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.”


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.”)

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

Sad Friday Night Texts

It took me seven seconds to find the “Add New Post” button. Seven seconds! That’s the amount of time it takes to craft a decent tweet.

(This is a lie, of course. What a blessed moment it is when a decent tweet takes only seven seconds.)

Oh, gosh. Two paragraphs in, and I’m already qualifying every word I say. I should have started with “Hello! My name is Hilly, in case you forgot, and I write the saddest Friday night texts.”

I’ve never been a big Friday person. I’ve never been a party person. Even low-key activities aren’t my jam. I mean, they are, but they should be saved for a night when you aren’t walking like a torso connected to two partially-drained Gusher tubes. (That was my attempt at saying “tired” without actually saying it. How’d I do?)

At home, on a Friday night, even though I don’t want to be (and sometimes decline to be) other places, can get a little lonely. It’s not that I feel lonely, but somehow the most Josie Geller of texts are sent from my phone. You’d think I was finishing my fifteenth needlepoint pillow. (Actually, I’m crocheting and organizing my closet, thank you very much.)

Fine! Fine! I’ll show you the evidence. Quiet down, already.

These are five kinds of texts you might get from me on a Friday night:


1. Netflix updates:
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2. Slob clothing purchases:


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Lots of “also” going on here.

3. Million dollar ideas:

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Jill and Katie often get the brunt of my sad Friday texts.

4. Kirk Cameron news (a subcategory of “Netflix updates”):

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Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 8.29.21 PMI’d like to think I deserve a spot in Gryffindor for admitting to four Kirk Cameron movies in one week.

5. Options for the night’s activities:

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catching fire, feel the flame

That’s an epic title, am I right?

This Thursday evening I had the profound pleasure of seeing Catching Fire, but this wasn’t just any Catching Fire experience.  This. Was. SO COOL.

I got out of class at 10.  Night class, am I right?

We get to the Chinese Theatre at 11.  We transform into mega-Hunger Games fans at approximately 11:05.  Right around here.


Let the ridiculousness begin!  The ridiculousness was spectacular. The movie was spectacular.  Jennifer Lawrence was spectacular.

I mean, the Chinese Theatre, am I right? Okay, I’ll stop.


The last time I went to the Chinese Theatre I saw Gravity, or in the words of Jill: “We WERE Gravity.”

This time was just as magical.  Also, seeing movies with good friends, like my Italian Rachel is magical, am I right? Last one, I swear.  Check out Rach’s silly face and Jill’s neck below. Oh, and Peeta.  That’s all.


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:

up and a way-cool friend

May I just share with you how much I love Up, the movie?  Okay, good.  I love the movie, Up.
I remember standing on the hardwood floors of my kitchen, helping my mom load the dishwasher, telling her the story of Up.  And I cried.  I really cried telling the story back to her.  She may have cried, too, actually.  And you know what part got us?  No, not when Russell squeaks across the blimp’s glass. Good guess, though.

russell slides

You know what part I’m talking about.


I love Up because it’s about life’s adventures, and how they’re never quite how you first dream them.  Mostly because they’re so much better than that.  I love Up because it’s about having a purpose and friends no matter what age you are.  I love Up because it’s about never being too late to make a change, to go after that old adventure, or to find a new one.

I also love Up because I saw it first, in 3-D, with one of my very best friends, one of my Rachels: the Italian one.  (I have two Rachels.  I love them both dearly (which means I will owe my Norwegian Rachel a post), and I don’t think they know that I call them “my Rachels.” Oh, well)
Why do I love my Italian Stallion (Rachel)?  Where to begin?  I think it’s necessary to point out the fact that no matter how many times I make a donkey’s heiney out of myself, Rachy loves me anyway.  I’m the Carl Frederickson to her Russell.  Although if I’m being honest, I’m probably the Doug to her Kevin.

The first time I met Rach (that I remember), I was in the seventh grade, and I immediately accused her of being in the Italian Mafia.  I’m pretty sure I wrote something about it in her birthday card that year, a birthday I was late for, no doubt.  In fact, I believe for three years in a row, Rachel called me to see if I was coming to her birthday party that started three hours earlier, which, of course, I was.  I just was in my pajamas acting like I had forgotten all about it.  I’m a really good actor.
The moment I knew my Italian sista was a bosom friend and kindred spirit had to be at some point in the eight grade, when we became Australian Olympic Sports Reporters at the lunch table.  So obviously, Rachel and I tied for homecoming princess the next year.
Rachel and I have gone on many adventures together: seen in these blessedly preserved school projects (1 & 2).  And now, she is my neighbor.  Wooo!!  The kind of neighbor that lives an hour away, but still, wooo! She’s the kind of neighbor that brings homemade pineapple salsa to your pool party.

I could go on about Rachel, about how she is a brilliant little artist, and is going to USC for a Master’s in Architecture!  Get it, girl!  Or I could tell you about the time I was looking through old pictures and found a little girl that looked an awful lot like her at my fifth birthday party.  (It was her.)

Or I could say, “thanks for the adventure, Rachel” but that makes me sound like I’m dying (the depressed reader just said: “we all are”) . Maybe I’ll just say, “Adventure is out there!”  And add I’m so glad I have my “girl who doesn’t make me want to hurl” to share them with.  This sounds really sweet in my head because the song from Up is playing (bah-dat-dah-durrr-bat-dat-dah-durrrr-bah-dat-dahhhh-bah-dat-dahhh-dah-durrr)