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My Nora Ephron Words – August 1, 2020

26 Aug

We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was [in my twenties], I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy. – Nora Ephron

My five words right now are:

  1. Pregnant
  2. Librarian
  3. Writer
  4. Crafter
  5. Quarantiner


My Word for 2018

30 Dec

This year my grandfather passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly.

In a lot of ways, this has defined my year. The shock. The trip home. The shifting of priorities, of family dynamics.

A deeper understanding of grace.

I presented at a church workshop the week after the funeral and my final slide was my grandfather dancing at my wedding.

I talked about grace and how when someone passes away you can see their life clearly–the highs, the lows, the reality of the human experience.

And yet, with my grandfather’s death, my main takeaway, the biggest feeling I was left with was simply love.

A friend said,

God smooths over the rough places in our life and resurfaces us with love.

I saw this firsthand this year.

I saw grace in action.

I think my word this year is adult.

I’m growing older. My first grandparent has passed away. That’s a thing that starts happening now, I guess.

People I love age and struggle and shift.

I am aging and struggling and shifting.

I went to the grocery store every week this year.

Can you believe it?

A few years ago I was going to the grocery store once a quarter, at best. Every time I pushed my two carts out to the parking lot, an employee would ask if I was throwing a dinner party, or perhaps a medium-sized wedding.

No, no. I would say.

No, no.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in adulthood it is this:

You must go to the grocery store weekly if you want to eat well at all.

I’m sorry. To all my younger readers still on the quarterly plan, I’m so sorry for this news.

I hate the grocery store.

And yet.

This year, I went every week.

My word for this year is adult “I think” because I couldn’t come up with a better one. It’s as close as I could get to what this year was about.

I considered responsibility.

That’s a nice sort-of synonym?

We adopted Dolly this year.

We are responsible for a 5 lb living, breathing squeaky toy who crawls on my lap first thing in the mornings and flops and meeps for attention.

Rob suggested motherhood was the word for the year but I told him that was too far.

Too far.

And yet.

There was a shift.

A gaining of responsibility, of adulthood.

This year was the year of Dolly.

Recently Facebook popped up with the picture I shared back in February when we adopted our little marshmallow fluff.

I announced “Rob and I are parents! Meet Dolly Purrton!”

My grandfather commented, as he always did. He was the King of Comments.

“What a happy family!”

This year I didn’t move!

Two consecutive years in the same apartment, baby!

Since I came to LA in 2012 I’ve lived in five different places.

This year I didn’t move and I lived in an apartment that is functional and decorated and furnished.

This is the year of adult, after all.

This year I stayed at the same job!

Two consecutive years at the same place of work, baby!

Not that this makes one an adult.

A lot of really adult people I know freelance or shift with the wind. Change income-sources like I change mumus.

But for me it was a sort of settling down and settling in.

I love my job.

I am incredibly grateful I have it.

And I stayed there.

The last time I sat down and had a real conversation with my grandfather was fall of 2017.

I shared my shiny, new wedding pictures with him and my grandmother.

Here you are dancing

Here you are again

My grandparents dancing was a highlight of my wedding. It was a highlight all weddings they ever attended. The two of them would dance in any situation. Music came on? There they were in the middle of it all. Smiling. Cha-cha-ing. Glowing.

At my wedding, my grandpa did complicated footwork to You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift, jumping and leaping, landing it all as the crowd cheered.

At his funeral, we played this footage on a loop.

2018 was the year of adult.

It was the year I started to craft in a real way.

The year I announced I was Mormon on the internet.

Both of those feel adult to me.

The embracing of who I am, who I have always been. The owning of it. The return to the core.

2018 was the year of therapy.

The year I started most conversations with, “My therapist says.”

My therapist says she’s seen me change this year. Start on a path. A path towards what, is the question. That’s the word I’m looking for.

Is it responsibility? Honesty? Dolly? Grief? Crafting? Therapy?

I think my word this year is adult.

At least, that’s what I’m going with for now.

To read the obituary I wrote for my grandfather, click here.


PS: My words for 2017201620152014, 2013 and 2012

Dr. Benjamin Ettenberg

29 Dec


This post contains spoilers for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 2

Well, Mrs. Masiel really did Dr. Benjamin dirty, didn’t they?

I’m referring to the show, not the character, though, I suppose she did him dirty as well.

Dr. Benjamin Ettenberg, played by HELLO Zachary Levi, is perhaps the most appealing male character ever put on our television screens.

He is handsome. He is tall. He is a surgeon in a time where a surgeon meant excellent parking spaces and an entire brownstone in New York.

He likes art.

He hates gender roles.

He can keep up.

No one can keep up if you’re Midge Maisel.

Except for Dr. Benjamin.

I don’t know why the show did this to us.

Joel can go. Joel can go immediately, we never, ever cared about him, he steals jokes from other people and cheats on his wife and don’t get me started on his slicked hair and insecurity around a woman’s talent. JOEL COULD GO IN THE PILOT AND THE SHOW WOULD BE BETTER FOR IT.

But you’re going to go ahead and create a perfect male, a perfect male for Midge, one who supports her dreams, celebrates her weird, doesn’t want her to be a stereotype? You’re going to create this man, cast Zachary Levi and his broad, BROAD shoulders, and then blow it all up like that?



I feared this would happen.

We simply didn’t see enough of Dr. Benjamin for me to believe he was going to be the Luke Danes of the series.

He popped in and out. Maybe more of a Max Medina? A more appealing Max Medina?

And then when out of nowhere he was going to propose? I knew it was over.

You don’t propose that quickly  and work it out on TV. You just don’t. Ask Ross and Rachel.

If Dr. Benjamin was going to be the Dr. Benjamin we needed him to be, we needed more screen time. We needed her to tell him she was going on tour and for him to support it (AS HE WOULD I’M SCREAMING AT YOU AGAIN, JOEL). We needed a few seasons where she wondered if she could really have a relationship again. How a man would work into her schedule, not the other way around.

A few seasons where he proved himself again and again, with that voice, those shoulders! Those ideas about relationships!

Oh Dr. Benjamin.

You were that man.

You are that man.

In  my heart, I’ll hope for a fifth season where she’s more deserving of you. Where you get to be on our screens at least a half hour every episode.

In my heart I’ll hope for the ending you deserve.

Mrs. Maisel really did you dirty, Zachary Levi.

Oh Mrs. Maisel really did you dirty.


PS: Did you see the Mormon reference in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?

Letters From Grace

24 May


Once upon a time, my therapist suggested I start writing letters to myself from grace.

It makes sense.

I am a words person. A words of affirmation person. A words-are-the-best-thing-in-life person.

It makes sense I should be writing to myself.

Grace is a very new second language to me. It is unnatural and uncomfortable and sometimes I forget I ever started to learn it in the first place.

And so I practice with words.

April 20th

Hey there.



You know that was beyond you, right?

Like, that was a tsunami. An earthquake.

And you are human. You were swallowed whole.

Be gentle with yourself in the aftermath. Treat yourself like a friend who survived something tough.

What do you need?

What can you give yourself right now?

Even some kind words like

I still like you


I still love you, too

You’re doing WAY better than you think you are.



I don’t know how to transition this part of the blog post.

I’ve tried.

Again and again and again.

I’ve tried so hard that I started to wonder what grace would say about it. Would it tell me to just publish the mess and give myself grace?

Or would it tell me to set it aside and that itself is an act of grace?

Both are potentially right answers.

Both sound like grace.

April 22nd

Hi there. Me again.

Yes, you need me twice this week.

I’ll let you in on a secret:

You actually need me FAR more often than that.

And guess what? That’s totally normal. Totally human.

This sensitivity you have isn’t a curse or a weakness, it’s a wonder.

You’re a wonder.

It’s true!

That whole list you have, of everything wrong, everything so far away from where you’d like it–your health, bank account, career–there’s also another list. The other side of things, the things you do have — health, bank account, career (LOVE).

You’ve got this.



The creators of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text are doing a Little Women & Writing as a Sacred Practice retreat.

It’s the sort of thing I would go to immediately if money weren’t an object.

The description of the event says:

We will spend three days asking ourselves one key question; what role do we want writing to play in our lives?

We will ask this question of ourselves, of each other, and of Louisa May Alcott’s classic work of genius, Little Women.

The thesis of this trip is that writing can be a form of prayer. This trip is not about writing for publication, but writing as spiritual technology that we can use to live full, actualized, joyful lives.

I’ve read and reread that description a few times, feeling myself shift through the words alone. Grow a little more solid.

Writing as a sacred practice

These letters from grace are exactly that.

A form of prayer.

To myself. To the universe. To a God.

Let it be so.

Let me treat myself better.

Please, let there be grace.

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, I got a text from my friend Bailey.

It said this:

Hey Jillo,


Hey gurl guess what? Today’s a free day.

I mean, I know you have to work, but beyond that free day!

What does that mean? It means you can have all the cups of tea you want. Until you start to shake then maybe step it back and switch to fizzy water.

AND THEN! You get to go home and see Dolly and Robby! <3

And then it’s weekend time. Even if you have responsibilities this weekend, let’s not think about that right now. Let’s just be like, “Hey it’s Friday. Not Monday, not Wednesday. Friday. Almost Saturday. Holla.”

OK I gotta make sure your fellow sisters and brothers are showing themselves grace, so off I go. Call if you need me.



(It spread.

My letters from grace spread.)

It’s Thursday night.

Maybe write yourself a note from grace?

Maybe start it out with something like

You’re doing way better than you think you are


I like you


I love you

Maybe start wherever you are?

That’s always a nice place to start.

A few breaths for transition?



Things I love about my life right now

28 Jun


My life is shifting in remarkable ways right now. The tectonic plates are in action and everything is moving, loudly and quickly.

And so, before it all slips away, before I enter this new stage fully, I wanted to record some things I love about the current one:

Monday date days

Thursday yin yoga with Lisa

Married at First Sight

Friday afternoon post-work naps

Carnitas wet burritos for every celebration

Walking to Point Dume

Walking to Zuma

Lasagna soup from Vintage

Drives through the canyon

Hot tub nights

Hiking days

Coming home to a completely mine apartment

Trips to Santa Barbara for my favorite meal

Trips to Santa Barbara for any reason

Walking the Pepperdine track late at night

Checking Malibu Yogurt for its latest flavors




4 Minutes (Not The Madonna Song)

27 Apr


It took about four minutes. Four minutes and 20 posts before I was utterly depressed.

I don’t follow certain types of bloggers for this reason. They are not aspirational to me, they are depressing.

Suddenly I’m looking at their tiny bodies in tiny bikinis, on everlasting vacations paid for by others. Suddenly their luscious locks and free clothing make my life feel like one giant slog towards death.

Suddenly the questions I ask myself are

Where did everything go so wrong

Should I make mac and cheese

Wouldn’t that be coping with food

You’re not even hungry

But it will make me feel better

Fine, you have no self control look at that tiny body

Suddenly I’m there.

The thing that bothers me most about these bloggers is that they are selling this as real life. It’s different than a fashion ad in a magazine where you know it is a model posed to sell the clothing. These girls are posing to sell clothing, but also under the guise of “sharing their life.” Here we are on vacation. Again. Best husband, best sunset, best life.

And when you make it personal like that, when you take away hey this just an ad designed to sell clothing and instead say hey look my life is so out-of-this-world, if you bought these things yours would be too, then it becomes dangerous.

No one gets a free pass in life, an existence smooth and wrinkle-less. We all have things.

Christine Amorose, a writer I follow, posted recently about travel bloggers. She said:

I’m friends with a lot of travel bloggers (both online and in real life), and there’s often this very obvious (or sometimes sneakily subtle) feeling of superiority because they travel regularly and make a living from it. Sometimes they even want to teach you how to do it too (!), as if the world needs fewer accountants and engineers and secretaries and is instead calling out for more people to get paid to take photos of waterfalls and post them on Instagram. Even as someone with her toes dipped in the industry, I have the very real sense that this whole travel influencer thing is all a huge bubble that might very well burst. And I see all of the ebooks and guides on “how you can do it too!” and headlines screaming about six-figure salaries while thinking: but is the behind-the-scenes as desirable as the highlight reel? Is that flashy salary paying for health insurance and 401Ks? Are you really as content as the life that you’re trying to sell?

Because within this narrative of exotic travel equaling the dream life, there’s a latent disdain for a life of commutes and offices and mortgages and “the real world” in which many of us live. Speaking as someone who regularly deals with train delays and arbitrary work hours and exorbitant rent payments, I can say quite honestly that there are certainly days in which I would prefer to be sipping a margarita while staring at a turquoise sea instead of dealing with “real life.” But as someone who travels fairly regularly for work and for play, I can also say that real life has a way of catching up with you, no matter where in the world you are. There can be joy and heartache and arguments and the feeling as if everything is finally clicking together at home or the office or while stuck in traffic on your way home just as much as it can happen on vacation.

I so appreciated this, and I so appreciate this writer. She is someone who gets paid to travel, she’s always honest about it, and she never makes her life into something it’s not. I never stare at her and think why not me?

The truth of the matter is, I’ve never wanted to switch lives with someone I know. As soon as you know someone, you see their struggles and realize, oh, ok, no thanks. But it’s the allure, the illusion of perfection of someone you don’t know who convinces you that others out there. They are experiencing a smooth, wrinkle-free life!

Another writer I love says it this way:

Chances are, if you are reading this, you’re noticing a bit of a chasm between the life you lead and the life you want to lead, and here’s a secret: we all have this chasm. We all have this gap. There is nothing broken in you that is not broken in everyone. We are each conditioned to want something different than what we have been given. And so, you have two options: (1) Chase someday, or (2) Accept today. I recommend the latter. Remind yourself that you are here, breathing, alive and well(ish). For now, let that be enough.

I think what’s missing for me in (many) of these types of bloggers is the “we all have this gap” aspect. I read stories and write stories to assure myself that what I feel is normal, that we’re all in this together. We have chasms, we chase after things we shouldn’t. But there is nothing broken in me that isn’t broken in everyone.

I spent four minutes of my beautiful, flawed life looking at someone’s fake, flawed life and it was not a good use of my time.

But I am here, breathing, alive and well(ish). For now, that’s enough.

(And one day, I’ll forget to look.)

The Good Things Text

19 Feb


A couple years ago a friend and I started a daily “here’s what went right” text. At the time, she was going through some really difficult things and naturally, a lot of our conversations revolved around everything challenging and frustrating.

It got exhausting, though. For both of us. It’s exhausting to live life focusing on all that is bad, all that is wrong, all we are upset with. I do it very naturally, with or without difficult things going on.

And so we started the text.

It was hard at first. Some days I would announce that I had combed my hair and that was all I could come up with. Other days she would say she took a shower. Sometimes it felt stupid or ridiculous trying to come up with fake good things when all I wanted to say was TODAY WAS HORRIBLE, FEEL BAD FOR ME.

Eventually though, like any muscle that’s exercised, finding the good things got easier.

My friend confessed that she was doing things just so she could share them. I started to look for what was going right, even the small, fake things.

Over time our lives utterly transformed.

Today that friend is a Buddhist monk, who travels the world sharing how she found inner peace. She’s a multimillionaire self-help author…

Oh wait! Wrong friend!

In truth, that friend and I are still bumbling through life.

We continue to do the “good things” text every day, now with a few more people involved.  It isn’t as urgent as it once was, or as difficult as it once was. She’s in a much better place, as am I. I think the text helped her. I know it helped me. And we may not be Buddhist monk level of acceptance, but my goodness are we closer.

Desmond Tutu talks about this in The Book of Joy with the Dalai Lama. He was asked how he stays positive, even during difficult times like his cancer treatments. He says,

I think we ought not to make people feel guilty when it is painful. It is painful, and you have to acknowledge that it is painful. But actually, even in the midst of that pain, you can recognize the gentleness of the nurse who is looking after you. You can see the skill of the surgeon who is going to be performing the operation on you.

It is put another way in the wonderful, wonderful children’s book All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook. Perry was raised in a minimum-security prison and there learned tricks for surviving any experience with a measure of grace and optimism. One such trick is the “Win-Win.” 

The first ‘win’ means you count all small good things that happen to you every day. The second ‘win’ means you do things that bring victories to others. I’ve heard Big Ed say that at least a hundred times, ‘No matter where you live, you have a community of some kind. And you can be a contributor.’ New intakes sometimes roll their eyes at all of this. But the ones that try to follow his advice, well, it just goes better for them. I’ve seen it a hundred times.

“It just goes better for them.” Isn’t that what it all boils down to?

Life, prison, cancer treatments, it just goes better if you notice and count those small victories even when they seem stupid and fake AND FEEL PITY FOR MY TERRIBLE LIFE.

Tonight I’ll get off of work and likely get Jack in the Box tacos for dinner. I’ll come home and crawl into bed and text my friend all the good things that happened today.

“I wrote a blog post!” I’ll say.

I wrote a blog post and I helped someone choose out a great book and hey, guess what

Today I combed my hair.

Some Words In 2016

30 Dec



I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things



As people are wont to say, this is not like coal mining or anything, but why do people qualify what they find difficult in terms of extremes? Why is it so uncomfortable just owning that sometimes, life is difficult, and books are difficult and exposing yourself is difficult even if it is something you have chosen to do, with sound mind and body.

Roxane Gay


Last night I wept. I wept because the process by which I have become woman was painful. I wept because I was no longer a child with a child’s blind faith. I wept because my eyes were opened to reality….I wept because I could not believe anymore and I love to believe. I can still love passionately without believing. That means I love humanly. I wept because I have lost my pain and I am not yet accustomed to its absence.

Anaïs Nin




‘If you’re teasing me, Westley, I’m just going to kill you.’
‘How can you even dream I might be teasing?’
‘Well, you haven’t once said you loved me.’
‘That’s all you need? Easy. I love you. Okay? Want it louder? I love you. Spell it out, should I? I ell-oh-vee-ee why-oh-you. Want it backward? You love I.’
‘You are teasing now; aren’t you?’
‘A little maybe; I’ve been saying it so long to you, you just wouldn’t listen.“

William Goldman, The Princess Bride



Time is a great deadener; people forget, get bored, grow old, go away.  She said that not much had happened between us anyway, historically speaking.  But history is a string full of knots, the best you can do is admire it, and maybe knot it up a bit more.  History is a hammock for swinging and a game for playing.  A cat’s cradle.  She said those sorts of feelings were dead, the feelings she once had for me.  There is a certain seductiveness about dead things.  You can ill treat, alter and recoiler what’s dead.  It won’t complain.

Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are not the only Fruit


This isn’t the part of the story when the woman overcomes her challenges and is rewarded with new love. It’s not the part when the rain washes away her fear or rinses off her grief.

This is the part when the clouds part so briefly she might have imagined it, when the promise of light is made and then brutally withheld, when restoration begins to seem possible but is not yet realized.

This isn’t the happy part of the story, but that’s O.K. This story isn’t finished.

Lily Brooks-Dalton, New York Times Modern Love


No subsequent love of mine has ever felt as innocently sure and safe as the one I left behind that summer, and some part of me still mourns that loss. But each new love has expanded my sense of what I might encounter, what I might claim. It seems to me that freedom is both its own lesson and reward, and I have come to accept and even to welcome the rawness that change brings, the sting of new skin meeting the world.

Amy Bonnaffons, New York Times Modern Love


Maybe because we live in an age of so many choices, most of them meaningless, we romanticize the notion that falling in love isn’t a choice but something that happens to us. That love tells us what to do, not the other way around. Love is the authority figure, and if love tells us wrongly, then we can’t be held fully responsible.

Justin Tyler Clark, New York Times Modern Love


The thing is, you don’t really have to believe what you write in a blog for more than the moment when you’re writing it. You don’t bring the same solemnity that you would bring to an actual essay. You don’t think, is this what I really want to say? You think, This is what I feel like saying at this moment.

Nora Ephron, The Last Interview and Other Conversations


If I’d stayed there, would I always have been happy? No, I suppose not. People move away, grow older, die-hard and the bright belief that there will be another marvelous thing around each corner fades. It is now or never; we must snatch at happiness as it flies.

J. L. Carr, A Month in the Country



Nostalgia is so certain: the sense of familiarity it instills makes us feel like we know ourselves, like we’ve lived.  To get a sense that we have already journeyed through something–survived it, experienced it–is often so much easier and less messy than the task of currently living through something.  Though hard to grasp, nostalgia is elating to bask in–temporarily restoring color to the past.  It creates a sense memory that momentarily stimulates context.  Nostalgia is recall without the criticism of the present day, all the good parts, memory without the pain.  Finally, nostalgia asks so little of us, just to be noticed and revisited; it doesn’t require the difficult task of negotiation, the heartache and uncertainty that the present does.

Carrie Brownstein, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl


I mean “God” as shorthand for the Good, for the animating energy of love; for Life, for the light that radiates from within people and from above; in the energies of nature, even in our rough, messy selves.

Anne Lamott


Maturity is the ability to live with unsolved problems.

Anne Lamott


Remembering birthdays doesn’t photograph. Being the first up to make a brew and wrestle the papers from the letterbox doesn’t have a checkbox on the dating site. There’s no app for “partners who just want to tell you that you’re enough.” I marvel at the marriages of my friends and their parents, too, how accepting they are, how full of compromise and trying, and I think, I don’t know if I can do that. But the point is, surely, that with the gentle ones, the ones who will chat to your mum on the phone when she calls and buy the book you commented on at the weekend as a surprise and save the ripest avocado for you, tomorrow, because you like avocado for breakfast, it doesn’t much seem like compromise at all.

Laura Jane Williams



Travel by foot.  There is so much you can’t identify at top speed.

Cheryl Strayed


We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.
T.S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party


No one got the instructions. That is the secret to life. Everyone is flailing around, winging it most of the time, trying to find the way back out, or through, or up, without a map. This lack of instruction manual is how most people develop compassion, and got they figure out how to show up, care, help and serve, as the only way of filling up and being free. Otherwise, you grow up to be someone who needs to dominate and shame others, so no one will know that you weren’t there the day the instructions were passed out.

Anne Lamott



“Don’t you think saying goodbye to your child will make death more painful?”

“Wouldn’t it be great if it did?”

Paul Kalinthi, When Breath Becomes Air



Grace means you’re in a different universe from where you had been stuck, when you had absolutely no way to get there on your own.

Anne Lamott


Unbearable suffering awaits us all. A brief glimpse through history can confirm: none of us are guaranteed a happy life. If we want meaning we have to create it. If we want to find peace, we need to know there’s a purpose for suffering.

Brianna West, Soul Anatomy 



We all have to start somewhere if us want to do better, and our own self is what us have to hand.

Alice Walker, The Color Purple


I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

Portia Nelson




We’re not born with unlimited choices.  We can’t be anything we want to be.  We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny.  We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become.  We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it.  Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art


The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation. The artist must be like the Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art


You can do it

Do you understand how amazing it is to hear that from an adult?  Do you know how amazing it is to hear that from anybody?  It’s one of the simplest sentences in thew world, just four words, but they’re the four hugest words in the world when they’re put together.

You can do it.

I can do it.

Let’s do it.

Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


Is fake love better than real love? Real love is responsibility, compromise, selflessness, being present and all that shit. Fake love is magic, excitement, false hope, infatuation, and getting high off the potential that another person is going to save you from yourself.

Melissa Broder, So Sad Today


We frequently long for things not because they are actually missing, but because the state of longing gives us the illusion of movement — something always out of reach to strive for. This can be a romantic experience, poignant or full of feelings, which places us in the center of what we think it means to “really feel alive.” If, however, the feelings should become too much, remember that there is also a romance in learning to want what we have.

October horoscope–Melissa Broder for Lenny Letter


There are a few people out there with whom you fit just so, and, amazingly, you keep fitting just so even after you have growth spurts or lose weight or stop wearing heels. You keep fitting after you have children or change religions or stop dyeing your hair or quit your job at Goldman Sachs to take up farming. Somehow, God is gracious enough to give us a few of those people, people you can stretch into, people who don’t go away, and whom you wouldn’t want to go away even if they offered to.

Lauren Winner, Girl meets God


Whenever I saw her, I felt like I had been living in another country, doing moderately well in another language, and then she showed up speaking English and suddenly I could speak with all the complexity and nuance that I hadn’t even realized was gone. With Lucy I was a native speaker.

Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty


It must be hard to be a mother. All those years of knowing everything about your daughter, of dressing her and bearing her and being intimately acquainted with her every need and want, and then one day you wake up and realize you don’t even know what kind of dress to buy her at Clery’s.

Jessie Ann Foley, The Carnival at Bray


You can never have too much sky. You can fall asleep and wake up drunk on sky, and sky can keep you safe when you are sad. Here there is too much sadness and not enough sky. Butterflies are too few and so are flowers and most things that are beautiful. Still, we take what we can get and make the best of it.

Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street




In my expertise have, there’s no secret to accomplishing almost any goal worth having.

Lauren Graham, Talking as Fast as I Can


Life is never predictable. Life is never really manageable. If your mindset is always “i’m just surviving,” it seems to me that would wind up being your mindset for the rest if your life. You’d just get stuck in it.

Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story


You can love someone down to their core and they can love you right back just as hard, and if you traded diaries you’d learn things you never suspected. There’s a part of everyone deep down inside of them not meant for you.

Mindy McGinnis, The Female of the Species


Having to fight for the thing you want doesn’t mean you deserve it any less.

Anna Kendrick, Scrappy Little Nobody



See: 2015, and 2014  in words

A State of the Sickness

30 Nov


For three days it was my mom, my sister and me, on the couches in the living room talking about personal things a little too personally.

Let’s have a state of the sickness, my mother would say and we would go around sharing our latest symptoms and what the internet had told us. You see, we had independently researched our illness online and come up with independent conclusions. None of them matched.

It was a strange bonding experience. My mom realized she loves Hallmark Christmas movies which is weird that it took this long because in the words of Rob, she is a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Jessica tried KUTWK for the first time.

I got emotional when Sabrina the Teenage Witch delivered one of those great nuggets of wisdom as Sabrina was forced to fight to prove her love for Harvey or risk life as a frog. When asked why Zelda would allow Sabrina to risk her future for this task Zelda said, “It was never a risk. It’s always true love at 16.

It’s always true love at 16.

This blog is one of my proudest accomplishments in the past few years, probably of this past life as Jillian Lorraine Denning. I’m proud I’ve kept it up. I’m proud of things I’ve written. I’m proud of my growth.

I have the nicest, most supportive blog readers. A friend of mine commented on that. She said, “Do you know this person?” about some comment or another. “No,” I said. “She’s great though, isn’t she?”

I love whenever I get a thoughtful comment. Like this one. It made me laugh because it’s so accurate.

I love whenever I get an email from someone and my words meant something to them. I’ve had people reach out when I don’t write in a while making sure I’m OK. I’ve been invited to coffee dates in various cities around the country. Real people who appreciate my words and I appreciate their words, and somehow, some way, we are helping each other through life a bit. That’s the dream.

I remind myself. I am living the dream!

Would I want that other dream? The one where mean people on the internet dissect everything I wear and say and do? Where I force sponsored items into half-hearted posts so mean people on the internet could dissect everything I wear and say and do?

I grind my teeth, remember?

I know my limits.

I’m living the dream.

Lena Dunham wrote this piece about Lil Miquela and I read it on Tuesday morning and really wanted to speak to someone about it. I had so many thoughts–they ventured into Kanye and the blurring of social media and life and What Is Art Now Anyway.

My go-to texters were MIA so I mentioned it on Instagram.

Very quickly thereafter Lil Miquela liked the post!

And then I got some random people commenting asking me how I’m related to Lena and Lil Miquela!

And then I shut the whole thing down!

It was so stressful, my one second of non-internet fame.

I’ve removed the Twitter app from my phone again, by the way.

It’s too overwhelming. I need to find that balance, that once a day news sweep/action balance. I worry so much for this country, this world.


Also Lil Miquela. My guess is she’s this woman’s SIM/Avatar/graphic design/social experiment type thing and honestly the more I look at her the more I’m a bit scared.

I think that was sort of the point.

If there is a point to art, anyway

What Is Art Anyway?

I promised myself I would blog three times this week. Three whole whopping times like a Whopper Jr. with three sides of CrissCut fries and a Coke.

Does this one count?

Do Unto Yourself

23 Oct


Anne Lamott, in her yearly essay urging us all to stop dieting, says something I think about often.

One of the ways she talks about food is to encourage people to prepare every meal like their pastor is coming to dinner.

You wouldn’t say, “Here Pastor–let’s eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of Pringles is ALL for you.” And then stand there gobbling from your own tubular container.

No, you’d get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before your pastor at the table, filled with happiness, love, pride and connection. That’s what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now. Wow!

Prepare every meal like it’s for someone you love and admire.

The phrase do unto others as you would have done to you is a good one, especially if you’re an out-of-control narcissit who needs help treating others like human beings.  But I think the reverse is equally powerful.

Do unto yourself as you would have others do to you

Or even

Do unto yourself as you would have done unto others

Hilary came to stay last week. It was a week full of chili cheese fries and laughter, nostalgia and moving forward. It was a good week.

Before she came, I cleaned my apartment top to bottom. I organized my pantry. I swept and mopped the floors. I washed every single item that could possibly need to be washed. I filled my life with fresh flowers and fresh cookies.

The night she arrived I made big bowls of steaming pasta topped with arugula. We sat on my barstools and ate on y placemats.

Two days after she left I ate expired mac and cheese and a box of Fruit by the Foot on my bed.

Do unto yourself as you would have done unto others.

Maybe that’s what it’s all about.

Maybe when a friend shows up at my house and does my dishes and feeds my plant and generally looks after my well-being she is doing to me what she would like done to her and I am doing to Hilary what I would like done to me and we teach other. Through our actions and examples we show each other how we should treat ourselves.

Do unto yourself as you would have done unto others

That’s what we’ve longed for our whole lives, and get to create now.