Pro Tips For Attending a Chippendales Show, From Someone Who Survived It

When you Google “Chippendales gif,” this is essentially what comes up:
Chippendales
Which is fairly misleading, because at the Chippendales show I saw last night there was no blood-red backdrop, and no men who looked anything like Chris Farley. (RIP, and god bless this sketch, it was hilarious.)

For those who aren’t in the Chippendales-know — because perhaps you live under a rock — it’s a male review show with its mecca at the Rio in Las Vegas, as well as some traveling shows. (I know this because I went to a Chippendales show in Boston when I was in college, as well as when I was 21 and in Las Vegas for the first time. You could say I’m a bit of a Chips connoisseur.)

As such, I’ve got some pro tips for any first timers visiting Las Vegas. Or just anyone who wants to up their viewing pleasure the next time they catch a performance.

  • Arrive to the show at least 30 minutes early. You can take photos with the performers and there’s a bar to grab a pre-show drink. Often times there will be some dancers hanging out that you can chat up at the bar too. We spotted James Davis, for example, and talked to him a bit before we got to see him dance onstage. It was fun! Like seeing a beautiful lion out of its cage and getting to pet it in the wild, so to speak.
  • THINK BEFORE YOU DRESS. If you want to be pulled onstage, consider that you might have to sit on a chair, or bend, or be used as a prop, and if you’re in a dress and wearing a thong, well… things of yours will be seen that cannot be unseen. Otherwise, dress in clothes that allow for hooting and hollering and intense flailing of the arms. Trust me on this.
  • If you’re celebrating a birthday or bachelorette party, make sure the lucky lady is decked out in garb that alerts the dancers to that fact. This is an amazing venue for a celebration, and when the dancers can see that you’re celebrating, they’ll make extra effort to give that person the attention they deserve.
  • Do your research before you attend and pick a favorite Chippendale. The website has stats on all the dancers, and really fun images. This isn’t going to actually help you, but it is a pretty fantastic way to pass the time. Here’s mine (“He can peel a mango with his bare hands.” !!!) :

Chippendales

  • If you want to be brought onstage, the best way to do that is to shout and get excited when they’re combing through the audience. I noticed that the girls who popped right out of their seat during routines were often chosen to go onstage.
  • BUT, there are exceptions to this too. I saw a lot of shy girls get pulled onstage by the guys. They want everyone to be having a good time, and if it looks like you’re not fully in the moment, they just might make you part of the moment. So fear not, shy folks, there’s hope for you!
  • Stick around after the show ends and get a photo taken with the dancers. It’s all part of the fun, and then you get to see them up close and personal. Much like this adorable family portrait below:
  • There are no bad seats at a Chippendales show because the dancers wander around the audience. So spend the extra dough on the seats next to the stage, or pay what you can and sit in the back. Either way, you’ll be surrounded by dancers and have great views of the stage.
  • And in general, I’d vote in favor of going into a Chippendales show being prepared to totally lose your voice from screaming. I can barely talk today, and I couldn’t be happier. My friend got pulled onstage and I screamed my face off. Priceless.

How Our Cat Helped My Fiance Propose

Fiance? Fiancee? I never know, but I think the man gets one “e,” right?

Anyhow, I’m engaged. To be married. It’s so freaking exciting that sometimes I just smile to myself in a super creepy way while alone in my living room. There we go, I’m doing it right now. Creepy smile time.

Engaged

If you don’t give a flying monkey’s butt about gushy proposal stories, then tag yourself out of this post, because here comes the sappy…. I’ll give you a moment to decide… Done? Cool! Let’s talk about the proposal, because it was awesome, and adorable, and totally perfect.

OK, so for our 3-year-anniversary, E and I went to Ojai, which is about an hour and a half drive from our house. It’s all beautiful mountains, and quaint little country stores, and I heard Reese Witherspoon has a house there, so… so…

Yeah, so we went! And we stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (if you’re into all-inclusive things, then this is the place for you!). The first day we were there, we had some massages scheduled, and we decided to grab some food and celebratory cocktails before those happened. See that drink in the photo below? It was lavender lemonade with vodka or something, and it was glorious.

EngagedCocktail

It was so glorious, in fact, that promptly after drinking it we got in our spa robes, and I proceeded to fall asleep on one of the chaise lounges at the spa. (Note: While I was sleeping the drink off, E later told me that he was running through his proposal speech over and over again, so he’d get it right when he finally did propose. I was so day drunk! And blissfully unaware!)

So we get these massages, which were epic, and then hobble back to our hotel room. It was about 6 p.m., and we had dinner reservations at the hotel for 8 p.m. As I showered and blowdry’d the old hair, apparently E was busy tucking the ring inside his coat pocket, and having a mini panic attack (probably).

Something you discover about Ojai pretty quickly is that the people take great pride in their sunsets. They call it the “pink moment,” and our hotel even had a sign out front that predicted when the moment would happen. So we decided to try and go see it, because it was our anniversary, and sunsets are so romantical, and we’re cheesy as hell, OK?

My feet hurt, though. And it was a long walk up the hill to see that pink moment. So I flagged down a golf cart (yes, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is all about golfing, and you can do things like hitchhike with one).

This probably disturbed E for two reasons:

  1. He had a plan, and this random golf cart driver didn’t know about that plan, and…
  2. Wow, it’s probably going to happen very quickly.

Luckily, this driver was a pro. Like, he knew exactly where to find that pink moment. When he first tried to drop us off, it was in a super crowded spot, and when E said, “Is there anywhere more private?” that probably should’ve tipped me off. But it didn’t. La di da, blissfully unaware still.

We eventually got to the top of a hill, where there was an enormous gazebo with floor-to-ceiling windows that offered a panoramic view of the mountains, about to be dusted in pink. We were alone, inside the gazebo, staring off into the sunset, when E turned me around so he could give me his proposal speech.

I’m not going to recite the actual speech, because it was very personal, and made me cry, and I don’t want other people sobbing while reading, but I WILL share the most important part of that speech. Which is that at one point, E told me he’d been talking to Fish (our cat) about our future together, and they’d both come to an agreement. At this point, I had no idea what was going on, I thought he was just being gushy. But then he pulled out his phone, and showed me this picture…

CatRing

It was our baby kitty girl! And a ring! And she was next to it! And A RING.

I started sobbing. Just like, balling my eyes out. I cried so much that I didn’t even notice E get down on one knee and ask, “Will you marry me?” He had to ask me again, once I’d pulled myself a little more together. But I was so surprised, like, I don’t know how to explain the feeling of your heart exploding into other little hearts, but that’s what happened to me. I really was so overwhelmed with joy and love that it manifested in me sobbing through most of the proposal.

One of the first things I said AFTER the “yes!!” was “This is so weird, right?! I mean, how weird is this?!” Getting engaged is WEIRD. Like, why don’t more people talk about this? It’s probably one of the strangest moments of joy you’ll ever encounter. One minute your life is one way, and the next a ring on your finger means a total relationship shift.

I had no idea what to do.I called my mom. She was watching The Messengers, and tried to usher me off the phone so she could get back to it. Then when she realized what I was saying, I think she went into shock, as did my Dad. E said, “If you’re too emotional to eat, we can get room service,” to which I said, “Oh no, we’re eating!” I knew that I wanted to celebrate, and I knew that I wanted to remember the rest of that night. We got complimentary champagne and desserts — PRO TIP: TELL EVERYONE YOU JUST GOT ENGAGED, AND ALL THINGS ARE FREE — and watched the pink moment turn into a lovely, starry sky.

EngagementRing

OK, that’s the end of the sappy proposal story. We spent the rest of the weekend wine tasting, and eating, and telling our friends the good news. Oh, and we watched an episode of Game of Thrones when we got back, so that’s really just the icing to a perfect weekend, right?

Happy Anniversary, E!

E and I are celebrating our 3-year anniversary this weekend! ::: cue choir of angels flying down from heaven to sing, “Thank you, Sweet Sassy Christ” :::

I’m very lucky to have someone like E, who makes me laugh, knows how to cheer me up whenever I’m feeling down, can cook some SERIOUSLY bomb steak, looks super cute when cuddling with our cat, is an absolutely fantastic writer, and most importantly: is an EXCELLENT dancer.

While going through old photos, I found these gems from my 28th birthday party in 2013. That was the first birthday I celebrated with E, and we went to this really awesome dive bar by my then-apartment in West Hollywood.
moredance

By that time, I already knew the truth: E is hands down a truly genius dancer. There’s really no way to describe it, and the photos certainly don’t do it justice. But you can kind of get a sense of his skills by how happy I look here, right?

 

dance

Three years and he still makes me smile every single day — I hope and try to do the same thing for him. Happy anniversary, E!

dancey

Easy Weekend Getaway From LA: Wine Tasting in Solvang

I used to think the closest (and best) place to go wine tasting was in Napa. I’ve been to Napa. There are many, many vineyards there, and with a quick flight to San Francisco and an hour bus ride, you’re there.

I was wrong. I was so unforgivably wrong.

Wine Collection

Behold! 13 handsome bottles of Syrah, Cabernet (red AND white! Yes, WHITE cab!), Pinot Noir and Grigio, Bouchet, Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc, and a Grenache. All of them are so delicious we had to buy them, and all are from Santa Barbara wine country but, more specifically, from the Santa Ynez Valley.

What is the Santa Ynez valley, you didn’t ask? I’ll tell you, because when I was looking to do wine tasting over a long weekend without having to fly, I had to do some freaking homework. The Santa Ynez Valley is about thirty minutes past downtown Santa Barbara, and it consists of Solvang (where we stayed), Los Olivos, Buellton, Ballard, and Santa Ynez. You can stay in any of these towns and get to vineyards easily (I’d recommend Los Olivos or Solvang, for cuteness reasons), but we decided to stay in Solvang, and I’ll tell you why.

For starters, we booked things last minute and Solvang had more options than any of the other towns. (And by more options, I mean everything was booked solid, and there was literally one option left, and that was the Mirabelle Inn.)

Mirabelle

Luckily, Mirabelle is an amazing little boutique B&B. It’s a nine room hotel and within walking distance of downtown Solvang. The staff gave us a complimentary mini bottle of champagne upon arrival, and every room comes with a fireplace. They also made our stay incredibly easy and relaxing: they book wine tours, massages, and dinner reservations for you. And every morning there’s complimentary breakfast, and it’s actually delicious.

Solvang

The town of Solvang itself is kitschy: it’s modeled after Denmark and has a high number of Danes in the area. Clogs and functioning windmills were BOUNTIFUL. But perhaps the best thing about the town are all of the tasting rooms that line the streets (our favorite was Lucas & Lewellen, and we ended up going back the next day).There are also delicious bakeries offering Danish treats. If you go, definitely try the Napoleon Hats, which are shortbread cookies lined with chocolate and a marzipan filling… I’m drooling.

Solvang closes early, like 7 p.m., but the restaurants stay open until 10 (ha! but seriously). I’d recommend making reservations in advance. I’d read online somewhere to do this, and I’m glad we did. Things get crowded, because everything else is closed, and we wouldn’t have been able to eat had we not made rezzys.

One place that was walking distance from Mirabelle was the Succulent Cafe. I’d read on Yelp about it, and the free biscuits, and was sold. Admittedly, the free biscuits were not outstanding, but if it’s free, it’s me. And the food and interiors more than made up for all that.

Inside it’s all dark wood and shelves upon shelves of wine. We started off dinner with a cheese and meat plate, and finished with some amazing pork belly. The waitress was attentive, but also let us take our time. We sat in the restaurant for two hours, and split a bottle of wine. It was nice. AND! And. We made it back to Mirabelle in time to catch the Hannibal finale. It was a good night.

Succulent Cafe SolvangWe wound up eating out in other parts of town on Saturday and Sunday, like in Los Olivos, where I had a life changing tri-tip sandwich at a diner, and absolutely perfect shrimp pasta at Trattoria Grappolo in Santa Ynez. We took cabs whenever we went out at night, mainly because we had more wine drinking to do. It’s really not a long drive to any of these places, and the locals at the restaurants are super friendly. (We befriended a vineyard owner at Grappola, who shared wine from his home with us. It made me feel special.)

All of this and I haven’t even mentioned the reason for which we actually came: the wine tasting.

E man.jpgIn both Solvang and Los Olivos there are plenty of tasting rooms. A tasting room is exactly what the name suggests: a room where you can stand and taste. There are bartenders (nee, bartenders extraordinaires), who know a lot about the wines and will pour you sizable tastes of the wine that are roughly 1/6 of a glass. If you like something, you can buy a full bottle, it’s not a bad business model.

Los Olivos definitely has a little more atmosphere with their rooms, and many of them offer patios and lush gardens where you can sit on an adirondack chair and sip to your hearts content.

I would highly recommend signing up for a guided tour, though. Mirabelle booked our tour through Stagecoach, and it was a full day experience that totally made our trip. From 11 until 5 p.m., we were shuttled around in a small bus with two other couples and a guide named Lee who knew the area and vineyards very well. He took us to Dierberg Vineyard, where there was live music and a patio overlooking the absolutely stunning hills. We stayed there for an hour and tried about six wines.

Then there was lunch and wine tasting at Bella Cavalli farms, which had beautiful horse stables on the property (I made a new colt friend named Steve).

Horsies

My new BFF, Steve.

And our last two stops were the Qupe tasting room in Los Olivos (it wasn’t much in terms of views, but the wine was delish), followed by Brander.

The Brander vineyard was very neat; an old property with vines that are close to 100 years old. You sit in a shaded courtyard and the family who owns the vineyards talks to you about the wine while they pour. We had enough time there to walk through the vineyard itself with a glass, and that was pretty magical.

We ended up buying four bottles from Brander. Granted, it was our last stop and it could’ve been the wine talking, but… hey, now we can kind of say that we have a wine “collection,” or something.

Wine Tasting Los Olivos

If given the chance to go again, I totally would. So, basically, if you’re down to drive to the Santa Ynez Valley, let me know and I’ll meet you there. (Not even joking. Not even a little bit.)

Nextdoor.com Is My Favorite New Stalking App

I want to start by saying that yes, I am a stalker, or at the very least an intense peeping Tom. I have long been one and it’s something I’m GOOD at. I like trolling people’s Facebook pages, scanning their Instagrams, and trying to figure out their life stories through their Twitter feed. (That’s right, I’m watching all of you. I KNOW.)

I can’t even tell you the amount of pleasure I get from looking into other people’s lives. It’s sick, really. But whatever, we all have our things to get us through the day. Enter: NEXTDOOR.COM, my new best friend and favorite website.

NextdoorThe way it works is that you enter your address and name, (you can totally give a fake one), and then suddenly you’re connected to other people in your neighborhood. These people post things about their lives, like Tom, whose poor flower pots were stolen, or Peter who asked, “Will our storm drains work?”

I’m not saying these updates are exciting, because they’re not. In fact they’re ridiculously mundane, but there’s something about them, and hearing what other people in my neighborhood are doing that’s… I dunno, pretty fun to read.

My favorite postings BY FAR are the wild animal sightings, in which people warn pet owners to keep their pups inside. There was recently one for a coyote. (To be fair, I saw a coyote in the park the other day, so this one is legit: HIDE YO KIDS, HIDE YO CATS.)
Los Feliz CoyoteAnd then there was a much more exciting one for a bobcat most recently.

Los Feliz BobcatIf you need me, I’ll be trolling my neighbors!

5 Things That Have Made My Life So Much Happier (And Pampered)

The-Raven-Spa

Few things in life make me happier than feeling pampered. This year has definitely been one where I’ve come to a point in my life and career where I can afford to spoil myself a bit more. (#blessed) And since the start of 2014, I’ve been making an effort to do just that. I’m going to share some of the things I’ve been doing that I absolutely love:

  • My new facialist, Kristen, at Lula Mini Spa in Atwater village has totally changed my skin for the better.

I’ve always had problematic skin, (my face is dry, but my eyes are oily, and I break out constantly) and because of that, I’ve been getting facials on and off since I was 16. The problem has been that since I’ve moved a lot in the past (from Florida to Boston to New York to Los Angeles), it’s not always easy to keep up with a consistent routine at the same place. And now that I’m living in Los Feliz, I wanted to find someone close by.

Kristen is like some kind of skin angel sent down from heaven to make me feel better about my life choices. The location itself is kind of funky and small. It’s just one long room, no reception area, and you get seen right away. But because of that, your skin gets so much personal attention. Kristen explains every product she’s using and why it will help, and while a mask sets, she massages your arms and feet as an added bonus. I have been getting a microderm facial, and Kristen changes up the products and routine each time depending on how my skin is behaving. It’s just amazing.

I got the Fizzini as a Christmas gift, and I now almost exclusively drink seltzer water. It’s so refreshing, especially now that it’s in the 80s in Los Angeles. Plus the whole thing is super compact and takes up minimal counter space.

My friend Lizzy has been singing this place’s praises for the past year, but it wasn’t until I moved close to a location in Eagle Rock that I’ve actually gone to it. The prepackaged meals for 1-2 people are so yummy, and FRESH, as the store’s name implies. It’s been saving me so much time to just heat one up. My favorite so far was a spinach risotto meal. So fresh, so easy. (OK, I’ll stop.)

  • The unbelievably relaxing massages at The Raven Spa in Silverlake.

Again, been getting facials since high school, which means I’m a bit of a spa junkie. So I was ecstatic when I found a massage place that blew me away. This is another cozy retreat, with lots of Trader Joe’s snacks to nibble on while you wait, but once you’re in the room you never want to leave. I think it’s entirely based on the masseuses they have, all of which are amazing. But my favorite is an older Asian woman who looks, from first glance, like a typical grandmother, but whose hands suggest that she might be a goddess.

  • Bar Method in Silverlake kicks my butt in the best way possible.

Kristina is the best instructor I’ve had so far. She basically does this thing where she tricks you into doing a workout that’s extremely challenging and will make you want to die a little, but does it in a way where you want to do it FOR HER. Like, I want to work harder because she told me I should. I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but thank you Kristina, for making my booty better.

Sorry For The Radio Silence, But I Was Busy Living It Up In Utah

I didn’t think that I’d get to cross an item like this off of my bucket list for a long time. But, as the BuzzFeed fate would have it, I got an opportunity to go and cover Sundance for a week, and it was really quite incredible. (So long, item #46!)

For those who may not be familiar with the Sundance Film Festival, it was started by Robert Redford in 1978— I didn’t know that off the top of my head. I had to look it up on Wikipedia, like all the other kids — and it’s an opportunity for independent filmmakers to get their movies seen on a large scale. The ultimate goal for these filmmakers is that a company will finance their film and help it get distributed to a larger audience and more theaters.

I don’t know why Sundance was on my bucket list, really. I prefer TV to film. I’m not a film snob. I don’t really know MUCH about film, other than I like watching movies. Oh, and I definitely don’t ski. So going to a ski mecca like Park City, UT had no appeal to my athletic side. (If there is one.)

My flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City was exclusively filled with people who work “in the industry.” Meaning agents, managers, lawyers, directors, actors, producers, la di da. All of them were talking about movies, while I sat and quietly listened. It was one of the most bizarre moments of my life, if only because it felt like a parody of a Sundance flight.

Being at Sundance in general often felt like a parody of what Sundance should be. From the way people wore a ridiculous amount of fur, to the frenzy that often occurred when someone famous walked down the street. But that part of it I absolutely loved — it didn’t feel like anywhere else I’d ever been. I got to interview a lot of people I never would’ve been able to otherwise — looking at you, Lance Bass and Michael C. Hall— and, ya know, it was just really fun and different. So there was that.

What I also learned about Sundance was this:

  1. It’s sprawling. Like, you can’t just WALK from one theater to the next. You have to be shuttled around everywhere, or take taxis, except the taxis charge an absolutely outrageous amount of money. (As well they should, I suppose.)
  2. If you’re given the opportunity to eat a meal, then you better eat everything on your plate, because you never know when you’re going to be able to eat again. There’s no time to eat ever, or room to eat, actually. I basically lived off of a diet of peanut butter granola bars, which I took from the hotel front desk every morning on my way out. Once you get onto Main Street, there are tons of restaurants. Except all of them are packed, and require reservations. And when you get to the theaters to see a film, they have snacks like popcorn and gummy bears for sale, but at that point, you’re so desperate for real food that the thought of eating flavored popcorn actually makes you want to die a little. If someone brought a food truck to Main Street, they’d make a KILLING. (And if you plan to implement that idea, I’d like 10%.)
  3. Black ice. Everywhere. They manage to salt most of the ice to a point where you won’t slip and break yourself, but the black ice remains, and I found every single patch of it.
  4. SMOG. Holy guacamole, I had no idea that Salt Lake and Park City had such enormous air pollution issues. Because of where they’re situated below the mountains, all of the polluted air is basically trapped in those cities. Each day when you look out and across the skyline, it looks… hazy. Much like Los Angeles, but even worse. That’s air pollution. Really nuts.
  5. There are WEIRDOS who go to Sundance, aside from myself, but seriously strange folks. I met a man who brought his pet owl to just hang out in the middle of Main Street, another guy was wearing a fur jockstrap and nothing else, even though there was snow on the ground, and then there was the party of a film exec I went to, who required that all guests remove their shoes and leave them in the hallway outside of his penthouse.
  6. Everyone comes back from Sundance with the plague. For me, that plague was the flu. I’m still recovering. (Though, will I ever really recover?)
  7. I really really knew that I wanted to go to Sundance. Mainly because I didn’t know what it was, but I wanted to know. And I have to say that while I didn’t know what to expect, it really exceeded all of my expectations. It was a festival unlike any other I’ve been too, and I had such an amazing time there.

Crossing #46 off of my bucket list has definitely made me feel like I can cross off a whole lot more this year. It’s not even the end of January, not really, so maybe there’s time for one more before the month ends… Either way, Sundance is a thing that I’m glad I was able to go to, and now I can say that I have!

Why Dickson Street Bookshop in Fayetteville, Arkansas Is Worth A Visit

When I was visiting E and his family over the Christmas break, one of the places I really wanted to visit was the Dickson Street Bookshop.

Fayetteville is a small, college town, and there are only a few main drags of stores to explore. One of those streets is Dickson, which has quite a number of bars, and the book shop is smack in the middle of it.

I wanted to visit the shop because it specializes in out-of-print books, is one of those rare gems you definitely don’t see in Los Angeles, and most importantly, it’s been owned and operated by E’s dad since 1978.
Book Shop

This dapper man is E’s dad. He gets up very early and goes into the store every day to check inventory and sell books. Pretty cool dude, right?Dickson.jpg

There are so many beautiful editions of books that it was hard to capture them all, but I tried!Dickson Bookshop.jpg

And then there are the modern touches, like this little slice of Chuck Palahnuik heaven.Chuck Palahniuk

I really enjoyed the music section, mainly because of this “Stones” marker.Bookshelf Glory

Eoghan and Charles

E and his dad.

At one point Charles, that’s E’s dad, gave me a brown shopping bag and told me to “get whatever” I wanted. I felt like I was on an episode of Supermarket Sweep, where I’d have to just run through each and every aisle and try to dump as many books as I possibly could into my bag.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at the whole “endless options” thing. There were so many aisles, so many sections, and so many beautiful book spines to pet. I ended up wandering into the foreign aisle, and leaving with a bunch of Spanish language flashcards. (No joke.)Eoghan in Dickson Bookshop

Jack Kerouac

Man Booker prize winnersThe best part about this store is all of the independent touches. Unlike a Barnes & Noble or Borders (R.I.P.), every inch of this bookshop is unique. There are handwritten signs, little details, like the Man Booker prize winners, and a seemingly endless supply of witty New Yorker cartoons cut out and tacked to the wall like art.

It was such a special place, and really reminded me of the importance of supporting independent sellers. If you’re ever looking for an out-of-print title, or a unique gift to give someone that is truly one of a kind, Dickson Bookshop sells and ships all of its titles via Abe Books. (Lucky for all of us!)

Oh, except the Spanish language flashcards. Those came home with me.

What I’m Thankful For This Christmas

Mom And Dad

  • I’m thankful for my Dad and Mom, who gave me a sense of humor and storytelling.

My Mom is the storyteller. She knows what details to add, how to give other people funny voices, and exactly where the big punchline should be. She doesn’t know how funny she is, which is the best part. Her jobs when she was younger never involved storytelling; she was a registered nurse, mostly. So I’m not sure where she got her talents, but I’m glad that she passed them on to me.

My Dad, on the other hand, is all about snappy one-liners. He’s also an eccentric dude, which kind of lends itself to comedy.

One of my favorite stories of theirs has involved our neighbors, the Sweeneys. They don’t get along with my parents, and vice versa. The Sweeneys are older, and move as if their bodies have been filled with slow drying cement. My parents are younger, and my Dad listens to classic rock while smoking cigars and cooking fish. They’re just different people.

But one year, to piss off the Sweeneys, my Dad custom ordered a dozen or so posters of Frank Zappa, a classic rocker, quite literally pooping on a toilet. He called it his “Frank Zappa On The Crappa” posters. My Mom and Dad carefully hung each one in every window that faced the Sweeneys house. And every night, they’d turn on flood lights to highlight the posters. Eventually, the Sweeneys took notice, called my parents, and asked if they knew that there were pictures of a naked man in their window. My parents said yes, and promptly hung up the phone, cackling like maniacs. Those are my parents, and I think they’ve given me everything, especially when it comes to humor.

Frank Zappa On The Crappa

  • I’m thankful for my two favorite foods: Pasta and Whiskey.

It’s no secret that I love pasta. E is kind of not supposed to eat tomatoes. It makes him cough a lot. So, I’ve had to cut back on the pasta sauces. But nothing ever makes me happier than a nice baked ziti, (my Aunt’s recipe), and a glass of whiskey with an oversized ice cube. I’m smiling just thinking about it now.

  • I’m thankful to have a job where I get to work with the most amazingly talented writers, and write about things that I actually love.

What I do for a living is so awesome, that it doesn’t even seem like a job. I know that. I look for things that are funny and write about them online. Or I get to meet someone I’m obsessed with, like that time I met Shawn Ryan. Or go to events where I have no business being. (Looking at you, Comic-Con and that time I followed around the cast of Arrow.) I feel really lucky and grateful for that, and my job at BuzzFeed has really changed my life.

  • For all of the products that make my naturally curly hair look like something pretty, instead of a terrifying birds nest, as my Mom used to call it.

When I was younger, I had no idea what to do with my hair. Neither did my Mom. One side is legit curly, while the other is more just wavy. In the Florida humidity, though, the curls and waves just turned into a giant frizz ball. It wasn’t until I was in college, really, that I met another girl with curly hair who had just NAILED IT, ya know? Like, her hair was Beyonce awesome, and I wanted to know how. She taught me about mouse, and about how you really shouldn’t touch curly hair AT ALL once you’re out of the shower. I am thankful to have these magical hair powers, and for the ability to straighten my hair when I want to.

  • For videos of cats being insanely cute, for which I might not be able to survive anything.

This is best explained visually:

  • I’m thankful to have an audience for my writing. And I’m glad that some of them are haters. Because, in the words of Katt Williams, “You gotta be grateful, you need haters.”

Being able to write for a platform like BuzzFeed means that a lot of people see what I write. More often than not, people really love what I write. But then there are those commenters who get super vicious and hate on me. It’s strange to see the level of vehement anger and backlash people can get over a post, but I think it’s great too. Being able to get that kind of a reaction means that what I’m saying has touched them, even if it made them infuriated. THE POWER OF WORDS!

  • For my brother, who is so incredibly smart and motivates me to do better.

My brother is currently in med school. Med School! He’s in the midst of becoming a doctor, where he will have a job that helps people. I think that’s so incredible, and I love his courage to go after that career. My Dad, also a doctor, works hard to save lives every day, and I think it’s just spectacular that my brother chose to go down that same path. Did I mention the kid is insanely smart? So smart.

  • For living in a city that has given me so many wonderful friends, a great boyfriend, and opportunities that I wouldn’t get anywhere else.

HOLY MOLY, I LOVE LOS ANGELES. My friend Gabby once said, “LA loves you,” and she was talking about that fact that LA has been insanely good to me. I’ve managed to have some amazing jobs in LA, and work for places like BuzzFeed and Funny or Die. I’ve met some of the very best people in the world in Los Angeles. I have friends who are like family to me, and a boyfriend who makes my life wonderful every day. It really is the best city, and I’m so lucky to live there.

  • For all of the awesome TV that came out this year, including new shows like Sleepy Hollow, Orphan Black, Orange Is The New Black, and The Returned.

Crazy Eyes

Truth time: I love watching TV. If given the opportunity, I’d spend an entire day with a pot of macaroni and cheese, just sitting and binge marathoning some show. Thank heaven that new shows came out this year that are actually really good. Like, better than good.  And if you haven’t seen any of the above, then I think we should get together with that mac and cheese and have some quality TV time.

  • I’m thankful to have found a really great takeout restaurant in our new neighborhood of Los Feliz, so that when I’m having a stressful day I can still binge eat to my heart’s desire.

The place is Community, and their turkey reuben sandwich changed my life.

  • I’m thankful to own a Prius, so that I only have to refill the tank once a month, because that is the bane of my existence.

It’s the little things in life that really count. Like the fact that I only have to step outside my car and pump gas every so often as opposed to ALL THE DANG TIME.

  • Lastly, I’m thankful for this blog.

It’s cheesy, but having this as an outlet for my life has been like therapy. Or a Live Journal that you unfairly treat as a therapist.

How To Have A Successful Rose Bowl Flea Market Trip

 

Remember going to Toys ‘R’ Us as a kid, and how amazing it was, because everything you ever dreamed of was all in one store? (You want to bake edible gummy spiders? Sure! Head over to the “science” section. Want a puzzle of Peru? OK! That’s in Aisle 5!) It was like upon entering the store, your heart literally exploded in happiness, and then was glued back together with toys.

Well the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena is kind of like a Toys ‘R’ Us, but for adults. It’s one of the largest and best flea markets on the west coast, and it’s also where I spent this past weekend with E.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

 

We needed a new kitchen table. And a couch. And a coffee table. And THINGS. So, naturally, we decided to try out the flea market, because all of those things do live there. (Even if, in hindsight, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to like the look of them all.)

I had been to the market before, another time with E, when we weren’t looking for anything, but just wanted to poke around. I left with nothing, except a sense of relief at having left. (The crowds at the market are… intense, to say the least.) But that was a long time ago, and we needed THE THINGS, so we decided to try it out again.

Barbie Bin At The Flea Market

Now that I’ve been a second time, I really did learn a lot of what TO DO and NOT TO DO. If you ever plan on attending, here are some things you must know:

  • Get to the flea market by 9 a.m. The market is so much less crowded around that time, which means you’ll be able to see everything without getting claustrophobic in the massive crowds that hit around noon.
  • Don’t bother paying for the VIP parking, just try to park in Lot K, which is super close to an entrance, and also the location of official “furniture loading.” The VIP parking is a waste of money, and legitimately right next to the free parking.
  • Bring water and snacks, all of which are allowed in the market. The prices for any food at the flea market are insane. (Think $10 for water.) I brought PB&J sandwiches, which ended up being a godsend.
  • Wear sunblock, even when it’s cold outside. The market is all over asphalt, and the sun gets reflected right back to you.
  • Wear the comfiest damn shoes in your closet and you will be the happiest person in the world. The market is ENORMOUS. It’s so large that you’ll never really be able to see the end of it. Because of that, it means you’ll be doing a ton of walking, so be good to your feeties.
  • A lot of furniture places deliver, especially if you’re buying a larger item. Eoghan and I rented a U-Haul, because we were convinced we’d fill it up. But the man who sold us a 7-foot kitchen table with benches will be delivering it, free of charge, today. So, really, you probably won’t need to go through the hassle of renting a truck.
  • Haggle. Haggle. Haggle. I can’t stress this enough. If you’ve never haggled, or are afraid to, here’s a tip: Look at something, subtract 1/4 of the price, and start from there. So, if you see a table for $400, tell the vendor, “Can I get it for $300?” They will probably say no, but they’ll also probably follow up with a lower price that’s closer to the one you named. Worst case scenario: they say no completely, and then you leave!
  • Take out cash beforehand. There are ATMs onsite, but they come with a hefty charge fee.
  • Set aside at LEAST 2 hours to explore the flea market. If you’re not looking for anything, and just browsing, you’ll be exhausted by the time that 2 hours rolls around. If you’re a serious shopper, plan on spending 3-4 hours minimum.
  • Speaking of serious shopping, if you are in the market, make a list of things you need to buy. The place is overwhelming in so many ways, and you’ll be thankful to have that list come high noon when you’re dehydrated, dripping sweat, and impossibly trapped in the weird collectibles section.

California SignHappy shopping, everyone! And if I missed any flea market tips that you can think of, please add them in the comments!