Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#HumpDayHappy: Fuego Box + Making Shit Happen



I am continually blown away by my friend Mike McAdams, the man behind Drinkwel and Lyteshow - the two products that have been saving me from rough Sunday mornings since they came on the market. That same genius is now bringing you FUEGO BOX - your hot sauce of the month subscription service. I say your because you need this in your life. I didn't know this until I moved to California, but hot sauce makes everything better. But today's #HDH is not just a product recommendation; it's a celebration of someone who has an idea and makes that idea happen. Not once or twice, but three times in his life, so far. That's something to celebrate.

From their website:

Fuego Box was created by a guy who went down the hot sauce rabbit hole . It started with an early Tapatío obsession and advanced with the likes of Cholula, Crystal, and Sriracha. After that, things really got crazy... bhut jolokia and african fatalii peppers; locally harvested, hand-bottled hot sauces; and unique and delicious flavors that go with just about every kind of food.

In a nutshell, Fuego Box wants to bring emerging hot sauces that you've probably never heard of to your hot sauce shelf (you have one, right?). No need for you to go down the hot sauce rabbit hole; we already took the trip and came back with some damn fine sauces. We always focus on flavor over 'ass-burning heat' and avoid gimmicky hot sauces like the plague. So go ahead, place an order and get ready for the world's best hot sauces to come a-knockin'!

From me:  
Christmas is practically tomorrow. Order this for every food-lover on your list, including yourself. Then do some research into the first thing you need to do to make your big idea a reality. 
(Note: this is not a paid or gifted endorsement).  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How To Edit a 94-Page Book Proposal, I Hope


I have spent the past two weeks editing a 101-page book proposal that is now 94 pages because I often don't know how to say things in less than a 36-word run-on sentence.

Because of this I have no other thoughts inside my brain beyond how to edit a book proposal because if I stray for just a second from this beast of a task I will fall into a black hole of searching for the perfect gold lame pants on Polyvore.com and never return (but if you find them will you please send me a link? I really, really need them, I think). Here is how I'm surviving:

You HAVE to break it up into chunks - The morning after I got notes on the first draft of my proposal (and by first I mean fifth), I broke those notes into a series of categories so I could tackle certain things on certain days. For example one category was called, "Make me cry more," aka an entire pass of the proposal focused on upping the ante on the emotion. I called another category, "No more crappy dialogue," and used that to review all the dialogue to make sure it sounded like real people and not people inside Lifetime original movies. There was also a "Copy edit" category that was broken into a second series of chunks by page (pages 1-20, 20-40, etc.). Every day I pick a different chunk or three from the list. This helps diversify the work and keeps me organized about what needs to get done.

You HAVE to give yourself incentives - I picked three kinds of incentives because I need just that much push to get the work done. The first is food-based: if I work for two hours straight without going online I can have a delicious snack from my goodie bag of delicious snacks (aka super dark chocolate bars from Trader Joe's and any baked goods from The Larder at Burton Way). My second incentive is bigger, and I only get it if I complete the work I want to get done for the whole day. That is obviously TV, specifically Rehab Addict on HGTV and/or hours lip-synching my favorite episodes of Sex & the City. And finally, the big prize. If I turn the proposal in on time, I get a facial at Face Haus, the new quickie skincare spot that just opened on 3rd Street (note: I give this to myself, the people at Face Haus have no idea this is going on...yet).

If It's Going Really Poorly, You HAVE to Walk Away - Some people compare writing to working out, and they say that if you get stuck you have to push through even harder just like you would at minute 25 on the elliptical when the Moth podcast you're listening to is over and you just want to get off and do the bike. I disagree. Just start on the bike and then you don't have to worry about ending up there because you're weak! Relative to writing, if I push myself when things are a mess, things get worse and then I really don't want to open that document back up the next day. I say take a breather (a walk, a 15-min snooze, a delightful YouTube video). You're a writer not a triathlete on purpose.

You Can't Cancel ALL Your Plans - If you get too marred in this whole thing you'll get angry and bitter. Some might argue that angry, bitter people make the best writers, but they make lousy spouses, family members and friends so it's really a choice. I pull way back on the breakfasts and lunches when I'm on a deadline like this one, but I try to keep plans in the evening. It motivates me to get my work done earlier, and it gives me something to look forward to, aka alcohol.

You REALLY Shouldn't Be Reading Another Book While Editing Your Own - I'm in the middle of Wild, which I read at night before I go to bed and during the day when things are going really poorly with my own writing. In theory I should be inspired by the gorgeous work of Cheryl Strayed and infuse that brilliance into my own writing. In practice I just end up inserting long sections of copy that sound nothing like me and everything like Cheryl, which would be fine if it was throughout my whole proposal and not just in random chunks.

And there you have it...from a baby book proposal writer with a wildly unhealthy reliance on incentives, at least. If this all works out I'll re-publish this post with the new title: How To Edit a 94-Page Book Proposal, I Now Know. Until then, feel free to send me better tips!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

#HumpDayHappy: I've reduced my morning beauty products from 17 to 7



A few weeks ago I wrote a post about finally gaining the confidence to go make-up free thanks to a great skin-care regimen. I stopped wearing a ton of concealer, foundation and blush around that time to keep my skin nice and clean. Then I browsed through the J. Crew Holiday catalog and realized that no one wears make-up anymore (yes, no one that is a world class model, but why not aim high and follow that lead). As a result (of sheer copying J. Crew models) I am proud to report that I have reduced the number of skin-care, make-up and even hair products I use on a daily basis from 17 (not a fake number) to 7 (also real). I am embarrassed to list he 17, but here are the 6*!
  • Hair - Moroccan Oil Smoothing Lotion - If I'm actually styling my hair I'll throw hair spray in after I do a little blow-dry and curling wand action, but if it's just a let it flow and go day, this is all I now need.  I get mine at Planet Beauty.
  • Face Moisture - Murad Essential C Day Moisturizer - Found this light but totally hydrating option thanks to a Sephora sample. It's pricey, but you don't need a ton, and it's fine for year-round use, not just the dry winter months. 

  • Bronzer - Sephora Collection Bronzer - All I need for all-day color. Also, up until three months ago I didn't know that I was applying bronzer like an idiot. Here is how you're supposed to do it. Thank you, Internet.

  • Mascara - Maybelline Great Lash Mascara - I use this because it is the exact mascara my mom used when I was growing up, and I can't bring myself to switch. If I want a more va-va-voom eye for evening I'll use something intense like Covergirl Lash Blast but for every day it's my trusty hot pink and green wand.  
  • Lip - Maybelline Baby Lips in Peach Kiss - They're not kidding. This product literally gives you the lips of a baby. It comes in a bunch of colors, but I like the simple Peach Kiss for every day. 
Of course this doesn't include getting dressed up. For that I go crazy with the primer, concealer, smokey eye, giant lashes, and I rock this pitch perfect lipstick from Nars that costs more than my dinner entree. But just think of all the money I'm saving on everything else...R...

Happy Stocking Stuffer (for yourself...) Shopping!

*This is not a sponsored post. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

All I Want For Christmas: 2014 Edition


Yes, this marks two, season-specific listicals in two weeks, but the annual Christmas list post (which only happened once before, and in 2011) is an incredibly important element of this blog.

My real Christmas list went out to my Mom via e-mail on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, as requested, so that she and my sisters could reference it during their Black Friday shopping. This is a modified list in case any of you out there slash the universe will also be leaving a little something for me under the Christmas tree.

    1. These gold pants from J. Crew - I don't want anyone in my life to buy these pants for me nor do I ever intend to buy these pants for myself (unless they magically cost $29.99). I just want a wealthy, anonymous benefactor to drop them on my doorstep because I believe they will totally transform my life.

    2. A piano - I think that if we had a piano in the apartment I would re-teach myself how to play it as a lovely respite from long hours of writing, and subsequently write for long hours. I also envision very fancy cocktail parties where I would delight my guests with swingin' Jazz standards and Billy Joel songs. While a keyboard may be more affordable, it is not nearly as cool.
    3. So many Flash Tattoos - I know these metallic temp tats are so popular now that they're no longer popular, but I still love them, and want lots and lots. 

    4. For The Staircase to be available On Demand! Once Serial is over I don't know what I'm going to do with myself (said everyone at your Thanksgiving table). Everyone that has seen The Staircase says, "you're going to watch The Staircase," but as far I can tell it is not available On Demand or on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon, etc.

    5. To find my perfect scent - I'm always struck by a person who smells the same every time you see them, and incredible. I'm prone to switching between various perfumes that I don't really love. I believe there are companies that help with this - one of them may or may not be Le Labo? - but I have no idea what that kind of opportunity costs. I will look into this unless the same wealthy, anonymous benefactor wants to give that too.

    6. For Jenny Slate to be in all the movies, forever - I was about as obsessed with OBVIOUS CHILD as one can get with a movie. I've long thought that Jenny Slate could be a mega star. I hear rumor that Hollywood is catching up, but I'm putting it on my X-mas list just in case. 

    7. To take Sunday Night Sex Talks to three new cities this year! This is already in the works but I'm trying to give it the same extra good vibes I'm giving Jenny Slate's career.

    8. Really fantastic long bangs - It's never going to happen because of my half-curly, half-straight hair and the mean cowlick I'm rocking at the absolute least convenient spot, but if The Santa Clause is any indication, Christmas miracles can come true, and David Krumoltz can really turn a career around.

    9. A felt, floppy hat - I'm not entirely sure what style, but I want to look like one of these celebrities, and I want it to be maroon.



    10. To finish my very first novel - If things continue to go the way they're going, there is a world in which 2015 will feature me finishing not one but two novels! I don't want to jinx it (plus simply typing that possibility just made me break out into a cold sweat) so I'll leave it at one and hope for the best, from Santa.

    What's on your X-mas list this year? And by that I mean, what should I be adding to mine? 

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

    Things To Be Thankful For 2014 Edition


    Another year, another incredible list of things that make the third Thursday of the month more than just an excuse to eat a piece of every single dessert available and none of the veggies. This year has been especially full of joy. Here's what I very specifically thankful for:

    • FaceTime! - Now that I've entered the 21st century with the iPhone 6 I can actually use its coolest feature. Being 3K miles away from home is never easy, but jumping on a video chat to show off the fact that my puppy can now do High Five! makes it a little bit more bearable. 
    • 89.3 KPPC - I have low to medium grade road rage (fine, severe), but when I'm listening to the NPR station broadcasting out of Pasadena Community College, I'm slightly more at ease. I credit the smooth voice of Alex Cohen for 75% of that ease. I hope my monthly donation goes straight to her wallet.
    • Free samples at Sephora!It's like they don't want you to ever have to actually buy the product! Try the GlamGlow next time you're in. You'll end up buying it, but only after they start looking at you sideways when you ask for your fourth sample in a month.
    • The Larder at Burton Way - My life improved ten-fold the minute a cafe opened less than two blocks away from our apartment. It's almost like I live in New York. Go there and do not leave until you've eaten one of their homemade Nutter Butters.
    • TSA Pre Check! - As of yesterday R and I have officially entered the keep-your-shoes-on club! $85 for FIVE YEARS of skipping that miserable line. What are you waiting for? (Sorry if it's, for your criminal record to clear...)
    • Commiseration/camaraderie - It hasn't been an easy year career-wise, but I have gotten closer and closer to the incredible friends in my life willing to share in that struggle with their honesty. Sometimes this is a town of, "Yeah! everything is amazing! You?" I'm grateful for all the people in my life that say, "Ugh! Shit's miserable! You?"
    • My HUSBAND - This year I have a husband, and given how it's going I hope I have him for the rest of my Thanksgiving days (to be clear that was always the plan). Husbands are wonderful for so many reasons, but mine is particularly amazing because he lets me know how grateful he is for me/us every day. Also, he plugs in my electric toothbrush when he thinks it might need a charge so I never lose power half-way through my brush. #Keeper
    • And last but not least, LOUIE, OUR PUPPY - I can't describe all the joy he's brought to life, and that's not just when he's wearing that cute-as-all-heck Turkey-print bow tie you see featured above. Louie has been the most rewarding challenge of my life to date, and I've done Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred, twice
     Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours!

    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    French People Don't Get Stressed


    I was chatting with a friend this morning about stress - how much I have...why I have so much...where exactly it lives in my stomach...how soon I'm bound to pop and ulcer... The things you talk about over most 9am coffee conversations.

    But this friend is smarter than most friends.

    "This reminds me of how Americans deal with medicine versus the French," she said. "In America you go to the doctor, tell them you're feeling X, Y or Z and they give you a pill for that problem. In France you present those same complaints and the doctor says, 'interesting...have you considered spending a day at the spa?'"

    I know, I know... And French Women Don't Get Fat and Bringing Up Bebe should be the bible on parenting, and Paris trumps Manhattan every time...

    I'm not saying that the French know all, I'm saying that our culture doesn't value or care for the body like other cultures, and not just the French.

    Drive down any street in L.A.'s Korean town and you'll see jam-packed parking lots at the half-dozen or so spas. In Korean, in fact, the word used to describe spending a day at the spa best translates to the English term, "working out." They consider time at the spa as important as time at the gym.

    I, on the other hand, "don't have time to get to the gym," and can't even approach the idea of a few hours soaking in a 1/2 priced K-Town spa without massive amounts of guilt. I'm not making enough money to waste at the spa. I can't sacrifice precious hours of work in a tub. I don't deserve a steam room; I have two novels and a screenplay to write! This is a waste of my time.

    The French/Korean/I'll-do-some-more-research-and-come-up-with-a full-list-of-cultures philosophy: None of those things will improve unless you take care of your mind and body. Only a relaxed, balanced body can produce at its highest potential. That sounds logical, so why does it feel wrong?

    Because of the American philosophy: shut up, pop an Adderral and drink more coffee.Why? I'm not sure, but I intend to spend at least an hour this afternoon Googling books on the issue.

    My goal: some kind of happy medium in my own life. Which culture wrote the book on that? Greeks? Italians? Germans?

    Oh, duh. The Swiss.  Now let's all watch that 17 minute TED Talk or read philosophy Alain de Botton's book Status Anxiety and change our lives accordingly. 

    For my part today: anyone up for a 30 minute facial at Facehaus?


    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    #HumpDayHappy: LIFE PARTNERS starring Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs



    This week's slice of mid-week sunshine technically started last night at the LA premiere of LIFE PARTNERS - a sweet and smart comedy about what happens when the right guy finally comes between gay and straight female best friends. It is modern. It is accurate. It is charming as all hell. And it stars three of our (the royal our) favorite former TV stars, Blair Waldorf (Leighten Meester), Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), and Adam Brody (Seth Cohen!!!!!!).

    I won't ruin the details of this really fun ride but I will say that it features three truly special on-screen moments:
    • The "I love you" - almost cried
    • The "I'm sorry" - wanted to steal it
    • And the Subaru scene - desperately need to see this happen in real life
    Congrats to the entire LIFE PARTNERS team. It's nice to see a movie that sounds and feels like the world we really occupy. Grab it on iTunes or OnDemand NOW or check listings to see it in theaters starting December 5th! 

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    Do Not Date Him If...


    I'm back from a quick trip east with an attempt to save you from some of the garbage people that I hear are trolling the dating pool.

    In three shorts weeks I've talked to not one or three but five women who were wronged by a dude based on one of the following scenarios. While I want to tell you to be trusting, hopeful, open and accepting of all people no matter their past circumstances or the mistakes it may seem like they're probably going to make, my friends have been burned so I need to take a zero tolerance policy stance for a bit. Bottom line, if he's that amazing he'll overcome this baby person stuff and win you over properly.

    A quick note on gender. These examples are based on men therefore this is an article about men. If five male friends of mine get dumped in three weeks, I will write a post about it, promise.

    Here goes:

    DO NOT DATE HIM IF...
    • He says, "I just got out of a really long-term relationship." (I'm sure there are exceptions to this, I've just never encountered one)
    • You see him less than once a week the entire first month you're seeing each other.
    • You don't meet at least one friend of his the entire first month you're seeing each other.
    • You don't visit his apartment the entire first month you're seeing each other.
    • You don't see each other in daylight the entire first month you're seeing each other.
    • He had a drug problem, but it's totally under control now so he can use a little whenever. 
    • He says anything along the lines of, "...you're too good/smart/accomplished/pretty for me."
    • He is still really close to his ex (again I'm sure there are instances where this isn't an issue, I've just never met one)
    • He, "never has cash," so you end up paying for anything that requires cash.
    • He won't let you leave a single item at his apartment.
    • He is active all over social media and yet does not post a single picture including you.
    • He says, "I'm a mess right now. You probably don't want to get involved with me." (that is a direct quote)  

    What did I miss, friends? 




     


    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Writer Life: The Power of the Forced Timeline


    I didn't write a post yesterday because I reserved the entire day to work on a new book manuscript that I've been working on for an amount of time I am unwilling to admit in print.

    I walked Louie earlier than usual, showered the night before, fully charged my computer so I could sit in whatever spot in the apartment felt most inspiring and put on my favorite writing outfit (right now it's a pair of super cozy sweats from Target and an over-sized chambray button down, to start at least). Nothing was going to stand in the way of me and ten pages of the world's most beautiful prose.

    And then everything stood in the way.

    I found out that my LA Sunday Night Sex Talks venue isn't available in December and had to start scrambling to find an alt location. I remembered that I had a rescheduled call about a film property and had to re-prep my pitch. Louie refused to pee during his regularly schedule 11am walk-and-pee sesh so I ended up outside for way longer. And I remembered that I needed 45 things from CVS before my trip to NYC. 

    BUT HERE'S THE THING (yes, I am yelling), I let all that stand in my way. I chose to deal with the #SNSTalks issue instead of leaving it for the next day. I wasn't organized enough about my week in the first place to remember the re-scheduled call. Louie can always go in his sleep area where he knows not to pee if it's time for me to get back to work, and R could do the CVS run (even if it means I don't get that Essie nail polish that I don't need anyway).

    Why did I let this all happen if it was obviously preventable?

    Because I don't have a real timeline on this manuscript, and when I don't have a real timeline I flounder.

    I thrive on a deadline. It get stressed and cranky and eat way too many carbs, but I (almost) always get the work done when there is a real, hard schedule, even if it's self-imposed. Something about that looming due date is both terrifying and motivating. At first it feels insurmountable but then I slowly pace toward the goal on the track I've laid and my progress begets progress. I focus on getting it done versus getting it done perfectly, which is always the most important element of a first draft.

    And so I've finally given myself an organized project timeline on the project I should have organized weeks ago, and I recommend you do the same. Today I hate that timeline so, so much. Tomorrow I will probably still hate it, but I'll be one chapter further in this process. And then a few weeks from now, X lbs heavier and insanely behind on my TV shows, I'll be done. AND GOD WILL THAT FEEL GOOD (more yelling).

    Now please excuse me while I go deactivate Instagram.

    Thursday, November 6, 2014

    The Five Things I Tell Everyone To Do After They Move to LA to Be a Writer


    I like to pay it forward by having coffee/lunch/drinks/mani-pedis with family friends or acquaintances who've recently moved to L.A. (but mostly mani-pedis). Really kind people did the same thing for me when I first made the transition, and it's literally the least I can do considering I have no jobs or ins at hotel roof pools to offer.

    There is little rhyme or reason to succeeding as a writer in this industry (as far as I can tell), and yet I hear myself offering the exact same advice over and over again because I hear and see the same things work. I haven't employed all of this wisdom, yet. Some of it is stolen from more successful people. But consider this my way of having a metaphoric mani-pedi sesh with the entire Internet, or at least the subset of aspiring writers on the Internet (so, 99% of the entire Internet).

    • TAKE A WRITING CLASS. Writing Pad has excellent options (which I say as a teacher there but would say even if I wasn't). You can go the sketch writing route and take classes at the UCB Theater. There are even fancier extension courses through UCLA. In a writing class you'll become a better writer, meet other writers who will help you continue to write plus widen your social network, and chances are the teacher will be connected for help with potential jobs. 
    • READ DEADLINE.COM REGULARLY - In order to mold your original ideas into marketable ideas you have to know what's being bought and sold. No, you don't want your creative life dictated by the whims of the networks, but you also don't want to spend a year writing a movie that Diablo Cody already wrote and sold. It's also helpful to learn the major players in town so you're educated when talking about the industry.
    • SHOW YOUR WORK TO ANYONE WHO WILL READ IT - It's hard at first, but you must. I got my first and second managers because I was willing to swallow my fears and share my work. You're not asking people to buy your 1/2 hour television sample or hand you a job on a silver platter just because you have a completed a script. It's just about asking experienced people to read a little bit and offer any thoughts about how you can continue to improve.
    • GO TO SEE SHOWS AND THINGS - Comedy shows, storytelling shows, actual plays, book readings. There are things going on in Los Angeles every night of the week, and the people attending them are often if not always in the industry. You're not sneaking into a famous author's book reading to sling your own personal business cards to anyone you can force into a chat. You're inserting yourself into the community by experiencing what people do here to share their work. You might meet a friend that ends up becoming your life-long writing partner or you might see a cool venue that inspires you to start your own storytelling show.  
    • WRITE, WRITE AND THEN WRITE SOME MORE, BUT ALWAYS BE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE WRITING AND WHY - People are going to ask: "What are you working on?" For the first year I was living here I responded with something along the lines of, "oh just a silly 1/2 hour comedy...like everyone else in this town." Not only is that a pointless response because it takes the conversation no where, but it sounds bitter, and the last thing this town needs is another bitter writer. Now I literally practice talking about what I'm working on in the shower. That is not a joke.
    Yes, I sort of wrote this post to remind myself what I should always be doing to keep on keeping on. And yes, I wrote some of it while I was getting a pedicure, so really it's like I just had a "welcome to LA, again" meeting with myself.

    Yes, that's how crazy this town will make you...

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    #HumpDayHappy: I Got Paid To Do A Writing Sample


    A few weeks ago I submitted a writing sample to be considered for a writing job. The sample was a five page script based on a prompt with some direction on characters and tone. It took me approximately five hours to complete if you factor in thinking time, writing time and editing time.

    That is the shortest amount of time I've ever spent on a writing sample to be considered for a writing job. Usually it's several days of work creating a much longer sample based on much less information. In fact that same week I also did a full sketch packet (12-15 pages). Such is the life of an aspiring writer. You do lots and lots and lots and lots of work with little to no feedback on ridiculously tight timelines...for free.

    AND THEN ONE DAY SOMEONE SAYS, "CAN YOU SEND US A W9 SO WE CAN PAY YOU FOR DOING THAT WRITING SAMPLE?"

    And you say, "What?! Why?? Thank you! It's so rare to be paid for a sample."

    And they say, "Well you spent time working on something for our company, and time is money."

    AND YOUR FAITH IN HUMANITY IS BRIEFLY RESTORED.

    To be fair, this company is based in Silicon Valley and not Hollywood, but they are still wonderful people who made my otherwise overwhelming Wednesday a lot brighter. Also, I'm moving to Silicon Valley. See you there, half of LA!

    Tuesday, November 4, 2014

    My Super Strange Addiction Confession


    I was channel surfing (do people still say/do that?) during my self-granted, 1/2 hour lunch break yesterday when I stumbled upon a re-run of TLC's My Strange Addiction. It was the episode where people want to be Barbie dolls (literally), which in the grand scheme of My Strange Addiction episodes is not all that weird (one girl eats rocks, guys), but I still sat there thinking, what is wrong with you freak people?? and I'm far more normal than all the members of my family think!

    Then I got up from the couch and went to change my outfit for the third time that day because it was time to take Louie for a walk. I had been wearing pants and boots for a meeting earlier but they felt too formal to take a dog around the block in my neighborhood so I threw on ripped jeans and New Balance sneakers with a light, long-sleeved t-shirt.

    Later that evening, though, I was cooking dinner, and the ripped jeans and t-shirt didn't feel like what I wanted to be wearing to eat dinner (yes, in my house), so I changed into mustard-colored corduroys and a black shirt.

    That combo was fine for dinner, but we had to go to a show at The Groundlings around 8pm, and the corduroys were a little baggy plus I wanted to wear these black flats with a gold toe that I really like, so I changed again into peg-legged jeans and a black-and-white sweater.

    Apparently I have a strange addiction too, and it's not that far off from the Barbie freaks' fetishes. I love to change my clothes. Sometimes I'll be writing at my writing desk and the jeans I'm wearing will be a little uncomfortable so I'll go slip into more loose-fitting pants. But then once I change the pants I realize the top I was wearing doesn't go anymore, so I'll adjust that too. But if I change the top then there's a chance I have to change the bra underneath so it doesn't show through or the earrings I'm wearing because earrings and tops sit so close together so they really should coordinate.

    Is this OCD? ADD? Or TLC-worthy? Yes, yes and yes, probably.

    Could I stay in the same outfit all day long? Of course. When I worked a full-time job at an office I obviously didn't costume change with each passing meeting. I changed the minute I got home and then maybe once or twice more depending on evening plans, but...hhmm...crap.

    I'd say I'll work on this bizarre life tick, but with "Fall" hitting LA that's going to be tough. This morning it was 50 when I walked to vote. By the time I got to the cafe to write it was 70, and when I got home to walk Louie it was 80. So yes, as of 12:21pm today I have worn three of the likely six looks I will don before the day is done.

    So can I get a "me too, don't sweat it!" from anyone in the crowd? Or at the very least a call from casting on a reality show?

    Thursday, October 30, 2014

    The Young Storytellers Foundation: the hour a week with a 10-year-old that made me a better writer


    I don't have much time to write this morning because I have to curl my hair and pick out my dress for THE BIG SHOW - the culmination of my fall session volunteering with The Young Storytellers Foundation. Today is a huge day for my mentee and her family who will be there along with the rest of the West Hollywood-based grammar school as the screenplay that she wrote is performed on a stage by real Hollywood actors. 10 other students guided by 10 other mentors will experience the same.

    Every Thursday for the past eight weeks we've learned how to write an exciting and engaging story in screenplay format that contains a strong protagonist, strong antagonist and obstacles that get in the way of the ultimate goal. I say "we" and not "she" because I learned just as much in the process. Young Storytellers should run a program called Forgetful Screenwriters. They could use all the same games and teaching tools to remind us that every story should have a clear hero and villain, a stated objective, challenges to add drama and a lesson at the end. I totally stole one of the blank screenplay outline worksheets we filled in, and I've already used it.

    My mentee's script is called THE MAGIC CANDY CLOSET, and it is an incredibly imaginative tale that includes a full-on, three-beat musical runner. I have never pulled that off.  She is proud of it because, "it's funny and it makes my brother a star," (the hero is her brother). I'm proud of it because on day one I couldn't get more than an "ummm" and "I dunno" out of her but by the final session she was adding in characters ("I think we need a leprechaun!"), polishing dialogue ("I don't think he would say that...") and telling me we needed a bigger finish ("I know! They're all having a party in the middle of the night!").

    Today will be an incredibly special day for my mentee, and I am honored to play a part in that experience. It made me a better writer, but more importantly it made me a better human, and all for the low, low price of one hour per week.

    and here is their mission:


    The Young Storytellers Foundation develops literacy through the art of storytelling. Using group exercises and one-on-one mentoring, we provide underserved children in the public school system an opportunity to write stories and see them brought to life through performance and film production. At the core of our programming are thousands of adult volunteers who donate their time to mentor individual students and perform their works on stage. Our mission is to inspire children to discover the power of their own voice.

    At YSF, we believe…

    1. That every child has a story worth telling.
    2. That arts education is a right, not a privilege, and…
    3. That all students deserve equal access to this education, regardless of race, neighborhood, economic status, or any other indicator, and…
    4. That we can correct inequalities in public education by providing supplemental, in-school quality arts programming.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    #HumpDayHappy: Make Money Off Your Awful Ex!


    I'm always for making lemonade out of lemons, especially if those lemons are of the crappy relationship variety.

    Case in excellent point NEVER LIKED IT ANYWAY - the genius creation of some ladies who decided to trade in their boyfriend battle wounds for money and, apparently, fame (The New York Times, marie claire, and The Today Show have already come knocking).

    The origin story: Annabel Acton and her ex broke up five days before Christmas, and she was left holding plane tickets. The concept: turn heartbreak into cash by unloading excellent goods (everything from vacations and jewelry to concert tickets and clothing) onto someone in need. The best part: a "Break Up Story of the Week" on the site's homepage.

    So today's #HDH goes out to the ladies of Never Liked It Anyway and my friend Annie Lee over at Daughter of Design for giving me the hot tip. Happy Wednesday shopping!

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Life as a Dog Mom: What I've Gained and What I've Lost


    I missed posting last Thursday because I had to take Louie our pup to be neutered. No, that did not take all day, but the emotional toll it took lasted well into Saturday by which point it felt silly to write a Thursday post.

    Add that to the losses list, though I did gain a real appreciation for the "cone of shame" and had a lovely coffee with Louie's brother Dudley's dog mom, my good friend Carley, so those technically count on the other side.

    There is no way to describe the impact getting a puppy has on your life. People say it's tougher than having a baby. I don't know about that because I've never had a baby, but I feel like the fact that I did not carry this puppy inside my body for 10 months and then birth him makes baby harder right off the bat. That said, my life is forever different because Louie is now a member of the family. Here, after six weeks with this furry alien in our one bedroom apartment, is how I assess the gains and losses.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    #HumpDayHappy: Jennifer Garner said, "No one asks Ben about work-family balance"


    Remember how much you loved Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30 and/or Alias and/or Juno? Well she's even better in real life.

    Today's little ray of sunshine goes out to this mother of three who happens to be married to Batman. Not only is she taking on more interesting roles than ever (Dallas Buyers Club, Men Women & Children), but she's talking smack about the way she and her husband are treated differently by the press.

    From The Today Show website (I know, but still):

    "My husband and I do kind of the same job — a little bit," the mother of three said with a laugh. "Not long ago we both had one of those magical days which we call a junket, where we both attended these lovely events where people come in every four minutes and they ask the same questions."

    Garner said that she and Affleck, 42, came home and compared notes from their respective press junkets, at which point they found a rather comical pattern. "I told him every single person who interviewed me — and I mean every single one… asked me: 'How do you balance work and family?'" the working mother recalled.

    As for the questions fielded by her husband? "[Ben] said the only thing anyone asked him repeatedly was about the (breasts) on the 'Blurred Lines' girl!" Garner exclaimed of Affleck's "Gone Girl" costar Emily Ratajkowski. "We're talking about them — they are real and they are fabulous and everyone should take a look and enjoy. As for work-life balance, he said that no one asked him about it that day. As a matter-of-fact, no one had ever asked him about it. Not once."

    The logic befuddled Garner, who joked: "And we do share the same family. Isn’t it kind of time to change that conversation? For the record, he’s not on diaper duty tonight. He’s working."

    This will never cease to frustrate me, but I appreciate Jen's sentiments.

    My take: it's sad that no one in the press asks Ben about work/family balance. That means no one in the press thinks Ben Affleck, or maybe men in general, should consider that element of their lives.

    I don't know Ben personally, but I know a lot of men who care very much about the balance between their work and family. Maybe we should start asking them about it? Until then, I know Jen is sticking up for women with these comments, but I'd argue that she's also doing something important for men.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    What It Means to Say "a Couple Should Challenge Each Other"

    very relevant MTV reference

    R and I were having drinks with a friend who recently went through a break up. He is the kind of friend you love and respect enough to say very honest things, which always helps when talking about relationships over a hummus platter.

    At one point I said, "It sounds like she wasn't interested in being challenged, and you're the kind of person who can't help but challenge someone, in a good way."

    My friend responded with a simple but important question: "What does it mean to say two people challenge each other in a relationship?"

    Apparently I said something that made a lot of sense because this morning when we were walking Louie, R said, "you should write about the way you explained what it means to challenge someone in a relationship."

    "Okay," I said, "How did I explain it?" R could not remember, which makes me question both his memory and his taste in the things I say, but I liked the topic enough to try and re-create my original statement. Here goes:
    • It means that both partners have expectations for the other and aren't afraid to make those expectations known and hold the other person accountable. Hhmm...that sounds negative.
    • When you challenge each other you are saying, "I know the best that you can be, and I want you to try your hardest to be that person, even if that makes you mad." That's better, but a little guidance counselor poster.
    • Challenging someone in a relationship means holding them to the person you know they can be even when they can't see it. Simple. I like that, but it's not enough.
    • Healthy challenging in any relationship means an open dialogue of questioning and honesty that makes your person and beliefs known to your partner and vice versa. But what about the accountability part?   
    None of these are quite what I said, but they all get at this really important issue of being honest about what you expect from your significant other, not just because it's what you want for yourself but because it's best for them.

    I'm not challenging R when I tell him his shirt is too dirty to wear; that's nagging (even if I'm right). I challenge R when I say that he can and should be bolder in certain situations, or when I tell him that I need his support in a different way than he's giving it, or when I question whether he's handling a family situation in the best way. He does the same when he asks if I'm maximizing my writing time best or being strong in my conversations with executives I'm working with or being overly image focused when I should just let it go and wear jeans and a t-shirt.

    Sometimes we respond to the challenge with, "thank you, you're right." Sometimes it's, "I disagree, and here's why." And sometimes it's a flat out, "I don't need you challenging me on this right now." That's all part of the deal.

    So does that answer the question of, "what does it mean to say two people challenge each other in a relationship?"

    If not, I'll have R write a follow-up. He's always challenging me to be clearer and less wordy in my writing. To which I sometimes say, "thank you for that challenge. Now you write it."    

     

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    #HumpDayHappy: I'm Make-up Free Thanks to Rodan + Fields

    show-fresh selfie

    If there is anything that makes me more uncomfortable than endorsing products it's sharing pictures of myself without make-up. In fact this will mark the first time I have ever shown my face void of paint in a public forum (unless we're counting slumber parties, but even then I was known to sneak inside the bathroom before the other girls were awake to slather on some cover-up).

     I have always had terrible skin. I suffered through awful acne as a teen, pretty bad acne as a college student and about the same amount as a young adult. To this day I still get annoying blemishes all over, and not just at "that time of the month." And to aggravate things further, I touch my skin when I should absolutely leave it alone. See this Valentine to the lady I go to for facials as proof.

    Enter my former colleague and current friend Cortney who took a break from her life in Manhattan media to work with Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, Stanford Med ladies and two of the most well-known dermatologists in the world (aka the creators of Proactiv). After the success of their teen-focused brand, Rodan + Fields wanted to address skin issues among adult women, including adult acne. 

    Cortney suggested I road-test the UNBLEMISH line within the set (see below for more details on all the offerings), and I agreed.

    Confession: I hoped to GOD it wouldn't work so I wouldn't have to post these pictures, but after week three I was singing a different tune. Here's the scary proof. 


    The picture at top is me as of week five, and the difference is obvious. 

    Every single day this week I've taken the puppy for a walk sans any make-up (yes, I used to wear make-up to walk my dog) and yesterday morning I left the house for a writing session at my local coffee shop with nothing but moisturizer on my face! And if that wasn't enough, I now know how to take a selfie without looking like I just found out that avocados are not, in fact, "good fat." 

    It's a win/win/win of a Wednesday. 

    Get any/all info you need through Cortney's R+F site

    (MORE PRODUCT INFO)
    Redefine - for fine lines and wrinkles – including 2 at –home tools; a patent pending delivery systems that are exclusive to Rodan + Fields.  Brand New patented product, Acute Care that fills your wrinkle while you sleep.
    Reverse - for sun damage and brown spots
    Soothe-for sensitive skin, rosacea, and eczema
    Unblemish- for acne and acne scarring
    Products are based on a philosophy of Multi-Med Therapy—using the right ingredients and active cosmetics, in the right formulations, in the right order. As practicing dermatologists, Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields know that treating the underlying cause of a problem works and yields long-term benefits.  Because they know real results come over time with regular use, RF's Multi-Med Therapy regimens come packaged in 60 day quantities. They're so confident that you’ll experience results with your first regimen that all of our products come with a 60-day satisfaction guarantee. if your not happy with the products you can return the empty bottles and receive a full refund.

    Not too long ago, the dermatology community believed that only a small percentage of adult women suffered from acne. Today, however, the estimation is closer to 40%. The reasons for this dramatic increase are the emotional stress tied to modern life, hormonal fluctuations, and a greater recognition by the public that period-related blemishes and clogged pores are indeed acne.Pimples on adults are fewer in number but bigger in size, and tend to congregate around the mouth and jaw line. In addition, a significant number of acne sufferers are left with remnant brown/red marks, which can be a long-term souvenir following a healed blemish. These marks, called post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation, can be as distressing to the acne sufferer as the blemish was in the first place. These marks can be effectively treated with a medicine called hydroquinone, found in over-the-counter products and by prescription. So while acne is not a curable condition and can last an average of 20 years in women, fortunately there are treatments that can keep breakouts at bay for as long as you have acne-prone skin.
    The UNBLEMISH Regimen features four full-size products: Acne Treatment Sulfur Wash Spot Fading Toner OR Clarifying Toner Dual Intensive Acne Treatment and Oil Control Lotion SPF 20 UNBLEMISH Regimen is clinically proven to combat the entire acne cycle, this sophisticated regimen helps unclog pores, clears acne blemishes and calms your complexion to keep pimples, blackheads and post-acne marks from making an unwelcome appearance on your face—and in your life.
    In an independent six week clinical study, subjects with acne achieved the following results:
    • 59% decrease in the amount of acne
    • 80% decrease in overall skin discoloration
    • 52% decrease in brown spots

     

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Ditching "No Means No" for "Yes Means Yes"


    There's something really interesting and important going on in the world of sexual assault prevention and prosecution, and I wanted to make sure you all know.

    For decades now many states have used a, "no means no," approach when talking about and prosecuting sexual assault. Simply, if someone says "no" then the sex is not consensual. But that means the opposite is true, legally: if a strong and clear "no" was not heard then it becomes challenging to consider the act a sexual assault. If someone is too drunk to say "no" was the sex consensual? If someone whimpers an inaudible "no" while being held forcibly was the sex consensual? If someone fears for their life based on repeat abuse and therefore says, "please stop," but not, "NO!" was the sex consensual? These are all real examples based on real cases.

    That's why many states across the country are changing their laws to reflect a, "yes means yes," approach, starting with California. 

    From the really comprehensive New York Times article on the topic: 

    "LAST month it was California, this month New York. States across the country are trying to figure out how to address the problem of sexual assault more effectively, and more often than not, they are looking to redefine the scope of sexual misconduct.

    California’s new law requires universities receiving state funding to switch from a “no means no” approach to a “yes means yes” standard, requiring partners to make an “affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision” before having sex, and making clear that silence or a lack of resistance cannot be interpreted as consent. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced that the State University of New York would similarly define consent as an affirmative act on all its campuses, one that requires “clear, knowing and voluntary” participation."

    It's hard to understand just how huge this is, but think about the clarity of having to hear YES versus the confusion around NO. Refusal is not as clear as consent.  
    • Did the supposed victim refuse? 
    • I don't know...I can't remember. She was pretty drunk, but she definitely didn't struggle. 
    • Correct, your honor. There are no wounds to suggest that there was a struggle.  
     That's the conversation that can and does go on today. Now it may look something like this:  
    • Did the supposed victim say, yes? Was permission fully and completely granted for the sex act to occur? 
    • Well...she was too drunk to talk.
    • Then she was too drunk to say, "yes."  
    "No means no," was a huge part of my education around sexual assault and rape growing up. I can remember dozens of health teachers repeating it and more than a few after school specials working it into a storyline. I'm really happy that my hypothetical future children may grow up in a world where, "yes means yes," is the standard. I think that will be a better, safer place. 

    Thursday, October 9, 2014

    Wait. Shouldn't It Be Easier Than Ever To Find Someone?


    I was having a conversation about these modern dating times the other day (slash every day, but specifically this Tuesday). I said something like, "do you think we're better off now than we were before?" to which my friend replied, "I don't know, but I feel like it should be easier than ever to find something. Think of all the options."

    From there we were off and running:

    • "Yeah! You used to have to rely on meeting someone in person at some random spot." 
    • "Right! Now they're out in real life and all over the Internet."
    • "And you can pre-screen people so you're not wasting valuable time."
    • "But you don't even have to because there are algorithms that do that for you!"
    • "You could be looking for dates while you're working/watching TV/sleeping/going to the bathroom! It's never been better!"
    But then the conversation turned:
    • "Hhmm... but why do all my friends currently taking advantage of this easy dating era seem to think it's the worst?"
    • "Yeah... A lot of mine are still single..."
    • "And people say that dating behavior is worse than ever."
    • "I hear a lot of, 'no one has any accountability,' from friends." 
    • "Hhmm..."
     So if it's easier than ever to find people thanks to OKCupid, Match, Tinder, Hinge, eHarmony, JDate and more, why is dating worse than it's ever been?

    Is it that every single generation has their burden? Is dating just terrible no matter the technology, or lack thereof? Did Sally and Bobby (generic names not Mad Men characters) complain to their friends about how terrible it was to try and get a girl's attention at the soda fountain on Friday afternoons? Or is it that all this convenience in the dating world has made it too convenient to find someone...else, someone better?
    • "I wonder if we're suffering from too much choice."
    • "It could be that people don't take dating seriously because there's another, potentially better option one swipe away." 

    TIME FOR A READER POLL. If you're out there dating, is it as miserable as they say? 
    To what do you attribute the issues? Why should dating be easier than ever? 
    And if so, why isn't it?