Tag Archives: holiday

Holiday Time At Universal (or Enjoying Another Castle Show)

It wasn’t that long ago that I was at Universal Studios. And when I was there, we heard that they might be doing some holiday stuff in the Harry Potter section of the park. They’ve had Grinchmas there since I worked there, but this was going to be the first time that there was something else. We didn’t know when it would start, but I figured that I would try to check it out when it happened.

Right after that visit, they announced that there would be a special holiday themed light show on the castle and I wanted to see how it compared to the regular light show on the castle that I had seen. I didn’t have any plans to go to the park, but this week my friend Michelle texted me to see what I was doing. I happened to have the day free so we decided to go over to the park to check out the light show and ride a couple of rides.

When we got there, we found out that the light shows started around 5pm so we had a couple of hours to wait. We went on the Harry Potter ride (which was fun as always) and as we were walking over there we were shocked to see how empty the park was. I hadn’t seen it empty like that since when I worked there and it was nice not feeling like everyone was running into you.

After the ride, we went over to the animal actor show. I used to go to this show a lot when I worked here because some of my co-workers knew the animal trainers. But I hadn’t been to the show for a while so it was fun to see what was new.

A lot of the show ended up being toward the front of the stage so we weren’t able to see that much of it. But it was funny to see that they had a lot of the same jokes and setups as they did before but with different animals. Some of the things that used to be with the orangutan is now with a dog. But it was very similar to the old show.

We weren’t sure what we were going to do after that, but we decided to go down to ride the tram. Unfortunately, even though the holiday time started for Harry Potter, Grinchmas wasn’t started for another week so we weren’t going to see the stuff they do for the tram. But we figured that a lot of it would be set up so we could see the decorations. We actually had a really great guide on the tram who had some jokes we hadn’t heard before and he was really entertaining. And once the tram tour ended, it was time to head toward the castle for the show.

We made a quick stop to get some hot butterbeer because it was getting cold and we headed to the viewing area. But so many people had lined up early that we had to go off to the side to watch in a spot that had a tree blocking our view. But we got to see the show a bit and figured that we would move to a better location in time to see the second show. So as soon as the first show ended, we went to a spot with a perfect view of the castle and we waited until the next show time (which was only about 10 minutes later).

I really liked this light show. I think it was better than the regular one. I’m sure there are a ton of Harry Potter references in it that I don’t get since I haven’t seen all the movies, but it was still really fun to watch. The projections are done better than I’ve seen them done anywhere else and it’s just a really great show!

And the finale of the show had some fireworks (although I didn’t get to take photos of those) and the entire castle was just lit up and glowing!

It was pretty crowded watching the show and I have a feeling that some people just came to the park to see the light show and that’s it. But since the show happened multiple times that night, I’m sure everyone who came there to see it was able to do so.

After the show ended, there was still a little bit of time before the park closed. But Michelle and I were both ready to head back. There weren’t any other rides we really wanted to go on and the traffic wasn’t looking too bad. But even though we didn’t do that many rides, I’m glad we went to Universal to see the castle show and all the other holiday decorations.

While it’s not as big as Disneyland, they still do a great job decorating the space that they have and making the park feel festive. And just like every other time I’ve written about Universal, I’ve got the same lack of plans to return. I’m sure I’ll be back before my pass expires, but I have no clue when that will be. But I’m still so glad I got my pass again this year so that I could experience all this holiday fun!

SAG-AFTRA Holiday Party (or Getting Ready For Elections Again)

This past week was the SAG-AFTRA holiday party in LA. Even though I’ve been a member of SAG-AFTRA for a while, I have never made it to a holiday party before. Either I was working the night it was held, I had a commitment I couldn’t get out of, or I got sick. So even though I RSVPed for the party this year, I was worried that something would come up that would prevent me from going.

Fortunately, nothing came up and I was able to attend the party! When I arrived, it was just as things were starting and there was a pretty big line to get in. But they had several representatives from the union throughout the line to talk to people and greet them. Many of those people were people I know from Unite For Strength, so it was nice to have some time to catch up with friends even before I got inside the party.

Most of the people standing in line with me were people I didn’t know, but I didn’t pay too much attention to that since I was so focused on catching up with the friends who were hanging out with the line. And as soon as I checked in for the party, I walked past the food area (I wasn’t hungry so I wasn’t planning on eating) and tried to find some more friends.

The problem with big events like these are that they do make me a bit nervous and shy. I was there alone (it’s always easier when you arrive with a friend) and was really trying to find someone I knew so I could hang out with them. It took a bit of time to find a friend, but once I did I felt much calmer. And once I found one friend, it seems like more people I knew were coming over to where I was.

Since I don’t get to see my delegate friends that often, there was a lot of catching up to do. It’s been an interesting year for most of us so it was fun to hear the cool projects that they have been working on. And since most of us are friends on Facebook, they wanted to hear more about the liver tumors since they had seen the posts about them.

Most of the stuff about the liver tumors was pretty quick since I don’t have a lot of updates right now, but I did realize something at the party that I didn’t think about. SAG-AFTRA elections will be coming up next year. While the elections will most likely be in the summer, getting signed up to run and doing the prep work will be in the spring. And that will be when I will be having my surgery and recovering.

As soon as I realized that, I talked to some of my friends who are higher up in SAG-AFTRA. I explained how I have every intention of running for a delegate position again (and I’m still considering running for the local board) but I’m worried the timeline of election stuff and my surgery will be an issue. They reassured me that they will do what they need to do so everything works out for me. Hopefully the surgery won’t take me out that long, but if it does I’m glad there is a plan that we can follow that won’t cause the recovery to be an issue for the election.

For most of the party, I stuck with the few friends I found there. I don’t know if more of my friends were there, but we were all looking around and didn’t really see too many people we all knew. And as things always seem to be at a party, I started to say goodbye to people and it seemed to take about an hour for me to leave. I did run into a few more friends while leaving so the goodbye got mixed in with trying to quickly catch up, but I was able to leave at a time that was early enough for me to not have to stress about rushing home to get to bed.

I’m so glad that I was able to go to the holiday party this year. It was a good positive thing to get to do when my day had been a bit long (customers have been getting pretty angry the past week at my day job). And I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in a while and was able to start planning for the election next year. I know I keep saying I need to do more with my union, and having fun at this party proved that I need to work harder at that.

Low Key Labor Day (or Just A Regular Weekend)

I know so many friends of mine were so excited to have a 3 day weekend this past weekend. For me, it’s a normal weekend since Mondays are always a day off for me (and I worked my regular Saturday shift as well). It’s weird to see so many people saying how amazing having an extra weekend day is when I know that everything is the same as usual for me (I won’t even get extra time off at Christmas or New Years because of the days of the week the holidays fall on).

My holiday weekend did get off to an exciting start with my outing to the Bowl. But being out later than normal for me (plus my hips were killing me) caused me not to get that much sleep on Saturday night. I woke up later than normal on Sunday feeling groggy and still tired. I’ve been working lately on getting my sleep schedule to be the same pretty much every night (it’s been tough for me) and sleeping in really did seem to throw my entire day off.

I spent the beginning of my Sunday during my usual errands for the weekend, and then my friends Marie and Chris were throwing a Labor Day party. They did their party on Sunday so people would have Monday to recover from being out all night. And while I didn’t get to make drunk fruit like I have for several parties, I did have some of the leftovers from the Bowl (fruit and sea salt brownies) to contribute to the party.

I really wanted to be social and have a great time at the party, but the exhaustion was hitting me pretty hard. I still had fun seeing all my friends and just having a good time being outside with everyone, but I was just feeling off while I was there. I was hoping that I could get over that feeling once I was at the party and around all the energy of my friends, but unfortunately it stuck with me. I managed to stay at the party until about 9pm and then felt it would be best for me to get back to my house to get a decent night sleep.

Labor Day wasn’t anything special for me. I did my usual Monday morning workout and then I really didn’t have much of a plan. I thought about trying to see if any friends wanted to hang out that day, but I never got motivated enough to try to make some plans.

So instead of being out at a BBQ or some other party on Labor Day, I spent the day at my house watching movies and being lazy. It wasn’t the best thing I could have done, but it seemed to be the best thing for me at the time. I really enjoyed just relaxing and watching movies that I’ve been wanting to see while on my couch. I took a couple of breaks throughout the day to read (something else I love) and then went back to watching movies. It really was an ideal day for me and I finally got over my exhaustion and felt back to my normal self.

Now that the summer is over, I’m getting ready for fall and the end of the year (which will be here before we know it!). I know I’ll get time off of work for Thanksgiving but like I said before I won’t get any extra time off for Christmas or New Years. It’s not horrible to not get any extra time off, but I was sad when I realized that I would only get my usual Sunday and Monday off for each of those. But I’m planning on maximizing those two days off each week through the fall and I’ve got some really fun things that I think I’ll be able to do with my weekends coming up!

Focusing On The Happy (or What Will Be Good At Thanksgiving)

After talking about how stressed out I’m getting about getting everything done before Thanksgiving, I decided to take a step back and focus on the good things that will be happening next week. I think I realized that I need to focus on the good after reflecting on my happiness checklist yesterday. I’ve realized that happiness and good things haven’t been as much of a focus as it should be and I wanted to remedy that.

Obviously, we are all trying to remember that last Thanksgiving was pretty epic and will likely be impossible to top. It wasn’t just that almost the entire family was there at one time, but we had amazing weather and everyone seemed to have a great time. We have the same rental house this year as we did last year, but since my grandpa won’t be there (and a few other family members will be missing due to scheduling issues), it won’t be the same even if we have the amazing weather again.

I’m really excited to see my family. So many family visits lately have been a bit on the sad side, so it will be nice to have a family gathering that should be happier. There are a couple of things that have been planned for Thanksgiving (that I can’t share yet because they are surprises) that may bring a bit of a somber mood, but I think we are all focused on making our family holiday a happy thing.

I’m super excited to give my mom her Hanukkah gift. I’ll be sharing what I got her next week (again, I can’t ruin the surprise), but I think that she’s going to be shocked by what I got and I think she will love it. And I can’t wait to give my dad his birthday present because I think it’s something that he’ll be so happy to have but never would have bought for himself.

I can’t wait to see my cousin’s kids and do some face painting on them. I bought a big face paint kit this year and I think it will be a bit crazy when my cousins and I start painting their faces. We can get more creative than we’ve been in the past, but we can get over the top as well. But I know that when the kids have their faces painted and they are showing the designs off to everyone that the entire family should be smiling. I think everyone has gotten a kick out of this weird tradition that I started by accident.

And of course, I can’t wait to see the dog! It’s been a while since I’ve seen him and he’s gotten so much bigger! I’ll be working with him on a trick or two and my parents have been telling me how much better he’s gotten with his obedience training. The other day Tucker was at the dog park and tore up his skin from a bush. My parents didn’t realize he was hurt at first because he didn’t cry, limp, or show any signs of being injured. But once they saw it they took him to the vet to get it checked out (we might be a bit overly cautious because of what happened with Chaucer). The vet said it needed to be cleaned and stitched up so that was done. And instead of putting Tucker in the cone of shame, the vet recommended putting Tucker in a shirt so he can’t lick at his stitches.

Tucker in a shirt

I think he looks so silly and cute at the same time! I don’t know if he will still need to be wearing a shirt next week (his stitches don’t come out until after Thanksgiving), but he will look cute whether he’s clothed or naked. Tucker is officially now our dog with the most scars. And they’ve all been very minor injuries that Tucker doesn’t even notice. That dog either doesn’t have a ton of pain receptors or he is so distracted when he’s playing that he ignores any pain he has. But all his scars have fun stories and he seems to not mind visiting the vet (I don’t know if he loves being in the shirt).

And of course, the food and company are things to look forward to next week. I’ll be in San Diego for about 3 days so I’ll have a lot of time to hang out (even if I do have to work the day before and the day after Thanksgiving). No matter what happens over Thanksgiving, I’m so grateful that I have the chance to spend time with 4 generations of my family and be surrounded by people who I love and who love me. I know that that is a luxury that not everyone has and I need to be grateful that I do have that.

Mini College Reunion And Restricted Activity (or My Week In Workouts)

This week my workouts had some really awesome moments and some pretty annoying ones.

Let’s start with the bad so I can end on a positive note. Due to being sick this past week, my workouts became very tough to do. Not only was I feeling off, I had to restrict my activities to make sure that I was safe and not preventing myself from getting better.

First of all, the fluid in my ear was causing some dizziness. So I had to be super careful on the treadmill because I didn’t want to fall off. I reduced the speed I was walking and made sure to hold on to the handrails extra tight. Monday wasn’t too bad (because that’s when I was starting to have problems), but Wednesday and Friday were very tough. There were plenty of times I had to stop on the treadmill because the room was spinning around me and I was terrified I’d fall over. I had some issues during the strength portion as well, but it wasn’t as bad as the treadmill. For the strength, I only had issues when we transitioned from standing to sitting (or laying down) exercises.

I took it easy and I’m finally starting to feel better. Hopefully this week I will have much less dizziness.

The second problem was due to my throat. The ulcer/canker sore was extremely painful. And breathing heavily made it feel much worse (probably because my throat was getting dry). Trying to drink water felt like I was being stabbed in my throat, so I had to be careful with drinking water as well. So that prevented me from working out as hard as I could.

Even with these issues, I still averaged about 500 calories burned in each class, so that’s good. Going there and doing reduced activity is still way better than not going at all.

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Now for the fun thing that happened in my workout. On Monday, I went to a morning workout. This was due to the holiday (so there were no afternoon workouts that day). And in that workout, I ran into someone I went to college with and hadn’t seen in at least 10 years!

I thought I had seen her before, but not in the same class as me. I saw her name on the heart rate monitor screen (and she has a unique name so I was pretty sure it was her) but I didn’t see her when I was looking into the workout room.

So on Monday, when she walked in to the workout room, I stopped her to ask her if she had gone to LMU with me. And I’m shocked that she remembered me!

She was a couple of years ahead of me, but I met her in the first few months of college. I was in a student film I think in September or October of my freshman year, and she was in that film as well. We knew each other a bit through college since we were both in the theater world.

So it was so awesome to see her and get to catch up for a minute after class after not seeing each other for so many years! I’m not really in touch with a lot of people I went to college with so it’s nice to see people again randomly like that!

Overall, this week in workouts had its highs and lows. But like I keep telling myself, the most important thing is that I had a week of workouts!

4th Of July (or Hot Dogs, Fireworks, And Rooftops)

I spent my afternoon and evening of 4th of July over at my friends Chris and Marie‘s house. They really do throw the best parties and this was the first time I’d be over there for 4th of July.

I’m always a little wary about driving on 4th of July (or any holiday where there is a lot of drinking) so I tried to time my drives for when there wouldn’t be a ton of traffic. So I headed over there around 5pm and got to their house pretty quickly.

Everyone was hanging out in the backyard and just relaxing and catching up. Definitely my type of party (I’m not a fan of crazy parties). After being there for a while, the sprinklers came on in the backyard. Marie and Chris just got new grass for their yard and they had to water it a lot so the grass would grow properly.

Since it was pretty hot out, I decided that I wanted to run through the sprinklers. I wasn’t really wearing the best outfit for that (I wore jeans), but I didn’t care. And I didn’t want to run through the sprinklers alone, so I decided to recruit some other people to join in.

Marie was the first person to say yes, and then 2 other party goers saw what we were going to do and they took off their shoes to join us.

I have to admit, even though I didn’t like that my jeans got soaking wet, running through the sprinklers was pretty awesome and a perfect activity for the party.

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After the sprinkler adventure, Chris got the grill fired up and started taking orders for hot dogs. Ordering was necessary because he and Marie and gotten 7 or 8 different types of hot dogs for the party! I wish I had taken a picture of the sign they made because they gave all the hot dogs really clever names.

I ordered a cheddar dog mainly because I had never had one before and it sounded good. And it was! Sadly, no photos were taken of the food because I was too busy eating it (I was hungry after my workout earlier that day).

We all spent time just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company while waiting for the sun to set. Even though having fireworks is illegal in Los Angeles County (unless it is a professional show), Marie and Chris said that last year plenty of people near their house set off fireworks.

So once the sun was down, a bunch of us climbed a ladder to hang out on the roof of their house to watch the fireworks. And since they were being set off so close to us, the fireworks were huge in the sky!

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We were up there for a while until someone complained that they were just hit by a piece of fireworks shrapnel. We didn’t know what had happened until we used the lights from our phones to look on the roof. We found a marble sized hard ball that must have been part of one of the fireworks (maybe it held some sort of propellant to make the fireworks go into the sky?).

After that, we all got a little nervous about being on the roof, so we headed down to watch the rest of the fireworks safely in the backyard (where I guess technically something could still hit us but we had the overhang from the roof to protect us).

I hung out at the party until about 11pm. I had figured that 11pm was a pretty safe time to leave. People who went to firework shows had already left and bars were still open so a lot of people were hanging out there. Thankfully, my plan worked and not only did I get home safely, I got home very quickly as there was no traffic on the freeways.

Even though this was a pretty low-key 4th of July, it was really a perfect way to spend a day off. I was around great friends, great food, and great conversation. What more could you want?

A Free Weekday (or Planning Ahead For Fun Things)

While I was out sick last week from work, I missed some schedule changes that were made. So when I returned on Friday, I learned that we were going to have Monday off because of the MLK Holiday. I still ended up working on Sunday so it didn’t feel like an extra day off, but it was a pleasant surprise.

A lot of times with these extra days off I try to plan some sort of adventure. But since I’m still in recovery mode from this cold, I tried to take it easy but have a fun time as well.

I went out to lunch with my friend Kate. She’s currently job hunting so I wanted to catch up on that with her. And I had my usual randomness to catch her up on. Since I will be unemployed soon, we are trying to figure out some fun outings to go on when we both are out of work. One thing that is definitely on our list is to go to California Adventure at Disneyland. Kate has never been in that part of Disneyland before and I told her that she has to do it (she agrees with me).

After a nice lunch, I continued on my adventures by doing a little shopping for a trip that I have in a few months. My sister-in-law, Krystle, and I are going to New York for a few days in March. I don’t really need too much stuff for that trip, but there is a new Nordstrom’s Rack I wanted to check out and shopping for that trip was a good excuse.

I’m still not in “standard” sized clothes, so shopping is still pretty tough. And the plus size clothes options are pretty pathetic. But I did managed to find a 100% cashmere sweater that was only $40. So I got that. And I’m still on the lookout for a trench coat for my trip. I don’t really own any rain coats or nice jackets and I’m pretty sure that I will need that for my trip. It might not be as cold in March as it is right now in New York, but it will probably be colder than it is right now in LA (where it’s been 75 degrees and sunny every day).

Shopping for the trip is really getting me excited about it. Krystle and I really need to get on top of doing some planning. We have our flights and hotel booked, but that’s it so far. But I’m looking forward to doing whatever we end up doing because I haven’t been to New York since the summer I turned 17.

After my shopping (where it seemed everyone was shopping because it took me almost an hour to pay), I headed back home to do what I usually do on Sundays to prepare for a full work week (grocery shop, clean, do laundry). I’m starting to feel almost back to normal again and I feel like taking the time yesterday to have some fun has really gotten me ready to be back at work for a full week.

What Will Happen In A Week (or Why I’m Excited And Scared To Go Home)

Next week I’m going home for a few days. I have some time off of work so I figured it would be a good time for a trip home. When this was planned, I didn’t know that I would be going home for a quick visit in November, so it would have been a long time since I was home (I think the last time I was home was last year for Thanksgiving).

I’m excited to get to spend some time with my parents. While I got to see them for a little bit last week, this time I’ll have a few days so we won’t feel rushed. We don’t really have any plans for my visit, so it should be relaxing. I’m also hoping to get to see my brother and sister-in-law. I have their Hanukkah presents and would love to give them to them in person. I’m not sure when or if I’ll get to see them, but we are working on scheduling now.

I also might get to see a friend or two from high school. I haven’t really stayed in touch with too many people from high school (not counting FB of course), but my friend Jackie is trying to come over with her little boy for a visit. That would be great since I haven’t seen either of them in a long time.

But I’m nervous about going home because of my dog. He’s not doing so well right now. He seemed fine last week, but according to my parents he went downhill pretty quickly. He’s still happy, enjoying eating people food, and playing with other dogs and that’s important to me. But he’s also sleeping a lot and you can see the tumor on his leg growing.

We don’t know how much more time we have with Dante, but it’s seeming like it’s pretty limited at this point. But as long as he’s happy, I’m happy.

But I’m scared of two different scenarios.

First, if Dante dies before I come home, I won’t get to see him again. My last time to see him will be those few hours last week. And I don’t know how I will react if I go home and Dante wasn’t there to greet me at the door. Or to hear him playing with his favorite toys. Or to take him out on his walks. I don’t know if I could handle that or if I want to handle that (and yes, I understand that it will be so much harder on my parents than on me since they are with him every single day).

But if Dante doesn’t die before I go home, I’ll get to see him again. And I’m totally looking forward to that. But if he’s acting sick or not like himself, I know that will upset me. It was tough when I was home for the 24 hour visit and he was acting off. I’m pretty sure the pain pills were making him act funny, but it was very upsetting to see him acting loopy and confused.

Either way, I’m excited to get to go home and see everyone that I love. And with either scenario with my dog, I know that I need to be there for my parents.

I’m just focusing on the positives with my upcoming visit and knowing that my dog, while sick, is still enjoying his life to the fullest every day. And I should follow his example.

Surviving My Work Holiday Party (or Getting Braver With My Clothing Choices)

This week was the holiday party for my day job. Last year, the party was at a bar near the theater we work at and it was more of like a dinner event (although no dinner was actually served). We all sat at a long table and chatted. Then the artistic director gave a speech and handed out Trader Joes gift cards to everyone as a holiday gift. I don’t remember what I wore last year, but I remember that it was pretty casual (I usually wear jeans to work and I’m sure that’s what I wore to the party).

This year, we had more advanced notice about the party. It was going to be held at Gladstones and we were expected to dress festively. It was suggested to wear something similar to what we would wear to work a show. But since I normally wear a dress and heels to work a show and I knew I’d be working on the phones before the party, I wanted to wear something more comfortable.

All of my dress pants are looking a little sloppy because they are big right now. But then I remembered that I just bought some leggings. I’ve been weary of leggings. They are very body conscious and many leggings look more like tights (as in they are see-through and not appropriate as pants). But these seemed to be a thicker fabric so I decided to wear them. And if they didn’t seem as cute, at least the restaurant was going to be dark.

I paired the leggings with a tunic style top and headed off to work my shift before the party. Turns out, my outfit was a huge hit! I got a bunch of compliments from my co-workers. In fact, I’m planning on wearing those leggings on a more regular basis. Who knew that some of my thoughts on clothing could be so off? First skinny jeans and now leggings.

The party was pretty good. The food at Gladstones was ok (lots of fried things that were a little too greasy for my taste). But since the restaurant was right on the beach we had a nice view. And it was nice to see everyone dressed up and not running around trying to work a show.

Besides the food, there was some caroling singing (I mouthed the words since I’m tone deaf and everyone else I work with is an amazing singer), and then someone hooked their iPod into the sound system and there was some dancing. My hips were starting to kill me by the time the dancing started so I just sat off to the side.

Before I knew it, the co-workers I drove with were ready to head back to work where the rest of us left our cars. And I was home at about the same time I would get home from a late shift, so that was nice.

Overall, I had a really great time at the holiday party. I know that for some people work events can be stressful. But since so much of my work is already at events, that stress was taken away (and the co-worker who hates me is antisocial so she wasn’t there to bother me).

If you have to go to a work holiday party, you should check out this article on BuzzFeed. It was pretty funny (and had some good advice)!