roast beef is a conversation starter

Today I had to make a very, very difficult decision.  Think Divergent: “One choice can transform you.”

What was the decision?  Turkey or roast beef.  Let me explain.

This December- Oh, gosh. December is too close to say “this.”  Start again.

Next month, I’m going to a writer’s conference.  It’s in Big Sur.  It will be full of rainy, gorgeous scenery, writing all-nighters, and a billion requests for queries.  Right?  Okay, okay.  At the very least, it will be full of a nice drive to and from the conference, writing afternoons, and at least one awkward conversation with a literary agent.

This conference has brought some beautiful things into my life, the best being my writing group, First Authors Club (FAC).  FAC is made up of Jill and Katie and me.  Jill is a fabulous dresser and fantastic, feminist writer of teen female friendships.  I tried to jam as many “f’s” into that description as possible because Jill stands for “fun.”  Fun real stories, fun fictional stories, fun Farrah Fawcett hair, fun, fun, fun.  Katie is a fantasy queen, but her letter is “g” for great.  Great writing, great mom (to her baby, not to me – that would be weird), great friend, great conservative mind, great, great, great.

Playtime with these ladies, aka story notes time, is the highlight of my week.

Back to decisions. The conference has made small decisions (like what to do with my hair) take on a large weight.  Today, it got more than a little ridiculous.  We were emailed asking what kind of meat we would like on our sandwiches at the retreat.  My first inclination was turkey.  I mean, turkey is the safe choice.  Turkey is “doctor,” if you pick a husband by occupation.

But there’s a side of you that wants to pick “rock star” for your spouse’s job, right?  The rock star of deli meats? Roast beef.  All of the sudden, you think it’s so much more interesting to pick roast beef, the unusual, off-beat choice.  Here’s the danger: your rock star husband could be a big party dude who leaves you all alone with the screaming twins; in deli meat terms: it’s limp and fatty.  Now the fate of my future career seemed to rest on this one decision.  Everyone will pick turkey.  Turkey is the obvious choice.  Roast beef, though, roast beef is a conversation starter.

Scenario #1:  “Oh, is that roast beef?” an agent will ask. “I love roast beef. I thought I was the only one here. What’s your manuscript about? I want to represent you, you fellow beefer!”

Scenario #2: “That’s roast beef!” someone will shout. “All the best writers who aren’t vegetarians choose roast beef. I shall read your book, now.”

Scenario #3: “Oh, you’re eating roast beef,” another one will say. “That’s so interesting. I find you so interesting because of your deli meat choice. Let’s talk.”

So there was the choice.  Turkey or roast beef?  The doctor or rock star?  Lab coat or leather jacket?

It was at this point that I realized I had been riding the crazy train for a few minutes, maybe for a few years.  I got off at the next stop and emailed my choice.

Turkey.  Plain, safe turkey.  Although, if we’re talking husbands, I’d go for a pediatrician who plays for a terrible garage band on Sunday afternoons.  What is that in deli meat?

Advertisements

school starts, everybody farts

The Hunger Games school semester has begun!  And I’ve never been more relieved to go to school in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked school (yeah, I was that kid), and I’ve always relished summer break.  However, this summer was… how to describe? difficult?  a learning experience? glorious moments of fun encompassed by long droughts of sub-par? lonely?   I think I’ll stick with a necessary window of growth and maturing, or at least, that’s how I hope to pigeon-hole it in my memoir. 

This was my first summer away from home.  I know what you’re thinking, “Hils, you’re a little old to be homesick for one summer, don’t you think?”  And someone else drones on, “Like cha, didn’t you ever go to camp?”   And here’s what I tell you:  Don’t call me Hils.  You don’t know me!  Just kidding.  Call me whatever you want, except Frida (all unibrow jokes are a low blow).  I am a little old for a lot of things, like how happy riding a bicycle makes me or buying underwear in a package.  Get over it. Some things I will probably do forever, and I’m okay with keeping one foot in childhood for the rest of my life.  And it’s taken me until now to truly be okay, if not reassured, with the fact that I missed my family this summer.  I missed grilled burgers (food first), swimming, hearing about the carnival in my hometown that I never go to (because ferris wheels shouldn’t collapse to fit into a truck), watching The Price Is Right with my brothers, going to the zoo with my sister, helping my nieces ride bikes, singing in the kitchen with my whole family, and watching my Mom and Dad sip coffee on the deck.   I missed out on all of that this summer, and I’m glad I’m human enough to be homesick for it.  I’m also glad that it puts into perspective the reason I’m here.  It must be pretty darn important to miss out on all that.

Oh, and to you “campers.”  I went to camp twice, kind of.  The first time, I think I was nine.  I thought my mom didn’t pack my hairbrush, so I lived with a rat’s nest (worse than a bird’s) for a week, only to find the brush as I was packing up to go home.  I was also taller and fatter than the other campers my age.  I don’t know how that fits in here. 🙂

The second time, was Hoosier Girls State, in high school. Death. Torture. Tears.  Smelly campus. That’s what I think of this experience.  All I can say is, never volunteer to be the town crier (in charge of waking people up).  Everyone will hate you. Summary: camp isn’t all a found-my-lost-twin-starred-in-a-musical-or-took-down-a-fit-ben-stiller experience, okay?

Don’t have much to say about the second half of this title.  There’s a story there, but I’ll save it for another time.  Besides, my dedicated readers reader (hi, Mom!), already knows about it.

Image
First day of school! Someone named Hils believes in me! #SelfEncouragement

Memoir Title Brainstorm:

Everybody Farts, Except Me (And Other Lies)

The Book That No One Read Because ‘Twas Never Written

I’ll Never Be Good Enough For Pinterest

Made It (Having Never Pooped My Pants Past The Age of Thirteen)

Times When I Made Inappropriate Jokes

Times I Couldn’t Stop Laughing (at Funerals) / I Swear I’m Not A Jerk

I Was Here (And Other Beyonce Quotes)

No, Pepsi Is NOT Okay

The Month I Read Lucille Ball’s Wikipedia Page Everyday (and Other Months, Too)

Naming My Dog, And Other Bad Decisions

throwback thursday

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think about the sixties, the 1960’s that is, and I think about everyone and their mother smoking and drinking, pregnant or not.  How unusual.  How hilarious.  Thank goodness we don’t have something that embarrassing going on in the time we live, am I right?!  Then I remembered, I used to love to play with this metal container in the back seat of our van growing up.  It made a super annoying sound, and being the youngest child, I flipped it open and closed very often, sure to fulfill my role of aggravating little sister.  Now, it just hit me the other day what that silver container was.  It was an ashtray built into the backseat of the car, so, you know, everyone in the car can smoke with the windows up and not get ashes everywhere.  How hilarious.  How weird.  The only hope I have for this is that my neon t-shirts and stirrup pants will someday be looked upon with the same retro nostalgia of the Mad Men skirt suit. A girl can dream, and I do, often of dole whip and long hair of yesteryear…

Image

corn

Corn.  Also known as Indiana.  I am convinced that corn can do anything.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s look at the facts.

What’s delicious?  CORN!

What is a part of this country’s history?  CORN!

What can be any color depending on how long you leave it in the sun? CORN!

What can be milled to make delicious powder that mixes with eggs to make johnny cakes? CORN!

What can be made into fuel? CORN!

What’s the bad sugar you’re supposed to stay away from?  high fructose CORN! syrup.

What has its own band?  KoЯn!

What’s my favorite summer food? CORN!

What have I not had since being in California and refuse to pay for corn by the ear and not by the dozen?  CORN!

One day CORN! may rule the world. 

satisfaction, pt. 2

A few more small things that bring me satisfaction.

IMAG0544
EG and her cousin

6. BRUSHING MY DOG.  I know what you’re thinking, “I know!  I love brushing my dog, too!”  Calm down, okay? I don’t really like brushing my dog’s hair.  It’s annoying.  She flips around for the first five minutes, and I will inevitably be covered in hair afterwards.  But, my puppy, Estelle Getty, truly enjoys this, and I enjoy not having black lab hair everywhere.  Sometimes (lots of times) satisfaction blossoms out of things I have to choose to enjoy.

7. GOOD WORDS.  This could be the writer in me, but I love saying words that pop out of your mouth.  They don’t have to be fancy or remarkable in any way other than the way they sound.  Words like punctual, crisp, garbanzo, pustule, persnickety, or waffle are a few of my favorites.  In my defense, if I’m talking to you about a timely, stubborn pimple or eating bean waffles, it’s probably an excuse to use those words.

IMAG0546
Arizona’s dog (the food, you jerks)

8. EATING.  This could probably be the list.  Food is good and makes life good, too.  One spectacular food venture I engulfed recently was the Sonoran hot dog, or Arizona’s all-out attempt at a heart attack:  a hot dog covered in bacon with beans, onions, tomatoes, some sort of jalepeño sauce, and some sort of white sauce in a delicious bun.  LOTS of satisfaction with that one.

9. BEING OUTSIDE.  Man oh man.  Sometimes I think I (and everyone) forgets what gifts the great outdoors have to offer.  Whether I’m running, planking (that’s a joke), lazily biking, walking my dog, standing on the sidewalk (wish this were a joke), or soaking up the sun, the fresh air and calm sounds of being outside can instantly make the day better.  Not to mention, moving around always seems to make the day better.  No, that’s not me dancing in my room when it’s raining out. No…

10. PEOPLE.  Let’s be honest, sometimes people are jerks.  Sometimes I am one of those jerks.  But most of the time, with one-on-one interactions when you are positive, people are so cool.  From crazies who invite me to their 34th birthday party with a handwritten invitation after just meeting me (true story) to a best friend who makes you belly laugh, people are simply incredible.  I like to be alone, but I also love people!  And interacting with them, even the “crazies,” makes the day seem real and worth it and satisfying.

satisfaction, pt. 1 & throwback thursday

I’m content in never being satisfied.  Let me explain. Life moves, constantly.  At each victory, there is a new mountain, and this cycle is beautiful.  But it’s also tedious and daunting and exhausting. I think, then, that it’s important to savor the tiny moments of satisfaction peppered, or even hidden, in the daily.  These things make me feel accomplished when the bigger dreams are so far from complete, and they make the journey fun.

And let me just say this. I’m in my twenties, and this has made me think it’s entirely natural to feel discontent and far from where I think I need to be.  But I think I’m probably always going to feel a little like that no matter my age.  After all, this isn’t our final destination. It’s a gift to never be done, isn’t it?  I mean, in some ways taking that on, makes me more at rest and more satisfied than when I actually accomplish something I perceive to be huge.  Therefore, I’ve created a list, my friends, of daily things that give me, and I hope you, too, satisfaction.

1. AN EMPTY EMAIL INBOX.  This is an amazing feeling!  Note, you can find all of your unread emails by searching “is: unread” in gmail.  You’re welcome. Outlook is a different beast, and I’m not doing to dwell on my 82 unread emails lost somewhere in the recesses of the internet.  Surely, they’re just advertisements, right?

2. A NEW JAR OF PEANUT BUTTER.  You’ve got a new container of pb.  Congratulations! You now have enough goodness to last you a few weeks’ worth of PB&J’s (or PB&B(bananas)) if you’re hilly now, or you have enough creamy goodness to last you a single afternoon of Grey’s Anatomy if you’re hilly from freshman year of college.  Self control issues concerning the Kryptonite that is peanut butter aside, I think we can all agree that taking the first scoop out of a perfectly smooth surface of manufactured deliciousness is one of the true joys in life. For the record, I am fully supporting of you almond butter lovers out there, but you Nutella people, I think you’re getting greedy.

3. TEETH FLOSSING.  I understand a good deal of us don’t floss. Gross.  I used to be in that category.  Gross. We had to stick it to the dentist, right?  Wrong.  Let me tell you, flossing is one of the best, most satisfying parts of my day.  Yes, that’s right.  Flossing=good. Repeat.

4. LAUGHING.  I’m going to put this twice because I want to.  First, let’s talk about the physical act of laughing.  Laughing is completely satisfying.  It’s cathartic, it lightens everything, it makes you feel like you got a good ab workout in, etc..  When I heard about laugh therapy, I began a habit of taking a few minutes when I’m alone (I would suggest doing the same :)) and laughing.  This means fake laughing until something real comes along.  It’s actually really fun and silly and stupid, and who doesn’t like that combination.  Quiet down, robots.

5. LAUGHTER.  More abstractly, it feels good to be able to laugh at myself.  I do a lot of dumb stuff.  The person who stupidly cut you off in traffic or stood in the middle of the hallway doing nothing but unknowingly blocking your way or even the idiot who forgot to return a movie for a month and now owes twice the movie’s retail value? Those people are probably all me.  I don’t mean to do any of this, and it’s pretty easy to get angry at myself for being dumb.  But, I try, and I’m so happy when I succeed, to just laugh about it.  It’s harder with the traffic, but the hallway thing, that’s how I make a work buddy!  One that hates me to begin with, but hey, I’ll win them over.

These moments are affectionately referred to as “Bridget Jones” moments in the Miller household (possibly only by me). An example? I ordered a coffee named, “The Annihilator” this morning, and no joke, I said, “May I please have The Ann-hil… um the- this one,” having to resort to pointing after I botched the pronunciation of a simple word.  The barista helped me out; I explained that I can’t read, a joke that I gave a little to dryly, and now will never go to that coffee shop again for fear he will give me a pack of Biscuit books.  But the really special part, was how I laughed for five minutes afterwards about it.  I know I’m not actually dumb, I hope.  No, I’m not a genius, but hey, I like that I’m not.  I’m happy with that.  I played a spelling board game once, and one of my friends said that it was sad I couldn’t spell an “easy” word since I want to be a writer.  Well, guess what, I’ve never been good at spelling even though I read and write a lot, so give it a break.  Give yourself a break.  I’ll give you a break.  I want a kit-kat.  This is getting off topic.  The point is, laughing at yourself is a relief, and it’s one that I hope to share, not in a cruel way, but with compassion, to everyone I meet.  We’re going to mess up, and it’s okay.  It’s okay to be you, even if you’re a decently smart, bad spelling, peanut butter loving laugher like me, and it’s okay if you’re not any of those things.  I’m glad I’m me, and I’m glad you’re you, and I’m glad to have little moments of satisfaction for us all to enjoy.

Image
sometimes winning a matrix competition is as satisfying as it gets