I Can Do Hard Things

14 Jun

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

(Scary music)

NO ONE KNOWS.

(Banshee scream)

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

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

Life isn’t always fair.

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

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

I admire that and them.

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

“Do you feel suicidal?”

“No, but I feel hopeless.”

Hopeless is a word I know well.

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

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

It feels hopeless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week’s theme was Truth.

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

The Patronus

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

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

I can do hard things

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

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

And also

I can do hard things.

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Leave Good Reviews

9 Jun

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

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

It works sometimes, I say.

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

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

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

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

(Only sort of.)

(Only briefly sort of.)

Next I tried CVS.

Yes, that CVS.

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

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

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

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

I’ve never left a Google review before.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We lurch forward, as Anne would say.

Leave good reviews.

That’s my lurch this week.

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

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

Leave good reviews.

You know what I mean.

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For The Right Reasons: Me and The Bachelor

4 Jun

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(I am in this picture)

 

Reasons I Wouldn’t Go On The Bachelor

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

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

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

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

Did I mention internet trolls

 

Reasons I Would Go On The Bachelor

 

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

Writing fodder forever

Never work just sell hair gummies?*

 

Reasons They Wouldn’t Cast Me On The Bachelor

 

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

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

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

 

Reasons They Would Cast Me On The Bachelor

 

I’m from Utah, their favorite state

I cry easily

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

 

 

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

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When You Find The One Stop Looking And Other Wedding Thoughts

1 Jun

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

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

The classic look.

The classic girl.

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

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

A regular Jackie Kennedy.

Except.

Nope.

Nah.

I’m not that girl.

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

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

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

I’m not a classic girl.

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

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

But what about the bell?

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

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

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

Pause.

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

Beyoncé didn’t love her dress.

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

Right?

(Pause.)

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

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

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

We all agreed.

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

I’ve thought about that a lot since.

When you find the one, stop looking

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

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

Without thought we can spend out whole lives looking.

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

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

Don’t jinx it!

I took a breath and saw myself in the mirror.

(Pause.)

The dress fit like a glove.

No alterations necessary.

It looked like me.

More, more, more me.

(Pause.)

I stopped looking.

 

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My Celebrity Encounters

29 May

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

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

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

Exciting times at Ridgemont High!!

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

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

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

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

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

Alyson Hannigan

Andrew Garfield

Edward Norton

Pamela Anderson

Josh Malina

Patrick Dempsey

Owen Wilson

Craig T. Nelson

Daryl Hannah

Mel Gibson

Chris Harrison

Gigi Hadid

James Wolk

Rory Kennedy

Colin Hanks

Dreama Walker

Orlando Bloom

Brody Jenner (and girlfriend Kaitlynn Carter)

Jenna Boyd

Sofia Vergara

Shannon Doherty

Cheryl Hines

Dick Van Dyke

Kaskade

Robin Thicke

Rick Rubin

Brandon and Leah Jenner

William Russ

Pierce Brosnan

Meredith Monroe

Caitlyn Jenner

Kylie Jenner

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The Lauren Graham Kitchen Timer Writing Method

25 May

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

The Kitchen Timer Writing Method

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

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

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS

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

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

3. The Kitchen Timer hour:

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

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

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

No reading.

No pencil sharpening, desk tidying, organizing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Me As A Bachelor Contestant

17 May

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See the bios for Rachel’s guys here

Age: 29

Occupation: Librarian

Height: 5’9”

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

Chills. Again.

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

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

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

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

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

What is your ideal mate’s personality like?

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

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

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

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

About Time.

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

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

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

What is your greatest achievement to date?

My Instagram account

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

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

This feels like a lot of pressure.

What is your favorite television show and why?

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

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The Good Things Post 5/15/17

15 May

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At the end of last year I did the thing on Twitter where for every like a Tweet received I shared something good about my 2016.

It was one of the brief respites from the whole nightmare of that time and it helped me. It helped to articulate the good.

I thought with everything still so often dark and nightmarish I would start Mondays off with some good things. The Good Things Post.

May it help you. May it help me.

May we all help each other.

Good Things 5/15/17

1. A couple I do not know, have never met, and likely will never meet got engaged!

Ashley and Kelly are one of my favorite couples despite all of the above. Ashley is a writer who has beautifully put to words  her feelings on Kelly many, many times in the past and I love seeing relationships unfold that are healthy, respectful and empowering. You should be following their love story too.

2. Anne Lamott strikes again!

“Mothering has been the richest experience of my life, but I am still opposed to Mother’s Day. It perpetuates the dangerous idea that all parents are somehow superior to non-parents. (Meanwhile, we know the worst, skeeviest, most evil people in the world are CEOs and politicians who are proud parents.)”

Goes along with Mari Andrew’s beautiful Mother’s Day drawing

3. Everyone’s Instagram Mother’s Day posts!

I imagine many of us hold both #2 and #3 as truths inside of us. That Mother’s Day can be quite difficult and is a complicated holiday and should it be celebrated? And also we are incredibly grateful for the humans who have nurtured and loved us in our lives, mothers are not.

I personally love a day online where people are giving tributes to those who helped raise them.

I love seeing 90s hair and old wedding photos and babe moms and hearing the things that you picked up from the people in your life who loved you, traditional mothers or not. It’s one of my favorite days on all of social media. A day of professing love.

4. Marco Polo

My family is using Marco Polo and I’ve been seeing my niece and nephews more and sharing more of my drama and that’s all I want in life, really.

5. Gilmore Girls Legos

Yep yep

(Vote vote)

 6. Sunscreen!

I recently realized that I wear sunscreen every day. I don’t know when that change happened, but somewhere along the line it went from a distant goal of the type of person I’d like to be to a reality. (I use this one. My dermatologist recommended it and it is not sponsored because I’ve never done an ad on here, remember?)

 7. The Hyperbalist’s Instagram account

In a world where it seems so many draw upon the same Instagram Dictionary (“this guy” “obsessed” etc) Alina is HERSELF. It’s a true talent to show your voice through captions and pictures and snippets but she has it and it’s fun to follow along.

 8. I read a whole book this morning

(This one.) Just sat in bed and read. It was the perfect antidote to a yesterday so intense I told people I was losing my mind and I meant it.

Real question: When we lose part of our mind do we ever get it back?

9. Rupi Kaur’s poetry

In case you’re not one of the 1.2 million already following along.

 10. JFK stamps

Going on our wedding invitations because when you’re doing a Cape Cod wedding this can be justified. Also a good conversation starter with your local post office worker!

 

xoxo my friends

May you find good things in your life this week

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Garlic Knot of a Human

11 May

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I’d been tense all day.

It started with the news, as it always does in this, the year 2017. I read the news and I’m boiling, raging mad. I’m venting and picking fights, discouraged and mourning.

More than slightly nauseous.

I went about my day, gathering grievances like cat hair to black leggings. By the time I got home from work at 9:30 I was a twisted spiral garlic knot of a human.

I put on a meditation. Ten minutes. I could do ten minutes.

My thoughts wandered. To the news. (To the news!) To the relationship I’m struggling with. (To the struggle!) To this blog post I started in my head and the to-do list I was composing. Could I accomplish 53 things before bed? What time was it now? 9:32?

I made it out the other side of the meditation.

If I was a 9 before maybe I’m an 8.

8.5?

I’ll take it.

There are a few things my therapist says that I think about regularly.

One is to do it even if you don’t think you have the energy.

Do the things you know will make you feel better even if you’d rather lie in bed and mourn your life. Go to the yoga class. Put on the running (walking) shoes. Drink the water.

Meditate for 10 minutes.

The other thing is radical self-acceptance.

I truly don’t know how this works, but the idea is that I say, OK, you know what? Maybe I do x, or am x. That’s OK.

Maybe I trend towards this or that, these things, traits, characteristics I’ve assigned as bad or good. But they aren’t bad or good. They are things about me.

And I can work on me, I do work on me, but I also need to accept myself.

This goes against everything inside of me. Inside me I hear that I can work my way to perfection. That I can earn it, somehow. That I have to give my best and somehow my best is different than everyone else’s best. Somehow my best is the theoretical best ever. Perfect.

If I practice radical self-acceptance aren’t I saying I’m OK the mess I am now?

Won’t I stop improving?

When I read ebooks I check every single page to see what percentage I’m at. Sometimes I haven’t even moved up 1% but I still check. A tic. I can succeed, I can accomplish even in my leisure activities!

I don’t like ebooks very much.

The point of this all, I suppose, is that I am not a person who will stop improving. It’s not in me. I need to let go of the notion if I accept myself then I’ll never try again.

My therapist remarks how she’s never seen someone attack their therapy homework like me and yet I’ll come in and apologize I haven’t done more.

I’ll tell my friend I have no energy and they’ll say you just sent me 60 texts about x topic.

I don’t have an accurate gauge on myself or my best self.

And so radical acceptance, I think, is something like saying, you know what?

Enough. Enough!

I’m OK. I’m ever so much more than I realize.

As is.

Today.

Garlic knot and all.

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Literary Love #7: Gilbert Blythe – Anne of Green Gables

9 May

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Gilbert Blythe

(Anne of Green Gables)

I don’t want sunbursts or marble halls,

I just want you.

Gilbert and Anne were my first fictional model of love and as such I tried to force future interactions with men down the path they took. Spunky, dreamer girl–check! Handsome rival–check! Hate each other at first, only to realize they’ve always been in love!

It’s a model we’ve seen again and again and it seemed like The One to me. Once, I dramatically ripped up a school paper of a boy I liked, my early 2000s answer to smashing a chalkboard on his head. I then felt so guilty after I apologized again and again profusely.

Alas, I was not Anne.

I am not Anne.

I see her in me, though, in the way I see my dearest and oldest friends in me. The girls who shaped view of the world, my politics, my personality. The girls I grew up with. Anne is one of them.

I just wasn’t to have her exact love story.

From the book:

For a moment Anne’s heart fluttered queerly and for the first time her eyes faltered under Gilbert’s gaze and a rosy flush stained the paleness of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung before her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps. . . perhaps. . .love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.

(Anne of Avonlea)

PS: Love #1#2#3, #4#5, #6

 

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