Working from Home

Working from home is comfortable.

There are days when I crawl out from behind my computer at 4pm and take inventory. I’m going on 50 hours in the same holey shirt and shorts. I have a permanent layer of gunk across my front teeth, and my hair is so greasy I can put it in a ponytail without a rubber band. I’ve worn my fuzzy socks all day. The good news is I’m already dressed for bed.

There are days when I work from my bed. I sit against the wall with my feet tucked under my dog and my blanket, and I quickly bring food back to the mattress so I spend as little amount of time on my feet as possible. I switch positions every two hours to prevent bedsores.

I sit on the floor, on the couch, in my chair, slouched and typing. I stand straight at my bookcase and type. Wherever I want to work, I work.

I haven’t worn makeup in weeks. I don’t mind this.

And I hardly ever wear a bra.

Working from home can be depressing.

I hardly ever wear a bra.

Sometime on the third day of the no bra I realize that not wearing a bra has somehow been the gateway to not showering and eating exclusively hot pockets.

I don’t talk to people, except for my mom. I call my mom more than I should. My mom has her own people to call, but I call exclusively her. I’m not sure why I don’t call my dad or my siblings. My mom probably finds me more charming than other people do, and let’s face it, no one’s here to find me charming. So I call and I tell her about my day: any neighbor run-ins and what I ate and what movie I just watched. (She loves me.)

Mostly, working from home is depressing when I’m depressed.

Working from home is never as depressing as working in a cubicle.

I don’t cry daily in my cubicle. I don’t take copious notes on how angry I am that everyone seems to only want to talk about the weather. It’s California! There’s only one kind of weather!

“Did you see that cloud yesterday? That was scary!” Excuse me while I go adjust my computer chair five times and sob until my tears fill my empty filing cabinets.

Working from home is dynamic.

I can work from anywhere. On days I want to be around people, I stake my claim at one of the independent coffee shops in Malibu: Starbucks, Starbucks, or Starbucks. I’ve yet to try this new place. I think it’s called Starbucks. It’s supposed to be super gourmet.

I work from Pepperdine’s library some days. I even put my work up on their dry-erase board because it makes me feel very important.

I dance while I work. I really do. I dance quite often I’m realizing. I’m not good at dancing. My body moves too quickly and awkwardly, and let’s get real, I mostly dance with my hands. But I feel dance. Does that make sense? It’s something I can explore on my lunch break at home.

Working from home is the best way to work.

Seriously. I hated working for the corporate world. I hated the drive. I hated the small talk. I hated working next to the same people every day and never actually getting to know them. I hated eating lunch with the same people who never laughed at my jokes. I hated feeling that people were watching me, stifling me. I hated watching my cubicle plant slowly die in a grey box without any sunlight. I hated knowing that my heart wasn’t far behind: slowly dying in this place.

I love not slowly dying. I mean, I suppose we’re all dying, but I feel more like I’m living at home. I love dressing for work and not dressing for work, and I love that I have that choice. I love my healthy interactions with co-workers. I love that I get to work with the sun shining on my feet. I love that I get to work from my desk, my bed, and my floor all in the same day. I love that I get to talk to myself and laugh at myself. That’s what’s so wonderful about it. I get to be myself at home.

Working from home is spending the whole day as myself.

It’s typing on the floor in a favorite t-shirt, leaning against an unmade bed and laughing because I look cross-eyed.

Photo on 7-21-15 at 5.55 PM #3

Photo on 7-21-15 at 5.55 PM #2

 

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24

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I celebrated my birthday last weekend.

Oh, birthdays. What fun they are. I love ’em. Whether it’s mine or someone else’s. When we celebrated Jill’s birthday, she talked about her word for this year. (Jill’s the bomb. Have I mentioned that? She is DA BOMB.)

As my birthday approached, I began to think more about what my word had been for the past year. And I have to say, FULL keeps creeping to the surface of my thought palace.

(My Italian Rachel used the term “thought palace” last weekend, and I can’t get it out of my THOUGHT PALACE.)

Every year, I have these goals of where I want to be at my next birthday. Sometimes they’re just that I want to be nicer to everyone and to myself. Other ones are more extensive.

I want to run 5 miles like it’s no big deal.

I want to sell a book.

I want to have skin that glows from my daily green smoothies.

I want to know the lyrics to every Beatles song.

And every year, no matter if I reach these goals or not, I feel like I’m not quite there.

Ah, the mystical land of There. The Hilary who lives in There has her act together. She’s super stylish and has managed to walk in heels like they’re flip flops. (She does something similar with wearing lipstick like it’s chapstick.) She finally has thin arms and well, thin everything, quite frankly. She gives Leslie Knope-level gifts and knits and has read all of Hemingway and knows how to use a straightener as a curling iron without scorching her hair, hands, or forehead.

Every year, I think, “This is the year when I turn into the Hilary of There.” She’s who I’m meant to be, after all. She’s who I saw myself growing up to become.

And yet, every year, I don’t quite make it, and I’m stuck scrambling together a few goals for the next big push into this adult me. “This is it,” I say. “I know you thought last year was the year for conquering the whole contoured cheek thing, but this is actually it. Pop open the blush and ruler.”

But this year was new.

23 was lovely. I decorated my first apartment when I was 23. (I had previously only just lived there.)

I had these super lazy days with my friends where we ate cookies and talked writing, and our preferred method of exercise was laughing hysterically.

Wolf, I gained weight from those cookies. (Laughing was not the calorie burner I had hoped it would be.)

I searched for a job. Found a job. Did a job. Quit a job. Got a dream job.

I learned how to work for 8 hours and still get up and do things after it’s over. (This took months of my life.)

I freaked out over student loans, and then freaked out over how God provides.

I watched my oldest niece lose her first tooth! I snuggled those girls like the treasures they are.

I played Pandemic with my family, and I never realized how alike we all are. We don’t like to lose. (Also, Thad is a cheater.)

I gained friends. These aren’t just numbers either; we’re talking 3 quality individuals who I’m so blessed to have in my life.

Jill and I ate ginormous slices of watermelon at the pool in the middle of a workday. (Hashtag unemployment.)

I graduated with my MFA. Hooray!

I grew out a pixie. Hooray!

I laughed so so so so so much. Hooray!

The night before I turned 24, I hung out with wonderful friends. Rob made the most fantastic breakfast (for dinner) of all time. We ate waffles and played board games and laughed and talked, and I found myself thinking that I didn’t want to be There anymore. I want to be here.

I think if a younger Hilary could meet me right now, she’d actually like me. I’m not perfect, and I have goals. But I prefer the Hilary I am right at this moment to the lipstick-wearing fantasy I have in my head. I do my best, I love people, and I feel so loved. I’m completely done with the obsession over There. I want Here to be the best it can be because it’s the real deal.

Here feels so full of people and color and love. Here makes me hungry for what 24 holds. (I think it’s going to be pretty fantastic.)

Love Story

Malibu Sunrise

I’d like to tell you a love story. I hope that’s okay.

(It is.)

I grew up in Church. (Yes, it’s going in that direction.)

My dad was saved as a teenager after listening to a Billy Graham sermon. I find this funny and lovely.

My mom grew up in the church where she eventually married my dad. It was the little white church where we borrowed animated Bible story VHS tapes. It’s across the street from where my grandparents, Mom, and I all went for high school and middle school. Small towns, man.

My earliest “Bridget Jones moment” happened here. When I was six years old we had a “hillbilly” day at church. This seems like a weird activity to me now, but at the time, I was totally in to it. I wore old jeans and a flannel shirt that Mom tied in the front. She pulled my hair in to pigtails and painted freckles on my already-freckled cheeks.  Apparently there was a contest for the best outfit, and I was pulled out of Sunday school because gosh! I was the winner. (Note: Sunday school mostly consisted of me watching the nursery leader apply Band-Aids in the most fascinating way; this is the only thing I remember about her.) (Will I ever figure out how she did it?)

I was escorted to the front of the sanctuary, in front of our 200(?)-person congregation. Our pastor said some grown-up words. I smiled. People chuckled. At first I just thought that it was my killer costume. I mean, I was winning a McDonalds certificate for $10. (Hello!)

But then I got the feeling I wasn’t in on the joke. The pastor felt it too. He looked down at me, and his bewildered smile dropped before his uncontrollable laughter spilled out. “Well, she looks the part,” he said into the microphone.

I looked down at myself, thinking maybe my shirt was askew, and there it was: a patch of white cloth, the size of my fist, in full, bright display. My fly was open–underwear and humiliation on display.

Anyway, back to the love story. You might be surprised to learn that church—even with experiences like the great undies show-off of 1997—wasn’t my favorite.

We moved churches when I was 7ish. At this point I hadn’t yet learned how to make friends instantly. By instantly, I mean anything less than spending four years seeing someone every day. I literally had zero friends grades K-3 because I didn’t say a word in school. Yeah.

Now, at home I said my prayers and didn’t eat until after grace, and not to brag, but I was kind of a complete rule-follower at home and in school. The name “teacher’s pet” rings a bell. (It rings a bell because that’s what they called me, in case that wasn’t clear.)

For me, my relationship with God was always about doing the right thing, about being good enough. I used to have this Precious Moments Bible with an illustration of a big-headed baby hiding under a blanket that said, “You can’t hide from God.” I think that’s how I felt really. I can’t hide doing a bad thing from God, so I better be perfect.

I got baptized when I was 16. That was an older age in the Miller family. At the time I didn’t get that my parents were letting me take the initiative. I thought it was something they orchestrated, like a birthday party. “Well, it’s about time you were baptized, Hilary. What do you want on your cake?” This conversation never popped up. Imagine that.

At this point, I read my Bible sporadically at best. I talked to God mechanically and irregularly. But most of all, I felt disconnected from God. I gave my life to Him like one buys a car. You sign the papers because it’s what you’re told, but you’re not reading the details.

There were moments, little glimpses of something more, but it was like a light I could never catch. It felt like I couldn’t quite feel God.

This is how I lived through my college years. I had faith, a small amount of faith. I did what was right, but there was a large emptiness to everything I did. Anytime I slowed down, I wondered what it was all for. I wondered if this is what God wanted me to be doing. When I asked God for direction, I showed no patience. It was like I was holding an ice cream cone on a hot day. I had to say my prayer and get an answer before any dripped down my hand.

Then I came to California. That direction was completely orchestrated by God. I’m 100% sure of that. It’s the first time I felt like God was specifically leading me.

I went to a new church. Here’s where it gets good.

But first, kind of bad.

I became anxious. You know how I talked about needing to be around people for four years before I make friends? Well, maybe for a kid whose best friends continue to be her three siblings, that’s an okay amount of time. But for a young adult living on her own in a new state, four years is too long. I felt tremendous pressure to make an impression on everyone I met. I wanted to be all of the Hilary that I could be. I wanted them to know that I was funny and (typically) smart and that my hair wasn’t usually that bad. I was still stuck on the being perfect thing.

It got a little bit better over the next two years. Please re-read the last sentence: two years. Two freaking years of doing it my way and it got “a little bit better.”

Last summer/spring, I was finishing school, and I was really digging in to church. And I was praying more and reading more and worshiping more, but there was still a bit of a disconnect.

This was also a bit of a depressing time; I was desperate for a job, trying to enjoy the time I had in California because I could end up back in Indiana, and calling my mom twice a day. I would cry on the phone with her and then call her back to say that I was actually okay and not that upset. (Though I obviously was.)

My performance, my striving to be good enough, had run out.

I was burned out.

I was bummed out.

I was tremendously guilty about being bummed out.

And then.

And then.

And then!

I can remember the afternoon it changed. Someone I knew had gotten an interview at what would be a dream job for him. After months of applying for every job ever to pop up on every job list, shady career site, and social network, it felt like I wasn’t good enough. That finally, doing things my way wasn’t working. Where was my dream interview? Where was my success and my my my my MY MY MY…

I literally fell to the floor and cried out. “Not my way, but Yours.” Over and over I prayed this prayer. I was so upset and bitter and angry and heavy and done with “a little bit better,” and suddenly—as in instantly—as in miraculously—I was overcome with God’s presence. I was filled with peace. I kept thinking of Jeremiah 29:11.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

It struck me that God has a plan for my life. It’s not that I didn’t know this before. It’s not that I didn’t have faith before. But in this moment, I was overcome by the fact that the creator of the universe had a personal, perfect-timed plan for MY life. It had NOTHING to do with how well I did anything. Not talking in school? Didn’t matter. Making friends? Didn’t matter. Making sure people know I’m not a dummy? Having an open fly? Nope.

That’s not what God cares about. (I mean, I do think that He wants me to have friends because friends are an important part of life.) God cares about my heart. He wants to be there, not to see how well I do, but to walk beside me in the fight. He wants to be my answer, my way when there seems to be no way, and my way when I could go my own way. And the whole getting “a little bit better” thing? I didn’t want to settle for that. God doesn’t want me to settle for that.

My point of view was broken apart. A new thing came. You know how in The Princess Bride when Buttercup realizes that Westley is actually saying, “I love you,” every time he says, “As you wish”? I realized that everything good in my life, that every single day, God was telling me how much He loved me, and His love is unlike anything I could have ever imagined.

I got a job, by the way. It wasn’t my favorite, but you know what? I spent most of my time listening to worship music and praying. What a gift.

What a life-changing gift. (I also got a new job, and it pretty much rocks.)

No longer am I disconnected. I feel so connected. Not only do I feel connected, but I’m an overcomer. Anxiety? It has no place here.

And that emptiness? Gone.

And the depression coupled with the guilt? No more.

I’m not saying I don’t contend with these feelings, but I am saying that I know they’re lies. I know that God LOVES me NO MATTER WHAT. It has nothing to do with my attitude or intelligence or eating habits or how well I share His message with a stranger. It has nothing to do with my character and everything to do with His.

God doesn’t just want me to strive and be okay and have an okay time. “As long as I don’t make a fool of myself, it’s fine.” God wants to be present in it all, and His presence isn’t just okay. It isn’t just anything. He wants to tear down everything I think I know about doing life and show me His own way. It’s the best, most satisfying, most beautiful way. It’s not that things are perfect. They’re not, but I’m choosing to believe in the breakthroughs that have and will come. I’m choosing to let God in on the real stuff. When I accidentally show off my underwear, I want to laugh with Him about it. (And cry with Him about it.) I want to choose His way.

How can I not fall for someone like this? Someone who loves me right where I am and sees me as more than I am and wants to be my constant, my love, my therapist, my best friend, my answer, my Father, and my Savior.

So if I look like I’m in love and seem stupidly happy, it’s because I am, okay. I so am.

HAIR

Today I got a free haircut.

If you know me, you know I like free things, but a free haircut is never a good sign.

It’s not that it’s a terrible haircut either. Really. It’s fine. It’s just nothing like we talked about before getting it cut. The hairstylist, let’s call her Ray, showed me a picture of something that would look “adorable” on me. It was all one length; a blunt bob. It was exactly what I wanted, and I wondered how she found a more perfect picture in five minutes than I had in several months.

You see, I had been hoping and waiting to get my haircut for the past 8 months.

I’ve grown out my pixie, but it should be really grown before I get it cut.

It’s longer, but I want there to be a little extra so there was something to trim.

There’s a little extra, but maybe I should wait until the front can be the longest.

And then, today, I decided it was time. After living off of self-trims for a year and a half, it was time to get things tidied up.

I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so I couldn’t tell what was happening above my smock until it was completely dry.

“Put on your glasses,” Ray said.

I slipped them on, and the layer above my ear was staring back at me, 3 (4?) inches shorter than it had been when I walked it. That stupid, stubborn spot is the worst to grow out. Anyone who’s grown out hair knows is the TOUGHEST. It takes the longest. You pull and yank and will it to grow, and mine did.

But now it’s sticking out, chopped off above my ear.

Like I said, it’s not an ugly haircut exactly. With time I might even like it, but in that chair, staring at something that I had waited for for over a year, I began to cry.

I tried to hold it in, and I did okay. But I couldn’t stop the guttural groan that left my throat.  Ray continued to flip it around as my hand slowly lifted up to feel. Yes, it was that short.

“It’s so short,” I said.

She assured me it wasn’t. “You didn’t lose any length off of the bottom.” She was right. The bottom layer stayed the same. Literally, the back of my hair–what I wanted cut–stayed the same.

I told her it didn’t look a thing like the picture. She got the picture out, assured me it did. I argued. She said it was her fault. I kept silent. She brought up the picture again and argued more. I kept silent.

I stayed silent as she hugged me. I stayed silent as she kissed me on the cheek, several times. This woman I had only known thirty minutes smooshed her cigarette mouth to my face over and over. “You’re gorgeous. You’re gorgeous!”

I think she did that because she knew. She knew not that it was not what I wanted (though that too). I think she did that because she knew that hair is so stupid for women.

The way we view hair is so stupid. It means so much. It means too much.

And that hit me on the way home. I was being ridiculous.

But you know what? It didn’t make me stop crying. I wish that thought had taught me something about how women shouldn’t use their looks for self worth. In this scenario, I’d wipe my tears, blast the music, and laugh about it over dinner. But just as I was on the verge of reaching for the radio dial, my short layer fell into my eyes and my little giggle at the ridiculousness of it all turned into a full-on sob…

which turned into full-on yelling in the car

which turned into laughing at how stupid I was being for getting this upset

which turned into crying at how stupid I was to go to a stylist I didn’t know

which turned into yelling again.

So it goes.

Is it completely inappropriate to pull out Vonnegut at a time like this? I think yes, but then I touch my hair and my soul screams no.

I cut my hair two years ago because I wanted a change, but I also wanted to not depend on it. I always had this long, thick hair that sort of overtook my look. And when I cut my hair, it was like I saw my face for the first time. I didn’t want my hair to be beautiful, I wanted to shine without it.

If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on it was not going to be my looks. – Amy Poehler, Yes Please

In many ways, I was making a similar decision when I cut my hair. I learned that I was worth more than hair.

Flash forward, and I’m crying about a measly 3 (4?) inches.

And then I laugh at it, and I try to think good thoughts. I really, really try. I know caring this much about hair is stupid, and I’m letting it go.

Right now. Big breath. It’s only hair. Big breath. I’m more valuable than getting the exact haircut I want. And last big breath. I want to be the kind of beautiful that can pull off any hair or no hair at all.

I want to be pretty like this:

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. -Roald Dahl, The Twits

I want to be lovely, not because of my hair, but because of my thoughts. I’m making them prettier one. big. breath. at. a. time.

And now I’m also thinking that this entire blog post is so emotional about hair, which sends me into a fit of laughter. That might be the best thing to do, actually. Laugh and laugh and laugh and choose which hat to wear. Luckily, I did do a fashion show the other day.

Photo on 11-22-14 at 2.15 PMPhoto on 11-22-14 at 2.12 PM #2

Photo on 11-22-14 at 2.13 PMPhoto on 11-22-14 at 2.14 PM

The Bachelor Party

Is it such a crime?

I mean, in a world where I could spend my Monday night ironically checking out the newest Gastropub renovated from a movie theater complete with a bronze mural of the Tenenbaums that serves some sort of imitation meat pie by a bearded man without a beard net, is my choice so bad?

I don’t think so, and yet… I am embarrassed. If I had gone to something like that Gastropub (most likely named “The Sweaty-Toothed Madman”), I could feel free to brag right now. I could boast in my most recent foodie/hipster/unique conquest.

But this I keep to myself. I hide it within. I keep my mouth shut and my ears open. In the lunch room at work, my head shoots toward the whispers.

“Farmer Chris.”

“Rosebud.”

My hope is shot down when I realize they’re discussing a distant relative and also Citizen Kane. (For the record, I would actually not be that disappointed if this were the topics of discussion during lunch.)

I, like what seems to be very few self-respecting women, can’t help myself. I like The Bachelor and not in an ironic way.

In fact, one of the highlights of my week is The Bachelor Party hosted by Jill.

(Are they hosted by Jill? I mean, they’re at Jill and Rachelle’s place, but Rob’s the one cooking. Rachelle is the one baking. Jill’s the one telling Rob to make a dirty diet coke after I whisper in her ear. Really, they’re all the hosts, and I’m the ultimate consumer.)

I think, quite possibly, we have the best The Bachelor Party in the world.

I sit there, as we all do, sprawled out on the couches, cocooned in blankets, with homemade buffalo chicken dip an arm’s reach away. I sigh when Chris Harrison enters the room in his navy suit. The sigh says, “I wonder if life can get sweeter.”

When drama happens–basically the whole show!–the entire party gets restless.

Arms start flailing! The buffalo dip is forgotten! Voices rise! (One of these three is not true.)

“She’s insane! How can he not see?!”

But it’s not all tearing these women down. I promise. Sometimes we find ourselves getting too involved: pulled in 25 different directions.

“Poor thing. She’s the Anne Hathaway of the group.” “Yeah. Trying too hard.”

And then, when they go home, things get rough for us all.

“I hate this part. I want to be the person who’s there to hold them and tell them that this was not the love of their life.”

I don’t know. Maybe I am crazy to be this involved. Maybe I’m one of those silly girls I always never wanted to be.

But I don’t think so.  I mean, yes, I’m silly. I know this, but I like who I am: this silly, Bachelor-watching, fails-to-blog-regularly, talks-to-much, watches-old-60-minutes-episodes-and-also-tennis-matches-when-she-can’t-sleep girl. I know where I’ll be on my Monday night, surrounded by friends and food and watching a huge group of people search for love. I even hope two people find it. Maybe that makes me silly and the worst kind of viewer, but I also think it makes me silly and the best kind of viewer. Besides, I’d rather be there than at the Sweaty-Toothed Madman, choking down a home brew (obviously called “Barbaric Yawp”).

(I have to say, I kind of want to go to this restaurant. Excuse me: “eatery experience.”)

Anger & How I’m Done With It

Can I tell you something honest? I was really angry yesterday.

You know those days when your heart just feels heavy? It was like I was anxious without being crazy active. I felt tired and sluggish and bleh without actually being sleep-deprived or hungry or any of the easy fixes. I was just mad at the world, and to be honest, I think it’s been building up for a while.

You see, I was supposed to come out to California and immediately shoot up in the world of screenwriting. The whole reason I chose to go for an MFA in Screenwriting and not a JD (shivers), was because I’m supposed to be really good and very successful at this. I’m one of the ones who is supposed to make it.

Yesterday, I was mad that I haven’t shot up. I haven’t made it as a writer yet. Heck. I was just mad about not having any time for writing, let alone not writing that stellar thing that’s going to change it all yet. I was mad about finances and being homesick and my job and everything that doesn’t seem to be the way I want it to be. And then. And then! I got really mad. I was mad at myself for being mad about things like finances. I was mad at myself for not having an inner joy. The cycle!

So I tried to work through this on my way home, and I got a bit better. I sort of turned the volume down on my anger.

But it wasn’t until this morning that I told anger to leave me the f— alone. The thing is, whether it’s for one day or years, I don’t want to be mad. Anger is exhausting. Guilt is crippling. That exhausted, bleh, muddled person? She’s not who I am.

This morning, I did something a little silly. I took the dog walking just before sunrise (during that great time of day where everything’s blue), and I picked up a rock. I imagined that all of my anger pooled down my arm and into that rock. I filled it up with anxiety and hate and guilt, so much guilt. And when I felt like those things weren’t in me anymore, but were instead heavy in my hand, I threw it. Hard.

And I said a prayer. (Multiple prayers were involved in this whole thing.) I reminded myself of who God is. I reminded myself of who I am.

I am vibrant. I am full of energy (and usually have a knee-tapping problem because of it). I am determined and persistent. I am fun and joyful. I am confident.

Most of all, I’m right where I need to be. I’ll get to where I want to be. I’m not worried about that now. I’m done with being angry at myself, for creating a cage of impossibilities. I’m me. I’m a laugher and a writer and a bad dancer and a talker. It’s time for those things. Now. Not when I’ve sold a screenplay. Now. It’s time to live the life I want before I get it.

Journal of a Silly Girl

sleeping hilary

“Everyone knows diaries are just full of crap.” – Bridget Jones

Let’s take a journey down journal lane, shall we? (Warning: the following might make you lose all remaining respect for me as a writer and/or human.)

“We played football, in which I sprained my ankle… we also did play basketball. I jammed my finger; that is why I am not writing good. ” – age 11

“I wish I were a bird flying in the sky, soaring through the air. We, my family, went to see Santa Clause 2.” -age 11

“While in the meantime, I am thinking about Hayden Christensen and Orlando Bloom.” -age 11

“I have been trying not to mention what’s happening in the U.S. economy lately, but I think it’s time to tell my feelings.” – age 11

“It was then I saw what life is.” – age 11

“I am going to work on my scrapbook.” – age 12

“If you follow every problem in your life, it will lead to one conclusion: yourself.” – age 11

“I wonder if this diary will be famous someday, like Anne Frank’s. We’re reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in class.” – age 12

“I wanted to tell you that I don’t think anyone will ever consider my story famous like Anne Frank’s.” – next day, age 12

“A heart-warming film always warms me up.” – age 12

“This turned out not as well as planned, but everything happens for a reason.” – age 12

“It was hot, and she was asking for my personal fan 24/7.” – age 12

“If I died before my husband, I’d want him to remarry… I hate biology.” – age 14

“Swimming and soccer are the only sports I’ve done competitively!!!” – age 15

“Prom. It’s all anyone talks about.” – age 16

“I’ve always liked David Beckham, but now that he’s in the U.S., well…” – age 16

“Today we went to see National Treasure II. I loved it!” – age 16

“I don’t like fried chicken.” – age 17

“I was supposed to have my water skills test at six, so I got to the school at 5:45 am, and no one was there. I took it at 6 pm.” – age 17

“I’m getting over crying right now, so excuse my handwriting.” – age 17

“I’m excited about lunch.” – age 17

One thing hasn’t changed. I’m still really excited about lunch.

Jillian Sodding Denning

bridget jones party

Last week I got to celebrate one of my most wonderful friends.

I remember the first time I saw her. (You know what’s weird: I can remember each time I first saw my close friends.) (True love.)

It was orientation day 2012. I believe she was wearing that crimson dress of hers. The one with the ridges. Her hair was perfect, of course. She sat a table away, and I immediately decided she was a part of the Communication program because writers aren’t that put together… or tall. (Awkwardly tall, maybe, but not fashionably tall.)

It turns out she was in my program (and a really gifted writer).

But we didn’t start out as close friends. We didn’t click immediately.

It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly Jill went from “a fun girl in my program” to “one of my very best friends.” We were in the middle before we knew we’d begun.

You see, there’s really very little reason Jill and I should be friends. At least, that’s what I thought at the beginning.

She’s tall. I’m not.

She’s on one end of the political spectrum. I’m on the other.

Mockingjay is her favorite book in the series. Can I get a “third book is a DOWNER” in here?

And then, “a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be” friends starting bubbling to the surface. (Are these references getting weird? Good.) Before we knew it, we were planning wardrobe choices for our trip to Prince Edward Island. (Lots of gauze and puffed sleeves.)

If there is a moment in our friendship affair to remember that should be highlighted, circled, and cast in steel for all time, it’s Bridget Jones’s Diary Night 2013.

One day, during finals week, Jill and I found ourselves with nothing to do for two hours and an audience of two friends who always pretend like they can’t stand us, but truly love the entertainment. So we decided to do a dramatic reading of a crappy transcription of Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Important things to note about this evening:

On this very poor internet copy of the script, there were no names indicating who was speaking. It turns out, we already knew who said every line. (This is one of the most impressive things in both of our lives, as you can understand.)

Jill’s impression of Bridget doing an impression of Grace Kelly was Golden Globe, Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical worthy. (She would argue that her introduction to Kafka’s Motorbike should be considered.)

Jill played Bridget incredibly well. I was everyone else, with a special connection to Pamela Jones.

We laughed our cabooses off the entire night.

So last week, on Jill’s 27th year of being fabulous, there was really only one way to celebrate. We popped open the diet coke, lit the candles, and indulged in Rob’s turkey curry buffet. Yes, we threw Jill a Bridget Jones-themed birthday.

We talked and did a dramatic reading of our best scenes in Bridget Jones’s Diary. We laughed and laughed at the accents. We discussed Ethel Kennedy. We ate and talked life and Bridget and Bridget’s life, and I was reminded once again how phenomenal of a friend Jill is.

Jill sees me. The parts that I usually cover up, the ones that are completely and hopelessly uncool, she sees those as my biggest strengths. She’s often more proud of my crazy than I am. Are we all aware that this is what friendship should be? Because let me tell you, having a friend like this, it makes life a heck of lot more fun.

Jill is in my corner, and I’m in hers.

That is more than I was ever expecting when I saw that tall girl supposedly in the Communication program.

So I say we toast: to Jill, who cannot stop obsessing about the Kennedy and Royal families, but who we love just as she is.

bridget jones diary party theme
Image courtesy of Jillian Denning

bridget jones party diary

Wombahweh

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.

Wombahweh

Wombahweh

Wombahweh

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.