Cheesecake Dinner (or A Half Birthday Outing)

I’ve written about the traditions that my birthday twin, Joanna, and I have been doing for a while. It’s tradition to go to Truxton’s for our birthday and then we started doing Cheesecake Factory around the holidays. But lately, we’ve changed our Cheesecake Factory dinner to be more of a half birthday thing. And since it was just our half birthday, we made an effort to do our dinner close to the right time.

We ended up going this past Monday after I had my screening. Joanna was actually at the screening the week before at my film festival, so she didn’t have to go to this screening. But the timing worked out really well between us to go to dinner after my screening so I was excited to get to discuss the screening with her. I was so nervous going into the screening and still feeling a little bit anxious after, so it was nice to know I would be able to talk it through with a friend to calm me down.

So many times when we go to Cheesecake Factory, it’s so crowded that we have to wait forever for a table. This time, I got there just before Joanna did and our table was ready a few minutes after she got there. For some reason, we always get seated outside on the patio (thank goodness they have heating lamps), and we were seated out there again!

I knew what I was going to order right away. I always get the same salad because it’s delicious! It also isn’t too massive (like many of the items there are) and the calorie count isn’t too bad since it’s on the skinny menu. But it is so good and a nice balance to getting cheesecake so it’s the perfect thing to order. I know that there are recipes to make this at home, but I like having this as something special that I get when I go to Cheesecake Factory.

Over dinner, Joanna and I did a bit of catching up. I had just seen her the week before so there weren’t a ton of new updates in our lives. We did discuss my surgery and Joanna was telling me about some awesome trips that she’s got coming up this year. And we also started to plan what we wanted to do for our birthday this year. We said we should do a combined birthday party since then we don’t have to worry about having parties at the same time. And we have a couple of ideas for what that party could be.

And of course, because politics and current events are unavoidable right now, we did discuss some of that. We pretty much are on the same side with everything, but there are a few things that we aren’t 100% together on. But we are able to have some really amazing and respectful debates and I know that I learn a lot from those. Most of the time, we do agree on everything. But when we get to play devil’s advocate regarding something we disagree on, it’s always interesting.

But as always in our Cheesecake Factory outings, the highlight for us wasn’t necessarily getting to hang out but getting cheesecake! I love getting to hang out with Joanna, but I know we both are thinking about what types of cheesecake we are going to get as soon as we plan our dinner. I learned recently that you can ask your server to cut the slice in half before bringing it to the table, so that made things so much easier for us. We each had a half slice of the red velvet cheesecake and a half slice of tiramisu cheesecake. It’s a lot of cheesecake, but it’s so good and worth being a big splurge!

Neither of us could finish our slices, but we enjoyed every single bite. It’s a treat for both of us and I know we both look forward to our cheesecake outing each year. It’s a good thing that we only do this once a year because it is such a splurge and we both probably go a bit overboard with the food. But it’s something nice that we do and great way for us to celebrate our half birthday!

6 more months to go before my next tradition with my birthday twin when we go out for our free birthday dinner!

Another Screening (or Enjoying A Film Festival)

I just had the film festival that I run, and the film that I did last year was part of the comedy programing. It was cool to have us in the festival and to get to share our film with more people. It wasn’t the first time we screened publicly, but it was our first film festival. And while it did feel a bit odd to have the film in a festival I run (I have nothing to do with programming so it’s fine), I was still so proud to have a film festival laurel on our movie poster.

We have been busy submitting our film to multiple festivals, but many of them won’t let us know if we got in or not for a while. But we did hear back from another festival besides the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival and we found out that we got in! We got into the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and we screened there this week!

This screening was held at Regal Cinemas at LA Live, so it was going to be another screening on a big screen. And we were going to be in a block with other short films, so I was happy to see what other films were in our programming block and to support other filmmakers.

There was a pretty decent turnout for the screening. We were worried because it was on a weekday afternoon, but the theater was over half full and everyone was so excited to see the films. We were toward the end of the program, so I tried to relax and enjoy the other films that were screening.

I’m not sure if we were a block of short films or comedy short films, but it was an interesting mix of films. Some of them were a bit more out there than our film is (ours is pretty down to earth and realistic), but there were things that I really enjoyed with each of the films that were in the hour long program with us. When our film played, I couldn’t focus too much since I still don’t love to watch myself act. But I was very happy that we got a lot of laughs and some of those were in spots that we hadn’t gotten laughs in before.

Once the program was done, we headed out of the theater quickly since the next screening was going to start right after ours ended. There wasn’t a Q&A or anything, but most of the filmmakers were gathering right outside the theater. There was a step and repeat set up so of course I had to get photos with my writer/co-star and my director!

When we were taking our photos, we had some people coming up to us to tell us that they enjoyed our film. That was really nice and I wasn’t expecting it. I am really proud of our film and would be happy even if it was just for us and nobody else got to see it. But to know that other people are enjoying the film is amazing and really made my day!

I wish that I could have stayed at the festival longer and seen more films, but my schedule did not allow for that. I know there were so many short films to see and I really wanted to support my fellow filmmakers. I know it isn’t easy to get people to see short films and I wanted to see as many movies as I could. Hopefully if we get into another festival I can attend more programs and see all the films. It just wasn’t mean to be this time.

I still can’t believe that the film that we made is getting recognition. It started out as such a small project and it has continued to grow and grow. I am so proud of the work that we all did and I’m really hopeful that we can continue to get into film festivals so more people can see it. We are already discussing working on another film together because we had so much fun with “Single Parent Date Night”. But until we do, I’m just going to enjoy having a great film out there and being able to look back at the hard work that we did.

Disneyland Adjacent (or Downtown Disney)

This past weekend was a bit of a weird one for me. I ended up being in a bad mood on Sunday (for reasons I’m not sure about) and was planning on spending most of the day moping around and feeling a bit sorry for myself. But my plans changed when my friend Michelle texted me to see if I wanted to go to Disneyland for a few hours that evening!

I’m always down to go to Disneyland and even if we could only spend a few hours there I knew it would make my day amazing! I got my stuff together and got into the car to drive to Michelle’s house. But on the drive to her house, she called me to let me know that our passes were blacked out because of the holiday weekend (since we both have Mondays off we sometimes forget about 3 day weekends). We thought about going to Universal Studios instead, but we were blacked out there too.

I got to Michelle’s house and we were trying to figure out what to do. We both wanted to go do something and were torn on figuring out what to do. Finally, we decided that we should go to Disneyland anyway but instead of going to the parks we would get some dinner at Downtown Disney and try to watch the fireworks from between the parks (so we don’t have to pay to get in). And since there is 4 hours free parking at Downtown Disney (a long as you get dinner), we wouldn’t have to pay to park!

We headed down and got to Downtown Disney pretty quickly. We headed over to Tortilla Joe’s (which I love!) and put our names on the list. It was going to be over an hour for a table, but we had time to kill before the fireworks and were happy to walk around Downtown Disney do shop. There are so many things that I would love to buy, I just don’t have the money for it. But it’s always fun to look and there are some ideas of things I want to put on my wish list for the future and maybe to put on a list for my birthday.

We were done window shopping and it was finally time for us to get dinner. As much as I want to drink alcohol right now (and my surgeon said I could as long as I didn’t drink too much), I’m trying to be good and not drink. I really wanted a margarita, but I had to settle for a virgin strawberry one.

It wasn’t as good as a real margarita, but it was a nice change from just drinking water and made dinner feel a bit more special. And as always, the food there was awesome. Michelle and I might have eaten too many chips because we were both so hungry for dinner, but the chips were really good! And I had a tostada salad that I’ve had before there and it was the perfect dinner for me.

And besides just having a good dinner, it was so nice to get out of the house. I’m usually such a planner and having a spur of the moment adventure was a great way to get out of a rut. Plus, Michelle and I wanted to work on planning our next Disney day (which will be in a few weeks) so hanging out at dinner was nice.

After we were done with dinner, we walked over to the esplanade between Disneyland and California Adventure so we could watch the fireworks. I’ve watched the fireworks from there before so I knew while it was a slightly obstructed view it would still be fun. It was a bit weird to be at Disneyland but not to be at Disneyland, but it was still nice to feel like we there that night. We thought about taking a funny photo at the gates of the park trying to reach through, but we ended up just doing a selfie by the gates and were very happy with how our photo turned out (not bad for the selfie camera on my iPhone!).

We were waiting around and knew it was about the time that fireworks were going to start, but nothing was happening. We checked the website to see if we got the fireworks time wrong, but then we just thought that maybe they were a bit delayed. Since we weren’t in the park and couldn’t hear the announcements, we weren’t exactly sure what was happening. But about 10 minutes after the fireworks should have started, someone who was just inside the park walked by and said that the fireworks were cancelled that night.

It’s a bit sad when the fireworks were cancelled, but I understand why they have to do it. Sometimes it’s super windy higher up where the fireworks go and they can’t have the show happening with the wind like that. Or the clouds are too low and they know that nobody will be able to see much. I’m glad that someone told us all because we probably would have waited out there a bit longer to see what was going to happen.

So after that, we walked back to the car and made the drive back to LA. Even though we didn’t get to go into the park or see the fireworks, it was still a fun Disney adventure. It was the perfect thing to do when I needed something to boost my mood. I felt so much better being out at Downtown Disney than I would have if I stayed home. I got a nice dinner with an awesome friend, and I got a lot of walking in that I probably wouldn’t have done.

It really helped to make my Sunday a great day and I’m so glad that Michelle texted me to go on yet another adventure with her!

Game Of Thrones The Musical (or A GOT Newbie)

A little bit ago, I wrote about my friend Erin and her “Once Upon A Time: The Rock Opera”. Even though I don’t watch the show the spoof is based on, I had so much fun and it was really great! It’s not easy for a spoof show to be something for fans of the show and newbies alike, but that’s exactly what Erin did with the rock opera. So when Erin told me that she was a part of a new spoof show, I said I wanted to see it even before I knew what the show it was based on was!

This time, she was a part of “Game of Thrones: The Musical”. I’ve never really seen “Game of Thrones”, but that didn’t stop me from being so excited to see the show! Erin was so generous and gave me a ticket plus an extra ticket to bring a friend. And I ended up bringing my friend Camber who is familiar with the show. I figured that she could help explain anything to me that I wasn’t able to understand.

The show is at the Macha Theatre in West Hollywood so it was pretty easy for me to get to (plus they have a parking structure right across the street). The theater had a nice bar (I can’t drink right now but Camber was able to get a great drink) and when the doors opened we were able to get some great seats in the second row where we had a perfect view of the stage.

And just like with the rock opera, this musical was designed very nicely for fans of the show and people who didn’t know the show. There were plenty of jokes that I didn’t get but everyone around me seemed to think were hysterical. But more often than not I felt like I understood everything and was able to follow the storyline of the show.

There were 12 original songs for the show and they were all so funny and I was laughing so hard during almost all of them. Again, the songs had some inside jokes that I missed but I never really felt like I was excluded or lost while watching. That is such a hard balance to find because they didn’t want to dumb down the show for newbies like me to understand everything.

When intermission happened, Camber was able to explain some things to me that I didn’t understand and also explained some of the jokes. I was telling her how my friend Erin was in this and my friend Ace (Erin’s husband) was in the show as well. I was showing Camber the photos from when I saw Ace in “Aladdin” at Disneyland and she thought that was pretty funny. Ace’s character in this show is nothing like Aladdin.

The second half of the show, was just as good as the first. And when it was done I was a little disappointment because I was enjoying myself so much! I never really cared to watch “Game of Thrones” before, but now I really want to! The show is based on a lot of the first season, so I’m thinking about watching the first season and then going back to see the musical again. Then I will be able to get so many more of the jokes!

After the show was done, the cast came out to take photos with everyone. Of course, Camber and I had to take advantage of that!

I got to talk to Erin and Ace after the show to tell them how much I liked it (they both knew I don’t watch the tv show and were pleased to know that I didn’t feel too lost watching it). I really wanted to talk to them more and tell them more about my favorite parts of the show, but there were so many people who wanted to talk to them and I didn’t want to take up more of their time. But hopefully I can tell them later (or they will see this post and know!).

If you are in Los Angeles or will be out here between now and March 12th, I highly recommend checking out the show! The tickets are cheaper if you buy them online (and you can use the promo code “king” for an extra discount!), plus then you don’t have to take the risk that the show will be sold out at the door! And if you aren’t in LA, you can download the soundtrack to the musical. The lyrics are so funny and I think that any fan of the show will love the songs. But I really do think everyone should go to see this show. It’s tough to find great theater that is affordable, and this is one of the better shows I’ve seen. I could see this being on a tour and being a big hit soon. So if you go now, you can say that you knew it before the world knew about it!

Thank you again Erin, Ace, and the entire cast of “Game of Thrones The Musical” for inviting me to see the show this past weekend! I had an amazing time and I really am hoping that I can come back to see the show again before you close!

Hills And Power Outages (or Not My Usual Workout Week)

This past week of workouts was not how I had planned things to be. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I know I’m very set in my ways and that having something change up is good for me. But fortunately, even with things not going as planned, I still had a good week of workouts.

Monday was a no switch day and we did endurance, strength, and power work. The treadmill was one long block without much of a break between things. We started by doing a 3 minute push at 2% incline, 2 minute push at 3% incline, 1 minute push at 4% incline, 45 second push at 5% incline, and then finally an all out on a flat incline. We did have base paces between everything (which I walked), but I ran everything else. Inclines are interesting for me since I’m used to working at 4% so that doesn’t feel too bad for me. But the higher inclines are tough and I’m proud of myself to trying them out.

The second half of the treadmill block was push to all out paces at 4%, 3%, and then 2% inclines. It was nice getting the inclines to go down and since they were lower inclines they weren’t as bad as the first half of the treadmill block. I’m curious what the inclines will be on my next 5K because I would love to try to train a bit more for those specific hills.

On the floor, we had 3 blocks that each had 2 moves and then a rowing segment. The rowing was 300 meters, 150 meters, and 600 meters which aren’t horrible but felt long after doing the treadmill and floor work. On the floor we had a mix of upper and lower body work with hip swings, shoulder work with the straps, and hammer curls. But my best thing was when we were supposed to do pikes on the ab dolly. Normally, I would just do knee tucks since pikes are very difficult for me and I don’t do ab dolly work on my toes. But I decided to keep testing out doing ab dolly work and was pleasantly surprised to see that I could do the pikes! They were mini-pikes, but they were more than I had done before!

Wednesday’s workout was a power day which was a nice break from doing treadmill inclines. A lot of the work was 90 second push paces and push to all outs. I ran for all the push and all outs (I say that pretty much all the time now, don’t I?) and was happy that my endurance is really improving. And since it was a power day, I wanted to do one really awesome speed segment. So I did the last 45 second all out pace at 6.5 mph. Between all that work I did and the awesome speeds, I managed to do more than 2 miles on the treadmill during class!

The floor was a tough day. We had 2 blocks that both started with a similar patterned. We had a 250 meter row, a lower body move, a 150 meter row, a lower body move, and then arm focused floor work. The first block was squats between the rowing and then tricep work with the straps and tricep push ups. The second block was lunges between the rowing and the bicep work with the straps, weights, and push ups. I thought it was very tough to have all the tricep work in one block and bicep in the other (instead of mixing them up), but I think it was designed to be tough that way.

I was booked for Friday’s workout, but in case you aren’t in LA and didn’t hear, we had a huge storm that day. Before my Friday workout, the power went out in the building where Orangetheory is located. So classes were canceled since there was no estimate for when the power would be back plus it was starting to get a bit dangerous to drive. I guess it was good that it happened because right when I would have been in class, my power went out. If I had been in class, I would have gotten home to a totally dark house, needing to search for my flashlights, and would have to take a cold shower in a very dark bathroom. But I was very glad I was already booked for Saturday’s class so I could still get 3 workouts in for the week.

Saturday’s class was a bit odd since my body was feeling weird from the power outage. When it got dark, my body felt like it was time for bed even though it was only 6pm. So I slept pretty weird the night before and was still feeling that when I got to my workout. But I perked up pretty quickly because in the lobby was Whitney, who used to be one of my regular coaches but hadn’t seen in over a year! Whitney was teaching at another studio for a while and when she came back to my studio, she was always teaching when I was working so I hadn’t seen her. But to see her again was amazing and I was instantly in a good mood!

It was a 3G style class so I wasn’t stuck on anything for longer than about 15 minutes. But since it was an endurance, strength, and power day those 15 minutes felt like 30! I started on the treadmill and we had 2 small blocks on the treadmill. The first block was like a normal strength block so we had inclines. We had pushes at lower inclines and finished with an all out at 6% incline. I ran for all of those inclines, but I kept my pace slow with the all out since the incline was so high. The second half was more like a power day with push to all outs. The combined time ranged from 2 1/2 minutes to 1 minute and I was able to run for all of them. I increased my speed each time the combined time was slower and ended with 30 seconds at 6.5 mph. And even though we had a shorter treadmill block than I’m used to, I got a lot of distance done. When I started at Orangetheory, it could take me 20 minutes to do a mile. Now I can do 1 1/3 miles in that time!

The rowing block was probably the toughest for me. We had rowing plus squats for 15 minutes without a break. The rowing was 700, 500, and 250 meters and by the end the 250 meters felt like 700. The squats between the rowing was tough too. My legs were feeling a bit shaky so I had to take my time doing everything and took breaks in the middle of each set. But even with my slow work and breaks, I managed to get all the rowing done and got into the bonus round (which was just repeating the final round again).

And when I finally got to the floor, I was so glad there was a lot of work that was on the mat or on the Bosu so I could rest a bit. We used the Bosu to do chest presses (using the Bosu as a rest for our heads) and to kneel on for tricep work. We also had plank work where we were supposed to reach our hips to the other side, but I wasn’t quite able to do that so I did something more like mountain climbers. We also had shoulder strap work and abs (which was done laying on the floor so I took advantage of that to catch my breath). When class was done, it felt so long but I was so glad I had signed up for it. I would have been sad if I only got 2 classes done because of the storm.

Even though I set out to do a 4 workout week, I’m glad I still got my 3 classes in and that I pushed myself hard in each of those classes. I’m slowly seeming more and more progress in class and that helps to keep pushing me along. I’ve got 2 months to go before surgery and I’m considering this training to get ready for it!

I’ve Got A Surgery Date (or Almost The 2 Month Countdown)

When I found out I needed liver surgery, I knew I would be waiting a little bit before having surgery. First, I want my parents to come take care of me when I have surgery and waiting until at least April was best for their schedules (this isn’t an urgent surgery so there is no rush for them to get here). Also, waiting does give my body a bit of time to hopefully shrink the tumors. And finally, I am hoping to lose a bit more weight before having surgery.

I had things set on being the middle to the end of April (I have a 5K in the beginning of April that I don’t want to miss), but when I saw my surgeon the last time the April schedule wasn’t open yet. So I was waiting on the surgery schedule to have April up so that my surgeon could pick the best day for it. He knew that I was looking at the week after Easter and had my permission to just give me whatever date he could that week as soon as the schedule was up. My surgery is possibly going to be an all day thing, so I might be the only patient he operates on that day.

I had been waiting and waiting for the schedule to open up and finally at the end of last week I got a phone call from the surgery scheduling assistant. My surgery has been booked and I’ve got just over 2 months to go before the tumor (or tumors) will be out!

Even though I’ve known about this for a while, having an actual surgery date makes everything seem real now. I have almost all my doctor appointments leading up to surgery booked (I just need to have my final MRI scheduled) and I know the timeline of when everything will be happening. I’ve let my agents know I will be unable to audition or work then and I’ve figured out exactly how much longer I have to bank hours at my box office job. I’m hoping I can still work while I’m recovering, especially in the hospital when I’m scared I’ll be bored, but I am banking enough hours to cover me if I cannot work the week and a half I’ll be recovering with my parents.

During my pre-op appointments, I know that someone will go over with me some of the things I’ll need to bring with me for surgery and my hospital stay. I’ve never had inpatient surgery before, so I am a bit nervous about staying at the hospital. I’m a bit set in my ways and in my routine, and I know this will throw me off. I’m looking online at things that people recommend to have for overnight hospital stays or abdominal surgery recovery. If any of you have been through either, I would love some suggestions.

This have been moving pretty quickly after I got my surgery date. I have several appointments scheduled now, my parents have planned their trip down here, they have found a place to stay, and I’ve got a ticking clock in my head of how much longer I have. I’m sure that since I’ve got about 2 months to go that soon I won’t think about it as each day counts down. Eventually I’ll just have it in the back of my mind instead of the front of my mind.

The only downside with having some time to get ready is that I have time to get ready. I have the time think about what I want to do before surgery or to have with me in the hospital. I have time to do a lot of research and read the good recovery stories along with the bad ones. I have time to think about what this will mean for the rest of my life. Since they are taking out my gallbladder, my diet will need to change a bit. And for the time that my liver regenerates, I’m sure I’ll have a restricted diet too. And after surgery, I will have scars on my stomach for the rest of my life. The scars on my hip have faded to the point you can’t see them anymore, so maybe the ones on my stomach will do the same. But I will always know that they will be there.

I’m going to try to limit the number of posts I do about the upcoming surgery. I’ll do posts when I have updates or appointments so you all know what is happening with me. But this surgery is just a minor roadblock in my life. Once I get through it, things will be different but I will be fine. This is just another crazy story that I will be able to tell one day at a party (I’m sure saying I had a tumor the size of a baby’s head taken out of my liver will be a good cocktail party story one day).

I’ve got about 2 months to go before this is all pretty much behind me and I can just focus on recovering from surgery, getting back to my normal life, and moving forward.

A Universal Adventure (or Lunch And A Tram Tour)

This past Monday I was originally going to go to Disneyland. That didn’t end up happening (and I’m glad I did change my plans), but since I had my afternoon free I decided to make some other plans. I thought about it for a minute and realized that it has been a while since I went to Universal Studios. I’ve got about 2 months left on my pass and wanted to make sure I went at least one more time before it expired. So I called my friend Robert and he was free too so we decided to go to the park to hang out!

Since I was coming after my workout and Robert had to go to work at 4pm, we didn’t have a ton of time at the park. But since we both have passes and didn’t really care too much about what rides we went on, this worked out perfectly. We made plans to meet up at the gate at noon and I rushed to get ready to drive over to meet Robert. We ended up having pretty perfect timing and got to the front gate within minutes of each other.

As soon as we went inside, we went to get some lunch. Robert has been working his way through the menu at the Three Broomsticks restaurant in the Harry Potter section of the park, so I was happy to go there so I could help him get a few more things knocked off the list. Plus, the food is pretty good there and isn’t like traditional theme park food. I was pretty hungry after my workout (and it was lunchtime), so I got the bangers and mash for my lunch. It was a bit more food than I normally would eat, but it was perfect!

It wasn’t too crowded at the restaurant so Robert and I had a nice time just relaxing and catching up. He works for the Oscars so he’s about to get really busy with helping out at the show. So I wanted to take advantage of the time we had to hang out before he gets too busy with work. We had just seen each other recently (he came over to watch the SAG Awards at my house), but we both have had a lot of things happening in our lives lately. So it was nice to catch up.

After our lunch, we were debating about if we were going to go on a ride or just walk around the park. We ended up deciding to go on the tram tour since that’s always fun to do and it was a pretty nice day out. I had told Robert a while ago about how it was interesting to sit in the very front of the tram because of the way some of the theme park elements of the tour work, and it was awesome to find out that we were going to sit in the first row of the front car!

We had a nice time going through the tour. It is silly and gimmicky, but it’s always fun. I like to see what the backlot looks like when they are filming different shows, and I really do love the theme park elements and how cheesy they can be sometimes. When we were getting close to the Jaws part of the tour, the guide told us that Jaws was under refurbishment and we could not go through it. I could see that it was all torn up, but the guide told us not to be sad because we were in for a special treat. And as we got closer to the ride, we saw that one the animatronic Jaws was off to the side getting ready to be used!

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one of the Jaws out of the water so that was a really awesome thing! I do love the Jaws part of the tour so I’m glad they are working on keeping it looking nice so it will be around for a while to come.

One of the last things on the tour that we always see is my old workplace. I love going past the Bates Motel or Bates house. Even though I had some unpleasant experiences with working Halloween there (specifically with guests who decided to hit or attack me or other employees), I do still look back at that time with happy memories and I miss working there. So getting to see where I worked does make me happy.

After the tram tour, Robert had to head home so he could get ready for work. I thought about staying at the park to walk around a bit more, but I decided to head home so I could avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic. We were in the park for a little more than 2 hours, but even though it was a fast visit it was the perfect thing to do that day!

I don’t know if I’ll be back to the park before my pass expires. I am looking at getting another pass for next year if I can find a good deal like I did this time. But if I don’t make it back for a while, I’m glad that I have had a couple of great days at Universal and really got my money’s worth with the pass.

Film Festival Day (or Being In Charge)

This past weekend was the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival. In the past, we’ve had the festival happen over multiple days, but this time we only had it on one day. This ended up being a good thing for me because this year’s festival was quite the stressful thing. I love working this festival and at least the love and happiness I have overrides the stress I get. But that doesn’t mean that the stress doesn’t affect me sometimes.

As I mentioned before, we had a last minute venue change with the festival. It was an unfortunate situation where our previous contact was no longer with the venue, but they never told us that in their email correspondence. So even though we had emails from them saying that we were all confirmed for the date, there was no record of us since they didn’t work for the venue and had no authority to book events. I’m glad that the venue felt bad for what happened to us and was able to put us in a new venue, but it was still stressful knowing that it was a venue that I hadn’t held a festival in before and wasn’t sure how it would all work.

I had gone to the new venue to see the setup and try to plan out how I wanted things to happen, but still the day of I was stressed more than I would have liked. I wanted to be able to relax and enjoy the festival, but I knew that until I knew that everyone had a good time that I would be worried about things. But the staff at the new venue was amazing and really did everything they could to make sure that the festival ran as smoothly as possible. Things weren’t perfect, but without the awesome staff and management I knew the festival wouldn’t have happened at all. I’ve thanked them so many times already, but I can’t thank them enough. I wasn’t the easiest person to deal with when I’m that stressed out and there were lots of little things that I wanted to make sure were right. But they understood my need to try to make things perfect and really worked with me.

It’s still weird to me to be in charge of everything. When I started with the festival, I was a volunteer. I worked my way up the ranks over the years (I’ve been with the festival for 9 of the 10 years it’s happened) but I still feel like I’m at the bottom of the totem pole. I need to build confidence with being in charge, but for now I have to fake it until I make it.

Since we had a reduced timeframe for the festival (which was because the other venue was supposedly only available for that limited time), we only had 2 screening programs: comedy and drama. And this year, one of my films was submitted and accepted into the festival! I know it sounds like I had something to do with it, but I do not program the films and the programmers don’t all know who I am. So it was exciting to have “Single Parent Date Night” make its festival debut at the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival!

The only downside to having the film in the festival was the way that the venue was set up, our lobby/reception area had about 8 TVs which all were playing what was playing in the screening room. So when our film started, I was surrounded by me. Not the best thing for someone who doesn’t love to watch themselves on the screen, but it was pretty funny to not be able to escape from it.

This wasn’t the most successful year, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a great festival. Everyone who was there seemed to have a great time and many filmmakers came up to me after the screenings to say how much fun they had. I’m glad that everyone had a good time since that’s all I really wanted to get out of the festival.

I know that we are going to take a bit of a break before the next festival. My co-director and I really want to bring it back to the glory days it had in the beginning. We want to be back in a great venue and have the filmmakers be excited to be screening there. We know we have a great event, we just have to make sure that others know it as well.

An Amazing Photo Shoot (or Dress Like A Woman)

I know I’ve talked before about trying to not be too political, but I think we are in a time where you can’t just sit back and hope for the best. We need to make sure that our voices are heard by our elected representatives and that we are involved. I’ve been guilty of not doing that much in the past but I’ve realized over the past year how I cannot do that anymore. So I’ve been slowly getting more and more involved in things. I’ve joined Facebook groups and other online communities, I’ve been sending emails/snail mail and calling politicians, and I’ve been more vocal about issues that mean a lot to me.

I know it can be scary to put yourself out there like that, but I was inspired by others do it so I hope that I can inspire others to do the same. Sometimes I don’t know what to do, but I’m lucky that I know people who I can turn to that can give me ideas. And I’m very fortunate that I have friends who come up with amazing ideas that I am able to participate in. And recently, I got to participate in a great photo shoot with Adam Emperor Southard , who did my most recent headshots.

Adam posted on Facebook that he needed some women to participate in the next photo series he wanted to do and it had a political twist to it. That’s all he posted, but I said that I was in and was really excited to hear what it was all about! When he finally shared the idea with all of us who wanted to participate, I was so happy that I took the chance to be a part of it. The idea came from the statement about how President Trump likes women to dress like women when they worked for him. There had been so many posts about what dressing like a woman means since there are so many ways women dress for work. And that’s exactly that this photo series was about.

It was tough for me to think of an outfit that I wanted to wear that represented to me dressing like a woman. I tried on some of my favorite dresses that I don’t get to wear that often, but it didn’t seem right to me to wear something that I only wear on special occasions. I also thought about wearing my working clothes since I feel so empowered while wearing them. But in the end, I wore comfortable clothes that I wear when I’m working (if I’m not wearing workout clothes) including the new hoodie I got that showed to me that my work toward weight loss was paying off.

When I got to Adam’s house for the photo shoot, I was pretty ready to go. I was in the outfit I wanted to wear and had done my hair and makeup at home before going over there. But I wanted to add one more thing to my look which was the new lipstick that I’m in love with. I’ve never been a bit lipstick person, but the first time I tried this color on I felt so beautiful. So I wanted that in my photos.

The first photo was without the pink hat (which Adam had there since I didn’t have one of my own) and it was interesting taking photos that I knew weren’t going to be headshots. I experimented more with my facial expressions and poses and didn’t worry about looking pretty or thin. And the second set of photos was with the hat and I knew it would be a close up. So I thought about all the things I wanted to say to President Trump and let my expression speak for itself.

After I was done with the shoot (it only took a few minutes), Adam let me take peek at some of the photos that he took and I was shocked by how I looked!

I never feel like I can look fierce, but I felt like I really did in these photos! I looked tough and not sweet (like I normally do in photos) and I was so happy with how they looked. I had to wait a few days to see the finished image, but I could not have asked for anything better to be my photo in this series.

I shared this online right away and if you want to see all the photos in this series you can see them on Facebook. And if you are in LA and want to be a part of the series, Adam is still doing more photos so please reach out to him on Facebook!

I know that me doing one photo shoot isn’t going to change the world. But between all the women participating in the series plus all the other work they and I are doing, hopefully we can make some noise and get some people to listen to us.

Walking And Running (Mixing Up My Workouts)

I was on such a high from my previous week of workouts that I didn’t know if I could do anything close to it last week. I tried to keep my expectations low going in to this past week because I didn’t want to burn out. But I also was feeling so great from all that I did that I didn’t want to lose the momentum. So I decided to try to alternate going crazy and having recovery days and see what happened.

Monday was technically an endurance, strength, and power day but to me it really felt like an endurance day. We had a crazy plan for the treadmill and I really pushed myself on it. The pattern started with a 3 minute push pace, 2 minute push pace, 1 minute push pace, and 1 minute all out pace. There was base pace in between each but it was still a lot. And the second half of the pattern was a 1 minute push pace, 2 minute push pace, 3 minute push pace, and 1 minute all out with the base pace in between. I managed to run all of the push and all out paces and in 23 minutes I did 1.55 miles which is half of a 5K.

On the floor that day, we had a 400 rep challenge. For some locations, this was a timed challenge, but it wasn’t for us. That was for the better since if it was timed I know my form would have suffered because I would have sped through things. We had 2 rounds of 25 squats, 25 hip bridges, 25 push ups, 25 rows on the straps, 50 hop overs, and 50 mountain climbers. It was very intense and tiring but I made it through. After completing my 400 reps, I had dumbbell swings and tricep work plus a 200 meter row. It was a lot, but I felt so accomplished after finishing the workout.

Wednesday was a strength day and we didn’t switch between blocks. I decided to do only walking on the treadmill that day and I’m glad that I did that. It was a nice change of pace from all the running I had done. We had ascending and descending hills with the inclines at 7, 9, and 11%. I also had 1 minute intervals at 8% with my speed at 3.8 mph which is pretty fast for my walking. And I was able to do my all out paces at 12% which is pretty steep for me.

On the floor, we had 2 blocks which each started with 400 meter rows. I was able to get those done in 1:31 and 1:28 which even surprised my coach! We also had regular and lateral lunges and lateral arm work. And I used the ab roller for knee tucks and push ups. But what went best for me was the ab work that day. We had abs with scissor kicks and crossovers. Normally those are really difficult for me because of my hips. But I was able to do them without modifications and I could really feel my abs working!

Friday was another epic day for me and I surprised myself again. We had a 23 minute challenge and I didn’t focus on distance but endurance. The idea of the challenge was to run for .25 miles and then recover with walking for a minute. And we repeated that as many times as we could. Obviously, the faster you run the more times you could repeat it. But for me, I wanted to prove to myself that I could run .25 miles over and over again. This was a test for me to see what I could really do with intervals because I am planning for my next 5K. So I ran every time I did the .25 miles at 4.5 mph which is becoming a very comfortable pace for me. I did increase my speed a bit for the end to see how far I could go, but I like that I found a good speed for me. And I’m so happy that I was able to keep up my running every time and I didn’t feel too tired during it. This wasn’t my best distance, but like I said that isn’t what I’m focusing on right now. I’m really proud of myself and I feel more confident than ever that I can have an awesome 5K in April.

After that long run, I was tired but I was ready to get to the floor block. It was a long floor block so we didn’t get much of a break in things. We had rowing between 100-200 meters, squats, lunges, burpees, froggers, palms to elbows (but I did plank shoulder taps instead), and pull ups. My form wasn’t great on the floor, but it wasn’t too bad compared to other days when I was tired.

Saturday’s workout was another recovery workout for me. It was a strength day and I made the decision to walk the entire time on the treadmill again. I needed the break and it was nice again to mix things up. The inclines were pretty intense and a lot of times I was at 12 or 15% incline which I don’t do that often. I can’t remember the last time I did 15% incline. Fortunately, since that workout was a 3G day I only had to do 2 rounds on the treadmill.

For the rower segment, the first time we had to see how fast we could do 300 meters and then recover for 20 seconds before doing it again. I think I got 3 or 4 attempts at the row before we switched and I was pretty consistent with the time. The second time on the rower, we had a challenge I hadn’t done before. We were supposed to count how many times we pulled the rower handle and to try to get 300 meters in 30 pulls or less. My first attempt wasn’t that close but I was determined to make it happen. I took super long pulls and leaned really far back to make it as long as possible. It was weird to have my form like that, but it paid off because both of my next attempts made it to 300 meters in under 30 pulls.

And for my 2 floor segments, there was quite a bit of arms work. We had rows in plank and standing up plus shoulder presses. We also had ab work with plank jack push ups and crunches. I like 3G workouts since we change between sections a lot, but it also means that I feel really tired and sometimes the workout feels a bit long. But this time the fun in changing it up was more than the tiredness I felt.

Even though I did 2 days of walking out of my 4 workouts, this is another success week of workouts in my mind!