Tag Archives: friends

Dentist and Disneyland (or Having Fun Things To Look Forward To)

After my past few dentist appointments, I’ve tried to schedule a Disneyland afternoon. This helps me stay calm at the dentist since I’ve got something good to focus on. It’s a nice tradition that I’ve started and I’m glad that it seems to help to keep me calm. So when I found out that I had a dentist appointment this week, my first thought was to call my friend Michelle to see if she wanted to go to Disneyland. And ironically, she had a dentist appointment that day too so we decided to go after we were both done at the dentist.

I didn’t have the best dentist appointment. This was the big appointment where I meet with the dentist and get x-rays. And one of the fillings that was done 14 years ago is now chipped and I will need some work done to fix it. Hopefully that will only be another filling, but there is always the possibility that it will be a crown. This isn’t fun, but I have to do it. Hopefully since I’ve had so many more needles lately I won’t react as badly to the numbing shot. But I won’t know until I have my dental work appointment.

My dentist is a block away from Michelle’s house, so I had parked my car at her house and walked to the dentist. When I was done, I walked back over to her place and we got into her car and headed to Disneyland!

Because I had my big dentist appointment, it was a bit later than I usually have dentist appointments. So we were driving down to Disneyland in the start of rush hour traffic. There are some carpool lanes on the freeways that we take, but it still was a bit of a longer drive than we are used to. But since we were both feeling pretty chill about this Disney adventure, we didn’t mind things taking longer for us. And once we got parked, we were able to get onto a tram to the park really quickly!

The only ride we really wanted to ride was Hyperspace Mountain since that will be closing and the ride will be the normal ride again next week. But we also both needed something to eat (I don’t usually eat much before dentist appointments and I was so hungry). We thought about trying to see if we could get into Blue Bayou, but they weren’t doing any walk ups at that time. They told us we could come back later, but we were both pretty hungry so we headed over to Plaza Inn for some pot roast.

I usually don’t get this to eat, but it was pretty good and filling! And it’s always nice to sit down to eat and not feel too rushed. The park was pretty crowded between people being there after work and people celebrating graduations, so to be away from the crowds was good.

After that, we headed over to California Adventure to wait until our time to ride Hyperspace Mountain. The new Guardians of The Galaxy ride will be opening this weekend and the entire park is going to be doing a summer of heroes event. I don’t think anything has started yet, but the signs were up as we walked into the park.

I know I’ll be in the park at least once before I’m blacked out for the summer, so I’m excited to get to see what offerings will be in the park. They’ve already promoted a fun menu and I think that it will be nice to see what else is happening.

Once we got to California Adventure, we did a bit of window shopping and then headed over to the Animation Academy. My biggest issue with drawing is drawing circles. And of course, the character we were drawing was Mickey Mouse, which is all circles! But I think in the end both of our drawing look pretty decent!

We headed back to Disneyland after that to ride our ride, and I got a moment to admire how much my new key chain matches the park!

We had a good ride on Hyperspace Mountain. Our photo didn’t really come out, so I don’t have a ride photo to share (sorry!). But we were both just taking in the ride and enjoying all the fun things they added for the Hyperspace overlay. I don’t know if this overlay will come back, but I hope it will eventually. But I think I agree with Michelle when she said it will be nice to have the regular ride back. It’s had this overlay for quite some time and I think the normal ride is going to feel special again.

Our last ride that day was Buzz Lightyear since Michelle and I have our year-long competition happening with that ride. I guess I’m really lucky that one time I scored a really high score on that ride, because Michelle is always beating me! And this time was no exception. But in our year-long battle, I’m still ahead!

With the park being as crowded as it was and both Michelle and I tired from our dentist appointments, we were ready to head home. And we realized that the parade was going to start so we wanted to rush out before it started and it became difficult to leave. But even with rushing out of the park, I took a brief moment to get a photo of how pretty Main Street looks at nighttime.

It’s always magical at Disneyland, and at nighttime it seems even more magical. After getting out of the park, we made one more stop at World of Disney in Downtown Disney. There were a few things that I had been debating about getting and I wanted to look in the store to see prices and to think carefully about what I wanted to spend my money on.

I’ve been wanting the Disney ice cube tray since I had seen it months ago, and I finally decided to get it. And right next to it was a really cute votive holder that I couldn’t resist getting. And I’ve been looking casually for a new mug (the ones I have are all chipping and are pretty old) and had never found a Disney mug that I loved. But this time, there was a really cool mug that didn’t scream Disney that I had to get!

It’s a bit of a splurge to get stuff at Disneyland, but I rarely do it. And it wasn’t too expensive even with all 3 items so I figured I could find other places I could cut back this week to make it work with my budget.

Michelle and I were only at Disneyland for about 4 hours and we really didn’t do much, but it was a perfect post-dentist outing. I know I won’t be able to go after my big dental appointment since that is so late in the afternoon, but I’ve already got a Disney day planned for June. And there’s always a chance I’ll have another random Disney day before I’m blacked out for the summer!

A Night Of Stand Up (or Just Having Fun With My Friends)

I’ve got several friends who perform stand up. Unfortunately, more often than not those shows are on evenings that I can’t go. Either I’m working or the show is really late at night when I need to be up very early the next morning. It’s been years since I’ve been able to attend a friend’s stand up show.

So when my friend Marie invited me to her stand up show, I was sad that originally I couldn’t attend due to having other plans. But my other plans got cancelled so I could go! I immediately bought a ticket online since they were cheaper that way and let Marie know that I’d be there! I don’t think I’ve seen her perform at a venue for at least 5 years (it may actually be closer to 10 years) so I was so happy I could be there. And she mentioned that she would be working on new material and I was excited to support her as she was doing that.

The show was at The Open Space, which isn’t too far from my house but I had never been there before. I left early because I wanted to find some parking and lucked out to find a meter just down the block from the venue. I paid my meter and headed over to meet up with Marie, Chris, and whoever else was there already!

When I got inside, everyone in there was a part of the usual group of friends I see at the parties that Marie and Chris throw. It was still early, but it was nice to have a fun catch up time with my friends and to be excited to see people perform. I didn’t realize it when I got my ticket, but I had 3 friends performing that night plus a couple of comedians that I didn’t know. So it was going to be a fun and full stand up night. And of course, I had to get a selfie with Marie before the show started.

Right before the show started, the room started to fill up a bit more. But it stayed a pretty intimate show and I think that was pretty great. Most of the comedians were testing out new material and having a small and supportive room is perfect for doing that.

It’s been so long since I’ve seen Marie perform live, but she’s so amazing at it! She does a great mix of regular stand up plus songs that she’s made up. And this time she didn’t disappoint! She did some really funny bits about the warnings in birth control pills that made me laugh and then made me think if my tumors are listed in those warnings (I looked it up the next day and it actually is mentioned in the packet insert with all the other warnings!).

And Marie had a new song that was all about Chris. It was pretty funny listening to her sing about him when I was sitting right next to him. And everything was cheering so loudly for her when her act was done!

Another friend of mine who performed is a trans woman who was doing her first act since transitioning. She was so funny and had some really great jokes about her transition and her life now. And she also had a song in her act! This one was a rap about the 10 commandments and I was laughing the entire time. I told her afterwards how much I loved her act and I was surprised it was her first one since transitioning she was so polished and had some really smart jokes.

And I enjoyed the comedians who I didn’t know too. Some of them had some jokes I didn’t love, but overall they were pretty great. During one person’s act, there was a woman sitting right in the front who was a friend of another performer. She arrived just in time to see her friend and was sitting there when the next performer started. She was on her phone texting during the act and the comedian was pretty funny calling her out on it. I’m sure that he felt pretty annoyed that she was on her phone (I was feeling annoyed for him), but I think that he handled the situation well and in a super funny way!

The entire show was a little more than an hour long and I really wished that it was longer! It was such a fun night out with friends (again, helping me get back to feeling normal) and I’m so glad that my schedule worked out so I was able to go! I love supporting my friends in their creative adventures and I don’t get to do it often enough. So I have to take advantage of each opportunity I get like this that fits into my schedule.

The Bodyguard and Bone Marrow (or An Amazing Dinner At Wood & Vine)

This past Sunday was another Pantages night out for me and my season ticket group. Normally I write about the dinner first and show second (as that’s the order that we do things), but I’m changing it up a bit. The show that we went to see was “The Bodyguard” and I’ll be honest that we were a bit unsure how we felt about this show before seeing it.

But this was such a fun show! It was explained to us as almost like a Whitney Houston concert with a bit of plot between the songs. And that’s a great description for the show! Deborah Cox is the lead and she was incredible! The songs were so much fun, the dancing was awesome, and everyone seemed to be dancing in their seats. And if you go to see the show, don’t leave during the curtain call. There is some fun after everyone takes a bow and I’m glad we stayed for it. Even though this was a show we were all unsure of before seeing it, I highly recommend getting tickets for it if you are looking for a fun night out at the theater!

Now, back to our dinner. Our group is always trying to figure out where to get dinner before our shows. We have gone to the same few places multiple times and when I was at the LA Times Festival of Books I went to the Pantages booth and grabbed one of their restaurant guides. I sent a photo of it to the group and we decided to check out Wood & Vine. Wood & Vine is right across from the theater and I have no clue why we hadn’t been there before. But trust me, we will be making many return trips there now!

Only 3 of us from the group could go to dinner, and since it is all shared plates we got a bunch of things for us to all share. We started with some olives which were perfect and then ordered a few things that sounded good to most of us. Michelle and Dani wanted the Brussels sprouts and I figured I’d try it. I hate them but I try to try foods that I think I hate at least twice a year. These were good, but there is still something about Brussels sprouts that I don’t think I will like (sorry Wood & Vine). But I think Michelle and Dani were happy I didn’t like them because they wanted them all to themselves!

Dani and I also split the mac and cheese which was so perfect! It was nice and creamy and the cracker crust on it was a nice crunch. And we also got the scallops and pork belly (scallops were something that I didn’t like until recently and started to like after forcing myself to try them) and I think we were all in heaven eating them.

But for us, even just looking at the menu, we were most looking forward to the bone marrow. My grandpa loved bone marrow and I actually had some at a Tone It Up dinner the night that he died. But I hadn’t really had an opportunity to order it since then. So to get it at Wood & Vine was exactly what I wanted. And when the plate came to our table, we were not disappointed. It looked incredible!

There are no words to describe how delicious this was. It was heaven on a plate and even just writing about it is making me crave it again!

The entire time that we were at Wood & Vine, the staff was just so nice to us. We got to chat a bit with the manager (he was the one who described the show as a Whitney Houston concert to us) and it was just wonderful and friendly there. And while we were eating we were looking so happy and they were telling us to save room for dessert. We figured they were talking about the bone marrow since that was the last thing that was coming to the table. We thought that was the perfect “dessert” for us and when we were done eating our table was full of empty plates where the amazing food had been.

But then, the chocolate pot de creme was brought over to our table. We thought it was a mistake but the staff let us know that they actually ordered dessert for us on the house! We were thanking them and then the other two desserts from the menu, butterscotch with bourbon ice cream and an apple fry pie, appeared on our table too! We couldn’t believe that they got us all 3 desserts from the menu on the house!

We were full, but of course there is a separate part of your stomach for dessert so we all dug in. And the desserts did not disappoint! They were all decadent and delicious and at that time the last member of our group, Elisa, got there and we offered to share the desserts with her too. We were not planning on dessert (we might have ordered a bit less if we knew we were getting it), but it was a fabulous end to an incredible meal. And to have the restaurant give us the desserts on the house to make sure we could try them is above and beyond what I would ever expect from a restaurant!

We’ve already decided as a group that when we go to see “Hamilton” in about 3 months that we will be returning to Wood & Vine. It is really one of the best restaurants that I’ve gone to and there are so many other things on the menu that I want to try now. And of course, we’ve joked that we are going to order at least 2 plates of bone marrow to split between the 4 of us. And I have a feeling that we will be going there for a lot of our pre-show dinners for our shows next season as well.

Usually my nights out at the Pantages are more about the show than our pre-show dinner. But because of how amazing the food and staff at Wood & Vine were, this time the food was totally the highlight of the evening and has raised the bar on what we expect out of our pre-show dinners! Thank you Wood & Vine for your hospitality, awesome Broadway show discussion, and the desserts you gave us!

I’m Celebrating (or Healing My Soul At Disneyland)

Like I said in my post about my new monthly challenge, I’m working on reconnecting with myself since my medical miracle. And I think it comes as no surprise that one way I wanted to get back to normal is to go to Disneyland! I was so sad when I was there the last time thinking that it was almost like a goodbye to the parks. So this time I was celebrating coming back to the parks and not having surgery!

Of course, since it was a celebration about my liver, I had to wear my liver shirt. I don’t know how many opportunities I’ll have to wear it, so I have to take advantage of each time that I can.

I went with Michelle and Lauren and all 3 of us were in agreement that we wanted to just have a fun day at Disneyland. There was nothing that we really felt like we had to do, so we decided to take our time and get on one of the Main Street vehicles to get down toward the castle. As we entered the park, the fire truck was getting ready to go so we hopped on board and enjoyed not having to walk through all the crowds.

We heard that the regular Space Mountain is coming back soon we wanted to go on HyperSpace Mountain to enjoy the ride while it was still here. Again, I tried to get my shirt in the photo but I think I just have to accept that this is a tough shirt to read on ride photos.

Right after riding that ride, I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. It took me by surprise, but I realized that being at Disneyland was healing my soul. I’ve been working on getting back to being me and not thinking of the surgery and tumors but it’s been something in the back of my mind for so long now. And when the surgery was cancelled it was so weird that this feeling didn’t go away. I didn’t know what would make me feel like me again and I guess Disneyland was what I needed. When we were done with that ride I turned to Michelle and said that I thought that my soul was just healed. It’s so weird that this is what I needed but I’m so glad that it was! I feel so much better now and I was happy to get on with the rest of my day and enjoy Disneyland!

Our next stop was to get lunch and we had made reservations at one of the sit down restaurants in New Orleans Square. We wanted to be able to relax and enjoy ourselves and it was awesome sitting in the shade (it was a hot and sunny day) and having some good food. I got a steak sandwich which was the special they had and it was delicious!

And since it was so hot out, I was convinced to go on Splash Mountain. I don’t like water rides and I haven’t been on Splash Mountain in a long time, but it seemed like the perfect thing to go on that day. Lauren and Michelle told me that sitting in the back was where I had the lowest chance of getting soaked and I trusted them and hoped for the best.

And they were right! I got a bit wet, but nothing too horrible. And Lauren gave me some great tips on how to keep my shoes from getting soaked (I hate having wet shoes for the rest of the day). We tried to do a “hear no evil, say no evil, see no evil” photo, but itls a bit tough to see us with how we were sitting.

After Splash Mountain we decided to do the other New Orleans Square rides that we love and went on Haunted Mansion and Pirates Of The Caribbean (Johnny Depp was not performing live on the ride that day). And then we headed back to Tomorrowland for another ride on HyperSpace Mountain.

That may be the last time I ride it as HyperSpace Mountain (unless they bring it back again another time), but it was a great ride that time and I was pretty happy knowing it might be the last time on that version of the ride.

And of course, since Michelle and I have a year-long battle on Buzz Lightyear happening right now, we had to go on that. Michelle is catching up to me so I need to work on improving my game!

It was about rush hour then so we decided to do a few more rides before leaving. And then Lauren surprised me with a button that she had gotten from a Cast Member after we went on Buzz Lightyear.

I was so touched that she got that for me! We are new friends and the only other time she was at Disneyland with us was when it was thought to be my last trip before surgery. And when we met up this time she was so excited to be able to celebrate me not having surgery. It’s fun being able to celebrate this (and I keep celebrating since I keep seeing different people) and getting an “I’m Celebrating” button was just awesome!

Our next to last ride was Small World. I don’t usually go on Small World, but the line wasn’t too bad and it is a fun one to go on. I know that many people didn’t like when they added Disney characters into the ride, but I like it and think they blend in pretty nicely. And I love seeing the topiaries in the front of the ride and how pretty it looks on the outside.

And for the final ride of the day, we went on another one that I don’t do too often: The Matterhorn. I think the last time I went on it was with my parents. I love the yeti on the ride, but it’s such a bumpy ride and I always seem to hurt after it.

But we all agreed we would go on it and it would be the last ride of the day so if we hurt too much that we would be able to go home right after. I think that the ride cars have been changed since the last time I went on it because they felt more padded than I’m used to. But I was still worried about how I would feel after the ride was done.

And as I expected, I loved the ride except how bumpy it was. It wasn’t as bad as before, but still not something that I would want to do every time I’m at Disneyland. But I’m glad I rode on it and now I can wait another year or so before doing it again.

Considering that we got to the parks at about 1pm and had a sit down lunch, I think we got so much done in our day! The benefit of being a pass holder is not needing to rush around to do everything and I love that we can just have fun and not stress about getting in too many rides. But somehow we did get in a bunch and that made the day even better!

And having my soul healed by Disneyland (or whatever you want to call it) really was an added bonus. I wasn’t expecting that at all but looking back at it I think it makes sense. While I’ve been working on getting back to normal life to feel normal, Disneyland is a big part of my life and going there does give me a sense of normalcy. I feel like I can move on and focus on doing everything that I was doing before and not thinking about my next MRI and the possibility of needing surgery in the future. I want to have fun now and enjoy life and that’s exactly what my day at Disneyland accomplished!

 

Friends and Family Workouts (or Getting Pushed To Do Better)

This past week of workouts was awesome! And it’s not just because I had thought for so long that I wouldn’t be able to work out. I really had some great things happen in my workouts and in each workout I had someone with me to cheer me on! I was planning on doing 4 workouts once I knew that I wouldn’t be having surgery, but it ended up being a 3 workout week. But that’s ok because I think I got more out of each workout than a normal workout day!

Monday’s workout was while my parents were still in town. One day I’ll get my mom to take class with me, but this time it was just my dad. He’s done a couple of Orangetheory workouts before so he knew what he was in for. And since he reads this blog (hi Dad!) he knows what some of the workouts consist of so he can try doing things at his gym. Since going to Orangetheory he has started to use inclines on the treadmill and he pushes himself harder in his workouts. But he always says that he works hardest when he’s in a class with me because there is a coach pushing him on (plus, he and I are competitive).

The workout on Monday was endurance, strength, and power and we didn’t switch between blocks. My dad and I started on the treadmill and the first block was endurance based. We had some longer push paces and I was able to run all of them (I really did want to impress my dad with my running). The second block was a mix of strength and power and we had only short all outs but they were all on hills (3, 5, and 7% incline). I usually don’t run at those higher inclines, but again I wanted to impress my dad so I did it! It wasn’t too bad doing the 7% incline for only 45 seconds, but I don’t think I’m ready for longer running at that incline. So with the last block, it was longer hill time so I spent that block walking all my inclines. But even with the walking, I got to about 2 miles on the treadmill in class.

On the floor, each block started with rowing. Rowing is where my dad and I are most competitive. He easily beats me with running and I almost always beat him with weights. But rowing is where we challenge a lot. He still tends to beat me, but I’ve had some great rowing workouts lately and he doesn’t usually get to row at his gym. So I was happy to see what we were going to do. Between each of the floor blocks we had a 300 meter row (I did it in 1:03.3 and my dad did it in 1:03.1), a 90 second timed row (I got 384 meters and my dad got 387 meters), and a 15 stroke pull test (I don’t remember the exact numbers but I beat my dad that time). This was the closest I’ve been to beating my dad on the rower and that was awesome! I’m even more excited to see what I will be able to do by Thanksgiving!

While we were rowing, another friend in class took a photo of me and my dad getting our rowers set up. It is a super cute photo and I loved seeing that the official Instagram account for my Orangetheory location put it up in their Instagram story!

I think my dad was super excited to see us on there (and he doesn’t use social media so for him to be excited about it means it’s that much more awesome). For the rest of the workout that day we had squats, chest presses, lunges, triceps using the straps, plank work, and ab work. I think my dad had a great time working out with me and he said he was a bit sore the next day.

Wednesday’s workout was a power day and my friend Dani was in class with me! It was a switch day, but we did 2 treadmill blocks back to back before switching the first time. The running was mainly very short segments (either push to all out paces or just all out paces) and I ran all of those and then walked my base paces. It was a pretty good speed running day for me but I didn’t hit any new records with my speeds. But to me, I’m still so happy that I can run so I’m always impressed with running days. I did end up walking the last treadmill block, but that’s because of what I did on the floor.

When we moved to the floor, we mainly had squats with shoulder work and then sprint rows in-between the sets. The sprint rows were 100, 150, and 200 meters and Dani and I decided to race. Dani is insanely good at rowing and I knew that she could always beat me, but the idea of racing her would probably help me get my sprint rows done faster. And while Dani did beat me each time, I managed to do some PRs and almost PRs with my rowing! The downside to that was that I was starting to hurt pretty badly after the rowing. My hip was killing me and I was starting to get some stomach cramps. So because of that, I had to take it easy for a lot of the workout (which is why I walked on the treadmill).

My last workout of the week was on Friday and my friend Elizabeth joined me! She’s a new member of Orangetheory and we aren’t always able to be in the same classes. But she might be able to start going to the same time on Fridays as me. And our workout this day was a run/row that had endurance, strength, and power elements to it. I was excited for a run/row and this one seemed pretty awesome for me. The running segments that I got to were .5 miles, .4 miles at 2%, and .3 miles at 3%. I was able to run all of them (not run/walk, just run) and it’s still so amazing to me that I can run for .5 miles without stopping!

For the rowing, I only got to 2 rowing segments which were 100 meters and 200 meters. My 200 meter row was good, but nothing special (I was also pretty tired by that point). But for my 100 meter row I decided to see what I could do. My PR for that distance is 17.7 seconds and I had done 17.8 seconds on Wednesday. I was going as fast and as hard as I could on the rower and I managed to get it down to 17.6 seconds! At the speed I’m going on that row, there isn’t a ton of room for improvement so just taking that .1 seconds off is a huge accomplishment! I didn’t get that far down the run/row plan, but that’s because my running is still on the slower end of things.

On the floor, each block was 3 moves and then we were supposed to hold a plank until time was called. We had a nice mix of things including hop overs, lunges, squats, burpees, chest presses, and bicep work I only made it to the point that I had to hold a plank once and holding the plank was tough. I don’t think I hold plank too often in my workouts and that got me thinking (more on that tomorrow).

I’m so glad that I was able to work out this week and that I’m already back to my normal workout schedule. I had been so worried about how much time I was going to have to take off and I’m glad that I didn’t have to experience that. I’ve made so much progress lately because I was worried about the time off, and I’m thinking that pushing myself all that time was perfect. I’ve proven to myself that I can do more than I thought and I have the intention to keep that momentum going.

Another Actor Night (or A Diversity Panel)

Like I said in yesterday’s post, I’ve been trying to get back into acting any way that I can right now. While auditions are hard for me to get, there are so many opportunities in other ways and I’m really working on making myself more available to them. When I was at the Next Gen Performers mixer, they mentioned the event that would be happening in April. I assumed I couldn’t go, but it ended up working out perfectly for me to be there!

I spent the day with my parents (this was on their last day in LA) and then after we were done hanging out I got into my car and drove to downtown LA. The event that was happening was more than just a mixer, it was a panel on diversity in the entertainment industry and I was super excited to hear what the panelists had to say.

A lot of times people think of diversity as just ethnicity, but it really is so much more. There is diversity in ages (so not everyone is in their 20’s), diversity in appearance (so not everyone is beautiful and thin), and diversity in abilities (so deaf characters aren’t only played by hearing actors). And of course diversity in ethnicity is a big deal too and that was discussed by the panel a lot.

I haven’t experienced too much discrimination except with my weight, so I don’t always understand the struggle others have due to lack of diversity in roles. But being at this panel and listening to the stories really got me thinking about how I can help and what I want to see in the future with projects that I want to support. I love being able to learn about the industry and the issues that other actors experience and this was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

The panel was about 2 hours long (I was a bit late but I was able to be there for most of it and just took a seat in the back so I didn’t disturb people) and when it was done we all headed around the corner to the Far Bar for the post-panel reception.

I had never been to the Far Bar, but it was a pretty great place! The space was reserved for our group but we were a pretty big group. Every seat was taken by the time I got there and I found some of my friends and we just hung around the bar to wait for the food that was being served to come by us. We spent time just catching up (again, I was around people who wanted to learn more about how I was able to not need surgery) and then I noticed that the Next Gen Performer signs were out for people to take photos with.

Then I volunteered to help get some fun photos with the signs. I walked around helping to encourage others to take photos and then I had a weird idea. The bar had a balcony/loft area and I thought it would be cool to have a picture of the party from above with the signs being held up in the background. I recruited my friend Woody to help me and I think the photo ended up looking pretty fun!

I was just having such a great night out being around other creative people and feeling the positive energy that was in the room. I’ve realized lately how much I’ve missed doing this and how I’ve forgotten how much it makes me happy. It’s so easy for me to be in my normal routine and to not do too much at night, especially if it’s an evening after I workout at Orangetheory. Usually when I get home from a workout I shower, eat dinner, and just relax the rest of the night. But I could make more of an effort to go out after to do things that make me happy and help me network and make more connections to help advance my acting.

Sometimes you need a kick in the butt to take some action that you really should have been doing. And for me, I guess I needed the idea that I would be out of the acting game for a while and then not have that happen to make me realize that I needed to make more efforts to get out there. I haven’t been slacking on my acting career, but I haven’t been doing everything I should be and I know that I can’t just relax and let my career happen to me. I need to get out and make things happen for myself and see what is possible.

I’m not sure what the next actor event will be that I can attend. I need to look at the SAG-AFTRA calendar and see what I can attend and see what other groups might interest me. But my motivation is so strong now to be out there more and I think that this is going to be a really great thing for me!

Tweetup Time (or Back To Acting)

I took a bit of a break from acting recently. This wasn’t by choice, however. When I thought I needed surgery, I had to book out with my agents. I knew there would be time that I wouldn’t be able to work which also meant I couldn’t audition for projects. I hate having to book out time, but it was necessary. And as soon as I knew surgery was cancelled, I booked back in but there was still going to be a bit of time before I knew I could get an audition. I don’t get a ton of auditions, plus now is a bit of a slow time for the entertainment industry.

So I am working on getting back into the game whatever way I can. Even though my parents were in town, I knew that they usually don’t want to be busy too late in the evenings. So when I remembered that the LA Actors Tweetup was going to be while my parents were here, I realized the timing was pretty perfect! I could spend the day with my family and then go to the Tweetup at night.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a Tweetup, so I was glad that I could finally make it to one. A lot of the people who I used to see at the Tweetups either don’t usually go anymore or they aren’t in LA or actors so they don’t attend. But I know that there are always great people at the Tweetup and was excited to get to meet new people. So after hanging out with my parents for the day I drove to the Tweetup and was ready to get back into the Tweetup world!

One of the newer things that the Tweetup has been doing is having guest speakers. It’s nice that it’s not just a hangout at a bar anymore and that it’s a more educational evening. This time, it was a casting session director who was speaking and we were encouraged to bring our commercial headshots with us for a game. I forgot to bring my headshots in with me from the car, but I had my business cards on me so I put that in the pile.

The idea of the game was to have someone who doesn’t know us look at our photos and see if we really look like our headshot. It’s so important to look like your photo so they aren’t surprised or disappointed when you walk into the audition. I’ve lost some weight since my last photos and know I need to take some new ones, but I was still hoping to get some good feedback.

At first, I got amazing feedback. The guest thought my photos were great and had a lot of personality. But later he told me that once he looked at me in better light he didn’t think I looked like one of my photos anymore. He felt like my headshot made me look ethnic when I’m not. That’s not the best thing and it’s something that I’m going to think about when I do my photos the next time. But at least he liked the other photo on my card and felt that it looked like me.

After the speaker, it was time to chat with everyone at the Tweetup. I think that I only knew about 4 people who were there, so it was nice to get to meet a lot of new people. And the people who I already knew were excited to see me because none of them had seen me in person since I got my good medical news. It makes me so happy that everyone is so happy for me. And any time I get to celebrate something good in my life is a plus for me! I sometimes feel like I don’t have as much to celebrate, so I’m taking advantage of this.

As with most events I go to, I had every intention of trying to leave at a decent hour so I could get home and go to bed. But I kept getting sucked into really great conversations and before I knew it a few hours had passed since I originally said I was going to leave. But the time I spent there was so worth it. I’ve felt a bit disconnected in the past week or so from my acting life and this was a great way to jump right back into it.

Hopefully the momentum I felt from attending the Tweetup will continue and will help me get back into the normal swing of things quickly. With the tv season being over and a potential writers strike happening I know that acting opportunities are going to be limited. But I need to do whatever I can on my own to get back into whatever I can and to be as prepared as possible for all opportunities that may come my way.

LA Staycation (or Hanging Out With Family and Friends)

Normally, I try to keep myself pretty busy. Between work, workouts, acting, and having a social life my calendar can get full. And when I have downtime, sometimes I stress out that I should be doing more and I don’t feel like I’m really enjoying some free time. I don’t get to take vacations that often because I don’t have the money to do it and I don’t have paid time off. So I’m pretty much in a routine in my life in LA.

I’ve been joking for a while that my vacation this year was going to be the time in the hospital after surgery. I knew that while I was in the hospital I would have no responsibilities and wouldn’t have to worry about what I should be doing. And then when surgery got cancelled, I started to look at my schedule again to try to get things back to normal. I’m not taking that much time off of work because I want to save the banked hours for future things. But I did take a few days off since my parents are here in LA for the week (they couldn’t cancel their trip when my surgery was cancelled so they decided to have a low-key trip here).

Most of the time that my parents have been here, we’ve been doing a lot of lazy stuff. And honestly, all that lazy stuff has been perfect with me. I’m not working most of the days they are here (I did work on Saturday since my shift was done at 11am) so we have the entire day free. And we did try to make some plans with family and friends so my parents could take advantage of their time in LA. They usually aren’t here for more than a day or two so this was a rare trip for them as well.

On Thursday (what would have been surgery day), we drove out to the valley to see my dad’s friend. He and my dad have been friends since they were kids and my dad tries to see him when he’s in LA but he doesn’t always have time. My dad’s friend is very into gardening and succulent plants and has been getting ready to various garden clubs to come over to his house for a plant tour. So we got to see the rehearsal for the tour and check out all the amazing plants that he has in his yard. His garden is almost nicer than some of the huge ones around LA so it’s pretty incredible.

My dad’s friend also has a dog that Tucker loves. I don’t think their dog, Sunshine, loves Tucker as much as Tucker loves her. But that seems to be the case with a lot of dogs. Tucker just wants everyone to love him at all times and doesn’t understand why other dogs or people aren’t the same. But the dogs get along enough so we took them out for a walk and to a park so they could run around a bit. And when they both got tired, they were relaxing near each other nicely and seemed to be getting along more than they were at the beginning of the visit.

On Friday, we had lunch with some of my mom’s cousins. I hadn’t seen these cousins since I went to Passover a few years ago so it was great to get to see them again. We went to a restaurant near the rental house my parents were staying in, and while the food was ok the service was pretty awful. Servers were bringing food over to our table before we even ordered and nobody could remember what drinks went to which table. I think we were offered drinks every few minutes and they were never ours (it also took them like 15 minutes to get my mom an iced tea). I’m glad that we had a nice visit with family and that the bad service at lunch didn’t bring us down.

Most of the rest of the time on Friday was spent with taking the dog to a few different dog parks. He loves going to dog parks and there are some really nice ones in LA. We have been really liking the ones in Playa Vista because they aren’t just dirt like the one near my house. There’s one dog park that is bark and the other is fake grass. Both were really nice and had some fun dogs for Tucker to play with. I don’t get to hang out with Tucker that often, so just watching him at a dog park is a nice treat for me.

I’ll write more about what we did on the second half of their time here in another post, but I’m glad the time that I was expecting to be in the hospital were spent doing much more fun things. We didn’t have anything planned at first but we were lucky that we were able to get some plans organized pretty quickly so we could do some nice things while my parents are here. I know that they probably won’t do a long LA trip again soon unless there is a specific reason (like if I do have surgery eventually), so I’m taking advantage of having them here for a while without anything that we have to do.

Dancing With The Stars (or A Workout Friends Hangout)

I haven’t watched “Dancing With The Stars” since the beginning, but I have been interested in this current season. The son of my late acting coach is one of the stars this season and I was so excited to get to see him on the show. And as soon as the cast for the current season was announced, I went online to try to get tickets. I was put on a wait list for tickets and was hoping I’d get tickets in time to see Chris on the show. Sadly, he was eliminated after the first week and right after that I got the email that I could now get tickets.

Even though Chris was eliminated, I figured it could be really fun to go to a taping. I’ve been to many tv tapings before, but I never had been to a live show. I knew that it would be really cool to see how everything happens during the commercial breaks and decided to get the tickets and then just enjoy whatever stars were still in the competition at that point. I asked around to a couple of friends to see who could come with me, and 2 of my Orangetheory friends were able to go! So it was Orangetheory night at “Dancing With The Stars”!

The way that all tv tapings work is that they give out more free tickets than there are seats. They assume there will be no shows (or in my case I ordered 4 tickets and only needed 3) so they ask you to get there early to try to get in. We got there about an hour before we were supposed to be there by, and that ended up being perfect for us. Even though we heard the speech multiple times that not everyone would be let inside the studio, the 3 of us ended up being the last 3 who got in! It’s so crazy that we were the cut off point, but I’m so glad we made it!

There were no phones allowed inside the studio so I don’t really have that many photos from the taping. We were in the first balcony toward the side behind the judges. We had some moments where the view was blocked, but we could see most of the stage. And when we couldn’t see things there was a tv monitor that we could look at so we could see what it looked like on live tv. I know so people want to be seen on tv when they go to tapings like this, but I didn’t care to be on tv. The only time you could almost see us is when they showed the entire audience. But unless you knew where to look, you’d never see us.

Yeah, you can barely see the 3 of us between those red arrows.

When I got my tickets, I didn’t know what the theme for the show would be. But it ended up being Disney night and that seemed so perfect to me! Each of us had Glow with the Show Mickey ears to wear during various parts of the taping. I was so excited about that because I never had those ears before. But when the taping was done we were told that we didn’t get to take them with us. Oh well. I only wish that I didn’t have to turn my phone in to security before going into the taping so I could have taken photos with the ear. They were super cute!

The advantage of going to a live taping is that you know exactly how long it would be (unlike going to a sitcom taping where it can be 5 hours for a 22 minute show). Neither of my friends watch “Dancing With The Stars” and I think they were a bit worried that being there for 2 hours would feel like a long time. But it really flew by! All the dances were so amazing and there were a couple of live singing performances at the show as well. And of course, I loved the music because they were all Disney songs. I knew pretty much all the songs and was excited to see how the dances matched with the songs.

And while the dances were awesome, I did love watching the crew during the commercial breaks to see how quickly they changed over the set. There was a big clock on the screens during the commercial breaks so they knew exactly how much longer they had to do everything. They were super efficient and you can tell that they practice a lot to do the set changes in the time they had. And while the show was live, it was neat to see the choreography that the cameras had to do. There was a lot of work with a steady cam, but it was also interesting to see how the stable cameras worked with the steady cam and to see the camera work on the floor and then look up at the tv screen to see how it looked for tv. I know that I’m a bit of a nerd with the behind the scenes stuff like that, but it really is amazing how much work the crew does to make everything look as perfect as it does on tv.

Once the live taping was done, we were excused from the studio pretty quickly. It took a bit of time to get our phones back (the security team was super organized but there were so many of us in line to get phones) but we were quickly on our way out of the studio. Even though we were only in the taping for 2 hours the entire time including being in line was about 5.5 hours. It was still a shorter day than most tv tapings, but it was still a good chunk of time.

Even though Chris isn’t a part of the “Dancing With The Stars” season anymore, I have been watching the show this season and will continue to watch this season to see who wins. There are a lot of amazing dancers and stars on the show still and I’m excited to see what dances come up next! And if I get another opportunity to go to another live taping, I’d probably do it. It was a fun thing to do and I know I have other friends who couldn’t go this time but would love to go with me!

Podcast Nerd (or Celebrating At NPR)

After I found out I wasn’t going to have surgery, so many of my friends asked me how I was going to celebrate the news. So many people asked if I was going to go out to dinner or something, but I already had plans that night. I was going to NPR West! And for a total podcast nerd like me, this was the perfect way to celebrate!

I can’t talk too many specifics about what I got to see at NPR West, but I can explain a little bit. I listen to dozens of podcasts and I follow many of them on social media. One of those podcasts, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, posted on their Facebook page that there was a new podcast being workshopped and they needed an audience to be there. This workshop was actually supposed to be at the beginning of the month but got postponed until the 11th (which is when I got the good news). And I signed up as soon as I heard about it because I have never had the chance to see an NPR podcast done live before!

My friend AJ (who is one of the hosts of the podcast I work for) came with me and he is probably almost as much of a podcast/NPR nerd as I am. And when we were outside the studio building, we were both in awe. It’s something I’ve gone by dozens of times because it’s near my house, but I’ve never been lucky enough to go inside.

We waited outside to get checked in for the workshop and once we were allowed inside I was totally geeking out. This was so incredibly cool and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be there. We got some pretty great seats for the workshop, but the studio space was so intimate that every seat was amazing and up close to the action.

Because this was a workshop of a new podcast that may or may not happen, we were told we aren’t allowed to say much about it online. But I can tell you that I was laughing so hard that I was crying and that it was one of the coolest things I’ve been able to see in a while. I have a feeling this will become a podcast and when it does I know I’ll want to get tickets to be in the audience again. It really was the best way to celebrate a day that had such great news!

After the workshop was done, AJ and I were still geeking out about everything at NPR. We wanted to see what type of recording equipment they have because one day we will hopefully be able to upgrade our podcast to have similar equipment. And while we were checking out everything, one of the AV guys from NPR asked us if we were interested in learning more about NPR. Without any hesitation we said yes, and we ended up getting a private tour of the NPR studios!

I’m sure I sound like a total nerd, but this was seriously so amazing! We got to go into different recording studios to see where different NPR podcasts are recorded, see the main newsroom area, and learn about how NPR West works along with the other NPR offices to make sure that everything is up and running smoothly. I knew that being at NPR would be incredible, but I had no idea how awesome it was going to be and how much I was going to get to experience. I know that AJ and I were so lucky that we were able to go on the tour of the studios and that this really was just one of those opportunities where we were in the right place at the right time talking to the right person.

Once our tour was done, AJ and I headed back out to go to our cars. But I think we both were still on cloud nine geeking out over everything that happened that night. Getting to be in the audience for the podcast workshop would have been enough of a celebration for me, but getting that tour was above and beyond what I expected I would get to do that night. I’m sure that going to NPR as a celebration isn’t right for everyone, but it really was the perfect night for me to top off a day that was already incredible!