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Love, Book Launches, And What I Wore

24 Jul

Inspired by Love, Loss, and What I Wore, I started drawing some of my memorable outfits and posting them on Instagram under the hashtag (what else?) #lovelossandwhatjillwore

 

My dress was pink and flowy. The sort of thing you might wear to junior prom with kitten heels and sticky lip gloss.

The fabric had tiny fuzz balls dripping off it, giving it a kind of dizzying effect. 

A dress made for twirling, for special occasions, for me.

A friend said, “Well, that’s the most Jill dress I’ve ever seen.” 

I told Katie that I wasn’t sure if I should wear it, seeing as how it was her book launch and I didn’t want to make this about me. She laughed and pointed to her all-black ensemble, “Yes, I almost wore the exact same thing.”

In the pictures you see this:

Me in my prom dress.

Katie in her jumpsuit and staggering black heels. 

Hilary in jeans and a floral shirt, shoes that she later declared “orthopedic, but still not comfortable enough.”

Us laughing.

But this is not a post about what we wore.

It is, but it isn’t.

Katie had her first book launch this month. It’s an event we had talked about and dreamed of for years. The years where everything was lost, we were working the bad jobs, the dream was so far.

Katie thrived in those years. It’s one of the things I most admire about her.

I am sensitive and fragile, the slightest criticism throws me into a spiral.

Katie is tough and resilient. You criticize her? She is coming back. For BLOOD. (Or at least success.)

She’s the person who wakes up at 5AM to write her book, who takes hits and comes back swinging again and again.

For some reason in my mind I have Rocky Balboa with the battered face, pulling himself up for another.

That’s Katie.

And this summer, at a quaint children’s bookstore in a quaint little town, she got to stand in front of all the people she loves with her arms raised, victorious.

DING DING DING

(They actually struck a gong when she walked on stage.)

At the end of the night, I twirled through the quiet streets. Lights twinkled overhead. I spread my arms wide as my dress floated above me.

Katie took off her killer heels, her feet indented from the sacrifice.

Hilary announced she needed flip flops even though her shoes were orthopedic.

(This deserves sharing twice.)

We laughed.

We laughed and we ate chips and salsa outside in the dark.

We laughed and I wore my pink pom pom prom dress, the sort of thing you might wear to junior prom with kitten heels and sticky lip gloss.

A dress made for twirling.

PS: Katie’s book can be found HERE!!

St. Swithin’s Day 2019

18 Jul

I’m fascinated by the minutia of our days one year to the next. What it can tell you about our lives and the changes that happen over time. St. Swithin’s Day feels like as good a day as any to track through the years, doesn’t it?

 

I have found the secret to a fulfilling life and that secret is a simple breakfast banana cookie

2 ripe bananas

2 cups rolled oats (blend in blender until it becomes a flour)

1 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon

Pecans

 

Mix together

Bake at 350 for 9-12 minutes

 

I have made these cookies weekly since I discovered the recipe. I have shared it with friends, family and now you. It feels like a burden is lifted. When the bananas go bad each week I simply turn them into breakfast the next. No trips to the grocery store. No added sugar.

If I’m trying to capture today, I must capture the banana cookies.

It’s my first day of Quidditch camp and my first time back at work in a while. I’m creaky. Creaky at waking up early, creaky at packing my lunch.

I do it, though. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The crispest watermelon, the pink itself a taste. Cherries and carrots, goldfish and olives. It sounds like a lot but by the end of a day running around with a Quaffle I’m hungry.

I take a brief nap with Dolly by my side. Dolly should be mentioned in this, the year of our Lord 2019. She’s sleeping on my legs right now, having done that thing where she walks over to me in a sleep daze, knowing exactly where she wants to go. (My lap.)

Rob makes my favorite pasta. 

I walk to the library.

I return

Once More We Saw Stars

 

I get

Women Talking

Mostly Dead Things

 

I am reading

Southern Lady Code

The Cactus

 

I tell myself that today I don’t have to do anything other than work. This feels like progress. Usually when I start a new routine I want to begin with a bang. I must not only incorporate this new, exhausting thing, but then when I get home I need to exercise and do a few errands and work on my book for four hours.

I remember a friend telling me that all she requires of herself is to go to work every day and then she can just be.

How freeing is that?

I tell myself that today I can just be.

Maybe I’ll start telling myself this more often.

 

PS: A letter I wrote to myself on St. Swithin’s Day six years ago, the first year of my blog, the first year of knowing Rob.

Confessions Of An Overachiever

9 Jul

I recently started reading at a nursing home nearby. They call it Reader’s Corner with Jillian and it’s really sweet and on my first day I brought no less than 17 options of books to read.

I went to the library and I researched which Stephen King short stories would be best and I made sure to cover genres and interests and lengths.

At the end of my session, the activities director pulled me aside and told me, you don’t need to bring so many books

She looked concerned, “How is your back doing?”

A friend told me that the picture of all my volunteering books laid out on my bed and sorted into categories, should be under a Tumblr “Confessions of an Overachiever.”

The confessions aren’t pretty.

Overachieving, for me, fills a couple of roles.

The first is validation.

From a young age when I overachieved I received praise and attention, good grades and an identity. Not even in a bad way! In a really reinforcing way.

A really, really reinforcing way.

It also gives me a sense of control, I think?

By picking out four types of poetry and just the right fairytale collection I can feel as though I am prepared to volunteer my time at this nursing home. That I am now armed with whatever I might need for whatever is thrown at me.

Of course I am not.

Of course when the Nora Ephron essay doesn’t go as planned and the jokes aren’t hitting and suddenly it’s hot, isn’t it very hot in here? all my preparation won’t save me.

Of course, it’s a false sense of control.

In fact, why is that a phrase? False sense of control.

Is there ever a true sense of control?

Does that exist?

A few weeks ago, I was on a very delayed flight. We’re talking 8+ hours of delay, 8+ hours of me rotting away in an airport.

When I realized what I was up against, I immediately decided I would make the most of it. 

This travel experience would be a metaphor for my life. Yes, it didn’t go as planned, but how I respond to that is in my control.

I am in control.

(You see where this is going.)

I began by keeping a list of all the ways I saw grace during my airport stay.

There was the Khiel’s lotion I used to soothe my dry-shaved legs.

The kind man who didn’t charge me for my overweight bag.

There was the soft serve ice cream right by my gate and TSA pre and working chargers.

I meditated right there in the middle of the airport.

I made myself a bullet journal of everything coming up in my life.

I would TRIUMPH! I was triumphing!

Even as the plane stayed on the runway, as they announced that due to weather we would be rerouting for a longer flight I simply nodded. I had made it this far, I would make it all the way.

About an hour into my flight I was adjusting my bag, putting away my headphones, when the woman in the seat in front of me stood up. She began to yell.

EFF YOU. EFF YOU.

I looked around, feeling horrible for whomever this was aimed at.

As she continued to swear and yell and scream I realized she was talking to me.

I was shocked. We had had no interaction the entire flight.

EFF YOU EVERY TIME YOU TOUCH THE BACK OF MY SEAT YOU INJURE ME.

EFF YOU.

I opened my mouth to apologize, to say I was not trying to touch her seat, but she silenced me with her hand and continued to scream.

When she was done, she sat back down, pulled her camo hoodie over her head and went back to sleep.

My heart pounding, I picked up my bag and put it on my lap. I would not be using the seat back for anything. 

I twisted my legs so they wouldn’t go near her seat, soon causing cramps and parts of my body to go numb.

I had four hours left.

A mini metaphor of life,

a mini metaphor of control, indeed.

The Common Cold And Starting Over

8 Jul

I have this theory that the common cold exists to teach us how to start over again and again.

This sounds dramatic, and I suppose it is. I am in a bit of a dramatic mood.

You see, I get colds all the time.

It’s been like this my whole life. When I lived in Utah with the winter and the sneezing and the (shudder) inversion, I was sick half the year.

Now I live in paradise and work at an elementary school and last year I was sick for nine months.

I am in the throes of a terrible summer cold as I type this.

You see, I am feeling a bit dramatic about colds.

A few weeks ago I got back to California after a whirlwind couple of trips. I was tired, but ready. Ready for Summer to begin.

I went to the gym that first day, I blasted the Jonas Brothers, a band I didn’t even know I liked until they liked their wives so much. I did a ridiculously hard workout for 28 minutes. I was sore for days after. But my gosh. That workout!

My gosh! My legs!

I attached my phone number to my Vons card. I created a to-do list that you would like to see only if you would like to…OK you wouldn’t like to see it.

I was on a roll, I was doing it all!

And then. The cold struck.

I’m bad at colds. This is part of the problem.

The other day I was wheezing on a hike while Rob held his tongue, because he knew I didn’t want to hear that instead of hiking in Santa Barbara, I should have been in bed. Again.

Listen, I love bed. I want to live in my bed. But only on my terms. Only when I’m choosing it and can monitor it and can not fall into an endless malaise because of it.

I don’t want to stay in bed for two weeks, two weeks of a very very precious summer. I have a book I want to edit this summer, OK, and a very limited time to do it. 

I want to be tasting my food while I am writing said book!

I want to write my book, dang it.

Thus my theory.

About colds and starting over.

The thing is, with this cold, I could not keep up the exercise routine I had planned. I had to stop it all and now I’ll start again and you know how that is. How hard it is to start doing something every day when you’re out of the habit.

I couldn’t write as much as I wanted either, what with the naps and the fuzzy head, and just now I’m getting back to it. To the kitchen timer and the forcing of the habit, the forcing of my brain to realize, yep, I’m doing this, yep accept it.

And recreating these routines and brain pathways and steps towards the goals, oh it’s hard.

It’s really hard.

And it’s life.

Never once in my life have I been able to keep up all my good habits all the time. Something throws them off, life happens, and whoops I’m out of it again. 

And I start the slow painful process.

The setting of the timer.

The twenty minutes on the elliptical.

I start again only to know that it’s a matter of time before I’m knocked off course. A matter of time before my next cold.

And yet, I keep trying.

What else can we do anyway?

Achoo

Have A Great Summer

15 Jun

The other day I was sitting with a group of friends talking about the summer.

When you work in a school, The Summer takes on a life of its own.

What are you doing This Summer?

Any plans for Summer?

I’ve answered this question a dozen times over now. I’ve asked it even more. We are all the problem. We are The Summer.

This summer I am

Seeing my family in Utah

Attending the American Library Association’s annual conference in Washington DC

Going to Cape Cod

Teaching a Quidditch camp

whataboutyou?

When my friends asked about summer plans, I recited my four events much like you recite your college major, anticipating the follow-up questions.

Sonia Sotomayor (is speaking at ALA)

My husband’s family has a home there (on Cape Cod)

You have a student wear a yellow flag football belt (to be the Snitch)

“But what are you looking forward to?” someone asked.

“Oh, I have a long to-do list.”

I started rattling off my bullet journal.

  • weird car noise to address
  • art to frame
  • items to post on Craigslist
  • storage closet to clean

“You know, really getting things done.”

The group looked at me.

“But what are you looking forward to?”

I went silent.

I have this thing.

I don’t know what to call it.

But basically, I don’t count myself as a human in this world unless I’m being productive.

I guess I should call it a curse.

Last summer I made this exhaustive list of every errand I needed to accomplish. On there was renew my passport. I wasn’t going anywhere, but my passport was expiring. This was the time to get it done!

At the end of the summer I looked at my list in shame.

My passport remained outdated.

How had I wasted all of my time?!

Of course, there were other things not on the list that I had accomplished.

Things like walks with my grandma and cuddles with a newborn baby. Fresh strawberry jam on my mom’s homemade bread.

The things that never make it to the list because the list only contains horrible things I hate doing and only 20% need to be done.

(But if they aren’t on the list, do they even count?)

What are you looking forward to this summer?”

I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

Not Large Activities I Am Doing.

Not My Enormous, Oppressive To-Do List.

But things I’d like to do, just because. Things that nourish my soul.

Things like thrifting with my sister and trying my hand at cinnamon bread. Turning off my phone for large stretches of time. Hiking and smelling the honeysuckle and I don’t know.

Things I haven’t even thought of yet.

Things that are going to surprise me with their beauty.

If I let them.

If I can let go of the horrible productivity monster inside of me.

Did you know that kids still use the phrase HAGS?

It’s in yearbooks and everything.

Have a great summer! You’re the best!

HAGS!

Note it’s not: have a productive summer

HAPS!

It’s not have a great time getting your passport renewed

It’s have a great summer.

HAGS, baby

HAGS

Diana The Musical

16 Apr

The Princess Diana musical starts with a girl in a replica of Diana’s iconic wedding dress. The veil is pulled over her face, her hands hold a plastic bouquet.

Real Diana enters the stage in an orange skirt suit. “You know what I was thinking right here, at this moment? Before I agreed to all ‘this’ — perhaps I should’ve dated him more than 13 times.”

The crowd roars.

Thus begins Diana: a new musical.

Diana is a delight.

Diana the human being, of course, the woman who took to the stage at the Royal Ballet to dance to Uptown Girl for Charles’s birthday.

But Diana the musical as well.

It is big and loud and electric. I felt like I went to a concert, one where the rock stars were bitingly funny, clothed in couture, and occasionally wore tiaras.

I laughed out loud, in that sort of way when you’re not expecting it and can’t hold it in. I fell for the music, I fell for Diana.

Jeanna de Waal captured Diana so well. The young, bright-eyed kindergarten teacher who barely knew Charles when she said yes. The romantic who loved happy endings.

The sad married woman, the mother, the woman who regained her power, who used the press as a weapon, who confronted Camilla at a party.

That was a particularly fun scene. Diana strutting in. Pulling Camilla aside.

The two powerhouses singing back and forth. It was set up like a boxing match, with spectators on the side, as both women duked it out. Both women wanting the same man, but loving him for different reasons.

Diana didn’t want a divorce.

That’s perhaps the tragedy in it all.

She just wanted her husband to love her. She had the adoration of the world, but not the adoration of her spouse. Her parents had divorced when she was young and she didn’t want that for her kids.

But what to do when the man you married never really loved you?

One of the great opening songs is called

Whatever love means anyway

During their engagement, when asked if they were in love Diana answered “of course,” while Charles said, “Whatever in love means.”

That line was turned into a song. The beginning of the end.

The beginning of the beginning.

Charles, Diana and Camilla are all players in this Greek tragedy. Charles kept from the woman he loves. Diana unable to gain his affection. Camilla living a life on the fringes. It wasn’t fair to anyone.

And Diana, the lively, bright, loving, emotional Diana was left behind.

Of course, Diana’s story is what she made of it.

Traditionally, she would be a side note, an afterthought. Camilla and Charles are the star crossed lovers here, kept apart by tradition, by a country, by a monarchy! I’ve read this story many times. We’ve all read this story.

And the poor fool who marries the person already in love with someone else is always a minor character in this plot. We don’t know how they turn out. We only care about our lovers.

Diana flipped this narrative on the head.

She wasn’t just a girl stuck in the middle, she was a girl with her own story to live. And so, through her heart and grace and charm and vivacity we all cared more about her story than that of the protagonist.

She emerged triumphant while Charles and Camilla quietly ended up together, no longer the stars of their own show.

The musical is framed in “once upon a time.” For that’s what this was seen as– a modern fairytale, Diana a modern princess!

And then there’s the reality. At one point Diana sings, “I need a prince to save me from my prince.”

The ending was my only qualm with the musical.

Well, I also wish we had seen the infamous interview with Martin Bashir. I’d have loved to have a song around “There were three in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded” or even her “Queen of hearts line.”

But other than that, the ending was my only qualm.

It’s all rather abrupt. She dies. The chorus sings a few lines.

Diana returns, triumphant, in her white beaded gown and tiara, a Gandalf the White, gone through the fires and returned stronger than ever to bow to the crowd.

Show ends.

I wanted…

I wanted more.

I bought every piece of merchandise the show offered.

I tried to start normal. An ornament, a magnet. Fine, OK, a tote bag. But I use tote bags!

Not thirty seconds after leaving the stand, I realized I would regret it forever if I didn’t have the mug, the stationery.

I wanted the CD but it doesn’t exist yet.

I have to believe that it will soon. That this show will make its way to bigger stages, to a worldwide audience. How could it not?

With music by a founding member of Bon Jovi. With costumes by a man who owns over 100 books on Diana’s looks.

With differing musical styles for differing characters. With inside jokes only royal aficionados will get, but an overarching tragedy, one that is instantly recognizable and felt by all.

Yes, Diana is a true delight.

Diana the human, of course, but Diana the musical as well.

Creativity + The End of Rookie

5 Jan

Image via Rookie, of course

 

Rookie closed down last year.

Rookie as in Tavi Gevinson’s creative project. Rookie as in “look, art can exist on the internet!”

It’s a sad time for the internet.

For me.

I read Tavi’s final letter in its entirety the morning she published it. All six pages. I’ve always loved her words, her insight, her honesty. How is she 22?

Rob asked me if she was a genius and I stopped for a second.

Yeah, I said. I guess she is.

Man Repeller analyzed the ending of Rookie in its typical cerebral way.

I appreciate it and I also wonder who talks like that.

I’m surrounded by intelligent, thoughtful people!

This is another level.

My takeaway from the analysis was that Leandra (the founder of Man Repeller) derives pleasure from the internet game.

She gets that it’s a game, and yet, at her core she wants to make the game meaningful.

She doesn’t give it all up and just sell products to her followers. She wants to create community. To take what could be clickbait and make it human.

She says:

Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if there was no Man Repeller, and in many ways it would be much easier, and in the short term probably more financially lucrative because I’d have more time to earn those influencer dollarz.

But what enables me to get out of bed every morning and say bye to my kids is this deep-rooted recognition that as our lives become more digitized and further isolating, and as my heart breaks over and over again watching things that I don’t care about anymore — like fluctuating traffic or a diminishing interest in “time on site,” I actually have the power to fix it by pushing our work forward. Truly connecting people. Inspiring them. Making them feel good and hopeful in a world that is largely driven by fear — fear of being irrelevant, uncool, alone.

It’s an admirable cause and I salute her.

And yet.

I am Tavi.

At the end of it all, Tavi saw Rookie as her art project. She didn’t want to play the game, and the internet requires you play the game.

I don’t want to play the game.

I get stressed out sometimes thinking I should want to play the game! Wondering if I should worry about followers or boosting or clicks. How to convert it all into something.

But I hate the game.

I’ve tried to play it and I’m terrible at it.

The game is all stress and pressure to me.

The game is no fun.

There’s a part in Big Magic where Elizabeth Gilbert talks about a woman who takes up ice skating in her middle age, not because she’s ever going to be a professional ice skater, but because it brings her joy.

There’s this strange thing that happens when you’ve pursued a creative path for your career.

That suddenly the only “success,” the only thing that counts is if you become a professional.

This becomes your full-time job.

The success of skating in your middle age just because is lost.

That’s been my big takeaway from the Great Therapy Writing Challenge.

I’ve been writing every day just because. Not to try to propel a goal, but writing as some people go to the gym. For my brain.

And as I’ve done so, my whole life has been filled with creativity.

I am making homemade cards for Christmas. Cards with individualized drawings and vintage stamps.

I did Gilmore Girls Week on Mormons in Media, a true delight.

I am spinning and buzzing and excited and it’s all because creativity, that’s what counts to me.

This is all my arts and crafts project.

I LIVE for an arts and crafts project.

I want my life to be one big, messy, delicious one.

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert recently. In the program for her talk, there’s a little message from the author.

I think it about sums it all up.

Or something close to all of it.

She says:

Sometimes I wonder why I care so much. What does it matter to me if people are making art or not? Who cares whether anyone out there is writing novels, or learning new languages, or dancing or singing or growing or transforming?

Well, in the end, I think it comes down to this: we appear to be living in a universe that is constantly creating and recreating itself. The evidence for this is literally everywhere. Nature is always changing from one form to another. All you need to do is look in a telescope and you can see galaxies being born. Look in a microscope and you’ll see bacteria evolving and adapting right before your eyes.

The whole thing reeks of a giant cosmic arts-and-crafts project — an infinite, ever-unfolding experient in constant creative response. It appears to me that energy only wants one thing: to create. And you, of course, are made of energy. So start creating! Because once you start creating, you will step into alignment with the direction that the entire universe is heading. You will be in the flow of life itself. And that will make you happy. That will make you healthy. That will make you beong.

That’s why creativity matters so much to me–because i want a healthy belonging for myself, and I want it for you too.

I was talking to a friend recently about all of this.

About Tavi and Leandra and Elizabeth.

About creativity and the internet.

She asked me where this left me. This knowledge that I’m a Tavi. That I don’t want to play the game. The internet game. 

I said:

I think that leaves me here.

PS: Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness taking up figure skating for the pure joy and drama of it is so very, very Big Magic

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

The 10 Best Things I Ate in 2018

26 Dec

In no particular order.

Inspired by this post

1. Rob’s Teriyaki Chicken Pasta

A copycat of Rob’s favorite dish from his favorite hometown Italian restaurant. I can definitively say Rob’s version is better than the original. I have been to the original. It is excellent.

Rob’s version is glorious.

For my birthday I chose this dinner and then proceeded to eat an entire pound of pasta myself with no regrets or sadness, only love and light and 31 years.

2. The Chocolate Sparrow Soft Serve Ice Cream

A Cape Cod classic, their chocolatey drinks are special, but I got their soft serve almost every day we were on the Cape this year. Maybe every day come to think of it?

There is something about good soft serve that simply cannot be topped, and this soft serve is great.

3. HiHo Cheeseburger

The best burger in LA. I live right by Father’s Office, often touted as The Burger out there, and let me tell you no. And not just because of the stressful Father’s Office atmosphere. HiHo is melt in your mouth better. (And the choice for Rob’s birthday meal.)

4. Costa Grande Carnitas Wet Burrito with Green Sauce

I travel to the Valley for this burrito. It’s known to my coworkers as my Valley Burrito. It is so enormous, the size of about an eight-month-old child, that I usually bring half of it to work the next day and people ooh and ahh and say, oh Jill got her Valley Burrito yesterday.

5. Cafe Du Monde Beignets

They live up to the hype.

6. Sidecar Doughnuts Breakfast (Eggs Benedict) Donut

Hear me out. A donut stuff with a poached egg, ham and basil. It’s a real thing that sounds maybe iffy? And is glorious.

7. Sarita’s Pupuseria Papusas!

This restaurant was featured on La La Land and now has a picture of its movie scene right on the cash register which takes away a bit of its charm, but the pupusas remain THE PUPUSAS. The only thing you really need to do in Downtown LA.

8. Los Agaves Chicken Chile Poblano Campestre with Agave Sauce

Los Agaves is my favorite restaurant in the entire world. The restaurant we went to right after we got engaged. The restaurant on the top 20 best reviewed restaurants on Yelp. Like 60% of the reason we go to Santa Barbara so often. This is my order plus beans + rice + guacamole.

9. Parasol’s French Fries and Gravy

Is there anything better in this life than french fries topped with roast beef and gravy? In New Orleans?

10. Crack Shack The Firebird

Rob’s best friend lives in San Diego, and so Rob has been raving about Crack Shack for years. It finally came to LA, and to a place we go often, at that! Any excuse I have to get this spicy, melty chicken sandwich I take, eagerly. I have a lot of excuses.

A Day At Church

26 Nov

I gave five hours to church on Sunday.

I am not in a leadership position. I am no one exciting. Just a member of the congregation and this is what I gave.

Five hours.

It’s a job. A day’s work.

As a child I used to say I was churched out.

When my family would sit down to read scriptures or when there was yet another youth activity I would sigh. I can’t, I’m churched out.

I am often churched out.

I wonder how many of us feel this way?

I’ve wondered if this means I don’t like it?

Or like, with everything else in life, there’s bad to get to the good?

The first hour I spent at church practicing the organ.

This is actually an improvement for me. When I was first asked to be the ward organist I would come at 7:30AM and use my key to unlock the green gate. I would turn on the lights and for the next 2.5 hours I would stumble through, my feet bumbling the pedals, my heart racing.

It almost doesn’t matter if I practice, I can never perform it how I’d like.

It’s the ultimate test for a perfectionist and I get it every week!

Lucky me.

A podcast I listen to once talked about church as something that most every single time is boring and semi-horrible and then occasionally, BOOM, that great spiritual experience. And we go and we slog through for the BOOMS.

This is true of most anything.

I love to read, and yet most of the books I read are just fine. But then, wow, when you get a great one.

BOOM.

BOOMS.

The second hour of church I spent actually playing the organ for the service.

I played four pieces.

Prelude.

Postlude.

It went about as well as usual, which is to say at least 20% less than I would have hoped.

Recently I listed all the things I have going on in my life.

There’s a lot.

I load myself up with projects and side projects. With relationships and goals and to-do lists and I am on edge a lot of the time because I am nowhere near accomplishing everything I want to.

Rob points out that I have a lot on my plate and I say, “Yes!” But I want it all there!”

Except for church.

The church stuff on that list often feels like an obligation.

One I take on willingly.

But an obligation, nonetheless.

The third hour of church I teach a group of 4-5 year olds about forgiveness.

We read stories and color pictures and sing songs.

(I do this at work all week.

Now I do this on the weekends too.)

I sound negative and I know I can be about church.

I am, after all, someone who is churched out quite often.

But there are so many good things I’m not talking about here.

About some of the best friends and best people I’ve met through church. About the way the community came together and fed my family for a week when my grandpa died. How people I’ve never met have showed up and helped me move my house countless times, simply because I asked. And because we share this thing.

I don’t mean to be negative.

The fourth hour of church I play the piano for all of the primary children (12 and under). I haven’t practiced and don’t know the songs beforehand, but luckily this isn’t the organ.

I debated publishing this piece.

Will it be controversial? Sharing my experience?

Sharing anything when it comes to religion seems to be controversial. Some people only want to listen to the good. To tell me to try harder, have more faith. Others only want to swirl in the bad. To tell me to leave, that it’s all nonsense.

My church experience exists in tones of gray.

In kind people and long meetings.

In purpose and community, in disappointment and heartache.

In slog slog (slog) (slog) (slog) (slog) BOOMS.

The fifth hour of church I stay behind and help a friend pick out a solo for the upcoming Relief Society Christmas dinner.

I’ll be accompanying her on the piano.

She has a lovely voice.

Slog slog slog

(No booms today.)