Archive | December, 2015

The Year Of Try

29 Dec


2015 was the year of growing up.

I bought a blender.  Well, first I researched the blender. I read online reviews, I talked to friends.  I thought way, way down the line into how many kids I might want to have and if this blender could feed them and then I decided that was a step too far and I would bring it back to somewhere normal—like my decision to live out of a blender in February 2016.

That sort of normal.

The blender was on sale and I used a coupon and in 2015 I grew up.

In 2015 I tracked my spending for a month.  I have this hideous Excel spreadsheet with things like “entertainment” and “food” and “health insurance.” There’s a system with Xs and numbrs and it’s all too complicated to explain, but it’s there.  In 2015 I budgeted the crap out of a month and it’s stuck with me.

Once you start worrying about money it doesn’t really go away, does it?  I wish someone had told me that first. Before the spreadsheet.

In 2015 I took up yoga.  I mastered crow pose, which is something different than taking up yoga, but equally important.

I endured hundreds of hours of doctors appointments to get my moles checked.  I took care of every non-urgent medical issue that was vaguely plaguing me.

I found a radio station that works in Malibu.

In 2015 I followed a bunch of Cape Cod Instagram accounts.

I unfollowed a bunch of writers who were making me depressed with their portrayal of their lives and their writing.

I wrote a book.

A book I’m proud of.  A book with a love story that gets me a little giggly when I think of it.  One I want to see to the finish.

I started a website.

I changed the size and cut of my underwear and let me tell you what.  I think that was the most important thing I did this year.

Fix your underwear situations, ladies.  It’s worth every penny.

In 2015 I started using men’s razors and became outraged, outraged I say! About the state of women’s razors.

I read my first Joan Didion.

I met Nick Hornby.

I got so into Hallmark Christmas movies I started ranking them according to the Bechdel test.  I wrote about religion, in a sitcom of all things, and it really scared me to even try.

In 2015 I came home for my birthday to find the people I love gathered in a Beyoncé themed birthday party complete with every food I’ve ever even sort of liked.

I gathered my siblings together and surprised my mom when she graduated from college 32 years after she began.

I have a great video of this surprise, me in my blue dress, my mom squealing, “What are you doing here?” and even better one of my mom freaking out when she saw my brother Jeff just casually standing in the kitchen in the middle of the day.

In 2015 I gave Rob the best gifts he will ever receive in his life.  No really.  I imported spices and mugs and carefully gathered things for 12 months I knew he would love and then rained them all down in one week.

I feel a surge of pride at this gift giving.

I feel a surge of shame that I didn’t realize gifts were so high on my love language list.

I’m a Denning.  Dennings don’t like gifts.

Except for me.  I want every gift.

2015 was the year of failure.

I failed a lot in 2015.  Oh my gosh.

I failed so much I ended up in therapy to discuss it, though, in many ways that was a win.

“You say failure a lot,’” my therapist points out.  She asks me hard questions like if I would feel like a failure if I couldn’t see what anyone else was doing.

What sort of crazy ass question is that? I think.  I don’t live in a bubble.

And then I cry.

I’m a crier.

This year I failed and I failed and I failed some more. Big and small.  Over and over.   Each failure hits me like a bullet to the chest.  I do not take failure well.  I take failure the worst you can take it and then I take months and months and monhts to semi recover.

It’s a terrible system and one that I fear will take my whole life to get over.

And through all this, the growing up and the failing and the wishing so, so badly that something, anything would work out, I settled a word for the year.  A word to encompass it all.


This year I tried.

So damn hard.

I tried over and over and over again until I felt like I couldn’t try anymore.  I tried and I failed and I am up again and I am still trying.  I’m still working at it.

I may get up shaking at the slightest breeze, not up with a fury and an “I’LL CONQUER THIS AND SHOW THEM” attitude, but I am up.  I’m shaking and up and I’m trying again.

I’m trying anew.

This year I tried so, so hard.

2015 was the year of try.

Grown up, lots of failure, actual trying.

Come at me, 2016.


PS: My word for 2014, 20132012 and my writing group member Katie’s beautiful essay on this same topic

32 Ways To Change Your Mood In 10 Minutes

20 Dec


As learned from trial and error, tears, and 28 years of experience with minor to major bad moods.


1.   Text five people you love and tell them why

Get as specific as you can.  Remind them of how important they are to you and exactly why you love having them in your life.


2. Make a cup of your favorite tea

Take your time.  Let the kettle whistle, the mug warm your hands.  Sip and calm.  Make it a ritual. Make it sacred.


3. Breathe

Stop everything and breathe for 10 minutes, actual, practiced breaths.


4. Go on a walk

Breathe some more.


5. Listen to that one playlist

The one that doesn’t include Fiona Apple but does include happy feelings.  No Fiona Apple.  She is banned from bad moods.


6. Self soothe

Break out your trendy adult coloring book or pull out the Play-Doh. Don’t think about anything but the lines or the shades or the shapes.


7. Plan something

Look up some service project and commit to it.  Text a friend you haven’t seen in a while and pencil in a date on the calendar.  Have something, anything, to look forward to.


8. Get something done

Not that terrible phone call to your health insurance provider that will take most of your afternoon and all of your patience.  Tackle something minor on your task list.  Then make a list of the two other things you need to do in the day to be productive.  Go do those.  Boom.  Accomplished.


9. Read your favorite words

Pick up your favorite book and read your favorite passage. Go to the blog that makes you laugh.  When in doubt, there’s always Anne Lamott’s FB page, sure to change you from the inside of your organs out.


10. Stretch

Stay in each position slightly longer than is comfortable.  Rest.  Stretch.  Rest stretch.


11. Make a list of everything you’ve accomplished in the last month

Remind yourself of everything you’ve accomplished, big and small.  Remind yourself, especially of the intangible things.  Of the times you were mindful, of the characteristics you have worked on.


12. Dance it out

Pretend you’re Meredith Grey.  Remember dancing makes you brave.


13. Perform some small beauty task

Shave your legs.  Pluck your eyebrows.  Paint your fingernails a shimmering gold or give yourself that sugar scrub facial.  Whatever it is you do, do it right now.


14. Shower

So simple!  So powerful!  Make it a real shower too. Cleanse your face.  Deep condition your hair.  Do those things that get lost in the three minute showers of “Oh I’m late and why is it work today.”


15. Put on lipstick

Comb through your knotted hair.  Get out of those pajamas.  Wear the cute shoes.  Pretend for a minute you’re a person who gets ready for the day.   Now you are that person who gets ready for the day.  Look at that.


16. Leave the house

Get in the car.  Put on music that you like.  Go do an errand.  Right now.  Any errand. You ended up at Bed Bath & Beyond getting a free foot massage?  Good girl.


17. Go to your third place

The place after work and home that you like to spend your time.  Starbucks? Trader Joe’s? The library?  Go there and breathe in the air.  Go there and do nothing.  Or rather, go there and do everything you always do.


18. Write

Don’t have anything to write about?  Put words to what you did today. How you feel.  How you want to feel.  How your lunch tasted.  How you want it to taste.  How you hate lunch with a burning passion and don’t know how to go about beginning to express it.


19. Eat a fruit or vegetable

It’s amazing what an apple and peanut butter can do for a low mood.  Was it all low blood sugar?  Was it too many onion rings?  Eat a banana, grab a pack of baby carrots.  Remember all hope is not lost.


20. Call your mom

Or your best friend.  Or whomever it is who gets you to your core.  The person that you can break down and they don’t pity you or respond in a shocked way.  They say, I love you. I see you. Let’s talk about it.


21. Clean

It’s a simple and complicated as that.


22. Turn off your phone

The world will live on for the next 10 minutes.  Do not check Instagram.  Do not collect $200.


23. Plan a meal

Find a new recipe, see if you have the supplies you need.  Maybe even go to the store!  That deserved an exclamation!


24. Pray/meditate

Whatever you call it, however you do it.  Now is the time.


25. Watch that clip you love.  Share it with someone you love.  Discuss why you love it.

Tell me all your feelings on this.


26. Write an email/letter to your grandma

Or grandpa.  Someone senior in your life.  Ask them questions about their life.


27. Send a handwritten thank you note

Spend your time.  Make it worth something, not just a “thanks for the gift card!” You’ve forgiven them for the gift card.  Maybe you were happy with the gift card!  This is not about the gift card.


28. Attempt a complicated dance routine

Such as this.  Laugh at yourself.  A lot.


29. Plan out future Christmas/birthday/whatever gifts

How are you going to understand someone else?  Do you even understand them?


30.  Take a bubble bath

Let your toes grow pruney and your thoughts grow soft.


31. Edit photos of a happy time

Remember that feelings aren’t final and experiences evolve and once, not long ago you were somewhere else feeling other things.  Get existential here.


32. Drink a cup of water

The whole thing.  Right now.  Maybe another one.  There you go.

Dirty Diet Coke, Baby

14 Dec


I originally wrote this article for Self Magazine, which looking back on it wasn’t my brightest idea.  They asked if I had any recipes and I thought, well no, do you know me at all? And then I realized YES. Yes I have the best recipe and it’s something no one knows about and basically I’m bringing 12 million new daily hits to your website so let’s work through our feelings on that.

And then I realized it’s Self Magazine.  They are looking for creative ways to eat kale and avocados and, if we’re getting really wild, chia seeds.  They are not looking for diet sodas containing added sugar and cream. And I get that, I really do.

But the world still needs to know about Dirty Diet Cokes.

I have a lot to say about Dirty Diet Cokes, but I’ll go ahead and assume that you’re one of the 12 million new viewers brought to my blog by me posting this and skip to the stuff you really want.

I will say this, though: anyone who has ever met a Dirty Diet Coke has loved it.  I’ve had friends leave parties at my house only to go home and make their own and text me pictures of the process.  These are friends who are going out later that night to get…you know…actual alcoholic drinks, but find this sugary Utah treat is really want how they want to begin their night.

And so, without further ado, I present to you…Dirty Diet Cokes.

Go forth and be happy.

Serves 1

12 oz Diet Coke

1/2 lime

2 TB coconut syrup

1 TB Half and half


Fill a large glass with ice. Mix Diet Coke, coconut syrup, and a splash of half and half.  Squeeze the lime, leaving the lime rind in the glass.

You can play around with the proportions, I tend to go heavier on the lime, lighter on the coconut.  There is no right way.  There is only happiness, joy, and love.

That is the magic of the Dirty Diet Coke.

The Colors Of My Cities

10 Dec


Inspired by this beautiful post

Salt Lake is purple.  It’s purple mountains majesty and purple snowcapped peaks.  It’s purple in the mall parking lot, purple on your trail run.  It’s purple wherever you turn. Ominous.  Powerful.  All-watching. The kind of purple that means  everywhere else you live you notice its absence.

Las Vegas is neon.  A rainbow of colors flashing and shimmering in the desert sky.  It’s all spark and show, all fake and all amplified.  It’s nothing like real life and that’s what it’s bringing to the table.

London is gray.  Gloomy skies and clutched umbrellas.  Trench coats and ancient brick castles.  The gray of the tube.  The gray of the pub.  The gray gray gray that infects who you are.  The gray gray gray you can never get away from.

Malibu is gold.  The shimmer of salty air right before the sun yawns its last breath.  The gold glow of warmth, of wealth.  The gold glow of something solid in its worth.

Dribble Dribble Swoosh Swoosh

8 Dec


The wind whips around the track, howling against the dorm rooms.  My bangs fly in front of my eyes.

I turn Enya up and bury my hands in my pockets.  An old striped hoodie, from something like 10 years ago.  Somehow it’s survived it all.   The cuts and the changes and the purges.

Somehow I’m still wearing it.

I’m operating under the assumption that a 20 minute walk every day is what’s going to change my life.  If not change it, renew it.  When I am lost and sad and stuck in my room, a 20 minute walk is going to make the difference.

And so I go to the Pepperdine track, the only place to walk in Malibu once the sun has set.

And so I walk.

I have a few rules for these walks.  I can’t text or look things up on my phone.

It’s harder than you imagine.  I’m constantly thinking and those thoughts lead to questions and questions lead to the internet.

To stop myself and say “later” is harder than you think.

To stop myself and say “don’t even write it down” is excrutiating.

My right hamstring is tight.  Why is it tight?  I haven’t worked out in a while.  That’s odd.

Now it feels normal.

How did that happen so quickly?

There’s a man dribbling a basketball as he runs around the track. Up down, up down.

The lights from the dorms twinkle on and off.  Some windows are open, revealing twin beds and blank furniture.  Palos Verdes glistens in the distance, like a city made of gold roofs.

The palm trees sway in rhythm.  Swoosh.  Swoosh.

Enya plays.  I resist the urge to look up what language she’s singing in.  That’s part of the deal.

Walks are for no phones. Walks are for me.

I round the corner again.  Deep breath in, release through the nose.

Things are calmer, simpler on the track.  Dribble dribble up down.  Swoosh swoosh.

My problems, once so daunting, have nothing to do with anything.

Dribble dribble swoosh swoosh

The moon is bright, a sliver of opal cheese in the sky.  I’m a child of the moon.  I’ve started to count down the hours until the sun sets, until I can breathe again.  Life is easier late at night.

Some time every day between the hours of 12-5 life seems too big, unmanageable for someone my size.  And then the opal cheese comes out and I remember that it’s going to be OK.

I remember my problems have nothing to do with anything.

Dribble dribble swoosh swoosh

25 Habits To Break By 25

6 Dec


Recently HelloGiggles made a list:

25 habits to break by 25

I read it eagerly, wondering how I was doing.  Was I as good as a 25 year old?  How far behind am I?

Would I even pass 17 habits to break by 17?

Before I knew it, I was evaluating myself, my life, and my well being by this very list.

Then before I knew it again, I was publishing this post about it!

What is happening?


25 Habits to break by 25 (and how I’m doing on them)

YES = habit broken      NO = still trucking

25. Eating in bed

Nope.  I never plan on giving this one up and I have pretty strong feelings on the matter. I will never let go, Jack!  I will eat on the tray in my bed every single day and I will love the crumbs and so will you!

I’m getting too passionate about this.  We have 24 to go.

24. Too much takeout or Seamless

Hmm…if we include fast food in this then no I have not broken this habit.  I have finely honed my ordering skillz though.  In-N-Out fries animal style with chilis and a side of mustard and trust me.

23. Chasing after unworthy dating prospects

Yes!  I got one!

22. Overusing your debit/credit card

In progress.  Oh, ever in progress. I do go to Starbucks and get hot water sometimes now so that’s something.  I tell myself that’s something.

21. Staying up late to watch TV/Netflix

I am an old woman and I do not stay up late anymore this is my truth.

20.  Leaving your tab open at the bar

Never an issue.

19.  Feeling bad every time a new FB friend gets engaged/married or has a baby

Luckily I’ve never felt bad about this or my life would be a terrible nightmare at this point.  Hi!  From Utah!  BUT, I do still struggle seeing people’s careers I want.  That is a near-constant battle.

18. Failing to floss

Let’s say 50% of the time and call it a day.

It’s probably more like 14% of the time.

14% is very  specific.

I don’t know what’s going on.

17. 24-hour hangovers

Never an issue.

16. Drinking too much at work

Umm…didn’t know this was a thing, honestly.

15. Too many conversations via text

Feels subjective as though because I text a lot I’m a terrible friend.  I have loads of text conversations, almost anyone who has ever become my friend announces at some point “I have never texted as much as I have with you!”  I like to text.  I think I’m pretty good as far as texting goes.  I also like to see people in real life. I don’t know, I’m an introvert who wants to be alone in my room texting the people I love a lot of the time, is that so wrong?

14. Sleeping until noon on weekends

I don’t go to bed late, I don’t sleep in.  I do read a lot in the mornings.  Who knows.

13. Gossiping at work

Hmm I have a weird work situation.  Almost impossible to say.

 12. Getting too comfortable at work


11. Letting the trash bin pile up

Fun story!  Once at college my roommates and I kept our trash bags by the door so any time someone visited we could creep around a corner and say, “Hi so will you take that trash on your way out?”

I’ve come a long way.

 10.  Revealing too much online, in any capacity

Well dear.  I do have a blog.  I am careful on my blog.  Or at least somewhat careful. Oh I don’t know.

9. Leaving passive aggssive notes for roommates

Hahaha I once had a roommate who left a Post-it note on my phone asking me only to set my alarm for when I really wanted to wake up.

I’ve never done this in my life.

8. Stealing or borrowing without permission other people’s stuff

I feel like I did this recently and I can’t remember what it was.  Maybe a roll of toilet paper from my roommate?  Though we share the rolls of the toilets papers.  I don’t know is this TMI?  Am I breaking rule 10?

7. Chasing after trains for your morning commute

I have no morning commute SUCKAS.

 6. Being worked by strangers on the street

I rarely leave my car/room.  I rarely leave my bed, see rule 25.

5. Facebook stalking old flames

Oh this still happens occasionally. Particularly when telling an important story where only visuals will do.  This question actually inspired me to read a blog of an old flame and I don’t feel any guilt.  Did I read it to torture myself? No.  Did I sob quietly after? No.  Did I feel anything? Nah.  I don’t even know why I did it.  Wait, I do know why.

This list is ruining my life!!

4. Grocery shopping while hungry

Oh dear.  Let’s just say if 1 is never having grocery shopped in your life and 100 is Ina Garten, I’m at a 2.  Really.  Every time I go to the store they ask if I’m throwing a party and I carry two carts home.  The “once a quarter” grocery shopping thing is terrible and yes.  I’m a 2.

3. Being too nervous to ask for help

Never really an issue.  I’m very loud about my problems and about what help I need and I ask for a whole bunch of things. Like you!  Tell me something nice about my blog! Now!  And if it’s rude I’ll cry so be careful!

2. Leaving your umbrella at home before work

Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angles

1. Forgetting to say thank you

Habit broken!!  Call me 25!!

Let’s Talk About Adele

3 Dec



I’m trying this thing where I compile all the articles I’m reading on a certain topic and put them up here for you to enjoy and discuss with me.

I love articles.

I frame articles.  I text dozens of articles a day.  I discuss them all at length.  They mean something to me.

And so today I want to try this.  I want to discuss Adele with you.

How about we start here.

What are your favorite songs on 25?

I love When We Were Young.  That cracking high note!  The crippling nostalgia.  She’s so mad!  It makes her restless!

I love Send My Love To Your New Lover.  My heart will always respond to a good catty song.  If I were a song, I would be a good catty song.

What about you?

What type of song are you?

What Adele articles are you reading?  What interviews are you watching?

Let’s leak tears of perfectly winged eyeliner together.

1. Adele Cries To Her Music Too

If I was sad, if I was confused, I’d just go with it.  I’d let myself fall aprt, and I’d sit in darkness and I’d feel sorry for myself and I wouldn’t accept any help to get out of it, in terms of going out with my friends to cheer me up or staying busier.  No! I loved the drama of it all.

How I felt when I wrote 21, I wouldn’t want to feel again.  It was horrible.  I was miserable.  I was lonely, I was sad, I was angry, I was bitter.  I thought I was going to be single for the rest of my life.  I thought I was never going to love again.  It’s not worth it…I’m not willing to feel like that to write a song again.  I’m not.

2. The SNL Adele Sketch We’ve All Been Watching On Repeat

Fun fact! I once wrote half a screenplay with the lead named Aidy because I was convinced Aidy Bryant would read it, love it and star in it.

I should really finish that, now that I think of it…

3. Adele on ’25’: Song By Song

And I think that line — ‘It matters how it ends’ — is obviously for me and all of my friends. That’s what we always say when something’s about to happen. It matters how this ends, how we get out of this one — whether it be a relationship, a night out, watching a film, whatever. It matters how everything ends because that’s how you remember it.

Also, Adele’s favorite lyric she’s ever written is my favorite lyric she’s ever sung.

I love that I can tell that. That I can listen to a song and be punched by a phrase and that was her intention all along.

She was purposely punching and it hit me right.

4. Adele on Jimmy Fallon

The best part is Jimmy becoming Russell Brand.

5. Hey Are You Looking at Me? Good. Now Buzz Off.

There’s no testing of the limts of Adele’s stardom.  She knows what we want from her, and, for now, she’s perfectly content to give it to us.  Let Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Drake and Tyalor Swift edit the HTML of fame.  Let them play mind games and send mixed signals.  Let them be “problematic.”  Adele just wants to sing.  And ulikes, say, a newly contrite Mr. Bieber, who recently released a lusciously produced, earnestly sung album called “Purpose,” when Adele says she’s sorry she’s not saying it to her Instagram followers.

6. Adele Pranks Adele Impersonators

This just makes me think of the legend that Dolly Parton didn’t win a Dolly Parton lookalike contest.



That butter voice slipping out those double meanings!

Oh I see you, Justin.

I see you.

Plop, Plop, Plop

2 Dec


When I grow up and buy a house, sometime in the indeterminate future in an indeterminate town with several more indeterminates thrown in there, I want to have a library.

A patio library.

I didn’t know about the patio part, not until this week when I went to Bart’s Books in Ojai and saw all that a library/bookstore/patio could be.  But now that I know I can’t unknow.

This will be my patio.

My home will be yellow, like sunshine, and impossibly small.  It will have a checkered kitchen floor and battered crystal knobs and a fraying rug on the floor.

Lots of whites and patterns.  Eclectic dishes.  Lace curtains.  Something like your grandma’s home in 1965.

Outside will be the patio.

I showed the picture of this patio to a girl who knows me, not that well, but who knows me in some capacity.

“I can see you having that,” she said.  “You in a long housedress, wind chimes blowing, a hummingbird feeding, as you pick out your book in the morning.”

So maybe she does know me after all.

Or maybe everyone knows me.

I househunt all the time.  Is that normal for someone who isn’t remotely in a position to be househunting?

I blame my mother.

I blame my age.

I spend hours online viewing pictures, imagining futures.  How close is it to the library? What’s the Walk Score?

I keep the Walk Score app on my phone and use it regularly.  It might be my most random app.

What’s yours?

Whenever I address blog readers I think of Kathleen Kelly when she said, “I like to start my notes to you as if we’re already in the middle of a conversation. I pretend that we’re the oldest and dearest friends — as opposed to what we actually are, people who don’t know each other’s names and met in an ‘Over 30’ chat room where we both claimed we’d never been before.”

She was just over 30 in that movie.  Isn’t that strange? She had just wandered into the Over 30 chatroom as a joke and met NY152 and I’m catching up to my movies and my rom coms.

Possibilities, once limitless, are starting to fill themselves in.  My life is no longer a blank canvas, a coloring book waiting to come to life.  Slowly I’ve added some strokes.  Made some decisions.

Nothing too permanent yet.  No children or mortgage.

Loans are permanent, I suppose.  I do have those.

But in general I’m staying away from the lines.  Hesitant of filling them in.  Because once they’re filled that part of the story is filled.  It isn’t limitless, endless.  I lose other options.

And so I sit as Sylvia Plath sat before her fig tree and watch as my life, my figs, plop, plop, plop.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Plop, plop, plop.

Wind chime, wind chime.

Book of the day.

House dress.


Checkered floors.

Plop, plop, plop.