I bought two pairs of sweatpants a couple weeks ago.

To kick off the new year.

Two, sturdy, solid sweatpants.

Not yoga. Not leggings. Not pajama. Fucking. Sweat. Pants.

These are the old school classics, the waste drawstring, the proper baggy legs, the elastic around the ankles, not too tight where it would leave a mark.

Just. Right. Ankle. Elastic.

I bought one in black, one in gray.*

*Or grey? Will someone please tell me the correct spelling?

I got them on amazon where I unabashedly purchase all of my clothes now.*

*minus the occasional knee-jerk purchases via an Instagram algorithm, or the intermittent Etsy pop culture swag I never seem to tire of but I digress.

Before there’s judgement on how terrible I am because I buy all my clothes on amazon –

  1. At least it’s not lularoe.
  2.  I’m having difficulty being in the outside world at the moment.
  3. Especially if said outside world requires me to peruse clothing racks with impossible mannequins, and proceed to completely TAKE OFF ALL MY CLOTHES in a fluorescently lit box, all in the name of “not shopping on amazon.”

I just don’t have the bandwidth to be confident right now. You know what I have the bandwidth for?


These luxurious bad boys were an “Amazon’s Choice” with Free Returns, and the size suggested to me was just right for my ego.  

I fucking love these sweatpants. I like how they match the sweatshirts* and hoodies** I wear around the house when I work from home.

   *bought from Instagram

**bought from Etsy

I have convinced myself that these ensembles are sleek as hell.

That somehow I look healthy and radiant and put together, that these sweatpants complete the effortless look.

Sorry, effortless LEWK.

Did I mention that these sweatpants are super soft while also not being too thick?


Needless to say, these sweatpants make me feel cool.

They make my legs look thin, my buttcheeks look tight, and I feel cute whenever I throw on a matching headband.*

*Black headband for my blank sweatpants, grey headband for my gray sweatpants.**

**Which is it? “gray” or “grey” like seriously??

I strut around my empty house, headband in place, and I’m all like “Don’t I look fucking adorable? Don’t I look refreshed and youthful?”

“Don’t I look… okay?”

Of course, I am not okay. Obviously I am not okay.

I don’t think anyone can be “okay” if they’ve convinced themselves that their new years* sweatpants count as Outfit Of The Year.

*Yeah it’s February and we can’t say new year anymore blah blah blah.

I don’t think anyone is okay if they believe their sweatpants make them a real class act.

I know I am not okay. I know.

This sweatpants blog post is, in fact, sad.

Like, very sad.

And that is probably because I am sad.

As previously stated, I am sometimes too sad to leave my house. Let me rephrase. I am too sad to leave my house to do anything I could easily do inside my house.

Because, like, I have been leaving my house. To see friends. And go on hikes. And see live shows. And go to museums. And go on dates with my husband. All things a functioning non-sad person is easily able to do. So, like, I’m fine, you hear me? Fine. Fine. SO FINE YOU GUYS.

But I am definitely too sad to buy new clothes in person at a store.

So, yeah. My love affair with these – dare I call them chic?* – sweatpants is probably the best indicator that something’s up.

                                                                        *and what a bargain!

And what’s been up is I have been heartbroken recently. I think we’ve all been heartbroken recently. I mean, my heartbreak is probably different than your heartbreak, but we all know the vibe. We’re all very in it right now.

Sweatpants = Sadness

UNLESS, hear me out.

Sweatpants = HAPPINESS???

Because I am also very happy, in the grand scheme of things.

Like more than happy, thrilled even.

I mean, I’m not insane. There is such a thing as liking a nice pair of sweatpants, right? Who doesn’t love a nice pair of sweatpants? They’re the best! You can’t tell me after all these intricate sweatpant details you don’t now want to go on amazon and buy some yourself.* You can’t tell me you aren’t like “oh my god, tell me more about these sweatpants. They sound great!”

                                                                        *Yes, you do.**

                                                                                    **You totally do.

I love my sweatpants because they embellish the level of comfort that is my life right now.

I am both infatuated with my comfortable, fun, happy sweatpants and terribly sad about them too.

Isn’t that the most truthful thing you ever heard?

Because you never can be fully one thing, can you?

These Stellar Fucking Sweatpants (TM, patent pending*) completely embodies my current life juxtaposition. I am happy sad. Sad happy.

                                                                                    *if I made the sweatpants, which I did not.

This sweats, and my state of being, are both durably made, not too flashy, don’t shrink, and are utterly basic.* They should last me a good, long time. I hope this contentment can also last me for a good, long time. But I have to accept this sadness probably will too.

*used in its original definition of basic – forming an essential foundation or starting point; fundamental. And not the newer definition – insult, ya basic.”

I mean, look at me! I go out! To museums! And dinner! I just said that! And I’m terrific! How lucky am I that I get to exist in these sweatpants?

How wonderful is it that I can take pleasure in such a thing as sweatpants?

I don’t feel lazy in these sweatpants. I feel loved by these sweatpants.




These sweatpants have even inspired me to post a blog!*

*And I haven’t been able to do that for a long time!

But the fact that these sweatpants mean so much to me, well, it’s sad. It’s sad that sweatpants are the best I can do right now. As white girl guru T-Swift* says : “This is me trying.”

*no relation

Are sweatpants the opposite of me living?

Or are they the epitome of me living?


Don’t even get me started about my AMAZING bed.

I am happy and sad in these sweatpants. I am sad and happy in my life. I am living my life. I am these sweatpants.

These sweatpants are me.

Plus I got free shipping!

  • One L



The wallpaper in his bedroom was of old-timey airplanes, a relic from the previous 1970’s era home owners, kept in perpetuity because, well, old-timey airplanes are cool as shit. No shame in the airplane, youknowhatImean?

In the afternoon, I’d sit on his bed, my fingers tracing the side of his desk, circling the giant, reflective stickers he likely got from the 50 cent machine at the Roller-Rena. John would be sculpting a lump of clay or drawing on a sketch pad, always something to keep his hands busy. We’d split a baggie of Pop Tarts (cherry, no frosting), sip on his family’s limitless supply of Sprite, and get to business.

“So, do you have any news?”

News, we called it. Our code for “do you know anyone who may or may not want to kiss us on the mouth?”

We were twelve years old, and exchanging “news” was probably the greatest bonding experience any straight tween girl and straight tween boy who were very best friends could possibly have. Indeed, people assumed that at some point John and I would fall in love, but we both knew that ship (pun intended) sailed long ago — most notably at age three when strangers confused us as twins at the grocery store. John was never going to be my boyfriend. He was going to be something much more important than that. And at age twelve, the most important thing in the world was news.

Because this month marks John’s 35th birthday, I wanted to write about him today. Or, more specifically, I wanted to attempt to write about him. To write about us.   

God, were we obsessed with “news.” We really fancied ourselves little investigative “crush” reporters, moles of our gender, siphoning insight from the world of the opposite sex. For the first time in our lives, John and I felt we had a powerful upper hand in understanding the world exclusively because we had each other. We were on a mission to gather engrossing, top secret information like:

Did they talk about us when we weren’t around?

How did they talk about us when we weren’t around?

And most importantly, did any of them what to ask us out?

Now mind you, the world of boys was not one I was completely unfamiliar with – I had long been the token girl at the Ninja Turtles birthday parties, largely due to my friendship with John. (We matched vice versa – John was often the sole male attendant at all the neighborhood’s My Little Pony shindigs.) Regardless, as the zits and tits developed, there was a sudden “off-limits” thing happening in the gender divide. Like us kids couldn’t really let our hair down until the one girl/boy went home. John and I discovered we could infiltrate these “hair down” gatherings, armed and ready to divulge all the horny details to each other, i.e. the “other side.” It was the perfect covert mission… with just one problem.

There was no news to be had.

Here is a direct transcript from a typical “news” session between me and John:

“So… does Josh ever talk about me?” “No. Does Ashley ever talk about me?” “No. Did Nick ever mention that funny conversation we had in the hallway yesterday?” “No. Do you think Yolanda likes me?” “No. Do you think Jeff would ask me to the dance?” “No.” “Okay then.” “Yeah. Okay.”

Session over.

Yup. In the end, John’s group of buddies didn’t think that much of me, other than I was bossy and/or funny. And not many of my gal pals thought much of John, except that he was very nice and very funny. (Hey, at least we had being funny!)

Mind you, in just a few years John would definitely be kissing many of my friends (not so much me with his, except I did kiss his cousin that one time), but at age twelve – the time of the “news” – we were kidding ourselves in thinking we had some sort of edge. If we gained anything from those sessions, it was the realization that we weren’t alone in our spring awakening confusion. It was nice to know that we were both equally clueless, and both equally not getting any. Which, I guess you could say was the even bigger life lesson.

Lesson #1 from my friendship with John: NO ONE EVER GETS KISSED AT AGE 12.*

(*please don’t fact check or revise, this is the decree.)

I have wanted to write about my friendship with John for a long time now, but I’ve put it off for years because, in all honestly, it might be the most difficult relationship to incapsulate into one blog post. We have been so close for so long. The sheer amount of data surrounding our intertwined existence would be enough to fill multiple external hard drives. (And yes, John was the first person to teach me about external hard drives.)

Where do I start? How do I explain? Which John and Alison do I reminisce about?

When you have someone who is that constant in your life, how can you possibly summarize your relationship with them? It feels like an impossible task.

Alas, I love impossible tasks. I love a challenge. And I love John, so, for the first time in over ten years of writing this blog, I’m going to give “talking about John” a whirl.

(Besides – the longer we are alive, the longer it will take to continuously capture our friendship in words, so I may as well start now then circle back in twenty years and go from there.)

To start, I think it’s best to separate our friendship into phases.

Age eleven to fourteen –  that was obviously the “News Phase.”

Before that there was the “Telescope Phase,” and before that was the “Castle Grayskull Phase,” then… I guess I’ll make it easy on myself and say the “Baby Phase.”

After the “News Phase,” there’s the “Making Movies Phase,” then the “Las Casitas Phase,” then the “Vegas Phase,” and now I guess we’re in the “Current Adult Phase.” (Boring name, I know, but I gotta be honest, I love being a boring adult.)

I’m already worried that I’m missing something and/or doing this wrong but, alas, I’m barreling through.

After all, you can’t do the impossible perfectly.

So let’s begin, shall we?

“Baby Phase” –  John and I have lived across the street from each other since our births. Our parents still live in those homes to this day, and, funnily enough, John and I are also currently a few blocks away in our own Los Angeles residences. Over and over again we’ve been told that as babies, John and I looked remarkably similar – big ass heads, light blonde hair, mischievous smiles, and ridiculously huge eyes (though mine are blue and John’s are hazel/green). I’ve been told that our siblings (we both are the youngest in our family) used to make us kiss by bobbing our baby heads together until our lips touched…  laughing very hard about it as they did. There was one time I was told that as toddlers my mom made me a wedding dress dress-up for my birthday and so I went over to John’s house in that dress and everybody thought it was me asking John to marry me and thought it was freaking adorable. (Really I bet I just wanted him to put on his karate gear so we could kick ass in our equally awesome dress-ups.) There are many photos of us together at this time because we were so damn cute, one is even a magnet on my fridge (a gift from his mom at my bridal shower). Not many personal memories here but alas the “Baby Phase” was when it all began. How many people are still friends with their baby friends, I ask? Not many, I reckon. (But please tell me if you are!)

Lesson #2 from my friendship with John: IF THEY ASK YOU IF YOU ARE TWINS, JUST SAY YES. IT’S EASIER THAT WAY.

“Castle Grayskull Phase” – This is the time where I begin to truly remember our friendship, like the memories are authentic and not dictated from our elders (siblings). Age four to seven our child’s play was the perfect mash-up of Badass Action Hero and Pretty Pretty Princess. And the center of our combined universes was always an epic toy – The Castle Grayskull. It was John’s castle, it was sick as hell, and it was FUNDAMENTAL in our everyday imagination. The castle was basically a Barbie Dreamhouse but instead of an elevator it had a skull’s mouth drawbridge, instead of a closet it had a trap door the threw you into a dungeon, and instead of being pink it was, well, gray. I loved that castle. While John used it as a home base for Terminator to prep for his next mission, I used the castle to, what else, play house. Barbies were a little too big for the castle, but John had one female action figure with blond hair and a crystal on her forehead that I claimed as my own. Not a clue what hero she was but she did a fine job keeping Castle Grayskull a nice place for Terminators and dinosaurs alike to eat dinner and tuck in for the night. That toy completely embodied John’s and my merging friendship. At that early age, John and I were never annoyed by our differences – my girly girl aesthetic, his “pew pew pew” sound effects –   instead we found a way to be ourselves and invent stories side-by-side. To this day, John and I have opposite tastes in just about everything, but we know that the differing passions have merit, and 100% support them, no flinching. My lady action figure may not have gone out to shoot up T-1000, but she did put the skull draw bridge down for when it was tea time.

Lesson #3 from my friendship with John: BEING OPPOSITES DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T FIND COMMON GROUND.

“Telescope Phase” – John and I had the briefest of falling outs in elementary school, and that was mostly due to the fact that someone somewhere had the audacity to put us in different classes 1st through 3rd grade. (Let’s be real, in elementary school, if you were put in a different class than your bestie from the previous year, then that bestie may as well have been dead.) In 4th grade we both landed in Mrs. Sharpe’s class, which lead us to rediscovering that we lived across the street from each other and got along really well. I don’t remember the beginning or the ends of this specific story – again life with John has been very, very long – but at some point there was a day where John and I were in class and were talking about telescopes. He said he had a telescope, I asked if I could see it, and that night we hung out in his backyard looking through an itty-bitty purple child’s telescope that was focused on the hardest thing to see in the sky — the full moon. Here we were, two kids sitting in a familiar backyard, drinking sodas, and looking at the stars. I remember thinking “Hey! I got my best friend back!” and that was that. We walked to and from school together every day after that.

Lesson #4 from my friendship with John: THE MOON IS COOL.

“News Phase” – Been there done that. See above.

 Lesson #5 from my friendship with John: NO NEWS IS SOMETIMES BAD NEWS.

“Making Movies Phase” –  Oh this is a fun one. Maybe peak childhood. Very Rob Reiner coming-of-age vibes happening in this phase. You see, as we outgrew Castle Grayskull and Super Clean Team (a fake superhero team that cleaned up the neighborhood, there’s not enough time to explain that one so just cliff-noting it here) John and I fell head-over-heels in love… with movies and all things entertainment.  We definitely weren’t “outdoor” kids – unless you count jumping on the trampoline in his backyard, which we did all the time because I wasn’t allowed to jump on the trampoline in his backyard.

In middle school I felt that I had personally discovered John Hughes and Kevin Smith and was extremely proud of my growing VHS collection. Meanwhile John was developing his WWF wrestling persona, owning a thing called an “X-Box,” and collecting new, trendy movies disks called DVDs. On Dollar Tuesdays we’d ride our bikes over to Showtime Video, and scour the place with intense anticipation of the newest releases at a $1 price tag. (Yes, I am one of those old souls who misses the video store aisle. I know I know.) Fun fact, my future husband worked at that very Showtime and because he knew us as “Wendy’s little brother and Brian’s little sister” he’d let us rent Rated R movies, no parent approval needed! (Swoon, right?) In between John’s drum lessons and my theater rehearsals, John and I felt it necessary to watch every extra a DVD rental had to offer. We watched the movie once normal, once with the director’s commentary, once after watching all the bloopers and all the cut scenes, and then once more with fresh eyes.

It was only a matter of time that John and I started making movies of our own.

We filmed “Dunbar Ct. – The Movie” on a home video camera with a pop out screen previously used exclusively by parents at soccer games and/or dance recitals. John filmed and edited and directed and I just starred — which is to say I did nothing and John did it all. We forced all our friends to be in it, rewrote the script multiple times, and it took nearly two years to complete. All that said, Dunbar Ct. had a beginning, middle, and end (a run time of an hour and ten minutes!) and made sense. We dumb kids actually made a movie that made sense! For me, the biggest lesson from that experience was that movies are very, very hard but also very, very fun.

It is so strange to recite this portion of our lives, because it reads so rose-colored glasses –  a chapter taken out of a showbiz guru’s autobiography that waxes poetic about the power of film. But whatever, we made a god damn movie! And that little movie sort of solidified the trajectory of our lives. It was definitely a turning point, a coming-of-age pivot into what John and I ultimately grew up to be – story tellers.

Lesson #6 from my friendship with John: FINISH YOUR MOVIE. JUST FINISH IT.

“Las Casitas” Phase – I recognize I’m making the largest leap here in terms of phases, so to quickly sum up the in-between: John and I graduated high school (a picture of us hugging in our cap and gown graced the front page of our local newspaper. Cute, right?), I moved to Tempe, Arizona for college, John moved to Broomfield, Colorado with his best buddy (and also one of my best buddies) David. I got involved with the improv and sketch comedy clubs, John made a second movie and a web series. Both of us saved money to move to our perspective “big cities,” only his city was Tinsel Town and mine was the Windy One. I went and he went, keeping in touch, telling each other about our big city adventures. Then two years after being miserable in Chicago, I ventured out to visit the west coast. It only took one night of sleeping on John and David’s couch to know that I was going to join them. I figured, if I was going to follow my dreams, I may as well follow them to the city that had my best friend.  And so I talked my boyfriend (the former Showtime Video manager who just finished grad school!) to venture with me to LA. I was right in knowing I’d be happier here.

John and David lived in the Las Casitas apartments in North Hollywood. It was a great hub apartment, had a nice “young person hang out” vibe. They graciously allowed Zach and I to dump all of our possessions into their living room as we began our own apartment hunt. We found one around the corner, but in all honestly Zach and I spent way more time at Las Casitas, hanging out and watching John and David film “Them Roomies.” John and David’s walls were expertly decorated in floor to ceiling movie posters, with their bathroom displaying the movies that belonged “in the shitter.” John worked at the Arclight movie theater, David helped me get a job as a CBS Page. They introduced us to all of their friends who then became our friends. They showed us the affordable bars, the tourist places to take visitors, and gave us directions to the all important IKEA in Burbank. John and David and I eventually started a sketch team called Charming Cheetah that still it probably my favorite comedy collaborations to this day. If it weren’t for these two, Zach and I would have never been able to find our footing in this difficult city. We were given this built-in Los Angeles family, complete with a welcome gift basket of an old city guide and a case of top ramen.

Lesson #7 from my friendship with John: HOME IS WHERE THE WEB SERIES FILMS

“The Vegas Phase” – There seems to always be this in-between phase in young adulthood where you aren’t quite “pay in quarters to get a PBR at the bar” anymore but you also aren’t quite at the “buy a brand new car off the lot” degree of financial security. It’s this phase where you have just enough expendable income to enjoy a night or two in Vegas, and the maturity to actually remember it. John and I have only gone to Vegas together twice, but I feel like those trips really captured that “on the brink of transition” time in our lives.

The first time there were six of us, piling into a rented minivan and sharing one hotel room on the strip (five guys and me, really reverting back to “the only girl at the Ninja Turtle party” lifestyle). We agreed that the first night we wanted to be “classy”, so we got dressed up and went to see Evil Dead: the Musical – just barely avoiding our most expensive outfits getting splashed with blood. The next night we attended the Punk Rock Bowling festival, where we moshed to our heart’s content. (The one pop culture thing John and I can agree on? Punk rock is awesome. Obvi.)

The second time to Vegas was a similar excursion – again it was to see the punk rock festival — but in the few years span between these Vegas trips, Zach and I had gotten engaged, John had moved in with his amazing girlfriend Michelle (who joined us so there were two women on this Vegas trip! Huzzah!), David had gotten married (to Gabrielle!), and the group could actually afford multiple hotel rooms and multiple drinks by the pool before heading to a restaurant (NOT a food court) for dinner. I chose that trip to ask John to be my Best Man, and as we were moshing to Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, it felt like we were marking an end to an era. There was no Las Casitas hub any more, just homes we were making with our significant others. There wasn’t seeing each other every day, just full workloads and planned dinners weeks in advanced. Still, it was nice to know that John and I were going to be grown-ups together. I think we were ready for our version of it.

Lesson #8 from my friendship with John: DRESS FANCY IN VEGAS, IT’S MORE FUN THAT WAY.

“Current Adult Phase” – and here we are. I know I’ve missed a lot and I know I didn’t capture all that I wanted to capture but it’s the best I can do at the moment. Considering John and I are still in the midst of this phase it’s certainly the hardest to comment about or summarize, but essentially we are both in the thick of doing what we love (I’m writing on a TV show called Twisted Metal, he’s writing a book series and corresponding card game called Mere Mortals), living with the person we love (my husband Zach, his girlfriend Michelle) in the place we love (Cali livin’ babyyyyy). We both have two cats, four total – Story & Typo, Jiji & Kylo. We both live close, but are pretty busy so only see each other a few times a month when we can swing it. It’s obviously not the same as playing Castle Grayskull or spreading the “news,” but sometimes I think that just knowing John is there, that he is right there, is enough of a reminder that I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I have the friendship of a lifetime.

My best friend is named John. We’ve been friends since we were babies. He lives down the street and is impossible to summarize… but worth the shot anyway.

John is kind, he is brave, he is funny, he is focused, he is inquisitive, he is passionate, he is introverted, he is good in front of a crowd, he is a night owl, he is a creative soul, he is my opposite, and he is my twin.

Now if only we could find that wallpaper of the old-timey airplanes. Airplanes are dope.

Lesson #9 from my friendship with John: THERE ARE STILL MANY LESSONS TO LEARN!

  • One L

“Hello lamppost, what’cha knowing, I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t you got no rhymes for me? Doo-ait-n-doo-doo, feeling groovy
Ba da-da da-da da-da, feeling groovy.” – Simon and Garfunkel, often sung by John and Alison

Bucket List For The Vain Dreamer – Part 4

In the weirdest of twists – I’ve actually had some luck with versions of this list actually happening to me. 

So, just to throw more things into the universe – here is the fourth installment of my vain, nearly (but I guess not totally?) impossible bucket list. 

Read the first entry here and my second entry here and my third entry here.

And now we continue…

  1. Star in a Taylor Swift music video.
  2. Get a blue check mark on all my socials.
  3. Record a guided meditation that’s in the “fun” section of the 10% Happier App.
  4. Throw a huge block party with the theme “Jurassic Shark.” You get it.
  5. Own multiple xmas trees – one for every room in the house.
  6. Do that Broadway fundraiser where you sing a song normally sung by the opposite gender. I’d sing Being Alive as a soprano.  
  7. Successfully get everyone in the world vaccinated to end Covid, and end the stupidity of vaccine hesitation, once and for all.  
  8. Get a perfectly trained, chill dog that everyone loves and is best friends with my cats.
  9. Be on David Tennant’s podcast.
  10. Create a show.
  11. Have a framed, one-of-a-kind poster in my office of that show.
  12. Have a dope tattoo that’s also a reference to said show.
  13. Sing in an underground cover band that gets a cult following.
  14. Land a guest spot on a Doctor Who special.
  15. Get Lasik but be totally not scared about it going horribly wrong because it’s lasers on your eyes which is undeniably scary and also it doesn’t go horribly wrong it goes really well and I don’t have to deal with contacts anymore — this is a conquering fear thing.
  16. Be on Lizzo’s speed dial.
  17. Freeze my eggs because it’s something I can totally afford.
  18. Create a search engine that finds all the bar trivia happening in any area on any given night with all the necessary details so you don’t have to search for them individually.
  19. Do Mariah Carey’s version of Christmas, just once.
  20. Have a character in a board game be modeled off of me in a flattering way.
  21. Make a television show about a clown named Puddles.
  22. Hire people to seasonally decorate the outside of my home.
  23. Successfully campaign for Supreme Court term limits, and Supreme Court expansion.
  24. Print my own latch hook patterns that are less tacky, more artistic, and have specific pop culture references. Also, make latch hook a cool hobby for young people.
  25. I can’t believe this has to be a bucket list item, but make abortion legal in Texas.
  26. Record two audiobooks – one that I wrote, and one that another person wrote.
  27. Fly business class, like, a few times?
  28. Figure out a way to never get car sick again.
  29. Start a fashion trend that will single-handedly demolish crop tops from ever being a thing again.
  30. Be in a courtroom scene in a movie where I get to say: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury…”

– One L

“I object!” – to nothing on this list!

The Greatest Movie Ever Made

It was the summer of 1998. I was 11 years old, about to go into the 6th grade, and I fancied myself a “movie buff.”

I knew I was a “buff” because my idea of a perfect evening was having a slumber party in the basement, eating junk food and watching TWO or EVEN THREE Showtime video rentals in a row. No talking during the movie and NO SLEEP TIL REWIND.

My friend Jen felt she was a movie buff too.

So did my friend Emmie.

We embarked on the whole “slumber party movie watching” brigade a lot. It was sorta our thang.

(My best friend, John, was also a movie buff – but our movie watching habits is for a whole other epic blog post.)

Jen was my sly, whip smart friend, always happy to explain various things and ideas that usually went over our heads. She introduced us to the (very sad) concept of no Santa Claus and claimed she got her period before any of us did so, you know, she was pretty peak sophistication. Her folks were the strictest of all the ‘rents, which just meant that rated R rentals were the most tricky to get when we were using her mom’s card.

Emmie was my fandom obsessed, punk rock buddy whose bedroom consisted of floor to ceiling collages of whatever she was very, very into at the moment. (NSYNC, River Phoenix, in later years I think it was Bam Margera?) Her house was conveniently located behind Jen’s (backyards touching, so cool!) and I loved spending my summer days ping-ponging between the two homes, borrowing hoodies and perusing multiple snack pantries.

Note: Timeline-wise, I am actually unsure if Emmie was part of this particular story, (memories are sooooo weird sometimes with when people come in and out of your life) but regardless, I am going to include her in this tale because, well, it just feels correct and here’s why:

Emmie’s mom worked at the one movie theater we had in town, so on off slumber party nights you could find us scoring free tickets and seeing everything PG-13.

To this day, I vividly remember the United Artists Theater at the Twin Peaks Mall. The smell of cleaning product, stale popcorn, and barf. The sound of arcade games and air conditioning. The high ceilinged lobby that made every new release feel like films of the century – from The English Patient to The Waterboy.

Jen had the best basement for slumber party watches, well worth the behind-the-back sneaking of such risqué flicks like The Breakfast Club and Mallrats. It had a steep set of stairs, giving us ample time to pause if we heard an oncoming intruder ready to barge in at an important plot point. It also had a fold out couch, a dart board, a bathroom, and, most importantly, a door.

Doors equal freedom when you are an 11 year old movie watcher, if only so you could say “fuck” when you were excited at a twist or sneak sips of a mom’s forgotten Frangelico during party scenes.  

Jen’s basement was heaven compared to my movie watching “basement,” if you could call it that. My staircase had a railing with large gaps that opened right into the upstairs portion of the house. Any parent at any time could poke their head through and yell: “Whatcha watching?” “How you doing gals?” “It’s getting late isn’t it?” “I think it’s time you turn this off now.” (Boo. Always boo. We had just gotten to the scene where Andy comes out in her ugly pink dress, DAD!) The summer of 1998 I had yet to get my tiny bedroom television which, when I finally got it in 2000, complete with a VCR, was a fucking GAME CHANGER.

Emmie’s basement sorta split the difference in movie watching privacy. It was quiet but her grandpa lived down there so unless we wanted to watch some really loud westerns (which we did sometimes!) usually her place was a no go.

That’s why on June 16th, 1998, we knew it was Jen’s basement where we would take on the ultimate film lovers binge.

That was the night of the AFI’s 100 Most Influential Movies, airing on CBS.

It ran for four hours and yes, Jen, Emmie and I watched the whole damn thing.

We reveled in this “classy” television special. We agreed with Richard Dreyfuss that American Graffiti was “timeless” and that Sally Field was “breathtaking” in Forrest Gump. As the hours passed and the pizza was devoured, the three of us started taking bets on what movies were in the top ten.

One significant factor contributed greatly to our predictions.

You see, just six months prior to this AFI special, the movie Titanic had come out.

Not only did I see Titanic 4 times in the theaters (thanks Emmie’s mom!), but for that brief period between 5th and 6th grade, Titanic had become my whole identity. (Emmie too – you should have seen her collages!) I had a poster taped on the top corner of my 5th grade desk (the one that’s the nose of the ship with Kate and Leo’s giant heads at the top – you know the one) if only to say “Yeah Mrs. Peck. Titanic equals ME!” I bought both the soundtrack and the Celine Dion album that had “My Heart Will Go On” on it, just to cover my bases if one got scratched. I had memorized talking points on why I had a crush on Jack and not Leonardo, plus a mature retort on how seeing Winslet’s boobs was actually “an honest and true moment,” and made the whole picture feel more “real.” (Man, was I raised in the male gaze or what, sweet baby jesus).

Titanic being a modern masterpiece was confirmed when it won Best Picture in March of 1998. (Those Oscars, by the way, are probably the most important Oscars in my lifetime… so far. It’s the same year Ben and Matt won for Good Will Hunting.)

At first, I wasn’t so naïve to think that Titanic would top of the ever-so-important AFI 100. Even though I hadn’t heard of AFI ever before in my life, I had a deep trust in lists and the perameters of list making. I was obedient kid, and if something made the top of list – then the ranking was fact and that was that.

So, logically speaking, I understood that Titanic was too new! The other movies on this list had been around for way longer and had way more time to fester in the collective film consciousness of movie elites. I knew Titanic wasn’t going to be the highest ranked, but I did assume it would be ranked. It was Titanic, after all. It had won Best Picture! And awards — like ranking lists — could never be wrong! Going off this, I assumed Titanic would at least crack the top 50.  

But as we got through the 50’s, then 40’s, then 30’s…. Titanic still wasn’t listed. And it was fucking impossible for Jen, Emmie, and me to concede that “King Of The World” of movies would be completely excluded from such a fine and important list. So as it was missing in the ranks, all we could assume was that Titanic just hadn’t been listed yet. That its rank was still to come.

So, when the special finally got to the top 10 films of ALL TIME, that’s when we got. Very. Excited.

Because if Titanic was ranked one of the top 10 movies of all time, then that meant that Jen, Emmie, and I had excellent film taste, and we were just as good as any member of AFI.

To be fair, we had placed some pretty accurate bets on the list so far. We knew E.T. would land somewhere in the 20’s, and Star Wars would be in the teens. We figured Wizard Of Oz (seen it, loved it), Singing In The Rain (seen it, loved it), and The Godfather (no thanks, very scary) would be in the top ten. But with every movie announced not being James Cameron’s boat epic, we kept looking at each other, stupidly grinning.

Could it be?

Could Titanic be the greatest movie of all time?

The list arrived at number 2. By our calculation, it was between Casablanca and Titanic at this point.

In the number two spot, they announced Casablanca.

And we lost it. Titanic was number 1! Titanic was number 1!

But Titanic wasn’t number 1. In fact, Titanic didn’t even make the list.

Instead of Titanic, Richard Dreyfuss looked straight at the camera — nay, straight into our souls – and announced that the number 1 movie OF ALL TIME was:

Citizen Kane.


Citizen Kane?

I can hear Emmie’s scrunched up, confused, nasally voice now.

“What the fuck is Citizen Kane?”

Not only had we three 11-year-old “film snobs” not seen Citizen Kane, we had never even heard of it.

And that sorta felt like a slap in the face. How could we say we loved movies if we didn’t even know about the number 1 movie of all time? And how could our absolute favorite movie be off the list, with this never-before-discussed, almost mythical film in its place?

This had to be remedied right away. We all agreed that the next Saturday we would meet back in Jen’s basement. We were going to have a Citizen Kane slumber party.

Yep. The first and last time I saw Citizen Kane was when I was a 11 years old, in my best friend Jen’s basement, snuggled up in a Minnie Mouse sleeping bag and wearing Marvin the Martian pajamas.

My analysis? Do you really have to ask?


I know, I know — 1.  I just didn’t “get it.” Right? 2. It was “over my head?” 3. I didn’t understand “true film making.” 4. I should really “watch it again now that I’m older.”

I’ve heard it all before.

To that, I’d argue a couple things.

1. We got it right away.

After the first couple scenes, in between gobbles of popcorn, I vividly remember turning to Jen and being like “Rosebud. It’s his sled, right?” And she was like: “Right.” And then we kept watching, only to realize that THAT was apparently the big twist. (Oh sorry, did I spoil it for you? Trust me, I didn’t.)

We knew it was satire. We knew it was loosely based on the life William Randolph Hearst (a character we knew from Newsies, great movie). We knew Orson had good age makeup. We could see that the angles were cool. It’s amazing how all these things could be true and yet the film itself could still be very boring. But it was. It was so fucking boring. And then, in the final scene, it was back to Rosebud. His sled. “Duh, it was his sled!” we screamed. The end. End picture. End of THE GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME.

2. It was not over my head.

For one, Jen was our “over my head” sage, remember? If something was missed, she always caught it and threw it back to us. Now, I’m not denying that “over my head” shenanigans have happened in my movie viewing lifetime, I just don’t think this movie was one of them. For instance, I saw Pulp Fiction for the first time when I was only 14 and, shocker, I also hated that movie, but as an adult I have come around to (sorta) loving it and (definitely) appreciating it. I am aware that aging assists in picking up on nuances and story, especially in movies. I’m sure if I saw Citizen Kane now I would understand it in a different way simply because I have lived longer and have grown and changed in all that. But by throwing down the claim that a kiddo just doesn’t “get” something, and so their opinion should be dismissed, is actually just claiming that this movie wasn’t made for “the kiddo.”

And that’s totally fine. There are movies out there that aren’t made for some people. In fact, there should be different movies made for different types of audiences.

So, then, who was Citizen Kane made for?

I’m just saying, it’s one thing to be known as a great movie, but if we are talking about THE GREATEST FILM OF ALL TIME, then I firmly believe part of the criteria should be looking at a movie that is made for more people than just old white men. The end.

3. I think 11 year old me did understand “true filmmaking.” (As much as anyone can understand it, that is.)

Look, yes, we may have been a little young to truly comprehend the great technical importance of Citizen Kane. I understand that the way in which the movie was made was “cutting edge” for 1941, and in its own very specific way, likely changed the course of how movies were made.

I get it. When Richard Dreyfuss talks, I listen.

But there was, and still is, something unbearably insulting about Citizen Kane being deemed the best of the best, especially to an 11 year old who just wanted to be part of something. In the end, AFI’s list felt like a personal offense to us young, female, movie lovers. It was as if this club — this film “community” that we so badly wanted to be a part of — was saying we weren’t good enough, that our movie opinions didn’t matter.

That loving movies could not be part of our identity.

And I’ll be honest, that hurt.

In a way, the AFI list and subsequent Citizen Kane viewing was a major loss of innocence in me trusting that everything important film people said was “fact.” That lists were concrete. That there was only one true way to be a movie person.

Come to think of it, it’s probably a reason I got into showbiz. If I wasn’t be in the club then, then I’m certainly in it now. (I get screeners and everything, mother fuckahhh.) Who knows? Maybe this AFI watch changed the course of history. Maybe, in a super weird little way, it helped me become the writer and performer I am today.

Because, darn it all, I’m still super hopeful I’ll make something that matters to a few like Citizen Kane matters to, I guess, Richard Dreyfuss?

I dunno. Regardless, it still feels very inside baseball to continuously rank Citizen Kane so high on movies lists, sans criticism. Even in the 2007 revision of AFI’s top 100 (where Titanic was finally added and ranked at 83) Citizen Kane held steady at the top spot. With today’s social media commentary. I’m not sure if they’ll ever do another special, but I wouldn’t put it past them.

Hey, if people can make fun of me for loving Titanic in 1998 (which they SHOULD), why can’t I dunk on people for loving Citizen Kane today? (Also, DOES anyone actually love Citizen Kane?)

Yes, I can admit that Leo and Kate’s love story has dated itself over the years. By today’s standards the movie oozes melodrama and sexism and floating door logic problems. I am not blindly standing by my pre-teen belief that Titanic is a masterpiece. It still holds a special place in my youthful, learning-how-to-be poetic, heart, but I am very okay with saying that there was a time when that movie meant a lot to me, but not so much now.

Maybe it’s time to say the same about Citizen Kane.

I know lists and awards are stupid unless your preferred choice wins (I know I KNOW), and it’s all arbitrary. I guess I just felt like as a kid I GOT movies. That 11 year old Jen (now a mother of four and an elementary school dean), Emmie (we lost touch but I know she is a mother and a fierce fan of Halloween), and I really did. And I stand by that. I stand by us.

Stand By Me – great movie. (Hey, Richard Dreyfuss full circle!)

4. Yeah, no. I have no intention of ever watching Citizen Kane again. How could I beat how I saw it the first time?

Titanic forever baby.

  • One L

“NEAARRRRRR FARRRRRR WHEREVEEERRR YOU ARRRRRRE!” – Jen, Emmie, and I blasting the Titanic soundtrack after watching Citizen Kane.

Formal Friday

59 weeks. FIFTY NINE weeks. That’s, like, one year and… (counts on fingers) one month and…. three weeks?? (Geez now I know why new parents age their babies in months).

For 59 weeks I peeled off my sweatpants, went to my closet, squeezed into an old dress, then proceeded to brush my hair (first time that week) put on makeup (first time that week) get a drink in hand (not my first time that week) and pose for a photo all in the name of the dumb, and now very old, pandemic internet trend: “Formal Friday.”

When I first did #formalfriday (soon-to-be #tafelformalfriday), on Friday, March 20th, 2020, I OF COURSE did not think I would proceed to do it 58 more times. Nor did I anticipate that it would become the pandemic safety raft I clung to as I floated through week after week of isolation and quarantine. The first time I did #formalfriday I was definitely still in the hopeful, peppy “Isn’t this interesting?? It’s like when the electricity goes out for a night and we have to sit by candlelight! Let’s make the best of it!” mode.

I was so young a year, one month, and three weeks ago. So, so young.

I first heard about #formalfriday from an episode of Jimmy Kimmel. The idea being that we should spend our Friday night getting really dressed up as if we were going somewhere, but instead stay at home in our overly fancy attire. (Fun fact: a few weeks into me doing #formalfriday, the Jimmy Kimmel team reached out to me on Instagram asking if they could show my posts on the show and, considering I was writing for The Tonight Show at the time, I got very scared that I would be breaking some solemn late night oath by saying yes so I just said “Sorry? I work for… other Jimmy?” and I never heard from them again.) I thought it would be a fun thing to do, a nice respite from a very trying and, honestly, scary week.

The week prior I was in New York, by myself, working my late night job and watching in real time as New York got very sick very quickly. The moment production shut down, I got on the first flight back to my husband and cats in LA (I actually wrote a blog about it: The Tinkerbell Pen!) and anticipated being back in New York in a few weeks.

The first #formalfriday was just me trying to have a silly, stay-at-home date night with my husband in our apartment living room.

The second #formalfriday was just me, surprised I was still there, trying to have another silly, stay-at-home date night with my husband on our apartment porch.

The third #formalfriday was just me trying to have a silly reconciliation that I was going to be working remotely for a while.

And the fourth #formalfriday was just silly me making it a silly thing. For I am a creature of habit. I am a person who does things when it becomes a thing.

And, boy, did #formalfriday become a thing.

59 times. I did it 59 times.

During this pandemic, people really got into being productive, making the most of their staying still, trying to tick off lists of accomplishments. Bread making, learning the guitar, language classes… I probably should have done any one of those things. But nope. I marked the time by putting on my Walgreen’s lipstick and then taking many, many photos of myself every Friday.

And it’s not like anything life-changingly huge came from this habit. I didn’t even become an influencer out of this, because, like how? And… why?

So really, with #formalfridays I accomplished absolutely nothing.


I did create a pretty solid pandemic photo album.  

Or a photo journal, a documentation, a time capsule… whatever you want to call it. I did somehow create something that I can go back to for the rest of my life and go “that’s where I was when Shit. Went. Down.”

59 weeks of staying home. 59 weeks living through this time. 59 outfits.

That was #tafelformalfriday. And that’s what I want to write about today.

Here we go!

Okay, to start. I do not have 59 dresses just, like, hanging in my closet. While this tradition did make me realize I hold on to wayyyy too many old clothes, I would like to very adamantly note that 1. I refused to purchase anything new specifically for a #formalfriday post and 2. I occasionally threw in an old photo of myself from childhood and 3. I reused dresses ALL THE TIME. (No one ever pointed it out, which goes to show you I never really achieved influencer status – not that that was the goal, but it definitely confirmed it nonetheless.) I also justified the occasional sweatshirt, sweater, pants suit, and costume to count as “formal” if only because the look included me putting on makeup and also that BoJack sweater only comes out for very special occasions.

In the beginning, my husband Zach would join me for #formalfriday, as it was, at first, a tradition for the two of us to feel like we were having a special evening together. But he, being the logical human he is and not the obsessive “I’ve arbitrarily committed to doing this forever now” me, stopped around the time he also stopped putting on real slacks while working from home, which I think was about Week 7. (I was an immediate converter to “I work in pajamas now”, mostly because I started work at 6:30am LA time – to coincide with the 9:30am NY “Fallon” time – so I give mad props to my man for being fully work profesh for as long as he did. That said, it was a relief when he started wearing sweatpants with his button up shirts.)

Those first 8 weeks or so I actually spent the evening in the dress. Zach and I liked sitting on this tiny porch outside our apartment bedroom that overlooked our closed off apartment hot tub and the parking lot of another building, having martinis and whiskeys by candlelight and a shit view.

We really tried, folks.

We really tried because we also really tried to do our part, something I am very proud of us for doing all the way until the two week mark of my final vaccination. On the spectrum of careful, Zach and I probably landed on the more cautious arena. And it’s not because we are extreme germaphobes or anything, we are just very good rule followers. My job was to read the news every single day, and that was enough for me to be like “Yeah, I don’t need to go anywhere.” We didn’t want to add to the numbers of Covid cases, and, once more, we didn’t have to. It was pretty cut and dry how not to get it and spread it. So we opted to do that.

I acknowledge that staying home was an affordable privilege to us. Zach and I were extremely lucky to be DINKs with jobs that were not in jeopardy, and that we could both work from the safety of our apartment. We could afford deliveries, groceries or amazon. We had a spare bedroom with workout equipment. We had internet for zooming and all the other things you need the internet for now. And, thankfully, we both really liked being around each other, so we were okay keeping our in-person social interaction just between us. (It probably helped that I was in New York at the top of the year and it was exciting to be reunited again. Absence. Heart. Fonder. You get it.) So yeah, those early weeks of #formalfriday were ones that we were really, truly trying, because at all other times of the week we were really, truly trying too.

After all, this was temporary, right? Right?

Looking back at all these #formalfridays, it feels like the posts could be divvied up into phases. Those first 8 weeks? I’ll call that Phase 1 – the early days.

What will make 2020 a forever surreal year is the juxtaposed fact that even though it felt like the world had stood still, it was also a world that was moving very, very fast. Shuffled into our individual boredom periods were Big Happenings. I will always find it bizarre and difficult to reconcile those two things.

Again, for my job, I was required to get up at the crack and dawn and read ALL the news, scouring for ways to make it funny. (OMG IT WAS SO EASY DUDES – HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA ha ha ha sigh.) Everything happening in the world was at this heightened sense of importance. There wasn’t much levity to it. Things were hard and sad and eye opening and very, very terrible. All at once, it felt like posting a cute selfie on a Friday the week that a black man was killed by police on video was not only tone deaf, but completely wrong. So I didn’t. Instead I found a beautiful photo of a woman named Milan Bolden-Morris wearing a prom dress designed by Terrance Torrence (#formalfriday Week 12). The dress featured photos of black men shot at the hands of police. That dress was a beautiful, and formal, political statement.

I’m not here to say that social media activism is a noble cause and boy or boy I should be called a hero because I took the time to google something and post about it. It’s not like I was sitting there that Thursday night thinking: “But my legions of #formalfriday fans! What will become of the droves of them that came to my Instagram only to see me NOT do #formalfriday??” All I know is at this point – I guess we’ll call this Phase 2 of #tafelformalfridays – I was still staying at home, not going anywhere, and selfishly needing this weird Instagram thing to get me through the week. (It had become the thing I’d think about when I needed a break from all the other things I was thinking about.) But I also wanted to acknowledge this heavy world that was still moving, to say that even though I was in here (my apartment), I desperately wanted to connect to what was going on out there (not my apartment). I wanted to find a way to be part of the world while not spreading a sickness. I also knew that the more visibility an important cause gets (Black Lives Matter, registering to vote, frontline worker support, anything Fauci ever said…) the better. 

So I was now tasked (or rather, tasking myself) with finding creative ways to continue #tafelformalfridays while acknowledging and supporting the things in the world that needed acknowledgement and support. To this day I am unsure if this was ultimately a vain, self-serving act, but in the end I decided that if I could get even one other person to become more informed and/or donate to a charity that I included in one of my posts, then that’s better than not having that post at all.  

During #formalfriday I posted 16 links promoting: 8 charities, 3 activism lists, 1 online class, 1 petition, 1 volunteer opportunity, 1 voter information site and 1 small business (links to all the places here). I donated to all these charities, participated in many of the suggestions on the lists, purchased from small businesses, volunteered at the vaccine site and took the online class. 2020 was the year that I gave the most in charitable donations, and I now intend to beat that every year going forward.

I know, I’m a saint! 

Jkjkjk. Again, I know it is just a drop in the bucket for what needs to be done for real change to come, but I have to say, if it wasn’t for #formalfriday, it’s possible wouldn’t have gone through 2020 doing any of those things. Not donating and learning about cool charities. Not mailing hand written letters to get out the vote. Not taking an anti-racism course, which completely expanded my mind and incentivized me to do more with my privilege. And not volunteering with CORE, which ended up being my first big step back into civilization and an extremely gratifying experience. If I was doing #formalfriday for me, and make no mistake I definitely was doing it for me, then it weirdly made me a better person.

I’m, like, laughing at that last sentiment. Because it is so fucking corny, and yet so very true, and both those things sort of make me sad and grateful all at once.

Oh, yeah, also #formalfriday has made me a crier. Or maybe it was just the year? Or maybe it’s just getting older? Whatever the reason, I’m a crier now. A big, dopey crier.

What was sad was definitely Phase 3 of #formalfriday, the part of the 59 weeks that we had reconcile that, no, we were not be going home for the holidays, and yes, it will be well over a year before we’d get to see family and loved ones, and, no, we don’t have a hold of this pandemic, and, yes, we now know multiple people who have died from this terrible virus.

But prior to the sad phase, Phrase 3, I was really in the groove with #formalfridays, using whatever was happening that week as inspiration. The looks were getting harder and harder, so it’s so helpful when a gal can get a prompt! Hamilton is premiering on Disney+? We’re going to the theater baby! (Week 16) It’s Halloween-time? I got a ghost dress baby! (Week 32) Trump got Covid after insulting people for wearing masks? GET MY BIG ASS MASK ON BABYYYYYY  (Week 29).

Phase 2 right before Phase 3 was a giddy #formalfriday time. (I mean, as giddy as you can get as thousands of people were dying per day, an intense presidential election was underway, and never leaving a two bedroom apartment.) By this point I was really depending on my posts to be my weekly dose of joy, and, honestly, the strategy was working. I loved getting texts from friends and family about the posts. I loved hearing people ask me about it at work. It was just… nice. A nice time in all the muck.

Also, I should note, I was no longer spending the evening in these outfits, like I did in Phase 1. I did the photos, then was in my pajamas again. Albeit, nicer, Friday pajamas.

It helped that during this time I had my greatest career achievement to date. The BoJack Horseman episode I wrote “The View From Halfway Down” was nominated for an Emmy. It was a treat to revisit that job. I deeply adore all the people who I worked with on that show, so it was great to reconnect, and talk about my favorite TV show of all time yet again.  

In normal times there would be cool events and promotional things I would’ve gotten to go to, but because we were where we were, #formalfriday was really the only place I really got to celebrate and cherish the moment. (Well, #formalfriday and that Netflix promo where they mailed us a giant box with confetti.) Again, grateful to have #formalfriday at that time, because otherwise the nomination would have very much become a “if a tree falls in the woods” situation. (Week 27)

But then we lost to Rick and Morty. That sucked.

And that brings us to Phase 3 of #formalfriday. The sad part. The sucky part. The part where I didn’t want to do it anymore. But I did it. Because I commit to shit. And also, I desperately wanted to end it when I could officially go out on a Friday night safely. Not because it beat me.

But yeah, Phase 3 started with the beginning of the holiday season. Numbers in LA were way up. People were getting restless and going out, making me sour. Trump was still here, and so were all his racist friends.

Worst of all, I was OUT of cute outfits!

Hahaha, but really. It was a rough time.

And it was hard with outfits. Things weren’t zipping up. And while that may be a small thing for some, for people like me, it was earth shattering. As someone who has dealt with body image issues and obsessive dieting and exercise my whole adult life, the no zip was really the straw that broke the camel’s back. We are 9 months into this thing, the world is still sick, Trump is still on TV, and NOW I “lost” “control” of my body because a dress from five years ago won’t zip all the way?! But I have been working out! And eating “right”! What is wrong with me??

I would spend so much time fretting over photos my husband started asking if he should stop taking them, if this was even good for me.

Thank goodness I found Kate Huffman and her Body Positivity training. Thank goodness for therapy and The Fuck It Diet and Intuitive Eating and, did I mention Kate Huffman and her Body Positivity training? After joining a zoom course full of women from all walks of life dealing with the same stresses and anxieties and disordered eating habits, I have discovered and unlocked the world of Body Positivity, and it has been a huge, huge – yeah I’ll say it – life changing thing for me and my body. Going into detail about it now is for another blog post, but the cliffnotes are: I kinda like my body now as is? We should all kinda like our bodies? If a dress don’t zip, get another? And finally, we weren’t put here on this earth to look the same. As Kate says, bodies are like trees. Different and gorgeous and should be celebrated in their unique forms.

Another helpful moment in Phase 3 was starting a new, exciting job and moving into a house. After being stuck in a two bedroom apartment with my husband and two cats, we now had a lovely home we could enjoy and explore and, of course, take more #formalfriday photos in.

So, although this was our first holiday season just the two of us, I still took the time to think about the upcoming #formalfriday posts. I decided to use them as a way to say to loved ones near and far : “Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Holidays! I love you! I miss you! See you soon! Please be safe!” (Xmas and New Years were on Fridays in 2020, FYI. Not to mention Black Friday.)

And then that brings us to the final phase, Phase 4: A New Hope. While January got off to an immediate shit show start (I wrote about January!) I found myself motivated and excited for #formalfridays again. I was feeling more comfortable in my body, I was excited for a new president (excited is an understatement) and I started counting down the days I would be actually be done with my #formalfriday posts.

That’s right, #tafelformalfriday was going to come to an end, two weeks after my second vaccine. Suddenly I found myself very graduation goggle oriented with #formalfridays. What were going to be my final posts? What dresses did I want to re-wear?

As #formalfridays neared to a close, I had to give it props where props were due. Something as silly as an Instagram hashtag got me through this pandemic. I know the pandemic is not over, I know there is still a lot of sickness out there. But in the end, I can at least know that I did my part, including getting vaccinated, and so now is the time to enjoy the little things again. Having friends over. Going out for a drink. Seeing my parents at the end of the month.

The mundane never seemed so thrilling. I’m going to now spend my Fridays cherishing it. Last week’s final post was a truly, wonderful feeling.

And before I end this rant of dress/pandemmy reflection, I want to leave you with a good old fashioned list of superlatives! Here we go.

Favorite #formalfriday – Hands down Week 30. That was my last day on The Tonight Show, (I left to work on a new, exciting Netflix project!) and so the day was filled with really kind goodbyes from so many people I liked working with – and then I proceeded to crimp my hair and throw on an old 80’s thrift store dress that I got for a college theme party. The big bow, the pink lips, and my favorite beer in hand (Allagash Curieux), that was one of my favorite evenings and, yes, I stayed in that dress all night. I loved it that look.

Least Favorite #formalfriday – Week 40. I bought that dress at H&M one Christmas season thinking I could pull it off, and every time I wore it I was like: “I can’t pull this off” and that night while Zach was taking my pictures I was like: “I really can’t pull this off.” After that, I donated it baby!!

Most Surprising #formalfriday – Week 50. So many people loved that my mom made me a skull dress in 2018 (the year I was getting married she made it to test out a pattern she’d later use to convert my grandmother’s wedding dress into a cocktail dress) and it was a little tight on me and I was very sad how I looked in it but then I got a rush of texts and compliments and I realized that I should love my body and all that business. Then, that Sunday, Gillian Anderson wore a green skull dress to the Golden Globes! So, I think I was ahead of a trend?

Most Popular #formalfriday – I haven’t really sat and counted but there was always an uptick for anything BoJack related (Week 20, Week 27, Week 39). Also, people really dug my old bachelorette party dress (Week 14).

Did You Not Get It? #formalfriday – Week 48. I was trying to replicate Britney’s amazing yet odd Instagram posts, and got a text from my mom being like “you look gorgeous!” and I was like “I have gobs and gobs costume makeup on? I’m doing a thing? Do you not get my thing?” Also, Week 44 – has no one seen the movie It Takes Two? It’s a classic!

And finally…

Most Important Takeaway of #formalfriday – I took many photos, at many different angles, and wore spanks, and added filters, and spent a lot of time finding the most flattering photos before posting. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with posting the images that made me feel good, but in reality my body is insanely and beautifully normal, it has flaws and is squishy and I just think it’s important for people to know that. The posts were all an illusion!!

Anyway, thanks for reading (Mom!). And thanks for commenting and following and all that stuff. Would love to know your favorite posts, because I’m vain. Don’t tell me your least favorites, because, like, that’s mean?

As I said in my last #formalfriday: It was real. It was fun. It hasn’t been real fun.

  • One L

“Gonna dress you up in my love! All over your body!” – the lady from A League Of Their Own


I have always hated January. It’s always been my “passage of time” nemesis.  

I mean, is January really part of the new year? Barely. BARELY. Things that happen in January don’t feel like they happened in the same year as things that, say, happen in April or September. When you’re reminded of a January event, you find yourself saying: “Oh, that was this year? Crazy.” We always say that. We always say exactly that.  

Things that happen in January feel more like tail-end events that happened the previous year. Stuff December didn’t quite get to because of all the kid pageants and office parties and traveling. January ties up the loose ends of stuff you’d rather forget about. A siege at the end of a presidency, for instance. 

January feels like it needs to be shoved a bit to get going. Perhaps that’s where my resentment stems from. I am nothing if not impatient. 

Unlike this paragraph, January isn’t transitional. It’s a reset. A pause. It’s a moment we give ourselves time to take down our decorations and get a glimpse of what our home looks like sans seasonal decor. It’s very, very status quo-ey, January is. 

And for those of you with January birthdays or anniversaries I mean no disrespect. In fact, I am so so grateful for you because you may be the only good thing about this month. You’re a rainbow sprinkle of: “Oh yay! I love you so much and I’m glad to be thinking of you right now!” in the midst of Bleak Vanilla. It’s very brave of you to have an important milestone marker in this month. I, myself, didn’t have that courage. I got married on December 31st

January tricks you into thinking it’s something it’s not by making you confront being something you’re not. You usually feel amped the first couple of weeks in, what with all the Big Changes you’re going to make and all. But then you get to week three and suddenly you’re all cranky for no apparent reason (except for the fact that the Big Changes are sorta kinda always unreasonable and lame). And then once it’s February you’re happy again because you’ve traded the Big Changes idea for the more logical, helpful ones. 

Maybe January would be better if we just started out with the logical, helpful changes instead of the Big. 

Nahhh. I mean, yes logical, helpful changes are far and away better than the Big Ridiculous ones, but that realization would just improve us all as individuals, not the month of January as a whole. 

I recognize it’s not fair to dislike January. At the end of the day, one month has to go first and January obviously drew the short straw. Or something like that. I don’t actually know the history of month ordering. Something to do with Aztecs, I reckon. 

But, seriously, January is not doing itself any favors in likability. To start, IT IS SO FREAKING LONG. For some reason, it chose the longest of the “month day” options (31, 30, and 28/29, respectively). October at least earns it’s length by slapping down a sick holiday on day 31. July gives us one more day of summer fun. What does January have to offer with this extra day? Snow! Sometimes!

And, really, “Sometimes Snow” doesn’t even count because it’s not December anymore. As a snow lover, December snow is the ONLY snow. There. I said it. (Don’t @ me with “but I ski so I like it!” Okay cool – glad January is satisfying one of the wealthy-person leisure sports!) 

On the other hand, February, with its beautiful 28 days, is great! We’re in, we’re out (and sometimes we get a surprise day! You never know with February! It’s such a rascal!)– and in that short time we get a three-day weekend, a day for love, and we get to celebrate Black History. BAM. Month perfection. Take a cue from Feb, Jan!

Oh yeah, also not helping January? The month’s name. It’s Jan. Jan! Jan was Karen before Karen became Karen youknowwhatIamsaying? Again, no disrespect if that is your name, (you are likely the best thing to happen to Jan and I am grateful for you!) it’s simply an aesthetics thing. The combination of J and A and N lends itself to a nasally, stinted verbal delivery that even the prettiest of orators cannot avoid. (“je-eyhh-nnn.”) Saying the name Jan out loud just makes you feel a certain way. Eve Plumb gets it. 

As I write this, we are 26 days into this sucker and I am still trying to find a positive to this month. Not January 2021, mind you, but Jan Jan in gen gen. Inauguration Day was a wonderfully glorious moment in our history and should hold us over until we get the vaccine (which is right around the corner, right??????). I am on a more noble quest to find love for January every time it comes around – and not react how I usually do which is: 

“January. Meh.”

Because, dammit…


So, I’ve been taking inventory of times January has been pretty cool. 

  • A couples Januarys ago I went to Hawaii (honeymoon) and it was freaking awesome. But I can’t make January Hawaii month, can I? Wait… can I??? Fooey.
  • Last January I started my job on The Tonight Show. New York New York baby. 30 Rock. Broadway shows. Bagels. That said, you only get to start a job on the Tonight Show once. And I have since left it and New York to begin work on another project so if anything that January just reminds me how much I miss a lot of the writers I worked with there. Also, because of covid I missed out on FIVE Broadway shows I had tickets for. FIVE. 
  • Oh hey, my nephew was born in January. And I got to be there! And I got to hold him when he was just a few hours old! That was cool. Maybe going forward I should just ask everyone to have their babies in January and then ask to be there so I can hold them. Would that be weird? Also would it lose its specialness? “Oh great another baby to hold.”
  • Hmmm. BoJack’s second half of the final season premiered in January? That’s a truth if not a weird sentence and also stretch in terms of if that makes January cool or if January just got lucky.
  • Ooo, there’s lots of birthdays of course. Friends. Cousins. My sister-in-law… High Five.
  • That’s it. That’s all I got. 

I dunno. Maybe January is just here to suck. Maybe the reason we have a January is so we can appreciate the other months more. It can’t always be holiday time. Or back-to-school. Or summer vaycay. Or pastel season. (You know the month.) 

Maybe I just gotta let January *be* you know? Maybe I need to try to stop making it something it’s not, and just accept January as it is. 

Oh my god, is January a metaphor for how we should treat ourselves with our New Year’s Resolutions?

Oh my god, is January a reminder that it’s okay to be boring once in a while? That in order to change it’s good to pause, to cleanse, to reset? That it’s never too late to tie loose ends and that no matter what you can always, always start again?


Shit. It is, isn’t it? It has to be. Otherwise we’d be calling it Marcia-uary. 

And dammit if I don’t love me an underdog. 

  • One L

“The days after Xmas and before 2021 feeling weird/melancholy/comatose/relieved.. like should I take a nap or take down the tree or just have a drink and order more vintage sweaters off Etsy?? I’m at a loss.” – January Jones

some things that got me through 2020

  1. Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia on vinyl
  2. Online nerd DnD workouts curated by Andrew Deutsch 
  3. Carbohydrates
  4. Zoom, Google Hang, Google Meets, Google Duo, and Facetime
  5. 10 Percent Happier Meditation App 
  6. Dave’s Hot Chicken Combo #2 on Postmates – 2 sliders with fries mild heat add cheese
  7. Hop Merchant’s back parking lot and their infinite supply of Allagash Curieux 
  8. Doctor Who 
  9. Book club t-shirts that say “Sorry Babe, It’s Book Club” 
  10. The Luv Sac couch’s corner seat
  11. Body Positivity Training by the remarkable Kate Huffman
  12. Bryan Cranston and Jimmy Fallon’s “Hats”
  13. Netflix
  14. Quizzia Pub Trivia hosted by Corey Rittmaster with trivia team Boss Vic Koss
  15. Veggie nachos from Andy’s
  16. Margo and Calvin and Addie and Miles and anyone else who had the bravery to be born 
  17. Cabins located in Lake Arrowhead
  18. Anti-racism training from the Diversity and Resiliency Institute of El Paso
  19. Zillow
  20. Weed
  21. The abrupt tears of Keith Brymer Jones
  22. Vendome liquors pick-up order 
  23. Palm Springs on Hulu
  24. “I’m speaking.” – Kamala Harris
  25. David Tenant Does A Podcast With
  26. The Brooklyn sublet with washer and dryer in unit 
  27. Glasses of First Leaf wine on a tiny bedroom porch
  28. Amazon Prime
  29. Fans of the BoJack poem
  30. Purell
  31. Come From Away on Broadway
  32. Normal People – the book, the mini-series and everyone who wore a mask
  33. The voice of Richard Ayoade 
  34. A weighted blanket
  35. Joshua Tree moon crystals
  36. Fetch The Bolt Cutters
  37. Chandler Blvd. 
  38. Chandler Bing
  39. Bing Crosby
  40. The Creative Arts Emmys
  41. Grapefruit, lemon, and lime trees
  42. Instacart 
  43. Formal Friday
  44. Typo and Story
  45. Zach
  • One L

“May you live in interesting times.” – English expression


Growing up, my family had a tiny cabin in the middle of the woods somewhere in Colorado. While my much more geographically savvy brothers could tell you exactly where it was, all I remember was it required a lot of packing and it took “a car ride that lasted forever” to get there.

It was a one room cabin with a screened-in porch attached to the front that was larger than the cabin itself. There was an outhouse that had that famous Farrah Fawsett red bathing suit poster on the inside of the door, as if Farrah was gleefully watching us take a shit in the middle of the night. I always felt bad that Farrah was stuck in that smelly, disgusting place. Gritting her teeth, no less. 

My family didn’t outright own the cabin, we shared it with like four other families from my mom’s work or something. Sort of like a timeshare situation, I think. All I really remember was we had a printed paper calendar on our fridge with color coded highlights of which family got the cabin which week – and it was mostly scratched out with trades.

It was a tiny cabin, but it did the job, as it served as much needed respite for my busy, stressed out fam. Cheap respite. All we had to do was bring food for the tiny kitchenette and wood for the fireplace and sleeping bags and boots and coats and jeans and socks and hats and gloves and toilet paper and matches and board games and then me, my mom, my dad, my brother, my other brother and our dog Lobo would all pile into both the minivan and station wagon to truly be one with nature.

Five of us humans plus one massive dog were all expected to comfortably fit in that one storage unit sized cabin. There was a pull out couch and at some point we brought up my brothers’ old wooden bunk beds, which included an additional mattress underneath  making for three child-sized sleeping spots. (I love that my parents got the luxurious fold-out like they were the important, adult people.) I have no freaking clue how we children managed to sleep in that cabin before bringing the bunk bed. Did we sleep on the wooden floor, maybe? What about the spiders? WHAT ABOUT THE SPIDERS?

The cabin was on a hill and it overlooked a small, but pretty, pond surrounded by many abandoned beaver dams. It was really a picturesque place, minus the surplus of vacant beaver dams. There were lots of places to explore and things to do, like check out the beaver dams. Rocks, trees, water, rolling hills, stars, never seeing a beaver.

It looked like a dam Robert Frost poem when it snowed.

(Did Frost ever wax poetic about beavers and their said dams? I’ll google.)

And it was at this cabin, where we spent many a color-coded calendar weekends, that I became… an indoor girl. 

Of course I didn’t know it at the time. I just knew I couldn’t quite place my finger on why I dreaded going to the cabin so much. Our dog came with us. I loved our dog. I also loved the smell of fire. I also loved not brushing my hair, always wearing sweatpants, and making smores. 

It is only in hindsight that I realized my “indoor girl” -ness. Like, recent hindsight. On a June evening where I was reminiscing with my husband as we sat outside on our tiny bedroom porch — our new, only pastime in this year of 2020 quarantine — it dawned on me that my absolute favorite memories of the cabin were threefold: 

  1. Going to the spot where a tree fell over a giant rock that my brothers and I called “the fort” and while the boys were out trying to catch trout or scrape their knees or something, I instead brought my Babysitter’s Club book to the tree/rock “fort” and sat under the tree “roof,” leaned against my rock “chair” in the dirt “bedroom” and oh my god I was playing house in the woods.  
  2. Playing UNO with my mom on our patio that was screened-in and covered so I didn’t have to feel the hot sun touch my sensitive face or the mosquitos bite my sensitive skin and I could eat all the M&Ms and shuffle all the cards and oh my god I could also do that at home. 
  3. When my parents would include their tiny bedroom television and VCR and an extension cord in their packing and take me to Showtime Video a few days before where I could pick any movie I want– oh my god oh my god my parents bribed me to go to nature with $2 Tuesday movie rentals. 

Seriously number 3 was my absolute favorite part of going to the cabin. While everyone else was out breathing fresh air, I got to happily sit next to a dying fire and watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Jumanji in peace. Inside.  As nature intended. 

I’ve never wanted to admit that I was an indoor girl. I always thought I liked hiking and camping, and I totally believe in the rejuvenation aspects of the wilderness. I like being away from mirrors and hearing the sounds of a river and how good mediocre food tastes after a long day moving my body with a backpack on. I know how to put up a tent, how to properly put out a fire, how to dig a hole to poop in. I’ve owned a truck before! I married a man who likes to fly fish! I’m soo cooooooool and outdoorsy like that. 

But, alas, the signs are all there. They always have been. 

The truth is, I like the great outdoors as long as there is an indoor spot just for me. I like camping, but I think I love a cabin more. At our cabin, I loved looking at the stars – the amazing, awe-inspiring stars that you could never see unless you were up in the mountains – as long as it was through the screen of our porch because, you know, coyotes. 

I loved stepping through mounds and mounds of Robert Frost snow because I knew there was newspaper back near the fireplace in the cabin that I could wad up and stick into my boots to make them dry again. Also, after the snow stomping escapade I totally had the VHS of Cool Runnings calling my name. 

So, you know, I was basically the 8-year-old, female Jack London.

I’ve been thinking about the cabin a lot lately because I think it’s why I’m doing relatively okay today, in this month of July in this year of 2020 – the year of our humanity’s reckoning.

I mean, I’m not okay. I don’t think anyone is okay. I’m very sad and I miss many people and I’m constantly angry and and…  

I also don’t think this year is a loss.

I think 2020 is a historic year, an important year, a year of rebirth and positive change in many ways. At least, I hope it is.

The challenging thing about it is we’re still IN the year — we’re in the thick of it — so it’s impossible to comment or reflect while it’s still currently happening all around us. 

There’s still so much IN we’ve got to be IN until we’re OUT. You know? 

Reflection, much like revealing if Robert Frost wrote a beaver poem, will need to come at a later time. For now, I am hopeful that big, wonderful changes are coming to this world in regards to health, class, race, identity, beliefs, and leadership. In the meantime… 

I’ll finally admit it. I’m an indoor girl. 

And I think my indoor-ness at the cabin is why, right now, I don’t feel so disconnected from the outside world today.  

Because even within that tiny wooden cube of a cabin, I still felt like I was enveloped in nature. That I, too, was experiencing something special. Perhaps it’s not the same as the authentic wilderness experience that my bothers had, who were out canoeing or climbing or whatever young boys did, (I never really knew, I just knew they smelled.) But in a strange way, when I was at the cabin I felt just as “in it.” I was still something small surrounded by something vast and important. I understood that, and I appreciated it. And wasn’t that the whole point? 

Things slowed down at the cabin. Things were observed at the cabin. The cabin was quiet and different than the real world. I don’t think I complained about going because for some reason even though I missed running water and my stuffed animal collection, I knew spending time at the cabin was significant.

It’s hard to explain, but I have been stuck in my two bedroom North Hollywood apartment for nearly four months now, and yet with everything going on, I have never felt more aware and connected to the outside. Things have slowed down. Things are being observed and reflected upon.

My neighbors and I wave at each other through our masks as we take out the recycling from all our take-out orders. 

My TV job is remote and yet within a Zoom we’re discussing and absorbing all the news of the day, writing silly things about it, and putting it on the air to hopefully get people to chuckle and also, maybe, push the needle a bit? 

My social media, though I take much needed breaks, serves as a place to provide observational fodder, like how strange it is to live with the limited styles of clothes I have here in LA (I left all my normal work clothes in NY, so I only have yoga pants and then super formal-wear here, hence how my Formal Friday postings began) and also to spread info about charities and causes that need supporting. 

And since May, there’s been a daily, peaceful, well-attended BLM protest happening at the park across the street. I’ve found my screened-in porch equivalent by driving by, cardboard sign in hand, honking and cheering at the work they’re doing. 

My family and friends are, thankfully, healthy and safe. I hope they can remain that way, and I’m hopeful keeping in touch with calls and emails and texts help with that.

I know there are many thoughts about social media advocacy and hot takes about when we should be around people and combativeness about when we are safe to get out and go places. I’m not here to argue about it, I just know I’m well-informed with my choices and have a personal comfort zone to observe. 

After all, I am an indoor girl. I don’t like the thought of spreading sickness just like I didn’t like the thought of coyotes and sunburns and spiders – and coyotes aren’t crazy contagious, you can’t get severe, crippling sunburns from strangers who think they’re “fine without a mask” and, aside from the Funnel-Web, spiders can’t kill you in your prime.  

And just like I appreciated being one with nature from within my cabin, today I feel more and more understanding of the world while being in this apartment right now. Is it ideal? Hell no. But it’s significant.

I will stomp in the snow again when I know there’s plenty of newspaper back near the fireplace. And yes that is my contrived vaccine metaphor. I dunno. I’m tired. You get it. 

Also, Robert Frost never wrote a beaver poem. 

  • One L

“Feel the Rhythm! Feel the Rhyme! Get on up, it’s bobsled time!”

The Tinkerbell Pen

I found the application on my desk after we came back from lunch recess.

It was for a writing contest.

Presented by Disney.

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Sharp, left it for me to find.

The elementary aged winner got to see their story turned into an animated short on the Disney Channel. There was a prompt, a word limit, a deadline.

And I was going to win the damn thing.

It’s been 23 years since that contest and now I’m living in New York City while my husband is in LA and I’ve been working as writer for Jimmy Fallon – Hi! It’s been a minute! –  and the pandemic is so peak right now that writing about anything else feels very stupid.

I remember the application sitting on my desk, with the big Disney D (backwards G) stamped on the top.

I remember where I was sitting in the classroom (in the front near the chalkboard), as well as my haircut (very bad and likely the reason I got into comedy), and I remember Mrs. Sharp’s grey hair, tan skin, bad teeth and wrinkled lips.

Memory is such a funny thing, isn’t it? What details it grasps on to and what others it chooses to let fade away.

The New York sublet I am in right now gets hot at night, and I often have to wake up at 3am to turn on the very convenient air conditioning unit in the window. I can never go back to sleep. I should just remember to turn it on when I am going to bed but I never seem to. It’s hard to remember everything, on your own. God, I hope I’m washing my hands enough.

I don’t remember if I wrote my story for this Disney contest on a computer or by hand. I remember there was a word count because staying within the word count was hard for even ten-year-old me. Bad hair or not, this gal has always been long-winded. I wrote a story about Billikens because my dad had a sweatshirt from his alma mater with one on it and when I asked him what it was he told me it was a Billiken and I took it from there.

It’s 3am in New York and I am awake. I am loving my job and all the people I’m working with and I want to make them proud and I want to thrive but I am also scared that I don’t know what I am doing and also that I’m going to get sick in this city all alone. And maybe I should focus on figuring out how to get home and not think about anything else right now.

Mrs. Sharp was an exceptional fourth grade teacher. She had these big stickers shaped like eyes on the door of our backpack closet that made the closet look like a big dragon face, where the door handles were the nostrils. When Mrs. Sharp was frustrated with the class she would have a student draw big, red veins on the eyes so we would know we were in trouble.

One time, the teacher’s pet, Danielle Winslow (I was also the teacher’s pet, but Danielle was more like number one teacher’s pet and I was just the silver medal, also we were super best buds) was in charge of drawing the red eye veins in the dragon eyes and accidentally drew on one eye with permanent marker. Mrs. Sharp laughed it off and said that she was just going to be half angry for the rest of the year.

Memories are strange. They come and go, with seemingly no motive.

They sent us home from work today, and I am back in the sublet, packing my suitcase for LA.

I remember that while writing the Billikens story I would often stare at that one dragon eye sticker, wiping the permanent red veins away with my mind. Trying desperately to mentally wipe everything clean.

I have Lysol-ed the hell out of my sublet, and vacuumed and washed the sheets. After waiting on hold for an hour and a half with Jetblue, I got a 7am direct flight to LA. I’ve decided to forgo sleep for the night and watch episodes of The Office until Pam and Jim’s wedding, which is where I usually stop my binge. I sit by the door until my lyft to the airport arrives.

The Billikens story was about how everyone thought Billikens were leprechauns but they weren’t leprechauns and they were going to set out to prove once and for all that they were different, that they are their own tiny elf things with powers. It was a good story. Cute.

I don’t remember how I submitted my Billiken story. I assume it was through mail. We weren’t doing email quite yet, this was the mid-90’s. 96? 97?

1997 was when Titanic came out and that was when I was in the fifth grade. For some reason that ‘97/ fifth grade combo has helped me place timelines way better than any “year in review” yearbook page. Good Will Hunting also came out in 1997. Starring Ben Affleck.  

So, it was definitely 1996 that I submitted my Billiken story to this contest I was definitely going to win.

God, memory, why are you so weird? Why is all this playing out in my brain… right now?

On this dark and quiet New York morning, where JFK is practically empty and they actually have hand sanitizer and wipes for sale at the news stands. So, that’s the trick, everyone. To get ahold of sanitizer all you need to do is buy a plane ticket and go through airport security. My hands are so dry from all the times I’ve washed them that they are starting to crack. I wipe my chair and sit. Waiting to board. Trying to stay calm. Wondering if I should be flying right now. Knowing I need to get back to LA before someone stops me.

Prior to the Disney contest I was working on a series of mystery “novels” that included every kid in Mrs. Sharp’s class. The main character was Detective Chris Murphy. Kids thought it was because I had a crush on the fourth grade Chris but really he was the lead because he had the best name for a detective. I didn’t even know what a noir was, I just knew Chris needed to wear a trench coat and have a hat that covered his eye and that he would say “gumshoe” a lot.

The first “novel” in the series was clearly the plot of a Family Matters episode I saw once, (I was a plagiarizer and didn’t even know it!) but going forward the mysteries were ones only a ten-year-old could create. It’s crazy to think that my Finding Forester book was an Urkle episode.

I knew that after winning this writing contest with my Billikens story, my whole life was going to change. Maybe my Detective Murphy series could become a Disney cartoon! And then that would mean I was a real, professional writer slash actor. I was going to make it. At age ten.

I’m on the airplane now and there’s not many of us, which feels nice but also tense. In all the scenarios, I never thought this would be the hardest part of starting a new job. There’s a joke there, I think. I just can’t think of one right now.

I didn’t win the Disney writing contest. I didn’t even make it to the second round. Instead, I received a Tinkerbell pen.

Everyone on this flight is wearing a mask or covering their face in some way. There’s a baby behind me. And all the cleaning smells are so potent they’re making me sneeze inside my shirt, causing people in the plane to eye me every time I do. I swear, I’m not sick. I’m just inhaling the peroxide the guy in the row in front of me is pouring onto his seat.

It was a small, purple pen that you twisted to use. And inside of it was a little floating Tinkerbell, that, when tipped over, would fly over to an outline of a castle to do the thing Tinkerbell does to a castle. Magic it? Light it up? Set it on fire?

No one has ordered anything to drink or is watching a movie on their touch screens. I am shivering but I don’t dare ask for a blanket. Everything beyond this moment-by-moment happening seems ridiculous to think about now.

Wait, is Tinkerbell setting the magic castle on fire? Is that what she is doing? Also, why Tinkerbell? She’s from Peter Pan. Castles aren’t even in Peter Pan. Peter Pan is all islands and pirate ships.

I lie down in my empty row, thinking time will pass faster the more horizontal I am. I just need to land in LA and get home.

What kind of decision process happened in order to make “Tinkerbell lighting a castle on fire” become the start of every Disney animated movie? Corporations are weird, man. We don’t question them enough.

I wanted to win a contest and all I got was that stupid Tinkerbell pen. I was heartbroken.

I am lying on this Jetblue plane, about an hour out from LAX, and I feel a tear trickle down my face. I am not sure if it’s because I am crying or because I sneezed earlier or because I am so damn cold. Or if it’s all of those things all at once. Regardless, I sort of like the trickle touching my cheek. I make a note to wipe the seat once I sit back up, but for now, I enjoy the feeling of the trickle.

I don’t remember how I officially received the Tinkerbell pen, I think I was at school. I think Mrs. Sharp gave it to me. Or maybe it was in a big envelope on my desk with a big rejection letter.

Even at age ten, I remember thinking that it was super unthoughtful that Disney gave reject writer kids like me a pen. Ten-year-olds weren’t allowed to write with pens. Only pencils. They should have given us a cool set of pencils. I was not going to write the next Detective Murphy novel with this stupid-ass pen.

The Tinkerbell pen was the first time I learned that pursuing the things I loved was going to be hard. It was the first time I realized life was going to be hard.

And it was the first time my life did not go according to plan.

Memories are here to help you, I think. Maybe it’s okay to get lost in them once in a while.

We’ve landed. I’ve wiped my seat. I’ve grabbed my bag and have walk/jogged off the plane. I get lost looking for baggage claim (God, I hate LAX), but thankfully my bag is one of the first to come out. It’s raining outside. The clouds match the mood. I see my husband pull up in our car. I get in. He grabs my dry, cracked hand. We get home. I pet my cats. I shower. And finally, I collapse in tears.

I am finally where I need to be, and I will be in this apartment for at least the next two weeks. I have no idea when all of this is going to get back to normal. When I can return to my new job. If I ever want to leave my husband again. There’s so much out of my control right now, it’s almost like my brain has needed a break. Like it has needed something else to think about over the last 24 hours.

In Mrs. Sharp’s fourth grade classroom, I both cherished and hated my Tinkerbell pen. For the rest of the year, instead of staring at the veiny dragon eye on our backpack closet, I found myself staring at my pen, tipping it back and forth.

Continuously watching Tinkerbell light the magic castle on fire.

The Tinkerbell pen. I remember every inch of that pen. I wonder where it ended up. If I would ever find it again. 

I wonder what my Tinkerbell pen is going to be from right now.  

What items are we going to recall to remind us that life doesn’t always go according to plan?

What memories are we going to grab on to from today, to pop into our brains at a later time, for when things are again scary and bizarre and not the norm?

What story are we going to play in our heads when all we’re trying to do is get home?

If you can, between washing your hands and staying inside, let your memories in. Let them remind you of your own life lessons. Let them give you a tiny break from the right now.

Let Tinkerbell light the castle on fire.

The Lifetime Achievement Award

*Applause. Applause. Applause.

*She walks to the podium.

*She stands next to the big shiny indescribable thing.

*She unfolds a piece of paper.

*She looks at the mic.


*She begins.

“Ahem. Thank you very much for this lifetime achievement award. It’s an honor to be receiving it right before I die tomorrow, which, as we all know, is exactly when we discover whether or not we’ve won the award for existence achievy-ness. It also means a lot that I can give a speech right now before I’m super dunzo. Much obliged.

Yes, I’ve achieved a time of life, and I have to tell you, it is so exhilarating to know that when I am nothing more than a rotting corpse in the ground, people will briefly reflect on my formally living self and think, ‘Wow, that Alison, she really executed her life perfectly. PERFECTLY.’ And then while I am withering away into non-existence, another person will quickly smile and think, ‘I mean seriously, starting from a young age that woman was determined to do everything right, and nothing wrong, ever. And look at her now. Dead.’  Then, surely, as I am becoming one with the earth and no longer a separate being of my own, a third person’s brain would chime in to think, ‘For if she ever did anything wrong, she knew it was all her fault, and there was no excuse for it, and it was important that she beat herself up mercilessly for it because otherwise how would she win this big shiny but otherwise indescribable thing that she only knew she  won the day before she died?’

I have lived my life in hopes that it would be abundantly clear that in the end I ticked all the boxes. And, barely able to think or breath or stand because I am dying tomorrow, I finally know for sure that boy did I ever tick those boxes! Check. Check. Check. That’s what I’d say to myself every time I ticked them. Check. Check. Every last one of them. It was ticking all the things that proved that I achieved my life so well.

Because if I wanted anything at all in this existence that is currently this close to not mattering anymore, it’s the satisfaction that I was exactly right at being and doing all the things, all at once. Oh, look, that’s what this big shiny thing says!”

*She pauses.

*She folds her paper.

*She steps away from the mic.

*She turns the big shiny indescribable thing for everyone to see.  

In Honor Of Alison Tafel

For memorably making the world better in a very specific, unique, and important way all while being chronically intelligent, thoughtful, kind, approachable, tough, breezy, blunt, popular, hilarious, and LIKED with an exceptional body, face, style, and hair to match.

Once more, everything appeared to come easy to her. Like, no big deal whatevs easy.

High Five, Alison. Way To Go. Pat On The Back. You Did It.

Now Go Ahead And Die.

*Applause. Applause. Applause.

“Ahem. Wow. What a powerful way to be remembered, at least for the second or two before I fall into the cracks of memory that are inconsequential and hard to reach in the end.

I hope you all know that in my determination to be all things good and not any things bad, – and again, with ease,– I never once bothered to stop and wonder if this otherwise logically impossible feat was something I even wanted in the first place.

I symbolically hold this now, this big shiny indescribable and unnecessary entity, and my mind is already racing on what’s next on my To Do list. I mean, I have mere hours left on this earth and wouldn’t you know it, I still haven’t hit the gym today!”


“Yes I know, I know. If I don’t make it to the gym then I will have failed the day and this award would be worthless, despite the fact that it is made out of the concept of PRICELESS and ALLYOUCOULDEVERHOPEDITWOULDBE.

You can be sure I will be on an elliptical machine first thing this afternoon, right after I make my final donation to the charity of my choice – the one that makes all the difference – and right before I drink one of my final protein shakes that tastes like a laid-back demeanor. (I’ll multi-task while on the elliptical with solving that big thing we are all suppose to solve together, but I can somehow solve alone.)

So, as you stare at my toned body and wonder how I drank all the beers (like one of the guys), and as you gaze into my eyes that hold all the inspiring wisdom you admire and all the endearing naivety you relate to, please rest assured that in the end, this has all been fine. I mean, I’ve been fine. I’m fine. Totally fine. Like, I’ve never been better. It’s been so great in this pressure cooker of a brain I’ve got that nothing has ever been on the brink of pure madness and hey is it hot up here I guess it’s only a little hot up here no it’s not too hot I think I think I just think it’s good, you know? It’s alllllll good, man.”


“Woman, I mean. It’s alllll good, woman! Or, people. It’s allllll good, people. Apologies.”

*Sighs of relief.

“So yeah. Thanks again. It’s all been totally worth it. This award. Not a doubt in my mind about that. As long as I can end today, and my life, hearing a stranger’s whispers in the next bathroom stall…

‘That Alison, she was always go go go, huh? Always on to the next forcefully wonderful, subjectively exciting thing. You know, that attitude was actually how she got from one thing to the next with such massive (and easy peasy) success. It was all due to her go-go-go-never-stopping-to-smell-the-roses way of impeccably being.’


‘For most people, life is messy and complicated and, uh, what’s the word? Right, HAPPY — but not straight-shooter, list-making Alison. Her deliberate hops from point A to point B were as fast as they were solid, not that I am calling her solid, in fact she was always light as a feather – which is the correct way to be, I tell you – light as a god damn feather. Low number on the scale, a laughter that’s contagious, and a personality that absolutely no one in the world would clash with. No siree, or ma’am, or miss, or they – Alison is single-handedly the only person to not annoy a single person while also being incredibly fascinating to everyone who knew of her, without at all being intimidating or boisterous, but rather powerful and encouraging and chill. P.S. None of this blog is intended to be self absorbed writing at all, even though her new worry before she posts it is that is how it is coming across.’

Yes. It is so exciting to know that these convos will be happening, for perhaps a little less than twenty minutes in total, as I fade into oblivion never to feel or know or love or exist again.

This award is truly my life’s work.

You know, I have heard of some people who, on the last day of their life, (again the only day in which we discover what we’ve won for being here), actually took home the Happiness Award instead of this big shiny thing. And those people I deeply, deeply feel sorry for. I’m so sorry your days were filled with hardships and joy and struggle and laughter and growth and sadness and peace instead of ticked boxes and self-competition and appearance scrutiny and over-analyzing and pedestalizing others and impossible standards and unseen anxiety. I’m sorry that in order to achieve calm you had to go through turmoil. I certainly never went through turmoil, on account of how meticulous I was to avoid all things wrong. It’s a shame that after all was said and done you knew how to appreciate the little things instead of focusing of the overall-ness of your worth, that you never got to know which tabs you had left open that should be closed, which loose ends you needed to immediately tie into an (evenly pulled) bow, and how you were utterly unable to distinguish and harp on your very obvious failures. Rumor has it the Happiness Award is not a big shiny, hard-to-make-out-in-your-mind thing, but rather a metaphorical box that you can indeed take with you.

I mean, seriously, who would want that when you can have this… this…um, thingy here? Right? Haha. Ahaha. Ha.”

*The appropriate and sincere amount of joining laughter.

* Immediate silence.

“Who would want to cherish deep personal connections with close friends and family when you can relive bad interactions with strangers that can’t possibly be fixed because they are in the past?

Who would want to enjoy traveling the world, seeing new sights, and trying new foods when you can instead log calories and examine your protruding belly every day, knowing there is always a better way to look, a better way to be?

Who wants to find inner-beauty when there is motherfucking Instagram?”

*Nods of approving agreement in regards to the perfectly timed use of a swear word.

“I hold this award – or rather stand next to it, because it’s not something you can have or keep or comprehend, really – I stand next to this award, and I am honored. Honored and proud (but not too proud, humble proud) that my life’s work has led to this ultimate, final, nonsignificant moment. The moment right before I am done with being alive forever.

So, thank you everyone. I’ve won. I’ve won at life. And if you want to win at life too all you have to do is do exactly what I did. Just remember:

It doesn’t count if it doesn’t come easy.”

*Applause. Applause. Applause.

*She steps away from the podium.

*She motions to the big shiny indescribable thing.

*She bows.

*She cries.

*She bows and cries.

*She bows and cries.

*She bows and cries.

*And farts.

– One L

“I don’t deserve this, darling, you look perfect tonight.” – Redhead on GoT