Archive | November, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Back

25 Nov

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I’m thankful for my family.  For this group of people who have to love me and choose to love me and always love me.

For my mother and father who gave me a Brady Bunch childhood.  For their relationship, which inspires boys who do not love me to say, “The best part about marrying you would be your parents as in-laws”

I’m thankful for my siblings, the people who make sense of me.  The other four human beings who share crooked second toes and high-pitched giggles and the Denning language.

I’m grateful for my boyfriend.

I’m grateful that he sees my refusal to go in the kitchen as a good thing.  I’m grateful for his support.  For the nights he saves his mac and cheese for me.  For the traffic jams he offers to drive through.

I’m grateful I’m not crying every day anymore.

I’m grateful for my friends, the incredible women I’ve collected, my greatest accomplishment in my 27 years.  I’m grateful for their bravery and honesty and validation and understanding.

I’m grateful for a job that allows me to pursue writing.  I get to pursue writing!  For real!

It’s like a glorious dream.

So is living in Malibu.

I’m thankful, thankful, thankful for Malibu.

I’m grateful for sunsets on the beach.  For raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

For David Beckham’s right foot.

For David Beckham’s left foot.

I’m grateful for Nick Hornby and Mariah Carey and Nachos Roberto with extra chicken.

I’m grateful for Essie vending machines and library cards and nacho cheese curly fries and black toenails and birthday months and Richard Curtis movies and Gilmore Girls reunions and potato sack dresses and Joni Mitchell and and and

My hair.

Can I say my hair?

I’m grateful for my hair.

And Anne Lamott.

And Thanksgiving in the suburbs.

And you.

(If you’re nice.  You’re all nice, right?)

Happy Thanksgiving back, people.

Happy Thanksgiving back.

These Days

21 Nov

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There’s this group of men who eat breakfast at Lily’s every morning.  They’re older, definitely retired, with white hair and grandpa pants and shoes to accommodate their slower pace.  They sit in the table at the back, the one by the window.  And they laugh.

When I come in around 8:30 one of them stands up and opens the door for me.  The others continue their loud conversation.

There’s probably 10 of them, these best friends.  I like to imagine they were all firefighters back in the day.  Or perhaps they served in the army together.  Maybe they were barbers?  One of them was a barber and he cut everyone else’s hair?

So many exciting possibilities.

So many relationship goals.

I dreamt I was Meg in the Paper Towns movie.

Meg is not a character in Paper Towns.

I’ve been following John Green and Cara Delevingne’s Instagrams perhaps a little too closely, it would seem.

Also, when I was in elementary school someone told me my gymnastics outfit made me “look like a Megan.”

I think it all comes back to this.

Also also, I think Cara as Margo is bloody effing brilliant.

I dreamt my roommate was taken captive by Brian David Mitchell.

I read Elizabeth Smart’s book recently.  I was her same age and living in Salt Lake when she was taken from her home at knifepoint in 2002.

I slept in my parents’ room for a week after her disappearance and had bars installed in my basement windows.

Ever since then I’ve had an irrational fear of being taken.

My brother says so do all girls my age from Utah.  He calls us the Elizabeth Smart Generation.

This week I woke up from my Brian David Mitchell dream shaking.

Over a decade later and I’m still shaking.

Finally, The Sexiest Man Alive Official Deputy Central Committee Of Delight got it right.

Chris Hemsworth.

Finally.

I’m still a little miffed they haven’t given Ryan Gosling his time in the sun.  The man has a feminist book named after him for the love of everything holy and right.

But Chris.

Finally.

Remember the dreadful year they put Liam but not Chris on the list?  Love me some Liam, but LET’S BE RATIONAL, PEOPLE.  We don’t have to choose Hemsworths.  Both Hemsworths exist.

(I feel like Anne Lamott would say here: God knows what She’s doing.)

Yesterday I went to find Jude Law’s SMA cover to tweet along with a classy #neverforget and realized that Jude became Sexiest Man Alive the year I turned 17.

It’s all coming together.

I am perpetually 17.  My sexiest man was officially sexiest when I was 17.

I’m a parody of a parody.

HAVE YOU WATCHED THIS?

I showed this to my one hour drama class last year.  Jude’s son Rafferty was my ideal male lead in the teen soap I wrote.

Rafferty Law.

What a name.

Brooklyn Beckham was also cast in my teen soap, if you must know.

David Beckham, another of my true loves, has never been Sexiest Man Alive, and I fear it’s too late for him.

He probably peaked when I was 17, too.

Luke is perpetually 21.

One of my friend’s bachelorette parties is at a dance studio in Hollywood where a professional will teach us Beyonce moves and we will make a music video.

I am, without argument, the worst dancer in the world.

I recently went to Zumba and am trying to option my 40 minute experience into a Lifetime horror movie.

But.

Isn’t this the coolest bachelorette party of all the bachelorette parties?

I always said I didn’t want a bachelorette party.

But now.

I saw Owen Wilson on Monday!

Luke was inside Lily’s getting us napkins, and it was all so quick it almost seems like a happy dream plopped in the middle of a very stressful week.

Owne’s hair was wet.

Clearly, he had been surfing.

He was wearing a baseball cap.

Clearly, he didn’t want to be recognized.

But his nose.

Owen’s nose.

He is recognizable.

Clearly.

My sophomore year of college I spilled a bag of carrots in my car and  decided I didn’t have the energy to pick them up.  A few days later I was left with moldy, distorted lumps of toxic waste littering my floor.

I sent my friends a rather dramatic email on the subject:

I realized I am a carrot.  Something went really wrong in my life and I spilled all over the car.  I couldn’t get myself to pick it up because I was having a string of bad days.  And now I’m moldy and gross, and, in fact, unrecognizable from my former self.  

(I’ve always been extremely profound.)

This week I had my second life carrot experience.

I washed my sheets on Thursday but didn’t get around to putting them back on my bed for a full seven days.  I went a whole week sleeping on a decaying mattress pad, telling myself I would “get to it.” “It’s OK.”  When I finally put the linens on my bed I had hair ties and makeup and empty Snapple bottles at my feet. I had a sports bra under my face and 12 books beside me.

Somehow in a week’s time I became moldy carrot girl again, and I can’t help but wonder why.

Why I couldn’t just put on the sheets?

Shouldn’t I be able to put on the sheets?

Why do some people just put on the sheets?

Bailey from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants teaches my pilates class.

I want to say something to her, but then I don’t.

I obviously don’t.

“Bailey, give me the goods on Blake Lively.  Were you at the wedding?  How uncomfortable/comfortable does Preserve make you?”

“And about Alexis.  Do you think she lives without a toilet now that Pete is in her life?”

Lice!

This week someone in my life discovered she has lice.  Lice!

Mandee (rather distressingly) told me that she knew a girl with lice who had to cut off her hair, Julie Andrews-style.

I DO NOT HAVE JULIE ANDREWS’ FACE.

Hilary suggested, if this were to happen, if my hair were lost to the lice monsters, I should chronicle my journey as a poor woman’s Julie Andrews in a new blog:

Your One True Beauty.

Lice!

Louisa May!

In case you would like a picture of my hair pre poor-woman’s-Julie-Andrews cut, you can see it in my first article for Self Magazine:

This Milkmaid Braid Will Solve Weekday Hairdo Woes

!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!

(That was my postmodern way of conveying my excitement at seeing my article on Self!)

!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Get it?

Got it?

Good.

I do not have lice.

I am the queen of ordering bulk food products online and I need help.

This week it was 36 whatchamacallits.

I told myself not to be irrational.  To truly check every place in Malibu for these mediocre candy bars I happened to be craving one afternoon.

I checked.

They weren’t there.

I ordered.

My roommate found them at the gas station the next day.

It’s a sitcom episode trying to figure out what to do with the whatchamacallits.

(Because, of course, after the bulk order came in I discovered whatchamacallits aren’t as good as I once remembered.)

Should I donate them?

Use them in my next church lesson?

Eat them slowly over the next 36 years?

“He’s the most beautiful man who ever walked the earth – an absolutely perfect oil painting” — Naomi Watts on Jude Law.

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#neverforget

The Girls’ Guide To Hunting And Fishing

19 Nov

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It’s 3:30PM in Tempe, Arizona and I’ve driven all day.  My Corolla is stuffed with suitcases and bikinis, the things that will sustain me through two months of desert cruelty.

I rush through the lease signing process. “Yes, cool, this is for the pool, gotcha,” I say.  I take my apartment key and race back to my full car.

L-I-B-R-A-R-Y I type into Google Maps.

Bingo!  Open until 5:00!

(I know this, of course.  I’ve checked several times.  It was why I left Utah when I did.)

The librarian  tells me they typically need more documentation to grant a card.  I smile and plead and say, “This is all I have, I am only here for the summer.”

I get my library card, a larger-than-average sized keychain with a Native American theme.

I check out my first book and put 20 more on hold.

I have a rule that my library card should always be near its limit.

It’s a fun rule to have.

It’s also a fun story to tell.

The first thing I do in a new place (before I go into the apartment I’ve rented sight-unseen) is make sure I’ve maxed out my library card.

Oh gosh I love to read.

And yet.

And yet and yet.

For all this reading I do, for all the books I tear through or labor through or cry through, fewer and fewer of them make a Life Impact these days.  I’m no longer a little girl discovering Little Women for the first time.

I’m a Shania Twain, still excited at the prospect of discovery, but a tiny bit more “That don’t impress me much.”

Which is why this latest treasure, this latest take-my-breath-away novel has stayed with me.

The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing is brilliant.  Melissa Bank is brilliant.  She has Hemingway-esque prose and superb insight into the female mind and a way of saying things so clearly.  I’m a writer with all the adjectives and all the drama and all the words. I admire her restraint.  Her ability to just say something.

Something true.

Something funny, and insightful, and real.

Ugh.

Go.  Read this book.

Tell me all your thoughts.

 

Some of my favorite quotes.  Prepare yourself for overload/brilliance:

You hear that he can’t hear you, you see that he can’t see you. You are not here—and you haven’t even died yet. You see yourself through his eyes, as The Generic Woman, the skirted symbol on the ladies’ room door.

When he says “I love you, honey,” you realize that he never calls you by your name.

“Can you see yourself growing old in the suburbs?”

“Only if it’s a choice between the suburbs and setting myself on fire.”

I am a dater. I am a snorkeler in the social swim.

It occurs to me that I might not like fun.

“No wonder I’m single,” she says to the mirror. “Even I don’t want to get into bed with these thighs.”

I say that getting married isn’t like winning the Miss America Pageant; it doesn’t all come down to the bathing suit competition.

“What do you think it comes down to?” She says.

I say, “Baton twirling.”

Sometimes you worry that he loved you better than any man ever has or will—even if it had nothing to do with you.

Today was the first day of the rest of my life. It was okay. I think the second day of the rest of my life will be better.

Everywhere you go, you see women more beautiful than yourself.

You imagine him being attracted to them.

You’re drinking gasoline to stay warm.

‘It isn’t you,’ he says, as though you’re to be comforted by the irrelevant role you play in your own life.

You realize that if he doesn’t know who you are, he won’t be able to remember who you were.

“You are making it harder than it has to be,” she says.

I say, “And should I forgive him because it would be easier?”

“You don’t need a reason to forgive,” she says. “If you want to go on with someone, that is what you do.”

I guess love is the real suspension of disbelief.

Breakfast Burgers

13 Nov

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It’s 10AM and he’s making burgers.  He calls them breakfast burgers as though the title changes the reality.

A rose by any other name.

Or something.

A pan of water boils.

I read more Anne Lamott.  I’m sitting in the leather chair, curled up in his old basketball shorts, the ones I hate.

“Why do you love her so much?” he asks.

“It’s her truth.  She tells the truth.” I say.

I read him a passage where Anne vaguely threatens a 7-year-old, giggling all the while.

“Truth.”

He kisses my forehead.  ”You get more excited reading this book than I do about anything in my life.”

“Except me,” I say, going back to Anne.

He sets a plate in front of me.  A bacon cheese breakfast burger on a cheddar bun.  A heaping side of Annie’s shells–my requests at midnight when the store was closed and In-N-Out too far away.  My requests before I fell asleep in my dress.

I hate that I pass out so early these days.

“Anne is signing books in Santa Barbara in a few weeks,” I say.

“Let’s go,” he says.

“Should we have tri-tip again or try something new?” I ask.  A sliver of avocado falls from my burger, collecting the yolk on my plate.

He often tells me I’m this bright, giggling spot in his dark cynical life.

Me, the girl with the fickle heart, the teenage angst, all the emotions.

He, the boy who says, in his calm, non-excited way, that he’s so happy, so lucky all of the time.

Funny how that works.

This Morning, With Her, Having Coffee

10 Nov

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When asked his idea of paradise Johnny Cash said:

This morning, with her, having coffee.

It’s a bit of a tumblr (and blog) sensation, this response.  You can buy prints and mugs and see tattoos of that simple sentence.

Paradise

PARADISE was this morning with her, having coffee.

I recently asked Luke his idea of heaven.  I didn’t prompt him or give him any context to the question.  I truly wanted to see how he would respond on his own. He said:

 Eating a bacon cheeseburger with you on the beach at sunset.

It’s a little more high maintenance, his response, and not nearly as tattoo-able as Mr. Cash’s, but I’ll take it.

I’ll take the beach and the bacon cheeseburger.

I’ll take him.

I dated a boy for a long time, and more than dated this boy I gave this boy everything I had.  I gave him my heart and my life and my dignity.  I gave and gave and gave thinking that one day, if I gave enough, perhaps I would get what I needed in return.

I never believed this boy when he told me he couldn’t give me what I needed.

He just wasn’t trying hard enough.  He COULD give me what I wanted if he really wanted to.  I knew he had it in him.  Hell, I had seen with my own eyes the times he had it in him.

And one day, my friend Elisa said, “Believe him Jill.  Believe him when he says he can’t give you what you need.”

I think about that a lot.  Believe him.

This boy withheld his affection.  He said it made the times when he was loving “more special.”  “Isn’t it more special when I tell you I love you only once a year?  Doesn’t it make it more meaningful?”

“No,” I said.

“No, it’s not OK,” I sobbed.

But I stayed.

I stayed because I knew he was better than that.

I stayed because I didn’t believe him.

But mainly I stayed because I loved him.

And in this process, in accepting a person who consistently could not (or would not) give me what I needed, I developed something of an emotional disorder.  I was starved for attention and love, and when he threw any little crumb my way I gobbled it up so quick I was left wanting more, needing more always.  I was a junkie, a person dying of thirst in the desert.

I was out of control.

When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself.  You are not made up of compartments!  You are one whole person!  What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done.  Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment.  It’s something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve.  This is so simple.  But I tried so hard to make it complicated. – Lena Dunham

Believe him when he tells you.

Luke.

My mother is sure Luke is an answer to prayers.  An answer to prayers she had for years and years.  I can imagine it’s hard for a mother to watch her daughter hurt and cry.  To watch her daughter become the worst version of herself in pursuit of something and someone who will never make her happy.

And so she prayed.

My mother is an expert at prayer.  It’s one of the things I admire most about her.

My mother prayed and prayed and prayed and then one day, Luke was in my life.  I was ready to give a Luke in my life a chance.  A boy I would have never dated years ago.  Because I didn’t value what he had to offer.

Kindness, stability, devotion

These things can never be underestimated.

Luke wrapped my birthday present this year in homemade paper.  He printed off a picture from our first date and made it into wrapping paper and when I got my present there it was.

Heaven is a bacon cheeseburger and a beach and me.

Paradise is kindness and stability and devotion.

This I believe.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

7 Nov

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I run along Zuma Beach.  It’s part of this new thing I’m trying called health.

I exercise.  And drink water.

I watch the surfers, wondering if I’ll ever try to get on a board again.  I pass serious athletes and praise myself for putting on sunblock.

At the half mile mark I turn around and head back.

A mile of running.

It sucks more than a mile of running ever should.

I drive up the road for a congratulations smoothie at the local organic cafe.  The sheriff stands in front of me in line.  So do the tie-dye girls who passed me on my run.  Malibu has this small-town feel to it, despite its 21 -mile length.

I keep wanting to write about it.  What it’s like to live in Western Malibu.  How the ocean is just there, popping out at you wherever you go.  How you can get Greek food and end up sitting by Mel Gibson, and, how, if you’re me, you type a note in your phone and slide it across the table:

IS THAT MEL GIBSON NEXT TO US

And your friend nods her head subtly.

I want to talk about all of the local places, foods, spots.

Malibu seems manageable.  How one would ever conquer LA I don’t know.  You could live your whole life and only discover a sliver of LA and then slowly die in its oppressive center.  I could conquer Malibu, though.

I like that.

Something about that makes my life more manageable.

I order a Wolverine smoothie, a concoction with scary nutritious-sounding ingredients.  Sipping, I head next door to buy some deodorant.  I’m always in a deodorant crisis, borrowing my roommate’s deodorant, talking about deodorant, writing about deodorant.

Luke says my signature scent is deodorant.

I wander past the bagels, and decide my stomach is right.  It is a bagel morning.  I see the prepared foods section, and decide my butt is right, it is a fried chicken morning.

I go with a men’s deodorant as I’ve been told that antiperspirant/deodorant actually makes you sweat more.

I now smell like a man from my past.

Oops.

I field the day’s beginning text messages.  Luke informs me he had watched this Taylor Swift Instagram video 10 times already.

“Are you trying to make me jealous?” I ask.

“Hey, you could like Kendrick Lamar, too.  I’ve given you the option,” he says.

Luke loves Kendrick Lamar.  He put Kendrick on his most recent mix for me, a CD entitled, “Remember when we went to Utah.”

Luke also loves Taylor Swift.  He actually requested I write that Taylor Swift post, you know.

I guess you don’t know.

I make my way to the local bookstore, the last of the independent bookstores in Malibu.  A book club is going on, some novel I’ve never heard of.  I order an Anne Lamott that will be in on Friday (they’ll call me!) and walk out through the attached coffee shop.

Hilary congratulates me on my run and emails me a YouTube video suggesting we are practically on our way to finishing an Ironman.

I begin a group text about Benedict Cumberbatch’s engagement.

Sadly, I am not a Cumberbitch.

Malibu is so beautiful today.  It’s beautiful most days, but this week it’s been positively sparkling.  There’ve been few waves, just a still, blue ocean.  My coconut oil, the great thermometer, slowly returns to its solid state.

I eat my fried chicken before 10:00AM.  Four wings, just like that.

Luke often tells me it’s all downhill from here, my life has peaked.

Sometimes  I believe him.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine better than Malibu, better than writing, better than the people who make my life so much better.

But then I remember Jude Law hasn’t released an Instagram video jamming to Fiona Apple.

Nor has David Beckham been recorded dancing to Stevie Nicks.

So

There’s still room to grow.

The Bridget Jones Birthday Party of my Dreams

5 Nov

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Invitations via Tiny Prints

I woke up the morning after my birthday party and tiptoed into the kitchen.  My dirty feet stepped on something sticky.  The gourmet lemonade!

My record player sat in the corner with a fresh Barbara Streisand album staring up at me.  Glasses topped with Bridget Jones quotes and the leftovers of dirty Diet Coke littered the space.  A chocolate pound cake with pink roses balanced on the table.

So many pink roses.  So many Bridget Jones quotes!

Remnants of my birthday party.

I spent some time organizing the room, trying (and failing) to take a few pictures.  I wanted to capture how beautiful the evening was, I wanted to capture the details.

The blue macaroni and cheese.  The turkey curry buffet.  The handwritten signs for it all.

I choose Diet Coke and Chaka Khan

I was wearing a carpet

Just as you are

If you ever need a Bridget Jones birthday party thrown, please see Hilary Miller.  And Luke.  He makes a top notch top of the morning turkey curry and his blue macaroni and cheese with bacon crumble cannot be beat.  Can’t, I tell you!

My 27th birthday party was exactly what I hoped it would be.

It was small and intimate, I’m not one for the big parties or groups of people, as we know.  We played my favorite music and drank my favorite drinks and I was surrounded by candles and my favorite people.  We talked about our years and growing up and how many, if any, children we all want to have.

27 feels right on the cusp of grown up.  I’ve passed my early twenties now, I’m full in the mid-(to late?)-20s armed with whatever lessons I’ve gleaned.  Armed with more kindness, more direction.

Certainly armed with more love.

26 was good to me.

Two years ago when I first moved to LA and introduced myself, I usually said I was a social worker just returned from London.  It was a true statement, of course, but also summed me up.  Social work and London were the most important things in my life at that point.

Now when someone asks me to describe myself I say I’m a writer.

Hilary found an old blog post of mine, one where I said I wanted to be a writer, but I was embarrassed to admit it.  I remember that girl, that nervous feeling.

At 26 I went from embarrassed-to-admit-it to full-fledged writer.

I had the best college year of my life, a beautiful two semesters of friend lunches and writing groups and long days trapped away in a study room.  The college year I always wanted to have.

I went to a writer’s conference, I finished and put away my first book. I started my second book.

I wrote the best pilot I’ve ever written, perhaps the best I ever will write, full of angst and British candies and the most perfect teen boy to walk the earth since Pacey Witter himself.

I took up watercolor painting and got a real job and quit the real job just three months later.

I spent 10 days on Cape Cod.

I moved back to Malibu.

I chipped my tooth in stress teeth grinding twice.

I became part of the Self Magazine blogging campaign.

I got paid for my writing.

I fell in love.

I introduced that love to my family.

I bought the comfiest sweater, one I’m sure will last well into my 80s.

I never got to wear it.

I became more patient with myself.  That’s perhaps the greatest lesson I’m learning as I grow up, patience.

Well patience and valuing kindness.  Seeing niceness as a strength, not a default of the less interesting.  But that’s another story.

The greatest lesson of 26 is patience.

I would like to be a bestselling author right now.  I would like my own fabulous studio apartment and zero student loan debt and something for that nagging thing in the back of my chest that takes my breath away.  I think it’s called anxiety.

I would like something for the anxiety that I’m not good enough and never will be and the life of my dreams is just that—a dream.

But I’m learning patience.  I’m learning that things take time and I have to celebrate the smallest of successes and that maybe I’ve even been counting the wrong things as successes all along.

Patience.

And love.

And kindness.

All the lessons of 26.

My birthday party culminated in a reading of the Bridget Jones script, parts carefully assigned according to acting abilities/interests/romantic relations to my life.  We laughed and tried on British accents, and Hilary and her enthusiasm won just about everything.

(I like to think my reenactment of the introduction to Kafka’s Motorbike was at least Golden Globe worthy, though.)

The night went on until eyes drooped and conversations wandered and my blue sequin dress started to scratch.  The Malibu stars twinkled as we said our goodbyes and I headed into the kitchen for one last dirty Diet Coke.

27.

You started off strong.

Let’s do this thing.

How To Listen To Taylor Swift’s 1989

2 Nov

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I was really worried about the new Taylor Swift album.

Well, really worried might be overstating it.

I was concerned about the new Taylor Swift album in that nebulous way someone who is a fan but not a crying, screaming Fan is concerned.  I was concerned because Shake It Off didn’t do all that much for me.

Don’t get me wrong!  Shake It Off is quite catchy.  I enjoy that section in the music video where regular people dance all regularly.  And I’m all about Taylor’s new haircut.

But the song?  It feels like anyone could be singing it.  It’s a bit generic, the words don’t move me.  And, well, that’s just not Taylor Swift.

Taylor’s biggest strength, is, of course, her lyrics.  Her ability to make you feel in on a slumber party secret, to relate by being specifically personal.  Taylor Swift is in the details. And I didn’t feel that from Shake it Off.

I was also a bit concerned about the direction of the album.  The Taylor I adore doesn’t shake shake shake it off.  She uses her immeasurable talent to write pointedly personal (better than revenge?) songs.  She owns her experiences and her stories and she takes the terrible, the John Mayer, and turns it into gold like the badass kitten lover she is.

And so when I got 1989 and I did a cursory listen, I was disappointed.

There were some poppy jingles, but where was the story?  Where was the range of emotions, the beginning, middle and end all in three minutes?

Where had T. Swift gone?

And then I saw the album notes.

Please review the album notes with me for a minute:

Welcome to New York We begin our story in New York
Blank Space There once was a girl known by every one and no one
Style Her heart belonged to someone who couldn’t stay
Out of the Woods They loved each other recklessly
All You Had To Do was Stay They paid the price
Shake It Off She danced to forget him
I Wish You Would He drove past her street each night
Bad Blood She made friends and enemies
Wildest Dreams He only saw her in his dreams
How To Get The Girl Then one day he came back
This Love Timing is a funny thing
I Know Places And everyone was watching
Clean She lost him but she found herself and somehow that was everything

When I read these notes, something shifted in me.  Suddenly the album was a single, cohesive story, a continuation of an experience.

An extended version of We Are Never Getting Back Together.

One girl.

One Harry Styles.

One story about growing up.

Suddenly the line in Style:

I say I heard that you been out and about with some other girl

He says, what you’ve heard it’s true but I

Can’t stop thinking about you and I

I said I’ve been there too a few times

is about Conor Kennedy in the same way

 Drop his name 

Push it in and twist the knife again 

Watch my face

As I pretend to feel no pain

In John Mayer’s Heartbreak Warfare is about Brad Pitt.

It’s a puzzle, it’s hints at a whole, it’s utterly fascinating.  And to take one song from this album is like taking one line from a poem.  You miss the whole.

1989 is the only Taylor Swift album you’ve ever needed to listen to in order, beginning to end.

It’s her most cohesive album to date.

And my favorite.  There I’m saying it.

Holy crap I love this album.

Taylor has talked a lot about how 1989 is her “growing up” and “finding herself” album, and how she’s a new girl.  A girl who lives in New York with short hair and is happy in a world where she isn’t in love.  You can feel this in the album, the growing self awareness, the growing cynicism.

(Ugh I love the cynicism.)

(Though I wouldn’t mind  few songs about these intense female friendships she says she’s been focusing on.)

(Perhaps the next album?)

Taylor’s self-awareness is most apparent in (by far her best song) Blank Space.  This is Taylor Freaking Swift at her Taylor Freaking Best.  She mocks her public perception, the intense scrutiny on her personal life, and she does it with a whole lot of cheek.

Darling I’m a nightmare dressed as a daydream.

Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane 

Love’s a game, want to play?

Taylor is freaking rewriting her own narrative, no longer the underdog or victim or anything but a feminist queen, and every single bit of me loves this to death.

To death, I tell you!

It’s easy to listen to 1989 and imagine myself as Taylor, going through this tumultous relationship, wanting nothing more than for it to work out and being burned again and again.  It’s easy because I’ve been there, it’s easy because it’s a human emotion, it’s easy because Taylor makes it look effortless, that relatable thing.

Which is why I am infinitely grateful for I Know Places.

With Shake it Off it appeared Taylor was going for the classic Swift, the You Belong With Me Outsider Thing that has worked so well for her in the past.  I’m just like you!  I’m a dork who listens to Spice Girls and can’t dance!

And perhaps Taylor is and does all of those things, but the reality is she’s also the most successful pop musician in the world and her life, while similar to mine on some levels, is dramatically different.

And I’m glad she addressed this.

I’m glad this wasn’t The Hills where we pretended the girls weren’t celebrities, that cameras didn’t follow every lunch date, that that whole side of their lives wasn’t real.

I’m glad Taylor sang about feeling hunted by the paparazzi, the public, the world.  I’m glad I could feel the urgency, the fear that the flame of a relationship was going to burn out because of who she is.  Who he is.

I’m glad we got a glimpse into the Taylor of now.  No longer idealistic and black and white about love and relationships and life.

Taylor Now is edgier.  She’s in control of her own story.  She’s fierce.

There’s a lot to say about Taylor’s vocals.  How the first time I listened to Wildest Dreams I thought I had stumbled on a Lana Del Rey song, how Taylor experiments with sounds and beats and pop music in general and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

But.

That doesn’t even really matter to me, honestly.

This album a story.

A story I get excited listening to.

A story I relate to, a story I want to know more about, a story about a girl.

And those are my favorite sorts of stories, you know.