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A Big Gumbo Of New Orleans Thoughts

9 Jul


I’m going to New Orleans and I’m exactly like you Jill. Where should I go? What should I do?

Well thank you for asking, Jill. I am an expert in all things Jill, one of my few real shining points. I don’t expect praise for this, but I do appreciate it

comma, Jill.

Here are some things you should do, Jill:

1. Eat the beignets at Cafe Du Monde. You can get them to-go so the line isn’t that bad. Eat them hot. Let the powdered sugar flutter down your breezy, natural-fabric dress.

2. Get a tarot reading outside Jackson Square. Choose a psychic with chairs and umbrella and 13 years experience working at a witchcraft store. Bring cash.

3. Watch The Princess and the Frog. Marvel how much it means now that you’re catching the little references. (Also, it’s Oprah! Oprah is her mother!)

4. Go on a swamp tour! Get lucky and get a tour guide who grew up playing in the swamp and who brings his pet alligator Alli on the ride.

5. Get a snow cone at Hansen’s. Top it with condensed milk.

6. Walk the Garden District. Check out celebrity homes (Hi Beyonce, Sandra Bullock, the Mannings, Anne Rice, John Goodman ETC)

7. While you’re in the Garden District, stop in Anne Rice’s favorite bookstore. Afterwards, grab a roast beef poboy from Parasol’s. Maybe the roast beef fries too? Those are really, really, really excessively good.

8. Speaking of really, really excessively good, New Orleans has queso! At many places! 801 Royal is a starting point.

9. Get tea at the Tea Witch Cafe while walking and vintage shopping on Magazine Street

10. Go to Bourbon Street at night and watch whatever parade is happening. Catch some beads. Dance.

11. Check out a Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. Buy some beads. Ask some questions.

12. Talk to the owner of Faulkner House Books about Faulkner and what he did during his time in New Orleans. Revel in all those little pieces of literary history you didn’t know about.

13. Try the famous turtle soup at The Court of the Two Sisters (This was also interestingly a room service option for me? From Court specifically?)

14. Never wear a bra.

Love you, Jill

Love, Jill

Cape Cod Year Four

22 Aug

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The days blurred together on the Cape, one stifling afternoon after another. We walked through soup air, dripping sweat on our coverups. It’s so hot we said, our brains gone dead with the temperature.

The bay was cooler, with a breeze.  We set our chairs out by the water, letting our toes dip into the bathtub before us. The water’s so warm, we said, our brains gone dad with the temperature.

My hair found snarls, knotting and twisting, revealing my insides like I always knew it did.

Clumps and chunks and curls I pulled out to no avail. The next day it was back to the same.

Back to me.

I noticed every picture I took was a copy of the last. Command C. Command P. We went one place and one place only.

We went to the water.

There weren’t long rainy days in town, slow afternoons exploring the bookstore or eating fried fish. There weren’t day trips and gallery walks, plays and movies and vintage teapots like in years past.

The days were the same.

The heat turned everything to mush, including time.

Hank Green said Gilmore Girls taught him that your great ambition in life can be your life.

I wrote it down as soon as he said it, because he had put to words something I never had.

Your great ambition in life can be your life.

Gilmore Girls was about the minutia, but the minutia mattered. Where Rory went to school mattered, what Lorelai’s inn was like mattered.

The minutia can be your life.

Is your life.

We had big breakfasts, potatoes and butter, bacon and cranberry juice.

We piled our coolers full of drinks and treats. The best that the corner store could buy.

We took ladder golf and bocce, high-backed chairs and umbrellas. We spoke to neighbors, and took beach walks. We stayed in the water until it turned slate and the sky finished its last streak of light.

We walked back home in the dark to a kitchen full of food, to a homemade basil sauce and grilled tomatoes, fluffy white rice and marinated chicken.

We listened to themed music and watched the Olympics. Cuddled and talked and had ice cream sometimes and ice cream cake other times.

It was routine and small and boring and mushy and Command P again and again.

And again.


We did it with our greatest ambition.



Cape Cod Year 1 (and Martha’s Vineyard), Year 2, Year 3, and my love affair with it in general

I Wore A Bikini For A Month And Lived To Tell The Tale

20 Sep


The month of July 2015 will go down as one of the best months of my life.  I traveled to Puerto Rico with my entire family, a treat of the highest order.  I traveled to Cape Cod with Rob and his family, a dream of the highest order.

I am so tan right now you wouldn’t recognize me.  The last time I looked like this I was a little girl in Las Vegas, running from my pool to my best friend’s pool to the neighbor’s pool and back, all in one blurry rotation.  My hair, a solid brown, was bleached and ragged.  My skin was so sunkissed I glowed.

Today I feel like that little girl again.

On the Cape the schedule goes something like this:

Sleep in as late as your body will allow.  Stay in bed an hour after you wake up, just because you can.  Come downstairs to an elaborate meal prepared by Rob’s food-loving family.

Put on a bikini.

Go to the beach.

Come back for six helpings of pasta.


Ice cream.


It’s just about the best schedule I can imagine, especially because the time at the beach includes things such as ladder golf and waboba balls, sailing, and diving off sailboats.  Beach chairs on the edge of the tide so you can sit as the jacuzzi water washes over you, Diet Coke in hand.

Yes, July was paradise.

And I lived in a bikini.

There was a time where those two things could’t have coexisted.

I’ll call it the first 25 years of my life.

I used to think that my body was not a bikini body and that was that.  I’ve had stretch marks since I was a teenager.  Cellulite since then as well.  My arms look nothing like Michelle Obama’s.

I could give you a laundry list of my physical complaints.  Every girl I know can.

And so there were no bikinis for me for a long time.

When I was in high school and my body was undoubtably more lean than it is now, I used to float around in my best friend’s pool wearing knee-length board shorts making fun of my body.

I am very, very sad for that young, healthy girl and for the culture and circumstances that lead to such behavior.  I want to talk more about that young, healthy girl and the culture and circumstances that led to her behavior.

Anne Lamott says something I love:

“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you
never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in
warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly
and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out
on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big
juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring
off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart.
Don’t let this happen.”

I read that quote on an airplane on my way to Cape Cod and I thought, “Yes, Anne.  Yes, again and as always.”  It’s all a lie, you realize at some point.  Every girl I know, including the one-and-only Kate Moss, has cellulite.  Human beings have dimples and curves and inconsistencies.  This idea that we shouldn’t, or it’s abnormal, this idea that we should look Photoshopped in order to feel comfortable at the beach–at some point you have to say no to it.  At some point you have to say, “I have stopped buying into this notion and choose to live my life.”

At some point you put on a bikini.

I have a comfortable tummy, cellulite and stretch marks.  And my goodness if I was going to let that ruin July for me.

I didn’t.

I wore a bikini and ate pasta and laughed a whole lot and right now I am so tanned and so happy I feel like childhood Jill, the one before the heartaches and the real life.

I wore a bikini for a month.

This is my tale.

Back On The Cape

5 Aug


I’m sitting in a big, white fluffy bed on the top floor of Rob’s Cape house.  I am tempted to call it the attic, but I don’t think that’s accurate.  It’s a floor–small, with slanted ceilings, big closets and Cape appropriate wallpaper.  It’s perfect.

I’ve loved Rob’s Cape home from the moment I stepped foot in it, two summers ago.  His mother has outfitted it perfectly.  Lots of whites and cool blues, everything cozy and oversized, shells and heart-shaped rocks, a clock showing the tide.

The tide is so important here.  There are clocks and charts.  We planned the dates we came based on when the tide would be in and at what times.  The tide, you see, determines how warm the bay is. And how warm the bay is determines most everything.

I had a lobster roll for dinner.  Clam chowder and sushi for lunch and a lobster roll and onion straws for dinner and I’m not feeling well.  Rob told me I needed to drink more water, because in my pain I was asking a lot of quesitons about America’s Got Talent and he was not interested in answering them.

He doesn’t know the answers.

I don’t like lobster.  I want to like lobster.  Being really into lobster rolls seems like the type of thing I could get really into, but alas.  It’s like oysters.  You outfit those things up with lemon and sauces and they can taste OK but you can’t get rid of the texture.

Seafood is mild tasting and has odd textures.  I want my food spicy and dynamic and SOMETHING.

This I accept about myself amen.

There are bugs here.  They seem to love me.  Rob is walking around, limping from bug bites and I haven’t had a single bite.  Is it possible I’m not allergic to their bites?  Is this a thing?

Speaking of design, Rob’s mom put up patriotic decorations on the way to their beach. Aren’t they dreamy?

Today we went to a stationary store.  I bought three packs of thank you cards and one pearly white journal that just really stood out.  As I bought it, the store owner informed me that it was a wedding book.  That explains the hefty price tag.  And the beading.

I shall use it for my non-important thoughts, I shall.

I love that about the Cape.  There are stores devoted simply to stationery.  How can this be?  I wonder.  How can they stay afloat financially?  And yet they do.

Stationery and art galleries.  Ice cream shop after ice cream shop.

Independent bookstores!  They live on here as they should live on everywhere.  We went to one where the books are piled like  a labrinyth, where the checkout counter has bins of penny candy, where the store owner comes through and says, “I’m sorry, have you seen our cat?”

All good bookshops should have a lost cat and bins of penny candy.  All good bookshops should feel cozy.  Get away pristine bookshops where I don’t want to touch the books.  Get far, far away.

Wellfleet, MA is my dream place.  It’s the coziest town, a mix between Capeside and Stars Hollow.  The houses are all like this.

They don’t make houses like that outside of New England.

I don’t think.

The hydrangeas are thick and puffy, the daisies overgrown.  You ocan walk everywhere and maybe one day I can learn to like oysters because the oysters there are famous.  Also there’s a protest corner.

Rob’s grandma bought me Truman Capote’s short stories at the Wellfleet bookstore.  Capote was a character.  I don’t want to talk about Nelle right now.

I do want to talk about the vintage croquet set that’s haunting my dreams from the flea market.

And the flea market.

And the fact that the flea market is held at the drive-in movie theater, because of course Wellfleet would have a drive-in movie theater.

Of course.

Tomorrow I’m going to go to the store and buy baby carrots.  That’s what I need.  Carrots.  I think they are missing from my diet.

I love it here.

That’s all.


The Where Would You Live Game

19 Apr


The Where Would You Live game goes like this.

You get to own three homes.  Where do you choose?

There aren’t any other rules.  You’re not limited to to specific countries or budgets or types of houses.

Three homes.  Yours.


I played this game with my friends recently, and it was quite fun to hear everyone’s answers.

Telling, too.

One of my friends confidently said she wanted a Mediterranean villa on a Greek island for travel purposes, a nice cabin in Park City for when she’s visiting family, and a fabulous apartment in some great city for wherever her fabulous job is.

“In my current state I don’t know or care where I want my main home to be.  I’m completely without direction,” she said.

One friend declared she wants “nothing to do with small towns.”

Another friend chose the three cities she fell in love with at first sight.

I came up with my homes without thought, really.  It wasn’t difficult.  I know where I want to be.

That’s a nice feeling.

A sense of place.

Lena Dunham says that about Eloise in her documentary It’s Me, Hilary.

Eloise has a sense of place.

It appears I do, too.  Or at least I’m gaining one.

My first home and my main residence is in Malibu, of course.

A white cottage overlooking the ocean with huge windows and a huge patio and a pool to soak in as the sun scatters into bits of color across the sky. A cozy sort of place always bursting with visitors and dinner parties, laughter and sunshine, westuits and paddleboards.

Malibu will be my community, my roots.  I’ll invest in the yearlong yoga pass.  I’ll have a breakfast burrito every day of the week.  I’ll do any and all author events at Bank of Books and I’ll be on a first-name basis with the tamale maker at the farmers market.

I’ll hike and surf and visit Pepperdine an abnormal amount for an adult long separated from her college days.

I’ll always be a bit sad when Memorial Day comes around and I pack my bags for my second home on Cape Cod.

Of course, once I’m on the Cape I’ll forget I was ever hesitant about coming.

My home on the Cape is another cottage, this one with shingles and history, this one in a walkable town. (Maybe Martha’s Vineyard?)  The town is key here, letting me enact all of my Dawson’s Creek/Gilmore Girl fantasies.  I want good oysters and good art galleries.  Clam bakes with the neighbors.  Sailboats and day trips around New England.

I want drive-in movies and quirky flea markets, protest corners and town hall meetings.

I want it all I want it all I want it all eesh I want it all so much I could almost live there full time.

And then I remember the winters and my white cottage by the sea in the land of perfect weather and I’ll think…

It’s better this way.

It’s better in smaller doses.

My final home is a thatched roof cottage in the English countryside where I disappear for three month stretches and write novels and go crazy and garden and wear Wellingtons and semi-flirt with the local pub owner over Sunday roasts. I’ll have a big fireplace and daydreams, walks through the fields and hefty novels that I read all at once and not at all and every time in between.

I’ll have simple living there, an existence without too much excitement, and  yet with all the excitement I’ve ever wanted.  I’ll drink endless amounts of tea and try my hand at endless amounts of baking.  I’ll journal and breathe in the country air and tell my younger self she did it.

She finally lived in her thatched roof English countryside house.

She finally fulfilled her destiny.

And then I’ll go back to Malibu, back to another cottage in another small town.

And then I’ll go back home.

And now it’s your turn.

Where are your three homes? Which is your main residence? Was it hard to come up with your answers?  Give me the juicy details, people!

On Workfests, Cape Cod, And Loving Our Choices

27 Jan

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Images: @presentbeck (she has a fabulous blog, too!)

It’s Monday morning at 11:33 and I’m juuuuuuuust waking up from this monster of a weekend.

“This weekend needs to be over,” I said repeatedly the past three days, hoping if the universe heard my cry it would speed up time and plop me down to right now, Monday at 11:33 in my bundle of blankets with strawberry cheesecake ice cream and a novel I actually have time to read.

The future is now.

Isn’t it fabulous?

This weekend I worked full-time, well full-time plus, really.  I also wrote about a bajillion articles, so many at once that my computer shut down not knowing what to do with all the open tabs.

I prepared a church lesson.  I never got more than a few hours of sleep.  Oh!  And the internet was down for half of it.

Improbable as it may seem, some people do not love Malibu as much as I do.  In fact, several people have told me “No one loves Malibu quite as much as you do,” which seems ridiculous.  Am I somehow an outlier in what should be the norm of celebrating this stunning coastal town?

What is wrong with everyone?

One of the reasons people dislike Malibu is that things are always shutting down here.  Cable.  Internet.  It’s hard to get services around these parts, the internet is always on the fritz, and, well, it’s just not as convenient as living in the Valley with all the suburban advantages at your fingertips.

(I will never live in the Valley.  I will gladly drive 30 minutes to Target the rest of my life just don’t make me live in the Valley.)

We choose our problems, this is a theory I’m operating under right now.  Obviously, there are some huge exceptions to this–health concerns, unexpected tragedies.  Things that no one would ever choose for themselves.

But I’m not talking about those.  I’m talking about a lot of our day-to-day problems.  I think many of those are of our own choosing.

I choose to live in Malibu and it’s rather inconvenient most of the time.

I choose to date Rob and I deal with the problems that come with that particular relationship, just like you deal with the problems that come with your particular relationships.

I choose to write.

Sob sob scream scream.

Many of my problems are of my own choosing, which is one of the reasons I wouldn’t want to switch lives with anyone.  I know they say we live in the time of comparison and people read blogs and see Instagram pictures and feel terrible about their lives, but I don’t, most of the time.

The closer I am to a person the less I want their life.  Like my best friends.  Love them all!  Don’t want their lives.  I’m sure they would say the same of me.

We choose different problems.

When I see distant, filtered lives, I don’t obsess over them or feel bad about my own too often, because I know if I got closer I would see why I don’t want their lives.  I would see their problems.

And they aren’t mine.

I choose Malibu and Rob and writing and gosh sometimes it’s hard but they’re my choices.

I’m saying that fiercely in my head right now: they’re my choices.

This got really off course.

I was going to tell you about this crazy weekend and how in the midst of the no-internet, workfest 2015 I found myself at 1:00AM on Instagram.

So let’s go there then, shall we?

This weekend, in the midst of the no-internet, workfest 2015 I found myself at 1:00AM on Instagram obsessing over this account.

Present Beck.  Cape Cod.

As much as I adore Malibu, as much as I defend it and apparently love it more than anyone else, it is second to Cape Cod.

Nothing tops Cape Cod.

One of the bajillion articles I wrote this weekend was about the most beautiful travel destinations in the world and I put Cape Cod on the list along with the caption, “America’s crown jewel.”

I meant it, go ahead and fight with me, but you shall not win.

I love Cape Cod in an irrational way, especially considering I’ve only ever spent 15 days there.  15 blissful days, but 15 days nonetheless.

Actually, if we count my time watching Dawson’s Creek I’ve spent a significant portion of my life there, but I guess I can’t count it because the show was filmed in Wilmington.

Never mind, I’m counting it because they tried to make it seem like Cape Cod and I believed them.

I believed the beauty and magic and charm.

Saturday morning I browsed through this Instagram account for hours, looking at every single picture.  I screenshotted the best ones and sent them to Rob, “Do you know where this saltwater taffy stand is?” “What about this beach?” I mentally decided which pictures needed to be prints on my wall, which ones would serve as the base for my glitter/paint project I am surely going to take on soon.  Which ones would be hung in my future home.

Ugh I want to live on Cape Cod.  I feel it in my bones, I know it the way you know about a good melon.

I belong there.

Saturday morning I bumped into my roommate.

“I did something very bad,” I said.  “Instead of writing, I spent all night looking at Cape Cod Instagram accounts and I really just need to move, something there calls to me in a deep way.”

My roommate gasped, “Last night I was looking at Nashville Instagram accounts!”

And we laughed together.

For this is late 20s, I think.

It’s daydreaming of owning our own homes.  It’s daydreaming of getting to the places we want to get to, of the days when our lives are a little more like our lives should be than they are now.

It’s realizing we know what we want.

Or know more of what we want.

It’s learning to get fiercely, fiercely excited about and protective of our choices.

Because they’re ours.

Cape Cod Strikes Again

27 Jul


If you get to Kingsbury Beach early, long before the giggles of sunscreened children and the jingle of the ice cream truck, you can settle down on the low tide and look out at the empty sand bars.

It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, those sand bars. An endless horizon of alternating sand and water.

A natural optical illusion.

Every morning we set up camp at the base of the water, and as the tide slowly came in we picked up and moved back a sand bar.  We laughed and pushed our ladder golf games a few feet.  I threw my Birkenstocks and thoroughly salty copy of The Goldfinch behind me, and on we went.

One sand bar at a time.

We moved with the tide.

The sun baked the sand all morning and when the water rushed over the flats it was warm.

Bathwater warm.

As the days go on, more and more people came out to the beach.  They sat in the water with their neon chairs.  They lounged and read and skimmed balls across the surface like skipping rocks.

The whole thing had a lazy easiness to it, a charm.

Eventually the clocks read high tide and the water reached the very tips of the beach. Kids floated and giggled and the ice cream truck and jingle were out and life was the sort of good you only watch on Gilmore Girls.

Around this time every day I pulled out my camera to really try to capture the beauty of the moment. I wanted to show everyone this missing wonder of the world, the greatest thing I’ve seen in my 26 years of life.

I never could quite manage it.

Every picture was a cheap knockoff of the real thing—The Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas.

A blurred wannabe.

I think I’m having the same problem with writing about Cape Cod

Each time I go to put words to the experience it’s a little fuzzy.  I’m trying to capture the bubblegum pink of the moment and it’s coming out a dull salmon.

How do you really describe fresh-caught clams on a drizzly afternoon?  What language conveys a 64-crayon Crayola sunset or a laughing countryside marsh?

It’s crazy to me that people actually live there.

Cape Cod is their home.

To me, Cape Cod is like Disneyland.  A mystical, almost cartoony place created simply to make you forget about your problems.  A parody of perfection designed for a few brief days a year.  Not real life, certainly, but a nice way to forget that there is a real life.

And yet…for some people this is their existence.

Some people wake up in the morning and go to PB Boulangerie Bistro and get that heavenly brioche and raspberry jam on a regular basis.

Some people have Wellfleet oysters whenever they want, and sponsor local artists and take part in the daily activism of the tight-knit community.

Some people have Cape Cod as their address.

It’s my current favorite dream, that address.

I imagine myself in the tiniest of cottages—an unreasonably small home with cedar shingles and white everything and a walk to the beach.

I’ll stroll to the pastry shop several mornings a week and linger over the menu, taking my time to memorize the orders, soak in the sugar.

I’ll make friends with that lady at the used bookstore, we’ll call her Betsy, the one whose brother-in-law is the tech at the local theater.  And speaking of the theater, I’ll have season tickets, obviously.  Fifth row center.  Hopefully next to some still-wildly-in-love retired couple who will adopt me as a surrogate daughter.

I’ll own a sailboat.  I won’t name it True Love, but I’ll really wish I could.

I’ll keep the paper-products-only store in business.

I’ll see my movies at the drive-in and haggle at the flea market and run a book club with Betsy and maybe an after-school literacy something or other.

Above all I’ll write.

I’ll write in that little Cape Cod cottage of mine.

I’ll write until the sun rises over the sand bars and the tide comes in and I can no longer stay cooped up indoors because I have to go outside and try to capture the moment.

I’ll write until I finally find the words to describe it all.

Which is to say,

I’ll never stop writing.


More on my love affair with Cape Cod here and here.

Better Jill

8 May


Let’s start this thing out with a terrible San Francisco Starbucks selfie and…go!

Last week I met the better version of myself.

We will call her Better Jill and we will try not to let her existence ruin our lives.

(I don’t now where the plural thing is coming from.  Apologies from us.)

I always knew there might be a better version of myself out there, laughing loudly, quoting Dawson’s with a fury, but I preferred to think of her as a myth.

A Yeti.

Not real.

And then, last week, on a sunny day in non-sunny San Francisco, Better Jill and I came face to face.

Or curl to curl, rather.

I first saw Better Jill about a mile from my job interview location.  I immediately noticed her striped almost-mini in the sea of pantsuits and sturdy pumps.  It was the sort of almost-miniskirt that looks appropriate in professional settings, but only just.

I’m all about skirts that are appropriate but only just. Right on that border, laughing at it.

Appropriate, but only just.

That could describe a lot of things in my life.

Better Jill had wild, brown curls, but somehow a color that might be called “mousy” on me was a vibrant shade of honey-kissed peanut butter on her.  She looked a bit out of place, glancing at her phone for directions.

The light turned and she started across the street.  That’s when I saw the clincher–Better Jill was wearing killer black ankle boots!

Of course she was!

I was staring at me, but just me 2.0!  Her curls were tighter, her ankle boots fiercer, her skirt less appropriate!

Better Jill was headed the same direction as I was, and things only got weirder when we turned down the same side street.

And stopped at the same building.

And looked at our phones at the same time.

That’s when I realized something horrifying–BETTER JILL WAS MY COMPETITION FOR THE JOB.

There was no other explanation for how two girls as similar as we were–young, 20-somethings in semi-professional get-ups and ankle boots–would stand outside the same building at the same time, twirling our hair and checking our gold iPhones.

She was literally me down to my job hopes.

Only better.

I was really nervy at this point, all jumbles and giggles, and I decided I needed to calm down.

I headed into the nearest Starbucks and took a few cleansing breaths.  I was tired and carrying around a vat of lotion because when you come into the city seven hours before your interview you need a vat of lotion just in case.  You also need a curling iron.  And eyebrow gel.  And a bag that can support every irrational thing you think you should bring seven hours in advance just in case your plan of “sit very still and not ruin anything” doesn’t work out and you have to redo your look before your interview.

I settled into a corner table and pulled out my MacBook.  I texted a few friends about meeting the better version of myself and they laughed it off and I laughed too.

Things were calm.



Whew that was a manic time!


I lost it at that point, obviously.  “GUYS, BETTER JILL JUST WALKED INTO STARBUCKS THIS IS UNREAL.  She pulled out a MacBook.  I’m making this more than it is, right? Or AM I?”

I stared at Better Jill’s curls jealously from behind my computer screen, wondering exactly how much of my reaction was “crazy due to job interview stress” and how much of this was “crazy due to crazy.”

Katie responded to my crazy-due-to-crazy texts, “Never mind other Jill.  I’m sure she’s 50% the writer you are and 400% the drama and no one could love her like we love you.”

I took a few more cleansing breaths and turned on Frasier.

I don’t know exactly when Better Jill left Starbucks on that fateful San Francisco day.  I didn’t even notice, actually.  She slipped out of my life as quietly and quickly as she had slipped in, leaving her mark on my very soul.

**Insert musical note emojis**

I’ve heard it said

That people come into our lives

For a reason,

Bringing something we must learn.

And we are led

To those who help us most to grow

If we let them.

And we help them in return.

I catch myself thinking of Better Jill from time to time.  What is she doing at this very minute?  Is she also wearing a black floral mumu and topknot?  Are her nails a buttery shade of Easter purple today, just like mine?

Is she at a coffee shop with her two best friends blogging about her experience with Lesser Jill?

Is she thinking of me too?

I’ll probably never know.

All that can be said for certain is I know I’m who I am today because I found Better Jill.

Because I met her, I have been changed.

For good.

Mumus (again)

5 May





I have this bad habit of buying clothing that needs obvious professional sewing help and thinking, “No big deal!  I will fix this up right quick with my nonexistent sewing skills and soon this article of clothing will revolutionize my closet and southern California!”

Rob says it’s because I have a big imagination.

I think it’s because I’m impulsive and have unrealistic expectations about everything including shapeless clothing, but let’s go with imagination and let’s talk about this mumu.

I found this gem in a teeny tiny vintage store in Fairfax.  How I got to Fairfax on a day when I was supposed to be exploring San Francisco and deciding if I could see myself in the city is a whole story that probably can be summed up with three words: “impulsive” and “Gilmore Girls.”

Fairfax is all charm, all the time.  It’s the only place in America with a Green Peace majority in the town council (!) and it feels like a tourist haven simply because it’s so amazingly cute.  At one point I was 85% certain Anne Lamott was next to me at the coffee shop and I nearly choked on my moon pie.

It wasn’t her.

But dangggggg where can I find a local place that makes homemade moon pies?

Side tangent: is the coffee shop now the interview place of choice?  In my two days in San Francisco I observed AT LEAST seven coffee shop interviews and they were all exceedingly awkward and I kind of wondered why I’ve never been interviewed in a coffee shop before and what needs to happen to make my awkward interview dreams come true.

Side tangent 2: I realized, when I thought I was looking at Anne Lamott, just how few authors are recognizable by sight.  Like I saw Daniel Handler at the Festival of Books, and he is crazy, uber unbelievably successful  and talented and yet I bet he gets stopped at the grocery store almost never.

Heidi Montag probably gets approached in the produce section all the time.

(Was Heidi Montag the best comparison choice there?  Open to suggestions.)

The point is, even uber famous authors can live normal lives and that’s pretty cool.  Also, this is what Anne Lamott looks like.

I spent my afternoon in Fairfax counting all of the “organic” references, taking dressing room selfies of me in various tie-dye clothing, and eating a beef and chicken burrito BOTH MEATS PLEASE.  It was a beautiful little reminder of the fun I have on my solo adventures, wandering and eating and leisuring.  Solo adventures are the greatest when they are by choice and not by loneliness, this I learned from London.

Somewhere along the Fairfax adventure way I happened upon this glorious mumu of sunshine and giggles.

It was quickly decided it had to be mine, despite the obvious length problems and the fact that it was wide open between buttons.  (Does this mean it was once a cover-up?  There were no tags to be seen either, so I’m feeling like I could have purchased a homemade sexy cover-up.)

I proudly brought my mumu home and showed all of my friends my latest project.  Most of them responded with some variation of, “That’s very Jill” which I called them out on.  “That’s very Jill means that’s very weird.”  “No, that’s very Jill means that’s very Jill.”

It’s an endless circle, that conversation.

I proved all of my friends all right/wrong, though, because just a few days after coming home I altered that mumu with my nonexistent sewing skills, and despite my inexpert hands, and despite a lot of things, it turned out!

It’s so Jill!

I’m crediting my mumu success to the overall crazy nature of the dress that makes it seem like it’s supposed to be a bit haphazard and also to the person who first created this homemade sexy cover-up of mine.

I very much love it.

I also very much love Fairfax.

There are urban people, suburban people, and “live in a cottage and wear mumus in Fairfax” people.

I think we know which sort of person I am.

C is for Capeside

3 Apr


I’ve been rewatching Dawson’s Season 3 as one does when one is in a state of turmoil/ecstatic joy/eh.

I’ve often wondered about this season.  Kevin Williamson (series creator/Dawson himself) left the show after Season 2 for other pursuits and only came back to write the series finale.  I usually credit Kevin with the show and its genius and often cite him as the source of much of my own inspiration, but I wonder how accurate this is.  Inarguably, the two best seasons of Dawson’s are Seasons 3 and 4 and Kevin wasn’t even around for them.

How much is he responsible for the greatest television season in history? (Season 3)

Come the zombie apocalypse when Amy and I are holed up, watching one last Pacey and Joey moment, how much should we thank Kevin?

This particular Dawson’s rewatching has consisted of me and a mad game with my Apple TV remote.  I only have interest in Joey and Pacey (duh), and therefore I skip all other scenes.  However, this rarely works well and usually ends with me fast forwarding too far into a Pacey/Joey scene, rewinding back, finding myself in an Andie scene, screaming and trying again.

It might be quicker to just watch the whole episode, but where is the drama in that?

In addition to the extremely fun remote control game I’ve been playing, this Dawson’s go-around I’ve also been having an existential crisis, of sorts.

Did you know that Capeside is supposed to be Cape Cod???

Say no.

Say I’m not the only one.

Rob brought this to my attention.  I rolled my eyes.  Novice.

“No, no, Robert.  Capeside is a small, coastal town in Massachusetts full of cottages and charm.  In the summer tourists flood in. It’s nothing like Cape Cod at all.  I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”

And then I realized what I said.  And then I looked it up.  And suddenly all of my life made sense.

Capeside = Cape Cod.

Cape Cod = Capeside.

Jillian + Cape Cod + Capside =

(You’re right, it’s not working.  Scratch that.)

This was remarkable news.  I didn’t even know that Capeside was Cape Cod, and yet I fell in love with both locations separately and completely and now that I know they are one and the same it’s like my life’s destiny has revealed itself.

I must find my way to Cape Code/Capeside.  I must finish this equation!

(I also just read an Abundance of Katherines so you’ll excuse the odd equation thing.  I’m nothing if not heavily influenced by my current read.)

Unfortunately, as with most lovely places, and as with most non-lovely places outside of New York and LA, there appear to be a lack of writing jobs in Cape Codside.

This leaves the English teacher route, the option all of us pursuing writing secretly think about twice a week.

“I will move to Cape Codside and become an English teacher!” I declared, to no one in particular.

“I will stock up on crazy glasses and learn to love Heart of Darkness (no) and wander around writing bad poetry on the weekends!”

But then I remembered Tamara and Season 1 and how that plotline has already been done.  And I decided I should be an English teacher on Prince Edward Island and that is really my fate after all.

And then I watched more Dawson’s.

And spent a lot of time debating if Jacey or Poey is more more offensive.

And ate Walkers shortbread.

Because who knows what my destiny really is, anyway.