelor, “Sisters unite!” wherein we walk out of the mansion in protest and the Bachelor is left single and embarrassed as he should be

 

 

* I would not do this. I think? But STUDENT LOANS. But pride!

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When You Find The One Stop Looking And Other Wedding Thoughts

1 Jun

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In The Magnolia Story, Joanna Gaines talks about her wedding. She had red roses and a formal updo and a long white gown. I have always been drawn to a classic look she said. I’m a classic kind of girl.

As I’ve been planning my own wedding I’ve thought about this concept.

The classic look.

The classic girl.

I see weddings from even 10 years ago and think Yikes! That’s dated!

Wouldn’t it be nice to be the person with those elegant Audrey Hepburn photos that span generations? My Mimi, she’s always been classic, classy, my grandchildren would say.

A regular Jackie Kennedy.

Except.

Nope.

Nah.

I’m not that girl.

For one, I don’t love roses. Also my hair looks way, way, way better down, like it’s not even a competition, like I would never consider an updo and I would unfriend you if you suggested it to me.

My personal style trends towards bright colors, sequined accents and rainbow nightgown mumus. When I decorate, when I dress, when I generally am the answer is “more.”

A classic wedding would feel stifled, stuffy, and blatantly untrue.

I’m not a classic girl.

I wondered if The Wedding Dress was a myth. Something society had passed down through Julia Roberts and that I needed to ignore.

There is no one and only perfect option, there is only choice, right?

But what about the bell?

I ordered four wedding dresses as I tried to figure this out.  I knew I wanted something vintage and nontraditional. I knew I likely couldn’t walk into a wedding store and find it there.

And so to flea markets and vintage shops and Etsy I went.

Three dresses in I started to think that maybe this was a case of “Yeah I like it!”

Pause.

This was a case of putting way too much expectation on one piece of clothing and I would not have the moment where Richard Gere read the newspaper upside down.

Beyoncé didn’t love her dress.

“Yeah I like it!” pause is pretty good.

Right?

(Pause.)

Five years ago I drove twenty hours in one weekend to help my sister pick out her wedding dress.

It was the girls in the family who went with her, through rows of taffeta and tulle, white puffy things of dreams.

Early on in the night she tried on a princess looking dress with a large, beautiful skirt. It was The One.

We all agreed.

My cousin gave her the advice, “Just like with dating: when you find the one, stop looking.”

I’ve thought about that a lot since.

When you find the one, stop looking

It seems self explanatory, but there’s a reason we still have to say it out loud, repeat it again and again like the sacred wisdom it is.

We live in a world where nothing is allowed to be good enough. Internet advertisers lurk, showing us more, better, different versions of things we’ve already bought.  Dating apps exist where you can click and scroll again and again, swipe your way to insanity.

Without thought we can spend out whole lives looking.

The fourth dress arrived when I was out of town. I had high hopes for this one. Online it looked like me. Like if this were Beauty and the Beast and humans turned into household objects, I would turn into this dress.

I slipped it on, nervously. I slowly zipped the back. Was it possible?

Don’t jinx it!

I took a breath and saw myself in the mirror.

(Pause.)

The dress fit like a glove.

No alterations necessary.

It looked like me.

More, more, more me.

(Pause.)

I stopped looking.

 

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My Celebrity Encounters

29 May

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This week I ran into Meredith Monroe, better known as Andie from Dawson’s Creek.

It was like coming home. Like seeing family after a long absence.

I keep a note in my phone of all the celebrities I’ve randomly encountered in LA. Each has a unique story, sometimes woefully boring (Chipotle…), only one of them including a picture. My biggest interaction, actually, was when Daryl Hannah came up to Rob and asked what dish he ordered at our favorite Thai place.

Exciting times at Ridgemont High!!

(OK this is a lie. Remember when I gave my number to a C (B?) list celebrity? Over three years later I finally feel comfortable telling you it was James Wolk and he never called me and it is still probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done.)

(Update. It appears one year after our encounter he got married, so I’m assuming he was already deep in the middle of the romance of his life when we met which is why he never called me.)

(But also, does his now wife know he smiled at me???)

Today I am sharing my celebrity encounter list with you. For fun? For documentation? Just because?

If you’re interested in any specific person, leave a comment and I’ll tell you how/where I saw them. It could be as exciting as Chipotle!

Alyson Hannigan

Andrew Garfield

Edward Norton

Pamela Anderson

Josh Malina

Patrick Dempsey

Owen Wilson

Craig T. Nelson

Daryl Hannah

Mel Gibson

Chris Harrison

Gigi Hadid

James Wolk

Rory Kennedy

Colin Hanks

Dreama Walker

Orlando Bloom

Brody Jenner (and girlfriend Kaitlynn Carter)

Jenna Boyd

Sofia Vergara

Shannon Doherty

Cheryl Hines

Dick Van Dyke

Kaskade

Robin Thicke

Rick Rubin

Brandon and Leah Jenner

William Russ

Pierce Brosnan

Meredith Monroe

Caitlyn Jenner

Kylie Jenner

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The Lauren Graham Kitchen Timer Writing Method

25 May

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This is taken directly from Lauren Graham’s book Talking as Fast as I Can. My schedule has changed and I’m BACK, baby. I’m back working on my big writing projects. I need this as a reminder and a guide, always. Perhaps you do too.

The Kitchen Timer Writing Method

The principle of Kitchen Timer is that every writer deserves a definite and doable way of being and feeling successful every day.

To do this, we learn to judge ourselves on behavior rather than content. We set up a goal for ourselves as writers that is easy, measurable, free of anxiety, and above all, fall-proof, because everyone can sit, and an hour will always pass.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS

1. Buy a kitchen timer, one that goes to 60 minutes. Or use a timer app. Or tell Siri to start a timer for 60 minutes.

2. We decide on Monday how many hours of writing we will do Tuesday. When in doubt or under pressure or self-attack, we choose fewer hours rather than more. A good, strong beginning is one hour a day, but a half hour is also good, or twenty minutes. Some of us make appointments in our calendar for these hours, as if they are lunch meetings or business calls.

3. The Kitchen Timer hour:

No phones. No texts. We silence ringers; we turn our phones facedown. It is our life; we are entitled to one hour without interruption, particularly from loved ones. We ask for their support. “I was on an hour” is something they learn to understand. But they won’t respect it unless we do first.

No music with words, unless it’s a language we don’t understand. Headphones with a white noise app can be helpful.

No internet, absolutely. We turn off our computer’s Wi-Fi.

No reading.

No pencil sharpening, desk tidying, organizing.

4. Immediately upon beginning the hour, we open two documents: our journal, and the project we are working on. If we don’t have a project we’re actively working on, we just open our journal.

5. An hour consists of TIME SPENT KEEPING OUR WRITING APPOINTMENT. That’s it. We don’t have to write at all, if we are happy to stare at the screen or the page. Nor do we have to write a single word on our current project; we may spend the entire hour writing in our journal. Anything we write in our journal is fine; ideas for future projects, complaints about loved ones, what we ate for dinner, even “i hate writing” typed four hundred times.

When we wish or if we wish, we pop over to the current project document and write for as long as we like. When we get tired or want a break, we pop back to the journal.

The point is, when disgust or fatigue with the current project arises, we don’t take a break by getting up from our desk. We take a break by returning to the comforting arms of our journal, until that in turn bores us. Then we are ready to write on our project again, and so on. We use our boredom in this way.

IT IS ALWAYS OKAY TO WRITE EXCLUSIVELY IN OUR JOURNAL. In practice it may rarely happen that we spend the full hour in our journal, but it’s fine, good, and right if it does. It is just as good a writing day as one spent entirely on our current project.

6. It is infinitely better to write fewer hours every day than many hours one day and none the next. If we have a crowded weekend, we choose a half or quarter hour as our time, put in that time, and go on with our day. We are always trying to minimize our resistance, and beginning an hour on Monday after two days off is a challenge.

7. When the hour is up, we stop, even if we’re in the middle of a sentence. If we have scheduled another hour, we give ourselves a break before beginning again–to read, eat, go on errands. We are not trying to create a cocoon we must stay in between hours (the old “i’sorry, I can’t see anyone or leave my hours–I’m on a deadline method). Rather, inside the hour is the inviolate time.

8. If we fail to make our hours for the day, we have scheduled too many. Four hours a day is an enormous amount of time spent in this manner, for example. If on Wednesday we planned to write two hours and didn’t make it, we schedule a shorter appointment for the next day. We don’t add an our to “make up” or “catch up.” we let the past go and move on.

9. When we have fulfilled our commitment, we make sure we credit ourselves for doings. We have satisfied our obligation to ourselves, and the rest of the day is ours to do with as we wish.

10. A word about content: This may seem to be all about form, but the knowledge that we have satisfied our commitment to ourselves, the freedom from anxiety and resistance, the stilling of that hectoring voice inside us that used to yell at us that we weren’t writing enough–all this opens us up creatively.

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Me As A Bachelor Contestant

17 May

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See the bios for Rachel’s guys here

Age: 29

Occupation: Librarian

Height: 5’9”

Tattoos: No. The thought of getting one gives me the chills. I can’t make up my mind on a Taco Bell order let alone something permanent ON MY BODY I AM VAIN. I know I would regret a tattoo immediately after. Further, where would I get one? If it was on my arm would I have to wear long sleeves at work always? What about my ankle? Is that overdone? IS THERE A GOOD PLACE?

Chills. Again.

(I see I’m setting the tone here to be a really fun contestant.)

Do you have any phobias that would prohibit your participation in certain activities? Animals.

(The producers would then force me in a cage at a petting zoo so I could cry and tell the Bachelor about the time I was attacked by goats at the Las Vegas Zoo which is a true story.)

What is the best trip you have ever been on and why?

My 2008 friend trip to Europe. It was my first time out of the country and I felt the world expand around me.

What is your ideal mate’s personality like?

Obsessed with me. Hates Donald Trump. Funny. Smart. Neurotic. Above all, kind. Doesn’t care about gender roles.

What’s the closest you have ever come to being married?

I am engaged right now what sort of question is this.

If you could watch any movie right now what would it be and why?

About Time.

I love their wedding—her in her thrifted red dress and him in his stately childhood home and so many toasts. As I think about my wedding I want to create that cozy sort of feeling. The feeling of vintage frocks and going with the flow and no regrets even with the rain.

(I go with the flow! See the tattoo answer!)

Tell us a fun story about a one-night stand: Nope

What is your greatest achievement to date?

My Instagram account

(This would show I have a sense of humor, but then some people would believe me and I would already have haters trolling me and this is why I couldn’t do The Bachelor. I am so wildly, incredibly sensitive.)

If you could be someone else for just one day, who would it be and why?

This feels like a lot of pressure.

What is your favorite television show and why?

Gilmore Girls. Because I grew up with it and it made me a grownup.

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