Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Air Food (or French Food In Santa Monica)

Because of this blog, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do some really cool stuff. And this past weekend, I got to do one of those cool things! Through a friend who I know through Orangetheory, I was able to attend the soft opening of a brand new restaurant in Santa Monica! And I’m so excited to share with you all about the amazing experience I had at Air Food!

Air Food was started by Marc and Thierry who both come from Paris. They started with doing pop-up restaurants there wanting to create gastronomic food with a variety of foods. They became very popular and decided to open a restaurant in LA, which is how Air Food was born!

I haven’t had many opportunities to try French food, so I was beyond excited to attend this dinner! I had a feeling that I was in for an amazing night of food, and fortunately one of the new dresses I bought recently was the perfect thing to wear since it wasn’t too body conscious and I would be able to enjoy all the food there.

When I arrived at Air Food, I was the first soft opening customer there. I was a bit nervous about that and was wondering if maybe I should have waited to arrive, but Marc immediately came over to greet me and I think being there first was a total blessing. Marc introduced me to Thierry who was busy cooking and then he introduced me to the space and the food that they have there.

I loved the space. It’s a pretty small restaurant, but that makes it great! It’s not too crowded and there is a mix of seating at tables and at the bar for people to choose from. And Marc let me know that being at the bar was best because then I would have a view of the kitchen and could watch all the cooking going on. And for the customers at the tables, they would be able to watch all the excitement of the cooking through a camera that is in the kitchen that will be played on a large tv.

Marc also showed me their full water menu. For me, going to a place that has different types of water is perfect. I don’t drink soda and I’m not really drinking alcohol right now, so knowing that I have a choice beyond plain tap water makes me so happy.

Marc showed me the water wall and told me about all the different bottles and where they came from. I’ve never gotten to experience meeting someone so knowledgeable about water, but it made me want to learn more about water options for my house beyond just drinking filtered tap water. I told Marc about how I like sparkling water, especially with orange flavor, and he suggested that with my food I try a new tangerine/lemongrass water from Voss. I agreed that it sounded perfect and took my seat at the bar to get ready to have some delicious food!

To start, Thierry prepared some foie gras for me. I’ve never had foie gras before and was intrigued to try it. I’m not too adventurous of an eater, but I’m glad I tried it and I have so many friends who are so excited to find out that there is a new restaurant in LA that serves their favorite treat!

I was then presented with the menu for the soft opening. Everything on the menu that night will be available when they open, but there are some things that will be on the regular menu that weren’t an option for me. But even with fewer options, there was plenty for me to choose from and I was torn on what I wanted to eat!

What pleased me the most seeing the menu was seeing how reasonable the prices were for the food. I know that when I think French food (and sometimes when I think of Santa Monica restaurants) I think of expensive prices that I usually can’t afford. But everything on the menu is affordable even for me! After going back and forth on a few things that sounded delicious (and with a little input from Marc), I decided on the artichoke gratin and the rib eye steak.

The gratin was so creamy and I loved that it had truffles in it! And artichokes are one of my favorites so I was so happy that there were giant pieces of artichokes in the gratin and the pieces weren’t hidden in there. And the steak was so perfectly cooked! It was tender and flavorful and I wasn’t able to stop eating it!

But I probably should have paced myself a bit because then there was also dessert to order.

I was so full, but after thinking about it I decided to order the apple tart for dessert. I love apple tart and recently had a great one at Wood & Vine. So I wanted to see how awesome this one would be since I knew it would be incredible. And when it arrived I wasn’t disappointed.

Not only was it beautiful (and it was so beautiful that I didn’t want to cut into it), but it was so good! It was light and the pastry wasn’t too much. It was a refreshing dessert that seemed like the perfect way to end the meal.

There is no question that I will be returning to Air Food. And even though the event I went to was a soft opening, you are all in luck! Because Air Food is having their grand opening today! So if you are in Santa Monica, you need to make sure you stop by for lunch or dinner. And make sure you say hi to Marc and Thierry! They have created such an amazing restaurant and I’m so excited for everyone else to get to experience the food to see how lucky we all are that we now have this food in Santa Monica!

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.

Another “Gilmore Girls” Adventure (or Netflix FYSee)

I’ve talked about being a big “Gilmore Girls” fan on here before. It’s a show that I loved when it was on the air (my mom and I watched together) and I still love when I see repeats on tv. And when “Gilmore Girls” came back to have a new season on Netflix, there were a bunch of events related to the show that happened in LA. I didn’t make it to all of them, but I did attend the pop up event at UCLA a little while back.

Right now, tv shows are starting to prepare their award season campaigns. They are usually called FYC events (FYC means For Your Consideration). But Netflix is doing something extra called FYSee that is open to people who aren’t necessarily those in charge of nominating shows. They are a combination of a screening, panel with cast members, and an amazing space that has lots of stuff to check out. I got invited to attend the “Gilmore Girls” FYSee event through a couple of organizations I’m a part of and I RSVPed immediately! And my friend Elisa (who is a part of my Pantages group) is a huge fan too and she was super excited to get to go too!

This event was held in a huge space that had different areas dedicated to different Netflix shows.

I think my favorite section was the giant bubble wall (I believe that it was a part of the “Luke Cage” set up). They were the perfect place to take some awesome photos and I think I might have gotten a bit obsessed with how fun it was in there!

The space for the panel was on one end of the space and when we walked in we immediately saw a little set up similar to Luke’s Diner that had some of the things I saw at the UCLA event.

And on the other side was a giant candy bar! Everything was in individual servings and Elisa and I both took a few things to try. Both of us agreed that the pretzels were the best snack.

We went to claim seats in the panel area and while we headed over there we saw a waiter bringing around little sliders to eat. I wasn’t expecting food at this event (there was also a bar) so I was pleasantly surprised by the food options and this was a pretty filling dinner.

Because we went quickly to claim seats, we were in the front row on the side of the stage. I laughed because it reminded me about how we have our Pantages seats toward the front but off to the side.

We had gotten there a bit early so there was a bit of time to wait. But we used that time to enjoy our food, catch up, and just enjoy being at a fun event. And when things were getting started they played a pretty funny clip from one of the episodes of the newest season before the panel started.

The panel was Lauren Graham (who played Lorelei) and the moderator was Mae Whitman who starred with Lauren Graham in “Parenthood” and also had a small part in the new season of “Gilmore Girls”. The panel started with Mae Whitman asking Lauren Graham a bunch of really great questions about coming back to a show after many years away and how the production worked. And then the Q&A was open to the audience.

I’ve attended a lot of Q&A events where the audience can ask questions and sometimes they can get a bit ridiculous. But this audience was really great and had some nice and insightful questions to ask that I was interested in hearing the answers for (instead of asking questions like how they can get a job on that show).

After the panel was done, there was about an hour before the screening started. I was originally planning on trying to stay for the screening, but I’ve already seen all the new episodes at home since they are on Netflix. And it was getting a bit late for me so I was tired. Elisa was feeling the same way I was so we took time to go around all the various installations for the Netflix shows and have some more of the amazing pretzels!

I loved how much fun this event was. I know I’m so lucky that they opened it up to people who aren’t necessarily those who are nominating shows and I really appreciated how they made this a fun mix between a formal event to nominate shows and a fan event. It was a great opportunity to learn more about a show that I love and to make me want more episodes! I have no clue if Netflix will be doing another season, but if they do I hope that there are more “Gilmore Girls” events for me to go to!

Books and Roses (or A Day By USC)

When I thought I would be having surgery last week, I was trying to figure out fun things for my parents to do. I knew they wouldn’t want to be in the hospital with me all day long, so I was looking up what events were happening in LA while they were here. And the one that stuck out to me was the LA Times Festival of Books.

At first, I was so sad because I thought I would end up missing the Festival of Books. But of course, there was nothing I could do about that. But then when the surgery got cancelled, I was so happy because that meant that going to the festival was something I could do! So this past Sunday, we decided to go spend the afternoon there.

Both my mom and dad went with me and we had the dog with us as well. And since parking is so expensive near USC, we took the light rail (where it turns out my parents are senior citizens and the ride only costs $0.35!). Tucker is very good with traveling, but this was his first light rail experience. He didn’t love it, but he was really well-behaved and just sat on the floor by our feet. I don’t think a lot of people on the train even knew we had him with us. But the Metro employees loved him!

I told my parents that the festival was pretty big, but I don’t think they understood how huge it is! The last time they were at USC was when my brother graduated college there and I don’t know how much of the campus they had explored before. So I think they were a bit overwhelmed by the crowd there (so was the dog). But we just tried to go up and down the various sections and casually checked out the booths. We didn’t go into too many booths, but we did make a stop at the LA Public Library booth.

I’m a huge book nerd and was spending so much on books until I rediscovered my love for the library. And now I’m getting so many library books for my Kindle. I’m saving hundreds of dollars a month on books and I love that I can support the public library system. It’s so important and I don’t think enough people take advantage of what they can get there.

After being at the festival for a while, the crowds were getting to be a bit too much. So we headed across the street to the Rose Garden to see how all the roses were looking.

Since we had so much rain this past winter, everything was in bloom! The past few times I had been at the Rose Garden it wasn’t looking so great, but this time it was pretty full with flowers. The fountain in the center wasn’t going (maybe to still conserve a bit of water), but it was still so nice walking around checking out all the flowers.

My dad knows so much about roses and plants so he could almost name all of the types of roses in the garden without looking at the sign saying the name of the variety of roses. But there were some that we didn’t know and the names were a bit crazy. It was nice getting to just relax and walk around. It’s so pretty there and of course Tucker was loving all the smells all over.

It was a pretty warm and sunny day so after walking around a bit it was time for us to go back to the light rail station and take the train back. Tucker was much more comfortable on the train this time and he looked like he might fall asleep on the ride. And again, I don’t think a lot of people realized that he was with us so that’s a sign of a pretty obedient dog.

I’m so glad that I was able to make it to the LA Times Festival of Books. It really is a great event and I wish I could have spent more time there. Maybe next year I can go on both Saturday and Sunday so I can see even more of what there is there and hopefully learn about a ton of new books that I want to add to my reading list.

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!

Not Drinking At A Bar (or A Birthday Party At Neat)

After doing my 5K race (and getting almost no sleep that night), I was ready to be at my house the rest of the day and being pretty lazy. When I got home around 11am after the race, that’s pretty much exactly what I did. I showered and got into comfortable clothes and then pretty much didn’t move from my couch for several hours. But I did have to move eventually because one of my workout friends was having a birthday party that night!

I don’t get to see many of my Orangetheory friends outside of workouts. Even though I really enjoy hanging out with them at the workouts, we don’t always get to socialize outside of class. So when I get a chance to see someone in normal clothes, I totally take advantage of that! And since they don’t usually see me in something other than workout clothes with my hair in a top knot, I decided to make a bit more effort than normal in picking my outfit.

I don’t usually wear red, but the theme of the party was to wear something red and I found that belt on Amazon. The way I dressed was pretty different from what I’m used to, but I was feeling pretty confident and now I’m looking at ways to dress more like that more often!

I was a little nervous going to the party since the only person I would know there was the birthday girl. I’m a bit shy in situations like that and always feel so awkward going up to people I don’t know to join in on a conversation. But thankfully, my friend was awesome and was introducing me to a bunch of people that night. She knew that I didn’t know anyone else there and I appreciate the effort she made to make sure everyone was having fun and not feeling left out!

The party was held at a new bar called Neat. In full disclosure, the manager is the brother of a friend of mine (who I hadn’t met until that night), but I have to say that this is such an amazing bar! I don’t have a ton of bars that I love because so many bars in LA are either super fancy or are just too showy. I like being able to go somewhere and not stress too much about how I’m dressed or if I’m making a good impression on others. That’s one reason why I also love Bodega Wine Bar. But to find a bar like that is tough to find and it seems like when I find one they end up closing down.

But Neat was pretty awesome. There was a semi-private space in the back that was reserved for the birthday party that still was a part of the action. And in the main room most of the tables are on the edges of the room so there is a lot of space in the room that makes it not feel too crowded. There were a ton of people there, but since I didn’t have to keep going around chairs or tables it didn’t feel that bad.

And they do have a pretty epic drink menu too! I would have loved to have tried a drink or two, but I can’t really drink right now. But that didn’t matter since the staff at Neat was so cool. I talked to my friend’s brother and he asked me what sort of flavors I liked. I told him I liked citrus and then he got to work. I don’t know everything that he used in my drink, but there was some lime in it and before I knew it I had a custom non-alcoholic drink just for me!

It was so nice to have a festive drink at the party since it can feel a bit weird only ordering water at a bar. But I felt like I was included in the fun because I had a drink that I really liked! It was pretty tasty and reminded me a bit of a margarita. Even when I can drink again, I would totally consider getting this again because it was so nice and refreshing.

I really had a great time at the party, but I was getting pretty exhausted right after the birthday cake was brought out. I had been up so long that day and my legs were starting to feel a bit like cement. It’s not easy to wear heels a few hours after doing a 5K race! So I decided that it was time for me to go home and get some needed rest.

I’m so glad that I went to the party. Not only is it fun to get to see someone outside of Orangetheory and get to meet new friends, I got to check out a bar that I have a feeling I’ll be going to from now on. It’s always great to find new places in LA that I love because I do get stuck in ruts from time to time. But I busted out of that rut at this party and now I’m excited to get to go back to Neat again in the future!

LA Marathon (or Cheering On My Friends)

I’ve been cheering on the runners at the LA Marathon for the past few years. It’s a really great event to go out and watch and since so many streets are closed that day the traffic isn’t too horrible (LA drivers stay home when there are too many closures). For the couple of years, I’ve known people who were running in the marathon and that made me want to go out and watch the runners even more. And this year was no exception with almost a dozen friends doing the marathon, many for their first marathons ever!

Even though I’ve cheered on the runners in the past, I’ve never really done much beyond driving over to the course and standing out there to cheer and clap. But this year, I felt like I should do more and wanted to make some fun signs for my friends. I had a couple of ideas of things I wanted to do, went to get some large paper and cut out letters from Staples, and got creative.

The rum and cute one signs are ones I’ve seen at other events or online, but the other two were ones that I came up with. I had let my friends know what signs I had made so they could look for me while they were running and I tried to get out to the course on the earlier side. I also had some friends who wanted to join me for cheering on the runners this year. Normally I’m by myself, but it was nice to know that I would have other people hanging out with me while I waited for my friends to be running by us.

This year (or at least I learned about this only this year), there was runner tracking on the LA Marathon website. So I entered the race numbers for all of my friends and was seeing when they would be close to where we were standing just past mile 19. One friend was so fast that they ended up going past mile 19 before I got out there (they were so fast they qualified for the Boston Marathon!), but there were still plenty of people to be on the lookout for.

The first person I saw going by me was someone I know from Orangetheory. I forgot he was running and wasn’t tracking him, so I’m glad he saw me and got my attention so I could cheer him on. Next was my friend Jonathan who is the business manager for Orangetheory. He ran the marathon last year with Jordan from The Balanced Blonde, but he was running by himself this year. And he was looking pretty calm and happy while he sped by us!

The next people to come by were more Orangetheory friends. Jordan and Terry are usually in Monday workouts with me (Terry and I currently battle over which of us gets treadmill 11 because we both love that one) and they have been training hard together for a while. I know that they were super prepared to run a marathon, but it still made me so happy to see them happy as they came by us. I know how tough a 5K can be on me, I can’t imagine how tough a marathon would be! But Terry saw us with the signs and ran over to us with a smile and a high five for each of us!

Next, there were a couple of the women I know through the Tone It Up Facebook group running. Most of them were people who I haven’t met before in real life, so they had to be on the lookout for me with my sign. But I was following the tracking app carefully and tried to pay extra attention to when I knew they would be close to running by me.

But there was one Tone It Up friend running who I do know. Elva is someone who I met a while ago through the group and we had been at a few of the same events before (she was with me at one of my 5Ks). But she is also my neighbor and lives only a few blocks from my house! She and I have met up for a running hangout (she ran, I did run/walk intervals) and we keep saying that we need to do that more often. It’s tough with our schedules being very different, but I know we will make it happen.

She is such an amazing runner and has done so many races in the past, but this was the first time I would have a chance to cheer her on. I had her in the tracking list from the website, but she was also texting me updates so I would know when she was close. And right on time, she was coming over to me so I could give her a huge hug! I wasn’t expecting her to stop, but I’m glad she did so I could say a quick hi and we could get a fun photo together!

After Elva went by, I didn’t have any more friends I was looking for. But one person who was hanging out with me cheering on runners had a few more friends out on the course so we were all on the lookout for them! There were a few people who we think either quit the race or never started because their tracking on the site was either saying they couldn’t be found or that they couldn’t be tracked. And by 1pm, the sweeper car was getting close to where we were so we knew the runners were almost done. So it was time for us all to head back to our cars to continue on with our day.

I’ve cheered on the marathon runners several times now, but this was the most fun I’ve had doing it! I had so many people I was supporting at the race and that was just so inspiring. And I think having a group made things even better. We were all having so much fun talking about the crazy costumes we were seeing and laughing at the reactions the runners had at our Trump sign (several runners stopped to come over and take a photo of the sign). Hopefully at the next marathon, I can think of some clever signs again and will have more great friends out there to support the runners with me!

SAG-AFTRA Local Meeting (or Coming To The End Of My Delegate Term)

I’ve been lucky to be able to do a couple of different things with SAG-AFTRA recently. Earlier last week, I was able to go to the NextGen Performers Mixer which was a really great time. It was a fun casual event and I got a chance to see a bunch of friends and meet a couple of new people. It reminded me how much I want to be involved with the union and how I need to put focus and attention on doing just that.

And fortunately for me, I had the perfect opportunity to do just that on Sunday. The Los Angeles local had their big membership meeting and it happened to be on a day that I had free! I had been wanting to attend one of the meetings since becoming a member of SAG-AFTRA. But they seem to keep falling on days I have to work or am out-of-town. So with this one being on a day I’m free plus being right after attending a fun union mixer seemed to be fate and I was super excited to be there!

The meeting was held in Burbank and once I got there I quickly found the meeting room. There were 2 rooms set up for us. The first one was an expo type set up with different SAG-AFTRA committees and helpful organizations there with tables so you could learn more about them. I took a quick look around and was able to see a bunch of my friends who were there helping out at the different tables. Then there was the large room where the meeting was going to be with all the chairs facing a projection screen and the stage area. I was able to find some seats near the front and center and got myself and my friend Robert some great seats.

The meeting was really informative and educational. I can’t share too much of what was shared because it is union only information, but there were a lot of things that we discussed because they had been announced to everyone recently. These include the new SAG-AFTRA Members app (which is awesome!), Telemundo voting to unionize, and the news that we will soon be able to get residuals by direct deposit. While I don’t get residuals on projects yet, many of my friends do. And they are always posting how they may be getting 5 or 6 different checks for under a dollar in the mail. Being able to have these by direct deposit is going to be really nice!

Another thing that was discussed was the election that will be coming up this summer. It is the end of my time as a delegate, but I will be running again for sure this year. I was worried that my surgery might be during the time that I need to get my paperwork submitted so I could run, but when they announced the dates for all the deadlines I found out that everything is well after my surgery. So that won’t cause any issues for me! And while they were talking about the election, I mentioned to my friend Robert that he should run for delegate too. I think he’s still thinking about it, but I really hope that he goes for it!

The last half of the meeting was dedicated to Q&A time. Before the meeting, you could write down a question on a card and they would be brought over to the Los Angeles Local President so we could get up to ask something. As much as I hate public speaking, I had a question about the app that I wanted to ask so I submitted my question. I was shaking and nervous when I was at the microphone to speak, but I was able to get my question out (which was about logging into the app) and get it answered without shaking too much. Robert told me that you couldn’t hear the nerves in my voice so that made me happy.

Besides questions on the app, people had questions about the current contracts, upcoming elections, committees that either currently exist or they would like to see in the future, and general union questions. It was really educational for me because I learned a lot of new stuff about the union but also what my fellow members are concerned about. The meeting lasted as long as we could stay in the room (there was another event after ours in that space so we couldn’t keep going forever), but most of us ended up going out into the lobby or parking lot to keep talking.

After the meeting, I was able to catch up with more of my friends. Some people arrived a bit later than I did so they were in the back of the room during the meeting. But since I was in the front of the room and pretty much stayed seated the entire meeting, I hadn’t gotten to see them before the meeting was done. I ended up staying over an hour after the meeting just chatting and catching up with friends before getting into my car to drive back home.

I know I probably sound like a broken record, but this really made me think about more ways I can be involved in SAG-AFTRA. I think that most of it will need to wait until the beginning of summer since my schedule is starting to fill up now to get things done before surgery and after surgery I’ll need to take some time to recover. But just because I can’t do more things in person for a while, I will try to be more active with the union on social media and sharing important information as I hear about it.

I’m so grateful that I’m a part of such a strong and involved union and that I have the opportunity to be involved as well. I’m really looking forward to running as a delegate again (and hopefully winning my seat again so I can attend the convention this year). I hope that if you are a SAG-AFTRA actor that you are getting involved in the union as well and that you consider running as a delegate this year too!

Finding Neverland (or An Unexpected Musical Experience)

This past week was time for another show in my Pantages season! And this time, we were seeing “Finding Neverland”. I was looking forward to the show for a couple of reasons. First, our season picks up now and we have a show almost every month now! Also, our group just decided to renew our season tickets for the 2018 season, so I know that we have so many musicals in our future. Going to the shows make me so happy, and I’m just glad I have an awesome group of friends to go with me.

Originally our tickets were for this past Sunday. But since it was Oscar Sunday, none of us wanted to drive to the theater (close to so many road closures) and we all had plans that day. We tried to find a date that we could switch our tickets to that worked for all 4 of us, but we weren’t able to make that work. So 3 of us went together this time (the 4th person went the day before the rest of us did). None of us knew what to expect for the show. I think the most that we all knew was the show is about JM Barrie, the writer of Peter Pan.

Since we didn’t go on the night our tickets were originally for, we had slightly different seats. We were still off to the side, but we were much farther back than normal. This might have been the furthest back I’ve sat since getting season tickets, but it was still a good view and I think we didn’t miss anything by sitting in the back.

We were talking about how much our friend had liked “Finding Neverland” the night before, but we were all pretty curious if we would enjoy the show as much and what would happen. And once the lights went down, I know all of us were excited to see how we would feel about it.

I have a connection to Peter Pan that made me extra excited about the show. When I was in high school, I was in the show (although I don’t think we did a musical version of it). I really wanted to play something awesome in the show, and I ended up being cast as the dog and crocodile. It was an interesting experience having to act while in giant mascot suits and not being able to say anything. I had some really fun memories of doing that show, and because of that Peter Pan has always felt special to me.

Seriously, this show was incredible! It was so magical and I was not expecting it be enjoying it nearly as much as I did. I’m probably a bit spoiled when it comes to musicals. I’ve gotten to see so many shows and have so many experiences. So to impress me takes a lot. And this show impressed me beyond anything I could have expected! There isn’t as much about the show Peter Pan as I thought there would be, but that is part of what made it great. There wasn’t much that I knew about before so it was all new to me!

During intermission, all of us turned to each other and I think we were all pretty speechless with how much we were loving “Finding Neverland”. I always hope that I will love a show I’m seeing, especially if I don’t know the show or what it’s all about, but it’s not always like that. But this show was just breathtaking and the cast was doing an amazing job. And we were all so excited to see the second act and couldn’t wait to see what else would happen.

And the second act didn’t disappoint at all. It was so emotional and it was a perfect ending for the show. We were all crying at the end and didn’t care that we might all have mascara running down our faces. It was the perfect musical to see and I’m sad that it’s only in LA for a short time because I would love to go see it again! There’s a chance I might make it to the show again, but I have to double-check the schedule and my budget to see if I can make it work.

I’m so glad that I got to see “Finding Neverland” and was so surprised by it. Many of the shows this season and next at Pantages are shows that I don’t know well so I’m hoping that I’ll have more pleasant surprises coming up. I know that not all shows can affect me the way that this one did, but I’m so glad that I had such a reaction to this show. I’ve loved so many shows in the past, but this one moved me more than possibly any show I’ve seen and I really appreciate that I got to experience it.