Miss Honey's Cottage

I was having a fine Monday. Truly.

I even had a cupcake after lunch. A good one.

But it wasn’t spectacular (the day or the cupcake).

Every day is full of a struggle between who you are and who you could be. (By you, I mean me.) These days are a struggle between everything I want and getting that without ruining everything I’ve got. Do you feel that tension? The tension is here. (That’s almost the last Switchfoot reference in this post. I swear.)

Right now there’s a struggle to keep my dreams in the forefront without putting a ton of pressure on myself (which is something I tend to do).

My parents never pressured me too much. I think they are acutely aware of how I go over and over their words. (I’m also stubborn, so maybe it’s best if they don’t say anything.) (Mom, take notes.) (Kidding. Love you.)

Back to Monday. It was a fine Monday, a pressure-filled, but fine, start to the week.

And then “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root came on Pandora–that song from Matilda. It’s the one that plays when Matilda is finally living with Miss Honey (who’s wearing those overalls) and they roller skate INSIDE and eat chocolate and read Moby Dick and snuggle with Liccy Doll. This was all really cool when I was nine. (I had not yet attempted to read Moby Dick.) (It’s still mostly cool.)

(Side note: Alternative ending to Matilda: Exactly like the regular ending to Matilda, but they live in Miss Honey’s cottage because DUH.)

That song made me remember how happy life is; I remembered that it’s all going to be okay. I still want things, but the simple joys of life are here to enjoy today. That song just made my endorphins go crazy. I think it was that nonsense “Wombahweh” line that repeats.

Oh, gosh. Oh, guys! I just Googled the lyrics. They say, “on my way.” Did everyone know this? I’ve been singing “Wombahweh” this whole time.

(Side note: Another instance like this happened the other day with U2 and the song “Walk On.” I’ll be honest this is one of my top twenty U2 songs, and it’s definitely on my favorite album. I thought it went, “Oh oh oh we’re go-one. We’re gone!” Guys. “Walk on.” “WALK ON” IS THE NAME OF THE SONG. “Walk On” are the words bubbling out of Bono’s soul. Walk. On.)

It was a fine Monday, but Wombahweh made it more. This Monday is a day of this often-wonderful life. It’s a day to dance and a day for laughing and laughing again. It’s a day to write and to go to work and to sign your emails with a funny signature just because.

It’s a day to remember that time I spoke to Robin Swicord about Matilda. It’s a day to remember that big dreams are around the corner, but it’s okay to spend time today recognizing the small miracles, the Wombahwehs.




Ampersands & Such

Malibu Zuma

The other night, Rachel drove up the coast to hang out in the ‘Bu. She became so distracted and relaxed by the PCH view that she passed my apartment. Meanwhile, I lost track of time and had to frantically rinse the homemade toner out of my hair while she was parking her car. We’re quite the pair, she and I. Together, we’re like…

Tweezers & a Random Facial Hair.

Hatred & Tom Brady.

Oh my gosh, we’re like Freak the Mighty! (She’s probably the brain.)

I gave her one of my really long, lingering hugs (hair smelling included, obviously). I don’t want to brag about my creepy hugs, but if I play it right, I can make my own mom shiver.

We decided to get Lily’s burritos and take them to the beach. Burritos and the beach just go together, like…

T-shirts & Holes.

Smiles & Acne Scars. (These sound like book titles.)

We grabbed our wrapped burritos from Lily herself, and I commented on how fast it was. (It took four minutes.) (THIS IS UNHEARD OF.) She just smiled and wiped away a wisp of hair. “Summer is over. Now we get the real Malibu people… like you.” She waved us off.

Real Malibu person? Me? Aren’t real Malibu people the ones with leather skin and felt hats? Aren’t they the ones with Range Rovers and nannies? Aren’t they teenagers bringing back the nineties with a real vengence? (Scrunchies. Yeesh.)

I almost corrected Lily; I almost told her I’m not from here.I’m not of here. I don’t hold the salt and mountains in my bones! <—I don’t know either.

I’m not really from Malibu, I decided, and then I left.

My Rachel and I sat on Zuma watching the sun disappear. We talked about future dreams, about strategies to collect “secret family recipes,” and about the perfect karaoke song. (I think we need to open our own karaoke place where songs are at least seven years old and consist mainly of Spice Girls, The Cranberries, and U2’s lesser-known hits.) We made fun of the circling seagulls. We watched the surfers and a European family get yelled at by the lifeguard.

And as we ate our burritos and laughed and listened to the waves, a lovely thought flashed across my mind.

“Maybe I am a Malibu person… just a little.” Malibu and I, we go together like…

Baseball Caps & Sweat Stains.

Garlic & Everything.

Capital Letters & Ampersands.

Then a seagull stole Rachel’s ENTIRE BURRITO OUT OF HER HANDS, and we were traumatized for life.

That time I “met” John Green


photo 3

Two weeks ago, I almost moved back to Indiana.

One Saturday morning, I broke down. While crying in the shower I kept thinking of how little time I have to write, how many dreams are out of reach, and how much I miss my family. Then, as my tears soaked into my shaving cream, I had an idea. A brilliant epiphany!

I would go home.

It was obvious, really. Don’t I belong in Indiana?

Isn’t it a part of my soul? Have you seen me shuck corn?

I mean, I was one of the few kids in high school who didn’t go on and on about wanting to leave our town. (I think this is the main talk for high school kids everywhere, but kids who live in LA, you’re not fooling us. Stop acting like you can pull off the leave-this-small-town-in-the-rear-view thing.)

Twenty minutes after this epiphany my plan was underway. I prayed about it for at least 100 seconds. Obviously, I had carefully considered every scenario.

I told my family I was coming home. I don’t think they believed me, something about taking time to think about it. I don’t know. Whatever.

My dad was impressed that I felt the same way the next day; he told me he’d fly out and help drive me back.

Back. Back to Indiana. Indiana here I come.


In the grocery store a few days later, I had another epiphany. You see, that whole week I had been pleading with God. I said, “Okay, God, I don’t need the whole picture, but if you want to give it, go ahead. That would be great. But just this next step. What am I supposed to do now? Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Especially if it’s Indiana. I’m pretty sure it’s Indiana. Tell me if it’s not Indiana because I’m going home now because you won’t tell me what to do and we’re done talking but I trust you and I’ll trust you in Indiana. Okay? Amen.”

In the canned items aisle, when I quieted down for 2.5 seconds and you know, listened, God was like, “My sweet child, I’ve told you. I told you.” And then I was flooded with memories. Like, cue the Rom Com montage of wiping éclair cream off noses and holding hands in front of sunsets and riding bikes with ridiculously huge baskets. Like, cue all the times I knew I was supposed to go to California. Cue the times I trusted that I would be a writer and looking out my window at the huge oak and believing that if it could do its best to reach the sky, so could I.

Yes. I cried in that grocery store.

Yes. I cry during predictable romantic comedies. (Sorry.) (I’m not that sorry.)

I called my mom: “I’m staying here. Don’t let me leave. Don’t help me leave. I’m not happy about it, but I’m staying here because, you know, God’s plan.”

Mom: “Okay.”

Me: “Uuuuuuugh. Mom! I’m staying! Hello.”

Mom: “Okay?”

Me: “I want to come home.”

Mom: “…”

Me: “… Fine! I won’t! I’m staying!”

I spent the night not quite ready to think about what staying means. The next day, I stood on the noble ground of not quitting; even if I’m not moving forward, there’s something to be said for simply not letting go. The day after was a Friday, so already things were much brighter. (I also bought a ten-pound bag of chicken breasts from Costco, so again, things were much brighter.) (Ten pounds of chicken for one person.) (I’ll probably post pictures of my Mark Wahlberg guns next. Nbd.)

And then, it was as if I slowly came back.

I made a thanksgiving list. That list was full of answered prayers, future dreams, and so many good people. That list made me realize that maybe my life isn’t so bad.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still in the dumps about a lot of stuff, but my ultimate, bottom line was that it’s going to be okay. I’m going to get through my job. There’s a reason I’m here.

And then John Green came into the picture.

I’ve applied to jobs at DFTBA a few times because well, we know how I feel about John Green as a Hoosier, an Indy Car fan, and an author. I was never expecting to hear back, but on Wednesday I got an email from his personal assistant asking me to chat on Skype.

I went all “hettawhattapersonalassistant she talks to me?” And she was all “I want to talk to you too, but you’re actually speaking to John.”

And I was all “Holy s***!” Arms flailed. Legs buckled.

I heaved myself off of the floor (of my cubicle), and as the tears and mucus cascaded over the curves of my smile, I was filled with thanksgiving once more.

I’d like to say a lot of this thanksgiving had to do with John Green (and it did), but most of it had nothing to do with John Green. It was more about every step that had led me to that point. It was about every chance taken, every step of faith, and the people I know and love.

My interview with John Green was ten minutes long, and they weren’t earth-shattering minutes. I made him laugh twice (once intentionally). I didn’t say anything groundbreaking. (If we’re being honest, neither did he.)

But I got to speak to one of my favorite authors. Just him and me.

He said some nice things. I said some okay things. We said goodbye. And I realized: things can change in a freaking instant.

I realized how much I love my life. Today. I realized how much God’s doing and will do. I realized that when God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” He’s not condemning me to his will; He’s saying, “hey, you! You want a life that’s BETTER than you could ever hope for? Good, follow me.”

And I realized I belong here. I don’t mean in California (though right now, that’s where). I don’t mean in this job (though right now, that’s where). I mean, I belong right in this sweet spot of thanksgiving. I belong waking up early to write and lingering at Sunday brunch and sending happy texts and crying in the grocery store over and over and over until I get that this, right here, is it. This is joyful. This is peaceful. This is where a greater-than-I-could-imagine life happens. I belong right here, and I’m not leaving. No matter where I go, no matter what I do, I’m not leaving this spot.

Writing. That’s All.


I think I’m going to start writing my first drafts by hand.

I know. I agree. It’s either insane or insanely hipster. I wouldn’t mind being one of those; I couldn’t stand the beards. (That’s why I pluck mine.)

It’s just… Emma Thompson writes her first drafts by hand.

I really like Emma Thompson. She’s often the screenwriter that Dad references in conversation with me. Nora Ephron is also in the rotation, but Dad believes Emma to have more sense. I think it’s the British thing.

But writing by hand. It just doesn’t seem smart. My penmanship is a little lacking, and by little, I mean that my penmanship would make Mimi weep. (Mimi is basically a calligrapher.)

I used to have nice handwriting. It’s kind of like how I used to have nice hair. They’ve gone away. (I suspect my years of rushing made them run off.) (Kind of like this blog post.) But now my handwriting is scratchy and unintelligible. It’s something between cursive and Klingon. I always want my hand to move faster. I’ve got to get the next sentence down before it goes away.

But maybe I should. If Emma writes by hand, should I? Should everyone? Let’s review the pros and cons.

Pro: I like crossing things out.

Con: My handwriting so bad I can’t read what to cross out.

Pro: Jotting it down. I love to jot. It’s such a happy thing. It also sounds a bit like an exercise move, falling between jogging and skipping. (Which I think is just skipping.) But jotting. That’s nice.

(I can’t tell if I meant nice about jotting or about the sip of tea I just had.)

(Starry Chai.)

(I’m trying.)

Con: Typing after I write. It just seems like such a waste of time.

Pro: Typing after I write. Another editing step. Huzzah. It just seems like such a time saver.

Con: The first draft existing on paper and the fears that come with it.

Fear 1. Someone will read my first drafts and realize that I cannot write. (This someone will be a writer who writes spectacular first drafts. I hate him already.)

Fear 2. I will never be published, but the collection of notebooks full of scratch marks will follow me from home to home to my cardboard box by the bay, and spectators will realize I am a hoarder and lunatic and will begin throwing me old bread.

Fear 3. My handwriting will be analyzed by future machines that can identify psychological disorders in one letter. (If alive, see Fear 2. If dead, my good name!)

Fear 4. My children will read the first drafts and believe that my handwriting directly correlates with my abilities as a mother.

Pro: I don’t need a computer for the first couple drafts.

Con: How will I casually do internet shopping while writing? (Oh… maybe this is a pro.)

Pro: Emma Thompson does it, and if you can’t get behind the sensibilities of Ms. Thompson, can you even believe in anything uh-tahl?

“Just write because you can dive in later… You’ve got to create your raw material first. Do the knitting… It’s spinning the wool… If you’ve got nothing to work on, then it’s neither bad nor good; it’s just nothing. So just write. It doesn’t matter what you write. It does not matter… Just drawing the chair up to the writing desk and writing. Writing. That’s all. It’s the only thing that works for me.”  –Emma Thompson