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The Internet Is

16 Aug

The internet is






And then.

A friend of a friend, someone I have never met in person, sends me a beautiful vintage baby dress and a kind note about how she bought it for herself, but she was meant for a home of boys. And how it is in good hands with me. And I cry.

And then.

The woman I buy thrifted clothes from slips in baby stuff with every purchase and personal cards about how fun being a girl mom is.

And then.

A blog reader sends me a hand-crocheted baby hat and outfit, so perfect in color and design I couldn’t have imagined it better myself. She sticks in a note, “Thank you for your words.”


The internet is 




Helping me become a mother

Joy In The Journey And Other Things I Don’t Believe

12 Aug

I have never found joy in the journey.

What’s that?

Even things I eventually find joy in, say decorating Baby’s room, I find stressful and difficult as I navigate. Which color white for the walls?? It nearly destroys me. It throws me into a panic. Rob attempts to gently tell me that the shade of white doesn’t really matter which just makes it worse.


(Benjamin Moore, Simply White.)

Each piece of furniture, each decoration is thought out and analyzed and bled over, bled on. My blood is all over that room.

This is taking a turn.

The thing is, though, when it’s done I love it. That room brings me so much joy. It is colorful. It looks like a Midwest grandma could live there. It has just enough of a gender neutral vibe. I had no idea I was a gender neutral person! I learned things about myself through the blood, blood, and blood.

Blood being mostly metaphorical here.

Every time I walk in Baby’s room I am happy. I am glad I invested that blood. How many more times will I say blood?

People say the key to happiness is joy in the journey.

Gosh, I might even say that. It sounds really nice. The concept is certainly appealing. 

It embraces the idea that no matter the outcome, you can still find meaning and happiness on the way there. And life is all journeys. We can’t always control where they go, but gosh darn it we can find joy in the white paint!

I don’t, though.

I prefer the product to the process.

I find joy in the finished room. That manic episode surrounding the paint? It was an obstacle on my way to the true reward.

Does this come back to writing?

I find almost no joy in the process of writing a book. Most days sitting down to do it takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline and self-deception. There is a pit in my stomach knowing that I won’t finish today, or tomorrow, or maybe ever. Each time I try again, invest my soul into a new book, I am devoting at least four years of my life.

A friend once said she wouldn’t wish writing a book on her worst enemy.

Good thing I’m my own worst enemy.

I like writing in general. I like to scribble journal entries or pen silly blog posts. I find the turn of phrase and the choice of just the perfect word to be a puzzle and often a delight.

But I yearn for more.

I yearn for that book in print. For that career as an author.

For the validation that I am, in fact, a talented writer who deserves that space on the printing press. I want to know I am not actually delusional. That this goal I’ve had since I was a tiny girl is one that I can accomplish, is one that I have earned.

And so I write.

I set timers and I put horrible words to the page that I know I will delete. I anxiously check my due date against the chapters left to edit. 

Can I get there? 

I feel a ticking as I carefully mix three different colors of yellow for the Baby’s dresser and curate that Midwest Grandma’s room. 

I think the thing I’m most scared about with this baby is that I won’t be able to do it all. I have to work full time. I have to be a mother.

Writing is the thing that will fall through the cracks. It always is.

And even though it doesn’t bring me joy right now, I’m counting on it to be like that Simply White room.

I’m counting on holding that book in my hands one day and finding the joy that was missing in the journey.

My Word For 2019

4 Jan

At the beginning of last year, Rebbie set a goal for me:

I would quit five books I didn’t like in 2019.

The very thought made my skin crawl. Me? Abandon books? I don’t abandon things! I need to read everything to be up on reading everything!

I quit my first book on January 13th.

It was a buzzy book with great reviews, used in higher education classrooms around the country.

It did not resonate with me.

I put it down.

The agony!

The horror!

My word for 2019 was energy.

This sounds very woo-woo hippy-dippy and perhaps it is. I was living in Los Angeles for most of the year, after all.

But energy meant more to me than crystals and auras. 

It meant quitting books. 

Rebbie and I called the quitting of books practicing failure, but looking back I think it was more about energy than failure.

I only have so much energy to go around, why spend it on books I don’t love? 

In the NBA right now, there’s a big conversation around the concept of load management.

The idea is that certain players, particularly superstars, are choosing to sit out of some regular season games not because they are injured or sick, but simply to pace themselves through an 82-game season.

Load management.

It’s been controversial at times. 

But they are paid so much! What about the fans? The tickets?

For a long time I despaired over my energy levels. I saw doctors and specialists, both the physical and mental kinds. Was I fatigued? Was this normal? Is this how everyone feels?

One of the great questions of my life is Is this how everyone feels?

Maybe I’m not depressed, maybe this is called going through life.

But then, after many tests, I was told that nothing was wrong with me. This was just me.

The thing about energy management, load management, is that it’s so very different than time management.

I have spent most of my life attempting to managing my time.

Say I have six hours after work. Well, according to simple math, I could write for three of those, workout for one, clean for another, maybe do some hardcore errands that last hour?

Time managed!

In reality, I have energy for maybe one of those things after work. (And certainly not for three hours of one of those things.)

The agony!

The horror!

In April I spoke with a friend who was moving out of state and beginning a new phase of her life.

I told her about my current situation. I’m kind of in a stasis right now. I’m not on a hero’s journey, I’m at the plateau. Rob and I love our jobs and where we live. No major changes ahead.

And then six months later I was offered a job on Cape Cod and everything flew out the window.

Suddenly energy management, load management, meant simply getting through the day.

Our decision to move to Cape Cod was about energy after all.

Of course it was. I can make meaning out of anything!

It was about future energy levels. About the time when we have kids. How it would be nice to live by family. How working the job I was offered might allow me more energy for that future family, for the writing I’d like to continue to do.

It was about where our energy might go when we weren’t just surviving in an expensive city, but slowing down and investing in a smaller life.  

We made the decision to move across the country, largely, for our future energy.

Our future selves.

I quit 30 books last year.

Once you pop, you can’t stop.


PS: My words for 2018, 2017201620152014, 2013 and 2012

A Grown-Up Birthday

17 Nov

I took a walk after work, recognizing my body needed to move or my mind would spiral.

I made my way to the library, in no particular hurry. Books to return, yes, but really a calm to find, a breath to take.

I came home to Rob in a cloud of pasta water making fettuccine alfredo, the dish that had gone so wrong for me at a restaurant last week. It was a thoughtful thing, for Rob is a thoughtful person.

Hilary’s gift was on the porch. I unwrapped it, a mixed pattern dress that my pioneer ancestors would have loved. A handmade card where she had outdone even her wildest dreams.

I sat down to scroll through my text messages.

Caitlin sent me a particularly poetic thread, making our lives into a metaphor for the flowers she’d ordered. Gorgeous flowers! I didn’t know flowers like that could be delivered, I thought they only existed in barn weddings.

They are called “Wild, Wild Love,” Which is a perfect match for your soul.

The specific flowers used are ones that grow in places in unexpected places like deserts with sparse nourishment, on the side of highways, in fields that have been devastated by fires.

she began

Today was a grown-up birthday.

A friend texted and asked what I was doing to celebrate and I proudly declared that Rob had left cupcakes for me to find by my bedside. He had written me a letter. He was doing a task of great emotional labor that I had been avoiding.

I would, meanwhile, be taking a shower and reading a whole book, cuddling Dolly.

The Lakers were on, too.

A kind husband and a cute cat, friends who understand me, love that surrounds me.

A grown-up birthday, she said.

A grown-up birthday indeed.

No one at work knew it was my birthday. 

This is through no fault of theirs, I haven’t advertised it, I’ve been too in my head with too many things. I went through the day largely unnoticed, teaching, processing new titles. I led a graphic novel book club. I ate chili cheese fries for lunch.

My friends and family checked in, sending gifts and thoughts and compliments. 

I love you

I love you 

I love you

Words of affirmation forever.

And then I came home, where, despite all this, my mood was a bit low.

And so I went on a walk, recognizing my body needed to move or my mind would spiral.

It was the grown-up thing to do on this,

my grown-up birthday.


PS: My Bridget Jones birthday party

Things That I Do To Avoid Writing That Are So Close To Writing I Can Almost Convince Myself I’m Writing

3 Sep

Things that I do to avoid writing that are so close to writing I can almost convince myself I’m writing:

with contributions by Hilary Miller

  1. Talk (complain) about how my writing is going
  2. Set outlining goals
  3. Set writing goals
  4. Set revision goals
  5. Set goals for the next month, because everyone knows the best way to get things done is in small chunks
  6. And while I’m at it, why not make goals for the day? The week?
  7. And also a ten-year plan
  8. Create rigid, complicated schedules to help meet said goals
  9. Take up bullet journaling to see if maybe there is a new technique surrounding goals and schedules I should be using?
  10. Read articles on how to become a morning person, because if I’m going to do this thing it sounds like I need to become a morning person
  11. Look up specific, obscure grammar rules that will probably be deleted anyway
  12. Research names for characters
  13. Go down the rabbit hole that is name forums and name culture, but every voice should be heard!
  14. Do a deep dive into Australian exports, because that one character is Australian and maybe this is backstory
  15. Calculate how much time I could write for and still have enough energy to work out
  16. Solve complex math problems along the lines of, “If I write 500 words a day and do 12 edits, each at an increasing speed, how many years will it take me to finish this book?”
  17. Investigate drastic life changes that would “allow me more time to write,” a true investment in the future

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.


(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




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.


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.



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?


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


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!


Note it’s not: have a productive summer


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

It’s have a great summer.

HAGS, baby