Archive | September, 2013

Exclamation Marks!

26 Sep


Cait sent me this text yesterday, and all I have to say is amen sister friend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In other texting news, I’m slowly becoming the person who bookends thoughts with a “haha.”  Is this a disease created by people afraid to express real opinions haha?  How does one stop haha?  I’m only sort of joking haha.

And finally, and most important of all, I’ve made it to Breaking Bad Season 4 despite a should-be-crippling workload this week.

That, my friends, is what we call talent.

And now for SheKnows!

5 Things you should be buying at Target right now: Dresses  Don’t even worry about it, I used alliteration on all of the dresses for you.

12 Things to never do when moving The Denning family’s greatest talent providing fodder for internet articles right here.

Happy Breaking Bad week, everyone!  I’ll see you on the other side.

These Days, Yo

23 Sep


Yo, I finally got the Breaking Bad bug and now my life’s mission is to catch up and watch the finale with the rest of the world, yo.

Yo, Jesse is a punk and I love him so, yo.

Yo, I’ve really, truly started to talk like this.

Yo, yo, yo.

Yo mama.

Too far.

This semester has been a busy one, in the “first world writer problems” sense of the word. I’m bogged down with school and SheKnows and scripts and stories. I’m stressing over poetry classes and writing conferences and What To Name My Characters.  I spend hours and hours immersed in make believe worlds with make believe problems and make believe triumphs, and whenever I catch myself complaining about being busy, I take a step back and realize that I’m fretting about things I love.

I’m very aware that this next year, these nine months of my life, are a gift. They are a stopgap, an in-between time where I don’t have to worry about the adult things like 401Ks and full-time employment just yet, and I have the freedom to devote my time to Shakespearean adaptations and discussing Rachelle’s latest McDreamy encounter and driving by The Bachelor Mansion on opening filming night.

Holy guacamole on a lime Chipotle chip is is my life charmed right now.

I’m very, very aware, yo.


DJ Kitty Cat: Teen Soap September

20 Sep



Remember Caitlin aka DJ Kitty Cat aka master of Music and Playlists and Angst?  No?   You’re in luck!  DJ Kitty Cat is back AND she’s talking teen soaps.  Hallelujah! Yippee ki-yay!  Pacey Witter til the end of time!

Sometimes a song is so intertwined with a moment that when you hear it you are transported back in time to the instant it happened; the sights, the smells, the emotions all resurface leaving you dazed and confused, suspending your reality momentarily. Normal people reminisce on actual events that happened in their life when these songs come on shuffle. As an adult addicted to age-inappropriate one-hour teen dramas, I experience this memory recall whenever I hear something from a favorite episode of mine. The emotions, sights and drama I remember are so real to me that I forget that the characters are fictional, and I often wallow in distress for a few hours.

Here are five television-related songs that stir an illogical, visceral response in me upon hearing them.

1. Sway by The Perishers

Veronica Mars

I have been on a recent VM kick thanks to the major babe factor of 2006 Jason Dohring. The first and second season had many memorable moments, but the most impressionable came in the form of Logan & Veronica’s slow dance at Sadie Hawkins. The pair is barely on speaking terms at the dance due to Logan’s tumultuous summer as persona non grata numero uno with the PCH-ers. Logan is in a foul mood so Veronica swoops in and asks him to dance as damage control. The couple assumes the slow dance position awkwardly as the music starts up. As the song wears on…“I don’t want to hurt you like I know I’ve done before, I will not do it anymore,”… Veronica and Logan relax into each other, their eyes relaying the separation distress without words. Logonica back on.

2. Nothing Like You And I by The Perishers


The Perishers do it again. From the episode “Freshman Daze,” this song starts during a montage of flashbacks between the initial love triangle set up of Cappie/Casey/Evan that occurred during the freshman Greek Ball to the present day love triangle in disarray at the junior Greek Ball. Casey and Evan both reach for the last glass of champagne as the song swells “There’s nothing like you and I; so why do I even try.” I internalized this song to the relationship crisis I was experiencing at the time, a triangle akin to the one onscreen. Every time I hear it, it ruins me all over again.

3. Lost! by Coldplay

Ugly Betty

Ugly Betty gets overshadowed by a lot of other one-hour dramas. To be honest I don’t remember much of the series other than that Betty once had a romance with Josh Groban’s twin, which I was all for. However, this song remains one of the most episode-specific songs that I have in my recollection. The setting: Daniel has just found out that the child who he had just learned of was actually his sister’s child. Yeah, classy ABC.  After a moment of crisis, Daniel decides to side with the cliché “if you love them, let them go.” This song begins as his nephew is helicoptered back to France in a shady PR move, leaving childless Daniel behind in a flurry of dust, wind and dashed dreams of fatherhood.

4. Hide & Seek by Imogen Heap

The O.C.

A music moment so infamous that it has been parodied on SNL. Ryan and Trey battle it out over Marissa. Trey, clearly with the upperhand in physicality and hotness rails on Ryan as Marissa cry-yells in the corner. Trey reaches for the phone to bash Ryan’s head in. A shot. The gun falls out of Marissa’s hands. Cut to Trey hunched over, confused look on his face, hands clutched tight over his stomach. Close up as he pulls his hands away to reveal a gushing wound. Pan up to his face as he realizes he is going to die. “Mmm whatcha saaaaaaaay? Mmm that you only meant wellllllllllll? Well of course you did.”  Epic.

5. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

Grey’s Anatomy

If you don’t cry at this scene in the Season 2 finale then you are a robot. Shonda’s finest moment resulting in the scene that won Katherine Heigl the Emmy. Boundary-blurred intern Izzie Stevens is laying in bed with her fiance’s corpse in a magenta prom dress, rambling on about how if she had only remembered that he was prone to blood clots or had not changed her dress so many times then she would have been able to save him. Bad boy with a heart of gold, intern Alex Karev, sweeps her off her feet in the height of her emotional hysteria and cradles her back and forth until she calms down. My high school boyfriend tried to say that this was “our song” but every time the two piano notes picked up at the start of the song I just pictured a grey, lifeless Denny, what would later become a symbol for my devastating love life in early adulthood.

Pessimistic Romantic

18 Sep



Yesterday Rob called me a pessimistic romantic.

When I asked what that meant he said, “You believe in the romantic things in life, but don’t believe they will happen to you.”

I thought for a minute about the best way to respond to that, how I could communicate my biggest and most important Ideas On The Matter.

“Yes,” I said.

Yes. Yes. Yes.



16 Sep



A few months ago, Caitlin and I gave talks in church on the same day.  During her talk, Cait mentioned that she has a flair for the theatrical. I later joked, “If you think Caitlin is dramatic, you haven’t met me.”  Ever since then people have come up to me and said, “You’re the girl that’s more dramatic than Caitlin!  I never thought such a thing was possible!”

To be fair, Caitlin and I are probably equally absurd, just in different ways.  For instance, Saturday night she called to tell me she’d begun her memoir.

I responded with, “I’m so proud of you and I believe in you fully and also I nearly died choking on a piece of pizza, alone in my apartment, while watching Romancing the Stone.”

*Moment of silence to process this information*

If our Polaroids from the Rascal Flatts concert were to be displayed at a museum, say the Smithsonian, say in an exhibit celebrating our friendship, I imagine they would simply be titled “Drama.”

Or perhaps “Drama And How To Run It Like Gary.”

The Best Laid Schemes Of Mice And Men

13 Sep



Last weekend I took a quick trip to Salt Lake City to see the familia.  My time home included a little pasta salad and a lot of baby and all is right in this wonderful thing we call life.

Monday morning I headed back to LA on the same flight as my Pops. Before the trip, my entire family sat down and my dad talked through the strategy for our flight.  Since we were flying Southwest, we, of course, couldn’t just take things as they went, we needed a capital P Plan.

We are Dennings, after all.

Our planning conversation was eerily similar to the Arrested Development Season 4 episode where Michael, George Michael, Maeby and Paul vote someone out of the dorm room–we talked in circles, nothing made a lot of sense, and if the scene made it in our family sitcom, it would grow tiresome quickly.

That said, here’s the plan!  Yay!  Excitement!

  1. My father would board first and take the aisle seat.
  2. I would board with the other, non-priority members and take the window seat next to him.
  3. My dad’s sour disposition would keep anyone from choosing the middle seat between us.

There were other details, including but not limited to, luggage placement in the overhead bins, but that was the gist of it.  All parties were prepared.  Extended family was informed.  The US Embassy was on hold.

Go time.

The plan was thrown off almost immediately when someone in A1-30 held up the line and I caught up to my dad.  It further deteriorated when, on our largely empty flight, a stranger chose to sit in between us.

That’s right, we had ourselves a MIDDLE SEAT IMPOSTOR.

There are two explanations for this unforeseen person/disaster:

1. My dad’s face is not quite as sour as he imagines it to be.

2. My disposition is so sunny that people are drawn to me, inexplicably, even in a plane of empty seats.

Because it was 7:30AM I’m going to have to go with reason numero uno.  Also, no one has ever said I have a sunny disposition, so there’s that.

I should mention the middle seater was not a disaster and saying she was is what we writing folks like to call hyperbole and what we regular folks like to call DRAMA.

In the end, my dad and I successfully completed our flight alongside a middle seat impostor/completely regular person, and you know what?  We were okay.  In fact, we were more than okay. We were learning Robert Burnes best-laid-schemes-of-mice-and-men-often-go-awry life lessons!

Perhaps next time we will learn that we don’t need best laid schemes for a two-hour Southwest flight.

Then again, we are Dennings.

Flight strategizing is part of the package.

Librarian At Heart

12 Sep


Yesterday I made good on a promise to Robert’s parents that I would help him pick out new glasses. This is something he apparently dreads, and I don’t know why.  I love picking out glasses!  Let’s pick out glasses all day every day!

One for all and all for glasses!


While assisting Rob, I wore the most librarian-like spectacles I could find and kept sneaking glimpses of myself in the mirror.

“I was born to be a librarian, Rob!” I said, making faces with the glasses.  “I would be the type who always had really messy hair and muumuus and when I finally wore a little makeup people would say, ‘Wow, she’s more attractive than I would have guessed.’”

Rob just nodded and confirmed I was supposed to be a librarian.

Good job, Rob.

Let’s not sob.

About Bob.

And the rhyming ends so I don’t sound like a snob.

Before I chose to do this MFA program, I seriously contemplated getting my Master’s in Library Science.   I looked into programs.  I calculated costs. I had dozens of pro/con lists.

If ever there was anything I was born to do, it was be a librarian.

When I was young I used to actually play “library.” This meant I would sit in a box in my room and read until a family member came upstairs and I could give a book recommendation.  All of my books during this period in my life have stamps in them and handwritten due dates.

Rob suggested I might have to look far and wide to find another individual who did this as a child.

I suggested I should have been a librarian, bringing the conversation back where it wanted to go.

After picking out glasses, we went on a little tour of my new neighborhood and stopped in at the library.  My new library is small and charming and booky and wonderful, as you would imagine.  As soon as we walked in, we saw young children playing in a chess league.  I’m not sure exactly what happened, but seeing this I felt a surge of civic duty and realized I should volunteer to be a chess instructor!

It didn’t matter that I don’t know how to play chess, this seemed like the thing to do to really get involved in the local community, you know?

It didn’t matter that this was a huge aside, it seemed like the thing to do to include this in the blog post, you know?

On our way out, the librarian scanned Rob’s book and I shared a small smile with her. I like to believe she could feel it, that vibe librarians at heart give off to one another.

I also like to believe that even if I didn’t choose that career path, I can still call myself a librarian at heart.

Who loves art.

And rhymes to set herself apart.

Because she’s smart.

OK, no more poetry for at least three posts.

Cross my heart.

PS: For more of my fancy wordplay check out my latest for SheKnows…a doozy of an article where I have described 31, COUNT THEM, 31 Comfort food desserts.

PPS: Let’s make it two posts, shall we?

The Month I Fell In Love With Nick Hornby

11 Sep



When I was younger, things just seemed to matter more.  Authors were speaking to me and me only.  Books had the power to make me crumble and cry. Stories were worth fretting about for months on end.

Sometimes I miss those days.

Often I write about those days.

Last month, years after I thought they were gone forever, I returned to those days.

It all started when my friend recommended I read High Fidelity. From the opening words of the opening paragraph, I knew, this was different.  This was special.  This was mine.

Last month Nick Hornby was speaking to me and me only.

I think historians would call this a return to Classical Jillian.

One day I will tell Mr. Hornby just how much last month meant to me.  Maybe I’ll run into him at a coffee shop in North London, or perhaps we’ll catch each other’s eyes at an Arsenal game.  Even better, our conversation could take place at Heathrow, because everyone knows all enchanted things happen at Heathrow!

I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but I’m smelling a book: My Five Minutes With Nick Hornby And How It Prompted Me To Change My Life For Good And Also Love Actually: A Memoir.

Catchy, right?

As soon as I see Nicholas, I’ll blurt out, “TheQueenShouldKnightYouAndIt’sACrimeSheHasn’t!” He will laugh, of course, because he’s nothing if not a great sense of humor.  I will laugh, too, and decide (wisely) not to mention the Tumblr I created just for his quotes.  I’ll also decide not to let him know I call him Nicholas, because, well, obviously.

And then we’ll go our separate ways, smiling a bit, okay with that moment.  Because really it wasn’t about that moment, anyway.  It was about last month.

And last month was a gift.

Last month mattered.

Muumuus And Moving And Malibu

4 Sep


I recently bought an article of clothing that can only be described as a muumuu.

Not a dress-turned muumuu.

Not a cover-up worn as a muumuu.

Simply, straight up a muumuu.

I’m in love.

I’ve managed to wear said muumuu every day since I bought it and, unfortunately, this isn’t like wearing a pair of pants every day for a week.  People tend to notice bright-colored muumuus and say things like, “That’s a muumuu, all right”  and “When did you get back from your out-of-the-country vacation?”

If I had any sewing inclination at all, I would take up making muumuus and expand my wardrobe options.  I imagine they are fairly easy to make:

1. Buy large piece of hippy fabric.

2. Cut out holes.

The end.

Oh for the skills to follow two sewing directions.

Next up–moving!

The last couple of weeks I was in a weird in-between place.  And not in the Dr. Seuess, I’m unsure about my life way, because that seems to be an ongoing place of my 20s.  No, this was a literal in-between place where my stuff was in storage, and I lived out of a tiny suitcase and only shopped enough for a few days in advance.

Turns out 24 frozen burritos weren’t necessary for a few days in advance, who knew?

In-between places feel very chaotic.  No matter what I do, no matter how packed (or unpacked) my schedule is, I can’t seem to settle down or get much accomplished because there’s just this vague sense of unrest.

I’m in my new home now, and have exited my literal in-between phase.  Thank heavens.  Also, I bought a muumuu, have I mentioned?

And finally! Malibu!

It’s weird not living in Malibu.  Already I’ve found myself stranded in the Bu wearing only a cover-up and baseball hat and realizing I needed to go out that night.  The thing about LA is you can’t just decide to go back to your place and change.  Not when you’re going from Malibu to Marina Del Rey and back.  That journey will cost you several hours and 1/16th of your soul, and so you tighten your baseball cap and go out in public anyway and decide it looks very celebrity chic to wear sunglasses and a bathing suit in public, when you know it doesn’t.

I’ve decided I’m going to start a travel bag in my car where I pack my muumuu and a pair of sandals, 10% so when situations like these arise I won’t be completely helpless, and 90% so I never have to go anywhere ever again without my precious.

I mean my muumuu.

And with that I leave you with a few of my other favorite M words, because, you know, good writing.

McSteamy.  McDreamy. Mac and Cheese.


Birthdays, Birthdays, Birthdays

1 Sep


Last week was Caitlin’s birthday, and as anyone who has spent the month of October in my presence knows, birthdays are a huge deal to me.

I hate the idea that the older we get the less birthdays matter.  Who came up with that?  The older we get the MORE birthdays matter.  The older we get the less others dote on us, and the more we need just one day a year to be The Great Star Of The Universe.

Great Sparkling Queen Star Of The Universe?

You’re right.  Just Great Star Of The Universe.

For Caitlin’s birthday this year, we ventured into LA.  Apparently this is a thing now.  Twice a year we go into LA, once for each of our birthdays, and after an hour or so we look at each other and say, “Yeah, we don’t need to be doing this again any time soon, do we?”  I then launch into a spiel about how happy I am we decided not to live in LA and Caitlin nods like she’s hearing this for the first time.

As friends do.

We met at The Ivy for lunch, where I took a wonderfully TMZ picture of Cait jumping over a pothole.  Fun fact: the parking job seen in this photo was the THIRD parking spot in a two-hour period.


The Ivy is all shabby chic and rich people, or at least tourists pretending to be rich people, and Cait and I ordered off the starter menu and called it good. I did valet my car though, so that gives me some points, right?



The celebration continued with Kitson necklaces and Kitson chapsticks and Georgetown Cupcakes and monster diet cokes and a half hour, 1.5 mile round trip to get said diet cokes, because this is LA we are talking about.

I made sure my chapstick was less impressive than Cait’s necklace because I didn’t want to step on her Great Star Of The Universe Day in any way.

As friends do.

I also made sure I complimented her fancy eyelashes, said “Happy Birthday” countless times, and planned several other celebrations for the rest of the month.

As friends do when you are the Great Star Of The Universe.

Happy Birthday, Caitlin dearest.  I’m ever-so-happy to have spent the last year avoiding LA with you.  You are the very definition of a Great Sparkling Queen Star Of The Universe.