Wednesday, November 26, 2014


He tiptoed in to our bedroom, and leaned in close.

"Are you happy? I want you to be happy."

My initial reaction, the knee-jerk, from-the-bottom-of-the-gut reaction was "Yes."

And then I thought about all the ways I had shown him I was happy.

Asking to do more dishes.

Endless errand runs on the weekends instead of one-on-one time.

Worrying over handmade Christmas gifts and self-imposed deadlines.

Job training and budgeting.

If this is the season to be thankful, how are we showing others how we feel? How are we communicating gratefulness?

I'm thankful for food- scrumptious, delicious food.

I'm thankful for husbands and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and in-laws and friends that feel like family, new friendships and old friendships and only-friends-at-work-friendships. I need these people. Everyday.

I'm thankful for dogs who love unconditionally and nephews who love only on the condition that they can play with big Captain America toys at your house.

I'm thankful for health and hearth, a place to rest my steel-toed feeties and the energy to fully enjoy it.

I'm thankful for books. For movies. For Facebook, without which I wouldn't have very interesting conversations.

I'm thankful for job security and the breather of fresh air this gives us.

I pray many times a day, a silent thankyouthankyouthankyou out to the universe for this life and all the wonderful things in it. Personal thankfulness is one thing, but how does my husband know what's in my heart?
These thoughts ran through my head in the split second it took me to snuggle in closer.

"Yes. I'm the happiest."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Brie's Personal Book of Job

It's official- Baxter made me an offer I couldn't refuse. I'm getting hired permanently at Baxter in Los Angeles. This means benefits, paid vacations, but more importantly: no more job searching. I mean, after my three month probation period.
godfather animated GIF
The plant here in Los Angeles works with human plasma to create hemophilic treatments and immuno-therapies, although Baxter focuses on a number of treatments in plants all over the world. So there's a lot of opportunity to further my career and get trained in multiple areas. For the time being I'm working in the Quality Department- making sure everyone else is doing their job correctly.

The one thing I never thought I'd feel about a new job? Judged.

I've worked at quite a few different contract (read: temporary) positions since I graduated from UCSD three years ago. I didn't mind because Mr. E and I didn't know where we were going to end up, so putting down roots into a job didn't seem like the best idea until we moved to where he would need to work. The first job I found out of LA seemed great- good commute, interesting company products, I liked the people... But the work itself was repetitive, slow and the training vague. I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere in that position, in the department or in the company. So when Baxter called I jumped at the chance.

Here was a homogenous mixture (read: equal) of temps and permanent workers. Kids right out of school and employees who had been with the company for 35 years. We rubbed elbows. We relied on each other. There's a lot of communication and teamwork between all three shifts for our 24-hour facility.

And yet, when I was offered my position (yes, Yes, YES!) I was asked repeatedly by the younger crowd, "Are you going to take it?" As if I had something better in mind. As if I was better than this job. As if a decent-paying position with upward mobility, international locations and paid holidays was something I wasn't interested in.

Let's be clear: I'm not going to school anymore. I have no dreams to be a doctor or an anything-ologist. I don't want a Masters or a PhD. The most I was contemplating was phlebotomy but that's more of a certification anyways, to be honest. So why the well-meaning condescension?

Here's another reminder that I'm not in the same place as my peers. There's a generalization that if you majored in science you're going to continue in science education- because a well-paying job means years of study.

There's a generalization that if you married young you're going to have kids ASAP and focus on family first because marriage and families go hand in hand. Or at least that's what the internet tells me in yet another list.

I tread that line between them- where all I want to do is work. And earn money so my husband can make movies (read: finance his short films until someone else can). We'll add kids in there when we're not eating peanut butter for the month to keep our budget down because that's our choice to prioritize our life that way.

So why the judgement? Next time someone tells you they got offered a job, and their voice has suspiciously climbed six octaves, muster up a little excitement for them. There's no need to squash the sprouting dreams of a new hire. There's plenty of time for corporate politics to do just that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Fair

I already had my outfit picked out in my head- black on white stripes, jeans (per usual) and Toms (also per usual) with my book-shaped locket necklace. My hair up and out of my face- perfect for windy outdoor days AND for picture taking. I didn't know who I was going to meet, or what we were going to get into, but if it's LA and it's a fair, they mean business and I would too.
We trekked through the city to USC- Mr. E's almost alma mater. It's a beautiful campus, smack-dab in the middle of one of the worst areas of Los Angeles. But that's the way the city is. You need to brave the crazy and the potentially dangerous to find the gems scattered beneath the grime. Gourmet grilled cheese? A corner of Silverlake. Biggest book fair on the West Coast? USC. And the one thing you must know for all excursions? Even if it says it's free...parking will be astronomical and mandatory. Who wants to brave the side streets and the possibility of getting your car stolen, broken into or lost to avoid paying $15?
It didn't occur to me that a book fair would be geared towards kids. I guess I'm such a kid at heart that I assumed there would be fountains of books - and there were. But we hit the kids section first. Parents and teachers, working together, pouring over slightly used copies of the kindergarten classics. Makeshift shelves with glossy brightly colored covers and pop-up books free from rips and tears. My brief disappointment (this is it?) turned to wonder as I looked up and recognized tents as far as the eye could see- around peeking around building corners and rows upon rows down paved sidewalks.
There were authors.

There were publishers.

There were bookstores and libraries and newspaper peddlers.

But most of all there were readers.

Enthusiasts of the written word. Connoisseurs of phrasing and grammar and prose. There were T-shirts and book-bags and first editions and sales of all kinds.
This was a fair I could get behind. Keep your booz-y summer fairs and your military aircraft shows. Give me a three-for-one deal from Penguin publishers and a tote to boot.

Of course, some circus animal cookies doesn't hurt either...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What My Marriage Has Taught Me

He likes to let me drive in the mornings, which is a good thing considering he's still rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Ripley knows the drill after a few months: as soon as my fingers touch my steel-toed work boots she's already halfway out the door, eager for the ride to work.

I try to tell him every morning how much I appreciate that he drives me to work- even if I do the driving. Nightowls aren't meant for 4am wake-up times. He nods, sleepily, and smiles, but I'm not sure it really got through to him. Somehow I'll make it up- hashbrown waffles this weekend or re-watching Ninja Turtles again- there's a constant give and take between us.

Three years of marriage and there was one bit of advice that stuck with us the best. His dad spoke at our wedding- an outside affair that warranted slacks, a button-up, tennis shoes and a fishing hat. There was a lot he wanted to say with almost 40 years of marriage under his belt, but he narrowed it down to this: Give more than you take. If you both do this, your marriage will be blessed with love and happiness.

I didn't realize how flexible I could be until I was married. I didn't realize how fast I could swallow pride and anger, how quickly I could get things done or how much I could handle when I thought I'd had enough. I didn't realize how selfish I had been and how selfless I could be and how much I still had to learn about myself and my relationship with those I care about.

There was an awful article earlier this year that spoke out against getting married young, and while she had some interesting points to make, I couldn't--won't- agree with everything. There's nothing wrong with a built-in security blanket, a permanent best friend to see you through life's ups and downs. Why degrade those who have chosen to make this important decision for their personal life when all you've seen is how it may not work for you?

One of the lectures Mr. E and I attended while he was in film school was a Q and A session between producer Emma Thomas- Christopher Nolan's wife, director Betty Thomas and Alex Rose, a professor at Chapman. They were asked multiple times how to get started in the business, and the answer finally boiled down to this: find your support group. Find that person- or group of people- who will push you to do it again, who will celebrate when it goes right and will hash it out with you when it sucks. In some cases this is your best friend. Or your mom. For a lot of us it's our spouse. You'll need them, time and again, to remind you why you do this everyday.

Mr. E turned his headset to mute, found my hand and leaned across the red plush theatre seats, whispering,"I'm so lucky to have you."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Summer Just Won't Leave Me

Summer isn't as magical as it used to be.

Hot days aren't made for swimming when you're working all day. Even if you work only half the day, who wants to go through the hassle of shaved legs, an epic bus transfer adventure and a public pool full of kids? Plus there's Netflix and not-as-expensive air conditioning at home, so I have that going for me.

Mornings aren't made for sleeping in. But I've been on that train for quite some time now, so we're not too distraught.

Bills still need to be paid and laundry still needs to be done. I still grumble over how many dishes we can accumulate seeing as I eat out of bags and boxes when Mr. E works and when he's not home he's being paid to eat out. The dog may be a tad more lazy with this heat, but she's always been a snuggler.

I think this post said it best when she asks you to get your cuppa out of her face, Starbucks advertising, because realistically the last thing I want to consume is a piping cup of fall as I tether myself to a 5 foot radius of our AC. These are the times that call for Drumsticks in various flavors, and may I suggest the mint no nuts?

We started our summer with Zion and ended it, rather anticlimactically, with an HBO cast party downtown.
My favorite picture? My FAVORITE PICTURE.
Somewhere in my life I traded girlfriend sleepovers for margarita lunch breaks and free comedy shows. I gave up mindless cable re-runs for a never-ending queue of quirky, independent films chosen based on a faceless algorithm. For some reason I'm not as worried about the movies chosen for me as I'm worried about the world content selected based on my viewing patterns. You don't know me, Google. (Sidenote: We're really into TED Talks right now)

There was a delicious carefree-ness to summer, a time to look forward to and bemoan when it was over. But now? Summer isn't a break from anything, really. The world keeps trudging on, regardless of the temperatures that make me avoid walking the dog regularly for fear of heatstroke.

But growing up can mean expanding out and I'm not referring to our ice cream consumption (which is horrendous, stop asking). Here's a time to focus inward. I sewed a quilt. I downsized both closets AND the storage space. Mr. E finished writing/transcribing his first feature film script. We got a new car (though unplanned and really a very miniscule silver lining to a sucky situation).
So maybe sometimes summer isn't delicious pool days and backyard BBQs and movie nights. It's not determined by school years or months on the calendar anymore. I had to make my own summer, and I will continue to do so, dammit, until I'm shivering in my shorts and flip flops.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Falling in Love...with Football

It was almost fall the other night. I could taste it. Literally.

The hand-picked apples were simmering in their sugar and cinnamon syrup- turning just soft enough to be wrangled into a rose-shaped pie. JUST BECAUSE. The turkey breast was crackling in our stove and I smiled because I finally finally figured out how to best utilize this weird contraption called a bottom burner. Our potatoes were cooked to Eccles' home perfection- soft inside and crunchy outside, the closer to french fries the better.
These homegrown beauties soon became...
Don't be fooled, this isn't as difficult as it looks. Just time-consuming!
The pup was weaving her way through my legs, her small fuzzy body tickling my shins. She looks less scruffy after a shave and a bath, a mohawk trailing down her spine to match Mr. E. He's in the living room just behind me doing his best to multi-task: one eye on his boiling ears of corn, the other on the Colts and Broncos game. We've never splurged for cable, and this isn't even on for love of the game. 
It doesn't matter who's playing, what the score is or who just grabbed that touchdown- football is the sound of fall. Listening to Al Michaels and my mind instantly hits calm. When I was at my first quarter of college and away from home for the first time ever, anxiety hit me so bad I wanted to roll up in my bed and cry, trying not to hit my head on all my open textbooks. But my roommates were out and supposedly the TV was available to all so I tuned in to Monday night football and the calm that washed over me was instant. The soundtrack to my perfect days.

I barely even watch the games. It's on in the background, a soothing sound of whistles and 10 second sound bites, of cheering and announcements. "The best this season" and "Offsides, number ninety-four". Baking is easier, more focused when I can half-tune into NBC. Tidying is quicker when I'm sneaking glances at the latest commercials for game day feasts and tail-gating Americans.

We may have woken in the middle of the night to heavy humid temperatures this week and used the air conditioning more than we ever have before, but every few days when we wake up the sky is a grumpy gray and the mountains behind us are shrouded in fog. It's not cool yet, but it's coming. I felt gypped out of our sweater weather last year thanks to an 80 degree Christmas, but I have high hopes for the coming seasons.
The view from behind our building
In the meantime I'll be grabbing the last of the summer produce and freezer-jamming myself silly in an effort to preserve sunshine in a PB and J.
This is the most delicious apricot-cherry jam I've ever had. Or made.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ren Faire

My only regret is that we missed the "Wines and Wenches Weekend", as I can only imagine the kind of cleavaged debacuhery that would occur.
Not that we didn't already witness our fair share. (Get it?)
Yes, it's true, the renaissance faire in Irwindale is one of the biggest on the West Coast. And yes, it's true, it's also a fantastic excuse for women to dress in corsets and little-to-no shirt product. But it's also a rockin' good time.
You can't fully enjoy the faire if you are not properly attired, as their many costumed booths could attest to, but as I don't have the guts (or the boobs) for a corset, eclectic gypsy-esque it was going to be!
Mr. E and I went a little early to fully enjoy the $26/pp experience, and later met up with some friends of mine from work. Accents and feathered hats, oh my!
Forgive their expressions- they really are excited to be hanging out with me.
There were booths selling all sorts of things, from woodworking to incense, pewter goblets to glass ornaments, hair twirling, baton twirling, skirt twirling, gypsy skirts, palm-reading, jousting, and the food...Turkey legs were almost mandatory. And corn on the cob.
One of the things I love the most is how supportive everyone is. There are all kinds at the faire, and some of them take their roles or their characters so seriously I'm pretty sure that's just how they are, but they are all so sweet to one another. They laugh and call out across stalls, compliment you on your skirt or your bag or your mustache, offer their services or stop you in the middle of the thoroughfare, stomp their feet and bow "M'lady..." before whisking away, cape in hand.
Who doesn't want to get treated like a princess for a day? A princess with all her boobs in her shirt, no less...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Paint Nite

Four colors.

Five paintbrushes.

Two beers and two slices of pizza big enough for Malibu Barbie.

Paint Nite (or Sit and Sip) has been sweeping through cities like crazy- all over social media (including Groupon, Living Social and Yelp!) we've seen pictures of cheesy girl friends, clinking wine glasses in front of half-finished canvases.

It was time we joined the trend.
 Also, I have a hard time saying no to 50% off.

The website is super easy to use- you scroll through and can choose your painting based on proximity of the location, the type of painting or how hard the painting is rated. Seeing as this was our first time (and after work), we needed close by, something we wouldn't get tired of looking at, and EASY.

Turns out, easy is in the eye of the previously-painted-before.
Although there were some venues just down the street from us, we really liked the look of a particular painting, so we headed off to a little Italian restaurant (+ bar) in Glendale. We're totally coming back because those raviolis looked GOOD. The bar was big by drinking/eating standards but as soon as you throw in a 2x3 canvas at each place setting, cups, brushes, paint plates and beer, you're looking at pretty tight quarters.
Mr. E and I set ourselves up in a booth, and quickly realized that this was a class of friends. There were easily 30 people there, but it was less of a "date" thing and more of a "group date" experience.

Our instructor was sweet, had a little trouble with the feedback of her headset, but she played some good tunes in between the instructions (Don't mix your water and your drink!) and was generous with the compliments.

What I really liked about painting this way was all of the examples you had surrounding you. There was a finished canvas at the front, the instructor painted a second one with you, there were tiny examples sitting at your station and everyone else was painting the exact. same. thing. So comparison wasn't an issue- even if yours sucked (which you're not allowed to say out loud), you can bet you'll find someone worse than you.
What I didn't like? My perfectionist streak was not as thankful for the alcohol as my social butterfly self would have liked. The one beer may have loosened my inhibitions to strike up small talk, but when focusing on a certain method of brushing I could have used a little more focus.

Mr. E, suprisingly, was completely in his element. He loved the cathartic motions, mixing the colors and working to make sure that his background trees looked different from his foreground- he played with dimensions and perspective and showed a little competitive streak I didn't know his fine motor skills were capable of.
I think by far the best ending to a date has got to be: When can we do this again?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hie Thee to Zion

Zion is apparently an international hotspot.
Is it the stunning views? The trails for hikers of all levels? Perhaps it's the absolute silence and the stunning cascade of heavenly bodies that surround you once the sun sets behind the cliffs. I haven't quite figured out how to take pictures of stars with my iPhone, but if it looked like this during the day...imagine what that looked like by the light of a waxing moon.
For four days there's actually quite a lot to do in Zion. That is, if you are surrounded by nieces and nephews, catching up with sisters-in-law, tending to injuries, cooking any and all meals and/or trying to find a free bathroom for a quick second. Just me?
We biked from the park entrance to the Lodge almost 5 miles away (uphill, both directions, in the snow...).
We hiked a mile along the Virgin River until we dead-ended at the river itself....then we took up walking sticks, double-bagged our valuables and trudged in. Much like the California surf, the water was cold but soon numbed your feet.
We also hiked to see the canyon view- through a tunnel and out the other side, there's a (perilous) staircase, some natural, some not, that deposits you at a cliff edge with a stunning vista of the park. Granted, it was no Angel's Landing (same idea, but a four hour trek and one of the highest points in the park- not suggested for kids. Me. People with a fear of heights.)
We swam for most of the day- hiking was strictly a morning sport as the heat of the day quickly baked everything in the canyon.
My favorite part of the trip? Catching a wide-eyed Mr. E as he spouted geological tidbits, trying to cram every rock and crevice into his memory bank like a kid at a museum. We vowed to hike more often- and actually get out and camp once in a while!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Heads Up!

We've kind of got a lot of balls in the air right now in our household.
Forgive my giant face- this is as close as I can come to showing you where I work!
I was hired (as a contractor) at Baxter Bioscience with a whole new schedule (5am-1:30pm!) so my days have become pretty limited. Then Mr. E found a position on an HBO show that has him working 12+ hour days- so we kind of pass like ships in the night.
Cast and Crew private screening for Wish I Was Here- Mr. E's first job on a Hollywood movie!
And then a car accident.
And then Mr. E's thesis film Ganas was accepted into a prestigious short film festival called Holly Shorts.
And then Mr. E decided to submit a short film to Project Greenlight- sort of a documentary series that follows aspiring filmmakers spearheaded by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

And of course this is all in the same week, because when it rains it pours.
But with my extra time at home I've been house-keeping: donating, organizing, de-cluttering. I've pulled out craft projects that had been gathering dust: quilts and cross-stitches that have seen better days. It's been nice to head into the changing of the seasons with some productivity under my belt.

In the meantime we've kept busy around the city- vacationing, day-tripping and experiencing all  most of what LA has to offer.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Legacy to Leave Behind

Since we're coming up on the year anniversary of Mr. E's thesis film Ganas (and his graduation!) I thought it'd be fun to reminisce about leaving our mark on Dodge College.
 Don't tell my mother, but we definitely vandalized the theater.

We were sitting in one of the backrows during a screening or a class or some such, holding hands and enjoying each others company far more than we were enjoying what was onstage, when I realized the tiny gold plate on the arm rest was loose.
Inspiration struck and I stuffed that sucker in my purse.
A few weeks later we snuck in as a family to glue it back into place- so really we were maintaining the integrity of the venue, right? We squeezed our bewildered pup into my purse (she's half chihuahua, after all, she should be right at home) and walked in like we owned the place.
A phone flashlight and a bottle of craft glue later we were left with this. A legacy for future students to find and enjoy.