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Memoir

Sweet Nothings

Happy Holidays, Yo

Requisite holiday snapshot of the husband and me

Requisite holiday snapshot of the husband and me

It’s that time of year again. Time to pose in goofy photo booths at holiday parties, drink too much eggnog, cry about all the weight that will inevitably be gained from said eggnog, and then eat an entire gingerbread house to cheer one’s self up. Yup, that’s pretty much where I’m at right now. Except, when I’m not stifling my cries with gingerbread, I’m actually feeling damn grateful for this past year, and — to top that off — I don’t think I’ve ever felt so excited to embark on a new one.

I had the tremendous privilege of working on two straight-to-series television shows in 2015, and have learned from/idolized some amazing writers and producers along the way — the kinds of people who push me to be better and whose talent makes me aspire to things I never knew possible. 2015 has been a year chock-full-o’ humbling challenges and just enough accomplishments to make it all feel worthwhile, and I know 2016 will keep up a similar pace. In fact, I go to Canada in the beginning of the year to start shooting an exciting new show for USA. I can’t wait to tell you a little bit about it, but before that I can’t wait to hear about your holiday plans… Mine will include catching up with family, soaking in time with the hubby and pup, and weaning off eggnog. How about you? xoxo

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Love

Cinnamon and Soderbergh

Two goofballs in Laguna Beach, feeling just as giddy as the day they met

Two goofballs in Laguna Beach, feeling just as giddy as the day we {err, “they”} met

The Halloween to Thanksgiving stretch always feels extra special to me, because it marks when my sweet and I first met and began courtin’ (as some of the old-fashioned Southerners I was friendly with at the time called it). Right about now marks the fifth anniversary of that super-nostalgic feeling for me, and whenever I breathe in the crisp air of fall I can’t help thinking about my husband’s and my first date in a Mexican cantina, where we sat on the patio for hours, had a Diet Coke drinking contest, debated the merits of Soderbergh films, and I proceeded to question him relentlessly about every last piece of minutia of his work and personal dreams. It’s crazy to think that since then we’ve both quit drinking Diet Coke and moved halfway across the country from that cozy patio. But, funnily enough, our new home is right up the street from a Mexican restaurant by the same name as that Austin-based cantina, and each year since we’ve been in Los Angeles my husband has brought home takeout carnitas on the anniversary of our first date.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to bask in all the memories that Mexican takeout and chai-spice lattes conjure up, while I soak in fleeting sunsets and experience what little glimpses of fall Southern California has to offer. Now that I think of it, enjoying the nostalgic powers of seasonal smells and cinnamon-filled drinks is yet another great way to beat the Daylight-Savings blues. What do you think?

Psst: After chowing down on carnitas takeout, we took a three-day vacation in Laguna Beach to celebrate the anniversary of our “meet cute” last weekend. It was so nice to take a little time off from work and stroll by the seashore whenever we pleased, especially since our wedding anniversary this year was so low-key (and very work-filled). Is there a special way you like to celebrate anniversaries? Do you like alternating between keeping it laid-back and doing full-blown celebrations, or do you like to stick to routines and very specific traditions each year? Leave a comment.

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Inspiring Tidbits

Coffee Black, Paperwhite

Paperwhites in full bloom, which now fill our kitchen

Paperwhites in full bloom, which now fill our kitchen

Whenever I set goals or try to gain a fresh perspective on life, I find myself torn between comfortable routines and an itching desire to push myself outside this safe zone of “knowns.” I guess the key is simply finding a balance between the familiar and the foreign — establishing just enough creature comforts and stability in our lives to give us the strength we need to try new things and challenge ourselves. It is so hard to remember this, though, since I am someone who admittedly lives for extremes and absolutes, but it’s funny how much I notice the validity of this whole balance thang as my husband and I turn our house into a home. The more sweat-producing chores we tackle and the more I get into routines in my personal life, the better equipped I feel to face unpredictable work weeks or venture into horrifying traffic in unfamiliar parts of our new city. Perhaps our homes, routines and creature comforts are merely a foundation for the bold adventures we’re all destined for as humans, but one thing is certain: both the familiar and the foreign are very necessary parts of a fulfilled life.

One such comfort in my recent world is the smell of paperwhite blossoms that has filled our whole house for the past month (thanks to a little planning and planting back in December). The aroma of these bulb flowers reminds me so vividly of New England winters from my childhood, and — even though I was never a big fan of this plant’s strong smell — I now can’t help loving the scent and the way it makes my home of the present feel connected to the homes and snow days of the past, which are decades and continents away. This simple pleasure is so grounding, and I’m going to make a conscious effort to draw strength from things like it more often as I attempt to strike a balance between the bold and bitty — the black, white, and new…What has been comforting or challenging you lately? Leave a comment.

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Love

Fly By Yearly

The kiss that sealed our marriage just one year ago

The smiles that followed

The even-bigger smiles that followed

And then there was giddiness for days and lifetimes to come…

Tomorrow my sweet and I celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I am still trying to wrap my head around exactly what this milestone means to me – on one hand if feels as though our wedding was just a few weeks ago, but on the other hand it’s hard to fathom that all the events of the last year took place within the span of just 365 days. Maybe I will have a better grasp on this whizzing, whirring motion of time in a few weeks, once I’ve let it all sink in, or maybe I’ll remain dumbfounded by clocks and calendars for many years to come…My love and I are taking off for the weekend to an as-yet-undisclosed seaside town, where I hope to get in lots of relaxation and reflection. I can’t wait to share photos from this mystery spot with you next week! Leave a comment.

Photos by Clayton Austin Love Stories.

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Sweet Nothings

Sisters

Although we no longer team up to dig my mom’s car out of the snow every winter and pelt each other with snowballs, my sisters are an ever-present part of me

I’m taking a quick trip back to Massachusetts to attend my cousin’s wedding this summer, and I’m already giddy with excitement about the time I’ll get to spend with my sisters… Sisterhood is such a precious and funny thing. You go through childhood both hating and loving each other fiercely, and if you’re lucky you escape into your adult years as friends. You get your sense of loyalty and morality from each other, and you first learn from one another the oh-so-painful lesson of what it means to hurt the feelings of someone you truly love. For this reason, there is absolutely no point in pretending around sisters – they know exactly who you are in your ugliest moments, and you have no choice but to be hopelessly honest and flawed around each other. Maybe that’s why I feel so serene in the few days I get to spend with my sisters each year – they know I’m ridiculous and far from perfect, yet they love me anyway. There’s such a strange peace in that, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting on a porch playing cards with these two gals while making fun of anything and everything on the planet…

Oh, how infatuated I was with my middle sister when she was a wee baby (little did I know what a firecracker she would grow up to be, and that she would actually teach me many things)

My youngest sister was and still is such a little, blonde bundle of energy (who ironically now towers over our family – in the photo below my middle sister and I are wearing heels to make up for this height injustice)

My sisters made my wedding day feel so incredibly special, and I only hope I can return the favor somehow by the time we’re old ladies playing cards on a porch

Psst: Do you have siblings? Do you feel that they’ve shaped you into the person you are today as much as I feel mine have? Leave a comment.

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Sweet Nothings

Nostalgic For Yesterday

My sweet and I celebrating one of 2012's milestones (outside Michael Mina in Las Vegas)

I’ve been thinking about the passing of time a lot lately, and it has dawned on me that just about every month it feels like my husband and I are celebrating an old or new milestone. At first this thought makes me laugh and joke about how self-important we are for treating each tiny life event like a national holiday, but when I ponder this a little harder I realize how vital it is to approach our own lives and loves with a sense of reverence. This is because little celebrations and anniversaries have the power to make us really conscious of how we’re living in the here and now, not to mention the power to make us appreciative of what we have. For example, it suddenly struck me that this time last year my sweet and I were driving across the country to move into corporate housing in Burbank, CA. There were so many uncertainties back then – would we like Los Angeles, or would we go crawling back to Texas with our tails between our legs, or would one of us just commit a murder/suicide and be done with all the stress for good? These questions eventually answered themselves (bonus: there were no murder/suicides in our household), and when I think about everything that transpired at this time last year I feel empowered about the days of summer ahead of me now…

So many things happened last year between our move in June and our wedding in August, and this is making the tasks currently on my plate feel so much more doable by comparison. This is to say: upcoming deadlines may be tight, but remembering all that I was able to accomplish in the summer months of 2011 makes me determined to not let time helplessly slip by…Isn’t it funny how acknowledging a simple milestone can bring about so much perspective? All this nostalgia is also reminding me of how important it is to keep making time for a personal life while toiling away to achieve work goals. For this reason, I’m dead set on creating even more tiny anniversaries this summer, and I’m excited to find new ways to celebrate every last inch of my memory over the coming year. Maybe this means that when my beloved and I are 80 we’ll be celebrating a milestone a minute, but I couldn’t imagine a better or more-grateful way to live…

Maybe it's the goofy expressions and windswept hair, but I feel we look somehow strikingly young in this photo taken exactly one year ago in White Sands, NM

Psst: The title of this post was inspired by Noah Baumbach’s indie comedy “Kicking and Screaming” (1995). In this flick, the character Max muses, “I’m nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday. I’ve begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I’m reminiscing this right now; I can’t go to the bar because I’ve already looked back on it in my memory, and I didn’t have a good time.” Just figured I’d share a bit of Baumbach’s humor with you on this fine Tuesday…Are you feeling nostalgic about anything in particular today? Leave a comment.

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Love, Sweet Nothings

Fruit and Labor

Coveted fruit picker and Sunday's crop of oranges from our backyard

For the past month and a half, the cruelest joke of my husband’s existence has been a giant orange tree in our backyard that is so tall its fruit is virtually impossible to pick. None of the branches hang low enough for even his long arms to reach them from atop a ladder, and when the fruit finally drops it falls such a long distance that its skin splits open upon impact and becomes instant ant bait. We have been so preoccupied with other house tasks since our move-in day, which has meant putting my love’s quest for fresh oranges on hold for a while. However, I have not forgotten about this quest (if for no other reason than that he hasn’t let me), and each day I’ve caught my husband staring longingly out the window and sighing with the complete non-sequitur of “Such a shame, isn’t it?” This weekend he finally decided enough was enough, declared a holiday from home improvements, and returned from the hardware store with a giant fruit picker in place of the paint can he went there for. I then proceeded to watch him roam our yard with this wonky, clawed contraption, and couldn’t help marveling at the giant, devious grin that remained plastered across his face throughout his mission.

Seeing the simple yet scheming joy this brought my husband made me feel quirkily domesticated – in fact, I’m pretty sure John Cheever once wrote a short story about our lives. You know the one — about the wife who sat in a lawn chair slathering herself with sunscreen while her husband repelled off ledges in search of oranges, which later would become a key ingredient in the couple’s blue-ribbon-winning Old Fashionds at an alcoholic county fair…Not so long ago, this  Cheeveresque quality to our off hours would have disturbed me to no end – after all, my 20-something self detested backyards and thought weekends were solely for partying. But, now that I’m a tad older and work longer hours, I realize how ill-fitted the “work hard/play hard” model has always been for me. This is to say: I now know that the quality of our personal lives cannot be measured in guest books signed or extreme sports tackled – rather, a more accurate measurement is the way we allow ourselves to love, be loved, and indulge in whatever ridiculous creature comforts make us feel like children again. These simple and mundane creature comforts may seem staid through the eyes of some, but I think they’re actually an important part of the texture of our human lives…The proverbial “they” are always saying “it’s the little things” after all, and – judging by the way zinc oxide, wide-brimmed hats, and citrus-filled days felt this weekend – I’m inclined to agree. Leave a comment.

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Love

Three Zero

My love and me captured by the lens of Clayton Austin

Just three years ago today (on October 30, 2008), my husband and I had our first date on the patio of a sleepy cantina in Austin, Texas. We talked about Soderbergh movies, had a Diet-Coke-drinking contest, and I decided then and there that I wanted to know this handsome guy forever. By some crazy stroke of good fortune, he made the very same decision about me on that creaky wood patio, and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world because I get to know him a little bit more every day for the rest of our lives. It won’t always be as easy to know each other as it is now, and I would be lying if I said this didn’t scare the shit out of me. But, a wise person once told me no dream is worth having unless it scares you a little. I guess this scariness (of the mysterious future, the hard work, and the backaches it will likely take to support one another in the years when our batting averages aren’t so stellar) is really just a small price to pay in order to live out the dream of knowing my dearest friend for all eternity.

Psst: The above photo is part of a love story that was shot by the infinitely talented Clayton Austin back in May of 2011. Would you like to see more snippets from this photographic love story? Leave a comment.

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Sweet Nothings

Complementary Colors

Blueberry-topped frozen yogurt beside the orange tulips now adorning my apartment with happy memories

My best friend from childhood once decorated her college dorm room in vibrant blues and oranges. From the moment this sea of complementary colors enveloped her room, she wondered aloud whether the oil-pastel drawings covering the walls and swaths of patterned, Indian fabrics draping the bed and windows would make her dizzy with the way the hues buzzed off each others’ surfaces. But, I loved everything about them and came to associate orange and blue with my home away from home. I would take Amtrak to visit her for long weekends on her campus, which was just outside New York City, and we would stay up far too late listening to piano-driven pop music and talking about art, what little we knew of love, and our dreams. Everything about our futures seemed so limitless back then, and – the funny thing is – merely thinking about this friend’s pastel drawings and our endless conversations makes my future feel similarly boundless even now. It’s amazing how there are certain times and certain people throughout our lives that push us more than others to achieve our dreams. Sometimes this is very intentional, but sometimes it’s just the way they naturally compliment us that makes the difference.

As my husband and I filled our very blue apartment with orange tulips this weekend (in honor of Halloween), I could not help recalling my dear friend and her old room of complimentary colors. I was transported back to the days of taking Chinatown buses into Manhattan, roaming art galleries, buying paperback books on street corners, and sifting through the still-too-expensive “discount” racks at SoHo boutiques. I thought of the time when – even though my feet were killing me and my stomach was aching for dinner – she convinced me to walk through the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur for the first time. I wonder how many years I would have gone without seeing this magical room of Egyptian pools if it hadn’t been for her energy and insistence that night, and I feel so grateful for her artistry, all those philosophical conversations we shared amidst her orange-and-blue dorm walls long ago, and the ways she pushes me and believes in me to this day…Have there been people like this in your life who make your oranges more orange, blues more blue, and you more you? Leave a comment.

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Love

Sleeping Together

Ah, the romantic notion of hearts that sleep in tandem

The act of sleeping beside our beloveds is almost always more romantic in our minds than in reality. This is because what begins so elegantly with heads resting on chests, heartbeats echoing in ears, and arms draping over stomachs, so often ends with wriggle-kicking, sweaty limbs, blanket stealing, and someone getting punched in the eye or stabbed in the derriere with a toenail. My ideas of what it would be like to share a bed with my husband after our move to California were similarly over-romanticized not only in that I had the faulty impression that blanket hogging would not exist in the golden state that introduced the world to California king mattresses, but in that I made the crazy assumption that my love and I would actually go to bed and wake up beside one another at the same time. You see, we’d spent much of our relationship commuting long distances for work and cherishing the few nights out of every week that we were able to fall asleep in the same state (let alone beneath the same covers), so I couldn’t imagine any scenario in which we’d take a single night at home together for granted. This is to say, I kinda didn’t think about the fact that my hubby is perpetually flying out the door at the crack of dawn so he can take European conference calls and I’m almost religiously staying up until 4 a.m. writing.

Old habits die hard, right? “Wrong, wrong, wrong!” I kept telling myself. There simply had to be a way I could reset my body clock so my spouse and I could sleep at the same time and steal the same covers, and I was particularly determined to institute this circadian-rhythm reset over the course of this past week. I’m not quite sure what prompted this sleep-schedule Nazi to come out in me, but starting on Monday night I crawled into bed at the same time as my hubby, determined to reap all the spoils of snuggling each other into slumbers and haunting one another’s dreams. This sounds so lovely, doesn’t it? I’m sure it felt very romantic and cute to my husband at first, too, until 3 a.m. came around and I was still tossing and turning – my eyes wide open and sleepless, alternating between staring at him like a stalker and hiding under the sheets with my glowing phone to write down story ideas. This pattern repeated itself throughout the week, until last night when my nocturnal-writer’s brain couldn’t take it anymore. After my husband fell asleep, I crawled out of bed and into our living room, where I proceeded to write at my laptop until some ungodly hour in complete darkness – yeah, that’s right, I was under the impression that my evening wanderings somehow wouldn’t count as long as I didn’t turn on the lights.

So, it was in pitch blackness that I eventually attempted to make it back to our bedroom and walked right into our television on the way. A THUNK and an epic CRACK echoed throughout our apartment, followed by an enormous GASP from me and a bunch of loud mispronunciations of every word in the urban dictionary. I was not injured and no heavy electrical parts went shattering to the floor, but this was nonetheless a dire situation when you consider the fact that our TV is one of those mammoth flat screens that threatens to never have the same picture quality after just one thumbprint graces its surface. And, here I was with my clammy body pancaked against the very same screen that had been staring me down for months saying, “You touch me, you die, bitch.” With these death threats ringing in my mind, I turned on every possible light and scrambled to examine the damage from a bunch of odd angles. By some miracle I still don’t understand, I could not see a single smudge on the screen, but the lamps in our apartment were not nearly this invisible and my husband eventually raced out of our bedroom to see what all these curse words and blinding lights were about. He had every right to scream at me and berate me for scaring him half to death, but he just arched an eyebrow at my crouching form and craned-neck until I finally admitted that I suspected I’d broken our TV. Without even glancing at the television, he helped my sleep-deprived body off the floor, rested a hand on my shoulder, and said, “It’ll be okay.” And, you know what? It was and is – the television, my outbursts, and our peculiar sleeping schedules that I’ll probably never fix are all okay…

Love is not always about whom we share our beds with, after all. Sometimes it’s just about the hands that cup our shoulders at 4 in the morning, the eyes that patiently inspect non-existent smudges on TV screens, and the voices that say everything’s going to be all right.

Psst: For any inquiring minds, I should note that my TV is fine, smudge-free, and no longer issuing death threats (at least not for the time being)…I will be back to my fledgeling dating column next week – I just had an uncontrollable urge to share this anecdote with you today and ran with it. Hope you don’t mind. Do you have any silly stories of hogging covers, sleepwalking, or smudging TVs? Share away, and have a fabulous weekend! Leave a comment.

Photo from Keltie Colleen via Pinterest.

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