I’m A Major Creep

Some people have useful talents, like the ability to look natural walking in heels or applying lipstick without wondering exactly where the bottom lip ends.

I have a useful talent as well. Some call it internet stalking; I call it embarrassment-feuled creeping.

I’ve always had a tendency for obsession, so in the modern age where I can scour the internet looking for the ex-wife of a semi-famous novelist to figure out what went wrong, I do.

And usually I don’t see much wrong with this. However, when I stumble on a piece of information (still in the public-sphere) that’s particularly juicy, I realize I may have taken things too far.

Jill recently read a book by an author that is one half of a marriage that she, Katie, and I had a serious crush on. You know those Instagram masters who make their lives look like a live-action Candyland? Yeah, this couple is like that. Was like that. *silent tears*

Jill noticed that in the dedications of the first book, there was a woman’s name, a name that did not belong to the author’s wife.

Jill was frantic, understandably so. She did a little preliminary research. No need to get us all up in arms  if it was his wife’s nickname. It was wishful thinking. For the sake of the example, let’s say the book said “to Sophie” while the wife’s name is “Aishwarya.” There was just no way. 

So Jill discovered what we all feared: the man who was one half of the cutest relationship in the world* had been married before! *by Instagram standards

Not only had he been married before, but by book two, he was dedicating his work to the other half of the cutest couple in the world. (I’ll stop with the titles.)

BOOK #1 OF A TRILOGY IS FOR WIFE #1, AND BY BOOK #2, HE’S ON SOMEONE ELSE?!?!

Jill let us know of this tragedy: “I feel like I just found out Mr. Darcy was married when he met Elizabeth.” I, of course, told her to take it back immediately because how dare she ever utter such blasphemy!

And after I was finished partially recovering from the thought that Darcy was anything other than the socially-awkward hottie of every intelligent woman’s dreams, I began to creep.

I mean, so many questions needed to be answered! How much time between relationships was there? Did he leave one wife after he became semi-well-known to book loving twenty-somethings? Did he just go around seducing nice girls and taking them as his concubines? I told Jill, “WE WILL NOT BE HIS NEXT CONQUESTS!”

I took action. After some heavy research, like finding an art show in college where his then-girlfriend was a subject, I creeped on his ex-wife. I was relieved to find that she was in a relationship with another man, and according to Facebook, her father still “liked” the author’s first book.

It was here that I realized I was in very deep and needed to pull out. I mean, it’s not like I’m engaging in illegal activity, but the fact that I have to make that clear indicates I went a bit too far.

But it’s not all so superficial. Sometimes creeping has saved me a lot of trouble. Once, Jill and I saw a cute librarian. With twenty minutes and his first name, I discovered a picture of him on his trip to the Carribean that made us both disgusted. Now, when he says hello, I give him a look that says, “I know what you did Spring Break of 2012.”

Maybe I’m good because I’m hyper-observant. Like, I’m really good at spotting celebrities, and even those who aren’t full-on celebrities. Please see Jill and I’s encounter with a Mad Men guest star, or know that just today I refrained from telling a man that I admired his work in Bride and Prejudice (because obviously I’ve memorized every person in every Austen adaptation ever).

Celebrity sighting and internet creeping are related. Jill says so: “One’s a tangerine. The other, an orange.”

Just know that a P.I. career could be in my future. I have been watching a lot of Veronica Mars lately.

Oh, and here’s a picture of my most recent fun purchase. I feel it’s appropriate for this post with so much Darcy talk.

photo

 

Bikes & Co.

Today was not a great day.

Today, I screamed in my car twice.

I went to the bank three times.

I wished I could have a do-over about 400 times.

Today was supposed to be the day when I went on a run, finished two novels, made my entire apartment shine, read three books, and solved world issues. (This is how informed I am. I say, “world issues.”)

Okay, so I had high expectations, but by noon, I was left with the first four sentence of this blog post.

Maybe today was bad because a lot of emotional, big changes are coming my way. I have a hard time with change. It can be fun and adventurous and what life’s all about, but it is also really, really hard.

Next week, classes are over. In June, I will graduate, and then it’s…

I have no idea.

I could go home to Indiana and do…

I could stay here and…

I could…

I could…

I HAVE NO IDEA!

This is a nerve-wracking time. It can also be depressing. Suddenly, I feel I haven’t learned anything in the past two years/my whole life.

The reality of that thought pounded and beat on me today. I haven’t gotten better. I never get better. I’ll never get better. 

And then, something happened.

My family is into bikes, not in a competitive, spandex way, but in a three-year-olds-without-training-wheels sort of way. Biking was the summer go-to. It was the transportation of choice to ride to the gas station (that often ran out of gas) to buy Bazooka Joe gum. It was the only time our neighbors got angry from kids ruining their yard (which happened to be a short cut on the way to the gas station). It was the most dangerous thing Mom let us do with smallest list of warnings (that still included: wear your helmet, those better not be sandals, stay in the neighborhood, stay with your brothers, stay with your sister, not too fast, don’t be out too long, etc.).

During those summers, I learned how to do quite a few tricks on my bike: the side-saddle, the no-feet, and the classic feet-on-handlebars.

Okay, so I wasn’t doing BMX, but still, I was decent. There was one trick, though. The one I always attempted, but could never do.

Remember that scene in City of Angels where Meg Ryan lifts her arms out while riding her bike (cough and then dies cough)?

bike

Well, I really wanted to do that. The hand thing! (Not the other thing.)

But I never could. Each summer, I would try and try, but I could only ever do the one-handed, which isn’t impressive at all.

Today, when I was riding my bike back from my car (don’t even get me started on that), I thought I should try the no-hands. There was no way it would work. It had never worked before. But I couldn’t stop thinking, just try.

So I lifted a hand and then the other, and then the bike stayed steady. I put my hands in my lap, and the bike stayed steady. I put my hands out to feel the wind, and the bike stayed steady.

And the most lovely thought entered my head.

I am better at something. 

It wasn’t writing or planning or job-having or anything important. It didn’t make my apartment shine, or fix every (or any) problem in my life. But, there it was.

I got better at something.

Today, I thought I was a big failure who couldn’t have a good day, let alone a good life, but tonight, I know that if I keep going, I might just get the hang of some of these impossible tricks.

Tonight, I know that I’m getting better every time I try. Sometimes I forget that.

The Moments I Knew

I would say I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life.

I have had many dreams outside of writing, but it was always “I’ll be a _____ and a writer.”  (Blanks include marine biologist, nautical archaeologist, several other things that end in -gist, mathematician (ha!), and museum curator.)

But writing. Writing was always there, and every once in a while I get a reminder that it’s what I’m supposed to do with my life. Like little whispers to my heart, those moments of peaceful certainty are enough to sustain me through every hard writing day, countless rejections, and each time I have to throw away a story out and start again. Those quiet moments mean a lot, and they don’t happen very often.

But I had one this weekend.

The first “writing aha” moment was when I was seven (?) and wrote my first two picture books. After showing them to my mom, she said, “You could be a writer.” Now, Mom tells me I can be anything (as most moms do), but this was different. I knew she meant it, and I knew I really could.

Others have come throughout the years. One when I was fifteen and wrote a very silly two-page story (that included an elephant stampede) that I’m still convinced is some of my best work. Another, when I filled out a Pepperdine application at 11:30 at night–this is equivalent to 3 am for most other people.

And another, when I read the Boston Jane book series. I’ve blogged about Boston Jane before, but this weekend, the series came back into my life in a very wonderful way.

I got to meet the author of Boston Jane, Jennifer L. Holm, at the LA Times Festival of Books. (Don’t worry. I’m sure to blog about this festival at least three more times because it was amazing.)

I was able to get my trilogy signed and meet Ms. Holm and her brother, Matt. (They write super cute graphic novels together.)

And I don’t think my interaction with her could have gone much worse.

Jennifer: “Hello!”

Me: “Hi.” (I handed her Boston Jane.) “This book series made me want to be a writer.”

Jennifer: “Aww. You’re going to make me cry.”

Me: “Me too.” (I proceeded to cry.) “I’m sorry I don’t have the original covers.”

Jennifer: “That’s okay. I like these ones better.”

(I laughed for a beat too long.)

Me: “May I have a picture?”

Jennifer: “Sure.”

(We took a picture.)

Me: “Thank you. Thank you. Have a good day! Thank you.”

I ran away.

I don’t often crash and burn in interactions, but when I do, tears are usually involved. I don’t want to say I scared Jennifer Holm, but I definitely didn’t give off a very “mentally stable” vibe. I mean, we exchanged many smiles, but I couldn’t remember how to form words. (Also, my hair was doing weird things.)

It was bad. I was running away thinking about how I didn’t say anything I wanted to, except that first line, and then I remembered I forgot my phone with the volunteer who took our picture and had to go back and get it. Perfect.

I did a fast-paced walk in the other direction. Then, I decided to look at my signed copies because that would make me feel better, and in the second book (my favorite one), she put a note (that I hadn’t seen her write through my tears). And I looked at that note and thought, “That’s true. I don’t know when or how or any of the specifics, but I believe that’s true.”

And there it was. Suddenly, it didn’t matter that I had an awkward interaction with one of my favorite authors. It didn’t matter that I am more than a little unsure of where I’ll be when school lets out. It matters that I will be a writer, and I know it.

Desktop

She’s A Better Hilary

I’m a pretty confident person. I don’t think I’m cocky; however, I started a blog, so I have to be feeling okay about myself. We can talk about blogging and narcissism another time though.

Right now I want to talk about when my self-confidence is shaken. Fun!

Usually, it takes a lot. Growing up with two big brothers (I won’t loop my sister completely into this), I developed a decently thick skin. I won’t shatter from being called a name or a bad hair day (unless it’s a bad haircut). (Bad haircuts are just the worst.)

Sometimes, though, all it takes to wreck me is a person who is me but a better me. Let me explain.

One of my friends in college, let’s call her Darla, ran into another student named Darla. Now, my friend is pretty darn great, but this Darla was on another level. She was über peppy, had great hair (and skin), and she had about a million friends (a lot of them were mutual friends with my Darla). When the two Darlas met, my friend was overwhelmed meeting this insanely vibrant person. We left, and she had a mini breakdown, during which she said, “She’s a better Darla than I am.”

And thus, a concept is born.

It’s hard when you meet someone who’s like you, but doing it better.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to sing karaoke. (Jill and I did a poorly-received version of “Zombie” by The Cranberries. After which, I said, “Some people just don’t get rock-n-roll.”) I decided to dress up for the night, which is unusual. I had on heels, my pixie was styled, and I put on lipstick dun dun dun. I actually wore lipstick! (I don’t do that. Ever.)

I was feeling good about myself, but that kind of “delicate good” because it’s all so new. You know the one.

We met up with friends at Cafe Habana (our go-to for karaoke), and a young woman was visiting. This woman was everything I am, but she was better at it. She had a freshly cut pixie (which makes all the difference), a brighter red lip, better accessories, better teeth, and was super, mega sweet. I was searching for something I could own, trying for jokes (because that’s what I do), and she one-upped me on the joke front making everyone laugh. The night was over right then. I could go home. There was already a me, and she was doing it better.

That’s all it took to shatter my self-confidence for about twenty minutes (felt off and on over a two-hour period).

Of course, I took to dancing to make the night fun again.

But I couldn’t let go of this woman and how she was a better version of who I am.

Then, we said goodbye, and the better me said, “Oh my goodness.” Yes, she even said that. Had she said, “My stars,” I would have packed my bags immediately.

She said she was watching me dance and trying to copy my moves because they were so hilarious.

And there it was.

Lots of people are worried about someone else being the better version of themselves, but WE DON’T HAVE TO BE.

I guess I just want to say that only you can be the best version of you because there’s only one.

Dr. Suess says it better, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

I’m so glad you’re you, and I hope you are too.

There’s room enough for two pixie cuts in every group. There’s room enough for bold skirts and jokesters and Darla’s and red lips and good teeth and harem pants. There’s always room for harem pants and ridiculous pictures.

IMG_4699

Photo Credit: Jillian Denning

IndyCar vs NASCAR

Indianapolis 500

I was recently having a discussion with FAC + Rob (an honorary member) about the types of people we went to high school with. Because the four of us are from very different parts of the country, we had different groups of students at our schools. (Jill had cowboys. Real cowboys!)

When I did my impression of the kids who rode on my bus, I think the others were more than impressed. I basically said, “Hey, man. NASCAR!” over and over again. (This is disturbingly accurate.)

(I realize this is making fun of those people. I liked pretty much everyone I went to high school with, but those hillbilly kids were mean, if that makes it any better.)

Anyway, after we stopped laughing–I’m exaggerating. No one has to “stop”  themselves from laughing at my jokes– Jill asked me, “Hilary, do you watch NASCAR?”

I gasped. NASCAR? Me? HOW COULD SHE?!

“OF COURSE NOT!” I said, “IndyCar is totally different.”

Then the four of us got into a discussion about whether or not IndyCar and NASCAR have differences. I claimed that IndyCar is so much classier (and cooler and better) than NASCAR. No one agreed.

Katie tried to come to my aid (bless her) and said, “IndyCar had that girl, Danica Patrick, didn’t they?”

“No!” I said. “She moved to NASCAR, and IndyCar is better for it!” (Sorry, Danica fans. Although, you’re probably NASCAR fans, so never mind.)

Now, maybe I see the stark differences between NASCAR and IndyCar because I’m from Indiana, where we literally have class projects based on the Indy 500. (See my 5th grade, spray-painted, milk jug race with its egg passenger.)

But I don’t think so. I think IndyCar is genuinely different (and genuinely A LOT BETTER). Let’s look at 5 facts:

1. Racers.

When I think about the people racing in NASCAR, it’s Ricky Bobby and bad mustaches and lunch boxes from Walmart with bright numbers painted on the side.

With IndyCar, you get international wonders (see Tony Kanaan), Indiana Jones fans, and etsy t-shirts.

Indianapolis+500+Qualifying+Z75CYpjLQUWl
Marco Andretti, aka the David Beckham of racing. (I bet you didn’t know that.)

2. Celebrations.

The Daytona 500 ends in champagne being sprayed everywhere. Civilized? I think not.

The Indianapolis 500, aka The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, ends with the winner drinking milk and pouring it over himself. It may be messy, but at least it supports calcium consumption.

3. Cars.

Let’s look at these babies.

NASCAR’s cars, i.e. the taxi cabs.

Daytona 500 Practice

IndyCar’s cars, i.e. artwork.

forza-indyjpg-30ba63_640w

See?

4. Famous people.

Alyssa Milano plays in a NASCAR fantasy league.

IndyCar owners include Patrick Dempsey and David Letterman. And also Patrick Dempsey. And also Patrick Dempsey.

5. And also Patrick Dempsey.

052207_4