Tag Archives: party

Surprising A Friend Headed To Broadway (or I Have More Motivation To Plan My NYC Trip)

I’m sure there are some people who get jealous when their friends have amazing accomplishments, but I’m not one of them. I love to get to celebrate people’s successes and it makes me more motivated to create successes myself! My friend Matt got a job as an understudy on Broadway and he’s about to move to New York! I’m so excited for him and I know he’s going to do amazing in NYC. And to celebrate the move and his job, Matt’s wife Carolina organized a surprise party for him!

I love surprise parties, but I haven’t had the chance to be at that many. So I was super excited to get to be at this one and I knew it would be a great party. We were all supposed to arrive at the party about 30 minutes before Matt and Carolina were going to arrive. I got there a bit earlier and was able to help with some of the set up. There were some really fun decorations to celebrate Matt and his job on Broadway and I helped with filling in some letters on the giant chalkboard.

Right before Matt and Carolina arrived, we were warned so we could get into place. We were all near the gate they would be walking in and we were crouched down so he wouldn’t see our heads peeking over the fence.  It was pretty funny waiting for the gate to open because we were all waiting toward one gate and then I guess the plan changed for them to walk in another gate. One of the hosts was singing and talking loudly so we would get that they would be coming in a different gate and we all turned around and repositioned ourselves.

The story Carolina told Matt about why there were coming over to the house where the party was being held was that they were dropping off a table there. So when we all surprised Matt, he was carrying a table inside. 

Surprising Matt from Jen Levin on Vimeo.

He had no clue this party was happening and it was so great to see how surprised he was! Carolina worked so hard to make this party happen and I am so happy that it went off exactly how she wanted it to be. I was just so excited to see how happy Matt was that we were all gathered to celebrate him!

There were a bunch of people I knew at the party so I spent a lot of time chatting with them. We were all catching each other up on life and other random things and we all did get a chance to talk to Matt a bit. But there were a lot of people there who wanted to talk to him and none of us wanted to dominate his time.

I know we are all going to miss Matt when he’s in New York. He’s one of the leaders of Union Working and his leadership at the meetings will be missed. But maybe he’ll have the opportunity to start a chapter of the group in NYC while he is there!

My sister-in-law and I have been talking about doing another NYC trip soon and we both know we need to do it! And now that I’ll have another friend living there it’s extra motivation to plan the trip! There’s no guarantee that when we do plan our trip that Matt will be performing (as the understudy he won’t necessarily know what nights he performs in advance), but it would be amazing if the timing worked out so we could see him in the show! But even if that doesn’t work out, I know it will be great to get to see him and Carolina again.

I wanted to stay at the party longer, but I was only able to stay a few hours because I had to get home for some work and errands (being a responsible adult stinks sometimes). But before I left, I needed a photo with Matt! And of course, other friends joined in because as actors we can’t resist a camera.

Congrats again Matt on your amazing gig in NYC! I know that everyone is so excited for you and can’t wait to see what other accomplishments you’ll have on your NYC adventure!

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Ringing In 2018 (or Being Festive While Being Lazy On The Couch)

I had been looking forward to New Year’s Eve for a while. It’s always a great party and I knew that I’d be seeing a bunch of my friends there. And I was hoping for a much easier time getting home after the party compared to the year before (that’s when my car died). Everything seemed to be going my way until the week of New Year’s Eve.

That’s when I started dealing with the nausea and pain from hormones and I started to question if I was even going to make it to the party. I felt so horrible and wasn’t sure if I’d be a good party guest. But then I realized that not going to the party wasn’t going to make me feel better and I wanted to see my friends no matter what. So I took all my medications to try to help me get through the evening and headed to the party.

I did accessorize with my bracelets with my words of 2017 and 2018 on them because it felt like a fun way to celebrate a new year.

When I got to the party, I wasn’t feeling too bad. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat anything, but I was able to hang out outside and be social with my friends. It was a smaller party than it has been in the past so it was easier to talk to people and catch up.

But after about an hour, I felt like my medications weren’t working anymore and the pain and nausea were getting to me again. I wasn’t going to leave the party, but I decided to go lay down on a couch in their living room to try to feel better. For a little while, I was by myself in there and that was fine with me. But slowly people started joining me in the living room to hang out and dance. I stayed on the couch being lazy and trying to feel better but it was nice to feel like I was still involved a bit.

Pretty much everyone at the party knew the situation with how I was feeling, so nobody was making a big deal out of me not doing much at the party. And people seemed to be making a bit of an effort to come over to hang out with me since they knew I wasn’t going to be getting up from the couch. And while I was feeling bad most of the time, there were moments that I felt like myself again and I managed to take a fun photo with some of my friends.

I was at the party for a few hours, and for a majority of that time I was on the couch not feeling so great. It was nice to have the distractions of my friends, but it was a bit frustrating to not feel like myself and to not be participating as much as I would have liked. Everyone seemed so happy and at times I worried that I was being a downer and bringing the party down (I know in reality I wasn’t, I just felt that way).

Right before midnight we turned on the tv to watch the ball drop (even though it was technically a 3 hour delay from when it happened in New York). I fortunately was feeling slightly better as midnight approached so I got off the couch and joined everyone to celebrate the new year. Even though I don’t drink that much now, I would have had some of the champagne if I was feeling ok. But I didn’t think mixing pain and anti-nausea meds with even a little bit of alcohol was a smart idea. So I toasted the new year with water instead.

I was happy that I made it to midnight with my friends, but right after I decided it was time to head home and get to bed. The party was going strong when I was leaving, but everyone knows that I like to leave before it gets too late because I don’t want to have to deal with crazy drivers on the road. I was also a bit paranoid that something would happen on my drive back like last year. Fortunately, I got home without any issues and was in bed before 1am.

While this wasn’t the New Year’s Eve that I had been looking forward to, it still ended up being a fun time. I think that just being around my friends is what makes these parties so great for me. The next party will be the Oscar party and I’ve already started to work on my costume for it. I’ve got a fun idea for the costume and I think it shouldn’t be too tough for me to do!

Union Holiday Party (or Seeing A Lot Of People In A Little Time)

This seems to have been the week of parties. On Monday I had the 300th episode party for the podcast. On Tuesday I was supposed to go to a holiday party but I ended up being too tired to go (I was still recovering from Monday). And Wednesday was the SAG-AFTRA holiday party!

I’ve gone to the holiday party before and knew it would be pretty crowded. But I think I kind of forgot how overwhelming the entire party could be. I was still feeling tired from the week and had spent Wednesday working and working out. As soon as I was showered from my workout, I got into my car to go to the party. I knew I was missing the beginning of the party, but I wasn’t too worried about that. Last time they were running low on food toward the end of the party, but I was feeling a bit off besides being tired and didn’t feel like eating. So lack of food at the party wasn’t a concern for me.

As soon as I arrived and got in line, I started to see friends of mine. That is one of the great things about being more involved in the union. The more events I go to the more I recognize people at other events. It’s still a bit much going to a party like this alone and I had wished a friend could have come with me. But at least I knew I’d be seeing a lot of friends.

Once I was in the party, I started to try to make a lap around the room the best that I could to see who else I knew there. It seemed like everywhere I looked I knew at least one person so that was pretty awesome. Some of my friends there had been up since 3am that day because the SAG Awards nominations were announced that morning. That put my tiredness into perspective for me!

It was nice to have a fun social event to catch up with actor friends. We didn’t really discuss union issues, there was no need to talk about election season, and everyone was in a fun and festive mood. I didn’t take any pictures, but fortunately I had friends who took pictures with me so there is some evidence that I was at the party!

Since I got there late, I wanted to stay until the end of the party. But things just weren’t working for me that night. I was having a great time catching up with my friends and wanted to do more of that, but I knew I needed to get back home. I didn’t want to drive and feel tired so I wanted to leave before the tiredness started to feel worse. And my body was just feeling worse. I have a tendency to get stress sick (where you get sick right after something that was stressing you out) and I think I got that from worrying about the podcast party. I knew that I could potentially stay longer, but I would be paying for that later and I didn’t want to have to worry about that.

I only ended up being at the party for about an hour or so and I wish I could have been there longer. But at least in that hour I saw so many people who I knew. There were a few people who I saw in photos later that I didn’t get to see in person, but I think I saw a majority of my friends there. I felt like I had been pretty social and got to catch up on life with people. I think a lot of people were feeling tired and stressed so at least I wasn’t alone in that feeling. And my friends understood when I wasn’t acting like my normal bubbly self.

Of course after this crazy party week I don’t have any more big holiday parties that I can think of besides NYE parties. It would have been nice to have all the parties spread out so I could have enjoyed each one (and attended all of them), but things don’t normally go like that. I’m just glad that I didn’t feel too tired or sick to get to the union holiday party and that I did have a great time in the limited time that I spent there!

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Celebrating 300 Episodes (or We Had Another Amazing Party)

I’ve shared on here before when the podcast I work for celebrated 100 and 200 episodes. And this week, we celebrated 300 episodes! I’ve been with the podcast for a long time, but it’s still pretty crazy to me on how many episodes we’ve done. And I couldn’t be more proud of our hosts, Trevor and AJ, for everything they’ve done.

This time, we didn’t do a live recording. Instead, we did a week in the life of a series regular with Chelsey Crisp. We had been working on interviews for a few months and Chelsey even did some interviews for us so we could hear from cast members who weren’t available when we were on set! This interview (or I guess series of interviews) ended up being so incredible and I am very proud of it.

But just because we didn’t do a live recording didn’t mean we didn’t want to have a party and celebrate this milestone episode! It actually ended up being easier not having the recording because we only had 1 location to worry about. I wasn’t stressing out about getting back and forth and was able to focus completely on the party. And I wasn’t doing the planning alone. The podcast community manager, Deb, was the co-planner (and honestly did more than I did).

Since we were only focused on the party, we tried to make it as amazing as possible. We wanted to have a step and repeat again with photo booth props. Adam Emperor Southard (who did my headshots in the past) was able to be our photographer and Deb and I did some shopping and creating for some fun photo booth props. We did have a lot of things on our own, but we also found an awesome 99 Cents store that had so many costumes and props for us to buy! But one of my favorite things we had was an Instagram photo frame that Deb made. It looked so good and everyone loved taking photos with it!

(BTW, all photos in my post were taken by Adam and I highly recommend using him for any headshots or photo shoots you might have)

I didn’t take as many photos this year as I had in the past, but I still tried to get some good ones. I wanted to get one with Grace, who is the podcast PR manager and my Orangetheory buddy!

And I got one with my friend Nick. But him being at the party is a bit of a cool and crazy story. Nick and I were in improv class together 2 years ago. We became Facebook friends while we were in class together but hadn’t seen each other since the class. But the morning of the party, he messaged me on Facebook to say that he just started listening to Inside Acting and heard that the production coordinator had the same name as me and he wanted to know if it was me. I told him it was and that we were having our 300th episode party that night. He happened to be free and made it to support us! It’s so crazy how perfect the timing was with that all because if he started listening to the podcast one day later he would have missed the party and I would have missed getting to see him again!

And of course, we had to get a team photo of the entire Inside Acting team. It’s rare for us all to be together so we wanted to take advantage of this moment!

But we also needed to get a fun team photo to take advantage of all the props we had! Besides the Instagram frame, I loved our speech bubbles. Many of them had phrases that the hosts say often on the podcast and they thought it was hysterical that we had those speech bubbles.

But we didn’t just have a party with photos, we wanted to make it seem more like an event. Since our 300th episode was focused around one episode of “Fresh Off The Boat” that Chelsey was filming, we decided to screen the episode at the party. But what the guys didn’t know was that Deb and I planned a surprise for them before the screening.

I reached out to all of our past guests, past team members, and current team members asking for anyone who was interested to send us a video of telling the guys congrats on reaching 300 episodes. We got several videos back and I worked on editing it down so it was a more manageable length to watch. They had no idea that we did this and I was terrified that the surprise would be spoiled by someone. But it wasn’t (even when it started to play without sound and we had to start over) and it was obvious from looking at the guys that they were so touched that we did this and they had no clue that we were planning any sort of surprise like this.

And if you are interested in watching the video we made for them, you can check it out here:

We also had a raffle where we gave away a lot of fun prizes. Everyone seemed really into the raffle and I think we will have to do it when we have our party for the 400th episode in about 2 years. We were giving away headshot sessions, coaching sessions, demo reel editing, and other fun things.

And while I was stressed out for pretty much the entire party (I just wanted everything to go perfectly), I did try to take some time to sit back and reflect on this milestone episode and the incredible community that this podcast has created. I loved seeing listeners meet each other for the first time, talk to the guys about how they loved one episode or another, and just have a fun time at a party that we were throwing. It was a really special night and I feel so lucky to have been a part of it.

I told both Trevor and AJ how proud I am of them at the party, but there are seriously no words to express how I feel about these guys. They created this podcast that has turned into a resource that so many actors use to educate themselves about the industry. We get the best guests and we are so lucky that guests are now reaching out to us instead of us always reaching out to them. I know that this podcast is going to continue to grow and it will only be getting better. Saying that I love them both and that I’m so grateful to them only scratches the surface of how I feel. I am just so incredibly lucky that they are my friends and that I get to help them with the podcast.

Now that we finished our 300th episode, I’m already trying to plan how we can top it when we have our 400th episode. Fortunately, I’ve got about 2 years to work on that and I’ve already got some ideas of what I want to do. I know that I don’t have to keep topping myself with these milestone podcast events, but I like to have something to work toward. And I know that Trevor and AJ deserve only the best when we have these milestones.

If you are a listener to Inside Acting, thank you so much for your support! I am so grateful to all of our listeners because there would be no podcast without them! And I just want to make sure that I keep the podcast as great as our listeners expect it to be and I hope that I can keep that up!

Halloween Awesomeness (or I Am Covfefe)

The Halloween party that my friends Marie and Chris throw was this past weekend. As it is with all of their parties, I knew that they would be doing some amazing decorations around their house and I couldn’t want to see what it was going to be. They had been sharing about how hard they had been working on decorations but weren’t giving any clues on what the theme was. So I had no idea what I was in for.

As far as my costume goes, I tend to be a bit lazy with costumes. I wish I was better at them, but it’s just not something that I’m creative with. So when a friend jokingly suggested I could go as covfefe by just wearing a “Hello my name is” name tag, I totally went for it!

I made extra name tags and was thinking that I would be sticking them on other people, on beer bottles, and other things like that. It was a super easy costume, but everyone who saw it seemed to think it was pretty funny.

But while my costume was low-key, the party was anything but! Marie and Chris really outdid themselves this year and they turned their house and backyard into all things Indiana Jones!

And of course, they dressed to fit the theme of the house.

They’ve done some amazing things with decorations before, but this was beyond what any of us expected. I loved the sacrifice pit that was in the middle of their yard.

But I think the greatest thing they made for the party was the golden idol room they had on the side of their yard.

Between the backdrop and the amazing painting work they did and the props that were in the room, this was seriously one of the coolest things I’ve seen! And we all were taking so many photos in there because of how awesome it looked (plus it had some really great lighting).

And I loved getting to see all the creative costumes that my friends did. Everyone always has really fun costumes and this year there seemed to be a lot of family/couple themed costumes. Of course, seeing little kids is costumes is just so cute! But I loved the couples costumes too because they were all really fun and clever. I’m glad that I go into the party not expecting to win the costume contest because the competition is stiff!

But the reason I go to the parties (besides the incredible decorations and awesome costumes) is getting to spend time with amazing friends. And there were so many amazing people at the party. I was able to get there toward the earlier side of things so I got to see a lot of people who had kids but had to leave early to get their kids to bed. But I also stayed later than I normally do so I saw some of the late arrivals too. There were a few people who arrived after I left, but I think I got to see almost everyone that I wanted to.

Some of us took some time to watch the World Series. It was fun because some of the people at the party are die-hard Dodgers fans but there are a lot of people there from Houston so they were rooting for the Astros. But it was all in good fun and I think pretty much everyone was happy to see that the Dodgers won the game that night. And the home run they got toward the end of the game was pretty impressive!

I really tried to be as social as possible at the party. But I had been up since 7am since I worked that morning plus I had a Hell Week workout that afternoon. I was hoping to get a nap in between my workout and the party but that didn’t happen. So I was a bit tired and run down. But it seemed like a lot of people there were feeling a bit low-key too so a lot of the time we were sitting around and talking. There was so much catching up to do at the party and we got the time to do that.

As with all of the parties that Marie and Chris do, I had the best time! They put so much effort into their parties and making sure that we all have so much fun. And we all do! I think their next party will be New Years Eve and I’m already looking forward to it!

Working On My Crafty Side (or Starting Off Halloween Season!)

I love Halloween. I don’t know if it started because of working at Halloween Horror Nights or the amazing Halloween parties that my friends have thrown, but I love Halloween time. I remember when I was growing up that my parents would get the Halloween box out of the garage and we would spend an afternoon decorating the outside of the house. Now that I’m in my house, I really don’t decorate the outside but I’ve tried to be better about decorating the inside. I’m not the most crafty person, but I’m good at shopping and have found some cute decorations that work in my house.

But my friend Anne is probably one of the most crafty people I know and is amazing at decorating! She decorates her house based on the season and changes out things seasonally so that everything reflects what she is decorating for! I met Anne when I went to the blogger event a few years ago about the Hard Rock Cafe 5K and we’ve stayed in touch ever since then. We don’t get to see each other that often, so when she invited me to a crafting party at her house, I immediately RSVPed yes!

The plan was to decorate styrofoam pumpkins and she would have all the crafting supplies for us. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t know what to do with the pumpkin but I knew there would be so many creative people there that I could learn from and hopefully I would be inspired and could make something cute.

When I got to the party, Anne had all the crafting supplies out by the tables she set up. I was so impressed by everything that she had for us and even more impressed that this was all stuff that she already had in her house!

There were so many things on the table to use to decorate the pumpkins! I honestly didn’t know where to start. The only thing I knew I didn’t want to use was glitter because it gets everywhere and I try to not have glitter things in my house (I guess that proves I’m not into crafts since I don’t like glitter). But there were so many paint options, ribbons, gems, door knobs to use as stems, and other things to choose from so not using glitter wasn’t going to limit me.

Other people started to grab paint, glitter, and other things to decorate and I took a moment to observe and see what everyone else was doing. A lot of people were painting their pumpkins another color and then were going to work on decorating on top of that, but I knew that it wouldn’t be what I would do. So I took a look carefully at the supplies table and got inspired by some gem-type ribbon. Anne got a glue gun out for me so I could glue it down, I grabbed some gems to go with the ribbon, and I started working.

I covered the stem of the fake pumpkin with the ribbon and then wrapped it around and glued it down. Then I took some of the gems and put them randomly around the pumpkin. I was liking how it looked and decided that because I’m such a big Disney nerd that I needed to add a few hidden Mickeys to my pumpkin. And I was so happy with the end result!

It’s the perfect mix of Halloween and Disney and it will look so cute on my dining room table! And it’s simple enough that as I get more decorations that it should still work with everything. And because Anne had so many extra pumpkins, I took another one and took colored gems to create a pumpkin that was just Mickeys.

As expected, everyone else was so creative! The pumpkins looked like things you would buy in a store and we joked that we should create a shop to sell what we made. I wish I could be as creative and crafty as everyone else, but that’s just not a skill I have right now. I probably could be better if I worked on it, but I don’t have a lot of opportunity to do that.

And when everyone was all done, we had to get all the pumpkins together for a photo. That’s what happens when you are in a room of bloggers, social media specialists, and marketers.

I do feel like mine are the least fancy of the bunch, but I am still proud of what I made and that they did turn out cute. I was not competing with others to make the best pumpkin, I just wanted to do something that I could be proud of and that didn’t look ugly. I accomplished both of those goals.

I’m so glad that I went to the pumpkin party because I got to meet so many amazing people and I got to spend an afternoon being creative. Even though my creativity isn’t usually in crafting, any time I get to be creative is a good thing for me. And it helped me kick off Halloween season early so now I can take the rest of my Halloween decorations out and start getting my house into the Halloween spirit!

Birthday Party Adventure! (or Another Traditional Celebration)

I’ve celebrated my birthday at Bodega Wine Bar a couple of times now. It’s such a great place to have a casual birthday hangout so when I was trying to plan what to do for my birthday this year I had going back to Bodega at the top of my list. I looked at having a party at other locations, but I kept coming back to thinking Bodega would be perfect. So I gave them a call and they were able to get me the same section I’ve had in the past for a birthday party this past Saturday! So it was another Bodega birthday adventure!

Before my party, I actually decided to go to DryBar to get a blowout. There is now a DryBar right by my house, so that’s so much easier than having to drive 10-15 minutes to another location. I could walk there, but that day was so hot and humid and I didn’t want to ruin my hairstyle on the walk back. Fortunately there was a meter right in front of the salon for me!

The blowout only took about 30 minutes so that gave me plenty of time to go back home so I could relax a bit before getting ready to go out. I didn’t take a photo of my outfit, but I decided to try to be dressy and casual at the same time so I wore a basic black sundress with some cute heels. And then it was time to head over to Bodega!

And I lucked out with a parking meter again! I found one that was right around the corner and it was free since it was after 6pm! It was perfect and I walked right over to see who was an early bird for the party.

I’m glad I wasn’t the first person to arrive because I always hate waiting for people. And right after I got there more people started to arrive. I’m glad I got a reserved section again because it made things much easier for us. The bar was a bit crowded with some other parties and this way we didn’t have to worry about finding space for everyone. Although at one point there were maybe 15 of us there and it was getting a bit crowded. But I don’t think that anyone really minded that.

I hadn’t had a drink since my birthday party last year, but I knew I’d be ordering one at my party this time. My liver surgeon has told me that I can drink, but I haven’t been drinking since I don’t want to put more stress on my liver than I need to. But this was a special occasion so I figured it was a good time to have my first drink in a year!

I knew my tolerance for alcohol would be down, but I was actually surprised how low it was. I’ve had time without drinking before and it never seemed like I lost too much of my tolerance. This time, I was able to drink maybe about half of it before I felt like it was hitting me. I ordered food to help me feel a bit better, but I ended up not drinking any more of my drink. It was delicious, but I guess I need to realize that I can’t drink the way I could before (at least not for a while).

But I didn’t have my party to be able to drink. I had it so I could hang out with my friends and have fun. And that’s exactly what happened! I love when different groups of friends come together and meet. And this had people from so many different parts of my life there. It was so fun watching my neighbor talk to someone who is part of the leadership of the Unite for Strength slate. Or to see one of my Disney friends talk to someone from my WIF mentoring group. It was just awesome sitting back and watching people get to know each other and have my worlds combine!

I didn’t want any presents (although I did tell people if they wanted to do something they could donate to Unite for Strength) because I wanted this to feel more like a regular fun hangout and not a birthday party. I didn’t want anyone to sing Happy Birthday to me or make anything a big deal. Some of my friends did pay for my food and drink, so that was special and I wasn’t expecting it. All I wanted from my friends was to have them there and get to have fun with them.

We ended up being at Bodega for a pretty long time. It was getting a bit noisy and I think most of us aren’t usually late night people so by 11:30 we were all ready to go. People had been coming and going all night so it was a rotating group of people there, but pretty much everyone who was still there decided to leave when at the same time at the end.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday adventure. It was fun and no-stress. Everyone there seemed to have a great time and that’s what I wanted. I always want everyone else to have fun and that’s what makes me happy!

While this was the main birthday adventure for me, what I have to write about in tomorrow’s post was almost the grand finale of the birthday fun!

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4th Of July On The 1st (or Another Awesome Party With Friends)

With 4th of July being on a Tuesday this year, I was pretty sure that the party I usually go to for the 4th wasn’t going to be on Tuesday. I wasn’t sure what day it would be, but when I found out it was on Saturday I wasn’t surprised. So Marie and Chris decided to make their party Celebrate the 4th on the 1st and it was perfect!

The party started in the last afternoon which worked out really well for me. I had the goal setting workshop until about 2pm and went to the party pretty soon after everyone left the workshop. I had every intention of making Drunk Fruit like I have in the past, but that didn’t end up happening this year. I don’t know what happened, but before I knew it it was Friday night and I hadn’t gotten any of the stuff I would need to make it. I felt bad that I didn’t bring it, but I did bring some sparkling lemonade so I wasn’t totally empty handed when I arrived (although not bringing anything is ok too).

It was the usual crowd at the party and that was exactly what I was hoping for. I had missed the Memorial Day party so I hadn’t seen a lot of people since the Oscars party. Even though I had told many people about my tumors shrinking, most of them hadn’t seen me since I got the news. So a lot of people wanted to hear the entire story and know more about what the plan is now. I wish I had more to say about the plan besides we are waiting for another MRI in the fall, but I think everyone was just happy that I didn’t have to have surgery back in April and that things are looking positive for me.

Most of the time I was at the party, I was just socializing and hanging out with everyone. I did get some food since it was a BBQ and there is always amazing food there. I tried not to think too much about how much I was eating because I didn’t want to stress out about it. But I know I did overeat a bit (I felt it the next day) but since it was a rare occasion I tried to be ok with that.

A lot of the socializing was about online dating since I’m not the only person having random adventures because of it. Everyone seems to think I have the craziest stories, but I think everyone else has some epic ones too. And we were showing off the random people we’ve been matching with on various apps and doing some swiping together as a group on each other’s profiles. It’s nice to know that my friends are having the same experiences as me on online dating since sometimes it makes me wonder if I’m doing something wrong. But clearly it’s not just me.

But the one thing I had to make sure to do while I was at the party was the traditional photo that I take with some of my friends. It all started a few years ago when we ran through the sprinklers and we’ve recreated the photo each year since. We haven’t had the sprinklers on for the other years, but I think having to pretend is what makes the photo so funny. This year, one member of our group was out-of-town so we couldn’t have the exact same photo. But we left a space for her and I think our photo looks pretty amazing!

And I think that the photo looks pretty great in the series that we’ve got going so far.

I love that we’ve been able to keep this tradition up and I know we are all looking forward to adding more and more photos each year.

Since it was a few days before the 4th, we didn’t really expect too much as far as fireworks go. There were some random fireworks from time to time, but nothing like we’ve seen in the past. Some people did go up on the roof to watch, but I was wearing shoes that would not have been safe to go up a ladder in. So I stuck with staying on the ground and I didn’t really see any of the few fireworks that went off. But that was ok since I was planning on going to see fireworks another time.

I stayed at the party pretty late (at least pretty late for me) and was starting to feel tired so I knew I needed to head home. It’s not a horrible drive home, but it’s not the closest place and I know that sometimes there are sobriety checkpoints on the way home. So I wanted to leave at a decent hour. But I was at the party for  long enough to get to see all my friends and have a great time. There’s nothing more that I could ask for at a party.

Watching The Oscars (or Costumes and Twitter)

I’m sure by now you have all seen and read about what happened at the Oscars. If you haven’t here’s a great article about how the wrong film was announced as best picture, how it happened, and what was done to try to correct it. While that is a huge part of what happened at the Oscars, that was only a small time at the party I was at.

I went to Chris and Marie’s house for the Oscars as I have every year for a long time. It’s a great party every year and I’m always looking forward to it. The group of people who go to the party are a mix of those of us who take the Oscars very seriously and those who aren’t super into the awards but love any opportunity to dress up and hang out.

I had an idea for a costume around New Year’s Eve, but it seemed too complicated for me to figure out how to make and I gave up on it. I had another idea for a costume and even went out and bought things for it, but I decided that I wouldn’t be comfortable in the costume. I started researching what movies came out in 2016 (since the only rule for costumes is that it needs to be related to a movie that came out in the past year), and finally found the perfect idea for me!

I went as Anthony Weiner’s twitter account (inspired by the documentary “Weiner”). I had a dry erase board with his twitter profile picture where people could write tweets and I wrote on tape on my body a couple of statements Anthony Weiner had made after his scandals were in the news. It was another easy/lazy costume, but fortunately people at the party found it really clever and fun.

As always, Chris and Marie decorated their house and yard for the party. This year, the theme was Arrival and they did an amazing job making decorations that were exactly like the movie. I especially loved the photo set up they made with the aliens from the movie!

Since there is a mix of people at the party, the viewing areas are split up. There is the quiet room and the regular viewing area. The quiet room used to be much more quiet, but over the years we’ve gotten a bit chattier. We are still very quiet during all the speeches, but we will occasionally talk or say a comment during the show. And of course we are super chatty during the commercials. But my favorite party of the quiet room is that the video is projected onto the wall of a room so we have a giant screen to watch on!

We have ballots to use for the guess the winners contest at the party, but pretty quickly I knew I wasn’t going to do so well with that. While “La La Land” wasn’t my favorite movie of the year, I knew so many critics loved it and I assumed it was going to win more awards than it did. I also hadn’t seen all of the animated, documentary, or short films so for many of those I had to guess. But so many people and films that I wanted to win did and I was really enjoying the show.

Then there was the moment when the wrong movie was announced as Best Picture. I don’t think I’ve heard so much screaming before during the Oscars. We were all so confused (as was probably everyone watching) and we couldn’t believe what was happening. I’m glad that the error was corrected during the show so the producers from “Moonlight” could get up and speak, but I know that it was a moment during the ceremony that will not be forgotten. I know it was an honest mistake, but it was a big mistake.

I think everyone was in shock after the awards were done, but we all headed to the backyard to start the costume contest. We all go around and announce what our costumes are so we can vote. When I announced my costume, I got a bunch of laughs, but I knew that my costume wasn’t going to be a winner. So many people had amazing costumes and I was just happy to see how creative other people can be.

I loved my friend Regan’s Hidden Figures costume (she was with some friends who played other characters from the movie). Their group got first place in the costume contest.

And the funniest costume I saw was actually the costume I was originally thinking of doing! When I went to see Dr. Strange, I immediately thought how cool it would be to go as the cape from the movie. I was trying to figure out how to make a cape look like it was levitating in front of me, but I never could figure out a simple enough solution. But my friend Andy figured out a really easy way to do it and I think his costume looked so much better than anything I could have done!

After the costume winners were announced, the party started to wind down pretty quickly. Most of the people at the party had to work the next morning (I had an early workout the next morning) so a lot of people were trying to get home. I left pretty early too, but since that’s when most people were leaving I didn’t feel like I was missing too much of the party. I went around saying goodbye to all of my friends and walked out to my car.

On a random side note, this was the first party since my car died on New Year’s Eve and it was a little stressful driving home. Even though I have a totally different car, I was still paranoid something would happen on my drive home. I’m sure I’ll feel like that for a while because things like that stick with me. But I got home safely and I’m so glad that I have a car that doesn’t have any problems!

Overall, it was yet another amazing party for the Oscars. I love getting together to watch the show and it makes me feel a part of an amazing community. Most of us know at least one person who works at the Oscars (I know 3 or 4), and we love getting to celebrate movies and be proud of our friends who are there. Hopefully one day I’ll get to attend the show in person, but I know if that happens I’ll probably miss going to the party since that’s what I look forward to each year!

Welcoming 2017 (or The Start To My New Year’s Eve)

As I have done for so many past New Year’s Eves, I got to ring in the new year with so many friends at the party that my friends Marie and Chris threw. The parties are really such a great way to celebrate the new year since I really don’t care to go out to a bar where it is overpriced and way too crowded. Being at a house party with awesome people is perfect for me and I’m always so grateful that Marie and Chris open their house up to all of us.

I got to the party this year a bit earlier than normal. Since New Year’s Eve was also the last night of Hanukkah, I promised to bring a menorah and candles with me. A lot of people at the party don’t celebrate Hanukkah, so this was the first chance they were going to have seeing a menorah lit and I wanted to make sure I got there before it got too crazy with people. I managed to find a pretty cheap menorah on Amazon (after shipping it was only $4) and brought that and some candles with me. I think it ended up looking pretty nice and everyone appreciated getting to see a little bit of Hanukkah.

There was a lot of really great food at the party that I got to enjoy, but I didn’t have any of the drinks. I’m allowed to drink right now, but I’m not doing it since I don’t think it’s necessary. But with everyone else drinking, we did get a couple of fun photos of everyone a bit loosened up.

I was having a lot of fun hanging out with everyone (most of whom I hadn’t seen since the Halloween party). I was eating more than normal, but I also figured that I had worked out earlier that day was going to be working out the next morning so it was fine to splurge. Also, like I’ve said before I have to get used to having occasional treats from time to time as that is normal eating. So I enjoyed myself and knew that I should be able to get back to my regular food the next day.

It was a pretty cold night outside so most of us ended up inside for a lot of the party. Typically I hang out outside, but after going back and forth a few times, I gave up on being cold and hung out inside where I was comfortable and warm. Marie and Chris got a disco light for their living room and there was a ton of open space in there, so they started up a dance party. I’m not a huge dancer, but the fun was infectious and I had to join in after a while. We were all jumping around and being crazy and it was perfect.

We all were hanging out in the living room after the dance party and for the last 45 minutes of 2016 we were watching the NYE shows on TV (we had heard about Mariah Carey and wanted to see what really happened). And just before the new year, we all got cups of champagne to ring in the new year in a festive manner. I had a tiny sip of the champagne because it seemed like the right thing to do, but then I passed my drink on to a friend since they were drinking that night.

I know that several friends are always sad that they are spending NYE without a significant other, but to me it doesn’t matter that I don’t have a boyfriend. There is so much love at that party with my friends that I don’t feel alone or sad at all. To me, it is most important to spend NYE with people who you love and who make you happy and that’s exactly what I did.

Since I had an early workout the next morning and because I want to get on the freeway before the bars close and dangerous drivers get on the road, I left pretty soon after midnight. Things are still fun at the party after that, but I’m never able to stay up that late (plus, since NYE was a Saturday I had to work starting at 8am that day). So by 12:15am I was on the road and headed back to my side of town.

I know a lot of us said that we were hoping that all the sadness and bad luck that they encountered in 2016 would end on NYE, but for me it wasn’t exactly that way. I’ll write more about this next week, but at about 12:30am while I was driving home my car completely died. This wasn’t like any other time that my car died, this time actually scared me and there was no way to pull over somewhere that felt totally safe to me. So I ended my NYE by sitting in a dead car on the side of the 405 with no power or heat waiting for a tow truck. I’m grateful that AAA got to me in about an hour and I had a safe way to get home. That wasn’t at all how I planned on ending my night, but it ended up being ok.

So while technically my car died 30 minutes into 2017, I’m not thinking about it that way. Someone said that even though it was already the new year, I hadn’t gone to bed so my car died in 2016 and it counted toward the bad luck of last year. I like that and I want to think of this year as the year that good things are coming my way and happening to me. And because of the dead car, that did end up happening. But that’s a story for next week!