In Case of Natural Disaster…

Hi friends!  I’m BACK!  Let the blogging craziness begin…. 

I’ve been reading Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal for the second time this week.   If you haven’t read this book, seriously — go order it now.  Or, better than that — go find your local bookstore and buy it from a real person who can also point you towards their current favorite book of the week.  (That may be another post for another time.  And yes, I heart Amazon too, don’t worry.)

Where was I? An Everlasting Meal. 

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Right. So, nestled among some of the most gorgeous writing I’ve come across, tucked in between recipes for roast chicken and vegetable stock and piquant relishes on crackers, there’s a recipe for A Salad For a Natural Disaster.  The idea being that — no matter the day, no matter what disaster is befalling you, you can always come up with something that’s not just going to keep you alive.  You can come up with something that is — dare I say? — tasty. Refreshing. Beautiful.

My favorite part is the final instruction:  Mix well and hope for the best. 

A creative life feels a lot like that.

It takes a lot of prep work to be creative.  I absolutely live for the days that I’m curled up in my little writing den (aka my dining room) with a french press of coffee and Trevor Morris or London Grammar or Gungor playing in the background, the days that I’m staring at a blank sheet of paper or a blank computer screen and actually writing a script.

But there is so much more that comes before those days.

What research do I need to do? What do I need to process? What bits of dialogue or character development can I stick up on my board? What should I name this character?  I should probably write an outline first. I need to buy more index cards and post-it notes. What’s the heart of this story? 

It feels messy and mostly unproductive.  I have fanatically organized “Idea Documents” in a folder on my desktop.  Names I like. Story ideas. Places that are beautiful. Actors I’d love to write for.  Inspiring articles. My 50-in-5 lists (another post coming soon…).

It’s a bit like stocking my writers pantry. 

When am I ever going to use this much arborio rice or coconut oil or ginger?   When am I ever going to use the rain in Trafalgar Square in a story?  Seriously, do you really need a glass jar of salt-packed capers? It’s not like we’d really ever shoot at that location, so why even bother saving the photo? Should I really buy a dozen eggs?  I’ve been trying to go vegan. But what if that boy-meets-girl story actually works? I just want to cook something easy for dinner.

I just want to write. 

But the best meals you just “throw together” happen because your pantry is actually stocked with things that taste good together — like jasmine rice with a can of coconut milk and fresh ginger and lemongrass, topped with whatever vegetables you have hidden away in your fridge and pantry. A pinch of salt and fresh-ground pepper. Some soy sauce and mirin.  And suddenly, on a night where I seriously don’t feel like cooking — ‘hoping for the best’ actually turns out to be pretty wonderful.

The best scripts for me happen when I’ve done all my pre-writing.  First, the basics like research and outlines.

But second, and very nearly more important are the inspirations that are much less tangible — the saving of songs that sound like the right emotions, the names that capture the heart of a character, the classic novel that reminds me what beautiful prose can be.  The coffee that tastes like heaven while I write.  Knowing that when this script is done, I’ll crack open a bottle of good merlot with friends and celebrate.

So, go… gather your inspiration.  Your ingredients.  Cook.  Write.

And hope for the best.
 

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Recharging… Hold, please…

Hi everyone!

I’m on a blogging hiatus for the time being. I decided to make it official rather than just blipping off the radar and letting my blog wither away into nothing.  My blog is a space that I dearly love and can’t wait to get back to, but my current crazy (and I love it) life is keeping me away from really devoting the time I’d like to.

My blogging hiatus started accidentally. I let a week go by after my last post, and then two. Life got in the way. And then life got so busy I barely knew up from down. And while my life is calming down again, I realized that I need to recharge my creative brain before I dig back into this form of writing and sharing.

I have so much I want to say – and so much I will be saying. Soon.

But in the meantime, I’ll be recharging.

Hold, please…

Lynn

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Neurotic Girl Seeks A Mimosa

scones!

Entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be. You can twist it and turn it into anything you want – a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval. Or you can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving. You can decide…

Shauna Niequist speaks my language.  I love that quote.

(Sidenote: I promise I will not turn my whole blog into repeated statements of “Go read Shauna Niequist’s books. Now!”  But seriously – I make no guarantees about this specific blog post.  Go do it. Now.)

I love this quote, not because I am incredibly good at chilling out when people come over, but because I need to be reminded to Chill. The. Crap. Out. most of the time.  All of the time.

For the past several years – pretty much since I moved to LA and wanted to meet tons of fabulous people – I’ve hosted girls’ breakfasts off and on.

Saturday mornings, 9:30 to whenever.  

I always make the coffee first.  Sometimes I have two friends there.  One time I had 30.  Usually most everyone knows at least some of the people there, and so I do a round of introductions and make another pot of coffee and scurry off to the kitchen to make crepes while listening to my sweet friends, laughing and drinking coffee and mimosas.

Without fail – I panic at least once.  What if someone’s bored?  What if I burn the crepes?  What if I didn’t buy enough eggs for the frittata?  What if my house isn’t clean enough?  What if I didn’t buy enough food in general and someone gets stuck with a bowl of cereal?  What if people think I’m a terrible hostess?  

And the truth is – no one really remembers exactly what I made.  No one comes in, staring at their watch and chastising me for being 10 minutes late because – oh yeah, I should probably turn the broiler on to toast the bread.  I’ve burned stuff and spilled coffee and had to stretch the berries across 12 plates instead of 9 because unexpected guests joined in for the morning.   I’ve also pulled off nutella crepes and apple cinnamon muffins and tiny Elvis brownies (chocolate, peanut butter, honey, bananas) and fresh whipped cream stuffed into cored strawberries dipped in chocolate and frittatas with a beautiful toasted parmesan crust.  But all of that is beside the point.

The point is the beautiful friends all sitting around my kitchen table.

And so I give out hugs and mismatched coffee cups.  People offer to brew a round of coffee or cut the fritatta or wipe the kitchen counter down because it looks like a powdered sugar monster descended and ran amok – and I say yes.  And thank you.

Despite all my neuroses screaming otherwise – I don’t need people to think I’m perfect.

I want people to come into breakfast and feel like there’s a safe space to share and fun food to eat and excellent company all around. I want you to meet her because she’s an excellent photographer and you’re searching for one. I want the two of you to meet because you have an equally passionate love for Justin Timberlake, and I want them to meet up because they’re both about to be moms for the first time.

I hope that friendships are renewed and restored and started over a couple cups of coffee and some mimosas.  I hope everyone laughs.

And in the meantime – I’ll be calming down over here.

 

 

 

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Still TBD…

Twitter bio

Let’s just talk for a second about how much I love that Hillary Clinton has a sense of humor about herself, her accomplishments and her life.

I know the internet exploded and everyone started talking about her bio when her Twitter went live.  And with good reason… her bio is awesome on every level.

My very favorite piece of her entire bio comes from this:

TBD…

Because seriously – if there’s anyone in the world who might possibly be able to look at her life and say: Okay, I’ve accomplished some pretty amazing things… I could probably take it easy for a bit, it would be her.  

Instead, she’s publicly announcing that she’s not perfect. (Perfect by it’s very definition seems to include finished.)

She’s publicly announcing that she’s incomplete – and it’s a moment of strength for her. 

Politics aside – there’s something really awesome about the idea of living life with a TBD at the end of your bio.

There’s always something more coming, just around the corner.

You’re not done learning yet.  You’re not done growing.

Your very worst mistakes don’t have to live as the final word on your life. You get tomorrow to start fresh.

You’re still to be determined…

What are you going to do with that? 

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Salads and Dream Jobs

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I am reading the most fabulous book right now.

Shauna Niequist’s book Bread and Wine is a collection of essays about life and making beautiful food for amazing friends.  And honestly – that doesn’t even cover it.  My girl Brandi (whose music you should totally listen to, by the way) recommended the book for me, and I can’t say enough good things about it.

Some of my deepest, most viscerally beautiful moments have come when I’m sitting around a table with friends, eating through big bowls of herby pasta and arugula salad, when the wine bottles are just starting to dip below half full, when we’ve gotten past the important but still surface questions of How has your week been?  What did you do last weekend?  and gotten to the deeper questions of – How are you?  Really?  

Hearts are on display. 

I love cooking.  I love feeding people who walk through my door.  If you’ve known me for any length of time, I’m probably going to rope you into a dinner at some point so I can try out new recipes.  Bonus points for those of you who have survived my cooking disasters.  Most of the time, I think I pull it together all right, though.

But it’s so not about the food.  

Food is just what gets everyone to the table. It gives you something to do with your hands – especially on those first few times of hanging out, when it’s sort of awkward but sort of awesome.  No one wants to just sit across a table and stare.  And so you start eating.  You talk about the salad, and the salad you had at lunch for work today.  So tell me about your job.  And then you talk about your job and your career and your ultimate dream job. And that’s when you start getting into the real heart of people.

My dream job would be to run my own company, because I am so passionate about creating this type of world. 

My dream job would be a neonatal specialist in the hospital, because I watched my best friends in the hospital for six weeks with their baby.

My dream job is to travel to Africa and provide clean water for villages in Namibia.

My dream job is to be a comic book writer. 

My dream job is the one I’m going to get next year.  My dream job is the one I have now.  

And suddenly, a conversation about arugula, kale, shallots and almonds has just become a conversation about people’s core values and deepest wishes for their lives and for the world.  

Somebody pass the chocolate cake.  This conversation’s going to go late tonight…

——————

This is Part 1 of an ongoing series – Living Life Together … stay tuned later this week and next for more!

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Zach Sobiech

No words. Except that I need to stop being afraid of so much.  

 

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Monday Mornings…

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Good morning, Monday!

This is me, being super-positive, because sometimes Mondays scare the hell out of me.  Where did my weekend just go?  I’m really sure that ten seconds ago was Friday night, and I had a list of 100 things I was going to accomplish this weekend. I can’t accomplish 100 things in 10 seconds!  Are you kidding me??? 

Monday, you stole my weekend from me!!! 

Oh, wait.  No you didn’t.

I slept a lot.  I wrote a lot.  I dreamed about being at the ocean. I had deep conversations with Luke in the middle of the night when our new neighbors were LOUDLY moving in to an apartment next to us.  (Just in case you’re wondering, 1am is not an appropriate time to move a couch into your apartment.  Now you know.)  We had dinner with friends at Cheebo last night. I took a 4 hour nap on Saturday.  (I think I might be exhausted.)  I listened to the new Daft Punk album.  I did laundry. (Hey, it’s important!)

There are a lot of things I couldn’t do this weekend. (I blame surgery recovery. Sigh. I seriously miss all you amazing people.)

I actually had a pretty great weekend, it turns out. 

I think this Monday should actually be the start of something brand new and awesome.

What about you?

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The Great Gatsby

I am living proof that you can get all the way through high school and college (even being an English major!) without ever having read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

So I picked it up about a year ago.

And I flew through it. I love the book.

jay and daisy

And then… the movie.

Honestly, with this movie, I was in from the moment it was announced. The Great Gatsby is returning to the big screen! And then… Baz Luhrmann (of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge fame). Leonardo DiCaprio. Carey Mulligan. The list goes on…

Be still my beating heart.

It’s a shining story of beauty and wealth and fun and love stretched out across the years.  Until you look just below the surface – just below the silk – and you find an ugly, rotting self-absorbed center.

And yet you can’t look away.

On one level – this is not your grandmother’s The Great Gatsby.  Continue reading “The Great Gatsby”

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