Search results: nick hornby

Nick Hornby and Recommitting to the Concept of Love

23 Apr


Recently the question of “favorite living author” was batted around my little nine-person program.  By this, I mean that recently I posed the question, “Who is your favorite living author” to my little nine-person program.

Batted around sounds so much more romantic and less forced, though, doesn’t it?

Several authors were thrown out—Donna Tart, Laurie Hals Anderson, John Green.  Lively discussion was had.  Opinions were justified.  Lives were changed.

I decided on Nick Hornby.

Well Helen Fielding first, then Nick Hornby.

But I’m sticking with Nick.

With Helen Fielding/Bridget Jones as the queen of everything including life.

For my adaptation class this semester, I had to compare a movie to the original book, and in a non-shock move, I chose Bridget Jones.  In fact, had you lined up the nine students in my program and the nine adaptations we chose, all of us could have made a direct line from person to adaptation.


While watching a Tarantino film.

And eating sushi.

With chopsticks.

The point is, when you spend two years with nine people, you almost become a parody of yourself, and and when you spend two years with nine people your adaptation choice most definitely becomes a parody of yourself.

The Bridget adaptation paper was one of those assignments that should be the poster child for “do what you would do even if you weren’t being paid” idea because writing a comparison of the Bridget Jones movie and book sounds like a thrilling Saturday night activity I would do of my own accord.

I joke in no way.

Then again, maybe this assignment should be the poster child for “do what you would do even if you are paying a million dollars to go to grad school” idea because no one’s paying me for that paper, I am instead selling my soul to student loans for the opportunity to complete that paper.

Sob. Sob. Sob.

On a happier note, I was able to sneak in the sentence, “The audience swoons and recommits to the concept of love” after describing Bridget and Mark’s first kiss, so maybe all those loans were worth it in the end!

Sobbing.  Sobbing. Sobbing.

One fun Bridget movie fact: Richard Curtis was the mastermind behind the infamous Mark/Daniel fight scene and said it came about simply as a wish fulfillment, “Wouldn’t it be fun to see Hugh Grant and Colin Firth having a punch-up?”

I’m sticking to my theory that marrying Freud’s descendant really affected Richard’s psyche for the good of all mankind.

These are the type of wish fulfillments that need to come to pass, people!

Firth and Grant wish fulfillments are the only type of wish fulfillments!

(This post started as a way for me to list my favorite Nick Hornby novels to the world. Let’s see if I can get it back there.)

All right, so I’m off track.  This post started as a way for me to list my favorite Nick Hornby novels to the world, and I’ll be doggoned with a dachshund if I don’t do that!

(Nailed it.)

(Also managed to use my dachshund line from a script earlier this year.)

(Grad school is really working out for me.)

Jillian Denning’s favorite Nick Hornby novels, ranked

*as Nick Hornby is her favorite living author*

  1. High Fidelity
  2. About a Boy (may be biased by Hugh Grant?)
  3. Fever Pitch
  4. A Long Way Down
  5. Juliet, Naked
  6. How to be Good
  7. Slam

Also, I don’t know a graceful way to slip this in anywhere, but I just finished my roundup of John Green and I do believe the opening paragraph for Paper Towns is the best YA opening paragraph of all time.

I’m not willing to debate this.

The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle.  Like, I will probably never be struck by lightning, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer, or spontaneously combust.  But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us.  I could have seen it rain frogs.  I could have stepped foot on Mars.  I could have been eaten by a whale.  I could have married the queen of England or survived months at sea.  But my miracle was different.  My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.







Firth and Grant!

You’ll have to excuse me.

I’m off to swoon and recommit to the concept of love.

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.

A Tour Of My New Apartment

28 Sep


I walk into my apartment and am greeted by Princess Diana herself. She sits behind my sink, smiling demurely beneath heavy lashes.

Hello Di, I say.

(Not really.)

There are flowers on my windowsill, a little ledge just big enough for vases. I‘ve filled them with daises and sunflowers and the $4 purple things from the farmers market.

My bedroom boasts a multicolored rug from the Wellfleet flea market. There’s my girly bed I never want to give up, and the tapestry from Santa Barbara I bought with Rob the other day. It hangs behind my headboard and floats with the fan waves, knocking into plastic flower lights.

I use 11 separate pillows and I use them well.

Enid is next to my bed, a saucy little thing who likes to touch you without warning and whom I’ve already forgotten to feed twice.

I’ve had her for two weeks.

Sorry Enid, I say.

(Yes, really.)

I have two gold bookshelves, once the bane of my existence, now my proudest accomplishments. I turned them from boring Ikea bookshelves into sparkly Jillian bookshelves and filled them with Joni Mitchell and Nick Hornby, a rainbow of books and artists I love.

My great grandpa has a place on my wall.

My Sylvia Plath has a place above my sink.

It’s all so me. Everything about it is carefully curated and hung. I drew pictures and made plans and wanted to create something that was out of a whimsical magazine.

Something flawless and minimal, joyful and colorful. Cluttered and white and every contradiction.

I ended up creating something messy and imperfect out of messy, imperfect, contradictory me.



I love it.

Jillian Denning: By the Book

21 Aug


Based on the recent interview with Amy Schumer

What books are currently on your nightstand?

According to the LA County Library app I currently have 21 books out of the library with 6 on hold. Of those, I’m curious about the poetry and essays of So Sad Today, by the Twitter vixen Melissa Broder.  My friend who never gets it wrong recommended Truth and Beauty and Girl Meets God. And then there’s Valley of the Dolls. I have a feeling now is the right time for me and Valley of the Dolls since it seems like the type of book I would have read and fell into a melancholia/feminist rage at just years ago and can now approach as a rational human being.

I expect to pull myself out of the melancholia/feminist rage in three months minimum.


Which writers—novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets—working today do you admire most?

Nick Hornby, obviously. Warsan Shire. (When Lemonade came out and suddenly everyone was about Warsan I was childishly like BUT ME FIRST, PLEASE PROVE YOUR CREDENTIALS I HAVE SEVERAL.) Elena Ferrante is also on there, mainly due to the mystique and I really need someone to talk to about her hello is it you.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

In the last two years I’ve become a way bigger nonfiction/memoir person. I credit Anne Lamott with that, but in general I’m a fiction girl, usually adult, sometimes young adult. I avoid: dystopian YA with the same female lead I’ve read 40 billion times who has exactly one personality trait, anything that begins with a sentence like “Elascador bowed before his king, the sword of Roandresibe by his side” and 50 Shades of Grey.


What’s your favorite self-help book?

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up hello it’s me.



I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.


How and when do you read/ electronic or paper/ bath or bed?

For a brief period in London I used a Kindle as it was easier than carrying a book with me everywhere, but I really hated it. I read All the Light We Cannot See on a Kindle and I think it ruined the experience for me because I just didn’t love it as much as everyone else and there was a weird page turning/date thing.

I do not have a bathtub but I fancy myself a bath reader.

Truly I just read in bed like I do everything in my life.

It’s a comfortable bed, though.


How do you organize your books?

I used to organize them using the “shove in communal bookshelves wherever they fit” method but now that I have my own place I’m thinking about this seriously. Color is trendy, pretty and impractical–many things I enjoy.

Maybe I’ll figure out the Dewey Decimal system for fun on a long Wednesday evening and then explain it to you all in depth.

Most likely I’ll do author all boring like.


What do you like to read on the plane?

I just bring whatever book I’m reading at the moment. I want to be into magazines, but I truly only buy them if Stevie Nicks is on the cover.

I will Google articles if Bachelor stars are involved.

Would you like to hear more about my article reading habits yes or no?


What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

Three copies of The Corrections by Jonathon Franzen. One because I’ve never read it and two because Franzen is the ultimate douche writer whom my entire Twitter feed hates, though is apparently great?


What’s your favorite book by a comedian?

It’s got to be a Nora. Maybe I Feel Bad about My Neck?

What’s the last book that made you laugh out loud?

I just read Diary of a Wimpy Kid for the first time and there were lots of laughs there and not just because Rob looks a bit like the lead on the cover. Oh! And The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian! Read it now!! If I only do one thing for your life!


What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?

A blog reader turned friend Bailey told me to read Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott and that really kickstarted a huge era of my life that now leads to me liking and sharing each individual Instagram post Anne deigns to give us unworthy mortals.

Tell us your favorite TV, film, or theater adaptation of a book.

Bridget Jones was a wonderful film and I think that book is truly perfect do not change a word perfect so this is a big statement.

Lord of the Rings surely surpassed the books as I’ve never finished them.


What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I was a voracious reader. I would max out my library card and sit with a stack of books next to me on a Sunday afternoon. I played librarian.  I was grounded from books at several points.

Once, in a fit of mania, I printed off a divorce decree and used a quill pen to fill it out for Alana of Trebond after she chose the wrong man in the Lioness Quartet. “I married the wrong man, I was always in love with someone else,” I wrote, in my earnest handwriting.

Narnia, Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women and Ender’s Game were all wildly influential to my childhood and my current self.

Scarlett O’Hara made me the selfish, determined drama queen I am today.

I lived for Sweet Valley.


If you could be friends with any author, dead or alive, who would it be?

Nora Ephron. I want her dinner parties and her wisdom and her food and her dinner parties and her wisdom and her food and wait what.


Disappointed, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

I finally read Ballet Shoes, of You’ve Got Mail fame and it was only OK for me.

I was devastated by this. I mean, clearly it meant something to Nora. Clearly I should have named my future daughter Posy.

I wonder if this is an age thing, like those people who go to Disneyland for the first time as adults and then find it only OK?

I started a book about Rosaline following Romeo and Juliet, recommended by a Twitter librarian I’m all about and had to return it to the library before I finished. It was a bit of a relief.


Whom would you want to write your life story?

Myself obviously.  If that were impossible, I would like Hilary and Rob to collaborate with notes from the following:


Mariah Carey lyrics


My wannabe Sylvia Plath poetry

March Books 4 U My Lovers

20 Mar


More books!

Always more books!

For when you want to read something in one giant gulp, something that will change how you think about death and change how you think about living


When you want to fall in love with a married philosopher neurosurgeon writer

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

(It has 5 stars on Amazon with over 1,800 reviews.  This is not an accident.)

When you want to write quote after quote after freaking quote about happiness down, to read a memoir that addresses so much of the meaty stuff of life.  When you want to know what it’s like to grow up with the mother from Carrie.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

Speaking of!


I’m shin-deep in the Stephen King audiobook world, and I tell you what.  This one was the first one that I would drive around just to listen to.  This was the first one I had to read, HAD TO KNOW.  Ooh I liked this one.

It’s interesting to me when someone’s first book is the book I like best.  Like Nick Hornby.  Is the first book the most raw? Most truthful?  Is that the story they wanted to tell most?

For laughter, relatability, and more laughter:

American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis

PS: You can be my friend on Goodreads, if you think our relationship is at that point.  I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but oh gosh.  Yes. I’ve never felt this way before.

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

Important Book: The Year Of Magical Thinking

29 Mar


A few months ago I posted about a book I read that changed my life. I bought copies for everyone I know. I quoted it extensively. I legitimately considered applying to an additional grad program to meet the author.

I love books like that, books that take me away from myself.

I want to share books like that.

I was late to the Joan Didion game, and I hate being late to anything, especially literature.  It’s overwhelming to love books.  There’s so many novels out there, so many great ones!  How do you choose?  How do you find them?  It feels so rare to have a take-my-breath-away book, and yet I know I’ve barely touched the surface of Great Books.

Nick Hornby, in his brilliant Polysyllabic Spree says:

Even if you love movies and music as much as you do books, it’s still, in any given four week period, way, way more likely you’ll find a great book that you haven’t read than a great movie you haven’t seen, or a great album you haven’t heard: the assiduous consumer will eventually exhaust movies and music. Sure, there will always be gaps and blind spots, but I’ve been watching and listening for a long time, and I’ll never again have the feeling everyone has with literature: that we can’t get through the good novels published in the last six months, let alone those published since publishing began.

He also says this, which deserves posting:

Books are, let’s face it, better than everything else. If we played cultural Fantasy Boxing League, and made books go 15 rounds in the ring against the best that any other art form had to offer, then books would win pretty much every time. Go on, try it. “The Magic Flute” v. Middlemarch? Middlemarch in six. “The Last Supper” v. Crime and Punishment? Fyodor on points. See? I mean, I don’t know how scientific this is, but it feels like the novels are walking it. You might get the occasional exception -– “Blonde on Blonde” might mash up The Old Curiosity Shop, say, and I wouldn’t give much for Pale Fire’s chance against Citizen Kane. And every now and again you’d get a shock, because that happens in sport, so Back to the Future III might land a lucky punch on Rabbit, Run; but I’m still backing literature 29 times out of 30.

There is a man in Malibu who looks like Nick Hornby.  He’s bald and middle aged and when I see him I start to giggle and form marriage proposals.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Joan Didion came into my life like all good authors and books do: through a combination of luck and the universe conspiring.

I really believe that, you know.  Joan was pulled into my life because I needed her.  There were recommendations from authors I admire, quotes on my Instagram feed, articles and references and this and this and THIS and it got LOUDER AND LOUDER until I picked her up BECAUSE I HAD TO.

That’s what’s happening with me and Anaïs Nin right now.  I’ll keep you posted.

The Year of Magical Thinking is the story of the year after Joan Didion’s beloved husband (and acclaimed writer ) John Gregory Dunne died. Joan shares their lives together, how good they had it.  She reflects on the meaning of existence, the meaning of marriage, the meaning of loss.  She is direct about her pain, she is direct about her life.

That’s the word I would use when describing Joan’s writing: direct.

I was surprised.  Joan is always mentioned in relation to high art writing.  I expected a David Foster Wallace type situation where I would pull out the massive book with a study guide alongside it and sludge through the words, telling myself this was genius and I would eventually see that in the end.

Joan doesn’t try to be genius, she tries to be honest.

In that process lays her genius.

The Year of Magical Thinking did a lot of things for me, but mostly it gave me a marriage I can identify with.  Don’t you like that phrase?  I read it on ManRepeller, Leandra said something along the lines of, “when you see a marriage that you don’t identify with,” and I thought, yes!  That’s what I’ve been trying to say for so long.

We all want to identify with the world around us and Joan makes me identify.  I want the life she led, a life full of hard work and hard play.  An equal partner to watch the mustard in Malibu grow.

Joan lived in Malibu for several years.  It’s a prominent part of the book, a city she places as an equal player to say, New York, or LA proper. I appreciate that.  To me, Malibu is an equal player with New York.  In a city Fantasy Boxing League, Malibu is up there, fighting to the death with New York, throwing its waves and orchids and burritos in the face of New York’s enormous muscles, knowing it probably won’t win, but trying anyway.  I appreciate Joan for seeing this.

Perhaps you’ve all read The Year of Magical Thinking by now.  Like I said, I’m late to the party.  But in case you haven’t, in case you need a book that will carry you away with its prose, a relationship to aspire to, thoughts on the world to have, well, I suggest you read it.


Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.

We are not idealized wild things.

We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.

I remember thinking that I needed to discus this with John.

There was nothing I did not discuss with John.

Because we were both writers and both worked at home our days were filled with the sound of each other’s voices.

I did not always think he was right nor did he always think I was right but we were each the person the other trusted.

As a writer, even as a child, long before what I wrote began to be published, I developed a sense that meaning itself was resident in the rhythms of words and sentences and paragraphs, a technique for withholding whatever it was I thought or believed behind an increasingly impenetrable polish.

Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.

Here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is, the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe their husband is about to return and need his shoes.

Was it about faith or was it about grief?

Were faith and grief the same thing?

Were we unusually dependent on one another the summer we swam and watched Tenko and went to dinner at Morton’s?

Or were we unusually lucky?

What would I give to be able to discuss this with John?

What would I give to be able to discuss anything at all with John? What would I give to be able to say one small thing that made him happy? What would that one small thing be? If I said it in time would it have worked?

Why was the pencil so faint, I wondered.

Why would he use a pencil that barely left a mark.

When did he begin to see himself as dead?

I used to tell John my dreams, not to understand them but to get rid of them, clear my mind for the day. Don’t tell me your dream, he would say when I woke in the morning, but in the end he would listen.

When he died I stopped having dreams.

This will not be a story in which the death of the husband or wife becomes what amounts to the credit sequence for a new life, a catalyst for the discovery that “you can love more than one person.”  Of course you can, but marriage is something different.  Marriage is memory.  Marriage is time.

“She didn’t know the songs,” I recall being told that a friend of a friend had said after an attempt to repeat the experience.  Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time.

I realize as I write this that I do not want to finish this account.

Nor do I want to finish the year.

The craziness is receding but no clarity is taking its place.

I look for resolution and find none.

2014 In Books And Words

1 Jan


I have a Tumblr exclusively for beautiful words.

I started it when I first read Nick Hornby.  I was laughing and crying and quoting and texting everyone I knew every other line and at some point I realized that was impractical.  That if I couldn’t buy the book at that very moment, I needed to find a better way to compile all of my quotes.

And so my Tumblr began.

I keep the Tumblr app on my phone so when I read something I love I can quickly type it in.  My page is misspelled and uncapitalized and messy, but it contains all of my favorite words from my favorite writers and I go back to it often.

I thought I would go back to it today, for you.

For us.

For the love of everything.

2014 in words, coming at you.



Nothing can help the mood that still descends a few days before my period begins, like a black cloud rolling in. I am uncharacteristically dark and nihilistic. Everyone is out to get me, to hurt me, to uninvite me from their tea parties, to judge my body and destroy my family. I am like a character on Dallas, obsessed with subterfuge and revenge, convinced I have discovered unlikely yet real-seeming plots against me. Once, while in the throes of PMS, I became convinced a man in a black overcoat was following my down La Cienega Boulevard. ‘The police will never believe me,’ I sighed, and began hatching a plan for losing him on my own.

Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham


From the article All Alike

I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say. They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word. To-day, wrapped in the complacent armour of approaching middle age, the infinitesimal pricks of day by day brush one but lightly and are soon forgotten, but then–how a careless word would linger, becoming a fiery stigma, and how a look, a glance over a shoulder, branded themselves as things eternal. A denial heralded the thrice crowing of a cock, and an insincerity was like the kiss of Judas. The adult mind can lie with untroubled conscience and a gay composure, but in those days even a small deception scoured the tongue, lashing one against the stake itself.

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier




Speaking for all my lady friends, we all want some geeky, nerdy, polite and ridiculous mate whom we can sit at home with, slagging off all the tossers, and waiting for our baked potatoes to be ready. Who, obviously, is additionally so hot for us he regularly crawls across the front room in his hands and knees croaking, “I must have sex with you now, or go literally insane.” Compared to that, Prince Charming looks like a total donk.

How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran



Ah me! Where is the faultless human creature who can persevere in a good resolution, without sometimes failing and falling back? Where is the woman who has ever really torn from her heart the image that has been once fixed in it by a true love? Books tell us that such unearthly creatures have existed— but what does out own experience say in answer to books?

The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins




You will say good-bye for all the right reasons. You’re tired of living in wait for his apocalypse. You have your own fight on your hands, and though it’s no bigger or more noble than his, it will require all of your energy.

It’s you who has to hold on to earth. You have to tighten your grip — which means letting go of him.

The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Melissa Bank


Blue Watercolor Background


Did we find love because we grew up, got real and worked through our issues? No. We just found the right guys. We found men who love us even though we’re still cranky and neurotic, haven’t got our careers together, and sometimes talk too loudly, drink too much and swear at the television news. We have gray hairs and unfashionable clothes and bad attitudes. They love us, anyway.

Sara Eckel,  “Sometimes It’s Not You, or the Math” New York Times Modern Love



We can’t choose what we want and don’t want and that’s the hard lonely truth.  Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it’s going to kill us.  We can’t escape who we are.

And as much as I’d like to believe there’s a truth beyond illusion, I’ve come to believe that there’s no truth beyond illusion. Because, because ‘reality’ on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there’s a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic.

And I would argue as well, all love.  Or perhaps, more accurately, this middle zone illustrates the fundamental discrepancy of love.

Just as music is the space between notes, just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of color across the sky—-so the space where I exist, and want to keep existing, and to be quite frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime.

The Goldfinch, Donna Tart



Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in “sadness,” “joy,” or “regret.” Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, “the happiness that attends disaster.” Or: “the disappointment of sleeping with one’s fantasy.” I’d like to show how “intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members” connects with “the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age.” I’d like to have a word for “the sadness inspired by failing restaurants” as well as for “the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.” I’ve never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I’ve entered my story, I need them more than ever.

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides



Happy Thanksgiving Back

25 Nov


I’m thankful for my family.  For this group of people who have to love me and choose to love me and always love me.

For my mother and father who gave me a Brady Bunch childhood.  For their relationship, which inspires boys who do not love me to say, “The best part about marrying you would be your parents as in-laws”

I’m thankful for my siblings, the people who make sense of me.  The other four human beings who share crooked second toes and high-pitched giggles and the Denning language.

I’m grateful for my boyfriend.

I’m grateful that he sees my refusal to go in the kitchen as a good thing.  I’m grateful for his support.  For the nights he saves his mac and cheese for me.  For the traffic jams he offers to drive through.

I’m grateful I’m not crying every day anymore.

I’m grateful for my friends, the incredible women I’ve collected, my greatest accomplishment in my 27 years.  I’m grateful for their bravery and honesty and validation and understanding.

I’m grateful for a job that allows me to pursue writing.  I get to pursue writing!  For real!

It’s like a glorious dream.

So is living in Malibu.

I’m thankful, thankful, thankful for Malibu.

I’m grateful for sunsets on the beach.  For raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

For David Beckham’s right foot.

For David Beckham’s left foot.

I’m grateful for Nick Hornby and Mariah Carey and Nachos Roberto with extra chicken.

I’m grateful for Essie vending machines and library cards and nacho cheese curly fries and black toenails and birthday months and Richard Curtis movies and Gilmore Girls reunions and potato sack dresses and Joni Mitchell and and and

My hair.

Can I say my hair?

I’m grateful for my hair.

And Anne Lamott.

And Thanksgiving in the suburbs.

And you.

(If you’re nice.  You’re all nice, right?)

Happy Thanksgiving back, people.

Happy Thanksgiving back.

Dramatic Poems, Flibbertigibbets And Mindy Kaling’s Birthday

24 Jun


Tonight Hilary sent me the following poem:

Just missing you

Only all the time

But it’s cool


Lying here

In my living room






I wasn’t going to write a blog post today, but after that, it’s kind of like I have to, you know?


Let’s start this baby off with my grandmother, who told me that she wants to jump out of an airplane for her 80th birthday, “And not just because George Bush Senior did on his 85th.”

I don’t have commentary on this, I just want you to think about it for a minute.

Or two.

Or three.

Or however long you need.

Next up in this manic thriller of a post–

Nick Hornby is writing about the World Cup for ESPN!  And I’m reading it!  I’m reading it all.  I’m also reading This is Where I Leave You which is the second book I’ve checked out in two months where the cover has compared the author to Nick Hornby and it’s like, oh please.

There’s only one man on earth who can make me read World Cup recaps  aloud over dinner, chuckling noisily, and that man is Nicholas Hornelby.

PS: Have you seen the cast for This is Where I Leave You?  It’s loaded and Feyed and I love a loaded, Feyed cast.

All right.  A few more items of business before you can return to watching the cancelled episodes of I Wanna Marry Harry on Hulu.

1. A friend just got me a LIBRARY due date card phone case.  It’s spectacular.

2. I tried chocolate chicken today and it is most definitely not spectacular.

Other not spectacular things in my life right now:

– My pasta salad scented lunch bag which ruins all edible items within three miles

– The fact that I won’t throw away my pasta salad scented lunch bag because I like the logo

– Adult acne

Other spectacular things in my life right now:

– My $5 knockoff Karen Walker sunglasses

– Gourmet pickles

– The Sound of Music Sing-A-Long at the Hollywood Bowl!!!!

I’m thinking of starting a countdown to the Sing-A-Long on the side of the blog to really prep myself for the experience.

(As if I haven’t been prepping for this moment my whole life.)

Maybe the countdown will have little fun phrases like “Just 42 more days, you crazy will-‘o-the-wisp!” or “Climb every mountain because you’re finding your dream in 12 days!” or “I have confidence that spring will come again in 21 days!” or something.

Or maybe it won’t.

Or maybe this is the best idea I’ve ever had.

And finally, before I log off and fall into the deep sleep of a full-time employee, today is Mindy Kaling’s birthday.

Last year for her birthday, Wendy’s sent Mindy’s staff free food. Mindy Instagrammed her spoils and said, “Your move McDonald’s” and then MCDONALD’S SENT HER FREE FOOD TOO.

This is so many levels of dreams for me.

Then today Mindy’s staff took her on a surprise helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon where they all had a lovely breakfast at the bottom of one of the wonders of the world.

Like nbd.

Mindy Kaling.  You’re a freaking birthday goddess.




PS: 87 days 18 hours and 49 minutes, you flibbertigibbets!!!