Archive | December, 2014

What I Know About Love: A Letter To My Future Children

18 Dec


Dear future child*,

Right now I’m 27, which probably seems endlessly old to you, but I promise it’s not.  In fact, writing this letter to you at all seems a bit presumptuous.  What I know about love is so limited.  What I know about lasting love is even less.

Hopefully by the time you read this I’ll have some years of good love under my belt and can give you all sorts of brilliant insights into how to make a relationship work.  I’m sure by the time you read this I’ll shake my head at everything I thought I knew.

The first thing I know, maybe the main thing, is love shouldn’t hurt.

Oprah said this so you know it’s good, but I mean it.  If you’re “in love” and he is hurting you– that’s not love.

No if ands or buts.

You can try to justify it all you want, I’ve been there before and done it with more drama than you can even imagine, and I’m here to tell you.  Love should not hurt.

But! You say.  The good times!  When we’re good we’re so good!

And I say no.  Love doesn’t hurt.

And also, how good are the good times, really?  Are they just good in comparison to the bad times?  When was the last time you had a really, genuinely good time?

Love doesn’t hurt.

Being treated poorly is not “part of the deal” or a consequence of passion or anything other than being treated poorly.

Another thing I know for certain: the things you care about as a teenager, the things that make someone a a great high school boyfriend, they have nothing to do with anything that matters.

How popular he is or how athletic he is or even how handsome and tall he is.

Throw those things out the window.

Those things stop mattering early on, if they ever truly did.

The things you should look for are kindness.  And respect.  And kindness again.

If a boy tells you he is unkind.  Believe him.

If he shows you he is unkind believe him.

Walk away from people who hurt you.  Don’t look back.

Truly, don’t look back.  Don’t play that game.  It never, ever ends well.

Don’t put yourself in a situation where you reduce yourself to begging for scraps of attention and love.  Don’t put yourself in a position where you get 1% of what you want, simply because you “love” him.

Love doesn’t hurt, remember?



His favorite thing about you should not be your looks.  He should make you feel beautiful, yes, and appreciate your beauty, but if his favorite thing is your looks he doesn’t see you.

Walk away.

If he’s uninterested in your work, uninterested in your opinions, this is not just a “boy/girl” “red/blue” “opposites attract” dynamic.

Walk away.

Ask yourself questions about your relationship.

How do you solve problems?

How and why do you fight?

Does he purposely try to hurt you?

Why are you with him?

The answer to the last question should never be “because I love him” and nothing else.  Love doesn’t cover all manner of sins.

You should love him, but more importantly, you should like him.

And if you don’t–

Walk away.

You don’t need to think he’s perfect, but you need to think he’s a pretty good guy.

And if you don’t–

Walk away.

Also.  You’re not going to like this.  You’re going to say you’ve heard it and it’s not true.  But I mean it, find someone who is your friend not just because they are your romantic partner.

Find someone who challenges you and makes you a better person and brings out the most you, you.

Someone you can spend calm time with.

Relationships need a lot of calm.

Calm doesn’t mean boring, either.  Rethink that.

I love you, future child of mine.  I love, you, I love you,  I love you.




*Please change pronouns as necessary.  I wrote from my personal experience.

My Fictional Dream Town

14 Dec


I want to live in a small town.  Population 3,000 or less, please.

I want it by the ocean, too.

Oh and it needs to be charming.  That’s a given, really.  I want there to be all sorts of weird, kooky small town things so ridiculous and so specific that you can’t keep up.

I want to try anyway.

Like the breakfast burrito place?  It serves soup, but only on Tuesday and only if you know the owner.

And that bead festival?  It’s a real, important thing and yes you should actually dress up.

My Fictional Dream Town also has a thriving arts scene.

It’s liberal, of course, with a protest corner, preferably.

It has a strong sense of community and no need for addresses and a rich history of artists and poets and creative people who live there.

There’s a school, naturally.

The school’s mascot is something absurd and historical and story inducing, even more naturally.

There’s a French bakery on the corner, run by two Parisians who fled the city for a quieter life.  People drive for hours just for their chocolate croissants and the owners are good personal friends.  Perhaps neighbors.

Yep, now they’re neighbors.

The movie theater is drive-in only, obviously.  There’s also a local theater scene, one surprisingly robust, and unsurprisingly wacky.

There’s a flea market and antique shops and other things Gilmore Girls-esque.

The mayor is Clint Eastwood or Doris Day or other things Carmel-by-the-Sea-esque.

Oh!  And it should have a stupidly cute name.

Like Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Or Capeside.

A name that would make a writing professor shake their head and say, “That’s too on the nose, that name is.”

I run the book club.

My husband runs a local business.

Or maybe he doesn’t.

Maybe we both are creative types doomed to a life of unsteady paychecks.

We definitely watch the sunset every day, in either case.

And there’s definitely a library in the thatched roof cottage I buy with the money I earn from the books I write from the stories I tell–

In this fantasy, dream life of mine.

Dolly Parton And I Don’t Know…

12 Dec


My favorite Bachelorette of all time is Jillian Harris.  I promise it’s not just about the name, though I’m definitely biased towards people with the name Jillian.

It’s like the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry admits he favors bald men.  I favor girls named Jillian.  Girls with curly hair.

Girls, in general.

But Jillian Harris.  She’s something else.

She’s classy, for one.  She dresses like perfection.  She has a successful business career.  She seems like she’s the type of mess I can get behind.  In a recent interview she said, “I am always a disaster.  I have dents in my car.  I lose a pair of glasses a week, I can’t find my Visa at the moment, and sometimes I drink cold coffee that I left in my car from the day before.”

I get that kind of disaster.

I am that kind of disaster.

I freaking love Dolly Parton.

Luke says it’s kind of odd that I do, and maybe it is.  I’m pretty far away from the Southern, self-professed white trash Dolly Parton lifestyle.

But my goodness I love that woman.  I love her lyrics and her style and her twang. I love that she is wholly, unabashedly herself.  I think that’s the main thing that makes me love her.  In the great words of Kelly Oxford, I like the idea that we can contain our weirdness but prefer people who wear their weirdness all over them.

I especially prefer women who wear their weirdness all over them.

Elizabeth Arden is doing a contest with Self Magazine that you should know about.

Flawless Future, their new product, is aimed towards women ages 25-40 who are experiencing the first signs of aging brought on by stress and not sure what product to use.

This is where you come in.

(Not that you’re stressed/aging/ANYTHING, just that you can enter the contest.)

Take a picture of yourself showing your flawless skin and enter the contest right here.

My entry is the selfie above.  A gust of wind interrupted my picture taking, and, well, there we go.

There will be a total of 3 Grand Prize winners who will receive an Elizabeth Arden Beauty Collection valued at up to $300.

Also everyone who enters automatically gets a sample of the Flawless Future product.

Good odds, etc.

I really like this essay on beauty and makeup and being a woman.

I’ve been thinking about beauty a lot lately.  In It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a book I finallllyyyy read this week, the main character ends up in the psychiatric ward because he’s so stressed about being smart, having a successful future.

The girl he falls for at the hospital is there because she was so stressed about being pretty, the game of beauty.

Men and women right there.  The two different commodities the world tells us we have and how we cope with the pressures.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot.

She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictions self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.  –Kate Chopin, The Awakening.

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg– The Yellow Wallpaper



I couldn’t help but notice

that the gate at the top of the stairs was ajar


which suggests to me

that a certain someone

has been going downstairs

can you think of who that might be?

Oh dear

Oh John, I’m sorry

I called for you but you weren’t at home

no one was home

and I was so thirsty


you know that going downstairs makes you hysterical

I know

It’s called a rest cure, my love

Not a going downstairs cure

How right you are

you’d better stay in bed the time

or someone’s going to lose her sitting up in bed privileges

Cait told me that the best recommendation I’ve ever given her is The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, but my second best recommendation is Stevie Nicks singing Crash.

Blog!  I apologize for not sharing this with you sooner.

I listen to this song every day.

You should too.

(It’s available on iTunes)

PS: My two favorite Dolly Parton pictures here and here

FAC: One Year Later

9 Dec


Last week my writing group, FAC, celebrated our one-year anniversary.

To mark the occasion, I picked up some zucchini bread from Big Sur Bakery, and Katie, Hilary and I sat in an abandoned Pepperdine classroom and talked.

And ate chunks of sugar carbs.

And talked some more.

We all thought this year would hold more for us than it did, to be frank.  Writing is the ultimate humbling task.  You start counting finishes as wins.  You start to get excited about the participation prize.

Maybe it’s good practice for life.

People get upset, “Why are we giving everyone trophies for participating?  In life it’s the wins that count!” but the more I go through life the more I think a lot of it is about participation.  It’s about getting up morning after morning knowing you might never win, you’ll probably never win, but you’re still going to try.

It’s about the participation most of the time.

Without the participation you’ll never get the win.

And it takes a whole lot of participation to get to the win.

At least that’s what I’m thinking right now.

This year hasn’t all been FAC struggles, though. We’ve had some successes, too, this writing group of mine.

Katie got herself a literary agent.

Hilary met John Green (!!)

I started writing for Self.

We all wrote things we are proud of, things that remind of why we are writing, where we want to go.

We all have goals for the next year, a stronger sense of ourselves and our writing styles and our writing routines.

Writing is a lifelong pursuit, really.  It takes time and endless amounts of practice and huge buckets of gutsiness.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m gutsy enough for it.

On the nights where I meet up with a friend Starbucks, a list of all my insecurities in hand, heaviness in my heart.

Those nights I wonder.

On days where I cry to Luke at nachos that I don’t think I’ll amount to anything.

Those days I wonder.

At some point in our FAC meeting I pulled out Texts from Jane Eyre, a delightful book with imagined text message conversations with famous literary characters.  We read the pages out loud and laughed at Mr. Rochester, giggled at Ron Weasley, sobbed at Teddy and Jo.

Anne Lamott said, “You wouldn’t be a writer if reading hadn’t enriched your soul more than other pursuits,” and I believe that.

I am a writer because I read.

These girls are writers because they read.  Because Jo March meant something to them.  Because Wuthering Heights text messages make our hearts giddy.

i love you like i love the inside of my own brain

oh my god that’s so much love

i knooooow

do you want to make out right now

god no

i want to wait until you’re dead

and then rip up the earth over your grave

and crawl inside

It’s been a good year, really.  I’m glad I have Hilary and Katie to listen to my crazy, to bounce ideas off of, to discuss protagonist’s names with.

I’m glad I’m not alone in my writing pursuits.

I’m glad I pursued writing at all!  That I went out there and did it.

That I’m doing it.

Let’s bring this to present tense.


I’m rather glad zucchini sugar carb bread from Big Sur Bakery exists.

At least that’s what I’m thinking right now.

Thanksgiving Weekend In Concentrate

7 Dec


I need five pillows in order to make it through the night.

This seems high maintenance, I know.  But there it is.

I sleep with five pillows.

One between my legs.

Two under my head, stacked.  One in my arms.  One perpendicular to the head pillows.

Five pillows.

Count them.  One, two, three, four, we don’t want your superstore.

I spent Thanksgiving in the suburbs with Caitlin and her family.  Thanksgiving is the only time all year in which I want to be in the suburbs, my soul cries out for convenience and planned communities and cheesy decorations.

“What about Christmas?” Luke asks.

“Christmas needs to be spent with my family,” I say.  That could be anywhere.

But Thanksgiving should be in the burbs, in a cozy house with Tupperware and leftover shells and toilet paper galore.

Cait and I shared a bed over the weekend.  She knows my sleeping habits by this point, and so she had five pillows and two comforters and two sheets and two everything so we could sleep side by side and not have to share at all.

Neither of us are sharers, really.

At least not that kind.

There’s something so wonderful about seeing where a person is from.

I know Caitlin very well.  I’ve shared laughter and tears and car rides and soul secrets.  I know what she looks like without makeup.  I know her strengths and skills and strengths and skills she doesn’t count as strengths and skills.  I know her favorite Robyn song v. her most played Robyn song.

I know Cait.

And yet.

I come to her childhood home and I see her even more clearly.

Caitlin in concentrate.

This summer a mutual friend visited me and Luke on Cape Cod.  As we sat on the overcast beach the friend commented that Luke on the Cape was “Luke in concentrate.”  There, in that tiny town where he learned to cook and had summer flings and grew up, there Luke is most himself.

I like that idea.

I wonder where and what Jill in concentrate looks like.

Cait in concentrate includes boxes from ex-boyfriends.  The boys she loved and wanted to love and will always love.

It includes a closet of jumbled clothing, Abercrombie high school photos, a doorframe with 50 Cent quotes.

Oh my goodness, Caitlin’s doorframe!  I only took a picture of the 50 Cent quote, but there are others.  Other gems written in her same lopside handwriting, in different colored markers.

Been hit with a few shells but I don’t walk with a limp 

I’m surrounded by a vanity crisis, everywhere I turn

We’re hopelessly blissful and blind to all we need

Caitlin in concentrate is also Caitlin with her parents. The souls who watched Grey’s Anatomy, and shared a popcorn bowl, and encouraged our Diet Coke habits day after day.

They are part of Caitlin in concentrate.

I like Caitlin in concentrate.

Well I just like Caitlin, really.

Thanksgiving morning Cait and I started off with Diet Coke. I had forgotten how much Diet Coke I down when with Caitlin.  My body wasn’t prepared.  I’ve been drinking too much water!

We went to McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr. and rounded the trip out with a donut shop and then before I knew it we were back to Carl’s Jr. and then back again.  It got to the point where the Carl’s Jr. worker commented on our clothing, “Ooh, you girls changed!”  and we responded “Cool manicure!” and reached for the fresh DC with lemon.

And now I’m going to say something blasphemous.

The Diet Coke at Cait’s home Carl’s Jr. is better than the Diet Coke at her home McDonald’s.

I didn’t know it was possible, but it is, apparently.


As the hours counted down to the feast, Cait took me on her favorite winding roads to her favorite places, through postcards of fall. Fall came to Northern California!  Who knew.

We listened to my limited iPhone music, and danced to Justin Timberlake and took pictures of the scenery (and since it’s Cait, she took pictures of me.)

This shall forever be known as the Thanksgiving of the Nikes.

And fuzzy socks.

Nikes, fuzzy socks and DC.

And then we had a Thanksgiving dinner, one with more gravy than I’ve ever had in my life because Caitlin’s family, they understand gravy.  And cranberry sauce that made me think maybe cranberry sauce has a place in this world.

That kind of cranberry sauce.

Oh!  And I helped with the rolls!

People kept congratulating me on this.

You can congratulate me too, if you’d like.

And then, finally, after a long day of Cait in concentrate, once we were full and happy and caffeinated, we got in the car and made the trek to a fancy San Francisco hotel with a killer view and all the shopping a girl could want.

As soon as we got to our room, Cait silently handed me all the pillows off her bed.

I put one between my legs.

Two under my head.

One in my arms.

One perpendicular to the head pillows.

I need five pillows in order to sleep, you know.

Where To Eat In Malibu: Coral Beach Cantina

5 Dec

There is this myth around these parts of LA.  It goes something like this:

There’s no good food in Malibu.

I’ve read articles on the topic.  I’ve heatedly argued its merits with a ferocity that makes me wonder if I should take up speech and debate.  I’ve defended and screamed and recommended my guts out, and now, I decided it was time to really end that myth once and for all, here on the definitive blog about Malibu (so says my mother).

You guys are in for a wild ride.

Where to eat in Malibu: Coral Beach Cantina

It’s all about the nachos

photo-298 photo-294 photo-295 photo-296

I’m going to get this out of the way.  If you order something else at Coral Beach Cantina you will be disappointed.

If you go inside its open doors and take a seat on the fading patio, and decide it’s time for enchiladas, then you have misread me and this blog post and I expect an apology note.

On personalized stationary.

I expect you to cry yourself to sleep, clutch your pillow for support, and then write me an apology for your moment of drama.

The enchiladas (and tacos) (and whatever else you foolishly ordered) aren’t going to do anything for you.

Coral Beach Cantina sprung from the earth, a perfect vessel for Nachos Roberto with chicken, and we, as a society should respect this.

In the words of Beyoncé, we should bow down, bitches.

Coral Beach Cantina

Address: 29350 Pacific Coast Highway Malibu, CA 90265

Parking: On site!  Always enough!  Hallelujah!

Ambience: A+ (Feels a bit like Disneyland, no?)

Highlights:  Homemade salsa and hot chips that crunch and crumble and bring delight to the world

Lowlights: Flat Diet Coke, approximately 35% of the time.  This can be remedied with a trip to the Malibu McDonald’s.  (Does the Malibu McDonald’s deserve its own post?)

What to order: Nachos Roberto with chicken.  Add those onions and jalapenos.  Live a freaking little.


Things of note: Sometimes I split the nachos three ways.  Ideally I think it’s a two-person nacho, but three is also quite comfortable, and quite cheap.

Also the owners will never know your “regular” order no matter how often you frequent.  Don’t feel bad about this.  I only do 35% of the time.


PS: Can you spot Lucas and his red converse?  It’s like Where’s Waldo only less fun!