Chasing Meaning

21 Feb

A few Thursdays ago I got home late and tired and feeling bleh.

I decided to run a bath and light a candle and put on some Tara Brach.

Just like that. BOOM. A night saved.

Just like that. BOOM. A ritual.

Thursdays. Candles. Tara.

I don’t want to say everything I learned about rituals comes from Dolly, but maybe everything I learned about rituals comes for that little whipped cream cone.

She has her routines and her patterns. Her own little rituals.

First thing in the morning she wants cuddles, from both parents, for five minutes.

She made it up.

She made it happen.

You can make up rituals! Did you know?

I made up that bath ritual and now every Thursday night when I get home late and tired and bleh I light that candle and I run that bath and I put on that Tara and what was previously a spiral of an evening, sadness and darkness and despair, is now a ritual.

Maybe one day a beloved ritual.

Rituals can be artificial.

In fact, I think it’s healthy to make your own rituals. Rituals give your life meaning where there was none. Purpose and meaning.

It all comes back to meaning.

My therapist and I discussed this this week.

Of course, it sounded so great in the office, as we went back and forth. I buzzed with excitement. I have the answer to it! To it all!

Look out Brené Brown, it’s Chasing Meaning!

I doubt this blog will be eloquent enough for that hype. For it all.

But here is my attempt.

Last week I hosted a social event at my house.

It was so stressful.

I knew before it even began that it would be stressful and yes, it proved to be stressful.

I needed to replace dead plants and buy new picture frames and while I was at it, what about KonMari-ing every section of the home?

What about that?

I was so wrapped up in my head that I made myself slow down.

I asked myself about meaning.

Why was I doing this event in the first place?

(Because I want to make friends with the people who live near me.)

Was all my madness around getting my house perfect serving this purpose?

(No.)

(I still went crazy preparing for it, but there is a power in knowing what you’re doing and choosing it anyway. A power in choice.)

My therapist asked me if I knew any happy people, happy in the way I want to be happy.

No? I said.

Neither do I she said.

Happiness, that can’t be the goal. Happiness is like any other feeling, it comes and goes. And that’s normal! That’s what feelings are.

(Also, for some of us, happiness goes more than it comes.)

The people I know who are closest to happiness have meaning in their life. Purpose.

Are you ready for it?

The thesis?

Rather than chasing happiness, which is fleeting and a losing game, (at least for me, at least for 31 years) perhaps we should be chasing meaning?

For meaning can be created out of nothing.

Meaning can be artificial.

Rituals can be artificial.

Rituals are meaning.

I don’t know that I quite captured it. It felt So Important when we first discussed it, and now, a few weeks later it seems a little thin. Like I’m missing some key points.

But here is what I know.

Chasing happiness is a losing game for me.

But rituals, creating meaning in my life? I can do that no matter what.

I can chase meaning.

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2018 In Books, Books, Books

21 Jan

In 2018 I saw the Red Sox win the World Series. Like I was in Dodger Stadium standing next to Rob, Mr. Boston Sports Guy when it happened.

It was a moment.

I never wrote about it, though. That moment.

I never wrote about a lot of 2018.

But here we go. I’m going to try to write this one.

BOOKS.

Books and 2018.

 

My favorite series

Books that swept me up, made me feel things, made me believe in reading second chances:

The To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

The book I recommend constantly that absolutely everyone I’ve given it to loves:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

(No really, read it if you haven’t)

The nonfiction book I tell everyone about because it reads like a juicy page-turning thriller and we can talk about it for months on end:

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

If you love romance

My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan (my favorite romance novel this year)

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Shonda is turning this into at television series for Netflix! It follows eight siblings as they each fall in love. The tagline says it all: Can there be any greater challenge to London’s Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?

Also! The author is starting a podcast with my very favorite feminist podcaster from Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. It’s all about the joy of romance novels and called Hot and Bothered.

My favorite children’s book:

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

My favorite memoir:

Educated by Tara Brach, really because it led to so much further discussion and thought.

Fiction:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Beartown by Fredrick Backman (the author of A Man Called Ove.) (I put myself on hold for the second book in this series, which is actually pretty rare for me.)

This is how it always is by Laurie Frankel 

A visit from the goon squad by Jennifer Egan

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Power by Naomi Alderman

 

Beach Reads

The book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

 

Nonfiction

In Conclusion, don’t worry about it by Lauren Graham (Lauren Graham’s graduation speech. I’ve reread it a few times.)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

 

Children’s Books

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

The adventures of a girl called bicycle by Christina Uss

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

 

Young Adult

A very large expanse of sea by Taherah Mafi

One of us is lying by Karen M. McManus

 

Fantasy/Sci Fi (I know these two are different, but I just don’t read enough of them to really separate them out)

Into the drowning deep by Mira Grant

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

 

Graphic novels

Chi’s sweet home by Kanata Konami

A children’s graphic novel from the perspective of a cat. I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed this before this year, but now I couldn’t help but think of Dolly. Couldn’t help but meep meep.

 

Thrillers:

Listen, I’m just listing all the thrillers I read this year. It just so happened every one I read this year I enjoyed. None of them changed my life, but that’s not really what I’m looking for with a thriller:

Then she was gone by Lisa Jewell

The last time I lied by Riley Sager

The secrets she keeps by Michael Robotham

The wife between us by Greer Hendricks

 

Memoir:

The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks

We are never meeting in real life by Samantha Irby (Do the audiobook version! It was such a treat.)

Real American by Julie Lythcott-Haims

And now we have everything by Meaghan O’Connell

Flunking sainthood by Jana Reiss (I’m now a huge, huge Jana Reiss fan. Jana to write everything about Mormonism, please.)

Make Something Good Today by Erin and Ben Napier of HGTV’s Hometown

This was a surprisingly poignant read for me, it went far beyond “Oh I like their TV show let’s see behind the scenes!”

Take this quote, for instance:

It might look as if those of us from small towns who move back home are mkaing a safe bet or no bet at all. But I disagree: it takes effort to rediscover what you think you already know, and that’s an unsung bravery at work. We may find nothing. Or, if we shift our perspectives, we allow for the possibility that life can crack open with wonder and we can find magic in the familiar.

 

Spirituality

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by the one and only Anne Lamott

Walking on water: reflections on faith and art by Madeleine L’Engle

Radical acceptance: Embracing your life with the heart of the Buddha by Tara Brach (she also has a great podcast)

Gmorning, Gnight!: Little pep talks for me & you by Lin Manuel Miranda

(I didn’t know what to put this under, but I read and approached this book like I do other spirirtual books. The reading of it became a spiritual practice for me.)

Tattoos on the heart: the power of boundless compassion by Gregory Boyle

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Here We Are In 2019

10 Jan

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In 2019 I want to get into making salads. The big, hearty kind full of nutrients and wild rice, sunflower seeds and nuts.

I want to draw more.

I want to speak up and ask for what I need.

I want to record what makes me happy.

I want to record what makes me unhappy.

This feels like a life-changer?

This feels like why haven’t I always been doing it?

In 2019 I want to start a morning routine, one that does not begin and end with social media.

I want to use social media intentionally, in general.

I want to live intentionally, in general.

In 2019 I want to finish writing my book.

That one. The one I’ve been playing with for three years, the one I gave a real go at last year before realizing, oh those are some big problems.

In 2019 what I’d really, really like to do most is finish writing my book.

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Creativity + The End of Rookie

5 Jan

Image via Rookie, of course

 

Rookie closed down last year.

Rookie as in Tavi Gevinson’s creative project. Rookie as in “look, art can exist on the internet!”

It’s a sad time for the internet.

For me.

I read Tavi’s final letter in its entirety the morning she published it. All six pages. I’ve always loved her words, her insight, her honesty. How is she 22?

Rob asked me if she was a genius and I stopped for a second.

Yeah, I said. I guess she is.

Man Repeller analyzed the ending of Rookie in its typical cerebral way.

I appreciate it and I also wonder who talks like that.

I’m surrounded by intelligent, thoughtful people!

This is another level.

My takeaway from the analysis was that Leandra (the founder of Man Repeller) derives pleasure from the internet game.

She gets that it’s a game, and yet, at her core she wants to make the game meaningful.

She doesn’t give it all up and just sell products to her followers. She wants to create community. To take what could be clickbait and make it human.

She says:

Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if there was no Man Repeller, and in many ways it would be much easier, and in the short term probably more financially lucrative because I’d have more time to earn those influencer dollarz.

But what enables me to get out of bed every morning and say bye to my kids is this deep-rooted recognition that as our lives become more digitized and further isolating, and as my heart breaks over and over again watching things that I don’t care about anymore — like fluctuating traffic or a diminishing interest in “time on site,” I actually have the power to fix it by pushing our work forward. Truly connecting people. Inspiring them. Making them feel good and hopeful in a world that is largely driven by fear — fear of being irrelevant, uncool, alone.

It’s an admirable cause and I salute her.

And yet.

I am Tavi.

At the end of it all, Tavi saw Rookie as her art project. She didn’t want to play the game, and the internet requires you play the game.

I don’t want to play the game.

I get stressed out sometimes thinking I should want to play the game! Wondering if I should worry about followers or boosting or clicks. How to convert it all into something.

But I hate the game.

I’ve tried to play it and I’m terrible at it.

The game is all stress and pressure to me.

The game is no fun.

There’s a part in Big Magic where Elizabeth Gilbert talks about a woman who takes up ice skating in her middle age, not because she’s ever going to be a professional ice skater, but because it brings her joy.

There’s this strange thing that happens when you’ve pursued a creative path for your career.

That suddenly the only “success,” the only thing that counts is if you become a professional.

This becomes your full-time job.

The success of skating in your middle age just because is lost.

That’s been my big takeaway from the Great Therapy Writing Challenge.

I’ve been writing every day just because. Not to try to propel a goal, but writing as some people go to the gym. For my brain.

And as I’ve done so, my whole life has been filled with creativity.

I am making homemade cards for Christmas. Cards with individualized drawings and vintage stamps.

I did Gilmore Girls Week on Mormons in Media, a true delight.

I am spinning and buzzing and excited and it’s all because creativity, that’s what counts to me.

This is all my arts and crafts project.

I LIVE for an arts and crafts project.

I want my life to be one big, messy, delicious one.

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert recently. In the program for her talk, there’s a little message from the author.

I think it about sums it all up.

Or something close to all of it.

She says:

Sometimes I wonder why I care so much. What does it matter to me if people are making art or not? Who cares whether anyone out there is writing novels, or learning new languages, or dancing or singing or growing or transforming?

Well, in the end, I think it comes down to this: we appear to be living in a universe that is constantly creating and recreating itself. The evidence for this is literally everywhere. Nature is always changing from one form to another. All you need to do is look in a telescope and you can see galaxies being born. Look in a microscope and you’ll see bacteria evolving and adapting right before your eyes.

The whole thing reeks of a giant cosmic arts-and-crafts project — an infinite, ever-unfolding experient in constant creative response. It appears to me that energy only wants one thing: to create. And you, of course, are made of energy. So start creating! Because once you start creating, you will step into alignment with the direction that the entire universe is heading. You will be in the flow of life itself. And that will make you happy. That will make you healthy. That will make you beong.

That’s why creativity matters so much to me–because i want a healthy belonging for myself, and I want it for you too.

I was talking to a friend recently about all of this.

About Tavi and Leandra and Elizabeth.

About creativity and the internet.

She asked me where this left me. This knowledge that I’m a Tavi. That I don’t want to play the game. The internet game. 

I said:

I think that leaves me here.

PS: Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness taking up figure skating for the pure joy and drama of it is so very, very Big Magic

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My Word for 2018

30 Dec

This year my grandfather passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly.

In a lot of ways, this has defined my year. The shock. The trip home. The shifting of priorities, of family dynamics.

A deeper understanding of grace.

I presented at a church workshop the week after the funeral and my final slide was my grandfather dancing at my wedding.

I talked about grace and how when someone passes away you can see their life clearly–the highs, the lows, the reality of the human experience.

And yet, with my grandfather’s death, my main takeaway, the biggest feeling I was left with was simply love.

A friend said,

God smooths over the rough places in our life and resurfaces us with love.

I saw this firsthand this year.

I saw grace in action.

I think my word this year is adult.

I’m growing older. My first grandparent has passed away. That’s a thing that starts happening now, I guess.

People I love age and struggle and shift.

I am aging and struggling and shifting.

I went to the grocery store every week this year.

Can you believe it?

A few years ago I was going to the grocery store once a quarter, at best. Every time I pushed my two carts out to the parking lot, an employee would ask if I was throwing a dinner party, or perhaps a medium-sized wedding.

No, no. I would say.

No, no.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in adulthood it is this:

You must go to the grocery store weekly if you want to eat well at all.

I’m sorry. To all my younger readers still on the quarterly plan, I’m so sorry for this news.

I hate the grocery store.

And yet.

This year, I went every week.

My word for this year is adult “I think” because I couldn’t come up with a better one. It’s as close as I could get to what this year was about.

I considered responsibility.

That’s a nice sort-of synonym?

We adopted Dolly this year.

We are responsible for a 5 lb living, breathing squeaky toy who crawls on my lap first thing in the mornings and flops and meeps for attention.

Rob suggested motherhood was the word for the year but I told him that was too far.

Too far.

And yet.

There was a shift.

A gaining of responsibility, of adulthood.

This year was the year of Dolly.

Recently Facebook popped up with the picture I shared back in February when we adopted our little marshmallow fluff.

I announced “Rob and I are parents! Meet Dolly Purrton!”

My grandfather commented, as he always did. He was the King of Comments.

“What a happy family!”

This year I didn’t move!

Two consecutive years in the same apartment, baby!

Since I came to LA in 2012 I’ve lived in five different places.

This year I didn’t move and I lived in an apartment that is functional and decorated and furnished.

This is the year of adult, after all.

This year I stayed at the same job!

Two consecutive years at the same place of work, baby!

Not that this makes one an adult.

A lot of really adult people I know freelance or shift with the wind. Change income-sources like I change mumus.

But for me it was a sort of settling down and settling in.

I love my job.

I am incredibly grateful I have it.

And I stayed there.

The last time I sat down and had a real conversation with my grandfather was fall of 2017.

I shared my shiny, new wedding pictures with him and my grandmother.

Here you are dancing

Here you are again

My grandparents dancing was a highlight of my wedding. It was a highlight all weddings they ever attended. The two of them would dance in any situation. Music came on? There they were in the middle of it all. Smiling. Cha-cha-ing. Glowing.

At my wedding, my grandpa did complicated footwork to You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift, jumping and leaping, landing it all as the crowd cheered.

At his funeral, we played this footage on a loop.

2018 was the year of adult.

It was the year I started to craft in a real way.

The year I announced I was Mormon on the internet.

Both of those feel adult to me.

The embracing of who I am, who I have always been. The owning of it. The return to the core.

2018 was the year of therapy.

The year I started most conversations with, “My therapist says.”

My therapist says she’s seen me change this year. Start on a path. A path towards what, is the question. That’s the word I’m looking for.

Is it responsibility? Honesty? Dolly? Grief? Crafting? Therapy?

I think my word this year is adult.

At least, that’s what I’m going with for now.

To read the obituary I wrote for my grandfather, click here.

 

PS: My words for 2017201620152014, 2013 and 2012

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Dr. Benjamin Ettenberg

29 Dec

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This post contains spoilers for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 2

Well, Mrs. Masiel really did Dr. Benjamin dirty, didn’t they?

I’m referring to the show, not the character, though, I suppose she did him dirty as well.

Dr. Benjamin Ettenberg, played by HELLO Zachary Levi, is perhaps the most appealing male character ever put on our television screens.

He is handsome. He is tall. He is a surgeon in a time where a surgeon meant excellent parking spaces and an entire brownstone in New York.

He likes art.

He hates gender roles.

He can keep up.

No one can keep up if you’re Midge Maisel.

Except for Dr. Benjamin.

I don’t know why the show did this to us.

Joel can go. Joel can go immediately, we never, ever cared about him, he steals jokes from other people and cheats on his wife and don’t get me started on his slicked hair and insecurity around a woman’s talent. JOEL COULD GO IN THE PILOT AND THE SHOW WOULD BE BETTER FOR IT.

But you’re going to go ahead and create a perfect male, a perfect male for Midge, one who supports her dreams, celebrates her weird, doesn’t want her to be a stereotype? You’re going to create this man, cast Zachary Levi and his broad, BROAD shoulders, and then blow it all up like that?

NO THANK YOU

I’M BACK IN MY JOEL SCREAMING MODE.

I feared this would happen.

We simply didn’t see enough of Dr. Benjamin for me to believe he was going to be the Luke Danes of the series.

He popped in and out. Maybe more of a Max Medina? A more appealing Max Medina?

And then when out of nowhere he was going to propose? I knew it was over.

You don’t propose that quickly  and work it out on TV. You just don’t. Ask Ross and Rachel.

If Dr. Benjamin was going to be the Dr. Benjamin we needed him to be, we needed more screen time. We needed her to tell him she was going on tour and for him to support it (AS HE WOULD I’M SCREAMING AT YOU AGAIN, JOEL). We needed a few seasons where she wondered if she could really have a relationship again. How a man would work into her schedule, not the other way around.

A few seasons where he proved himself again and again, with that voice, those shoulders! Those ideas about relationships!

Oh Dr. Benjamin.

You were that man.

You are that man.

In  my heart, I’ll hope for a fifth season where she’s more deserving of you. Where you get to be on our screens at least a half hour every episode.

In my heart I’ll hope for the ending you deserve.

Mrs. Maisel really did you dirty, Zachary Levi.

Oh Mrs. Maisel really did you dirty.

 

PS: Did you see the Mormon reference in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?

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My Top 10 Books Published In 2018

28 Dec

Inspired by #libfaves18, where librarians Tweet their top 10 books published that year. You can see the final list for 2018 here.

I get precious about the books I recommend.

I don’t like this about myself.

In my job as a librarian I’m not like this at all.

If a student comes in loving Diary of a Wimpy Kid I’m READY.

How about Timmy Failure? I gave it to my husband to read, I loved it so much. Have you done Hamster Princess? It’s not what you might think it is, such a great feminist message. 13-Story Treehouse is a sure hit, but what about something more like Phoebe and her Unicorn?

If they reject my picks (and they often do) I say great! and move on. My goal is to get them to a book they love and want to read, not to get it “right. “Not to have them say my taste is flawless.

Often after a book recommending session I have 20 rejected books by my side, but one happy kid with one happy book on their way out the door.

When I recommend books online I’m much more particular.

I’ve shared the life-changer books here on this blog.

High Fidelity

The Year of Magical Thinking

The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing

But the ones in-between (as almost all books are)?

I hesitate to share.

What if people think I have bad taste? Do they know that Hey Ladies isn’t as good as Joan Didion?

(Of course they know. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.)

_

This is all to say I’m going to try to share more this year. I’m often asked to share and recommend books and I love it. I’m so flattered by it! I’m also a little nervous!

What if people hate my books?

What if it’s a reflection on me?

To start off this sharing, this less precious self, I will lead with my Top 10 books published in 2018.

Not my top 10 books read in 2018 (that’s coming!) but books published this year that I read this year.

No disclaimers.

(Beyond the 373 words in the post so far.)

1. Front Desk by Kelly Yang

My favorite children’s book this year.

2. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

My favorite obsession this year.

3. Educated by Tara Westover

My favorite book to discuss this year.

4. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

My favorite emotionally intense fiction this year.

5. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

My favorite book to debate this year.

6. The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Use

My favorite sweet story this year.

7. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

My favorite picture book this year.

8. My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan

My favorite romance this year.

9. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Taherah Mafi

My favorite YA novel this year.

10. Almost Everything by Anne Lamott

My favorite spiritual book this year.

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But Then Love

27 Dec

For Christmas this year I got a print of the sky the night of our wedding.

It’s such a perfect Jill gift. It’s romantic and personal. Sentimental and sentimental. There we are, Chequessett Road, Wellfleet, MA, August 18, 2017.

I’m fuzzy thinking about it.

The print allows for words, and instead of “Jill and Rob’s Wedding” or “Wedding Day” it simply says

But then love

Hilary gave a toast at our wedding.

I knew I wanted a few things when I got married.

I wanted flowers of all shapes and sizes and colors.

I wanted a wedding dress that screamed me so loudly you’d hear the echo decades later.

And I wanted toasts.

Lots of them.

From people I love.

Hilary was one of those people.

She got up there with her writerly words and her oversized flower crown and she gave a toast so big, so profound, a year-and-a-half later and people are messaging Hilary to get the exact words for my wedding print.

But then love

(But then the wedding toast)

(By Hilary Miller)

When Rob and Jill first asked me to give a speech, I was super excited because I love attention and because I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do a parody of a song from the hit musical Hamilton.

But a few lines into the song, I realized that I was making it into a joke. And it was going to be terrible. So here we are–going the genuine route.

And what’s more genuine than the Bible? Oh, yeah. We’re going there.

My favorite phrase in the Bible–it’s not even a verse–is

BUT THEN GOD.

Things can be going terribly, terribly wrong,

BUT THEN GOD

steps in and turns our mourning into dancing or makes the embarrassing warts disappear or defeats the Patriots.

Well, the Bible also says GOD IS LOVE,

so really this phrase is

BUT THEN LOVE.

Rob and Jill are the embodiment of this phrase.

Getting to know Rob and getting to know Jill at make-believe school were two very different experiences.

Making friends with Rob is feeling at ease in his presence. It’s going to the beach or getting ready to go to the beach or coming back from just having been at the beach. It’s an open mind, unshakeable loyalty, and unbelievable kindness.

It’s also unbelievable food that he cooks. Fancy food.

Once we took Rob out for his birthday because we thought we’d give him the night off, and the restaurant was so fancy that when I ordered ravioli it arrived and it was a single piece of ravioli.

That was the ravioli of my life, Rob.

Getting to know Jill also involves food

and it comes in the biggest portion sizes Chilis has to offer.

Making friends with Jill means always ordering an appetizer. It’s talking with something to say. It’s nights spent with ice cream and open hearts. It’s using your words to make the other person feel better, feel loved, and feel heard. It’s hair that took years to perfect, and it’s so much laughing.

And then there’s Rob and Jill together–that early friendship full of singing Celine Dion as loud as possible. Rob, I heard those whistle tones. Underappreciated karaoke. Day trips. TV viewing parties with Jill’s apartment and Rob’s food and my… presence? It’s also so much fun.

So much fun that when Jill said she was going to give this strapping young man a chance, I was worried. Worried that it was going to blow up in Rob’s baseball-cap-covered face. The friendship was too good. There was no way it was going to work out!

BUT THEN LOVE.

Love came into the picture, and instead of destroying a friendship, it enriched it.

And love created an ending they never taught us at Pepperdine because it’s too wonderful and simple and sweet to be anything other than the great surprise of life, to be anything other than the real, BUT-THEN-kind of love.

As you continue the story together, I hope that love keeps surprising you. I love you both.

(But then Hilary’s Hamilton rap, which she performed to a mic drop)

For those of you disappointed I didn’t do a parody song, let me convey how bad it was with a little taste:

How did an East Coast,

Line cook,

Son of a banker

And a blogger,

Dropped in the middle of an affluent spot in North L.A. County

So far from Wilbraham and South Jordan

Get hitched,

Like it’s a love liner they’re boardin’?

But then love

But then

But then

But then

but then love

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The 10 Best Things I Ate in 2018

26 Dec

In no particular order.

Inspired by this post

1. Rob’s Teriyaki Chicken Pasta

A copycat of Rob’s favorite dish from his favorite hometown Italian restaurant. I can definitively say Rob’s version is better than the original. I have been to the original. It is excellent.

Rob’s version is glorious.

For my birthday I chose this dinner and then proceeded to eat an entire pound of pasta myself with no regrets or sadness, only love and light and 31 years.

2. The Chocolate Sparrow Soft Serve Ice Cream

A Cape Cod classic, their chocolatey drinks are special, but I got their soft serve almost every day we were on the Cape this year. Maybe every day come to think of it?

There is something about good soft serve that simply cannot be topped, and this soft serve is great.

3. HiHo Cheeseburger

The best burger in LA. I live right by Father’s Office, often touted as The Burger out there, and let me tell you no. And not just because of the stressful Father’s Office atmosphere. HiHo is melt in your mouth better. (And the choice for Rob’s birthday meal.)

4. Costa Grande Carnitas Wet Burrito with Green Sauce

I travel to the Valley for this burrito. It’s known to my coworkers as my Valley Burrito. It is so enormous, the size of about an eight-month-old child, that I usually bring half of it to work the next day and people ooh and ahh and say, oh Jill got her Valley Burrito yesterday.

5. Cafe Du Monde Beignets

They live up to the hype.

6. Sidecar Doughnuts Breakfast (Eggs Benedict) Donut

Hear me out. A donut stuff with a poached egg, ham and basil. It’s a real thing that sounds maybe iffy? And is glorious.

7. Sarita’s Pupuseria Papusas!

This restaurant was featured on La La Land and now has a picture of its movie scene right on the cash register which takes away a bit of its charm, but the pupusas remain THE PUPUSAS. The only thing you really need to do in Downtown LA.

8. Los Agaves Chicken Chile Poblano Campestre with Agave Sauce

Los Agaves is my favorite restaurant in the entire world. The restaurant we went to right after we got engaged. The restaurant on the top 20 best reviewed restaurants on Yelp. Like 60% of the reason we go to Santa Barbara so often. This is my order plus beans + rice + guacamole.

9. Parasol’s French Fries and Gravy

Is there anything better in this life than french fries topped with roast beef and gravy? In New Orleans?

10. Crack Shack The Firebird

Rob’s best friend lives in San Diego, and so Rob has been raving about Crack Shack for years. It finally came to LA, and to a place we go often, at that! Any excuse I have to get this spicy, melty chicken sandwich I take, eagerly. I have a lot of excuses.

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The Great 2018 Soup Swap

11 Dec

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I live for soup weather.

I live for soup.

I live for soup weather.

Let’s live as a group!

 

Wow, what a clever opening poem, for this, the first annual Jillian Lorraine soup swap!!

(crowd roars)

(um, is that the wave?)

I was telling someone recently that I’m at the stage in my life where I would enjoy a recipe swap.

I used to mock these things, mock this lifestyle, and yet.

We all turn 30.

Here I am, writing poems, and doing the wave and putting out a recipe swap for the whole gosh darn internet!

(That’s who reads my blog, right?)

I truly do love soup.

When I told Rob about this idea he said, “Soup girl never leaves her soup.” This is nearly as clever as my opening poem.

We are a fun time.

Right now in Los Angeles it’s the best of the soup weather. It’s all fuzzy socks and half finished cups of tea, spiced nuts and soft blankets.

Later this week I’m making this lemon soup right here:

Avgolemeno (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)

(You see what I did there! I introduced the first recipe for soup swap!)

It takes fifteen minutes. It’s delicious. You can pack it with veggies if you so choose.

Other soups I make regularly over here:

Spicy Thai Curry Soup

We use udon noodles because I always want the best noodles in my soup/life. Also we add bok choy, bell pepper, yellow squash and chicken. 

Black Bean Soup

This one is hardly a soup, more of a very thick…stew? Sauce? We add chicken and put it over a bed of lime/cilantro rice (a la Chipotle).  Mmm.

Lasagna soup!

Double the spicy sausage and the noodles and you’ve got yourself a winner.

 

 

OK, now it’s your turn. Do not let me down. Gimme all your best soups. Or at the very least, the links to your best soups. GO!

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