Dreamer: Lily Miller

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How old are you? 23, turning 24 mid-May

How old do you act? Depends on my mood. If I’m super sleepy, I act like I’m 70. If I’m super happy, I act like I’m 6. If I’m drunk, you get the whole age spectrum.

Where do you live? Alameda, CA

What’s so great about where you live? I’m actually figuring that out every day. I just moved to the Bay Area at the beginning of March- $900 in my bank account, maxed out CC, one-way plane ticket and an overstuffed carry-on bag. That said… I love that Alameda is so close to San Francisco, but also a completely different culture. SF is a beautiful, vibrant city but sometimes I just need to go home to someplace quiet and peaceful and reminiscent of the Midwest towns I grew up in.

Also I live ten minutes from the beach, so that’s a huge perk.

What’s your current job? Senior editorial assistant. I initially applied to my company for an administrative position, which I interviewed for, and while waiting to hear back, they edited the role to be editorial so there would be room for growth and development in the company. Basically, I’m both an editorial assistant and administrative assistant. I’m only in my fourth week at the job so far, so I’m still learning a lot. So far I’ve worked on contracts, author advances, and digital copies of already published titles.

What’s your dream job? It doesn’t have to be a title, you can describe what you’d be doing in that job. If you do work your dream job, tell us about it. I really want to try having my own food/cooking show. I actually have been starting to brainstorm creating a comedic food web series now that I’m getting a bit more settled into my life in the Bay Area. I love talking about food, working with food, cooking and feeding people, eating food… all of it. Also, at some point I want to revisit the cookbook I wrote in college and make it less academic to hopefully publish it, and maybe even do a spin-off web series, or a show from that whole process.

But if we’re getting down to basics… I want to make people happy. I want to make them laugh. I want to make them feel loved. I want to change the world, and change how people view the world. I’ve always been drawn to food just because I love eating, but you can’t deny that food does more than feed us. Food is a crucial part of how we socialize and grow as people. Companies are born over late night drinks and snacks. Two people fall in love breaking bread in a restaurant. A group of friends become family over an intimate dinner. We’ve got a lot of major problems in the world, and I can’t fix a lot of them, but maybe I can help change everyone’s attitude and outlook on life by reminding them to take a moment to relax and share a meal with someone.

What does your dream life include? Travel. It’s weird, I’ve never liked change or moving around all that much. But there’s something deep inside of me that gets restless every time I take a moment to relax in my home. Even now, just barely getting settled into my new life, I want to pack up my only piece of luggage and fly away.

Friends. I love my friends more than I can express through words. Many of my friends back in Chicago have known me since grade school, which is incredible to me since I was not a popular little kid. They’ve been there for me through thick and thin, and I can’t imagine going the rest of my life without them. And as for the Bay Area, I’ve miraculously found a friend group already that seems to think I’m fun and a good person to be around, and each person I’ve met has managed to provide me a new outlook on life so far. Each of my friends, everywhere in the world, has helped me grow and mature in some way, and I want that to continue to happen.

Family. My family is the best and has been so supportive of all my dreams in life, encouraging me to pursue every thread of happiness I find. I want to be able to do the same when I settle down and have my own family. I’d love to have children one day, though I’m definitely not ready right now- the vagabond in me is too restless to raise a child right now.

Food. I can’t imagine not being able to cook for people- that pretty much is my hell. I’ve been cooking for people since I was a kid- I don’t know what it is, there’s something about feeding people, and seeing them enjoy what I’ve made, that gives me great satisfaction. It’s one of the few times I feel proud of myself.

Love. I mean this in every sense of the word, but let’s be real- we’re all thinking about romantic love. I’ve been in some horrible relationships, and have made a point to be single since last year, because I’m still learning to love myself and value myself every day. But man… the romantic in me can’t wait to meet my next adventure partner. Besides, I still dream of being kissed at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Besides money, how can people help you reach that ultimate dream life? Don’t be shy. Constructive criticism. Reaching out. Networking. Guidance. If you know something that you think may be helpful to me, don’t be afraid to share it with me. And if you think my projects could use a bit of tweaking, go ahead and point out what works and what doesn’t. Feedback is so, so, so crucial. And please introduce me to your friends. As painfully shy as I can be, I love to meet new people.

Do you have dream contacts you’d like to make? Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Linda Ellerbee, journalist/author of And So It Goes and Take Big Bites (my favorite book)/person who inspired me to pursue journalism starting in grade school. Ruth Reichl, EIC of Gourmet Magazine. Tina Fey, comedienne/writer/food lover extraordinaire. Amy Poehler, comedienne/brilliant feminist. Barbara Kingsolver, author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Andrew Zimmerman, host of Bizarre Foods. Giada De Laurentiis, host and author of Everyday Italian. Chris Evans, actor/director/ridiculously handsome and seemingly charming fellow.

Hey, you said DREAM contacts.

Who would you invite to a dream dinner? Julia Child. My maternal grandmother, who passed when I was two. My best friend Annie, who has been cooking with me since we met in fifth grade. Tina Fey. Linda Ellerbee. Ruth Reichl. Meryl Streep. Beyonce. Gilda Radner. Bill Murray.

What’s your dream trip? I mean, if we’re talking dream trip, let’s just pack a bag and go everywhere. I want to see every part of the world, high and low, good and bad, before I die. And I want to write about everything I see, everyone I meet, everything I eat… I believe that travel is the best form of unstructured education you can give yourself. Let yourself open up to new cultures and ideas and ways of life- try to understand how things are in different parts of the world.

What’s the biggest dream you’ve attained so far in your life? Honestly, moving out to the Bay Area has been pretty big. I’ve always been overly cautious and spend way too much time weighing out the pros and cons of everything, trying to plan, freaking out when things don’t go how they’re supposed to. The last two years all of the plans I had set in motion after graduation pretty much dissolved into thin air, and I was left with nothing, and it put me in the worst funk. But somehow I got my shit together, and I managed to move across the country, get a job, and find an apartment in a month. I still find myself feeling like I need to be pinched, because I still think I’m dreaming.

What’s the best advice someone has given you to attain your dreams? I wouldn’t necessarily call it advice, though I’ve received amazing advice and guidance from so many people I’ve met. “Only good things.” My mom started making this a toast with my family after I graduated because there was a lot of heavy stuff to wade through, particularly with my work situation, living situation, and recent college sweetheart breakup. At first I just thought she was saying that only good things should bless us, but now I realize it means to put out only good things into the universe, to receive good things down the road. tl;dr It’s all about attitude. Let yourself get in a funk and you’ll always get stuck. But if you keep your head high and roll with the punches as best you can, good things will come your way. Maybe I’m just crazy. But I feel like it worked for me!

What’s your advice to others? Never give up. Always follow your passion. You CAN do what makes you happy, no matter what anyone tells you. Embrace your failures- they help you grow into who you’ll become. Always find time to laugh. And always find time to share a meal with someone you love. Only good things.

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