I Dream of Running Away (Or Ambivalent About LA Again)

I frequently feel the urge to flee LA — at least once a year — to be specific. When I’m gripped with the strong desire to go somewhere else it’s usually because I’m fantasizing about a “normal” life.

(My definition of normal involves a garden, proximity to men who own more power tools than I do, and a standing tailgate every Saturday in the fall.)

I was having one of those days on Thursday. I wanted to be anywhere but here. Then I got a message from my friend, Murph. He had an extra ticket to the Snoop, Cypress Hill, and Wiz Khalifa show at the Greek for 4/20, complete with backstage passes.

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Normal life, what? Who needs THAT when you can go backstage?!?

Murph is developing a pilot with Bobo, the drummer from Cypress Hill, because this is LA, and everyone is working on a pilot. Bobo hooked us up for the show.

Obviously, our seats were sick.

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Not a bad shot of Wiz and Snoop right?

But maybe not as sick as the backstage situation.

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Like duh.

Sure, I now have to dry-clean my entire ensemble so I don’t smell like a walking bong, but it was worth it.

So worth it, in fact, that I got over my need to flee for 24 full hours.

That is until I was in an uber with Dan on the way to his friends’ Purple Rain screening party the following evening. It was an ordeal to get someone to walk the dog at the last minute, and we had a LONG ride to the party. Those old feelings were coming up again. I swear it would be easier to invade a small country than to plan how to go out on a Friday night with friends in LA where no one gets arrested.

Since we had what felt like 42 hours in the backseat of someone else’s Hyundai, I shared my fantasy about moving to Austin to eat proper barbecue and grow my own herbs in a large garden.

“And I’d have room to throw pots,” he observed wistfully.

Apparently, my wanderlust was contagious.

It was news to me that he made pottery, but I guess we all have sides of ourselves we can’t (or don’t) express in LA — interests we’ve put on hold. Sure, you can find anything here if you search for it, but the pace and the cost of everything can sometimes cause you to shelve some of your interests while you’re stuck in traffic or working to feed your enormous dog the venison he deserves.

I sometimes wonder if I’m putting too much of myself on hold to be here, however.

Would I have more to write about if I went somewhere new and immersed myself in a different place?

The thought will plague me until someone else invites me to do something cool and I’ll probably be fine again.

 

 

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Broken Hearts, Crushed Mint, and Other Things (Or Cowboy Hoof Cocktails)

I had a mini breakthrough on my recent heartbreak. I was able to put some of the experience — and my buried feelings about it — into words. Granted, they’re words forever hidden in a journal, but they represent progress for me nonetheless.

(I’m super remedial when it comes to my heart.)

There’s a chance I’ll mine those words at some point for more inspiration, but for now I’m grateful I was able to do something, however small, with my feelings.

In other news, I came across an intriguing cocktail recipe today and thought I’d give it a try.

It’s called the Cowboy Hoof.

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I channel my inner cowboy at times.

#whenintexas

That’s why the name caught my eye.

As if the name weren’t enough, the ingredients sent me over the edge: mint AND gin?

Yes, please.

I’ve been known to sip Sapphire like it’s the sweet nectar of life, and I eat fresh mint garnish instead of the desserts it adorns, so this cocktail spoke to my soul and stuff.

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The drink is MUCH prettier than my pic.

(I’m probably more remedial about photography than I am about my feelings.)

ANYWAY, ignore the basic pic, and just make yourself one.

Cowboy Hoof
12 mint leaves, plus one to garnish
2 tsp simple syrup
3 ounces of gin

Muddle the mint and simple syrup. Add ice and gin. Shake in a cocktail shaker. Pour cocktail through a strainer. Add mint to garnish.

Sip.

Smile.

Repeat.

Oh, and just in case you want to hear the song that ultimately unlocked my feelings, it’s a Bearson remix of James Bay’s Let it Go. The juxtaposition of the chipper, yet haunting beats with the painful lyrics perfectly summarize my feelings. I’m trying to shake it off and move on while simultaneously attempting to acknowledge that it hurt.

 

Beauty in Unity and Resistance (Or My Fight)

Yesterday I didn’t march. I regret it a little….

OK, maybe I regret it a lot.

Seeing the inspiring photos of my friends making history all across the country made me slightly ashamed I was only experiencing a powerful movement via my Facebook newsfeed.

I’m working a TON right now, and Saturday was my only chance to get groceries, make food for the week, and take down my twinkle lights… so I stayed home.

I realize how hollow those excuses sound.

That said, I did have a wonderful day embracing beauty and diversity in my community.

See, I decided to walk to Trader Joe’s to get groceries and on my way I came across an absolutely incredible acapella quartet outside of the Pantages Theater.

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Tremendous soul is a serious understatement.

They made my day.

They were like Boyz II Men x 10.

I stopped to watch them a second time on my way back because I loved them so much. (I donated twice. #duh)

I also took a video of their performance and shared it with my family. On a day when we were divided by politics, I felt blessed I could share something that unites us like good music. Everyone loved it — Republican and Democrat alike.

You just can’t deny soul, after all.

While I’m never going to back down when it comes to my beliefs, I’m never going to turn my back on good people who disagree with me either, so I was happy to find something that could unite us. I love my family, and finding our common ground is crucial to me.

As if a surprise serenade weren’t enough, I also met a talented homeless man making art out of palm trees.

He was only asking for donations for his work.

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I totally bought the cross.

I shared the photo — and the story — with my family. While politics and faith divide us, art unites us, so I was happy I could share this as well.

After I returned home, I made tomato soup, jammed to songs of resistance, and then I went to work at the Saloon.

If you want a taste of yesterday’s playlist here are a few highlights, in no particular order:

Fred Hammond, No Weapon

Dixie Chicks, Not Ready to Make Nice

Yolanda Adams, Never Give Up

Friday I’m in Love (Or Three Things I’m Into)

It’s FRIDAY!!!!

And I’m in LOVE. ❤ ❤ ❤

But not in the way you think I mean. I’m in love with my life, and I want to tell you about a few things that are making me happy right now because I’m all about spreading love and happiness. ❤

MY FAVORITE GLUTEN FREE CRACKERS:

They’re the Sea Salt Brown Rice Crackers by Food Should Taste Good, but a better name might be Crack in a Box.

The government should require a warning label for these things.

I mean…

Monica loves them so much, I think she might fight me for them.

Monica loves them so much, she snuggles with the box. 

They used to carry them at Costco, and I got ADDICTED. They stopped stocking them last year, and I nearly had to go to therapy.

I recently found them at the high end market on my street for 6x the price I paid at Costco. I only let myself buy them as a special treat because I’m not trying to be homeless because I’m addicted to amaranth and rice crackers.

Today felt like the right day to splurge, so I bought a box.

You probably should too, but please don’t blame me if you end up living in your car because of your addiction.

WALKING THE DOG WHILE LISTENING TO SCREENWRITING PODCASTS: 

I’m ALL about maximizing efficiency, so I get excited when I can do two things at once. Yesterday, I found a way to do THREE things at once, which was so fabulous it was almost like having an orgasm.

See, I figured out how to work out, tire out my enormous dog, AND solve some script problems all at once.

The solution?

Walking the dog while listening to screenwriting podcasts.

Genius, right?

I decided to make it an extra relaxing time for us, so we even lay in the park for a while as I listened to smart and famey writers talk about writing.

See?

Aren't you glad I showed you my armpit?

Aren’t you glad I showed you my armpit?

Nature + Learning = ❤

Plus a humming bird joined us for a while.

It was awesome.

That's not dirt. It's a bird.

That’s not dirt. It’s a bad photo of a little bird. I promise.

Time with my dog + birds + learning = ❤ ❤ ❤

If you’re into this sort of movie madness, you can check out Scriptnotes here.

And last but not least….

WRITING TO YOUTUBE MIX TAPES:

I started doing it this week, and it’s uh-mazing. Most of the mix tapes run about an hour, so you get uninterrupted beats without having to deal with ads.

True story.

I put one of my favorites below. This one happens to be all Kygo tracks, but I’m not mad about it. It includes remixes of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” and Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.”

Plus Owly, the genius who created it, even lists the tracks on the playlist so you don’t have to interrupt your writing flow to shazaam a song when you like it.

OK, I’m off to implement some of the screenwriting tips from yesterday before going to dinner with my adorable aunt and cousin.

We’re going to listen to country music while eating our favorite burritos.

It’s going to be beyond.

XOXO

❤ ❤ ❤

All Roads Lead to Bacon (Or Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions)

You know that scene in Dirty Dancing when Dr. Houseman tells Johnny he knows he’s not the one who got Penny pregnant?

He’s all, “When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong.”

(The moment is at 4:28, in case you’re interested — or in case you just wanna watch pretty people dirty dance.)

ANYWAY, when I’M wrong, I say I’m wrong too.

So, here’s one of the ways I’ve been wrong lately: I think I may have been too hard on the Spicy Calabrian Pork Ribs.

They’ve been sitting in my fridge since I made them on Monday and I’ve been snacking on them all week. I’m liking them more now than I did initially. I think maybe the marinade needs to be made a few days in advance so the flavors have time to marry. I might try this experiment another time. (If I do, I’ll totally get back to you.)

The other experiment I want to try?

Involves the maple chile glaze from this pork chop recipe. I think I want to put THAT on pork ribs as well. This brings me to another thought….

It’s possible my pig obsession is getting out of control.

I keep telling myself at least it’s not as bad as this guy’s:

I mean I haven't declared my love on my car yet….

I mean I haven’t declared my love on my car yet….

But I probably would wear one of these to work out.

If you're as nuts as I am about bacon, you can buy these shirts here.

If you suffer from the same affliction, you can buy these shirts here.

An intervention may be necessary.

Even if things ARE a little out of control, I’m not ready to stop the obsession yet, so let’s just keep oinking, K?

Yesterday I promised you the recipe for Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions, so here it is.

Spence the Spinosaurus is trying to control himself around this goodness.

They were a huge hit with Spence the Spinosaurus.

I had some bacon leftover after I made the dish, so I decided to candy it with spices and maple syrup. (Recipe here.) Then I cranked up the Kygo, and danced in my kitchen while I waited for my candied bacon to cook because that’s what lunatics people do.

Just try to listen to this track and not do a little dirty dancing of your own.

I dare you.

I double bacon candy dare you.

2013 and I Are Almost Through (Or Life is an Amazing Accident)

Don’t hate me for saying this, but it’s almost 85 in LA today. It’s just a little gift from God to make up for the gridlock, the hoards of hipsters littering Hollywood, and the astronomical rent we pay to sip in all kinds of smog every day.

So, anyway, I’m blogging from Peet’s Coffee Shop this afternoon like some sort of college student, and it makes me feel more alive than I’ve felt in months. I miss periodically staring out a window, surrounded by a never-ending bustle of strangers coming and going while I write. It’s sort of an accident I’m here, really, but it’s a happy accident. I was rushing out the door for yoga earlier and I accidentally went to the wrong studio. I didn’t have time to drive to the right studio before class started so I’m in the valley with my computer killing time until the next class. Today is about lovely accidents, but isn’t life?

I mean, I  just had a brief and amusing conversation about Latin with the stranger who rescued the contents of my purse from under his chair. I felt the need to explain why baby wipes, coconut chips, and fingernail clippers had ended up under his feet by quoting the Coast Guard motto, “Semper Paratus.” It means “always prepared,” and wouldn’t you know? He knew Latin too. Four years of declining nouns and conjugating verbs reached its maximum utility in a coffee shop in LA, folks. (Actually, it really may have had its greatest moment when I impressed a pack of drunk frat boys by translating the motto carved into the Psi Upsilon fireplace when I was 19, but whatever. Either way, Latin crops up in lovely and strange moments for me.) We ended up smiling before he went back to his book, and I went back to writing this post.

This is all terribly random, but I’m wrapping up quite a year of unexpected stuff, so the lack of focus in this post seems appropriate somehow. This year was truly an epic curveball  in so many ways, and I’m OK with it. (I kinda have to be since I can’t really change any of it anyway.)

This year my mentor died suddenly as did my stepbrother, and I fell in love for the first time in like forever, so 2013 certainly was one for the books. I went a little Paleo, a little crazy, and I gained about 7 pounds partying like a college kid last spring. I finally lost the weight, shed the regret, and along the way I learned it’s OK to cry in someone else’s arms. I got baptized in the wrong baptism pool by a boy who was so rattled he could hardly dunk me. I danced on the patio of The Bungalow on Easter with one of my best friends even though there’s no dance floor there, and I held some of the most amazing people I know while they cried in my arms. All in all, 2013 was just a whole lotta holy s#*!, but I’m still standing, so there’s that.

I’m wrapping up 2013 by consulting with an Ayurvedic doctor, and her analysis of my constitution has yielded tremendous insight into my ailments — both mental and physical. I will write more about it later, but essentially I learned I’m the rarest constitution on earth because I’m equally influenced by all of the natural forces that manifest physically. I’m something called tri-doshic, and my type only makes up 3% of the population. Tri-doshic individuals are more affected by the seasons and the people around them than any of the other types. We’re almost like human lightening rods for others’ emotions, and it may explain why friends, strangers, and family members have been telling me their deepest, darkest and most painful secrets most of my life. I guess it’s because  I seem like I can relate? Or something?

Whether you buy into this sort of thing or not, I will say this: discovering my type put into words what I’ve always known somewhere in my soul… I’m wired in a super weird way and that’s OK. (Aren’t we all, though?)

It might explain why I’ve always felt like there were two different people fighting for airtime inside the same body or it could just be the story I needed to accept who I am. I’m equal parts Meghan and Anika, and that’s just the way it is. I’m as comfortable on a horse wearing a cowboy hat and singing Luke Bryan at the top of my lungs as I am in pearls hosting a charity event. I’m just as likely to be screaming at football players on TV as I am peacefully doing a down dog in a yoga studio. I’ve never been able to comfortably fit into any mold. I was one of the few sorority girls in film school (there were seriously like six of us — I’m not kidding), and I have always been friends with a diverse array of individuals who have almost zero overlap between one another.

I’ll never make anyone listen to Hank Williams Jr. followed by Busta Rhymes if they don’t want to. I’ll probably always wander off and do my own thing for a while because I can’t be confined in any way, but I’ll always come back home. It’s the way I’m made. Some of my makeup is my Bumpa’s wandering, dancing, making-friends-with-strangers blood in my veins. Some of it is my disciplined, buttoned up, deer-hunting, perfectionist father’s genes. Some of it is my mother’s louder, more extroverted (but also perfectionist), quick-witted, sharp-tongued DNA. It’s also as much my Aunts’ sweetness and softness as it is my Uncle’s outrageousness and artist’s soul. It’s all of it. I’ll write more about the new age-y Ayurveda stuff later. I really need to turn off the Jo Dee Messina blaring in my headphones and head off to yoga.

For now, I will leave you with this. It’s a beautiful song I discovered in yoga this week. May it inspire you to do something bold in 2014. I know I said I was going to keep these philosophical posts on the other blog, but I really was trying to talk about food when I sat down to write. This just came out instead. #oops #happyaccident

Happy New Year, ya’ll!

Party Playlist Post 5 (Or The Final Playlist is For Me)

So officially, Tom Brady, Tony Bennett, and I turned another year older on Saturday. My birthday began with a serenade from Suzie in London and ended with one from Anna just a few blocks away. And in between those sweet renditions of “Happy Birthday,” I felt so loved by all of the other wonderful people who called, texted, sent cards, and took me to a concert.

My actual birthday party isn’t until the 17th of August, so I have a few more weeks to tweak the birthday party playlist (can anyone say perfectionist?!?), but I’m going to wrap up the playlist posts today.

And the final playlist post? Is about the songs just for me.

So here it goes…

It’s for letting myself buy a pair of fat jeans this summer and almost being okay with it. It’s for learning that sometimes it’s better to do 85% than to always give 100%. It’s for finally accepting that even though my career didn’t turn out the way I expected it would, it’s actually turning out a whole lot better. It’s for realizing my dad was right when he made me go to Michigan. It’s for finally embracing USC for the people it brought into my life.

USC Love on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I find cardinal and gold inspiration.

Big Ten Pac Ten conflict on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I even put this ridiculous sticker on my car recently.

It’s for getting back up each time I have gotten knocked down. It’s for realizing that going to Phish shows and joining a country club don’t need to be mutually exclusive. It’s for the understanding that I can be a yuppie with a side of something weird too. It’s for learning that it all starts with loving yourself fat jeans and all….

Jack Penate’s Pull My Heart Away

David Guetta and Sia’s Titanium

Nicky Romero and Nervo’s Feels Like Home

Big Boi and Kelly Rowland’s Momma Told Me

Beyonce’s Dance For You

DJ Sammy’s Heaven

Lady Gaga’s Dance in the Dark

David Allen Coe’s You Never Even Called Me By My Name

Flight Facilities’ Crave You

Hank Williams Jr.’s A Country Boy Can Survive

Milli Vanilli’s Girl You Know It’s True

Mann’s Buzzin’

Another Bad Creation’s Iesha

Shaggy’s Oh Carolina

Tiesto with Tegan and Sara’s Feel It In My Bones

Sub Focus with Alpine’s Tidal Wave

Mariah Carey and Miguel’s #Beautiful

Oh and BTW? I’m totally wearing a Ralph Lauren sweater to the Phish show at the Bowl tonight.

#sothere

#love

Birthday Party Playlist Part 3 (Or Passenger Side Memories)

As I continue to perfect my birthday party playlist, it’s time to talk about the great friend taking me to my birthday concert tomorrow… and the people I’ve known the longest in the world. They’re all amazing people, and we’ve spent endless hours in each other’s cars.

So here it goes…

Wilco’s Passenger Side is for Susan. It’s for our mutual love of the band and all the times we have seen them together live. It’s for being my concert buddy for all these years. For all the music we’ve shared. For accepting my Thanksgiving dinner invitation back when I was just a stranger in a Beverly Glen parking lot. For never letting me down. For never letting me off the hook. For knowing my grandparents and why I miss them so much. For sharing her critter stories. For her generous heart and her big, bold laugh. For inviting me to her wedding where I got to see her father walk her down the aisle just one year before I heard her beautiful tribute at his memorial. And for being my driver to Wilco, Dylan, and My Morning Jacket tomorrow night. I can’t wait for the show!!!

Barry White’s What Am I Going to Do With You is for Becky. It’s for being my very first Pi Phi friend. It’s for that road trip we took to Madison where we listened to his baritone the entire way. It’s for our talks about book sales that turned into so much more. It’s for dancing to the Beastie Boys together in our bathrobes. It’s for reading our course packs aloud when we were sick of studying and drawing all over each other’s arms out of boredom. It’s for that summer we just got fat instead of studying for physics. It’s for laughing at me for resting my head on piles of dirty laundry during all-nighters. It’s for flying me back home for her wedding. It’s for her mom’s photography that still hangs in my bathroom. It’s for being by my side when I did the boldest, most bat shit crazy thing of my entire life – and for not talking me out of it. It’s for seeing what I saw that weekend.

And now?

My absolute oldest friends in the world… my middle school crew.

U2’s Party Girl is for Chris. It’s for introducing me to U2 in the first place. It’s for becoming my friend at Bloc Camp when we bonded over a game of spoons and a mutual love of Twin Peaks. I owe him 100 apologies and 1000 thank yous, and I love him all the more for never asking for either. It’s for listening for hours back when we were 12. It’s for never judging. It’s for always standing by my side – no matter what. It’s for working harder than everyone around him and making things happen. It’s for seeing his dad get up to give a toast at his wedding and knowing how much that meant. It’s for always driving back when I was the last to get my license. It’s for calling me out on my crap when I need it. And it’s for always believing in me.


Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll is for Kristy. It’s for knowing my story so well it only takes a single word to explain what might take a lifetime to explain to someone else. It’s for being strong enough to cry back when I couldn’t do the same. It’s for asking me to be in her wedding and not hating me for being a bad bridesmaid. It’s for being so different from me and loving me anyway. It’s for the snow days we knew about the night before – the ones where she overheard her dad calling off classes during finals. It’s for our mutual love of Severyn shirts. It’s for our boating safety classes, our road trip to Andrea’s wedding, and it’s for that buffalo chicken dip recipe. Mmmm…

The Indigo Girls’ Romeo and Juliet is for Andrea. It’s for the ski trip we took to Boyne – the one where we played the song so many times her little sister nearly jumped out the window of a snow-covered sedan. It’s for our love of Laura Palmer. It’s for driving me to high school dances with her headlights off and always taking the Andrea way around our hometown. It’s for the clay pots she made up at my cottage and the time we spent playing cards at hers. It’s for the pig roast at her wedding reception and the carefree way she let the waves of Lake Michigan lap at her wedding dress without a care in the world. It’s for our talks about books, boys, and babies. It’s for being patient with me. It’s for her kindness. It’s for the way we can always pick up where we left off no matter how much time passes between conversations. And it’s for her loyalty.

Jay-Z and Panjabi MC’s Beware is for Adrienne who also turns 35 tomorrow. It’s for the 24 birthdays that have passed since we first met. It’s for our talks about ambition, handbags, and unmet expectations. It’s for taking me skiing with her family when we were 15. It’s for all the years our dads coached our sports teams together and parked those ridiculous turbo diesels next to each other. It’s for laughing over the newspaper protecting the trunks of those precious cars from our cleats. It’s for 6 am swimming practice together. It’s for that San Diego trip where we blasted the Chamillionaire and the laughing fits we had over card games at my cottage. It’s for the trips we took to Amoeba Records. It’s for the music we’ve introduced to each other. It’s for her bachelorette party in Vegas where we all got bruises on our ankles from that poll pole. For our talks over fancy sushi.

For our 30th birthday we spent together at Supper in the East Village.

30th birthday party goers on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Aren’t our necklaces amazing?

And for being my birthday buddy for life. Happy (almost) Birthday, Adrienne!!!

#chieftainsforever

If you wanna know what else is on that playlist, check out the industry stories here and the Michigan stories here.

Birthday Party Playlist Part 2 (Or I Cry… Just a Little)

Guys, tomorrow is my birthday! And today I need to talk about the other people who inspired songs on my birthday party playlist.

There are so many people I love. Truly. And if I had my way they’d never go away. They’d all be here to toast the good times together. But since I’m not supreme dictator of the universe, it’s not the case. And that’s OK.

So, anyway here it goes:

Pharrell and Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines is for Gilbylocks. It’s for that Sunday morning dance party we had in the Bronson Canyon Parking lot. The one Benito filmed. It’s for our sunny convent breakfasts after CrossFit. It’s for laughing with me about a flaming pink teakettle. It’s for going on this gut wrenching, heart-opening journey with me – and for understanding why it’s the thing that just might change my life. It’s for those talks we had in the back of a SXSW cab. It’s for instigating the birthday backbend test to see if we’re old. It’s for carving my name into a tree in Calcutta. It’s for making me her kohona. I love you, Suzie. Come home from Sweden soon.

David Bowie’s China Girl is for Gillian. It’s for being with me at Cabo Cantina when we put it on the juke box that Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It’s for knowing — really knowing — what this business has been like for me. It’s for our inside joke about my illegitimate children. It’s for almost setting ourselves on fire the first time we tried to light a grill. It’s for being one of my very first dinner party partners back in the day. It’s for bonding with me over a love of Laura Palmer. It’s for letting me be Ziggy’s dog sitter. And it’s for always calling when she’s back from making big box office hits.

Bertie Higgins’ Key Largo is for Sarah. She and her husband may be the only other people on the planet who also have this song in their iTunes library. It’s for always listening to the boy drama. For working with me until midnight on stupid soap opera recaps. For making me get on the stage to sing a little Garth Brooks on her birthday. For her thoughtfulness. For her encouragement. And for her sunny spirit.

George Straight’s Easy Come, Easy Go is for Pewther. It’s for finding it in my iTunes library the last time he stayed with me. It’s for offering to come down when my dog died even though I didn’t let him. It’s for making me laugh — easily and often. For making cuddling easy. For making frozen pizza and reruns of The Office seem like a night at the symphony. For the times he’d stop me from being bossy by just saying, “Hold Me.” He wasn’t easy to let go.

2Pac’s Thugz Mansion is for Dana. It’s because it blew me away when I first learned the sweet, soft-spoken girl sitting in the cubicle next to me at ABC loved her some Pac. It’s for our Maha Yoga dates and our bagel Sundays. It’s for that wedding dress shopping adventure in Orange County. It’s for celebrating my 30th birthday and her wedding together at the Mandarin Oriental. It’s for telling me about the best Italian restaurant in the East Village. It’s for her loyalty. And her honesty. (BTW, Happy Anniversary, Dana and Alex!) #gangstarapforever

Nelly’s Country Grammar is for, well, Nelly P. It’s for batting 1,000 on birthday party attendance in our 20’s. It’s for pickle tacos at Malo. For making me laugh over IM at 4 am when we were pulling our hair out over the marketing plans for our theses. It’s for bringing a bag of candy to my first Easter Dinner. It’s for saying, “We almost wrote, ‘you ARE hot’ on the cake instead of ‘Happy Birthday’” that year I’d been Bill Callahaned myself. It’s for coining the term in the first place. It’s for all the cigarettes we smoked outside every club in Hollywood in our 20’s. For letting me cry on his patio when I called in sick to work over a broken heart. For being the cell phone number I still have memorized.

Baby Bash and T-Pain’s Cyclone is for Danielle. It’s for making it my song – and making me laugh for the reason she chose it. It’s for our laundry nights during slumber parties. It’s for her big, big heart – the one that no matter how broken it is never seems to be too full for someone else. It’s for the encouragement she has given me to follow my dreams and follow my heart. It’s for the hours we spent on the phone the night Melissa’s dad died. It’s for somehow knowing Melissa needed that rose on September 11th… the one she saved when she was sad. It’s for getting why I have to put bows and sparkles on everything too. It’s for sharing the pleasure and the pain of being alive. And it’s for loving pink as much as I do.

Lil Jon’s Get Low is also for Melissa. It’s because one song isn’t enough. It’s because we danced to it so many times on a couch in Santa Monica that afternoon in August. It’s not just about the people we’ve lost since we met. It’s about the family I have because of her. It’s about making Suzie and me go to SXSW in the first place. It’s about making me take the tags off the Ted Baker suit when I was agonizing over it. It’s about the strength she had to just cry in the middle of a bar on Abbot Kinney — and about what I’ve learned from her loss. It’s about the day we cried on the phone when I walked her through her dog’s final hours. It’s about loaning him to me in the first place when I’d lost mine. It’s about the way somehow we’ve made each other do the tough stuff even when we didn’t want to. It’s about our honesty over tacos on Lincoln Avenue and hauling trash into the Albertson’s dumpster. It’s about the battle not to be broken laptops but shiny MacBook pros instead. Chris Rock says, “We should all be ashamed of ourselves for liking this song….” but we’re not ashamed. At all.

And finally…

Flo Rida’s I Cry is for my Bumpa. I know it sounds weird to say Flo Rida reminds you of your Grandpa, but it’s because the song makes me happy. And every time I hear it, I start skipping — or dancing in my car. The first time I caught myself doing it, I started smiling through the tears that came streaming down my face. It’s because my spontaneous skipping in the Hollywood Hills brought me back to a night with my Bumpa in Detroit so many years ago. He was carrying a picnic basket as we walked through the streets near the Renaissance Center. All of a sudden, for no apparent reason, he started skipping and singing, “We’re off to see the wizard,” and it was just infectious. His joy was contagious. And the world needs so much more of that. I’ve only started to scratch the surface when it comes to telling his story – of saying what he meant to me – but THAT might take a lifetime.

OK, I’m going to get into this mocha and bagel now because it’s my birthday week and I wanna.

Carbs on Dogs Dishes and Decor

My kitchen table is a mess. And Today? I don’t care.

Then I’m gonna dance in my kitchen, Bumpa style.

I might even make that face I make when I dance – the one that startles my aunt ‘cuz I do that thing with my mouth that he did when he danced.

#love

The Island Rum Incident (Or How to Make Pina Colada Cupcakes)

When I was 13, my dad and I went to the Bahamas for Spring Break. Our first night there, we heard a delightful reggae sound coming from the bar. Unable to pass up a live performance, we stopped by to check it out. When our waitress came by to get our order, my dad ordered a glass of wine, and I attempted to order a virgin pina colada. The waitress scowled and replied in a thick accent, “It’s the same price without alcohol.”

“That’s OK. I don’t need the rum,” I replied.

“But it’s the same price,” she insisted. This went on for quite a while until I finally requested a Sprite instead of the Pina Colada I actually wanted. I mean, I was 13 and didn’t look a day older than that from the neck up. I was rocking braces with florescent pink rubber bands. You know the kind that make you look like you have an entire pack of Hubba Bubba stuck in your teeth? Yeah, I had those. I also had the bad braids you pay for on the beach. I was clearly nowhere near the legal drinking age anywhere in the world, but she didn’t seem to notice or care. My dad was so amused by the entire exchange that he never intervened. He probably would have stopped her from bringing me a hurricane glass brimming with rum if she had won the battle of the wills, but he was too busy chuckling over the whole thing to get involved. Plus, I’m not one to be pushed around. Never was.

We later figured out the entire altercation was because rum is so cheap in the islands that it’s less expensive than drink mixers or soda. It’s common for island bars to increase the amount of rum in cocktails because it’s practically less expensive than the ice in the glass.

So anyway, I didn’t get my fruity drink that night and rather grudgingly sipped on my Sprite before choking down what was easily the most chewy conch dinner ever served to anyone.

Now I’d happily have a nice Bahamian lady over serve me, but I’m a long way from the islands. Sure southern California doesn’t completely suck, but there isn’t anyone with dreads playing the steel drums in my lobby, and I’m a long way from feeling irie. Or whatever.

To capture a little of the island feel amidst the smog and haze of Hollywood today, I put on some vintage Jimmy Cliff tunes and whipped up pina colada cupcakes.

These pina colada cupcakes are so good I almost forgot I was in the land of smog and traffic. Almost.

Here’s the recipe in case your weather is making you want to run away to warmer places where they’ll try to get your kids drunk to the sound of steel drums.

Pina Colada Cupcakes

2 ½ C flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ C butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 C brown sugar
1 C cream of coconut
2 tsp coconut extract
½ C chopped pineapple

Makes 24

Preheat the oven to 350. Place liners in the cupcake pans.

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a medium bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add coconut extract and blend.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix to blend. Add the cream of coconut and mix to blend. Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients and blend. Add the pineapple and mix thoroughly.

Pour the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

2, 8 oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
½ C butter, room temperature
3/4 tsp coconut extract
2-3 C powdered sugar, sifted

Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add the coconut extract and mix thoroughly. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix. Add additional sugar by ¼ cupfuls until the frosting reaches desired sweetness and consistency.

Garnish cupcakes with toasted coconut, maraschino cherries, and candied pineapple.

Note: I prefer to toast the coconut in a frying pan over medium heat because it’s too easy to forget about it in the oven. I also find it easier to control the heat on the burner, but that’s just me.