mia thermopolis, heggie the coolestis

Ahhhh The Princess Diaries.  Weren’t we all a little in love with Anne Hathaway and her frizzy hair in 2001?  Which reminds me, the Anne Hathaway hate bandwagon should really go away.  Of all the famous people to pick on, really?!


Anyway, The Princess Diaries is close to my heart for many reasons.  Let’s explore…

1. Meg Cabot.  A Hoosier and a townie!  (Please see Breaking Away for explanation.)  Doesn’t it feel good when someone who had the same childhood as you (or maybe is just from the same state and school) has success at something you want to do?  I know.  I feel the same way.  Meg Cabot = writer inspiration.  Also, her real name is “Meggin,” and that’s pretty cool.

2. Julie Andrews.  So Ms. Andrews can’t sing anymore, but you know what?  She’s still as fabulous as ever, and I would love to have a sliver of her grace.  I say “sliver” because I’ve got pie on the brain.

3. Hector Elizondo.  I feel like I’m just naming people (because I am), but Mr. Elizondo gets up on this list because I met him a couple of weeks ago!  He came into our store, and I thought, “This is it.  This is when someone finally recognizes that I am the next Julia Roberts.”  Well, it was more like him asking me if we had linen pants, me saying no, and then a little improv bit about how this company doesn’t know what kind of store they’re running. He laughed, and I thought, “He must know I’m the next Julia Roberts.  He’s just letting things simmer while I develop.  Either that, or I should grow out my hair and dye it red.”

4. “Supergirl!”  You know the song: “I’m supergirl, and I’m here to save the wor-orld. But I wanna know who is gonna save meh.”  What a delightful tune that is so catchy, I’m pretty sure I’ll be singing it in my rocking chair as I sip on my morning tea before I pop in my teeth. (I’ll be old, get it)

5.  My SISTER.   I think this might become a thing; where I relate a movie to a favorite person.  My sis, Heather (Heg, Heath, Heathwar), is an amazing, lovely, wonderful best friend for life.  I saw The Princess Diaries when I was ten (and Heg was nineteen) during the summer.  She would have been home from college, and she took me to see it at a sneak preview.  I was on top of the world that my sister, my cool, older, hip sister, would take me (four eyes) out in public to see the movie of the summer before it was officially released.  But that’s just the sort of stuff Heg has always done; she makes you feel like a million bucks.

And I used to think we were so different

One time (probably within a year of TPD), we visited Heggie at school for siblings weekend.  She invited her friends over to her dorm room and we watched Pocahontas Two on VHS (why do I remember this?).  Suprisingly, the sequel wasn’t holding our attention, and when I got pjs out of my bag, Heather saw an opportunity for entertainment.  She picked up a pair of Winnie The Pooh undies, and showed them to all of her friends: “aren’t these cute?”  I. was. mortified.  I ran to the bathroom and was beyond embarrassed and angry.  But Heather, realizing she embarrassed me brought me back to her room, let me pick out a pair of her undies (some with Tigger on them), and proceeded to show them to the entire group.  The group was a little confused, but I didn’t care.  I had (and still have) the best sister in the world.

It’s Heg’s birthday today, and I’m so sorry I’m missing it.  But I’m across the country, and she’s in an emergency room, saving people’s lives.  She’s an ER doctor (just so you don’t think she’s just hanging out in ER’s).  She’s an incredible mom, and I can’t thank her enough for making me an aunt to two of the best little girls.  She’s a great wife (I’m assuming. He seems happy :)).  And on top of all of her “on paper” good stuff, she’s the person I look up to.  The one who paves the way, and shows me I have nothing but good coming my way in ten years.  She loves her family, tries her best at everything she does, and she’s my best friend.  So Happy Birthday, Heg, and “you know most kids hope for a car for their sixteenth birthday, not a country!”  Nailed the callback.


saving, spending, and the struggle

I have a problem.  My name is Hilary Miller, and I am a guilt spender.  What is a guilt spender? Obviously, it’s someone who spends money and then feels guilty.  In most cases, this is good.  I can stretch a dollar.  I am a bargain hunter.  I enjoy window shopping, and I’m the one who really doesn’t buy anything at the end.

But when you’re down to two pairs of pants and a single pair of flats to anchor your wardrobe, being a guilt spender is a disaster.  I have to psych myself up to spend money: “I will go into the store, and I will buy a pair of jeans. I will. I will. I will. Left side!  Strong side!”  Three stores later, still no jeans.  Last week, I came close with a pair of khakis on sale for $10, but the fabric looked like it would wear out quickly.  I expect lifetime wear out of my $10.

However, finally, yesterday, I went shopping, and I actually bought clothing.  Frivolous spending ensued!  Spending on what?  Just unnecessary items like pants; three pairs of pants to be exact.  What was the total?  $26 for 3 pairs of pants, including the most perfect-fitting pair of jeans, and if you’re a girl or Boy George, you know how hard these are to find.  After my shopping spree, I had to calmly come to terms with the fact that it was okay to spend $26.  See?  This is what I’m dealing with.  I felt guilty for spending TWENTY-SIX DOLLARS for THREE PAIRS OF PANTS.  What is wrong with me?!

I need to go to the opposite of shopaholic therapy (hoardmoneyaholic therapy?  saveaholic therapy? calmdownit’stwentyfivedollars therapy? guiltspendingaholic anonymous?). Something where they make you pay $200 for the class, and then go out and spend all of the money.  Unfortunately, I am my own therapist (and the diagnosis is crazy), and my first question is, “Hilary, when did these feelings of guilt or shame begin?”  Well, it all began when…

*cue wavy flashback screen and dream sound effect

… I was around fourteen years old.  I’m sure my family would attest that I had a bit of penny-pinching sense before the age of 14, but I at least wasn’t my brother (who probably still has his lunch money from middle school <- and we love ya for it!).  Then, Christmas 2005 I received Christmas money, $100 of Christmas money.  I was rich.  All of the things I could buy: that giant stuffed horse (still a dream at 14), a sterling silver and crystal recreation of Arwen’s necklace in Lord Of The Rings, the West Side Story collector’s set, or maybe a Star Wars convention ticket.  But alas, the possibilities of purchasing would not last, when the day after Christmas we headed to the department store, and I bought a pair of pumas exactly like the kind they wore in The Island (because Michael Bay was cool at this point, guys).the_island_puma_shoes Sure I spent all of my money (by far, the most expensive shoes I owned) and didn’t listen to my mom: “Are you sure that’s what you want?” But I took one look at those strappy, vaguely European shoes, and I knew they were worth every penny.

I showed up to school wearing my new kicks with a smug smile on my face in a glimmer in my eyes.  I had gotten my Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle, and I wasn’t afraid to use it.  Then, in choir, someone, who we’ll call Scut, showed up with the same shoes.  No!  Oh, well.  At least they’re both cool.  It’s okay.  I can share the shoe light.  Then, my yellow-eyed enemy explained that he had purchased his super cool shoes at Goodwill, and they cost him… $15.  $15?!  Oh my, I shot my eye out! Just like my mom said I would. $85 down the drain.

Wouldn’t you be more cautious with your money after that?  I’ve never spent $100 on a pair of shoes since then, and I probably never will.  But at some point, I have to get to the Chinese restaurant, eat some duck, buy clothes, and sing “Fah rah rah rah…”


favorite flower

It’s a tale as old as time.  Girl grows up.  Girl decides on a favorite flower.  Happiness ensues.  Haven’t you read that Grimm tale?  Just kidding because if this were a Grimm tale, girl would end up dead.  So let’s just say it’s time to choose a favorite flower because that seems adult and easy (and how many times do those two go together?).


Obviously, our first candidate is the daisy, “the friendliest flower.”  Youve_Got_Mail

Daisies are beautiful, cheap, and VASTLY SUPERIOR to carnations.  You can make a crown with them or one of those fancy balls on pinterest. If you go barefoot and stick them in your hair, you may or may not be transformed into a fairy, and fairies are pretty amazing little things, sometimes portrayed by Julia Roberts in film.  I’m glad we got that cleared up.


Our second contender is the yellow rose.  Why the yellow rose?  Because it means friendship and gladness.  Isn’t that lovely?  *Big sigh*  I’m so very thankful for my dear friends (family included) and the gladness they bring me.  jdwh4f-l-610x610-sweater-rose-clothes-yellow-sad-smily-black-topThe con to a yellow rose is its inability to last.  I find I can only explain how the sadness of the yellow rose’s fault affects me in haiku form:
“On sunny petal
brown begins to show on edge
Oh no no no no”



Let’s go to the ball game.  What are we bringing?  Sunflower seeds.  Oh, yeah, salty sunflower seeds, the most frustratingly delicious snack around.  I also just like sunflowers when they’re whole.  Why?  They’re tall, strong, and beautiful.  They’re the Wonder Woman of flowers.  sunflower wonder womanThey also mean happiness… I’m noticing a pattern.  I like happy, yellow things.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  (I think there might be something wrong with that.)


My last choice is the underdog.  It’s not really a flower… it’s more of a weed.  And I just found out it’s actual name is limestone hawksbeard.  1358426I have no idea what this weed symbolizes, but weeds are resilient.  And this little guy is close to my heart because I used to pick them each year, make mom put them in her best vase, and watch as they got their weediness (<–this is a real word) all over the counter, which she loved.


So now it’s time for the real drama: what flower to choose.  I suppose I will probably go with my patch of daisies, mostly because I envision myself dawdling along a seaside cliff picking the ethereal little flowers as I lose track of time.  However, I also have to respect that although ten-year-old me shared the same vision, I made do with a light stomp in the backyard around the lake, pulling little weeds with beard in the title.  Oh, how I love those weeds, that backyard, that lake.  If I had to pick, I’d go with that weird weed every day of the week.

up and a way-cool friend

May I just share with you how much I love Up, the movie?  Okay, good.  I love the movie, Up.
I remember standing on the hardwood floors of my kitchen, helping my mom load the dishwasher, telling her the story of Up.  And I cried.  I really cried telling the story back to her.  She may have cried, too, actually.  And you know what part got us?  No, not when Russell squeaks across the blimp’s glass. Good guess, though.

russell slides

You know what part I’m talking about.


I love Up because it’s about life’s adventures, and how they’re never quite how you first dream them.  Mostly because they’re so much better than that.  I love Up because it’s about having a purpose and friends no matter what age you are.  I love Up because it’s about never being too late to make a change, to go after that old adventure, or to find a new one.

I also love Up because I saw it first, in 3-D, with one of my very best friends, one of my Rachels: the Italian one.  (I have two Rachels.  I love them both dearly (which means I will owe my Norwegian Rachel a post), and I don’t think they know that I call them “my Rachels.” Oh, well)
Why do I love my Italian Stallion (Rachel)?  Where to begin?  I think it’s necessary to point out the fact that no matter how many times I make a donkey’s heiney out of myself, Rachy loves me anyway.  I’m the Carl Frederickson to her Russell.  Although if I’m being honest, I’m probably the Doug to her Kevin.

The first time I met Rach (that I remember), I was in the seventh grade, and I immediately accused her of being in the Italian Mafia.  I’m pretty sure I wrote something about it in her birthday card that year, a birthday I was late for, no doubt.  In fact, I believe for three years in a row, Rachel called me to see if I was coming to her birthday party that started three hours earlier, which, of course, I was.  I just was in my pajamas acting like I had forgotten all about it.  I’m a really good actor.
The moment I knew my Italian sista was a bosom friend and kindred spirit had to be at some point in the eight grade, when we became Australian Olympic Sports Reporters at the lunch table.  So obviously, Rachel and I tied for homecoming princess the next year.
Rachel and I have gone on many adventures together: seen in these blessedly preserved school projects (1 & 2).  And now, she is my neighbor.  Wooo!!  The kind of neighbor that lives an hour away, but still, wooo! She’s the kind of neighbor that brings homemade pineapple salsa to your pool party.

I could go on about Rachel, about how she is a brilliant little artist, and is going to USC for a Master’s in Architecture!  Get it, girl!  Or I could tell you about the time I was looking through old pictures and found a little girl that looked an awful lot like her at my fifth birthday party.  (It was her.)

Or I could say, “thanks for the adventure, Rachel” but that makes me sound like I’m dying (the depressed reader just said: “we all are”) . Maybe I’ll just say, “Adventure is out there!”  And add I’m so glad I have my “girl who doesn’t make me want to hurl” to share them with.  This sounds really sweet in my head because the song from Up is playing (bah-dat-dah-durrr-bat-dat-dah-durrrr-bah-dat-dahhhh-bah-dat-dahhh-dah-durrr)


free fallin

September is in full swing.  Soon enough, Christmas will come.  Yes, I am one of those crazies. But before we get to the sacred birthing of Jesus (“birthing” is a word, gross), let’s get excited about fall, shall we?  Now, living in Malibu makes Autumn difficult.  I fully understand this sounds a bit like complaining, which I have no right to do when I live here:


The weather is perfect in Malibu.  It’s in the sweltering seventies in the summer, and the brisk sixties in the winter.  Rough, I know.  Trust me, come November when you’re trying to savor hot chocolate and fashionable scarves, it really is rough.  I have to go into some sort of mind warp where I fool myself into thinking it’s a brisk 40 degrees outside, so I can where my flannel shirt; I’m not sweating because I’m overdressed, I’m sweating because the crackling fire is too welcoming (note: no fireplace near).  However, even with the weather dilemma, there are some amazing things that I love about Fall even in Malibu.  Here are 7 of them:

1. Pumpkin (for food).  Pumpkin lattes.  Pumpkin smoothies.  Pumpkin mousse. Pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin bread. My mom’s pumpkin pie.  Why don’t they make pumpkin to-go, like pumpkin go-gurts?  (OhmygoshI’mgonnaberich)

2.  The Colors.  Ooh la la, the colors.  Malibu may not get the leaves like Indiana, but stores, decorations, and clothes get a gorgeous overhaul that makes me wonder why they don’t keep the palette all year.

Indiana color

3. Thanksgiving.  Eat, I must.  Half the fun (or more) in Thanksgiving is the prep beforehand.  Turkey Day is a major bonding experience in our household.  While one person stresses about the food getting done before company arrives, another chants, “goosfraba,” reminding us that it doesn’t matter that no one has showered 30 minutes before dinner starts.  It’s chaos.  It’s lovely.  It’s full of laughter. It’s time to watch the parade.

4. Halloween.  I’m not a particular fan of the holiday, but I am completely on board with the movies that go with it.  I feel like people are going to make a horror jump here.  No, sir.  I’m talking Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, Harry Potter (more of an anytime-ever-whenever-always film), Young Frankenstein, and Shaun of the Dead.  I feel like I’m stretching this a little far.  No?  Okay, then.

5. Pumpkin (for decoration).  I happen to be a pumpkin artist.  However, because my tales of pumpkin carving glory came before the days of (my involvement in) social media, tracking down evidence for said prowess is difficult.  Just trust me.  Maybe I’ll prove it to you in October.

6. Apples.  An apple a day keeps hilary happy.  Fiji.  Gala. Jonathan. Granny.  Gimme, gimme, gimme (a man after midnight).  As good as SoCal’s produce is, I’d kill (maybe just love) for an Indiana apple.  Don’t even get me started on the orchard’s apple slush.  Oh, you got me started.  Our hometown orchard has a sweet, sacred nectar basically consisting of apple cider in slushy form.  Yummmm

7. Coziness. Fall is just cozy, right?  Like the over-sized sweater my sister has worn for the past twelve years.  Sure, it looks a little worn, but it’s loved and there’s something entirely too comforting about it that can’t easily be reconstructed.  Besides, don’t you love New York in the Fall?


Go ahead and turn on Heart’s “Alone” for this one, but warning, you will be blown away by lace gloves, big hair (*cough* mullets *cough*), and face melting rock that will be stuck in your head the rest of the day.

Let me start out by saying that there seem to be two types of people in this world: people who like being alone (or I should say, find it necessary) and people who don’t.

Now, I divide the population, which I’m sure will cause a Civil War of sorts because the people who don’t like being alone don’t seem to understand the people who do. And, in fact, there are some people who will be saddened(!) by this post, when really, it’s not sad at all.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m in the alone-time-is-necessary camp.  And for those of you who aren’t, if I may, I’d like to try to explain it to you.  I love people.  I like people.  Sometimes I need to be away from people.  Get it?  Not really?  Oh, well.  I knew it would be hard to explain.  Let’s put it this way,  I like wearing pants that don’t button, singing and dancing in my apartment, reading in a quiet room, and eating grapes like a madwoman.  ImageThese activities are considerably hindered by the presence of another person, and that’s okay because sometimes it’s good to wear pants that button, keep the improv dance to a minimum, read in a loud room, and share goofy grape eating with someone you love.  But sometimes the solitude part is important, too.

I get that these are silly necessities, but those are my needs, silly as they are.  And I like myself… just as I am.  (Sometimes, you have to be your own Mr. Darcy.)


Still don’t get it? Sorry.  Questions for angels.

Great Alone Quotes:

I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”  – Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone.” – James Baldwin (I felt very artsy reading this one)

“And I find – I’m 63, and my capacity to be by myself and just spend time by myself hasn’t diminished any. That’s the necessary part of being a writer, you better like being alone.”  -John Irving (Whew!  In the right field!)

“I actually like being alone. I spend most evenings reading and taking long baths.” – Shonda Rhimes

“My favorite hobby is being alone. I like to be alone. I also like dancing, fishing, playing poker sometimes and vegetable gardening – corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, I have a big garden every year.” – Emanuel Steward

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” – Audrey Hepburn

“Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” – Paul Tillich

throwback thursday, movie addition

In film school, there’s a lot of introduction action.  New professors, new students, new classes, new, new, new.  And with every new, I give the same little, inarticulate tale of who I am and how I came to be there.  Now what’s truly terrible about these interludes, is the dreaded follow-up question: “what’s your favorite movie?”  That’s not to say that movies are dreaded (I am in film school after all), but do you know how hard it is to pick a favorite one?  It’s like picking a favorite child – bad example, since my mom would pick me easily.  🙂

This question is stressful.  “I should pick something everyone likes, right?  Or at least make it a high art film, if one exists. Anything from the AFI list…  Just don’t go rom-com.”  My thoughts run rapidly, and I’m stuck.

“What’s the film that made you want to be a screenwriter?” The professor usually thinks this question will help me answer, but really, it just sets me back further.  And I find myself wondering, honestly, what was the cinematic experience that made me want to do this? The movie that spoke to my heart and said, “this is where you belong.”  Wouldn’t that be crazy if movies could speak to your heart?  (writing in moleskin now)

Was it Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken or Pete’s Dragon or Free Willy?  Atlantic City!  Mickey Rooney!  Sa la na, a yuum, iasis!  I certainly loved them.  I certainly remember them.  But really, Wild Hearts just made me want a horse, Pete’s led me to develop my own “imaginary friend” (who was a horse thanks to WHCBB), and Free Willy shaped my future career dreams as a marine biologist for the next blah-blah-still-halfway-a-dream years.


Or couldn’t/shouldn’t the film that made me want to do film be super epic?  Like seeing Citizen Kane for the first time? Rosebud! Maybe not Citizen Kane. You can’t hurt me later, but I find it to be the most boring movie I’ve ever sat through more than once.

But It’s A Wonderful Life?  Clarence!  Clarence!  ZuZu’s petals!  Surely that film is both epic enough and one that had a huge impact, right? I mean, it makes me speak in a James Stewart accent for at least three days out of each year.  That’s something, right?

Or could it be the time I saw Click? Yes, the Adam Sandler movie.  After watching it I thought, “I just have to be a part of making people laugh like that.” Or Dumb and Dumber or Tommy Boy?  Movies that shaped most of the dialogue I share with my brothers.  Oh, Richard.  Harry, your hands are freezing.

Or watching Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail with my mom?  And the experience of witnessing a woman who can’t remember the name of a movie she’s seen the day before (love you!), suddenly recall every Ephron-infused line.  It was… magic!  Shriveled little legs!  I wanted it to be you!

Or maybe going through the Indiana Jones and Star Wars lineup with my dad?  Watching epic worlds unfold right before my eyes.

Or the coolest moment of my life, when my chic older sister took me (the annoying little one) to see Princess Diaries at a sneak preview?

Or watching Prancer with my whole family as the Christmas tree lights tinkle in the reflection of the screen.

Or maybe it’s all of them. Movies hold memories.  I remember seeing Austin Powers: Goldmember in theaters not because of the movie (trust me), but because I met a very good friend that night and we talked through the whole thing.  Calm down, it was a theater full of middle schoolers.

Is it the fact that Free Willy, a movie, made me believe that I wanted to work with orcas without ever being around one?  Isn’t that power magical?  Isn’t that, combined with every movie that holds a place in my heart, the reason I wanted to be a part of making them?

Now, the question is, how do I make that into a one-word answer?  Maybe I’ll just go with Citizen Kane.

why mason jars?

Started watching Dr. Who to get stuff like this. Was too big of a nerd to stop.

I have a question.  It’s one of those things that’s been bugging me for a long time, but I don’t bring it up often because I don’t want to seem uncool. 

But I’ve had enough. 

There’s something I don’t get, and I feel like I’m on the outside of a Dr. Who joke, asking, “Are you saying jiberish?”


So here it is: why mason jars? 

Now, I know much like arrow tattoos and kombucha, mason jars are a part of the current rage, but I don’t really get it.  Is there something I’m missing?

Why is it better to take a to-go salad in a glass (BREAKABLE) jar?  And to then have to invest in an extra long fork to reach the goodins (aka the redeemable bits of a salad) stuck in the bottom of said jar?

Putting a cupcake in a mason jar is the surest way to turn what should be a magical cupcake eating experience into extreme frustration with icing covered fingers.   I thought mason jars were supposed to be full of weird things your mom pickled that never went away from the pantry.  Seriously, who’s idea was it to make something as enjoyable as eating a sugar-filled dessert in the most inconvenient way possible.  Is this a part of a new diet that I’m not aware of?  You’ll get so sick of the effort to eat that you’ll stop eating!

ImageAnd then there’s the crafts.  These I’m not so adverse to because combining all of your leftover candles into one candle, while sure to cause a headache, does, at least, sound frugal.  But the crafts like filling a mason jar with olive oil and sticking a picture inside?  Why? Think about all of those olives Vincenzo Cortino’s dad had to squeeze for that thing (Jane Austen’s Mafia! anybody?)


I mean, is it that they last forever (until dropped)?  Do they feel old?  Like an antique that you can buy new without the weird I’ve-been-in-an-antique-store-good-luck-getting-me-to-smell-differently smell to them? Is it like the idea of putting flowers in ice cubes? It looks pretty and sophisticated until the ice cubes melt, and you attempt not to swallow wilted leaves.  Do you feel cooler drinking out of mason jars?  Okay, I will say yes to that one.

Also, I will admit that while looking at pictures of mason jar crafts, a few of them look kind of fun and cute.

But I still hold to my beginning question: what’s with the mason jar?  What am I not getting?  Why are people packing their lunches and “framing” their pictures in the least convenient way possible? What tv show do I have to watch to be in on this one? Because I am way out.