Browsing Tag

taking risks

Guest Posts, Relationships

Crazy Ex-Lawyer Meets Happily Ever After

December 20, 2020

By Jennifer Lauren

It’s four years ago, and I’m obsessed with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

When my husband’s in the bathroom, I repeatedly rewatch the cheaply animated introduction and smile at a wide-eyed Rebecca ch: successful New York lawyer, makes a fortune, corner office, crying her eyes out. She has it all, but she doesn’t want it.

Enter Josh Chan, her never-forgotten high school summer camp love. He’s leaving New York to go home to West Covina, California. As he waxes poetic (“two hours from the beach, four with traffic”), he keeps saying “happy.”

Happy. The word follows Rebecca, mocks her from billboards and commercials. She’s not happy. She should be, but she’s not.

I laugh, then clamp my hand over mouth because my husband is still in the bathroom, and it’s that laugh. You know the one, the half hysterical, teary eyed, holy shit laugh that’s just a little crazy. Because I’m Rebecca. Hell, every woman I know is Rebecca. She’s us after too much wine, in the middle of the night, bewildered by our perfect-on-paper lives and asking, is this it?

“Why isn’t this enough?” women all ask at some point, and then every Tuesday. The rest of us shrug. Because it’s not enough for us either, so we offer a hug and more wine. It’s not like we can do something about it.

I love Crazy Ex-Girlfriend because Rebecca does something about it. She quits the New York job and moves to West Covina. Because she thought she could be happy there. Maybe. Even though she’s kind of chasing a boy.

We call her crazy.

“Wait, no I’m not,” she says. And we laugh at her obliviousness.

Except I don’t think she’s crazy. I’m like – whoa. That would be so cool. I am a successful lawyer. I have the perfect-on-paper life. And I totally want to ditch it and move to West Covina. Well, at least California. Or anywhere sunny. I want to get a dog and walk in the sun and write books. I want to quit my job.

But I can’t, because I have everything.

“You should quit your job. You should write,” my husband says one night when I’ve had a couple mojitos, since I’ve never been much of a wine person.

I think of Rebecca, and I say ok. I put in my very long notice two weeks later. It’s rainy and cold and we don’t have a dog, but I’m happy. I start a novel. I ignore the raised eyebrows and tight smiles I get when I say I’m leaving law.

It’s Christmas Eve.

We are putting cookies out for Santa with our ten and seven-year-olds, and my husband calls me from the bathroom. I’m irritated. I want to get the cookies out and the kids to bed. I want to do the present thing so I can collapse into bed.

He can’t move his left arm. I tell him to sit and he lies down on the floor at my feet.

The doctors can’t believe my marathon-running, kale-eating, 35-year-old husband had a stroke. They run more tests, but they say the same thing. He video conferences into Christmas morning with the kids long before Corona was a thing.

But he’s lucky. The kale-eating, marathon-running thing probably saved his life. He’s fine. No residuals. He goes home the day after Christmas.

The doctors and nurses keep using the words “life changing.” I don’t want my life to change. I quit my job. I’ve changed it enough.

“Some people come away from this full of fear,” one doctor says. “Others decide they will finally live the way they’ve always wanted to live.”

I choose fear. I ask for my job back. I stop working on the novel. I obsessively research stroke recurrence rates. I stop sleeping. Eating. I lose 25 pounds in three months.

After a year or so, I break down completely. Like an overloaded car that can’t go any further, I just stop. I’m afraid I’m going to die. That I’m already dead, having lost some essential part of me forever. In that hospital room. In too many courtrooms. In the moments between doing when I caught my breath and realized I was missing my own life.

It’s two years later when I come up for air, blinking against the rare Seattle sunshine. There’s no magic moment, no Josh Chan on the sidewalk, but slowly, subtlety, “happy” begins to follow me around like a puppy.

I get a puppy. I quit my job. Again. This time I don’t ask for it back. I take yoga teacher training. I decide to finish the novel.

It’s early March, 2020, and a new virus erupts in the nursing home down the street. My daughter’s girl scout troop leader, who works at the elementary school, says schools may close. I startle. That seems extreme.

They close the next day. First for two weeks, then for two months, then for the rest of the year. Then everything else follows. My husband’s office. Shops. Restaurants. Yoga studios. Like the world itself had too much to carry and broke down like an overloaded car.

Now there’s stillness. Like the stillness between the beats of busy that used to make me wonder if I was missing my own life. But I’m not willing to miss anything anymore.

I try to stop watching the news. Instead, I look at houses in sunny cities. Pretty mission style homes near California wineries replace Trump briefings. McMansions by the beach in Florida distract me from daily death counts. I spend my quarantine dreaming of sunshine. Beauty. Living somewhere it doesn’t rain ten months of the year.

I’ve always wanted to live somewhere warm. It’s the last item of my trifecta.

It’s two months into the pandemic. I’m sitting with my husband, noticing the stress lines disappearing from his face. The way he listens more, smiles larger. Working from home is working for him.

I take a breath, remembering when he told me to quit. To write. I don’t expect to say anything, my voice surprises me.

“You can work remotely. Forever. It makes you happy, I can see it. What if we moved somewhere warm? Not when the kids are gone, not when you retire, but now. Because we can.”

I don’t say, because we don’t know how much time either of us have left. Maybe the next time it’s my arm that goes dead, or maybe you’ll lay on the floor and never get back up.

I don’t say this because I don’t have to. It hangs in the air between us. The choice between living with fear and living the life we’ve always wanted.

It’s today, and we’re moving. I tell myself it’s a trial run: we’ve rented a house for three months in Austin, Texas. We can come back. But I don’t think we will.

In the series finale of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca is surrounded by friends. She’s quit law. Taken a break from chasing men. Took singing lessons and written songs. The camera cuts as she opens her mouth to perform for real. For the first time.

My eyes tear up, because I never expected a happy ending for either of us. And here we are, me and Rebecca Bunch, doing something crazy. Slowly putting together the puzzle pieces until we’ve formed a life we actually want. A life we have no right to demand.

It’s ridiculous. Selfish. Stupid. Impossible. Crazy.

Jennifer Lauren is a recovering attorney moving from Seattle, Washington to Austin, Texas. Ever since she wrote her first masterpiece, The Creature, when she was five, Jennifer wanted to be a writerBut life happened, sidetracking her with pesky bills and peskier children. She’s worked as an award-winning reporter at a nationally recognized newspaper; fundraising director for inner city schools; and civil litigator for 13 years. In May 2019 she had a mid-life crisis and quit her day job to write, teach yoga, travel, and chase her dreams. The travel dreams proved ill-timed when the coronavirus hit the U.S. two miles from her home. Check out her blog, Crazy Ex-Lawyer, at


Anti-racist resources, because silence is not an option



Click here for all things Jen

Guest Posts

It’s Personal.

November 21, 2013

It’s Personal.

By Rachel Bolin.

Writing has always been relatively easy for me. I usually did pretty well in my English classes, and glided through my creative  writing class in high school. I can usually just B.S. something, and often it’s just enough to get by. It’s always been easy with homework or any fictional writing I’ve done. Because it’s not personal. Maybe there is a bit of something personal that slipped through the cracks into a character or to a sentence, but it has never been a whole thing of my bleeding heart pumping my emotions out onto a page. I have never been brave enough to do it. I just recently admitted how terrified and nervous it makes me. I even think about it, and I can feel a crippling panic attack coming on. Which I do find kind of funny since I’ve been in therapy for about half my life, it’s not an inability to articulate the feelings, but it seems like even sitting in a session I feel like I’m approaching it all with detached clinical attitude rather than feeling it flow through my veins. It’s pretty bad when even your therapist calls you out on that. When she asks how you feel about things rather than being able to see it on your face.

The funny thing is, I have people who have managed to slip past these walls I have. I always picture them being 10 feet high with barbed wire at the top surrounded by a moat with alligators, piranhas, and for some reason hippos and lions are in there. Those animals I alway thought were so fierce and scary as a kid, have slipped into the mental picture of protection I have for myself. Sometimes people get to see in, and if they don’t run away screaming, they stay and become people I can truly rely on. Most of the time though, I don’t even let people have a sneak peek. That has been my control and safety net. I always thought if I could do that, then everything would be ok. Which as I grow older and experience more situations through life, I realize that I can’t control things like that.

I realize how much I use the word Hate. I hate this, I hate that, I hate this feeling, that movie, that song. But I’m not afraid to use it in this instance. I HATE being like that. I HATE that I have those stupid walls, and feeling the need to protect my heart so heavily. I’ve let that hurt and that pain dictate too much of my life. I was angry for so long, and turned it inwards. I truly despised myself for so long, based on something I couldn’t control and didn’t decide. I felt like I paid the consequences for other people’s choices. I had established this weird protect/punish dynamic with myself. Where I would keep the outside world out of my mind, which was probably an attempt to keep myself from getting hurt even further, only to turn around and mentally beat myself to a pulp. So I tried to protect myself, which only lead to me hurting myself mentally with the thoughts of self-hatred. At some point, I started the slow process of shaking that off. It will take a very long time, and I’m prepared for that. The fear and self-hatred made a home within every fiber of my being that sometimes it feels like it has enveloped my DNA. Sometimes I think that I’ll have to take a sledge hammer to it, in order to loosen it. It will be hard work, but nothing in life worth having is easy. Everything worth while is hard work, and this is definitely worth while.

I read this article in Psychology Today a few months back. It was called, “What happy people do differently.” I remember looking at the cover, and laughing to myself thinking ‘Of course they do something differently! They’re HAPPY!’ I thought the idea of having an article talking about happy people was just silly. Upon reading the article, I found that it wasn’t just some list of rules you should follow to be happy, but that they ended up saying that people who are happiest in life tend to do things that make them anxious and uncomfortable. They take risks and they take the time to feel those horrible feelings so that when they do feel good it’s that much sweeter. That we can’t appreciate the light until we’ve been shrouded in darkness. I have to admit I have found this to be completely true. I do have more light days, and feel better for longer chunks of time than I did before, and when I feel good it feels GOOD. Like seeing your favorite band play your favorite song live. Sand between your toes, having a really good glass of wine, or standing in a forest and feeling connected with nature. You feel almost peaceful. I know it’s not possible to feel that way all the time, and even if we did, it wouldn’t be as sweet. I think having those moments of pure joy or bliss are what make them so powerful. They may be fleeting, but they are powerful. Just as those dark moments are. They are balance in our lives, at some point we find a medium between the two.   That balance seems elusive most of the time, and I think the majority of people will spend their entire lives trying to find something that fits for them. We never have it all completely figured out, and if we did, what would the point of this journey through life be? We learn and we feel pain, joy and everything in between so that we can collect more pieces for our puzzles we call lives.

My puzzle is far from being done. I have more pieces than I thought I would, but most of them don’t fit together yet. I wouldn’t expect them to. Life is not a race, and I’m just really beginning my journey. The first major thing to do though is to take a sledge hammer to those walls, take a risk to feel open and bare. To find ways to connect with people, and to find love, and beauty in life. To be ok with that personal stuff, and to realize that it’s ok to give my heart to people and sometimes I might get hurt, but sometimes I won’t and it will be so worth it.


Rachel Bolin hails from the not so frozen tundra of Minneapolis, MN. She has spent her life using writing as a guiding light through the darkness, and a way to help capture those lighter moments in life. She is an advocate for therapy, as it has been a lifeboat for her. She has attended the School of Art Institute of Chicago for Photography and Painting (for a whole 6 weeks!), Minneapolis Media Institute for Music Production and Berklee College of Music for Music Business and Technology. She is currently a freelance writer, mainly focusing on Music and the Music Industry. She self-published her first collection of short stories through Amazon in December 2012, and is working on a full length novel adaptations of those short stories. She maintains a personal blog filled with writings and links to her music articles published this year, the crown jewel being an interview with one of her favorite musicians Troy Stewart of The Windsor Player and Tired Pony. Her blog can be found at

She is a rabid music fan, netflix junkie, avid reader and has a strong obsession with all things British, Doctor Who and Batman. She has 2 dogs, and a Niece and a Nephew who she loves more than anything on this big blue planet. She’s still working on the puzzle she calls life, one piece at a time.