Archive | LA RSS feed for this section

The 10 People You Meet On An LA Hike

2 Apr

Hiking is the city activity of Los Angeles. If you go on a weekend you’re going to be stuck in traffic, mobbed with people, the joy of being outdoors robbed by the pain of being in a loud, public forum.

We made this mistake last weekend, hiking just after brunch, and while I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of noise on our hiking trail, I was also taking notes.

Notes I present to you now.

The 10 people you meet on an LA hike

1. The Influencer

Dressed in Outdoor Voices, speaking to their followers. This hike is their photoshoot and the rest of us are just living in it.

2. The Very Casual

Plastic Starbucks cup in hand, jeans on. They are not prepared! Should we be worried?

3. The Very Prepared

You know the fancy backpack of water that I speak of. Maybe some sort of walking stick?

4. The Family

They are regretting attempting this and so is everyone else around them.

5. The Couple On A Date

It’s usually early days and I wonder if this ever works out for them? Hiking is always very emotional for me but, then again, I’m only in moderate shape?

6. The Guy With Speakers Instead Of Headphones

Very presumptuous, forcing the rest of us to listen to your choice of music on full blast, buster.

7. The Runner

Are they barefoot? Are those just very thin sandal running shoes?

8. The Mountain Biker

Listen, it explicitly says no biking here, but that’s not what this is about. How did you pedal your bike up this cliff? The terrain won’t allow for it! I can barely walk!

9. The Dog Owners

Holding their frou-frou dogs or guiding their wolf dogs or apologizing to you that their excited dog has developed a liking for your shins.

10. The Writer

Taking it in, taking notes, going home to blog about it.

Things I need to do to make my new place feel like a home

31 Aug


Things I need to do to make my new place feel like a home

1. Find a yoga class with:

– Normal temperatures

– Actual music with actual words

– A class time of one hour or less (Why 90 minute hot yoga classes, why)

2. Figure out my full-length mirror situation

3. Know, instinctively, where to locate the macaroni and cheese in the grocery store

4. Plot a walking trail for late at night that feels at least somewhat safe


6. Remember how much a load of laundry costs without having to check

7. Memorize my Santa Monica library card number

8. Sell Rob’s weird leather match chair, freeing my living space and my soul

9. Get a new therapist. Tell her these issues. Begin the work.

Our First Apartment

5 Jul


A few nights ago I called my mom in a panic.

There’s a lot of change happening right now, all at once. A wedding to plan. A move. A new city. A new job. A new apartment.

Apartment hunting in LA.

(My hands tremble just typing that.)

We had just found out that the apartment we wanted had gone to another person, Hunger Games style. I was so disappointed. I’m talking tears came to my eyes disappointed, anger in my soul disappointed.

I LOVED the area this apartment was in. It was two blocks from the beach. Bright. Across the street from yoga and ramen and the farmer’s market and the historic library and the church and the best breakfast place and.

You get it.

I had already compiled a list of dinner party guests we would invite over once we had settled into the place. After a pasta dinner and light, refreshing dessert we would take our guests on a walk to the beach.

I can’t believe you’re this close! they would say.

We’re so lucky, I would say.

I had the furniture picked out. I knew which yoga classes I was going to.

I was in. My whole heart was in.

The disappointment was overwhelming.

We’ll never live that close to the beach again, I told my mom. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the only apartment in the area we could even remotely afford, and it’s gone.

My mother, all credit to her, did not laugh at my dramatics. She simply said, Jill, it’s a long life. You don’t know where you’ll live in the future. You just need a place to start out.  

The place you start out isn’t supposed to be ideal. It’s supposed to be the stuff of family folklore. The weird first apartment. Not the rest of your life.

My parents’ first place infamously required them to fill the toilet bowl by hand after each use.

I don’t know what this means, exactly, but I do know that it sounds awful.

Another one of their early places was small enough that my mom could vacuum the entire home from one outlet.

Another was in a neighborhood where they woke up to find their turnips had been tagged with graffiti.

Or so the family folklore goes.

Later in the week, Rob and I signed on our first apartment together.

It has no overhead lighting (read: dark). It’s significantly further from the beach and the yoga and the ramen and the farmer’s market and the historic library and the church and the best breakfast place and.

You get it.

I do not love the neighborhood, for I am not one who values convenience over charm, practicality over theatricality.

There will be no post dinner party beach walks.

And yet, I remind myself the words of my mother

Jill, it’s a long life. You don’t know where you’ll live in the future.

You just need a place to start out.  


Here we are, starting out.

Bring on the family folklore.

LA Is The Worst

29 Jun


LA is the worst because in order to make an event downtown at 7:30 I left my house at 1:45 pm. The last time I decided to delay a drive downtown, I spent four hours in the car and screamed, “I could have driven to Utah today!”

I wasn’t emotionally prepared to repeat that.

LA is the worst because in my four hours to kill I decided to see Wonder Woman and when I left the theater, after paying $14 for a matinee, I was greeted with a parking bill of $27.

Yes. $27.

Yes. $14.

LA is the worst because the first weekend I ever spent here I discovered it cost $10 every 15 minutes in the Target parking lot and my heart shattered to dust.

LA is the worst because in order to make my event, I had to park in another parking garage and pay another price.

The price of my soul.

LA is the worst because apartment hunting is a reality television sport. “We have approved multiple people, the first to hand us a check with the deposit gets the apartment!” they say, ominously. “Let the Hunger Games begin!”

LA is the worst because to even apply for an apartment, you need 12 references as just the beginning.

I can’t even tell you the end. It’s too painful.

LA is the worst because a friend said, “Yes. I’ve lived in my apartment for over a decade for this reason. Who has the energy to move?”

Who, indeed.

LA is the worst because in two days I’ve listened to two full audiobooks in the car. I’ve dealt with property managers who are nitpicky about the dimensions of your signature and your emergency contact’s home address.

“In an emergency, phone is the communication method of choice!” Rob yells.

If only that were the biggest problem.

LA is the worst because by the time I got to my event, I saw that another favorite author of mine was coming in the future and I determined I didn’t have it in me.

I didn’t have another day in downtown LA to give.

LA is the worst.

Did you hear?

LA is the best because after all of that I got to see Roxane Gay.

I got to see her live in an auditorium full of likeminded feminists. I got to laugh and scream and seriously debate asking her her favorite Beyoncé song.

LA is the best because just two days before I got to attend the Sound of Music Sing-a-long at the Hollywood Bowl. I got to sit amongst dressed up nuns who work at Disneyland and share their Portos and have a moment. A moment with the city, with the music, with a friend.

LA is the best because our strawberries come straight from Oxnard. Because California air soothes the lungs. Because of Malibu.

LA is the best.

Did you hear?

My Celebrity Encounters

29 May


This week I ran into Meredith Monroe, better known as Andie from Dawson’s Creek.

It was like coming home. Like seeing family after a long absence.

I keep a note in my phone of all the celebrities I’ve randomly encountered in LA. Each has a unique story, sometimes woefully boring (Chipotle…), only one of them including a picture. My biggest interaction, actually, was when Daryl Hannah came up to Rob and asked what dish he ordered at our favorite Thai place.

Exciting times at Ridgemont High!!

(OK this is a lie. Remember when I gave my number to a C (B?) list celebrity? Over three years later I finally feel comfortable telling you it was James Wolk and he never called me and it is still probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done.)

(Update. It appears one year after our encounter he got married, so I’m assuming he was already deep in the middle of the romance of his life when we met which is why he never called me.)

(But also, does his now wife know he smiled at me???)

Today I am sharing my celebrity encounter list with you. For fun? For documentation? Just because?

If you’re interested in any specific person, leave a comment and I’ll tell you how/where I saw them. It could be as exciting as Chipotle!

Alyson Hannigan

Andrew Garfield

Edward Norton

Pamela Anderson

Josh Malina

Patrick Dempsey

Owen Wilson

Craig T. Nelson

Daryl Hannah

Mel Gibson

Chris Harrison

Gigi Hadid

James Wolk

Rory Kennedy

Colin Hanks

Dreama Walker

Orlando Bloom

Brody Jenner (and girlfriend Kaitlynn Carter)

Jenna Boyd

Sofia Vergara

Shannon Doherty

Cheryl Hines

Dick Van Dyke


Robin Thicke

Rick Rubin

Brandon and Leah Jenner

William Russ

Pierce Brosnan

Meredith Monroe

Caitlyn Jenner

Kylie Jenner

LA Happens

29 Jul


Recently a friend and I went out for sushi.

I had been to this particular restaurant once before, about a year ago.

Last year I ordered a chicken teriyaki bowl and asked for a fork.  I told the people I was with I had never liked sushi and never would, sorry, and also what’s the deal with chopsticks.

I stabbed my rice bowl with deep shame and clunky chopsticks.

(The server never brought me my obnoxious-person fork.)

This year I ordered five kinds of sushi and ate every single bite.  I marveled at the price, gave thought-out opinions on what I was eating, and used chopsticks without any real problem.

I had sushi again the next night.

LA happens to the best of us.

I love to hike.  That’s a very LA way to start a sentence, but there we go.  I love to hike and a few weeks ago I was on a mountain with friends when we started talking about face products.

“Oh yes, I tone with witch hazel now,” I said.

“Witch hazel,” my friend said knowingly.  “Very smart.  I don’t want anything but all-natural ingredients for my body.”

“Coconut oil!” my other friend chimed in.  “Through my years with skin problems, nothing works like coconut oil!”

I nodded, sweat pooling under my Dodgers hat.  I wore black Nike shorts, a black tank top and dedicated black Nike hiking shoes that I told myself I could buy after I had hiked five times.

I bought them after I had hiked once.

LA happens to the best of us.

There’s a guy who always comes to Wednesday yoga wearing toe shoes and when he rips them off his feet smell up the entire room.  We’ve all kind of accepted it at this point, muffling our noses in our tank tops.  He’s one of us.  One of the Wednesday Yoga Crew.

I’m one of those, too, I guess.  If I don’t make it to yoga at least once a week I feel off balance.  I look forward to it, plan my day around it, talk spirituality and yoga with my friends.

“It’s about my mind as much as my body,” I say.

“It’s making me rethink my entire life,” I say.

LA happens to the best of us.

I have a bag of frozen bananas in my freezer.

It’s a bag I’m constantly replenishing, a bag exclusively devoted to a green smoothie I love.

The drink in question is a knock off of a knock off of a twist on the best smoothie Vitamin Barn offers, a green thing that includes a frozen banana, frozen mango and pineapple, coconut water chia seeds and kale.

I like kale!  It’s true!  I prefer it to spinach.  I don’t know what people mean when they say it has a strong taste.  Am I missing that taste?  Kale tastes good.

It tastes like…health.

I like the taste of health.

And green smoothies.

And kale.

LA happens to the best of us.

Silver Lake Is For Hipsters (And Lovers) (And Cats On Leashes)

13 Oct

IMG_7195IMG_7194 IMG_7193 IMG_7192 IMG_7191

I’m sitting here eating a caramel-chocolate-mini-m&m-pretzel rod and that’s really the beginning and the end of everything, isn’t it?

Whenever I sit down to compose a blog post, my first impulse is to start with a detailed description of what I’m consuming at the moment.  It’s a terrible habit, and a terribly boring habit in terms of writing, and yet I’m drawn to it.  Every time I put my fingers to the keyboard to spill something profound all I can think is, “Wow, I really love this pretzel rod.  And that pop of salt?!”

I’ll try to spare you all.

The other evening I decided I was going to try one of my all night writing sessions.  These late nights have been known to be effective in the past, my most effective, in fact, and so on the way home from Luke’s at 1:00AM I stopped at Jack in the Box and I got a Munchie Meal.

I congratulated myself on this choice.  Two types of fries!  Possibly-soy tacos!  Something smothered in cheese!

A friend said she saw the Munchie Meal advertised and wondered who on earth consumed such a thing.  Well, the answer is me, and the answer is, in the cold light of morning with no writing done and a pit in my stomach the size of two potentially-vegan tacos I had regrets.

All the regrets.

The other day Luke and I drove by Joni Mitchell’s Laurel Canyon home.  It was a special trip, one to fulfill my heart’s deepest desires.  As we climbed the Hollywood Hills my lungs filled with anticipation.   My eyes widened, ready to take it all in. This was it!  This was where all the magic happened, where Joni became Joni!  I waited for the traffic to thin, the houses to grow sparse, the air to turn crisp and medicinal.

It never happened.

Joni’s home was right off a busy thoroughfare, covered by shrubbery.

It was nothing to look at it, nothing to see.

My soul wasn’t healed, or even touched, really.

I tend to have this problem with anything I’ve imagined.  The reality is just…reality.  I remember seeing the Pantheon in Rome and being completely let down.  I had envisioned the famous building on the top of a quaint hill surrounded by lush greenery and faint breezes. I had imagined my ascent–treacherous and possibly involving a donkey, but worth it when I finally got to the top and soaked in its majesty.

Instead I nearly had my chest crushed and my purse stolen by unruly, smelly crowds in the center of Rome.

Que sara sara.

(A boy once put this que sara sara song on a playlist for me after we broke up.  That’s all I can ever think when I say that phrase.)

Que sara sara, Joni.

I read an article about Joni Mitchell’s current Bel Air home and the best part of the whole thing was when Joni called the interviewer at 8:00AM and said, “I just wanted to talk to you before I went to bed,” and the interviewer is like, “Joni, it’s 8:00AM.”

I get that.  I’m a little sad I’ve lost that to an extent, the world has stolen my all-nighters from me, and I’m trying to get them back.

Jack in the Box Munchie Meals are not the way to go, it seems.

The day of the Joni Mitchell Laurel Canyon thingamabob, Luke, myself, and my new leather fall boots spent the morning in Silver Lake.  Luke and myself quite enjoyed the morning, but my boots, let me tell you.  They were none to happy.

As I sat in the car, using Luke’s entire Band-Aid supply on my feet and wincing at the memory of the boots I wondered when I will learn.  New shoes are not to be had for day trips!

But they were soooo cute.  I tell myself.  But they were fall and went with the flannel and….oh there’s no excuse because it was so unbelievably hot and the flannel was too much to begin with.

It’s been so boiling toasty here. I’ve done my best not to only fill this blog with tales of the weather, though maybe that’s an idea right there.  A weather blog!  With a side of what I’m eating right now!

But really, Instagram and the news, and the sweat barreling down my leg midday are all screaming about the heat and I seem to be ignoring everything and wearing flannel and boots.

(I’m going to Utah in two weeks.  I’m going to Utah in two weeks.  I’m going to Utah in two weeks.)

Silver Lake was everything I had hoped it would be all in one hipster morning.  It was coffee shops with almond butter muffins and coconut kale smoothies and fresh, local, organic everything.

It was grown men with cats on leashes, and handmade flavored luxury marshmallows and a store that sold (and rented) VHS tapes.

It was the purchasing of Raising Arizona on VHS as a gag gift and the constant compliments on “such a find.”  It was an hour in a record store with a perpetual disaffected 80s youth and vintage stores galore, and one ill-fated attempted walk around the lake in which I winced from the car and wished the whole thing were prettier.

It was a spice shop stuffed with things I’ve never heard of and smoky cajun powder for Luke and mint tea for me.

It was an episode of Portlandia, right here in LA.

I quite loved it.

I quite love this pretzel rod, too.  Did I mention the pretzel rod?

My LA Commute: A Survivor’s Story

12 Sep


Every morning I get in my car just after 8:00.

I have an underground parking spot, and as I pull out I always look at the Yacht Clubbed license plate next to me belonging to Fran, a neighbor I once thought was part of my romantic comedy.

I drive into the gloom of morning-by-the-ocean and my phone adjusts to having service again. I anxiously freeze my fingers on my tumbler, gulping the first water of the day.  It’s the moment of truth, this transition from Searching to LTE.   How bad, exactly, will it be today?

Google Maps lights up quickly, all red, as usual.  It’s 8:02AM in LA and I’m driving downtown.

It’s all red, always.

I quickly take stock of my options.  I can call my best friend in Utah.  Sometimes I’m able to catch her in between baby feedings and being a grown up.

I can turn on the radio and listen to those two know-nothings who hate Mariah Carey. I can brave the fuzzy side noise that comes with my auxiliary cord.

Most of the time, though, it just comes down to me and Luke’s CD.  The one he made me right when we started dating.

It’s full of his Jill songs at that particular point in time, and I have the whole thing memorized backwards and forwards and upside down Beyoncé.

I clip along through the back roads of LA, Norwegian Wood lightly setting the mood.  I admire the palm trees and wonder where I would settle down, if I had to live here for the rest of my life.

Oh please let this not be my place for the rest of my life.

But if it’s this street, I want the Snow White cottage.

And if it’s the next block, the pink one.  Because you can have a pink house in that neighborhood, you should have a pink house in that neighborhood.

I pass the McDonald’s on the corner, never in enough time to stop, but always in enough time to make me want to stop.

The traffic starts and stalls and plays with my heart every few minutes. Google Maps likes to alert me that a new! faster! route is available and sometimes I let myself believe it, and 17 minutes later I’m stuck on a side road, nowhere near work, with only Stevie Nicks to comfort me.

My mornings go Lennon, Nicks, Petty, in that order.

Carey, Swift, Hawkins, too, if we’re being precise.

I slow down at USC.  I speed up for three seconds at a time and jolt to a stop, wondering why I forgot I can never speed up.

I listen to The Cranberries on repeat.

And then repeat again.

After an hour or so of struggle and mixed CDs, I pull into the third row of Joe’s Auto Parks and employ the unnecessary emergency brake.  I’m always a little later than planned and I always hate LA  just a little bit more than I ever thought I could hate a place.

I grab my tumbler, the book that won’t fit into my bejeweled Gone With the Wind purse, and my bruised 3-day old peach.

It’s time to start my day and I’m already over it.

Adventures in Rollerblading And Pasta Salad

7 Jul


My mother is in town, which means my belly is full, my orchid is being nursed back to health, and my hair is out and scaring strangers.

I swear on the life and legacy of Edith Wharton that my hair grows when my mother is around.  I think it’s a competition thing.  Like my hair can just feel another mane trying to assert dominance and it won’t stand for it, nope.

When you add my little sister’s fuzz to the mix, well, we’re just a walking trio of alpha hair clowns over here in LA right now.

Luke assures me my hair is my best quality and that’s why we keep him around.

Then again, my dad says my mother’s hair is her best quality so maybe there’s something to this.

All right.

My Fourth of July was pretty grand, if you ask me, which you sort of did because you’re reading my blog.

My family saw a feminist revisionist film.  We had a BBQ in which I converted Luke to pasta salad (a crucial step towards any couple’s happy future) and we rounded the day off with an intense rollerblading session and spectacular fireworks on the Marina.


Before we get to the nitty gritty particulars of my blading adventure, I want to talk about pasta salad, because I don’t think I’ve really expressed my feelings on the matter enough.

Pasta salad is one of my main food groups.

Nachos is another, obviously.

Watermelon makes its own category.

So do peaches.

And mac and cheese!  Let’s not forget mac and cheese!

Isn’t this fun?

The pasta salad that converted the “I like my foods hot, thank you very much” Luke to the right way of thinking about pasta salads, I actually discovered at a baby shower.

I’m going to go ahead and say it’s the best thing to come out of that or any baby shower ever in the history of the world, because, really…

…baby showers…

On to rollerblading!

My family decided to bike to the Marina for the fireworks show to end all fireworks shows, and I strapped on my rollerblades for the outing.  This was fine, mainly, but not quite so fine in the dark.


In a crowd.

At one point on the journey we hit a slope and I took off on my blades, unable to stop myself.  My mother yelled, “Jill, grab the flashlight!” as though I could somehow gain control, turn around and reach back for her phone.

(My mother also said this week that she “lives for Snapchats” so let’s document that now.)

People made comments, as they do when a girl in a dress barrels through a crowd on rollerblades.

Is she wearing rollerblades?

Way to be unique!

Hello Jennifer Aniston!

(I couldn’t hear all of the comments, so I’m ad libbing a bit here.)

It was a whole thing.

I also managed to get stuck in my rollerblades right before a family picture, but let’s not go into details right now, let’s just review the picture above.

Ah, candid photos.

The night ended with a midnight s’more, several episodes of The Combeack, and bowl of extra chilled pasta salad.

I’m starting to feel like myself again after this month of Zombie Working Jill.

I’m almostttttt halfway sort of there I would say.

Also, The Comeback.

Why did no one tell me?

S’mores In A Cup And Working Full-Time

19 Jun


Tonight I told Luke I was giving up writing.

We were walking hand in hand along Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, the palm trees swaying, the blue stretching out before us.

“Okay,” he said.

“Okay?!” I said.  “This was an extremely difficult decision, THE difficult decision of my life.  It cost me a lot emotionally and I would appreciate you taking this seriously.”

“Okay,” he said.

“Hrpmh,” I said as we walked into our restaurant.

I’m so tired.

I’m tired enough that I say things like I’m giving up writing when I don’t really mean them because I’m exhausted and I’m trying to tackle everything at once, and all see is a big future ahead of me where I have no time for anything but sleep and work.

I started my job this week, and let me tell you what, this is something of a lifestyle adjustment.

Tonight at dinner I kept laying my head against Luke, practically falling asleep at the table and our friends assured me it gets better.  I’ll adjust to my new schedule.  I’ll figure it out.

And I believed them, because they introduced me to the restaurant’s S’mores in a cup, and also because, no never mind, it was about the S’mores in a cup.

Oh!  Luke doesn’t like marshmallows!

Breaking news!

Well not breaking, as I have known this for some time, but breaking for my blog readers who are extremely interested in my boyfriend’s eating habits.

I ordered a steak tonight (more fun food facts, coming right at you!) and I when my plate got to me, I scooped up my spinach and mushrooms and put them on Luke’s plate and he said, “You know, your greatest flaw as a human is that you don’t appreciate mushrooms.”  Later, when I ate my S’mores cup and he refused the fluffy goodness, I said, “Your greatest flaw as a human is that you don’t appreciate marshmallows.”

And that maybe sums us up in some weird way.

Or maybe not.

Or maybe yes.


Another fun Luke fact: he goes to the store every single day.


He likes it.  He enjoys the grocery store like no one else I’ve ever known.

The day he moved he had a semi-emotional goodbye with his butcher.

And when Luke told me about his store habit, I was so incredulous I could not even speak.  “Stop,” I said.  “Stop it right now.  You go back to the store and you buy seven yogurts, that’s what you do.  You do not go every day to buy a single yogurt.”

But then again, I’m a girl who goes to the store once every quarter so maybe he shouldn’t listen to me.

All right.  Where were we?

Oh yes, I’m working.

I’m working in Downtown LA where the view from my building is as you see above.

Like, hello city.

And every time I look at this, I can’t help but think about Young Jill.

Young Jill dreamed of nothing more than working in a big city. She was sure she belonged in the middle of everything, soaking up culture and refining her mind and buzzing and bursting and flowing and something.

And here I am, all grown up and working in a big city, and it’s nothing like what I thought it would be.

For one, it’s not New York City, which I always kind of imagined it would be.

And thank heavens for that.

New York and I were never meant to be, though it’s still the city I get every time I take one of those “What city should you live in” quizzes, I’m apparently so fond of taking.

I get New York and Luke gets New York and Cait gets New York and it’s like all my favorite people are the type of people who should live in New York but don’t.

And maybe that doesn’t sum us up or whatever.

So that was for one, in case you forgot.

For two, cities aren’t as glamorous as maybe I once thought they were.  Like today, on my two-mile trek to Chipotle, I stepped on a rogue earring and the stud managed to pierce its way through my wooden ankle boot and up to my foot!

What disease do I have now?!

(Don’t worry, my mother is in Utah exploring the fine print of my shot records.)

After I stepped on the disease tack, I kept thinking, “I’m going to die.  This will be it.  I will have died because of my greed for Chipotle.  Who knows what rare and terrible diseases that thing had.  I’m going to die, slowly and painfully and probably be on the news.”

And then I bought myself a dozen M&M cookies to go along with my Band-Aids because it was that sort of day.

And then I came home to write.

After eating a steak with no mushrooms.

And S’mores in a cup.

Because I’m not giving up writing, it turns out.

I’m just tired.