Life Is Just A Day At A Time

18 Sep

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Our first morning back in LA we woke up early, still on Bermuda time.

There was some reading, some watching of Bachelor in Paradise (for me).

Eventually we made it to our local bagel place for hash browns and bacon and eggs. Strawberry cream cheese and more Tapatio please.

Next was the library where we picked up our waiting books and then some. We stumbled on to a farmer’s market! On accident! We were not prepared!

Lemon basil, cherry tomatoes, squash, garlic.

Hands too full on the walk home.

There was more Bachelor in Paradise. A nap. Four dozen bran muffins to freeze.

A friend worried about getting engaged once asked me about commitment, knowing that I pore over decisions, that none come easily to me. She wanted to know how I felt being engaged.

Life is just a day at a time now as it was before, I said.

I’ve been obsessive about getting our apartment together.

I’ll be walking down the street listing off the things that need to get done. A mirror in the hallway, maybe? Four frames on that wall. No five!

It’s a weird turn of events, wanting my apartment to look perfect.

For over a decade, since leaving for college, I’ve lived in a variety of apartments, some that didn’t reflect me in any way. I never cared until now.

I think it goes back to an idea I have about the person I’m supposed to be in my future. In my future I keep my (quaint) (completely unique) (beach bungalow) home spotless. That quaint, completely unique beach bungalow I keep spotless (easily, flawlessly, while doing other things)? That home reflects me in every way. That home is beautiful, fun to be in, full of light and color and vintage lamps!

I am in my future now.

There’s no denying it. I’m turning 30 next month. I have real health insurance. I’ve made legal commitments to another human. I’m on the career path I’d like to keep climbing.

I’ve always been in my future, but it’s hitting me particularly hard right now.

And so I obsess.

The ironic thing about all of this, of course, is that the person I’m supposed to be in my future doesn’t obsess over unimportant things.

I keep trying to write. To get back into the game.

It’s so hard.

I don’t write about writing all that much, but I talk about it with friends all that much.

How writing is like running. How you have to keep lacing up those Asics and getting out the door even when you end up shuffling down the street with sweat pouring down your face, sure you’ll never improve.

You have to keep writing those sentences even when they’re stilted and blehing and why am I doing this.

You keep lacing up those sneakers.

You keep typing those awkward words.

 

Life is just a day at a time, now as it was before.

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Morty The Mouse

2 Sep

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I don’t remember many things about my freshman year of college. It was a dark time, really all of college was a dark time for me.

I do remember, however, that we had a mouse in the ceiling.

I believe, but am not sure, that we named him Morty.

Morty lived above my dorm room. Whenever we heard him scampering around we would hit a broom above our heads. “Morty, keep moving!” “Morty, take a hike!”

I don’t remember much about my freshman year, but I do remember Morty.

If that was his name.

One of the reasons I wanted to have our wedding on the Cape was because I wanted to introduce my family and friends to this place that has meant so much to me. They say we remember experiences over things, and I wanted this experience.

I wanted these memories.

My second night on the Cape my little sister came running in my room. “THERE’S A MOUSE!” she screamed. “There’s a mouse. I saw its poop and then I heard it scamper and I closed my eyes so I didn’t actually see it but I know there’s a mouse!”

I had just started The Secret History by Donna Tartt and was very uninterested. “What would you like me to do?” I asked. “I can’t kill a mouse with my bare hands.”

By this time I was deep into Donna Tartt’s personal life, her famously private famously private personal life. Reading quotes about how privacy is the last luxury.

“What do you think about the line on social media? The line between sharing something extremely private and between that private thing helping other people?” I asked.

Jessica continued to talk about the mouse. About how she was hearing it above her head (but never when I was nearby), about her wild imaginings of how this mouse not only existed but was out to kill her.

When I had to leave to go to the bathroom I said I would collect her belongings from the possible mouse room. “I’ll also check out the poop,” I promised.

“Well…actually…” she began.

It turns out that “well actually” meant she knew deep in her heart that it wasn’t mouse poop on the stairs. That her hysteria over her mouse caused her to exaggerate a story I already wasn’t sold on.

“Like you’ve never exaggerated a stressful situation before!” she called out as I shone a flashlight on the carpet, looking for poop.

(There was none.)

(Of course.)

Later, after we had settled in to the same room where we would be enduring the rest of the night I said, “You know, I wanted to have my wedding here for the memories and I guess it’s already working. We’ll always have this mouse.”

She laughed and laughed.

I didn’t.

You see,

I don’t remember much about my freshman year of college but I do remember Morty the mouse.

If that was his name, anyway.

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Things I need to do to make my new place feel like a home

31 Aug

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Things I need to do to make my new place feel like a home

1. Find a yoga class with:

- Normal temperatures

- Actual music with actual words

- A class time of one hour or less (Why 90 minute hot yoga classes, why)

2. Figure out my full-length mirror situation

3. Know, instinctively, where to locate the macaroni and cheese in the grocery store

4. Plot a walking trail for late at night that feels at least somewhat safe

5. BUY AN AIR CONDITIONER??

6. Remember how much a load of laundry costs without having to check

7. Memorize my Santa Monica library card number

8. Sell Rob’s weird leather match chair, freeing my living space and my soul

9. Get a new therapist. Tell her these issues. Begin the work.

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Things I Want To Remember About My Studio Apartment

12 Jul

1. The Target trash can and how it symbolized my entire decorating attitude. I think I am someone who doesn’t care and then when it comes time to get a stainless steel thing I do care! and I travel great distances for something that fits my aesthetic more.

Also the white Ikea clock for $1 that looked pink in store.

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2. Lady Di, behind the sink, watching over me with her panda eyes, filling the house with wisdom and grace and a bit of mischief.

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3. The ledge for flowers and how the lighting was always so terrible in pictures but so right in person.

The stools I never ate on, because I always eat in bed on a tray.

(OK fine, sometimes on a tray.)

(Mostly not on a tray.)

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4. My cow tea kettle I got at a antique store in Carpinteria and the burners and tiny oven it sat upon. For an entire year I didn’t make bread or bran muffins! For an entire year my water barely boiled. I didn’t mind that much.

Rob did, though.

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5. My grandpa’s picture in a frame draped in lights. My grandpa’s picture in a gold frame that I covered with a yellow liner because I accidentally ordered the wrong thing.

My grandpa’s picture in a frame draped in lights with a yellow liner and a blue Post-It note that says “Rob’s dibs,” a leftover from flowers Rob gave me from work.

Rob and how he would text me when flowers were available at work to make sure he got the best ones.

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6. Rob’s mom’s handmade wrapping paper wreath. My rug from a flea market on Cape Cod. Those built-ins!

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7. My broken Ikea dresser that I never replaced. The TV I used maybe twice because we have laptops now. The bookshelves I painted gold myself out on my front driveway for what seemed like days on end.

Princess Diana, the Beanie Baby.

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8. The details so carefully curated. Stevie from Hilary. Dolly on the record player. Sweet Valley High and Joni and my favorite word NAP.

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9. Happy birthday hanging year-round in lights.

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10. Enid in the corner, somehow still alive?!

The tapestry from a flea market in Santa Barbara. Anne from Breanne.  The comforter from an antique shop in Mooresville, Indiana that I shoved into my carry-on and brought with me across the country.

The cart I bought just to house my library books.

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11. Beatrix the succulent, in much better shape than Enid. The way my lamp was always turned out for better reading.

My skylights! making everything bright and light and terrible for pictures.

My ring holder and Rob’s ring in the box and the first-ever painting I bought off a gallery wall in a fit of maturity.

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12.  Framed photos of a Lily Allen article about the English countryside. Two photo booth strips, one from the first year we were dating.

A postcard of Cape Cod.

Poopourri I forgot to put away.

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13. My writing nook I never once wrote in.

The sewing machine I actually used! My Malibu pillow that will follow me everywhere.

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14. My sunglasses DIY that’s droopy and old but still works.

A vintage jewelry box my mother picked out and got right.

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14. Literary characters doing yoga.

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15. Me. Sweaty and tired, in front of the greatest selfie mirror I will ever own.

Me who managed to pay rent every month on a not-so-great salary. Who cooked more in my non-kitchen than I’ve ever cooked in my life. Who bought fresh flowers, and walked to the store, and finally got to live that studio apartment life I had always dreamed of.

Me, at 29.

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Scents That Bring Me Joy

11 Jul

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Fuzzy ocean air

Lavender

My mother’s bread rising in my parents’ home

My mother’s bread rising in any home

A crockpot meal walking in the door after work, like YEAH BABY I DID THAT

Babies

Strawberries from the side of the road

Vanilla

Almond

Dove soap

Library books

All books

Even waterlogged books

Vintage stores

Churros!

Cinnamon of any kind, really

Fresh laundry (Tide)

Fresh laundry (Downy)

Muggy laundry rooms

LASAGNA

Rain-soaked lawns

Rob’s deodorant

Rob

 

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Why I Read

10 Jul

Inspired by this Instagram series

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I read to escape from the reality of the world

I read to gain empathy and understanding towards certain unfathomable parts of the reality of the world

I read for the romance

I read for the hope

I read for the laughter

I read to see females doing the things I’ve never personally seen females do but know, 100%, they can

I read for the company, for the new loves and best friends

For the Mark Darcys and Bridget Joneses

For the Anne Shirleys and the Weasley twins and Esther Greenwoods and the Jo Marches

I read for the antidote to hate

I read for an expanded mind

I read for “In vain I have struggled!” and “WHAT? A PRINCESS?? ME???”

I read for the love of it,

always simply for the love of the game

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Our First Apartment

5 Jul

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A few nights ago I called my mom in a panic.

There’s a lot of change happening right now, all at once. A wedding to plan. A move. A new city. A new job. A new apartment.

Apartment hunting in LA.

(My hands tremble just typing that.)

We had just found out that the apartment we wanted had gone to another person, Hunger Games style. I was so disappointed. I’m talking tears came to my eyes disappointed, anger in my soul disappointed.

I LOVED the area this apartment was in. It was two blocks from the beach. Bright. Across the street from yoga and ramen and the farmer’s market and the historic library and the church and the best breakfast place and.

You get it.

I had already compiled a list of dinner party guests we would invite over once we had settled into the place. After a pasta dinner and light, refreshing dessert we would take our guests on a walk to the beach.

I can’t believe you’re this close! they would say.

We’re so lucky, I would say.

I had the furniture picked out. I knew which yoga classes I was going to.

I was in. My whole heart was in.

The disappointment was overwhelming.

We’ll never live that close to the beach again, I told my mom. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the only apartment in the area we could even remotely afford, and it’s gone.

My mother, all credit to her, did not laugh at my dramatics. She simply said, Jill, it’s a long life. You don’t know where you’ll live in the future. You just need a place to start out.  

The place you start out isn’t supposed to be ideal. It’s supposed to be the stuff of family folklore. The weird first apartment. Not the rest of your life.

My parents’ first place infamously required them to fill the toilet bowl by hand after each use.

I don’t know what this means, exactly, but I do know that it sounds awful.

Another one of their early places was small enough that my mom could vacuum the entire home from one outlet.

Another was in a neighborhood where they woke up to find their turnips had been tagged with graffiti.

Or so the family folklore goes.

Later in the week, Rob and I signed on our first apartment together.

It has no overhead lighting (read: dark). It’s significantly further from the beach and the yoga and the ramen and the farmer’s market and the historic library and the church and the best breakfast place and.

You get it.

I do not love the neighborhood, for I am not one who values convenience over charm, practicality over theatricality.

There will be no post dinner party beach walks.

And yet, I remind myself the words of my mother

Jill, it’s a long life. You don’t know where you’ll live in the future.

You just need a place to start out.  

 

Here we are, starting out.

Bring on the family folklore.

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LA Is The Worst

29 Jun

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LA is the worst because in order to make an event downtown at 7:30 I left my house at 1:45 pm. The last time I decided to delay a drive downtown, I spent four hours in the car and screamed, “I could have driven to Utah today!”

I wasn’t emotionally prepared to repeat that.

LA is the worst because in my four hours to kill I decided to see Wonder Woman and when I left the theater, after paying $14 for a matinee, I was greeted with a parking bill of $27.

Yes. $27.

Yes. $14.

LA is the worst because the first weekend I ever spent here I discovered it cost $10 every 15 minutes in the Target parking lot and my heart shattered to dust.

LA is the worst because in order to make my event, I had to park in another parking garage and pay another price.

The price of my soul.

LA is the worst because apartment hunting is a reality television sport. “We have approved multiple people, the first to hand us a check with the deposit gets the apartment!” they say, ominously. “Let the Hunger Games begin!”

LA is the worst because to even apply for an apartment, you need 12 references as just the beginning.

I can’t even tell you the end. It’s too painful.

LA is the worst because a friend said, “Yes. I’ve lived in my apartment for over a decade for this reason. Who has the energy to move?”

Who, indeed.

LA is the worst because in two days I’ve listened to two full audiobooks in the car. I’ve dealt with property managers who are nitpicky about the dimensions of your signature and your emergency contact’s home address.

“In an emergency, phone is the communication method of choice!” Rob yells.

If only that were the biggest problem.

LA is the worst because by the time I got to my event, I saw that another favorite author of mine was coming in the future and I determined I didn’t have it in me.

I didn’t have another day in downtown LA to give.

LA is the worst.

Did you hear?

LA is the best because after all of that I got to see Roxane Gay.

I got to see her live in an auditorium full of likeminded feminists. I got to laugh and scream and seriously debate asking her her favorite Beyoncé song.

LA is the best because just two days before I got to attend the Sound of Music Sing-a-long at the Hollywood Bowl. I got to sit amongst dressed up nuns who work at Disneyland and share their Portos and have a moment. A moment with the city, with the music, with a friend.

LA is the best because our strawberries come straight from Oxnard. Because California air soothes the lungs. Because of Malibu.

LA is the best.

Did you hear?

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Things I love about my life right now

28 Jun

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My life is shifting in remarkable ways right now. The tectonic plates are in action and everything is moving, loudly and quickly.

And so, before it all slips away, before I enter this new stage fully, I wanted to record some things I love about the current one:

Monday date days

Thursday yin yoga with Lisa

Married at First Sight

Friday afternoon post-work naps

Carnitas wet burritos for every celebration

Walking to Point Dume

Walking to Zuma

Lasagna soup from Vintage

Drives through the canyon

Hot tub nights

Hiking days

Coming home to a completely mine apartment

Trips to Santa Barbara for my favorite meal

Trips to Santa Barbara for any reason

Walking the Pepperdine track late at night

Checking Malibu Yogurt for its latest flavors

Freedom

Freedom

Freedom

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The thing about expressing real feelings online

25 Jun

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The thing about expressing real feelings online is that it makes other people uncomfortable. We’re not used to honesty when it comes to the dark parts of life or ourselves and so when others reveal it we either rejoice that someone is speaking truth or we wonder what’s wrong with them.

The thing about expressing real feelings online is that you will get concerned people reaching out to you. Some of them will wonder what you have to be sad or anxious or worked up about. Others will say they’re sorry.

It’s OK. You’ll say. That’s how I was feeling at that moment, not anymore.

The thing about expressing real feelings online is that you’re expressing one moment of a much larger, more complicated life. This is how I feel right now. Most likely it is not how I’ll feel in a day, or an hour, or even ten minutes, but writing it out, finding the truth in it is helpful to some of us. And so we do it.

The thing about expressing real feelings online is some people won’t get it. They’ll overreact to you saying, “This is how I feel” by saying “Oh no! I’m so sorry you’re so unstable and (INSERT UNQUALIFIED MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSIS) and here’s some unsolicited advice!” There’s nothing you can say to those people.

The thing about expressing real feelings online is that our gut instinct tells us to tie it up in a pretty bow. To write about a problem and neatly resolve it at the end of 500 words so other people feel better. But this is not a movie, this is not a story. This is life.

The thing about expressing real feelings online is it will draw others to you. Some people will relate to what you’re saying and they’ll reach out and you’ll connect over your shared humanity. They’ll express their real feelings and you’ll express yours and you’ll remember why it is, again, that you do all this expressing in the first place.

The thing about expressing real feelings online is that you’re expressing real feelings online.

The world is a much more complicated place.

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