when the movie is better

It almost NEVER happens, but sometimes the movie is better than the book.  No, I’m not talking about Harry Potter, you crazy people.  Seriously, people who say the Harry Potter movies were better than the books have not read the series.

Anyway, here’s an article. Nay! An exposé in Lydia Mag where I uncover the five exceptions to the film adaptation norm.  It’s shocking! It’s hard-hitting! It’s journalism! It’s… not that big of a deal.


(My deepest apologies to Dad for my turkey soup comment. It remains one of my favorite dad dishes.)

happy desk, happy life

I know the saying goes, “Happy wife, happy life,” but I’m not a wife.  I’ll just work with what I’ve got: a dog and a desk.  Estelle Getty better be happy. She’s a dog.  I treat her like a person half the time.  Be thankful, Estelle Getty.  My desk on the other hand is often… how should I put it?  In disarray? A pigsty? Good luck spending the next hour looking for the checkbook?  I think all of those are pretty accurate. But not for today. No. Today my desk is clean.  This is important because I’m a little obsessed with writing spaces.

I have two desks, kind of.  I really have one corner desk that is always clean and pristine and gets the perfect amount of light for writing.  Something I’ve learned about writing though: the desk doesn’t matter half as much as the chair.  Therefore, I mainly use my other desk *cough* coffee table *cough*  because I get to sit on very comfortable couch.


I would love to use my spectacular chair I got for last year’s birthday (thanks, Mom and Dad!), but it’s slightly too large to go near a desk, meaning I’m left with only my lap space.

Why do writing spaces matter?  I’d like to say it’s because I spend so much time there, which I do, writing or not. But I think they matter to me mainly because I’ve romanticized them so much.  I romanticize things.  It’s sort of a problem. What things? British accents and Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and handwritten letters and old cars.  Strike handwritten letters. They’re actually pretty romantic.  But, the point is yes, these writing spaces are just spaces, but they’re also personality reflections and creative inspiration and neat.  I can’t be the only one that thinks they’re cool.  In fact, I know I’m not (because my mom likes them, too).  You know who really got the idea of a writing space? Mr. Roald Dahl.  I love Roald Dahl for many reasons, including whizpopping.


Roald Dahl wrote in a big, comfy chair with a lap desk, big blanket, thermos of hot chocolate, and sharpened No. 2 pencils.  What a beautiful way to live.  See? Definitely romanticized.

The_Elephant_HouseJ.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter (the first one) at a Edinburgh restaurant, The Elephant House. 1. How cool of a name is “The Elephant House”? Super cool.  2. Writing in a public place everyday sounds… rough.  3. I am so impressed by Rowling’s ability to write an entire book (never mind writing Harry Potter) with her pants on the whole time. Wow.

6a0128760776fb970c0167694c1a26970b-500wiHow could I NOT talk about Jane Austen’s tiniest of tables? And I complain about not having enough room.  How crazy is it that Austen competed six novels on a surface I wouldn’t deem large enough to eat dinner on? Oh, Jane, you’re nothing short of fabulous, even in all of your tiny desk glory.  I’m noticing a British pattern… you know how I feel about the accent.

king-by-jill-krementzStephen King’s room.  If nothing else will sell you, On Writing will make you believe that you have to have a designated, poetically beautiful writing space. Oh, it will also make you realize that you are most likely a very bad writer, but that’s besides the point.  In King’s words: “It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” See? He’s romantic, too.

What I’ve realized (King: “No passive voice!”) through our writing space journey is that the most important writing space has nothing to do with my desk.  It’s that room in my head where I lock everyone else out, especially the fourteen year old who tries to compare me to other people, until I let her come in because I have a fourteen year old character. It’s the place where I figure things out and go new places. It’s the place where I don’t think too much.  I explore.  It’s the place of adventure and fear and frustration.  And most importantly, it’s the place that doesn’t define my life.  It’s the other way around.

I made this post into an article for Lydia: http://www.lydiamag.com/2013/11/where-we-work-study-in-writing-spaces.html#more

Photos via  2, 3, 4, 5, 6

throwback thursday: hometown glory

This week’s special edition of Throwback Thursday takes less of trip through time and more of a glimpse through space.

I am from Mooresville, Indiana, not to be confused with Moore’s Hill, Indiana.  Mooresville is small, central town probably closer to Parks and Rec‘s Pawnee than we Mooresvillians will admit.  This is supported by the fact that my dad, much like Ron Swanson, lives on meat, eggs, and coffee and hates skim milk and big government.  Also much like Pawnee, Mooresville is charmingly ridiculous (and also ridiculously charming).  It’s the “heart of the heart of the country.”  I stole this phrase from William H. Gass, and although he uses it for Ohio, I often pass it off as my own description of Mooresville.  By often, I mean the the other time I used it.

Let’s look at five Mooresville facts because I want to. (NOTE: While some of these came from my mind, others came from wikipedia, and I think this adds to the ridiculousness).

1. Mooresville’s best restaurants (and what to order): Biff’s (bismark), Gray’s (pie and chicken and noodles), Hong Kong (crab rangoon), Squealer’s (pulled pork) and Starbucks (coffee)


2. My middle school’s name is Paul Hadley, after the Mooresvillian designer of the State Flag.  My elementary school’s name is Neil Armstrong, after the man on the moon who was at no point a Mooresville resident.

3. There is a Ponderosa in Mooresville that I’m pretty sure only stays open because of its claim to fame, a visit from Ronald Reagan in 1985.

4. Mooresville’s famous residents:

John Dillinger – The town plays a really important role in the Johnny Depp movie, Public Enemies, like when Dillinger says, “I was raised on a farm in Mooresville, Indiana,” and then it’s never mentioned again.

Frank Inn – Inn was the owner and trainer of Orangey (the cat in Breakfast At Tiffany’s), Arnold (the pig from Green Acres), and Higgins (most commonly known as, “Benji”). My mom grew up across the street from his family’s farm, and once, Inn brought Benji to church where he actually bowed his head, folded his paws, and prayed.


Sammy Lee Davis – “The Real Forrest Gump.” The majority of Gump’s time in Vietnam came from Davis, and I’m just going to say it, the majority of Gump’s… mind also came from Davis.  Davis came to school to talk and show off his Medal of Honor once.  The guy told us his heroic story, but honestly, I only remember being irate that none of his children used their automatic acceptance to a military academy. Not sure what this says about me.

5.  Movies made in Mooresville: (a) about fifteen seconds of Hoosiers, (b) …

That’s it for facts.  In other news…



Now, let’s look at some Ron Swanson quotes my dad has paraphrased without ever having seen the show:

“Fishing relaxes me. It’s like yoga, except I still get to kill something.”

“I don’t want to paint with a broad brush here, but every single contractor in the world is a miserable, incompetent thief.”

“Turkey can never beat cow.”

“Capitalism: God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor.”

“History began July 4th, 1776. Anything before that was a mistake.”

for the love of movies

Have I mentioned that I love movies?  Oh, I did.  Oh, you can tell.  Oh, I can’t seem to have a single thought without relating it to a movie you “just have to see.”  Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think my love of movies is going anywhere fast.

I’ve always wanted to be a part of making movies, part of the “dream factory.”  In Indiana, this dream felt like a faraway calling, a quest that I would never be quite ready for.  In California (more specifically, in Malibu), the dream makers are everywhere; although they just say they’re in the “industry.”  I like dream makers more; it’s very Inception; you just have to see Inception.  (Told you. It’s a tick.)  The industry folk are quite literally my neighbors (yes, even in the “prefabricated homes” park), and there are moments that are so very surreal, it’s surprising I haven’t fainted. For instance, I drove by Dustin Hoffman walking on a beach street. I waved at him, and he waved at me; I cried for the next ten minutes and wrote several drafts of a fan letter explaining what that wave meant to me (don’t worry, I didn’t send it).


Another one of these surreal gems happened this weekend.  Rob, Jill, Rachel, and I (and I smell a fantastic friend group here), went to see Gravity at the GRAUMANN’S CHINESE THEATER. As in, where Star Wars first premiered.  As in, had to step over Julie Andrews’s handprints to get inside.  As in, I could have danced with a Spiderman impersonator on the way out; okay, that one isn’t super cool.


Inside, there was a display case of George Clooney’s astronaut costume for the movie we were about to see!  If movies are dreams, this place is where sleeping happens, man.  (I feel like I could do better with that analogy.) I found my way to ladies’ restroom, and I thought, “I’m home.”  It’s like the calling to be a part of the dream world is still there, but now, it’s not quite as far away.  It’s like I’m Pocahontas and everything is “just around the riverbend.”


Although, that’s not quite what I mean because I already have so many of my dreams.  Dustin Hoffman is just a person, everybody (mostly talking to myself: “Stop crying.”).  The Chinese Theater is just a building.  And movies, as much as I love them, are just movies.  It’s how these people, places, and artworks invade ourselves that really matters; that’s what gets me excited about movies.  It’s who I am and how I treat people that defines the level of success in my life.  I love movies, but I love goodness more.  I think the two of them can be friends, like Lethal Weapon (Mel is movies, Danny is goodness).  You just have to see that movie.

Afterthought: here are some other movies you just have to see, especially, if you need a good cry: http://www.lydiamag.com/2013/10/let-it-out-cryfest-feature-list.html#more

sleep laughing

I’m a bit of an oddball.  This is telling, and as a writer, I need to show not tell.

Well, I will show you (in the form of a story) that I am an oddball.

I am a sleep laugher.  I know what you’re thinking: “Hilary, please. You laugh all the time.  You’re a bad stand-up comic’s dream.  This does not impress us.”  Well, fine.  I’m not trying to impress you.  Maybe I am a little bit, but not any more than a little, okay?

The first time I sleep laughed, I was living in Hawaii for a summer.  I feel fabulous writing that sentence.  My summer on Oahu was… magic.  It was all things carefree: full of ocean rejuvenation, giggling nieces, and sister heart-to-hearts.  It was eating fresh fruit and fish daily because we were in Hawaii and eating Cheesecake Factory several times a week because we were in America.  Ahhhh

It was during this period of paradise living that I was sleeping in the living room of a little apartment, as was my brother.  (I said we we were in Hawaii, not that we were rich in Hawaii.)  In my sleep, I dreamed, as I do almost every night.  I wish I could remember this particular dream more vividly, but all I can tell you is that I was talking to Tom Felton, whose hair had fallen out from getting bleached in Harry Potter.  And I told him that his wig looked “so bad.”  In the dream world, this was hysterical.

I laughed at my own “joke” (something I’m often guilty of asleep or awake), but then I woke myself up, still laughing in real life.  Then I was laughing because I woke myself up laughing.  Then my brother was severely scared of my hysteria. (This might be a good time to mention that a month before this incident, I woke up this brother in the middle of the night while balling my eyes out to make sure he was still alive after I had a nightmare where he died; he’s not a fan of my dreams.)  Then we both laughed at the ridiculousness of the dream once I was able to “explain” it as best I could. I’m pretty sure he just got: “Haha Malfoy haha wig.”

Here’s the thing; this has not been a one-time occurrence.  Hawaii was the first, but it has happened several times since, always spurred on by some brilliant “joke” I’ve made in the dream like, “Tom Felton, that wig is so bad.”  Wahahahaha.  Man, I got him.

Here's a really fantastic picture of me sleeping (there are many).  Disclaimer: this was pre-braces.
Here’s a really fantastic picture of me sleeping (there are many). Disclaimer: this was pre-braces.

Let’s just say that dream-world Hilary is out of her mind.  I used to keep a dream journal next to my bed, fill it out, and then read through it in the morning, without remembering what I had written down.  I stopped that.  Sometimes, I had good stuff, sure, like “pizza with caramel crust” or “married Will Power” or “Jon Bon Jovi is a charter school radio host.” However, there’s only so many times you can read “beards for breastfeeding” and “tall Chinese jumping man with many jacuzzi fish” and “become an old folks trainer” before you say this is deeper into my mind than I’m willing to go.

For now, I just know that I’m an oddball and a sleep laugher, which is sort of like a sleep walker, but louder and more obnoxious and less dangerous.

my little mobile home

I call this, "View of Dog From Bike"
I call this, “View of Dog From Bike”

The Santa Anas were in full swing the other day, causing my thighs to burn on my bike as I pedaled into the wind to my trailer. This reminds me…

I live in a trailer, and I bike to and from my car. This is the Malibu life, people.  I don’t say this to complain because I love my little apartment, my bike, and my single bathroom sink that functions as face/dish/vegetable washing station. I get to watch palm trees swing in the ocean breeze as I bike to my car, and the place came with my favorite: a deal. My couch/table/kitchen island combo was all mine for the killer price of $150.  I even have a tiny deck and plastic chair with an ocean view (on a clear day). Ahhh, paradise.

The place isn’t without its drawbacks. It doesn’t have a kitchen, but you should see what I can do with a crock-pot and a blender.  And my sweeper (what Hoosiers call a vacuum) sucks up the berber carpet every chance it gets, and I have nightmares about dropping raw egg or meat juice on that carpet.  Knock on wood, it hasn’t happened in real life. I also have zero yard, but my neighbor did invite me into his kid’s tree house within the first five minutes of meeting me. That’s something, right?

Now, I’m 22.  I’m not supposed to be living like a queen, and most of the time, I feel pretty darn lucky to be sipping coffee on my deck as I read The New Yorker.  I feel like I need to come clean; I don’t sip coffee on my deck as I read The New Yorker.  I sip tea.

Really, I do feel lucky typing away on my couch inside and glancing back at my puppy on the deck as she enjoys the ocean view (no New Yorker in sight). I feel lucky experiencing one of the best scent combinations God ever made: ocean and laundry, which can be experienced any time my neighbors wash their clothes (so bi-weekly).  I feel lucky to have a roof over my head and strong water pressure because those are the things that matter in life.

I do love this little quarter of a trailer (oh, did I forget to mention it’s not an entire trailer), and I love that it has become my little home, the first of my own, really.  Not a bad place to begin, I think.

facing failure


What is there to say about failure?  That it’s a part of life? That it’s a big part of my life lately? That it sucks big time? How about that if some silver lining is to be found, it’s that every successful person has failed.  They really all have. Let’s just allow that to sink in for a moment.  Ahhhh

When I was a kid, I (fell) failed at ice skating, I picked myself back up, and I skated until I fell (failed) again.  I’m still terrible at ice skating.  Is there a point to that?  Eh, maybe.  Maybe it’s that this is what makes failure so scary–because there are things, like ice skating, that I’m never going to be successful at.  But, unlike ice skating, I’m willing to work through my failures in other areas of my life, things that are attached to who I am as a person and what I want to do. (I know you’re having a hard time believing that ice skating isn’t my purpose in life.)

I’m going to start referring to failures as “learning experiences” because that makes me feel better. 🙂  Plus, we’ve all met the person who was absolutely wonderful at everything he ever did in his life, and you know what?  He kind of sucks.  So, I say, a plethora failures learning experiences is the way to go.  Let’s jump off that cliff (figuratively) and get wildly excited about things that could be massive failures learning experiences. The success is worth it, I think.  The act of pushing onward with everything in us is worth it, I know.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”

Truman Capote

“We are all failures- at least the best of us are.”

J.M. Barrie

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

C.S. Lewis

“if you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes backbone to lead the life you want”

Richard Yates

“The peaks wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful without the valleys.”

– Mom

indiana in 90 seconds

Back home again, in Indiana, blah blah blah blah blah…

Wabash! How I long for my Indiana hoooooooome.

I was in Hoosierland for less than 29 hours this weekend, and the trip was nothing short of an adventure.

Oh, you don’t think I can climb this tree?
Yammo going to fall.
I’m not sure who I take after. Mysteries…



My friend, Crusty Bee, in between the airplane’s window panes. Miss ya, CB.