Archive | May, 2014

Ch-Ch-Changes

30 May

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These pictures deserve their own post, if only to show the progression of my photography relationship with Caitlin.

The first photos Cait and I took were just about two years ago at this point.  We were a set-up friendship, and had never met in real life so our first encounter was when I showed up in LA ready to look for apartments.

Cait, of course, documented the whole thing.  She has no qualms about taking pictures, asking people to take pictures, forcing you to take pictures even when you say, “no thank you,” in your most polite tones.

No qualms whatsoever.

As a result, we have dozens and dozens of horrifying photos from that first weekend together.

I’m not exaggerating when I say these were the worst pictures of my youngish life.

For one thing I was wearing a hat.  This was during the black-out three days of my life I thought hats and I could work out, and now it’s recorded for all of eternity because Caitlin doesn’t get rid of pictures, she just uses them as blackmail later.

I know, kids.  Look at how weird your mother was.

For another thing, the pictures were just…bad.  The body language.  The angles.  We didn’t know what to do with each other both in the photos and in life.  You could tell she was thinking, “Who is the weirdo in the hat?” and I was thinking, “Who is this weirdo in a hat?” and maybe it was the hat that caused all of the problems.

But probably not.

We took some getting used to, me and Cait.  It took time for us to learn each other’s angles, if you will.

And so these recent pictures, these happy, effortless photos at Caitlin’s graduation, well, they mean quite a bit to me.   They show how far we’ve come.  They show how well we know each other.

I believe “ease in pictures together” is a significant marker in any relationship.

I just thought of that this instant, but I’m sticking to it.

More on this theory later!

Or not!

There was a moment during Caitlin’s graduation where her mother turned to me and said, “Aren’t you so glad Cait didn’t go to USC?”

I nodded.

She continued, “You know, Cait called me when she started school and she said, ‘This roommate, Mom.  It was meant to be.  Pepperdine was meant to be.’”

At that point I full-on teared up.  I watched Cait’s long blonde hair bouncing up and down in the ocean breeze and all I wanted was to go back to our little unfurnished Malibu apartment and start these two years over.  Do them again and do them right and change almost nothing.

Except maybe document them more.

I know, kids.  Look what a sap your mom was.

We’re Going On A Job Hunt

28 May

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Job hunting!

Is there anything less fun in this world?

Maybe  a trip to the dentist? But only if you have significant work done at the dentist, like your face is numbed and you have that wear that huge separator thing that makes your mouth hurt for hours afterwards.  Then maybe the dentist is worse.

A regular, run-of-the-mill cleaning with blood on your bib doesn’t compare.

I remember the first summer I actively searched for employment, right after I graduated from high school.  Up until that point I had worked random jobs here and there–piano teaching, babysitting, assisting at my dad’s office.  This was the first time I was filling out cold applications and trying to sell my dazzling self.

It didn’t work so well.

For one, I realized that all of my skills at the time weren’t that important to the folks in the food service industry.  They wanted to know about my experience and my availability, not my string of extracurricular activities or achievements on the GPA front.

Also, their questions.  Not what I was prepared for.

I remember a woman at Old Navy asking me my biggest flaw and me stumbling around like I had never heard of that question (I honestly don’t think I had).  I finally stuttered, “I’m really lazy.  Like the laziest,” and then walked out the blue doors knowing I would never return again.

Who tells their employer they are the laziest?

Who says anything but “I can be a bit of a perfectionist” or “I work too hard and won’t go home until the job is done right!”?

Eventually that summer I ended up working at my university’s laundry pressing shirts full time.  It was hot work, but I was so happy someone wanted my lazy, stuttering self I gladly took it.  I spent 20 hours a week dressing a mannequin with a man’s shirt, putting the mannequin in this press contraption thing, and then wrestling with the fresh shirt wrinkles caused by said machine.

It was years later that I ironed a man’s shirt without a fancy press contraption for the first time and realized, oh my goodness, it’s fantastically easier to just iron shirts, not press them with fancy contraptions.

It was like a revelation.

I’ve always kind of wondered if that shirt press job was all a hoax.  A made-up task to give to poor high school graduates like myself who had nothing to offer the world but needed the employment.

Quite possibly.

The last month or so I’ve reentered the job searching phase of my life in earnest.  In fact, it’s not since the summer of my 17th year that I’ve filled out so many cold applications or had so many employment doubts.

I’m not a very patient person.  On  scale of worst to best traits of mine, patience floats somewhere around “ability to create own headboard” and miles away from “ability to carry a conversation on Mariah Carey quotes.”

Patience is not my strong suit, and as I apply for jobs I find myself feeling edgy. Why hasn’t it all fallen into place yet?  What’s the hold up here?  Why am I not Mindy Kaling’s personal assistant already, plucked from obscurity to make my own sitcom in just three short years?

Where are the Tier 1 jobs?

That’s the other thing.  With this round of employment hunting, my recently graduated friends and I have all been using the tier system to describe jobs.  Tier 1 is the dream job category, things we would love to do, things we went to school to do.

Things with words.

Tier 10 is move back to Utah and work social work jobs.  I haven’t applied for any of those.

(Yet.)

Most of my applications fall somewhere in the middle, this hazy territory with blurred lines and compromises and questions.

Do I take a Tier 8 job just to have a job?

Is anything below a Tier 5 job worth having in the conversation?

What about a Tier 1 job that pays you less than you made as a teenage secretary?  Is that now a Tier 2 job? Or a Tier 6?

How much is the location?

How much is liking the job?

How much is simply having the job?

How long can my bank account hold out before my answers all of these questions change?

Do I remember how to press a shirt?

 

Job hunting!

Is there anything less fun in this world?

On Waffles, I Guess

27 May

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My belly is full of an imitation Waffle Love waffle from my dear mother, who, after making the dessert twice has declared it to be her “signature dish.”

I was playing The Newlywed Game the other day, and one of the questions was about your parents–what is a quality you got from them.  Luke said I inherited my mother’s insistence that everything be the best in life.  Both she and I can’t just give a lesson, we must give a life-changing, earth-altering lesson, and we must fret about it every second of the way.

My mother can’t just make an imitation waffle, the imitation waffle must succeed the original and become her signature dish.

Fret, fret, fret.

I would say this is all pretty accurate stuff.

Shall we move along to the photos then?

I had a whole blog post planned about a recent photography epiphany that was sort-of inspired by these lush Huntington Garden photos.  But really, isn’t this place lush?  The lushest?

Lush is starting to feel like one of those words now that sounds really weird upon repeating.  I can’t decide if it’s a good weird like “splendid” or a bad weird like “Brazilian bikini wax.”

Oh hey, it’s almost summer!

The photography epiphany was centered around the idea that no matter how many photography goals I set, I just cannot lug that big camera of mine around in my life.  Can’t do it. Nope.

Just thought about aperture and had small, full-body shiver.

And for a long time I thought this dislike of real cameras meant that I disliked photography altogether.  Sometimes I even fretted about this.  Why didn’t I like photography?  I should like photography.  What does this mean?  What does it not mean?

And then, a few weeks ago there I was at the Huntington Gardens, snapping up a storm on my phone, taking picture after picture for no real reason but the love of a pretty photo.

And I realized it’s OK if I don’t take big camera pictures.  It’s OK if I’m only ever an iPhone photographer.

It’s 2014.

It will all be OK.

I actually got the idea to go to the Huntington Gardens and Library from an Instagram photo of a friend.  It’s weird how social media does that, introduces us to places and foods and clothings we never knew we always wanted.

Or maybe that’s just me and I’m a particularly susceptible consumer.

Hilary and I, susceptible consumers that we are, bought a box of “the best chocolate chip cookies in the world!” the other day at Vintage Grocers in Malibu simply because of their name and let’s just say, even when we followed the package’s directions to “air them out,” they weren’t the best cookies in the world.

In fact, I’m placing Famous Amos above them in terms of quality.

So they were pretty far down the list.

Speaking of Instagram! (whew, I was afraid this blog post was going to be scattered, glad this isn’t the case)

Speaking of Instagram! that same Hilary day, we ended up in a pool confessing our Instagram shames and watching the water slowly turn our skin into juicy prunes.  I talked about those people, you know the ones, the randoms you don’t actually know, but you sort of know because they are close friends with one of your Instagram friends.

And I have a few of these people.  I kind of feel like I know them even though I obviously don’t.  And occasionally I check up on their lives that I do not know and say, “Oh look.  They had brunch today.  How cute is that?”

And that’s an odd, 2014 thing.

I suppose this is sometimes the way those who read my blog feel about Caitlin.  I’ve had quite a few people who have never met her mention Cait in casual conversation. “That Caitlin, amiright?”

Caitlin, of course, loves this.  She’s Caitlin, after all.

And I mainly laugh.

I think that’s why we read blogs in the first place. Or at least why I do.  We read blogs, and tell stories and want to know details of other people’s lives because their stories might help us make sense of our own.

We connect to the world with our stories.

Or at least I do.

This is what I tell myself, particularly on days like today when my blogging is reallyyyyyy top notch.

Other things on my mind:

1. Kimonos

2. Pasta salad

3. Gas stations

Let’s go with gas stations, how about?

Utah has the best gas stations, and this doesn’t seem all that grand, but when you’re on a road trip and looking for somewhere with Nutter Butter bites and racks of licorice and Andy Capp’s Hot Fries, quality gas stations become terribly important and Utah becomes terribly nostalgic.

I know this because yesterday I took a road trip and my appreciation of Utah gas stations went up tenfold at least.  What is wrong with LA?  Why is it pretending to be a major urban center and yet failing so heavily in the gas station category?

What can I, personally, do about this travesty?

Real thoughts.  Real feelings.

It’s really almost summer, people.

It’s almost summer and I’m in Utah eating waffles.

It will all be OK.

Smuged Strawberries and Tri-Tip Sandwiches

22 May

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Let’s skip to the most important stuff here.  Last weekend I went to the California Strawberry Festival and stood in line amongst the childrens to get this glitter face paint.  Soon after, I left the claustrophobic, bad corn dogged festival and traveled quite a distance away.

I wore the face paint all day, in about 20 different stores, amongst hundreds of people, in several Danish bakeries, and no one so much as mentioned it.

No double takes.

No secret I-want-to-bring-it-up-but-might-offend looks.

No, “Oh hey what’s that strawberry doing on your cheek?” conversations.

Nothing.

Zilch.

Nada.

Not even Nada Surf.

I’ve been trying to figure out what this means ever since. Did no one notice it? Did the strawberry just fit me so well that people didn’t feel the need to comment on it just as they didn’t comment on the fact that I had mascara-d eyelashes or painted fingernails?

Were eyelashes and fingernails the right choice for this comparison?

I’m not going to lie, the idea of becoming a casual face paint sort of person just thrills me down to my toes.  Imagine the possibilities here!  Next time I throw on my gray t-shirt dress I can just add a few colorful stars to my cheek and call it a day.

Whenever that pink sundress comes out I can draw a subtle red heart next to my eye and conquer the world.  Maybe I turn this into a business, an Instagram account, a whole new, wildly profitable blog.

Maybe casual face paint is the way of the future.

Or at least my future.

OK.

Second things second.

The remains of that deliciousness you see on my plate?  That’s the Cold Spring Tavern tri-tip sandwich also known as the best thing Cat Cora ever ate, and let me tell you, she was not exaggerating, oh no she wasn’t.

The tri-tip sandwich at Cold Spring Tavern is a whole blog post in and of itself if I had the energy or patience for the gushing-about-food-for-1000-words thing.  The tavern is in the middle of nowherseville in the Santa Barbara mountains and there’s a live band outside and a chili recipe on the wall and the sandwich comes with three of the most delicious sauces the world has ever seen.

Like the tri-tip?  It was good.

But these sauces.

I want to say inappropriate things about these sauces.  I want to use the words lick and heaven and I want that spicy salsa to know that nothing compares.

Nothing compares 2U.

OK.

So about this picture.

I have a bunch of photos from this perfect day of mine, actually, sitting on my phone, soon to be uploaded to my computer and forgotten about for all of time, but this was the shot I liked most.  This was the one at the end of the day, when my body was tired and my strawberry was faded from the sun and heat and, well, kisses, if you must know.

This was the picture that showed off my $3 gold heart bracelets purchased at a kitschy little store in Solvang, found amongst the wind chimes and the Buddha candles.

This was the one taken right before we raced the sunset to the Santa Barbara beach only to discover the sun sets away from the water. (What?)

I’m drowsy in this shot, tired from a day of driving and eating and wandering, and I’m happy.

My boyfriend said something the other day.  Shall we call this boyfriend of mine Luke for now?  I don’t know how these blog relationship things work, and look, if I were married I would share his name right quick, but I’m not.  And I don’t do cute nicknames.  And dating is so hard and so fleeting I just don’t want to go there quite yet.

So we’ll call him Luke, yes?

Anyway, Luke said the other day that my happiness is so fragile.

And I feel like that’s a good way to describe it.

My happiness, like much of me, is so fragile.

Some parts of me are so solid and strong and rooted in years of practice.  But this happiness-in-a-relationship bit I’m just getting used to and it startles me sometimes.

I’m happy in this picture.

I did this trip once before alone, the Santa Barbara/Solvang adventure trip.  And the thing is I really like to travel alone.  I believe solo travel is one of the great luxuries in life.  I love to do exactly what I want when I want, thank you very much.

Pizza at 10:00AM? Done.

12 minutes in a museum before I’m bored?  Don’t have to mention it to anyone.

Sleeping 16 hours a day?  Perfect.

And I guess I got so used to traveling alone, having mini solo adventures, that I dismissed the possibility that traveling with someone else could be even more fun.

That watching the mellow light bounce over the rolling hills and reading Nick Hornby is actually better when someone else can admire the sun and laugh at the quotes and share your love of California.

That, maybe, with the right type of person, life and love and mini road trips don’t have to be so endlessly hard all of the time.

Sheesh, who am I?

What has this blog become?

In Which I Almost Encounter Bono, Again

20 May

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For those of you concerned that my blog has turned into a Bono fan site where every day from now until forever I quote U2 and talk about how I maybe, sort of, almost should have run into Bono and I’ll never recover because I didn’t, all I have to say is:

Your fears are founded in reality.

I’m renaming this site jillianlorraineandbono.com.

I just purchased red sunglasses and am wearing them indoors.

**How long must we sing this song, how long, how long**

Last Saturday was a long, hot, need-to-recover-in-a-dark-room sort of day.  It was Caitlin’s graduation and a tip top occasion, but really a tip top tiring occasion as well.  I spent most of my time fighting traffic in and out of Malibu, sitting in the hot sun, and other such graduation things.

Graduations!  Important, but also! You know?

Saturday night my boyfriend and I were supposed to go out and socialize with some friends.  Drinks on the water.  Happiness and self-actualization.  LA, etc.  I stumbled over to his apartment around 8:00 and said I couldn’t do it. I was far too tired and needed to stay in and drink a glass of water and take three ibuprofen and eat ice cream and watch Veep in a dark room all night.

“That sounds like your equivalent of a bender,” he said, as he got me water and watched me eat a pint of ice cream.  ”I’ll miss you.”

“Of course you will,” I said, “now go and leave me to my misery.”

A couple of hours later he sent me a text, “One word: Bono.”

Naturally, I remained the classy girl I am, “BONO IS NOT THERE, IS HE? I WILL COME.  WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? YOU DON’T SAY BONO AND DISAPPEAR! WHY ARE YOU JUST TELLING ME THIS NOW? I COULD BREAK UP WITH YOU OVER THIS.”

“I told you as soon as I knew,” he said, which, my dear blog readers, was the honest-to-goodness truth.  Sweet, terrible-taste-in-music boy that he is, he didn’t know Paul David by sight.

!

On the one hand that’s kind of really cute, and the other hand, pull it together, man.

Pull it freaking together.

“Inform me of his every move. I’ll be there ASAP,” I texted and I was out the door, hurtling towards my destiny.  I cranked “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and frantically called Hilary six times.  You see, while I respect Bono as the greatest person alive, as all normal people do, Bono is Hilary’s diva.  Her soul person.

Bono is to her what Mariah Carey is to me.

Plus I was just having a lot of feelings.

All of the feelings.

Feelings everywhere, spilling out, needing to be shared.

A couple of minutes later I got a text from another friend in our group informing me phones were dying and Bono was leaving.

“No!!!!!” I responded, still a full 20 minutes away from Malibu, still a full 20 minutes from my destiny.

“How can this keep happening, my close encounters of the Bono kind?  Why am I so cursed?  Was I born under an unlucky star, is that what this is all about?”

!

A few hours later I was back in bed with my Veep and my water when my boyfriend texted me, phone functional once more.  I apologized for my rash words and asked him seriously if we could continue in a relationship.

How does it work, really, when one of you has been in the presence of Bono and one hasn’t?  Can we still communicate?  Do we have anything in common anymore?  What does our future look like?

“I love you, Jill,” he said.  ”I love your crazy.”

“Yeah?” I said.

“Yeah,” he said.

And then I thought, oh.

That’s how it works.

That’s what our future looks like.

The George Clooney Diva Fiasco

15 May

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Monday morning I woke up to an urgent text from Hilary, “Why were not at George Clooney’s engagement party at Cafe Habana?!  BONO WAS THERE.”

Café Habana is the one and only karaoke spot in Malibu and the home of our regular karaoke jam sessions. (Is jam session the right term here?  I’m feeling a bit insecure about it.)  Just like everything in Malibu, karaoke in Malibu is something of a quaint, endlessly rich affair.  Cafe Habana is owned by Cindy Crawford’s husband and is a Mexican restaurant and bar six nights of the week and karaoke-jam-session-host-thing-place one night a week.

(Yep, definitely wrong term here.)

At 10:00PM sharp on Wednesdays, this deliciously older, bearded DJ sets up camp in the corner booth and suddenly Cafe Habana is ready for some bad singing and even more terrible dancing.

At first I was a bit outraged by the set up.  Where was the stage?  Can you even correctly perform Mariah Carey amongst the common people?  Do the diva goddesses frown on such a practice?  And then I tried it, and, well, now I have to say all karaoke should be done without a stage and with college students dancing in your face every time, always.

There are very few things that inspire me to leave my little cave and be social, but Wednesday night karaoke at Cafe Habana  is definitely one.

I love the little white-haired man that Caitlin gets into dance competitions with.  I love the guy who sings “No Diggity” and compliments my Fergie rap when it’s particularly Fergielicious.  I love the homeless-looking person I’ve been assured is a secret billionaire.  I even like the pageboy-wearing hipster who pulls a harmonica from his pocket and belts “Piano Man” from the tabletops.

(Caitlin doesn’t like that guy much, though, see the above picture.)

I’m not joking you when I say this line-up is fairly static.  Cafe Habana karaoke is as certain as taxes and stretch marks, and I’m all about it.

And now back to that fateful Hilary text.

“WHAT?!?” I responded.  How was it possible that Bono was in Malibu?  Why didn’t we know?

Hilary texted frantically, “I just feel so mad at whoever was in the area and not starting worldwide Twitter trends.  Once, Ryan Gosling was rumored to be at a Bloomington bar and I was woken up in the middle of the night to drive by.  HE WASN’T EVEN THERE.  WHERE ARE PEOPLE’S PRIORITIES?”

Hilary continued on, morosely, “Bono probably sang ‘Zombie’ and brought down the house.”

This was a low blow, really, for last time Hil and I were at Cafe Habana we attempted to sing a “Zombie” duet and it went over rather poorly.  In fact, after the performance we comforted ourselves with Diet Coke and Hilary said, “Some people just don’t understand rock and roll.”

I couldn’t stand the texts at that point.  “Ugh, don’t, Hil.  Don’t go there.”  The thoughts of Bono at my karaoke place singing my karaoke song were just too much for my 8:00 AM brain to handle.

Hilary continued to send sobbing emojis.  I went back to sleep.

I woke up four hours later a little worried I was getting up after noon.  “I just woke up.  Should I be concerned here?”

Hilary responded, “Nah, the George Clooney fiasco required a nap for emotional recovery.”

“You’re right,” I said. “You’re so right.”

BONO WAS AT MY KARAOKE PLACE.

I should probably go nap again.

 

PS: SheKnows?

Apparently high dogs don’t get the munchies, who knew?

How to decorate like a billionaire

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15 Dogs that like to garden

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19 Signs you decorate like a hipster

McDonald’s Moods

13 May

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The other night I got in a bad way.

Sometimes I don’t know when these bad ways will hit, or why, really, or how to get out of them.  All I know is I feel very misunderstood and what I need more than anything is Caitlin.

“I need to talk to Cait,” I said, that bad-way night.  “Caitlin will understand.”

And sure enough, when Cait woke up to my distressing texts she said, “Want me to come over and we can get dolled up together while listening to Stevie?  How may I be of service mon petit chou?  We can get ready and order pizza with all the toppings and snuggle and watch Grey’s.”

“Yes” I said. “Yes, yes, yes to everything and yes again.”

Caitlin is the only person in the world who relates to this specific mood of mine, this self-destructive self that is willing to throw away wonderful things for the ghost of a flash of a memory, who clings to falsehoods and crazy and irrationalities.  She understands because she can be the same way.

And so Cait came over, as good friends do when they receive distressing 3:00AM texts, and through Silver Springs and Nutella and peanut butter Rice Krispie treats for breakfast we confirmed what we always confirm in our emergency Jill/Cait sessions:

These are destructive moods.

We can’t throw our lives away for memories.

Or ghosts of flashes of memories.

Especially those.

Stevie Nicks is the answer to all of life’s problems.

And then we went to our Adventure McDonalds’s (not to be confused with our Regular McDonald’s) and we tried out the new Mickey D’s Value Pack and I ordered a large fry because why are there no fries in this value pack?  What is life? What is a McDonald’s value pack without fries in life?

And then we drank four Diet Cokes and and took stupid silly pictures with stupid silly facial expressions and tried to eat fries out of each other’s mouths and some such nonsense with extra sides of ranch.

And for all of my refusals to live in the moment, for all of my focus on the future and all my obsession and re-obsession and over-obsession and obsessive-obsession with the past, I realized that right then I was in the moment.  As Cait and I divvied up our Value Pack and sang our regular “One Day More” parts* and danced seductively to Mariah Carey that afternoon, I was so fully in the moment and so unabashedly myself I forgot about the irrationalities and obsession and was just…happy.

Or at least present.

Perhaps that’s Cait’s gift to me as a friend–the gift of living in the moment.

The gift of being present in my own life.

Holy Spicy McChicken with light mayo is that a good gift for a girl like me.

——–

*One Day More parts, in order of appearance*

Jean Valjean: Jill (Obvi.  Role I was born to play, obvi.)

Marius: Cait

Cosette: Cait (Yes, she duets with herself, I DON’T KNOW SHE MAKES IT WORK.  Maybe she has one of those voices that can split??  Will investigate further.)

Eponine: Jill (On lock)

Enjolras: Jill

Javert: Cait (The role she was meant to play, obvi.)

The Thendardiers: Jill (…)

Various chorus parts: Both of us as the universe moves us

——–

For bookings and other Les Mis appearances/performances/reenactments, please see my contact page.

OK, Mom

12 May

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The summer after third grade I wrote my first novel.  It was called The Chronicles of the Porcelain Doll and it was a highly inventive story, 49% Chronicles of Narnia, 49% Wizard of Oz.

The 2% original part came in the form of a piece of bacon that served as a compass for my motley crew of animal and doll adventurers.

Mmm bacon.

I spent that hot Vegas summer locked in my room, furiously channeling my genius into spiral notebooks until one day I finally emerged, hands full of pages, and marched to my mother.  “Type this up!” I said in my usual, bossy way, hands on my hips.

She did, and in the end I had a beautiful 80-page book.

“You’re going to be a writer,” my mother said as she handed me my first novel.

“OK, Mom,” I said as I put the book away, never to be looked at again.

My mother always said she knew I would be a writer because what child spends their time hiding away writing novels?  “I know children,” she would say.  “You’re a writer.”

“OK, Mom,” I would say.

When I was 12 years old my family moved to Utah, and soon after I found myself at a church activity.  This particular get-together introduced each 12-year-old girl to the rest of the group via a written statement by their mother.

I remember standing in line with the other pre-teens in our performance fleece and flare pants feeling awkward and cold.  Mainly cold.  I never got used to the Utah cold.

The announcer read my mother’s words about me.  “Jill is a great pianist,” she said.  I blushed a bit.  “She loves to help other people,” I smiled. “And she writes plays and commercials and stories and likes to get other people to perform them.  She has a creative mind.  She’s a writer.”

I rolled my eyes, “OK, Mom.”

When I was 17, I went away to college, just 40 minutes from my hometown.  “I’m going to be a social worker,” I said, teal corduroy backpack on.  “This is my life’s path and destiny.  I couldn’t be more certain of anything on this planet Earth, and also Jewel is my kindred spirit.”

“You can do anything you want to, Jill” my mother said.  “You are endlessly talented.”

“OK, Mom,” I said.

When my mother was 19 she got married.  When I was 19 I started grad school.  I think it was also around this time I began the “If I were my mother, what would I be doing right now?” game.

It’s not a good game, really.  Everyone’s life path is different and too close a comparison to anyone is going to play with your mind, but, of course, as a teenager I didn’t know this or didn’t care about this.

I did know that all of the sudden my mother couldn’t relate to me in the same ways as before.  All of the sudden our life experiences were dramatically different.

At the age my mother had her first child I was single and finishing up grad school.  At the age she had her second child I was heartbroken and working full-time as a social worker.

As I struggled to cope with everything that comes along with being in your early 20s, I felt like my mom quite simply didn’t get me. The loneliness, the fears, the questions that I faced on a daily basis were things she could not relate to.

Sometimes I would cry to her or try to explain a problem I was having and would think, “She doesn’t understand.  At this age she was —.   She never had her heart shattered.  She never made all these tough decisions entirely on her own.  She never, she never, she never.”

When I was 24, I quit my job in London and moved back to my childhood home.  I was not happy to be an adult in my teenage bedroom, but I was quite happy to be done with social work. I spent the next few months working a terrible transcription job and trying to figure out the next step in my life.

After a good while of moping and coping, I emerged from my room, ombre hair in a messy bun, and announced, “I’m switching careers.  I’m moving to Malibu.  I’m getting another degree and no one can stop me!  Also my heart will never go on!

“What are you doing in school?” My mother asked.

“I’m going to be a writer,” I said.

“I’ve always said you were a writer,” she said.

“OK, Mom,” I said.

“OK, OK, OK. You were right.”

Today as I sit in my fluffy bed in LA I can’t help but play the “If I were my mother, what would I be doing right now?” game once again, a game I’m quite skilled at at this point, but also a game I realize means just about nothing.

At my age, my mother had three children.  She owned a home. She had mastered cooking and sewing and cleaning and praying and was well on her way to solving world hunger.

At this very minute I am underemployed and eat McDonald’s more times a week than she has in her entire life.

But I am a writer, just like my mother always knew I was.

I am a writer because of my mother. Because of her love of stories and imagination.  Because of her book collection.  Because of her unending faith in me.

And those differences, those things I thought that made it so we couldn’t relate to each other?

Well, they’re quite silly, really. Quite, spectacularly, ridiculously silly in the grand scheme of things.

I love you, Mother.

Happy Mother’s Day.

You were right.

Better Jill

8 May

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Let’s start this thing out with a terrible San Francisco Starbucks selfie and…go!

Last week I met the better version of myself.

We will call her Better Jill and we will try not to let her existence ruin our lives.

(I don’t now where the plural thing is coming from.  Apologies from us.)

I always knew there might be a better version of myself out there, laughing loudly, quoting Dawson’s with a fury, but I preferred to think of her as a myth.

A Yeti.

Not real.

And then, last week, on a sunny day in non-sunny San Francisco, Better Jill and I came face to face.

Or curl to curl, rather.

I first saw Better Jill about a mile from my job interview location.  I immediately noticed her striped almost-mini in the sea of pantsuits and sturdy pumps.  It was the sort of almost-miniskirt that looks appropriate in professional settings, but only just.

I’m all about skirts that are appropriate but only just. Right on that border, laughing at it.

Appropriate, but only just.

That could describe a lot of things in my life.

Better Jill had wild, brown curls, but somehow a color that might be called “mousy” on me was a vibrant shade of honey-kissed peanut butter on her.  She looked a bit out of place, glancing at her phone for directions.

The light turned and she started across the street.  That’s when I saw the clincher–Better Jill was wearing killer black ankle boots!

Of course she was!

I was staring at me, but just me 2.0!  Her curls were tighter, her ankle boots fiercer, her skirt less appropriate!

Better Jill was headed the same direction as I was, and things only got weirder when we turned down the same side street.

And stopped at the same building.

And looked at our phones at the same time.

That’s when I realized something horrifying–BETTER JILL WAS MY COMPETITION FOR THE JOB.

There was no other explanation for how two girls as similar as we were–young, 20-somethings in semi-professional get-ups and ankle boots–would stand outside the same building at the same time, twirling our hair and checking our gold iPhones.

She was literally me down to my job hopes.

Only better.

I was really nervy at this point, all jumbles and giggles, and I decided I needed to calm down.

I headed into the nearest Starbucks and took a few cleansing breaths.  I was tired and carrying around a vat of lotion because when you come into the city seven hours before your interview you need a vat of lotion just in case.  You also need a curling iron.  And eyebrow gel.  And a bag that can support every irrational thing you think you should bring seven hours in advance just in case your plan of “sit very still and not ruin anything” doesn’t work out and you have to redo your look before your interview.

I settled into a corner table and pulled out my MacBook.  I texted a few friends about meeting the better version of myself and they laughed it off and I laughed too.

Things were calm.

Er.

Calmer.

Whew that was a manic time!

AND THEN BETTER JILL WALKED INTO MY STARBUCKS.

I lost it at that point, obviously.  ”GUYS, BETTER JILL JUST WALKED INTO STARBUCKS THIS IS UNREAL.  She pulled out a MacBook.  I’m making this more than it is, right? Or AM I?”

I stared at Better Jill’s curls jealously from behind my computer screen, wondering exactly how much of my reaction was “crazy due to job interview stress” and how much of this was “crazy due to crazy.”

Katie responded to my crazy-due-to-crazy texts, “Never mind other Jill.  I’m sure she’s 50% the writer you are and 400% the drama and no one could love her like we love you.”

I took a few more cleansing breaths and turned on Frasier.

I don’t know exactly when Better Jill left Starbucks on that fateful San Francisco day.  I didn’t even notice, actually.  She slipped out of my life as quietly and quickly as she had slipped in, leaving her mark on my very soul.

**Insert musical note emojis**

I’ve heard it said

That people come into our lives

For a reason,

Bringing something we must learn.

And we are led

To those who help us most to grow

If we let them.

And we help them in return.

I catch myself thinking of Better Jill from time to time.  What is she doing at this very minute?  Is she also wearing a black floral mumu and topknot?  Are her nails a buttery shade of Easter purple today, just like mine?

Is she at a coffee shop with her two best friends blogging about her experience with Lesser Jill?

Is she thinking of me too?

I’ll probably never know.

All that can be said for certain is I know I’m who I am today because I found Better Jill.

Because I met her, I have been changed.

For good.

Reading and Dating

6 May

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I’m dating someone.

I never mention these things on my blog, and for good reason, but I’m dating someone and he loves to cook and I love to read.  And so whenever we get the chance, he cooks me some fabulous gourmet meal of my choice, and I sit on the counter with a Diet Coke and I read to him.

Sometimes it’s the book I’m reading at the time and I have to catch him up and give him context, and sometimes it’s one of my favorites because he says he wants to know the books that shaped me and he means it.

At the moment we are tackling Anne of Green Gables.  My Marilla Cuthbert voice is pretty on point, I must say.

Then again, I think most of my voices are pretty on point.  I’ve certainly had enough reading-out-loud practice.

This dating boy and I have settled into a routine these days.  We go shopping.  He complains about the lack of cheese/meat/DON’T ASK ME I DON’T COOK at the local grocery store.  I assure him I don’t care as long as he gets the lemon for my Diet Coke .  He starts to cook, the onion and garlic sizzling.  My voice grows as I become the romantical Anne with an e. He tells me I’m adorable when I get excited about books because I have my comments and voices and giggles.

And I pause, oh once a page or so, for an aside.  ”Did you ever have an imaginary friend like Katie Maurice or Violetta?”  ”I want to move to Prince Edward Island for a summer, say this summer?”  ”I hope my daughter is just like her one day.  Can I force this to happen?”

And then we eat the delicious dinner together.  And he does the dishes and I do my voices.  And then we go on a walk or eat some ice cream or watch some Frasier or all of the above.

It’s so simple.

No hurt.  No tears.  No drama.

It’s so simple and yet it feels so big, you know?

I have no idea what will happen with us, me and this boy who is making me so happy.  A lot of significant changes are about to occur in my life, not to mention that with this particular boy there are all sorts of inborn struggles in our relationship, but I do know this:

Whoever I end up with, we’re reading aloud together.

We’re reading aloud together or he’s the wrong guy for me.

Oh, but it’s really good with this one.

I’m dating someone and it’s really, really good with this one.