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Girlfriend’s Day

I’m writing a review. I don’t usually do this because I don’t read reviews because they are stupid. I don’t like movies people like and I like movies people don’t like. I think Rotten Tomatoes is the worst judge of anything…ever.

Now that that’s out of the way…I’m not really going to write a review I just want to talk about a film on Netflix right now called Girlfriend’s Day. I don’t want to give anything away because I like going into films not knowing even the genre if possible, and part of what makes this film so delightful to me is that it follows no one genre. Buckle up, it’s vague rambling time:

First, it stars Bob Obernik and he co-wrote it. That’s what hooked me. I watched Breaking Bad here and there but it wasn’t really my thing (this is where I lose most of you) but every scene with Bob Obernik sucked me in because he is so charming and compelling and plays this awful and sometimes pathetic character that provides some comic relief in a super dark series. I connect with comic relief. Bob (I’m assuming if we met he’d let me call him that) is great. There’s not much else I can say about it but great. He can pull off a character that has dry wit without even being British. I watched all of Better Call Saul even though I never finished Breaking Bad and a few months later whilst wistfully thinking about it, I took to the internet to see what Bob’s next thing would be.

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So let the record show I intended to watch it the day it came out. Let the record ignore that my tweets get an average of two hearts.

If you’re, “not into” movies that “don’t make sense” because they’re not grounded in a world you know, you probably won’t like this movie. You probably don’t like musicals either and are probably a bad person.

As a writer, creating worlds is fun. Sometimes you want to explore a serious issue in a way that is removed from reality so it’s not so heavy. I think I relate to this because that’s the kind of world I live in. I think life is hard and serious and sometimes really depressing, but that doesn’t keep me from cracking jokes all the time.

And sometimes you don’t want to so far removed that there are superheroes and aliens–actually speaking of aliens, 10 Cloverfield Lane and Arrival do a great job with this too. A big reason is because movies with a lot of Special Effects cost a lot of money to make and we don’t all have that kind of money but still want to have a little fun. I liked the idea of The Lobster for the same reason but it ended up being too violent for my taste.

Girlfriend’s Day is set in a world where a different kind of person is famous and the stakes on something as simple as a slogan contest are high. I love scripts that can make a crisis out of something that would mean nothing to us in our world. Pixar is great at this, making us feel for toys who don’t get played with and worry about bugs when it rains.

I know a lot of people like to live/write in this surreal world and a lot of these movies end up with 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and/or never distributed so I want to voice my encouragement to keep on keeping on. I think we forget sometimes that it’s okay to be a little weird. I’m not sure what it says about me that I find weirdness relatable but I loved Girlfriend’s Day and if you’re weird, you just might enjoy it.

Girlfriend’s Day is rated for (as far as I noticed) some F-words. There is also some blood and implications of sex. But you should still watch it, Mom, there are less F-words than Fundamentals of Caring.

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Netflix is on a roll right now. They’ve got some Original films that are blowing up and they’ve taken chances on writers/directors who don’t have lots of experience under their belt.

Recently in an interview, Ava Duvernay talked about how she had support from Netflix to do any documentary she wanted and she ended up making 13th which is fascinating and relevant and it was the story she wanted to tell and had wanted to tell for a while. Girlfriend’s Day was also a script that had been around for a while. Like 18 years.

At Sundance we saw a few films that were or have since been picked up by Netflix and one thing they all have in common for me is they feel like the stories the creators wanted to tell. None of them felt formulaic. They didn’t feel over-produced. They aren’t strapped into a genre. Some of them even make fun of certain genres in a fun way. They aren’t all comedy or all drama. None of them shove one theme down your throat but they all have themes. They explore new worlds and/or just tell stories that are unique and interesting. There is some good stuff coming next month and in the coming months you will love (like Mudbound). Also, Fuller House wasn’t even bad. You go, Netflix. And you, reading this, go Netflix.

Love Day

I asked Jeff to get me a new gold chain for the pendant I always wear for Valentine’s Day. You know, because jewelry is one of those things you’re supposed to ask for on Valentine’s Day. I had lost the original gold chain long ago and had been wearing it with one that made my neck itch. I didn’t realize until I looked at my necklace in the mirror what a perfect Valentine’s gift it really was.

Valentine’s Day has never really been about romantic love for me. From an early age it was about getting chocolate and stuffed animals from my mom and sharing candy at school (side note: candy is one of my love languages). It’s about family and friendship and the many definitions of love.

So let’s break it down.

 

By the way, we literally have a friend in the jewelry business. Andrew Beesley for all things jewelry.

This necklace is engraved with my name in Arabic, the language of my ancestors on my mother’s side. I think about how much love my great-grandpa must have had and how hard he worked to bring his family to this country. I don’t know him but I am pretty sure he thought about his future family to come when he made such a big decision.

 

My parents got this necklace for me while they were living in Saudi Arabia before I was born. My mom didn’t have any ultrasounds with me. I could’ve come out any kind of way but somehow she knew I was Lauren. My parents have always loved me and known me better than I know myself. That’s love. And that’s where I learned to love.

Now, the new chain comes from my husband. My new family. The person who loves me because he chooses to, not just because we’re related. That’s a pretty amazing kind of love. Not only does he take great care of me, he takes care of our friends and our dog who are also an important part of our new family.

Now I’m not sure how “Lauren” translates to Arabic but one way or another these symbols represent me. The last few years I’ve struggled a lot with self-love. I took every mistake, failure, and every person I disappointed very hard. Those things are hard to avoid in life no matter how hard you try, so I was sad often. I started to feel worse and worse about myself.

At one point before getting married I had a breakdown. Making a forever decision felt really daunting and scary but the decision to marry Jeff seemed like a good one, so I was confused. I heard a voice in my head that said, “It’s not that you don’t love him, it’s that you don’t love yourself.”

That kind of sucked to hear. I really love people, I love a lot of things, so why can’t I love myself, the person I spend the most time with? I know how much my parents love me, I know how much my husband loves me, I know that I have friends who love me, but there are days I can’t believe anyone can, does, or ever would love me.

And it’s because I don’t (always) love myself.

Now here is where I wish I had some cure-all magical tips for loving yourself, but I don’t.

But I can tell you, you’re not alone if that helps at all. Whether you’ve got Depression with a capital D or are just suffering from some winter or Valentine’s Day blues. Know that you’re not alone. In fact, we’re making pretzels tonight if you want to come over and literally not be alone. We bought a home with more rooms than we need so we’re always ready for desks. Even if the two spare rooms are occupied we’ve got a fold-out bed and a blow-up mattress. Our door is always open–not literally, but we can give you the code.

If you feel unlovable know that I feel it too. And know that those thoughts are coming from darkness and not from your true self. Because deep down somewhere, and maybe it’s been buried very deep and covered with hurt, you know how amazing you are. You know there are things you can do that no one else can do in quite the same way. Try and take care of yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t believe people who are too hard on you. There are a lot of unforgiving people out there and you can’t let them get you down.

We each have our own ways to snap out of things, some people, and I don’t understand them, actually love to exercise. They need it. Some of us exercise because we know it’ll feel good eventually. Sometimes chocolate helps, sometimes soup does. Recently I was told biting into a lemon can help change your mood–if nothing else it shocks you out of a funk. Some days you need to take off and some days you need to work harder. Take some time and get to know what helps you and then make it a priority to do those things.

Some days you have to take a long shower and just try and forget about the fishes or roommates who need it. A huge part of my problem is I feel guilty for everything. Anything nice I do for myself could go to someone else who needs it more, but you have to take time and focus on you. It’s the airplane analogy where you can’t help others until you first help yourself.

I am always plugging this book, The Body Keeps the Score, and I’ll never stop. In one section it takes about things that can help ground us such as yoga and acting. Sometimes hobbies feel like more work or like a silly indulgence but they can also really help your mental health and help you love yourself.

 

There’s a reason I wrote my last blog post about gifts you can buy someone else or yourself. Seriously, buy yourself some comfy underwear/leggings it’ll make a difference. Or a cozy robe or blanket or whatever makes you happy or some of that fancy chocolate when it goes on sale.

Today (and hopefully every day) is a day to remember all the people in your life who you love and who love you back and most importantly to love yourself because you’re not getting away from yourself whether you’re in a relationship or not.

Non-Traditional Valentine’s Gifts for Your Lover or Yourself

There are many Valentine’s Day gift cliches and while some things are popular for a reason, I’ve come up with my own take on some Valentine’s Day classics.

Flowers

Instead of flowers get your girl (or yourself) a bouquet of floral leggings. Trust me, it’s the kind of roses she really wants. Bonus: They only come in 2 sizes so you have a 50/50 chance of guessing right.

If you’re brave enough to try and make an outfit here are some ideas for tops to go with leggings.

Chocolate & Jewelry 

No fresh take on this because I believe everyone should accept chocolate in most forms. I would be lying if I tried to pretend my heart doesn’t skip a beat at the sight of box of chocolate. If you’re going to get me a heart-shaped Bordeaux from See’s Candy–or anything from See’s, really, go ahead. But thinking outside the usual heart-shaped box I have a couple suggestions.

Baci are my favorite because they are “fine dark chocolate filled with a chocolate-hazelnut cream center and a whole hazelnut.” V-day bonus: they have cute sayings about love in each one. Note: Do not get them for anyone with a nut allergy, unless you’re looking for a way out of the relationship.

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Trader Joe’s has this adorable Chocolate Passport that might make up for the fact you’re not taking your Valentine on an exotic vacation this year. You can buy them on Amazon but word on the street is it’s cheaper to buy at Trader Joe’s if you’re blessed enough to have one close by.

Whatever you do don’t fall for the “chocolate diamond” scam that jewelers come out with every year. Chocolate diamond? Really? It’s a brown diamond. Comparing it to a delicious food is not going to cover up the fact that you’re trying to sell me some dirty diamonds.

In fact, skip the diamonds all together and get moissanite jewelry, it looks as good as a diamond–or better–and it’s cheaper and there’s no mining involved. Learn more about moissanite here.

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There are lots of great companies that make jewelry that gives back in some way, whether it’s employing women who wouldn’t have jobs otherwise or by donating food for every purchase. I’ve started to compile some of those companies here (still a work in progress).

And if you’re looking for a subtle nod to love I’m, kind of, very obsessed with this ring that Amazon suggested for Valentine’s Day. It’s just too cute. xoxo.

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Stuffed Animals

No one wants a boring old teddy bear when they can have a sloth.

…Or my personal favorite, the raccoon

Throw a red bow on it and you’ve got yourself a perfect Valentine plush toy.

Lingerie

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Skip Victoria’s Secret and get yourself the most comfortable underwear in the world–seriously, I thought they were overly hyped up but they are not–MeUndies are as great as they claim to be. They’re great for everything from working out to hanging out and they come in styles for all the men and women in your life.  There are cute Valentine’s Day designs and a great return policy if it doesn’t work out–with the underwear or the person you bought them for. Use this link for 20% off your first purchase.

MeUndies are a bit pricey though so balance your underwear budget by buying yourself some “Viotario’s Secret” lace underwear (or without the lace) on the Wish app for $2. They’re also super comfortable.

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Massage

If you’re on a budget or just don’t like getting rubbed by strangers, there is a cheap and easy alternative. These head/scalp massagers will have you feeling at ease in no time and the best part is you don’t need a Valentine to give you a massage because you can use it on yourself…at least until the blood rushes out of your arm.

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I promise you will not care how ridiculous you look because it will feel so good.

Romantic Gestures

Buy some Poo~Pourri because nothing says romance like being able to use the bathroom after your loved one without a gas mask. It really works and if it doesn’t, they’ll take it back.

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Order a 23andMe kit to track down your ancestry because there is nothing more romantic than double-checking that you aren’t 3rd cousins. All you have to do is spit in the tube before you start swapping spit with your sweetheart.

Most importantly, remember on Valentine’s Day, or any day, you don’t need an excuse to Treat Yo’self.

If Pinterest is your thing I will be adding to my Valentine’s Day Gift Idea board for the next couple weeks. xoxo.

Some of the above links are affiliate links, but I have not been asked by any entity to post reviews or recommendations.

Matilda the Musical

A few days ago Matilda the Musical closed on Broadway. This is sad, but also means that it’s now touring. If you’re in my Utah crowd it already sold out in SLC except for a handful of secondhand tickets. To my hometown friends, check it out when it comes to Portland at the end of February! Buy your tickets before they sell out.

Matilda is a great story about standing up to bullies, a theme that I think is quite relevant now and always.

The musical has fun, catchy songs, including one with lyrics that blows my mind but I’m not going to give anything away. There’s a really fun energy that comes when you have a bunch of talented kids on stage giving it their all.

I like it so much that I insisted Jeff go see it with me even though our only option was two bad seats that aren’t even together.

I might be biased because it was the first musical I saw on Broadway and when you see any musical on Broadway it’s an amazing experience, but this musical is great and if you don’t believe me just watch this:

 

Shopping Hack

Despite being the daughter of an elite shopping marathoner, I am kind of a wimp in stores. My formula for shopping breaks down like this: For every 45 minutes of shopping I require one soft pretzel.

Online shopping, however, is an entirely different story. I can online shop for much longer than 45 minutes. Probably because I can wear pajamas and watch television at the same time.

Thanks to some online shopping fails I’ve learned to follow the following rule:

Only buy things with free shipping and free returns.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member this is easy.
It also includes online shopping at places that have stores nearby you can return to.

I’ve made exceptions to this for cute boutiques and startup companies that can’t afford it, but free returns saves you a lot of heartache when that shirt that looks perfect shows up in a different color (“because of screen displays colors may vary”).

A big secret I’ve learned is being real with myself. There are certain styles I know I don’t like but I still gravitate to because they’re “so cute!” Don’t do that…unless there are free returns.

You might think all this online shopping might cause you to spend more money but here’s the thing, it is so much easier to be focused when online shopping. If I am looking for a specific color and style I can type my wishes into the Amazon, or Google shopping, search bar and find the exact thing I need. And unlike a trip to Target I don’t come home with 20 other things I don’t need. Maybe one or two extra things, but a lot less than if I was in the store wandering aimlessly.

So when I had to have a burgundy top WITH POCKETS to go with a pair of leggings, I found not one but two that I love. It took me like 15 minutes as opposed to searching 15 stores. These tops are great, the second one is kind of a lie and more of a bright red, but they’re very comfortable and come in more colors, check them out by clicking on the photos.

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I did the same thing when I wanted a green dress but didn’t know what style. I bought eight and returned all but one. This will save your life when it comes to family photos, bridesmaids outfits, or any other time you need something very specific in a color that’s out of season. While looking for my own bridesmaids I found this stretchy, flattering pencil skirt that comes in almost any color.

 

My genius friend, Candy, even used Amazon to purchase several wedding dresses, try them on, and return the ones that didn’t make the cut.

Another online shopping secret is to keep something in your cart until it sells out. That’s a good way to not buy as much stuff.

I also made a Pinterest board for other tops for leggings that I like and either want to share with other people or don’t want to forget to purchase later–got to stagger the spending. If you in the market for long tops check it out here. All of them have options with free shipping and free returns. One trick with Amazon is not every color or size will be eligible for free returns so watch out for that.

My last secret (for now) to online shopping is Paribus which, if you link it to your email, will automatically contact stores on your behalf if something lowers in price within their allowed period (usually 30 days). This way you don’t have to stress about buying something only to see it go on sale two days later.

And if you still hate shopping, feel free to hire me as your personal online shopper. I enjoy it a lot more than I should.

Sad Realization of Resolutions

You guys. I just looked back on this blog and realized I resolved last year AND THE YEAR BEFORE to write more. I’m the worst. I even wrote a super compelling post about how important writing is last year. That inspiration obviously went out my brain into the keyboard never to return to my brain again. This year it has to be for real. Do you know how many ideas I have for feature films/musicals? 12. How many have I written? 3/4 of one.

Do you know how many ideas I have for blog posts? 300…probably. Maybe not. But at least 12 so far. So I’m going to blog 6 days a week this year, minus vacation time. Is it possible? Yes. Realistic? Not really. But obviously nothing else has worked to get me to write every day so now this blog is some sort of accountability. So some of these blog posts are going to be really bad but

So that’s my only year-long goal, because obviously year-long goals are useless. 365 days are too many days.

So I decided this year I’m going to do month-long goals. One goal/theme a month and then if it doesn’t work I can try again the next month or move on.

This month’s goals are Hamilton themed. Why? Because these lyrics are constantly in my head so it will be impossible to forget them like I have other resolutions. I recommend song-related resolutions for the same reason.

Confession: I was “into” Hamilton back when I heard about it on NPR and burst into work all, “You guys, this is a rapping musical about some guy who was never president” and the guys were like, “huh?” and I played it for them…and then never really listened past the first song and then I thought I might actually see it so I was paranoid about it being spoiled so I refuse to listen to the whole thing in order and refuse to learn anything else about history so it won’t be spoiled. It’s worked out great. So while I have no idea how the musical actually goes that doesn’t mean the songs aren’t constantly in my head.

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The goals need no explanation but here it is anyway.

Goal 1: TBH there’s no way I’m talking less but it’s worth a shot. Secondly, smile more because I spent a lot of last year being depressed (more on that later).

Goal 2: Write. Actually write. Like I’ve resolved and forgotten for the last two years.

Goal 3: Not really a goal but if I scream-sing, “I will never be satisfied” once or five times a day I feel a lot more motivated to accomplish other goals.

Goal 4 (unlisted): Work out or something, geez.

2016

Since we didn’t send out a Christmas Card, here’s 2016 in review.
Started the year eating Criff Dogs and tator tots in NYC and sleeping in the airport. The next morning we spent in Urgent Care because Jeff had contracted just about every -itis one can contract at the same time. We have plans to redo NYC this year to make up for that.

March we moved into an apartment where we attempted gardening in a box and grew a lot of tomatoes. 

We got to spend Easter in Ohio with the all the Roses watching chicks hatch, riding tractors, shooting guns, and eating custard. 

In April we adopted Ru from Rescue Rovers. She is an Emotional Support Animal to me and a best friend to Jeff and ultimately an essential part of the family. She works part-time at Wallaroo as a professional floor sleeper and jewelry licker. At home she is a full-time snuggler who loves food, belly rubs, and jumping up and down. She is great on road trips and loves playing with her friends whether they’re human, dog, or rabbit. She loves watching horses and sometimes barks at her own reflection in the window. She really loves the snow.

We bought a Subaru.

In May we had our first anniversary and ate at the Melting Pot. I’ve been craving it ever since. Fondue is amazing. I got LASIK for my birthday!! And we made a quick trip to Oregon and went to the coast. 

We got to spend more time with some of the Roses around the 4th of July when they came to visit Utah. 

In October we bought a house and had a grand sum of six trick-or-treaters. 

We went to Disneyland with my sister and her family and Universal Studios with some of our favorite LA friends. 

In November we had a big house-warming and birthday party for Jeff. It was great to fill our new home with friends, laughter, and nachos. 

For Veterans Day. I decided to throw a dance marathon to benefit organizations that help veterans fight PTSD. With the support of some amazing local businesses I raised $1,000.

Over the year we celebrated as some of our closest friends got married and as other friends had babies. We made new friends and got closer to old friends. And we got to spend a lot of time with family. 

We saw several plays and concerts and usually attended our favorite monthly Harvey and the Bird shows. I’ve written a handful of songs with John. I went rappelling for the first time. 

Jeff was assimilated into the world of film production and we’ve been able to work on many shoots together in lots of different roles behind and in front of the camera. Jeff is also a master at positioninb wedding dresses trains when I shoot bridals and weddings. 

Mindy Kaling favorited three of my tweets and replied to one. 

As for growing our family. Besides Ru, we increased by 2 bikes this year and will likely be adding a third in the year to come.