First Year in LA

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy… They kept going, because they were holding onto something.

I never thought I’d be writing this.

I never guessed I’d be where I am. Or that I’d start this journey laid off and be right back there again on the anniversary of it.

I find myself unusually speechless and perplexed as I examine the last year of things.

I want to add quickly, it’s not easy to make my life open like this and talk about everything. After all, I’m just one person out of a large equation. Years back, there is no way I would have considered it because there’s a measure of self doubt and worries that come along with sharing your tales. I’ve tried to show all sides of things, plenty of good has happened for me while here, and I’m so happy I got to experience them beside all the challenges along the way.

Continue reading “First Year in LA”

Netflix “Lost in Space” Intro

It’s been a long wait on pins and needles! I’m so very excited to share something amazing I edited for Netflix during this past late summer into fall/winter. The project I worked on is the opening title sequence for the Netflix reboot series “Lost in Space” – originally from the 60’s series but of course with some changes, but hopefully still familiar enough for those that remember it from back then. 🚀🛸🛰

Continue reading “Netflix “Lost in Space” Intro”

My East to West Coast Moving Adventure

My shoes are squishy and soaked. I’m holding up the biggest umbrella I own and using my phone precariously like a flashlight. At 3AM, the sky is dark and pouring rain. I had peeked outside the stained motel curtains in exhaustion right before venturing out and spotted rain. It wasn’t merely raining, it was actual torrential pouring rain!

The kind of rain that overwhelms at the thought of trekking out – not only because it doesn’t care to fall straight down, but that it gushes rivers on both sides of the steep road with such a force which I’ve never seen before. It’s exactly the kind you never want to venture out into.

The cats are hiding under the bed inside the motel room, if you can call it that, and I’m worrying how the heck we’re going to back up this monstrous moving truck from this narrow, small lot. You see, it’s facing the way we came in, and now there’s barely any room to move it, let alone turn around. I’m not a seasoned mover. An egregious mistake has been made… we’re going to have to back this beast up.

Accurate depiction of my expression.

But, pardon, this isn’t the start of my adventures…let’s do that part first.

Exhaustion meets joy.

This is the story about my move from east coast North Carolina all the way to west coast Los Angeles.

5 days. 3 cats. 2 people. A big moving truck with car in tow.

We had barely enough budget and a lot of scrappy solutions. I’m sharing all the real deal details some stories might happily discard in favor of the beautiful clouds in the sky, the wind in your face, the sun shining. Not here, not mine.

This was one of the hardest moves I’ve ever made. It’ll be a long time before I look back on the trip without a ton of memories flooding back in, good and bad.

I’ve moved between sides of town in state, as well as moved countless people. Then, four years ago, I moved out of state for the first time from Indianapolis, IN to Winston Salem, NC for my job. A job that I got before I even stepped foot out the door. They were helping with relocation with a moving company, which included people to come lug the heavy furniture, washer/dryer, and any big bulk boxes that I wasn’t taking directly in my car. Moving places that bring it from and into your new apartment. I’d never had help like this before.

Was it great? Oh yes! I marveled as they managed to get all the big stuff down the flights of stairs at my old apartment while I dealt with all the other things to do for an out of state move.

Why even move at all if it’s so hard? I had to. I got laid off from the job I had relocated for to begin with after four years of employment. The company is winding down and I was among the first out. It was a random Tuesday late January this year. It happened days before my birthday and the first month into the new year.

And… this was supposed to be a better year”, I thought in pure exasperation.

Fast forwarding to present day – the second to last day before Move to LA or Bust Day – it’s a hot afternoon, and myself, my twin, and her boyfriend are attempting to get a rather large, heavy couch down the narrow, iron fenced off stairwells that make moving big furniture nightmarish. How did they even get this up here? I’ll never know. As I sweated and huffed, pulled and tugged with my might, I thought back to that tiny moment in time that didn’t feel real at all.

BUDGET AND GOFUNDME

This time moving? Absolute chaos. This time, I emptied my 401k I had just only started earlier in the year, gathered every last savings I could pull in or things I could sell off, and with a lot of hesitation thrown to the wind, I set up a Go Fund Me. That wasn’t before trying every last avenue I could think of first.

This time, I didn’t have a moving company happily welcoming me into a new city and job to walk into the following week, and I didn’t have any tactical plan left.

The only plan was get out west and start right away into post. I must have been crazy.

I might still be.

My Go Fund Me

I didn’t have enough to cover all the moving costs on my own, and getting together an exit plan was the order of the night. I knew, despite the fear, that the time had come. I had to get out of North Carolina to continue surviving doing what I love – editing. Could I find another job somewhere else, maybe in Washington or some other state than Cali? I actually tried. I applied to many out of state jobs before coming to the conclusion it was a bit of a loss, given the longer I stay where I was, the less money I’d have to even move. North Carolina was an island with no other opportunities, so if I wanted to stay in the business I would need to act fast.

Everything takes time. It takes time to find somewhere hiring, get your cover letter crafted, send out your information “just so” and play the waiting game. If you haven’t done it for awhile, you might not recall just how time consuming it is and how much energy it takes.

Maybe they’re not even actually hiring right now. Maybe the project fell through. Maybe they had to post the job but they intend to fill it internally. Maybe they bluffed too much about the project’s needs, and I once had a position completely vanish into thin air.

There were so many dead ends I hit before I felt the way I did before posting that Go Fund Me video.

Did you know out of all the jobs I contacted since Day One of my lay off, almost NONE got back with me? Not even a no? No?? Well, there’s the harsh reality of that. I don’t take it personal. It’s not. Only rarely is it ever.

Maybe a few I was a bit underqualified for perhaps, but I was also applying to many things I was quite qualified for. I did a 2 hour long interview one stormy night as part of that “oops, this isn’t at all what it was supposed to be” job interview kind of moments. I accepted that I got one of a few actual steady jobs there in NC.. at least, far as I could tell.

With the help of friends and kind innernetz souls, I managed to gather the last of what I thought I’d need to plunge into this move. My pre-budgeting wasn’t perfect. Everything seems more attainable and in your grasp when you are theorizing what costs would be without knowing for sure.

There was a lot I just couldn’t know or didn’t know about LA specifics, but I did my best to put a number to it and held to that. I had stayed up all night working on the video idea and re-shooting my terrible attempts to talk on camera until I finally said enough on my last take. I admit I even had a bit of fun doing this because it was a small creative project, even though I was cringing how the main star was me! I’m using a selfie stick and an iPhone, so it was laughably bad. I know.

I spent the late evening writing up ideas, awhile working up my courage, then shooting b-roll and finally myself. I spent all the early morning editing everything together.

I posted it late that morning and crawled into bed, wondering what I’d done and calmed myself down thinking, “I’ll just delete it when I get up.”

I woke up to tons of messages from friends excitedly watching the monetary total grow hour by hour.

By the next day, the goal had been reached! I couldn’t believe my eyes!! I’d… I’d done it? Did this seriously happen? Oh. Oh no. I better start on the logistics and get the moving truck arrangements sorted. No, wait. I better find somewhere to live now!? An assorted array of emotions hit me square in the face, and I was completely humbled and excited that so many believed in me enough to even share or watch, let alone contribute. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling.

APARTMENT HUNT

And thus began the longest, most trying apartment search I have ever endured. It became my full-time job, or well, my other full-time job on top of searching for jobs. If you want actual specifics and are looking to move to the LA area, I’m happy to get into the nitty gritty with you down below. For the rest of my dear readers, you can skip through the weeks of pure hell that it was – except to say, I learned many a things I didn’t know beforehand, and it was every bit of a struggle as you’d imagine or know.

I used all sorts of ways to find apartments while still living in NC. Most people will tell you it’s better to come out and look around for the week yourself, but hahah. Ohhh. Hey. If you have the budget to do that, by all means, fly on out.

However if you’re like me and need to save every last penny, I’ll link this guide which told me a lot of what I really actually needed to know. It lists off the sites I used the most throughout the weeks of hunting. You’re gonna lose a lot of time on any of them, just a forewarning. I know you probably know how to apartment hunt, but I am seriously warning you that whatever time you’ll think it takes to start sorting apartments for whatever LA area you’re moving into, just double it. No, triple it. I had pets included in my search, so that always narrows down and makes it harder. Of course, maybe it goes better for you!

I spent a lot of time on Padmappers, Hotpads, Zillow, For Rent, Apartments.com, Craigslist, any kind of “apartments for rent” googled website trying to pinpoint areas I might end up landing. I looked all over, from Glendale to Burbank to Koreatown to West Hollywood to Santa Monica to anywhere in the San Fernando Valley. It was a very wide radius.

Sometimes, late at night when I’d have enough of reading listing after listing talking about their “sparkling pools” and other bs’ery, I would pick an area and use Google Maps street view to travel down the roads looking at what else was around. Did it have a “For Rent” sign out? Hey! Maybe they’ve got vacancies now. Sure, it was a little while ago this picture of the area was taken, but you never know?

If you discover somewhere managed by a bigger company that has multiple different apartments around the areas, go to their main website to see what else is lurking. That’s actually in the end how I found the place I’m living at now.

Anybody living here is probably wondering, why did I not include Westside Rentals yet? You should know that Westside Rentals requires a membership (costly enough that I avoided it) to get any vital contact info and some of those listings are so barren of important info anyway, it’s a small wonder how anybody finds anything. If you can, borrow someone’s account and good luck there. I don’t consider it an essential place to find a listing though.

Trying to hang on..

MANAGE EXPECTATIONS, MISCHIEF MANAGED

Admittedly, my search was sometimes unfocused because I figured I’d just live anywhere I could get into. Kind of a bad way to approach it, but it was the only way.

When I thought I had an apartment nailed down initially, a multiple bed bug report or something else really bad about the landlord or apartment complex being fishy would crop up (whether by me, my sis, my friends, between all my helpers) and I would get that sinking feeling this was a bad idea place to live. I had a few needs I wanted preset in my mind.

Let me reiterate: You have your own needs and threshold to contend with, so don’t let anyone else define those for you. Be realistic. You’re not going to have fancy new appliances and modern lighting or an ice maker fridge in certain priced apartments or areas. Realize no matter where you coming from, there’s compromises to make and tradeoffs. Still, do not let other people tell you what you should and shouldn’t settle with, especially the ones tacked on with, “well, I did it and it was fine for me!

Even my tale isn’t something that should define how you personally do your own search and journey. Just a guide. I heard a lot of stories from people of their own journeys, and that can be a very helpful thing.

Grain of salt. Trust your own gut.

My friends know me well, how to best describe the areas in a way I’ll understand hah

What do you actually need to stay sane and surviving? For me, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere with multiple problems with bugs or mold. That is my own threshold.

I wanted at least a window AC unit. Some have nothing at all, and they won’t let you put in any units in windows because electric is included so it won’t cover the cost. I don’t want to risk my cat or me overheating because I wanted to save a few bucks.

I hoped to live somewhere with options for public transport. I know parking here is crazy, so I wanted to protect myself and have the use of when I needed it. I wanted to keep a level grip on the round trip timing of travel. Depending on the area of where I might be living to where I thought I might find work, I was looking at a hefty drive. Sure, it was total guestimates since remember, I didn’t have a job lined up. What chaos! Did I really want to do this insane drive on an everyday basis? Maybe short term, fine. The last thing I wanted to do was come in and run down my just fixed only car.

The apartment I moved into happened to have a fridge, but a lot won’t so you’ll have to rent your own, possibly even pay someone with a truck to help haul it and get it inside. That stuff adds up quick. It may not even be a full size fridge. Even worse, watch out for those kitchenette listings unless you like ramen, takeout, and microwave fare for your dinners. Oh. Sorry. I presumed it had a microwave. A lot don’t! I happened to have already a microwave, and the one I moved into included one so now I have an extra… seriously, does anyone need a microwave?

Fridges definitely don’t always come with apartments, and that was a new thing for me. What in the world is up with that? No really… this is the first place I’ve lived where it’s acceptable to have a devoid kitchen of any appliances but charge as if it was an actual kitchen? So confused, I’ll never understand it.

my little helpers <3

I learned how difficult it was to find an affordable apartment that let you have pets without 50 strings attached.

I learned how finicky and fickle finding a sublet could be and gave up on that idea. Please, do yourselves a favour and never bother looking at a sublet listing on Craigslist… unless you enjoy hearing fake stories about traveling nurses and landlord’s sick daughters out of state all leading to why you can’t have someone view it in person, or being asked to wire money in advance, etc.

Even with friends looking, everything seemed to turn upside down just when it seemed to be promising.

My mind was made up and absolute – I was not going to leave without my cats. I had to find a way.

The tales go on and on.

ROOMMATES

I knew roommates were pretty much out of the question for my particular situation, although perhaps that does work for one person with no pets or hardly any items.

If you can do that option, it would have been a good place to land off the bat and possibly made things easier yet harder in other ways. Use caution, but there are some good people out there just looking to split rent and let one another live in peace. Hopefully you’ll find them! Plus, there’d be no worrying about setting up utilities or any other hassles of renting your own apartment. Being able to split costs is one reason I was even curious about it, but soon I gave up after each one had its own list of peculiarities and rules, mostly all including NO pets. Time was ticking. Welp. Alas, no love for the cats.

By the way, why do apartments hate cats so much, LA? I see dogs everywhere, all over the streets, restaurants, cars, even the stores, so what’s the big deal with well-behaved cats, I ask you!?

APARTMENT FOUND

As if by some miracle or total dumb luck, a suitable apartment was found down to the wire and finally approved days before moving. D A Y S. I was about to give up, ten minutes before canceling my moving truck, when they called me back.

It was really that close.

I remember going to the UPS store to get the paperwork notarized and faxed over while I was covered in dust and sweat and bruises from hauling so many boxes and items down. You can’t plan this part happening the way it does. Stay persistent, keep looking until someone says yes. Be careful in your relief and excitement not to accept something too far above your budget and means, because the first few months can/will be mayhem on your wallet, as everything will cost more than you might be used to.

Try to double check all the paperwork, but know that a few kinks or errors will occur since you aren’t there in person or the apartment manager might fail to leave something of importance out.

THE TRIP PREPARATIONS

Oh hello! So, you’re ready to gear up and make a full trek across from coast to coast?

Did you get everything all packed up, labeled at first and haphazardly tossed into boxes by the end? Ran out of box tape 3 times over? Budget all planned and truck with a full tank? Frazzled and wondering how this adventure might go? Okay. Grab some coffee or a drink, settle in, let’s get this journey going.

Here’s how I planned out my move, with motels and any other stops you might need to make.

As you can see on the map I made using the Roadtrippers app, I had a few stops pre-planned for motels because traveling with pets really manages your driving time out. I had to flex around the motel situation as the days had unexpected events and thus took more toll than expected. No sleeping at rest stops in this case. Maybe if you have a watchful dog, you might sneak one in.

Originally, we were supposed to be stopping in Vicksburg, Dallas/Ft Worth area, El Paso, Phoenix, and possibly a small stay if tired in Palm Springs. It didn’t go like this. Instead, we stopped in Birmingham, AL onto Canton, TX, then Las Cruces NM, and a final night stay in Casa Grande, AZ with my boyfriend’s family. So be ready to change on the fly.

For the most part, driving was done during the very early morning into daylight hours and stopping by the dusk wherever possible. Although stay as flexible as you can on it, because you can’t predict how overtired you’ll be or if you need to stop mid afternoon vs. evening, if there is bad weather, truck trouble, etc. so it might make the next day longer to stay on track or you might need help figuring out a new motel reservation.

We had zero truck issues the entire way. No popped tires. No dead battery. Nothing. We did get coverage that assisted with this kind of thing or low on gas, or any other issues, but we didn’t once need it. No matter how planned and on target you stay, there is no glamour to maintain in driving that far of a distance.

NOMS

Hook in truck is good for banana hanging.

As for preparations to reduce costs on food, there was a cooler in the car that was up on the tow which was packed with an array of easy to maintain, fridge or no fridge style foods: water or other drinks, sammiches (pb/jelly), variety of chips, lots of green grapes, nuts, granola bars, and some prepackaged stable-without-fridge style protein drinks (I liked the Premier banana 30g protein ones). I kept a bit of the snacks up front in baggies inside a big cloth bag, hung some bananas on a hook and kept a few waters for us and the cats for ease of grabbing. In my head, I figured the rest could be gotten out during rest stops like craving a certain snack or drink (and it was a good system).

The most you have to remember is to drain water out of cooler before taking off and hit up a gas station for ice on the way to interstate.

You wanna bring the kind of meal that’s easy to eat, won’t easily spoil, and that you can stand to eat over the next many days wherever possible. I consider this a huge win to have pulled off. Even on the first night stay over, those extra food items came in handy to eat in the motel for dinner and saved me a trip to store, the not very nutritional vending machine fare, or cost of ordering out. Even if you have some decent funds, save those for other things because the worst that happens is you order out for your dinners and save some on your breakfast, snacks, or lunch.

PET TRAVEL CARE

If you have pets, you need to also plan their comfort needs. You need to have a big bag of treats, familiar toys, leashes (if applicable), and a few bowls for food and water. Mine ate treats consistently, their food maybe once or twice while mobile, and definitely would take water on rotating intervals. Obviously, you need their carriers. Litter boxes/trash bags. I brought a backup fold flat carrier case, in case of any issues with the others ones happened. I was extra paranoid, what can I say.

Since I had Momo kitten with me, I had two special bowls put aside for her wet kitten food. That way if one got dirty, I could use a fresh one until I reached the hotel where I cleaned both out for the next day in the sink. It was a lot of bowls in total for all of the cats, but they all stack and fit up in the dashboard area for storage. The mini bowls you can find at any dollar store pet section work perfect here for that purpose. There’s lots of handy but more expensive items like folding water cups and other traveling pet bits and bobs, so do whatever works best for your pets and your budget.

You might also consider some natural calming drops to put on treats for your dog or cat, especially the flighty ones who don’t love car travel. I found those off Amazon along with a few recycled material litter boxes with baking soda infused, made for travel and disposing.

I’ll mostly speak about cats specifically since that’s what I had with me.

Beautiful lil Momo and Spazziecat with one of the dollar store bowls. So cute.

Several extra trash bags are handy for transporting the box (no litter everywhere) and include inside a lil scooper and you’re set. I cannot stress how easier this made travel. I think I got 3 of the litter boxes as a pack for around 9$, and most importantly, it was big enough for the adult kitties but not giant and unwieldy. Throughout the trip, I was able to toss out the two and keep the last one for using in apartment until I got out for a real one. Additionally, you could consider getting one of those Litter Genie devices for scooping/managing litter because those work amazing (I later got one as a house warming gift). It helps store the litter without smells until full and it’s so handy once in your new place.

To make the list summed up, here’s a little rundown in an easy copy format:

Disposable litter boxes

Litter, Trash bags (scented even better!), and Litter Scoop

Bowls (the more, the merrier!)

Bag of toys, petromalt, brush

Any documents you might need

Calming Drops (if needed), medicines, nail clippers

Treats

Bags of their dry food – I used larger ziplock bags and left the giant bag in my car up on tow

Wet kitten food (and extra bowls just to accommodate that) – If you have a kitten, definitely don’t change what you feed them during moving trip!!

Carriers – I like to use small fleece blankets or shirts as padding that they’ve laid on before so it smells familiar/calming

RECRUIT HELP

Although I wished for a magical teleportation device to teleport in every friend and family I’d ever helped move – which is actually a whole lot total when I think back on it – I was able to secure some great help from friends and family all the same. People find a way to rally around you to help when you least think it possible. I don’t think this was the kind of task I could have accomplished alone. No way.

Thanks to the help of everyone who came, I was able to get things done just in time for moving day. I know it was hot, sweaty, dirty, heavy work. I was up some set of stairs and down narrow pathways. Nothing about it was easy, and I am grateful it wasn’t managed alone.

It’s really important to make sure that you physically pack the things that matter the most first when you’re brain is fresh and you have lots of packing materials to select from. One of the other first things I did was put aside anything I’d need in-between the move. I packed up anything precious or heirloom or memory items so that there’s no risk of someone else accidentally packing it in a random box or anything breaking or getting lost.

I say it every time: when I move, I lose stuff.

I either go through a huge purge and toss things (check) or give away/sell items I know just aren’t being used the way they could (check) and finally, there’s always a mysterious force in which a few items you didn’t know you wanted to find but suddenly now do post moving, they’re just gone! (check) Who knows if it accidentally got trashed or nudged into a box that you can’t locate or what. It happens. Just know it’ll happen and tackle the important items you own first.

Help will come to those who ask. I have learned this more and more this year.

HANDLING CAR TOW

The day before leaving, we went back to the rental place with a mostly packed truck to fetch the tow component and finally drive the car onto the tow as the last part of preparation.

Make sure everything is done errand wise because once you do this, you’re locked down to driving a huge beast of a truck with tow which isn’t easy to navigate as your car is.

Driving car up tow was interesting.

It was so big and long with the tow attached that I had to park it kinda far from the apartment in an emptier part of the parking lot, lock it up, and walk back to my building. Your apartment or house area might be different, but it is vital to think about those logistics. Don’t forget to also check in to where you are moving to and find out about their parking situation. Mine wasn’t so lucky here. I’ll get into that later. So we parked it further away to not be an inconvenience for others, and then the early morning of leaving, drove it right in front of the apartment building and bum-rushed everything leftover hoping no one would need to leave or get angry that we were blocking things a bit. It went fine!

Before the tow was attached, we were able to park it backed up into a parking spot by the sidewalk, marked off by the maintenance crew with cones. It stuck out a bit but nothing bad. I alerted the apartment office ahead of time to tell them I’d be doing this, and that helps out more than you’d think. If they’re cool like mine was, they might swing by and make sure you’re doing alright or keep your spot marked off with cone if you need to leave.

Don’t underestimate using whatever help you can get to manage parking. It’s a tricky thing overall for sure, you’ll figure it out because you have to.

DAYS OF TRAVEL BEGIN

After loading up everything left, grabbing the cats, any last minute stuff, and the vast bags of trash gathered up to be dropped unceremoniously into the dumpster, thus begins the adventure into the sh-tstorm that is known as moving.

You might notice the immense relief settle in your shoulders as you no longer have any boxes to haul or anything left to label. That all you have to do is sit on the seat and navigate forward.

Enjoy the sunrise, feel the fresh air, and come to realize you have just cleaned out and locked the place you called home for awhile.

There is no going back. Only forward.

I must admit the sleep over the weeks leading up to all this was in small shifts, other times nights were spent awake full of feels and worries. I was under a lot of pressure and stress, and it has a way of catching up to you.

The night before we left, I woke up several times after attempting to go to bed that night at around 6 or 7pm. I was exhausted beyond all exhaustion, and there were still things to do. Woke up once to make some sammiches for cooler. Another time I finished gathering up every last cat toy. The final time I triple checked what I had packed to bring in the truck with me. The original plan was to get a good night’s sleep before having to start the trek, but things in moving take longer than you think and very rarely go as planned.

DAY ONE: April 2nd, 2017

The plan was to get from my city in North Carolina, through all of Georgia, and over to Birmingham, Alabama for the first day. Originally, we would have made it to Vicksburg – but it was way too ambitious.

We left early in the AM, probably was around 5am by the time things got loaded, but started around 2am.

Let me preface this by saying, if I could do this day over again, I would not have stayed anywhere in Alabama. NOPE. I think I would have stayed somewhere in Georgia and driven STRAIGHT through Alabama into Mississippi or beyond. Anyway, this is a tale that’s already happened, and here we ended up stopping by exhaustion in Birmingham, AL to stay the night.

The cats weren’t exactly happy about being cooped up in a loud moving truck, but Spazziecat and Meatie had been through traveling before so they were, for the most part, very well behaved and calmer the first day. Poor Momo wasn’t a seasoned traveler, and she had a rough time of things.

I mostly kept her held in my hoodie with my arms around her for many portions of the trip. She was scared, but there were times she’d settle down and take a nap in the sun in her carrier. We’d let her sleep as long as she wanted. She panted a little bit and shook from nerves, but I kept a close eye on her and comforted her the best I could. Usually during rest stops, I would get out and open all their doors up and offer water or let them stretch. Sometimes I had to dole out food or water while we were moving, which is sometimes unavoidable. Keep a towel handy, is all I can say. Hah.

The trip was not at all bad as we had an easy route to follow for now, no mountains to really contend with, and plenty of provisions to make for an easy traveling day. One thing we noticed was gas wasn’t costing as much as we thought, and we weren’t using as much as we thought. Cool! One good thing happening already.

By the middle afternoon, both of us were kind of dragging and feeling like we were good and ready to stop before our first planned stopping point. This is where having a good friend or family member available to help if plans change is handy because you can have a level headed person to discuss change of plans with, who can help reserve or change things on reliable signal (mine went in and out of decent to terrible signals).

After avoiding no less than 4 different accidents through Birmingham (seriously, why!), we couldn’t wait to get off the road. We reached the motel… ahhhhh. Ah. Hm. This. Wow. O_O This isn’t what I thought it’d be, at all.

The motel was pretty terrible by all standards here. No one could have predicted how bad it was.

To give background, I was staying cheap as possible at Motel 6’s because they fit the budget and are cat friendly, so I wasn’t expecting much to begin with, but this one… this one takes the cake.

Inside the room, it reeked of baby powder (a spray?), which didn’t mask the stale odd smells it had anyway. Scanning the room, there were holes in the comforter from cigarettes and stained curtains. It looked kinda dim and grim. I had a sinking feeling. The cats all immediately hid under the bed and wouldn’t come out for anything. Still, it was somewhere to shower off and let the cats out and choices were limited. There was lots of people just hanging outside their doors sketchy, watching as you went to the car and being quite loud. Let’s just say it definitely wasn’t a great area, and I would NEVER stop there again. Not ever.

Worst of all, the motel was up a super steep hill, which was not at all good for a heavy moving truck. The lot was more long than wide. Argh, this was no good, but it would have to do.

We managed to get quick showers, shove down a sandwich from the cooler, and feed the cats. I checked to make sure all of them were drinking water and using the litter box. They were okay, so I was okay for now. Eventually they came up on the bed, and I tried to watch whatever was on TV. I slept with a hoodie up over my head in kind of a discomforted state. I kept repeating to myself internally, “this is only temporary…”

Sleep was terrible, but somehow I slept. It was sufficient, but I woke up suddenly to loud sounds of rumbling thunder and flashes of lightning. I was all disoriented. What time was it? What’s going on? I could not go back to sleep, everyone else was awake and the cats were nervous bundles of fur.

And now we come back to the stormy tale of the beginning of this blog. Scroll back up if you like. Refresh thyself!

It was very late evening or very early, depending on how you view the 3am+ type hours.

DAY TWO: April 3rd, 2017

The goal for day two was to travel from Birmingham, AL across Mississippi and Louisiana ending into Canton, TX. (IE: before the long stretch of Texas…) We were in for a rough ride of a day.

It’s torrentially raining hard, and we’re so absolutely done with this motel between the noises and smells and just giving out bad vibes. Not very relaxing or rejuvenating.

It’s so bad, in fact, that I am willing to go out in said rain and help get the truck turned around or backed out so we can get the hell out of dodge way before check out time. Turning around was a no-go. Backing up the truck was the only option, no easy feat with a tow wanting to go left or right as it pleased. I don’t know how we did it. Sheer will. It didn’t take long for me to give up attempting not to get soaked. It was impossible! It was dark and hard to see, as there wasn’t very good parking lot lights there. But determination and persistence eventually led us to maneuvering the thing towards the street. We had a little audience of randoms outside their door watching the while as a bonus.

At this point, the wheels were nearing the little road, and it was quite scary. There were two gushing waterfall rivers on either side of the street from all the water coming from the top of it. As the truck moved into one side, it was just piling up and crashing around the tires. I was worried it was going to somehow push the truck or slip it a bit more down the hill, which would have been disastrous with all the weight in the back of that thing. With a good quick move, it got through that and into the next set of water gushing, and finally lined up into the right side lane of the tiny road leading up there.

Thankfully because it was so early, there was next to no traffic so we could do this safer. Because of all the water coming down, we couldn’t just leave it parked there with the brake on for fear we’d come back and it would be toppled down the hill. We couldn’t drive it back into the lot because we just spent forever getting it out. How the hell were we going to get our stuff and the cats!?

The only answer (at least in our stupor) was to drive the beast all the way down the hill, leave the blinkers on, lock it up, and walk back up the long sidewalks to the motel. Eff it, we were already soaked and cold and gross. What’s a little more wet, by this point?

It took two trips of back and forth to load the car and truck back up, and I used a motel towel to cover the carriers to get the kitties back out. No one was in a laughing mood at this point. I’m sure the cats HATED me for having to walk them down in pouring rain to the truck – which I did very last of course so they weren’t alone in there. They hated the motel room, too, and I was putting them back in the truck – a place they definitely weren’t going to like. It was a very ‘down in the dump’ feels kinda moment. I felt awful for them, felt awful for us, but it had to be done.

I was never more relieved seeing that crummy, trashy motel disappear into the rainy horizon as we navigated to the nearest coffee in sight. GOOD RIDDANCE, vile place. Hrmph.

I put in coffee into the GPS to see what was around, and luckily one popped up in the area. We still had about 45 minutes until they opened, and it was the ONLY one around without going way off course 🙁 It’s also still pouring down rain really hard and glooming the atmosphere.

So to take stock of the situation, I’m under-caffeinated, grumpy, wet, have to pee, hungry, unhappy, sleepy, and it’s all out of my control.

We parked out in the parking lot, accepted the ill fate of things, and opened up the back of the truck. First things first, get dry. We shut the trailer door and changed out of all our wet clothes. The only pair of shoes I had on me were sopping wet and had to be placed in the top of the truck windshield to hopefully dry out when the sun came back out.

Remember how I said a few things got lost in the mix? My little box of extra shoes I put aside somehow got lost in the pile of boxes or misplaced into the truck. I couldn’t find it. I had to put on a pair of my boyfriend’s shoes because he found his box hilariously, and in this moment, after everything bad happening, I had but one choice left. I could either breakdown and cry or laugh myself silly. I chose the latter. PS: his feet are a lot bigger than mine. Still, they were dry shoes and in those moments, you just don’t care anymore.

Rain, Rain, Go away!

After getting caffeinated, attending to cats, changing, bathroom break and eating some breakfast, we headed back out to the interstate and steeled to get through the rain. I had checked the radar, and we realized after so long we’d make it out the end of the storm and be back on track.

Momo and kitty company mostly slept through a lot of this day, rightly so! They had a very bad long morning, and by mercy, it tired them out so caring for them was a lot easier this time. With the help of my awesome twin sis, she helped me get set up to a much better Motel 6 over in Canton for our next stopping point. I tried my best to stay positive, remember I had a way better motel situation at the end as a reward.

“this is the farthest I’ve ever been…”

We passed over the Mississippi River, and I sort of felt like Sam from LOTR. It’s hard to describe, those who get it, get it.

Somewhere in Louisiana, we made a pitstop for one thing as promised, an amazing donut shop which I enjoyed a vanilla custard homemade one from and tucked a dozen back hoping it would make the travel to LA.

Before that could happen though, I ended up having to stop for even longer. My brain suddenly had enough of everything, and I was feeling very anxious.

In one of the smallest gas stations I’ve ever seen, we managed to find a big enough parking space off to the side to stop the truck so I could get out, stretch my legs, and mostly try to calm down. Thank everything I was with a travel partner who didn’t make it worse. I was feeling light headed, anxious, heartbeat racing, sweaty, tunnel vision – it’s like all the stress of the last few weeks came crashing down on me at once. I called my twin sis right away and broke down admitting how bad I felt. That I’d been feeling like I couldn’t go on. To get reassurance that I wasn’t having a heart attack or something. To say that maybe all this was a bad idea, maybe I wasn’t meant to be able to pull this off, maybe finally I’d just had too much bad happen to me.

It was not a pretty moment. I feel chilled still thinking about it.

I hit my limit, and there is no plan but to get through that moment. The panic and anxiety can feel like death. You may have heard this before and wondered. You suddenly feel ill. You can’t control your heart beat. You feel off. Everything seems too bright or too loud or too hot or cold. It’s an uncomfortable feeling that can only get worse. I’ve had a collapsed lung, and it was nothing like that pain. It’s a terrible, terrible and dire feeling.

This is a part I could have easily left out from all knowledge apart from us few who were there, but then this wouldn’t be the real story, now would it? I did say it wasn’t going to be all fresh air and sun in your face. Discuss mental health and its struggles, it all needs to be said more often – the things that didn’t go right, the times you felt like it might fail, it all needs to be said more often and out loud. Life isn’t perfect. These tales are worth telling.

Anyone might be worn down enough for some kind of trouble, but I’ve been under extreme pressure and stress for so long, since the lay off. All I could do was take a deep breath in and back out. Repeat. Listen. Look around to ground myself. Remind myself why I was going through all this discomfort.

I drank a bunch of cold water, ate a little fruit, and after a good hour and more of trying to talk through things at their worst, I started to feel like it had passed, and I began to feel a little better. I don’t know how else I would have made it through that moment, if she hadn’t stayed on the phone and helped me through that.

Again, asking for help is the only way I am where I am now.

Before we heading out, I remember looking over and seeing a poor Sonic sign all slumped over like it fell a bit, maybe from the earlier storms?? It was a poignant moment. If the sign could still hold itself up, even with a bit of help, maybe I could too. You’d be surprised the connections you can make in moments like that.

Hey look, it me!

Onward and forward! It was hard, and I didn’t want to be in the truck still, but I couldn’t stay where I was either. Time has a way of passing and that last hour left seems to have a way of slowing down.

Eventually we arrived into Canton, though it was much later than planned. It must have been 10pm I think by the time we made it. It was entirely my fault.

om nom nom!

The motel was brightly lit, clean, quiet, and more welcoming than the last one. They had a very large dirt/grass area the lady helpfully pointed out to us for parking the truck. It let us park it in a way that wouldn’t be hard to get out of in the morning.

Right before arriving, we made a quick pitstop to get something other than PB for dinner (this really made our night and was well worth it), and unloaded into the quiet corner of the motel room. Saw a decent pool that I would have used if I haven’t been so exhausted. I can’t speak enough about how much night and day difference this Canton Motel 6 was compared to Birmingham.

The kitties, upon being let out, didn’t once go hide under the bed. Instead, they freely explored and seemed way less stressed out. They used the litter and had hearty appetites. In turn, I was more relaxed. I could have fallen straight into bed in relief, but I was too tired and hungry and busy thanking my twin for doing such a stellar job of finding this gem.

It was amazing how the little things made such a difference.

We had a little nook to sit down and eat comfortably in. They had wifi so I could check on things. Nobody was yelling or being sketchy outside. It was a huge turning point in the whole trip.

Everything just settled down a few notches, and we slept a lot later into the morning the next day. I needed it.

DAY THREE: April 4th, 2017

The goal today was make it all through Texas and into Las Cruces, NM for our next stop. Since we woke up a lot later than planned, we knew it might be a later day before arriving to Las Cruces, but that’s okay. Just roll with punches.

Wow, Texas is LONG. Really long.

Did I mention windy!? And through most sections of this part of the route, it was filled with smells of oil and gas. We were heading the southern interstate route of course towards Cali, so it took us right by the border and through all the oil fields. Big long stretches of interstate were ahead. Towering, but beautiful wind mills were everywhere.

 

 

Wind mills are so relaxing to watch ✨😱💨✨

A post shared by Katie (@ninjakittay) on

It was extra taxing because it was so noisy and windy, and the cats were a little unsettled but fell into routines of sleeping and eating. We kept the AC blasting on and off to keep us all from melting. It was a bright and sunny hot day out. We were relieved for no pouring rain, but the super high winds really sucked.

It was going to be a very long drive, so we were thankful to get a good night’s sleep. I almost didn’t want to leave Canton and wanted to risk staying another day, but you can’t hide from the length of the trip. Due to all the winds, we spent more gas and time through Texas because it took a lot longer to make it through. I’d heard it was windy prior, but I think this is a consistent state. Something to know if you go this route, plan for several extra hours and more gas budget here. Get ready to iron grip the steering wheel, too. 🙁

We stopped several times for gas, a different snack here or there, and to stretch. At one gas station, I even saw a tumbleweed that had gotten stuck to the car tow!

After a long portion of driving, we were running low on gas and had to make a weird little stop. This gas station was so old that I saw pay phones still there. There’s a fun little story that goes along with this:

Creepy gas station, pay phones gone, RUN train. Ok. We run. Bye!

I would not miss going through that interstate again, but it was bearable. We didn’t hit any border checkpoints as we expected until nearing Cali funny enough, but planned to leave a little time for that just in case. We started seeing some fun little lights and shops by El Paso. The traffic is CRAZY through there, but given we did happen to arrive kind of during prime evening driving hours, I suppose it was gonna happen. We probably should have either stopped right before there, or not slept as late to avoid it. That was a tense situation because we can only move so fast, and lots of people like to drive a bit nuts to get around and past your truck. That made things more on edge.

Towards into Las Cruces, we saw this hilarious, cool space themed car wash. I stopped to get a good pic of because I’d never seen anything like that before. There were little moments of neat things along the way.

The kitties were very behaved throughout the day, and they deserved to have a shorter day if I could have given it to them. Even Spazziecat, who’s the most calm, started fussing and meowing. I knew we pushed the time a bit too long. She probably needed a potty break and some stretching. I felt so bad. Things got tense again as we neared that last bit of road stretch to the motel. We were tired and hungry and everything had amped up again. I was starting to feel the effects of not eating my usual schedule of food. I really really wanted something fresh, anything fresh like a salad or soup or things with veggies and protein – anything like that. I hoped for the best.

Getting the truck maneuvered into the lot wasn’t awful, but we had to park kinda far back and lug everything up in a few trips. This time, all the rooms were inside! We had to use an ancient elevator to get the cats and other things set up, then go back down for our own things. The poor kitties definitely needed out, so the tension went down when they were able to use litter box and grab fresh water. Whew.

The motel itself wasn’t bad – it was clean and for the most part, everything I expected it to be for being Motel 6. The tub was nicely sized and the room was just enough to get by a night in.

As for us eating, it was pretty late. I think almost 11pm when we got settled in. I saw menus by the phone and happily grabbed it thinking, “OMG, I can get real food? A salad!? YES! Oh… oh wait.” It’s shut by now. Crap. Nothing is really open nearby or would cost way too much to order/deliver. Time to pick through the now becoming sad contents of the cooler and maybe supplement with the vending machine fare.

Blahhh. Bad planning and just kind of one of ‘those’ nights. We took baths and both had enough of the day by bedtime. Tomorrow was a new day.

DAY FOUR: April 5th, 2017

Las Cruces, New Mexico. Our goal was to make it from there and a shorter trip over to his family in Casa Grande, AZ. I was actually feeling pretty good about the day because it was a short trip, FINALLLLYYYYY.

A fresh day – that’s always a good time of a trip. I could not contain my giddiness at the thought of not being stuck in the truck all the day long.

By this day into things, you will certainly feel the weariness of the traveling routine. Packing things back up and cats corralled into carriers, the long stretches of roads and what not. The longing to stay in bed and teleport into your new apartment.

We slept in a bit later and begrudgingly packed things up to head back out into the world. It was nice to see New Mexico in daylight. I noticed all kinds of features about it that were so different than what I’d seen or been past before. There were really neat plants and flowers I could see on the side of the road.

We located a Starbucks and headed over to get something hot for breakfast and a nice big coffee, and all of us settled into a clear day on the road. This was a more interesting part of the trip in that we could see a lot more locals and shops on our way out of town and along some stretches. We passed over Rio Grande! I saw neat street art and felt glued to the window for quite some time.

This is a big container of happiness, to me.

Along the way, right by the interstate was a little shop called the Old West Trading Post. I couldn’t resist. I didn’t stop for anything hardly all this way, but the idea of finding a few little treasures in the trading post and stretching my legs was too tempting.

There were all sorts of cool bits and bobs hiding inside. The one that struck me as the neatest (and cheapest thrill) was getting a bag of mixed polished stones in a little bag for 5$! All you had to do was be able to shut the top closed, and I pawed through the giant bin. All the rocks were pretty neat, and after a short while I had found some really nice variety ones. I used those in my decor around the new apartment, and it was neat to have a physical item I could look at and remember something good about the trip. They had dreamcatchers, all manners of jewelry with turquoise, pretty art, figurines, sculptures, wall art, clothing, pillows, blankets, all sorts of handcrafted stuff. It was so fun that we shortly stopped by TWO of them along this stretch to see if they had any different rocks in the bins.

Rainbow of stones <3

Spirits were good, and I kept pawing through the rocks and admiring them in the sunlight. I know the kitties appreciated the shorter drive.

Before long, we were in Casa Grande and able to get the cats back out, eat some dinner, and attempt to get some decent sleep for the last long stretch. It was a pretty chill night all in all, and I was glad to stretch out on a couch and kind of have that home feels even though we were so displaced feeling.

 

 

 

DAY FIVE: April 6th, 2017

Today was the final stretch of the trip. Casa Grande, AZ to Los Angeles, CA. We planned to arrive sometime in the early afternoon since we got up nice and early this day.

It was a sunny clear day out. Sleep was pretty good, better than it had been. The worst part was that we couldn’t find any coffee shops around our route for some time, so I was pretty sleepy. I think in hindsight bringing a few VIA packets or instant coffee could have been a helpful thing in a pinch. Note to self.

Day five was the best because there was an end in sight. Traveling through AZ and into Cali had only one border stop, checking to see if we had any live plants – which we didn’t. The view started to change from desert to a lot of very intense greens and flowers scattered among the side of the road. Still desert in some areas, of course. Lots of hills and mountains in the background. We stopped to take a cool panoramic, and I saw a little lizard. Probably the first wild life I saw the whole trip, in fact, apart from birds! Not one deer, fox, bear, nothing. I was a little disappointed.

It was an easy enough drive for the most part, and by now all the cats had settled into some routine of dealing with the road. Which is good because things started to get congested on the 101 as we neared the city and through downtown. It gave us time to look around and get our bearings on the area. I was really quite tired, but also excited.

Finally the moment arrived where we were minutes from finding our apartment area. Now things were going to get interesting even further!

We found a little side road right by the apartment where we could park the truck. For the first time in days, I was able to get in my own car again. It felt so strange because I’d been so high up in the truck for so long. I drove the car down off the tow and loaded the kitties inside. It was time to head over to the office and get paperwork together and get our key!

The apartment itself seemed alright. It was much smaller than my last apartment, but I knew that going into things. Still, facing it and wondering how you’ll fit everything is a little daunting. The lovely discovery of there only being one laundry room (one washer/one dryer) for the entire floor was also a little bummer. The gym wasn’t anything, very small and basically useless. Nothing like my old one. Mehhh. There was a pool. Some garden and plants in little areas.

The way the apartment works is that the parking area is gated off underneath a stone archway which is a part of the apartments. Unfortunately, this meant we could in no way ever drive the truck up to our apartment to unload. It was pretty terrible seeing it in person – it was a sinking feeling. We had hoped somehow the smaller truck we went with would fit, but it just was too high for the arch. Instead, we found out we’d have to pull the truck up near the front entrance (off a busy road too) and back it up into the little entrance drive and offload everything from the gated area into the car and drive said car back around the corner to get hand carried around another bend to get inside. LOL. Lost yet? I know I was.

The best part was having to hit the gate unlock button constantly. That thing would shut right as you were dealing with a heavy item, and I’m sure it was comical to try to watch us as we rushed for the remote to keep it from shutting every 30 seconds. Ugh.

It was probably the most inconvenient part of the whole trip, honestly. Instead of worrying about getting all these items inside, not even the mattresses, we left it all locked in the truck parked a street over and only grabbed a few things for the moment. It was just a lot of stress and activity and big things happening. I felt like I had zero energy left to handle all the logistics, but I had to anyway. At the least, the cats got set up, and that’s honestly all I cared about right then.

Of course, it wasn’t without a hitch.

Many things started all happening at once: broken phone signals, trying to update loved ones, people arriving, trying to manage and wrangle the cats, handle rent and leftover paperwork for apartment, figure out how the truck unpacking situation would happen. It was a nightmare, and I’d been at the end of a very long trip with not all pistons firing any longer.

Between the chaos of trying to deal with the new area/new apartment stuff, my phone signal began acting up and not working (ie: dropping calls or texts failing) People speculated it was the area or with the way the apartment complex was built, but I was totally clueless and too tired to fully grasp it. Cue a long while of dealing with this terrible phone signal crap for the future, by the way. Friends were trying to stop by to help out and couldn’t reach me properly. I couldn’t even answer the phone to unlock the door because the call would drop before even picking up fully. I had tried calling my sister to update her that I made it inside, but the stupid call kept dropping. Stress levels rising!!

And in the midst of all this, Momo started to choke on her water!

You’ve got to be kidding me.

It was so sudden and scary, and it took the last bit of anything I had out of me. I was so rattled and upset because she was seriously choking, and I was an idiot blanking out so it took me some seconds to register what to do aside from immediately freaking out. (ps: there is a kitty version heimlich) Garrett sprung to the rescue and cleared her airway using that method. Wow. It was the last straw that I could handle, and I felt like a person capable of nothing further. I slunk down to the floor in disbelief, thinking anything bad like that happening to Momo after all the rest of what we put her through… Well, it was awful feels. Pure awful.

She’s okay, no permanent harm, and it’s fine. I just didn’t feel fine for the rest of the whole evening after that. That was IT. But no, wait! There’s more to manage. *inhale.. exhale*

I don’t even think I was able to fully pull myself together when people did arrive. I barely got my face splashed with cold water and stopped crying over Momo’s incident. I was fiddling with my phone because I had to hurry up and pay rent on this website they had before 5pm and the hour was growing nearer, but with my signal acting up, I was struggling to get it to load. All my stuff was all over the place, between the truck, my car, and in random bags or boxes. There is a feeling of discord and chaos that you can’t avoid.

Magical fridge of noms!

The great part is the cinnamon bun magical beings that my friends are, they flitted about and filled the fridge and cabinets with some very thoughtful selected nice foods and snacks and drinks. I couldn’t process them all in the moment, but I was so grateful to open the fridge later and find actual real food or fruit or water. I can’t say thank you enough, truly.

It turned out that I was able to get my rent paid and talk for a bit about immediate needs and logistics before I realized just how tired I was by that point – that I wasn’t going to be able to unload much of the truck tonight, after all. I was good for exactly ZIP, ZERO, NADA, NOTHING. Put a fork in me, I’m done. I needed a quiet dark room to fall down into. What happened next was passing out on the floor on a blanket in total exhaustion with no more care left to give about anything.

I’m pretty sure the cats were beyond relieved I wasn’t shuffling them into any more carriers.

LA – DAY ONE/TWO: April 7th and 8th 2017

Wait, how did we get back to day one again? Well, this is the first real day of being in LA. The two days that followed were unpacking the truck, unpacking boxes, and arranging things.

The goal the first full day here was to get at least half of the truck, if not more, unloaded and into the apartment. With some help and the amazing gesture by another magic friend of hiring someone with a truck to haul big items from Task Rabbit (an app) and a lot of sweat, we managed to get most of the important items into the apartment, to the point of the poor studio filling up and being juuust barely able to move around. haha almost too good!

We realized at that point we had to stop and arrange furniture, get things put together like beds, etc. and then finish unpacking the rest the next day. We still had time! It was overwhelming looking at all the stacked boxes and items everywhere, and I wasn’t sure how in the world it would all make sense and fit. Somehow, it did.

The truck wasn’t due back until that Sunday morning, so we used as much time as we could to make this all work. The second day was another rinse and repeat, but this time we managed to get everything done by car. Actually seeing the truck empty was a pretty great moment! A feeling of triumph! I DID IT. IT’S DONE. IT’S OVER.

Actually that gif describes how I feel just writing out this entire blog about the move, to be honest.

A solid week or two is what it took to get things in any working order. I ended up throwing away a few more boxes of things I didn’t really need around or have room to store at the moment. There’s still a little area of boxes that are holiday decor or things I just have no place for. I suppose one day soon I’ll maybe rent a small storage unit and pop those over there, or maybe not. Things find a way of new homes in the apartment, and slowly art or little decor items crept into shelves or other areas to add some actual personality – boring or blank white walls make me sad.

A NEW LIFE

So here we are. I made it to LA.

Nothing exploded. The truck didn’t break down. The cats made it. I made it, in one piece. I think that’s a pretty good feat!

If you are considering making your own trek west to east, west to north, north to south, east to west – whatever it may be – I hope you find this blog of any use or were entertained in some fashion.  Plan the best you can, and expect the unexpected. Most people only share the highlights and the good memories to build themselves up. In reality, things are difficult. When you don’t have grandparents or parents to fall back on for money and you’re truly on your own, things get less fun.

I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves, was it worth it? Did it all turn out okay in the end??

Welp. Yes and no. I’ve left out a lot of the work struggle that I endured since arriving here, because sometimes not everything is worth remembering. Sometimes, it’s okay to skip over a little over the battle to be able to tell the tale. I don’t want to tell you every last thing about it because your story might be different. Mine happened the way it did, and it certainly isn’t indicative of what you’ll experience. I applied to over 30 jobs in the course of a few days last week, however. It got bleak, really bleak. It might still be. I was and am willing to do what it takes.

I was coming in hot, like I warned on my tweets and how I figured it might go. None of this was easy or comfortable. A lot of it was risky as hell. This isn’t technically the way you want to start out, but sometimes it’s the only way you can truly do it. Not every piece of advice applies to everyone who wants to move to LA. Not every move to LA can be an assured success with perseverance and hard work, neither of which pay for food and gas. Not everyone can choose to move once they have 3-6 months of expenses saved up.

To answer your question, though – I got a job!!!! It’s as an assistant editor at a well known company, so I stayed in post production! Yes, in under a month of coming to LA, I somehow managed to do what felt impossible. Two interviews later, I was offered a staff job. I don’t know how that happened that way, but it did. I’ll feel more relief when stable checks are coming in, and I’m more settled into the work I’ll be doing. Ask me later.

It wasn’t even a listed job hiring. I went for a “meet and greet” turned interview by the end. I was invited back under pretenses of contract work through September. After my second interview, just like that, it turned into a staff job offer.

I won’t tell you that’s normal. If I’m quite truthful, I did not think it was going to happen in time. In time to pay rent and bills. In time to survive the next few months out. It was very risky, IS still risky for me, and I’m still sitting in the pot waiting for the water to boil over. When you come in with no financial backing, relying on a GoFundMe and budgeting, you have to plan for the gap in between landing work and that work paying you. You need a back up to that plan in case anything goes wrong. You really do. As a freelancer, that might mean you’re waiting an extra month after your gig ends.

I guess what I mean to say to end this magnificent beast is that there is a lot more possible in your life by asking for help.

None of this would have ever been possible without the aid of friends and people who believed in me enough. It’s okay to admit things are greater than you, and that you can’t do it alone. My old self would have never asked for this kind of help, it felt far too great of a burden. We all have our intricacies, and mine was being self-sufficient. It was uncomfortable to let that go.

 

That’s where this ends, because this is where my life begins again. You have to make it to the end of a chapter to start the beginning of the next one.`This is my next chapter. I have no idea what’ll happen next, and I don’t think I want to even if I could.

Be well everyone. Thanks for reading, if you made it this far and eventually want to, come find me in LA – I probably owe you some cookies.

It just so happens I can make some delicious cookies!

….

Wait… where is my cookie pan? … ah. Shoot. Must have packed it away really good. I’ll have to find it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being an Advertising Editor: The Ins and Outs of Agency Work

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oh hey, this is me (hair subject to changing often hah)

In a post production filled world teeming with editors working on TV, film, sports, live shows and even the news, there are many in-house editors working on a huge range of less visible work. From commercial spots to web pre-rolls or even internal pitch reels, there is a rapidly expanding role of “staff editor” in markets all across America.

Currently, I’m one of those editors working at an advertising agency. Before landing the job, I didn’t even realize this was an option for me. Yes! These kind of jobs in our industry exist and are good for experience. Like most people in editorial, I aspire to be editing television and film one day. Because of this, there is a tendency for those in our industry to look down upon editing roles outside of New York or Los Angeles, or even post jobs that aren’t on narrative work.

The truth is that it’s not typical for a great majority of aspiring editors to magically start out cutting those kinds of projects. Feature film jobs with a budget are shrinking – and it’s a very long road to get to cut those – so if your vision is only set to movies, you might be in for some disappointment. But fear not, thanks to the democratization of tools and the internet, there’s a lot more creative work out there than you might have been aware! Commercial work has always been big, but now digital television, web series and social videos are becoming broader, more credible and more requested than ever.

The great thing about cutting this work? I’m exposed to a lot of different techniques and tools, and I’ve had to learn how to interpret technology and people at the same time. Plus, as a staff editor, I have a place to go every single day. If I’m not currently in high demand, I’m utilizing my resources to hone other skills.

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let’s do this, bub!

It’s a little difficult to discuss what I do. It’s not a feature film. It’s not some epic TV series. Sometimes, it doesn’t get released or I just can’t talk about the specifics. Working in a place where we’re often pitching many ideas that need polished visuals, I do plenty of work that is passed on that consequentially never sees the light of day, stowed away on a hard drive or dusty corner of a password protected hosting site. One of the hardest parts of this in-house role is working every bit as hard on internal projects to help them get to the next stage of production, knowing they’re more than likely to die on the vine through sheer volume.

However, with every project (internal or not), I grow in skills and succeed through new creative and budget challenges. I learn from mistakes made in the past and find better ways to approach problems going forward. It doesn’t matter if the project is viewed widely. I have still gleaned new experiences from my efforts.

Working specifically inside an agency is a special kind of “crazed” environment that we tackle on an every day basis. We’re navigating many deadlines throughout the week, managing a lot of input and directions, and adding our own touches– all the while keeping on the client’s deadline. I do a lot in a small frame of time, which may be different than the flow of long form editing. My work is a very bursty type of chaos, just like the nature of advertising is very feast-or-famine. Decisions are made quickly, and I can suddenly be thrust into a new project that needs to be finished yesterday.

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Made this GIF for NC Education Lottery social sharing. Dripping with shiny!

So, what do I do on a daily basis?

It can certainly vary from agency to agency, but I do everything from developing concept pieces up to editing final spots. Essentially, I’m often working on clay that hasn’t taken shape and only has a few pieces formed. Sometimes the pieces are more formed, laid out in very detailed instructions or decisions. I never know what I’ll get, and it’s up to me and the creatives and account executives get the rest together. Creatives include designers, writers, or directors. They’ll write scripts, find or design some of the graphic assets, and assist in direction of the spot. Account executives manage the brand needs because they know the brand inside and out!

On the tech side of things, I’m most often inside Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. I also use Photoshop and Illustrator, InDesign, Audition, and a few other tools or plugins. I edit on a Mac, but easily could use a PC – I really don’t care what I’m using. The tools are just that. It’s you that brings the skills, and that’s the only thing that matters. NLE wars are less important for in-house staff, and for editors outside the usual major markets – a very nice change of pace.

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Offline media is triggering.

I frequently trouble shoot my own issues with the computer or programs. In fact, I LIKE doing it. It saves me time and hassle when it happens again, and I’ve learned a lot about what happens under the hood. I don’t often have time to wait for IT or someone else to fix it. Recently, the IT dept. serious but tongue-in-cheek asked me if I’d like to join them because of my track record of solving issues. If I do get assistance, I want to know why it worked and how to do it myself. I utilize that motivation towards each project – rely on yourself first! I’ve solved everything from AJA playback delays to faulty cords and everything in-between, plus figuring out future issues because of it.

In any given month, my hands are on several different projects. One day I might be pulling tons of inspiration videos or stock assets to cut an internal concept piece for creative to show clients. I may not always be working with the “prettiest” of shots in this stage, so I have to see beyond what is in front and envision what it could be. Imagination is essential.

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Kitten. Fireworks. Made this GIF in AE for NCEL.

Other times, I dive into After Effects to work on plenty of motion graphics and animations of many kinds. How I’ll approach each project is closely tied to the needs of the client. For brands looking to get more social, I end up making animations for GIFS to share around — hey, I’m not complaining.. I love gifs!

Often times, I’m cutting together storyboards with a bit of animation to help get an idea across because having a visual pieced together makes decisions about keeping it or trashing it much easier. In this role, I confidently feel my After Effects skills have stayed honed and increased quite a bit. I use it so often and continually try to challenge myself to figure out something new or shortcuts to save time, which is something any in-house editor should strive to do.

And let us not forget the audio work. I create lots of “scratch” voice-over recordings to form how the tone and delivery should be. Mixing voice-over and music on lots of various videos is another big part of my job. If audio levels aren’t correct, it can be hugely distracting and seriously damage the pitch of a concept!

For big brand shoots, sometimes I even serve as an assistant editor, organizing, grouping and creating deliverables for other editors — when I’m not editing them myself. Not relegated to internal-use-only, I’m also cutting commercial spots that later play on TV. Different brands and clients mean many different possibilities for delivery: the web, TV, ad pre-rolls, or a revised spot to play in cinema before a movie. There are a lot of possibilities!

Between ALL that, I’m also managing ‘work orders’ put in for compressions, re-edits, social media needs, and much more that have their own deadlines, as well. Even in one given day, I’ve got several things that could be due spread out in the day, and I may not have known about any of them when I came into work that day. I have to manage time with an adamantium grip.

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Always stayin organized with any notes.

How does the pitch process work?

First, there are bids and a whole host of mysterious but effective paperwork happens. We make it in a group of “possibles” being considered along with other agencies. Budgets are formed. Ideas are taking shape with the creative, and desired needs or ‘must haves’ in the spot come in from the account executives. This funnels over to producers, who figure out the timelines and schedules, budgets, editors, voice-over sessions, and more. Then the brand spot makes its way to me to edit it all together.

In these type of internal videos, anything goes – we’re selling a concept that will be created in its final form later. It still has to be something that can actually be accomplished should it go through. This involves quite a process and a challenge, and many a revision to get to a balanced place.

Editors and creatives work very closely together and  creatives and account execs work closely together. Creatives see my work first after getting a rough cut together. Revisions happen, and they may happen some more. And that, a head creative views it. Then account execs come into the picture to offer opinions. Sometimes they both come together in my edit room when it comes time to reviewing things right before the client. Then a client reviews the work and offers their opinion on things. Then it all loops back around again and again until the deadline.

This process is important and not unlike the same kinds of revision processes you’d find in film or television editorial During revisions, creatives might hang out on the couch behind me in my room while I cut to do live edits because some people work better that way. If there are any issues, I’ll offer my thoughts on what’s working and what’s not. I have to constantly know  the point of the brand for the edit, so I do my own research or ask them about it to quickly understand – that way I have an informed opinion when asked. And sometimes account clashes with creatives! Or the client wants something the creative isn’t keen on. There’s a large balancing act to perform when this happens, ensuring the video is its very best using the collective information and revisions that come back my way. It’s no easy feat, but it’s a necessity to be the calm center.

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Gotta caffeinate, this is one of my many coffee mugs that changes colours when hot! ^_^/

And maybe the most important skill learned at a job like this? People and politics.

Often times, someone will ask for things I don’t have. They may have wonky or contradictory specs. They’ll want incredibly complicated, colorful layers brought down into a super tiny sized GIF (and still look good?) or a lengthy HD video crunched so small it’s pixels. Or my collaborators may not have any idea about anything direction-wise, except here’s this footage and what can we do with it? In doing that, I have exercised creative skills crafting the story and the focal point for the brand, all without even a script. I’ve learned how to say no. I’ve gained confidence in my gut. I’ve learned a hell of a lot in the process – how to set, manage and exceed expectations. Sometimes all in the same day.

I’m touching many tools and many projects all at once, challenged to learn new things every day that fit into the constraints of different expectations or budgets. It may not be the traditionally sexy work that every young editor aspires to, but it has served me well. And working in this role has inspired me to talk about my work much more. There’s so much more to post production beyond what you can find on Netflix. What about that YouTube pre-roll ad that reminded you that show was even ON Netflix?

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Keepin a sense of humour round these parts, haha.

This sort of editing job is arguably more accessible than more visible roles in large cities, and provides essential industry experience, from tech to soft skills, for anyone in post production. Traditional film and television is mostly available in New York or Los Angeles — if you don’t live there, the struggle is real.

Whether you aspire to move on to narrative television or documentary features or you’re going to continue to climb the ranks that corporate video has to offer, your work is valid and important. Being invisible can make it feel like the work you’re doing isn’t on par with Hollywood when in reality, it’s all the same skills and then some! The growth of “other” kinds of media creation like digital TV and web series is bringing a whole bunch of new jobs to our industry industry, and that’s important for the future of post production. So make yourself known – talk about your work online and in person and be proud of what you’re accomplishing, no matter what it is!

Dear 19 year old me, Sincerely future me

I recently looked up my old Livejournal entries (no, you cannot have my user name) after a conversation with some of my favourite people got into discussing our lives during the whole Livejournal era. I was only about 19 when I first starting posting. I’m now 35. I might have a few things to tell myself that I wish I would have known. Hey, why not? It would be equal parts cringe & hilarious, yet insightful to look at our past selves through new lenses.  Let me tell you, I did NOT disappoint myself.

Some of the major event posts spanning from 19 to my mid 20’s included a huge breakup, the day of 9/11, struggling to figure out what I was doing with life, my first broken bone, a spontaneous collapsed lung, and getting through college. It was really awesome to see some of the major highs, like when I got accepted and passed all the paperwork and tests to get into school. Despite a lot of the circumstances I found myself in, I still hold onto hope. I have kept my humour. I still have friends who really care about me. I didn’t see my potential or capabilities back then, as I was too caught up in the ‘now’ feelings. Throughout most of the writing, I realized that nice people get hurt.. a lot more than they should.

June 16, 2004. 7:40pm. Mood: Cheerful.

I just got my acceptance letter in the mail today. I am finally making it to college this fall. No more “next year”, no more “I’ll wait until I’m completely debt free”, no more wishful thinking, no more crying thinking I’ll be stuck in my dead end data entry job forever… now, I can hold that piece of paper that holds my future. And damn… it looks bright!

Applying to college was one of the scariest steps I had taken for myself. It was at the cusp of giving up. I didn’t go in right away from high school, over 4 years passed. For my graduation present, my father cut off all child support to my mom and insurance for us kids the summer I was graduating high school. Congrats, I started off my “adulting” with no proper way to care for my health or teeth or have any assistance getting into school. I never had much help to begin with, but that was certainly depressing. I still remember the upsetting phone call, after all this time. By this point, I didn’t believe I had the capacity to handle college.

I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do, unlike most of my other friends already deciding their futures past college. I felt sub par, ruined before I barely began. It wasn’t like I had any special assistance or some bank account set aside for me to go to school, so it felt too expensive and out of reach. Pretty much all the worries of wasting said precious time and money without clear direction. In the meantime, I worked random odd jobs like waitressing *ugh* and warehouse work. I threw myself in any direction to feel productive, pay bills, and more importantly, give me more time to figure it out. I felt like if I didn’t push towards something, I would gradually be lost to complacency and despair, just mentally lost. On top of things, there was some family drama happening. I was with the wrong boy.. twice. I wasn’t confident in myself or my abilities. I struggled up and down with self esteem, nervous stomach & anxiety, love, body dysmorphia & eating disorder.

I distinctly remember reading one of the posts back when I worked at this warehouse job – it was about this elderly woman coworker at a hot, dusty warehouse I’d been busting tail at, especially with overtime. I’m bad remembering names, but I can still see her with her back brace, curly white hair, and happy-to-see-you smile. We used to help her out with the heavy items that came down the line. She told me, “Don’t be like me.” After that, I’d see her and feel pity wondering what events led her here. I don’t know why it struck me, but after that conversation, that was the first night I decided to even think about getting serious with college. Clearly I wasn’t going to be one of those who brand themselves and self-make a business or fall into a profession without it. Deep down, I knew I needed some kind of focus to challenge myself AND pay the bills.

As I poured over many of the darker unhappy or sad posts where the frustration was seething through the screen, I realized I wished things could have been different for that old me. I mostly feel a great sadness at how much I had to struggle. Quite often, you are told if you work hard, you’ll be rewarded well, but that really is not always the case. You can bust yourself silly and end up nowhere. I hate to say that, but it’s true. We can’t know for ourselves what way the pendulum will swing. I struggled with being positive when I knew how bad off things were. How much better they could be.

Yes, in some ways, all these things help shape who I am today. I’ll buy that. Many a time, people will defend their pasts for both good and bad blah blah etc… but, some of the times I was in over my head with some very heavy life events. I had so many questions about this industry that I didn’t understand. I didn’t have enough support or mentors, especially as a young, very passionate woman entering into the post production industry. No one owes you help in life, and this is probably why I am really bad at asking for help. I don’t want to be a person that takes advantage. I think being loyal should mean something. I would get so upset about people being fickle. O_o

So in an effort to help, mentor, and share advice with those younger, here’s advice I wrote to my 19 year old self:

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 8.23.09 AMYou need to ask for help WAY more often. You’re not taking advantage of someone if they want to help, and you don’t owe them ten folds over if they accept. There should be no guilt in that. Despite your mood today, you’re more than likely going to see tomorrow. Today might really suck, but it won’t stay that way. It’s only temporary. Tomorrow may not be as pretty as you hoped for, but there it is. Kind of like you and in life. It’s unfortunate that being observant also puts the heavy weight on your shoulders that things aren’t working out for the best. That they could be better. That better desire will always tend to overshadow the actual good you are doing on a daily. All those small steps forward DO COUNT.

How you treated others first to help and often advised or helped them see past their situations – why do you refuse to do this for yourself? I should have been my own champion more in those times. I want to hug the old me and tell her not to be so hard on herself. That she deserves so much more than she’s willing to let herself have because being miserable sucks, and it can change if you see past it.

Things are going to change a lot over the next ten or so years. Little by little, and sometimes by large leaps you weren’t even ready for. When your legs are locked defiantly into the ground, you will be dragged forward by time and events that happen, so you might as well enjoy some of it. It’s not all bad. Often times, we all just need a little hope.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 4.24.38 PMSome of the people you’ll run into will make you question yourself. Even at 19, you knew you were not going to follow the same timeline of life others often do. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just a feeling or instinct. You started embracing everything that made you happy, just pure happy. As you did, you found the reaction of others who didn’t approve pretty unpleasant. It felt unfair to not be allowed to enjoy these harmless things, whether it was punk bondage pants or velvet shirts with fishnet. You know, looking back it’s funny how there are those who say you do things for attention or knowing it’ll cause scenes because it’s “shocking” or “different”, when really it’s what I love and that love happens to include bright coloured hair. I’ve seen a large change in how those things are viewed over the years now, it’s still not quite ‘there’ but back then, I felt like what I liked was WRONG. That’s terrible. Neither normal or different is wrong or bad, but some will make you feel like it is. Don’t be afraid to debate with people, you should speak your mind more. Avoid being a jerk about it, where you can help it. There’s a difference between arguments and debates, unfortunately you’ll find a lot of people don’t understand that difference or felt attacked. Test the waters and enjoy the people who grasp the difference.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 7.51.16 PMThankfully, you weren’t too close minded at all because you were raised in an open discussion environment by an amazing mom who never told you “these people are bad” or something they are is bad. You will run into people who think otherwise, so try not to let it stress you out as much. You really can’t change everyone’s mind, even if it feels like one other thought could help, it really won’t most of the time. Skip wasting energy on these kind of vicious circles. It wasn’t easy growing up from a divorced family with two ‘moms’, and even in ten years it might not still be something everyone can accept. Every time you feel the sting of hurt by someone who fooled you or made you feel bad, there will be a person who is kind, funny, awesome, something that sparks that little hope in you again. It’s okay to feel things deeply, but don’t get drowned in the feelings. Chaos all the time is not normal, and neither is people who make you anxious and on edge. You don’t have to be so calm or controlled because you feel used to the chaos. Let it go. Let a lot more go.

Branch out and put yourself out there. Even if you aren’t sure you like yourself or feel confident, there is bound to be people out there who enjoy your company and your contributions in terms of projects. Plus, all this will build your self esteem and confidence further. The quicker you put yourself out there, the better. This goes for friends, fellow career minded cohorts, etc. That’s really the only way people can get to know you and see you as a part of your industry when you are not as lucky to live somewhere more central with our line of work. I fought through some tough situations of not knowing how I’d next get any kind of work remotely related to editing or working on videos, but each time I managed to make it work. Your location is not everything. You will make it what it is to some degree. Keep up the fight if you really do want to keep doing this. Don’t give up because of this.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Why did you feel so much pressure to be perfect at everything, first go? I wish I’d discovered how reasonable and healthy it was to make LOTS of mistakes all over the place in an effort to learn things. I felt so much responsibility to try to know more than I knew back then, like I had to prove some extra worth. I wish I’d realized earlier that mistakes didn’t mean you’re not smart or an asset to your group or teams (and if anyone makes you feel that way, immediately remove them lol) Anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself for “messing up the story” or “not correcting this properly on the fly” – ignore that kind of treatment and KEEP MAKING MISTAKES, so you can learn freely.

Not everyone is going to like you. F*ck them. It’s okay, you don’t need to try to please everybody. In fact, you’ll meet some people who won’t ever be pleased to see you, though they’ll lie straight to your face. Stick to your instincts. It’s bad to be so passive with people, especially when they aren’t treating you fairly. Yes, it’ll ripple some waves speaking up. You might really screw it up sometimes and step on toes. Oh. Well. Make some waves, babe, and enjoy the ride! Some bring changes that are pretty nice, and those are the ones worth it. Being popular everywhere might seem like it feels great, but it comes at a hollow price. Decide which you want.

Get fair pay. It’s one thing to be completely brand new needing a few projects under your belt post-schooling, but another to allow people to take advantage or ask you for editing favour and freebies, one after another without being paid or paid fairly. The biggest challenge was having the guts to speak up and even if it’s uncomfortable, ask. Be firm, stay firm. Once you establish yourself as not working on anything for free/low pay, keep it that way apart from passion projects or things you truly enjoy and want to be a part of.

Stop allowing labels to weigh you down. Woman. This is never anything to ever mean A THING. Yes, you’re a female. That should mean exactly nothing specific to your skills, your worth, or your abilities while in this industry you’re getting into. Do not ever let anyone condescend or treat you as “the assistant” ™ as if you couldn’t possibly be knowledgeable. You got there the same as everyone else. All these labels feel heavy, but without acknowledgement, they can’t change. Ignoring seems best, but face them. Tyrion’s character from Game of Thrones famously said, “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” Sort of that tongue in cheek approach to anything about yourself you can’t change that others judge you for. Too thin, too fat. You’ve been at both spectrums. So what? Not smart enough. Not quick enough. Too poor. Too naive. You are still you. Also, whatever down falls you thought were holding you back, I wish you’d been even prouder of the moments you pushed through and STILL DID THINGS despite it. One thing rang true, you were too modest. It’s actually a good thing to take credit where it’s due, especially in this industry. Don’t let people continue to try to overshadow your skills, or they will happily continue to do so. Don’t give in – yes it feels easier, but in the long run, you’ll thank yourself.

You don’t need someone with you to be happy. This can apply to partners/friends/clients lingering around longer than they should. I spent way too long with the wrong kind of people. I guess somewhere I got it in my head if I was decent to others, they would be to me as well. But, sadly, that isn’t how the world works. Part of my delay into school was because of a partner holding me back. Yes. Holding me back specifically in that they were insecure and couldn’t deal with me being gone off to school. I was too nice. I can say it now, but back then, I wouldn’t have dared admit it. You really can’t help certain people out, so protect yourself better. I was strong enough all along. Imagine the levels I might have achieved without the extra stress.

I want to be the person I wish I’d had. A bright light in the noise and jaded grumps of the world and this industry. Someone that understands not everyone is cut out for this kind of life, and that changing directions isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Many of the people we started out with in college didn’t make it to the end of the video classes. It’s only something you’ll know, and you shouldn’t be in denial if this is the right industry for you or not. People will help you, but then again, there are limits. I would have loved a mentor. I have already willingly and happily mentored people before, from staying up late answering questions from someone in high school to showing someone new all the ropes at a job. I loved it a lot, in fact. I like being that person who transitions people. Sometimes it feels like a thankless role, but trust me, at some point they will remember your kindness. I had no professor or post professional show any real interest in helping me do more than just what classes taught back then. I want to change the way women are treated in the industry, so that it is no longer any type of issue, so when young passionate women are graduating, they don’t need to fight extra hard just to get experience and where they want, too. We need to build each other up a hell of a lot more, especially when someone is struggling. Your skills are not some treasure to be guarded like an ancient dragon. They are meant to be shared!

When all else fails, kittens and friends make anything better. <3

LA Adventures with Kylee ^.^

Right in time for Halloween weekend, I managed to get myself packed up, OFF work, pets somehow handled (huge thanks to Lauren & Evan), readied for a full day of traveling and /mischief managed – all in prep to fly out to California to visit the Amazing Kylee in LA (Note: I feel like I can refer to Kylee like a magician, now. That’s all the title she needs hah) For some time now, we’d been wanting to get together and hang out, and she generously invited me to come stay with her. I thought once she moved coasts that it would be really hard to align the stars to hang out, but as I’ve come to find, she’s a ‘Person Who Gets Things Done’ kinda gal, just somehow makes things happen.

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Kylee, our good friend Sarah, and me. We all had a fun visit  ^.^

She found so many cool things to list off that we could try doing, and we both sorted through everything and set up a master list of must-do things. I remember running across a cool halloween event called Rise of the Jack-o-Lanterns, and next I knew we were ordering tickets because it seemed original and neat. Every day had several places and things to do — and honestly, even if I had another few days, I don’t think I could have done it all. There was so many other things I could have gone to and went to visit. We even thought we might go up to take classic pictures at the Hollywood sign (a true tourist act, I know) but hilariously that adventure led us elsewhere, which lead to unexpected neat stores and lots of walking – but that’s a story for later below. HEHE Time passed by pretty fast so before I knew it, I was boarding a flight from cold rainy North Carolina over to Detroit and then onto LA!

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 4.06.01 PMAfter a long flight, we went to get caffeinated, and I marveled at the parking garage for the store hah – that’s something that we don’t have back in NC nor back home from Indy. We headed back to see her neighborhood/apartment, which is really pretty and peaceful. The whole time she was driving I couldn’t stop looking around at all the sights. Out ahead you’d see a ton of green and rolling hills and valleys. LA is way more green than I ever thought! I remember dodging giant palm leaf thingies that had fallen, looking like mini boats.

Within that first night, we both jumped back into.. you guessed it. WORK. Editing! In the preceding weeks, together we began editing a pilot tv episode coasts apart from each other. 2 acts each and worked on a really cool intro for the show. We got the rough cut out right before I left, but now we needed to address some revisions. A few hours later, all the revisions were good to go, and our tummies were growling something fierce. She took us over to a really charming little diner called Mel’s Drive-In where I had the best waffles and felt more festive for Halloween with all the cute decorations everywhere.

 

As a result of the edit and incoming feedback, she had posted about it so here it is.

I also should have added that this is an exciting project for us. It’s a pilot we had to turn around pretty quickly, working across the country, emailing project files back and forth.Today it’s in the hands of a major network. Hopefully they end up picking it up as a series, but if not we still have this client feedback to hang onto:

“You guys did an amazing job!!!!!!! I had goosebumps the whole time.”

“OMG!!!!! It’s fantastic – can’t believe our little show looks this good – you have a magic touch.”

“You both have done a truly amazing job – we are thrilled and are so fortunate that you could be a part of this project.”

“You make a great team. We are so thrilled and impressed by what a great job you have done with our baby.”

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Kylee & me starting work on our edit.

First full day of vacation and fun! It was so cute. Kylee had stocked up on breakfast foods so I started off the mornings while there awesomely with choices of eggs, yogurts, toasted english muffin, cute little halloween mummy wrapper Babybel cheeses (matches my mummy bunny tattoo), and green grapes with freshly ground coffee. I made it a point to stop and play with her kitty in a box bank. Kylee’s Kitty Coin Bank Note to self: mail some quarters to feed the poor thing. >.< I couldn’t hardly contain myself because I knew some time today we would be hitting up Little Tokyo — and for anyone unsure what is there, you should really visit it some day.

We visited several different overlooks and famous points to see so far out in the distance, you can’t hardly believe it. We first went to the Universal City Overlook, and my breath was nearly knocked out of me while looking out afar and seeing all the vast trees, little houses, towering buildings, and far away mountains. It reminded me of Vegas, as in, everytime I looked out the window, I swore someone photoshopped in the mountains. They seemed almost alien-esque. Mysterious. Neat. We could see downtown LA, the ocean, and all that green from the Hollywood Bowl Overlook. It was packed there. They had little telescopes you could pay to see further, but you could see plenty just from standing there.

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After seeing downtown LA from afar, it was high time we ventured a little closer now. Our next stop was Little Tokyo, a cool little Japanese village area that you could park in a parking garage and get out to walk over into. Lots of shops including clothes, food/treats, and more. I remember seeing a boutique that made me want to buy a dress, a rare occurrence for me, but it was SO cute. It had little kitties all over it in a black and white print. If it wasn’t so expensive, I think I would have made it mine. :3 I love to window shop, anyway! We found really hilarious face masks in the style of a cat face. It had all the makings of a cat face using your face printed on it. And though it felt slimy on, my skin felt pretty nice and hydrated afterward, so to note, it’s not just a novelty – it really worked! They come in many other animals, as well. I could see buying those more often for a good laugh! In case you are wondering, we put these on after our halloween funtimes and ordered a pizza. AND YES – we answered the door in said face masks. The guy was so surprised, we all had a good Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 3.52.40 PMlaugh. I’m sure we are now a tale he tells people back at his shop. I hope so! >.<

So for lunchtime in Little Tokyo when we got hungry, we were going to go to this famous Ramen shop, but they were packed. I remembered seeing a bakery on our way in, that said it carried steamed buns (YUM!) so we ventured back and had some deliciousness for lunch. I tried their pork/veggie mix & then a red bean steamed bun because I was dying to try other things w/that red bean flavour and also got some madeleine cookies for later. They had a number of interesting things I could have tried on any given day. Lots of yummies filled the cases, and they also had this amazing bottled Teas called Teas’ Tea that was quite good, I got one in Peach green tea! I think if you go back here near the holidays, they have special decorated cakes that are adorbs! ^_^

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 2.07.19 PMWhile wandering around, I noticed someone dressed as No-Face from Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. I knew he was always trying to give people gold, so I thought maybe giving him a coin would appease him, so we dug around and found one and I excitedly approached! It was so cute, No-Face had little werther’s candies he was giving out (gold like the coins, no doubt – nice touch!) and instead I gave him my coin and almost turned to leave because I was being goofy and nervous, but luckily Kylee snapped some shots and then I got to pose for a really cool shot. ^_^ haha. He gave me a candy! I believe later on I saw him at the JapanLA store on instagram and was like OMG I just ran into that same one earlier today! That was neat.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 7.51.16 PMThere were all sorts of cute things to look at. Lots of plushies, pillows, kigurumi’s, note paper/stickers, japanese candies, really adorable pens/stationary stuff, clothes, and so much more. Some things I took away with me was a mini Totoro backpack w/ clip that I use mostly to store lip gloss/chapstick, earbuds, my work keycard, rings, quick-grab things like that! (Forgot to mention that on my quick layover between flights, I managed to lose my old Rilakumma bear/black cat that came undone from my backpack — SADNESS! It was never found and thankfully I took work keycard out, but I lost ALL my rings aka: someone stole it. I think it got hooked to under the seat so when I grabbed backpack it yanked off. I knew it was gone before boarding next flight and reported it 🙁 A curse upon them!!) I got a new little kitty with the sweetest face, delicious melon candy, pastel bear hairclip, Kutusita Nyanko pen (same character as the lost plushie w/magnet hands) the face mask & a couple other neat items I knew I wouldn’t find elsewhere! I don’t really go shopping often for myself so this was a real treat. I found the funniest little bunny on a toilet solar toy that I got for Kylee because, where else are you going to find toys like that!? Her bathroom needed it! >.<

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Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 2.06.00 PMAfter awhile, I begrudgingly waved goodbye to Little Tokyo (it had to end at some point), and we took off to go do another tourist-ey thing and see the Walk of Fame, including the Chinese theatre and a mall nearby that had a ton of shops. We stopped into this crazy candy shop that also had a bunch of other items & clothes. Inside was a mix of clothes and accessories by Skeleanimals, So So Happy, and more. Tourist trinkets as well like magnets and keychains galore. A yellow hoodie with purple/pink touches + multi coloured dino spikes caught my interest, so I walked out of there with it because where the heck else am I going to find something like this? The price was way reasonable, too! The walls were lined with portraits made out of jelly beans, and they had a giant keyboard for a piano. They sold a bunch of loose international candies, so we each got some in a baggie to try. It’s like select by picture and if it’s cute because you honestly have zero idea how to tell what’s what. If you wander into the outer ridges of this mall, it’s outside with several levels to it. You could see the Hollywood sign from this higher up bridge, which was neat!

While walking down the Walk of Fame, it felt a lot like Vegas in some ways what with all the impersonators and people trying to pawn off cds and other things (only complaint: they couldScreen Shot 2015-11-11 at 4.09.28 PM be quite PUSHY, specially those ‘buy my cd!’ people who’d push cds into your hand and basically hound you following you until you realized they wanted money and said ‘nope sorry I only got my card on me’) At least now I know if I ever go that way again, to just appear like a monumentally uninteresting person so they won’t approach you hah xD We didn’t walk too far down because I’m not super interested in seeing a ton of stars with various different names, but the ones we did walk near had some names of cool people. The footprints and hands near Chinese Theatre included Star Trek, the MGM lion paws (how cute!), Jackie Chan, Robin Williams (le sad), Cher, Johnny Depp, Arnold, and a whole slew of people that were fun to see if your feet fit in or not. Also nearby was Madame Tussaud’s Wax musem – we saw this Johnny Depp one right outside. <3 STILL CREEPY THO. No way I ever wanna go in there.

I was really eScreen Shot 2015-11-11 at 5.50.39 PMxcited to get a picture of the Star Trek square, being that my mom and her partner are Trekkies! Through the ocean of tourists walking everywhere, I waited and got out my phone to line up a solid picture of it… when suddenly! Batman swooped over and covered me in his cape, and asked me if I’d “had a lot of dark nights” LOL He was doing the whole Batman gravelly voice accent and everything. I was a little flustered and found myself bantering back, wondering if I’d just taken a blurry photo of the Star Trek one. I told him why yes, I’d had quite a number of dark nights, to which he replied “Well, it must mean you’re a good person. Good people fighting for justice have a lot of those.” It was funny. I wish I’d had cash to tip him. Kylee managed to grab this awesome picture before he flew off to another unsuspecting tourist. Keep being awesome, Batman. ^5 There were a number of impersonators out on the street, and I’ve watched a documentary about them before. It’s not an easy job, and they seemed pretty cool. They add a lot of atmosphere, for sure.

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After all the walking in the heat, Kylee took us to this amazing little ice cream place called Mashti Malone. They carried unusual and interesting flavours, like Turkish coffee, saffron, herbal mixes, lavender, pumpkin, a plethora of new or yummy flavours. They are super nice there, and let you have a spoon sample of anything you wish to try out. I sampled several flavours and was going to choose saffron or rosewater or something I’d never had before, but then… THEN. I saw a peanut butter ice cream. 🙁 It was all over. As bad as I wanted to try a new flavour, I’m a huge PB fan. This was one hell of a peanut butter cup ice cream, unlike any I’d had before. If I lived in town, I would definitely be back. We sat in the chairs outside, enjoyed eating our ice cream, and it was really relaxing. After a full day of roaming around and walking, we went back to her apartment to refresh ourselves, change, and head out for a Halloween Eve event at Griffith Park, a Haunted Hayride!!

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 7.28.22 PMMore theatrics and jump scares than frightened out of your mind, the haunted hayride at Griffith Park was certainly interesting. We arrived via Uber once it got dark enough outside, and we’d rested up from all that walking around. The Uber driver had a Russian cake decorating business in the family that he told us all about on our way there. It was actually kinda cool to hear him talk about the craziest requests and things like that. That was also my first ride with them! Out in front was a ginormous display of jack-o-lanterns and lots and loooots of fog-machine smoke.

Once you get near the entrance to the lines, there was this crazy monster creature with giant limbs hanging out to try to scare people (although a lot of us just wanted pictures Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 7.29.05 PMwith it hah) We got our little wristbands and began our slow long descent through the enormous line, watching VIP ticket holders whizz by – only to be met by their own long line. HEHE. To amuse ourselves, Kylee started periscoping the event live, so not sure if any of you reading this were watching, but heya! that was us!! I also got this slow panning of Garrett’s face until he realized he was being filmed. Garrett Spooky Face Pan  There was a skeleton horse merry-go-round carnival ride, and if I’d had time to hop out of line and go ride it, I think I would have!  As you get closer, you pass by this green & purple lit up haunted house and randomly placed jack-0-lanterns. One’s light burnt out. Poor thing. They were blasting music all the while. Some of it almost reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean style music.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 7.28.56 PMEventually we snaked our way through the line towards the front, and noticed a large caged off area. They’d funnel 2 different groups into the divided cage, and then load you up onto the hayrides. Admittedly, squishing up all together in those cages was a bit spooky feeling, and once they loaded us onto the carts, they pull this blackout tarp overhead so you couldn’t see ANYYYTHING. That was probably the scariest part of it!! And while I thought we might get jump scared with it on, they eventually pulled it back and it was like a normal hayride.There were some cool movie references happening, and much choreographed areas with crazy things happening. We had some good jump screams and entertainment overall.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 7.35.17 PMAs we poured out of the hayride once it ended, we came across this enchanting little staged area with performers, called Theatre Macabre! They were selecting people from the audience and using funny props to help re-create a horror film in 2 minutes. Usually one of them was a helping actor, to get them set up and going. Great fun!! On the screen, the clip would play and someone would narrate what the actors should be doing to mimic it. We stood there and watched all the rest that followed because it was so damn entertaining and hilarious. They would ask each person what their favourite horror film was as well. There was people of all ages too, which was nice to see. I had no idea this was in there, and it was just out in the open to watch at your leisure. I’m so very glad we ran across it. They also had psychic tents in case you wanted palms read or magic balls to reveal your future. We hung out for awhile around one, trying to predict what people were finding out. Eventually, tummies were calling for some noms — and what better food to end a very long day, but to eat some In-N-Out, animal style! We hopped into an Uber to get back there, and then walked our way back to her apartment. By this point, I thought it was nice to be able to just walk some places when need be. We walked back kind of late, and it seemed relatively safe enough.

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After a long slept-like-teh-dead night of sleep, we woke up on Halloween bright and somewhat early to get ourselves ready to go to the beach! This was going to be awesome. We were heading out to the Santa Monica Pier and beach to enjoy Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.20.53 PMhalf of the day there. Because it was Halloween, I wanted to add in a little spirit so I put on my white kittay ears because fuck it! Why not! I wore these the entire day long too. I couldn’t really bring any costumes, so later on I was an impromptu kittay dino with said new hoodie. She also took us through Topenga Canyons, a truly gorgeous drive (albeit a bit scary with lumbering vertical hills/mountains happening – better her than me driving through all that LOL!) I took a little video during the drive that you can see: Topenga Canyon Drive After exiting the canyon, you suddenly come around a bend, and there it is! The ocean!! I remember rolling down my window waiting to smell that distinct salty beach air. We managed to get very lucky with parking and parked pretty much beachfront and nearby the pier. We decided to hit up the pier first, have some lunch, then head across to the beach. Driving on the coast is surreal in a way, because all you do is look to your right and there’s the ocean and tons of palm trees.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.29.18 PMArriving onto the pier, it was only mid morning and fairly bright & sunny out. Not my typical Halloween weather. In fact, it occurred to me while staring across the vast blues, sandy beach, and buildings and mountains in the distance, that nothing about this was normal for Halloween for me >.< and that’s okay! In fact, it was refreshing. I saw several people dressed up and was relieved to not be the only one xD We stopped to browse some neat postcards as I’d been wanting to send one out for my sister and mom. I figured they’d get a kick out of  receiving a postcard postmarked from LA and all hollywood styled. There were shops with bracelets and trinkets and jewelry – all your awful typical tourist tshirts and magnets – performers taking tips and looots of people just walking about. I’ve been to the pier in Chicago as well, and one thing I like about them is there’s an energy to them that’s fun to sit and watch or walk through. Kind of like airports. Everybody seems to have something going on, and you can just glide in/out of that hectic happenings.

We saw a little carnival rides and also an old school sort of arcade. It had all those games like Skeeball, coin games, tabletop air hockey, and video games. Outside of there, we Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 8.17.24 AMsaw this Zoltar from the movie, Big. Of course we had to try it! The sucky thing is it wanted $1 to keep continuing, and we thought it’d spit out one of those neat fortune cards. As she put the dollar in, I joked to not be made big, but turned smaller again because we already had adult responsibilities xD hahha. It seems we did not please the spirits because we’re still waiting *checks invisible watch* We later went inside and had a blast playing skeeball and old shooter games. Kylee was REALLY good at this reactionary game (the name eludes me) but you have to try to hit the button to get the dot between these two markers, and she got the one right before. I tried it and got the marker right after. So it’s kind of hilarious how accurate we both were but both being off only by 1, opposite sides. xD With all our tickets, we pooled them together and got the only proper suitable prize for the amount we had. Fake vampire fangs!

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.28.38 PMAfter walking the pier and taking in the ocean, we noticed back near the front there was a really cool noms place named after Forrest Gump. It was Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. We had a short wait as the sun grew hotter. Once seated, we had a jokester of a server, and a lot of the servers were dressed up for Halloween including TMNT, MLP, some weird designer shoe, and more. It was funny because I’d recently re-watched this movie, so being inside of there was a little mind-blowing. Lots of fun references to the movies of course. I tried the fresh fish tacos which were absolutely delicious/refreshing, and a blood orange margarita. They brought out a bit of a pitcher for that. Hell yes! I remember asking Kylee, “is it too early to drink” to which she said “you’re on vacation. it’s never too early!” hahah She got shrimp tacos and some kind of peach tea concoction. If you find yourself on the pier, I would recommend stopping by here for some tacos!

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Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.23.00 PMAfter relaxing during our lunch, the beach was calling to us. We kicked off our shoes and sunk our feet into the warm sand. I was so glad it was not burning hot sand like I experienced at the Atlantic Beach earlier this year. There was plenty of space to wander up to the ocean, but still it was filled out and lots of people seemed to be enjoying themselves.

There’s a certain peace you can only find here, I think. With the sun shining on you, the sound of the waves crashing back and forth, people talking and laughing and having a good time.. I just love it. Kylee took a video of me experiencing the Pacific FREEZING waters. SO DECEIVING. Don’t let all those swimmers and surfers fool you. I’m not sure if it was just because it was October, or if it’s also because the Pacific is just a whole lot colder than the Atlantic, but my reaction in this video says it all. You can see that video in slo-mo hilarity, so it’s not to be missed! Me in the Pacific Ocean You do get used to it though. I couldn’t resist letting the water splash my legs and stood out there for awhile. I actually have no idea how long we hung out there, but time seemed to stand still and I couldn’t get enough of looking out over the vast waters into the distance. We took some fun panoramics and enjoyed being goofballs.

Right before we headed out anywhere, we sprayed ourselves down with sunscreen spray. Fellow ghostly pale easy-to-sunburn peeps will feel our feels of not wanting to burn. Earlier this year at Atlantic Beach, I missed a prime area on my shoulders (where tank top T part is) and had sunburn wings for the rest of the summer. It was actually really funny after it stopped stinging so much. >.<

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Only half the day was gone if you can believe it, and we found ourselves back in the car, feet mostly wiped off from sand, and wondering where to go next. Since we’d been outside so long, something refreshing was in order. Kylee knew just the thing! We drove back over to the Larchmont area. OH! I remember stopping at a gas station and seeing a guy with huge dreads and socks with weed plants all over them. Maybe I should stop a moment and talk about the weed dispensaries while out there and how normal it is to see people wearing stuff like this. You could identify the dispensaries by the green ‘+’ sorta symbol. Obviously, this isn’t something you see just anywhere. I found it was a fun little game while driving anywhere. Yes, I’m easily amused.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 3.17.07 PMOnce in Larmont, I noticed some amazing art on the walls with 3D kimono/dresses happening. Now that’s NEAT! What a clever idea. I rushed over to get a few pictures. This little shopping area was interesting, there were all sorts of shops around, but we were focused. It was time to get a fancy juice or smoothie. After dodging lots of outdoor seating and doggies, we landed in Larchmont Juicery. Looking over the menu was a little daunting. The cases were filled with juice concoctions promising health, along with handmade healthy truffles and other deliciousness. The espresso smoothie with oatmeal, dates, and almonds with all kinds of other health goodies caught my eye. Actually both our eyes! It was a pretty thick hearty smoothie, too. Fancy cali smoothie itch, scratched. :3

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 3.45.29 PMKylee informed me we were in the area to go see a shop I’d been dying to see! Japan LA!! Now I knew I’d have trouble walking into a store like that and not overspending, but this was a shop I’d been wanting to see in person for ages. They have all sorts of cute things imported in, and really amazing prints on dresses and shirts. I couldn’t wait! It was a short walk from parking nearby, and the whole area had a more grungy vibe than the places we’d been at before.

Luckily, it wasn’t very busy when we walked into the shop, so we took our time pawing all over everything and talking with the people inside. One of the girls really liked my hair and asked what it was like back home with it. It was fun explaining it doesn’t matter where you are, just do what you like because it makes you happy. OH! They had a really cute samurai kitty and rilakkuma bear in space dress (but outta my range!!) Just tons of plushies and cute decor and accessories. I love their attention to detail decorating little spaces of the store, to inspire you how to use the items. I did very well here by the end of it all, not buying too much – one item I got is a TokiDoki strawberry milk carton sticker for the car – And mostly enjoying the window shopping and being in such a beautifully decorated store. On my way out, this amusing kitty “healthy” I don’t even know WAT but I want it kind of sticker caught my eye >.<

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Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 4.24.38 PMAfter Japan LA adventures, it was time to head back and get ourselves refreshed again. We were waiting for it to finish getting dark outside because as the night of haunting good fun was closing in, we were due at the Rise of the Jack-O-Lanterns event we had tickets for. The weather cooled off nicely, so I could comfortably wear some layers. I decided I should finish out my cat ears by drawing on some whiskers, a nose, and lip line. I just used eyeliner I had in my makeup bag. I wore my “hang in there” zombie cat Rambo style shirt. I found my little green skelly gloves and popped on my So So Happy dino hoodie. I dubbed myself a dino cat. xD Quite the hodge podge of things going on. OH WELL!

Liam and Penny
Liam and Penny

Besides, it was Penny approved! ;D (that is Liam’s adorable kid, by the way) Before heading out, we found out Liam was out taking her trick-or-treating, so we had a very quick visit before jumping in the car. It was so cute! She kept informing him “Daddy! Daddy!! We were going thisss way, remember” as in to say ‘hurry up there’s candy to be had, less talk, more candy!’ hahah. I believe he was a ‘convention go-er’ in his get up. Also he had nerdy Avid socks on, which is awesome.

After a bit of a fun drive to find this place, we got ourselves parked at the Descanso Gardens, where the event was being held. They had a neat little arrangement where everybody was lined up to get their selfie fix in, and so of course, you know we did as well. After scanning you in, there was a whole cluster of things to wander off to. They had hot drinks and food available, as well as some homemade crafts and goods for sale near the front. We got some hot cider/chocolate (and they weren’t kidding, it was H O T) Once you began down the path, it wasn’t long before you ran across two guys carving pumpkins live for everyone coming by. It was kind of hard to sneak up to get a good peek at things, as there was a crowd, but we managed. They were carving faces at the time, like where you shave the pumpkin and also carve. The other guy was actually carving some sort of spoopy little face into his pumpkin.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.23.10 PMThe Rise of the Jack-O-Lanterns itself was very entertaining. It had a windy dirt path with fairly easy to navigate directions of what way to go. Sometimes the pumpkins were up close, sometimes really a bit too far away to appreciate all the details. One of the crowning glory exhibits was this giant tree COVERED with jack-o-lanterns. All carved. All strapped to this tree in the same shape as it was. I wish it hadn’t been markered off so very far away. Being only about 8pm something on Halloween, it was certainly crowded, so you need to be aware of people stopping to stare at things or having their stroller taking up a lot of the path. We managed to get through just fine, only once thought we lost one another in the dark. hah not bad!

For having never been to any event such as this, I would recommend you all go to this at least the once. I imagine that things probably Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.07.22 PMchange up each year, and rather than going on Halloween, perhaps go a little earlier as a cheery little weekend pick-me-up. It’s not at all scary. I saw a lot of families and lots of groups of adults having a good time here. Honestly, there was so many things to do on Halloween, and we were highly considering a few cool options – one of which being the Nightmare before Christmas event. I didn’t get to carve any pumpkins this year (that’s alright, I’ll carve TWO next year) so this one kind of called out to me as low key and fun, and I love something with a creative twist. Since I had such a spooky time health wise last year, I wasn’t necessarily looking for something super frightening either. This fit the bill.

The major con: flash w/pictures. When we were trying to stop and look up close at the details, there would be a strobe light of people taking flash pictures in front or behind us. I remember exchanging a moment with Kylee like, why can’t people just enjoy the event they’re at more than through their phones taking pictures? It’s fine to take -some- photos to remember it by, but you are there in the event NOW. ENJOY IT DAMMIT. Is that an ‘old’ moment? I don’t care. I HATE flash. You are blinding other people with it, so use it wisely, mmmkay?

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.24.03 PMIn-between major carvings, you could tell there was tons and loads of lots of unique little pumpkin faces and designs carved by who knows who! It was basically to the point of where anywhere you looked, there was some kind of pumpkin. Even to the point of overwhelming. I can’t imagine all the work that goes into something like this. I remember reading that they replace the pumpkins every single week, so that’s quite a task of exchanging them out with freshly carved versions. Some of my very favourites at the event was the long-awaited dragon pumpkin I had seen online, the group of tigers, the dino skeletons, and various games and famous faces. We saw Christopher Lee and Leonard Nimoy, Spiderman, Khaleesi, plus Darth. These were pretty intricate and beautiful to look up closer at. It went on for quite awhile, and the minute I saw the dragon, I ran straight to it. Even the lanterns were carved up. The attention to detail on this is astounding. The same could be said for the fur texture on the tigers. Simply amazing!

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anime_halloweenHalloween turned out to be pretty awesome, all in all. I got to go to the beach, one of my fav stores, and see more carved pumpkins than I ever imagined. I got to dress up however I wanted. Once we returned back to her apartment, we cleaned up and put on our kitty masks. And as I say, we ended the night by ordering a nice pizza and answering the door in said masks. That’s one helluva Halloween, if you ask me! We put on Hocus Pocus (because what ELSE do you watch on the closing hours of the holiday) and had a good strong Kraken rum to go with it. Very relaxing way to end the night.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.42.13 PMSunday morning came rushing in, and I did not want to wake up. I think it’s safe to say this is the most excitement and fun I’ve gotten to go experience in some time. This was really turning out to be quite a vacation, and I was really having a blast. Today we planned on meeting up with our friend Sarah and going over to the Hollywood sign to take typical touristey photos and have a small hike. Since we were all dragging arse, we decided to meet up at this coffee shop called the Bourgeios Pig. Took me a sec to figure out the pronunciation >.< They had delightful fancy almond croissants and a nice iced mocha which got me ready for a lot of hiking ahead. The decor inside was unique. Gold cherub angels, spattered floor and aged wood tables, fancy chaise lounge old style couches and random chairs. Seemed to be a good place to catch up on work or with a friend. The entrance is kind of off to the side so we couldn’t figure out how to get in, at first xD GOGO CAFFEINE. Sarah met up with us here and we all piled into one car to drive over to the sign.

Now here’s where things get interesting…

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.42.43 PMWhile trying to make our way up to where you park to hike to even get to the sign, we realized there was a TON of people with the same idea in mind. Also weirdly enough, when we rounded our way through a lot of the foot and car traffic trying to find a parking space, someone was directing traffic and pretty much directed us into this tunnel. LOL. Wat!! Where are we even going? It took us away from the sign, and into the Hills. Yes. The hills. Those hills. THE Hills. What’s kinda hilarious is we were all staring at all the unique and strange vertical housing people had going on.

In fact, it was really fascinating to me just driving around that area. And as we were driving around, we saw a famous person jogging from 30 Rock. hah yasss >.< So hey. Scratch off seeing a famous person while in Cali. Some of the housing seems like ancient cottages with vines and flowing blooming over their fences. Gorgeous and made you wonder who actually lived there. I can’t imagine living in these hills for any length of time. I have to think even going out for a short grocery run might be a hassle? But who cares, it’s so pretty! Vibrant flowers and towering pine trees that reminded me of the peak’s at the top of an old castle. How cool! It seemed there was a particular area you were allowed to park waaaaay down at the bottom of where the hills even start – but it seemed like a giant hike to even get to the hike we wanted to do.. so we tried to instead navigate by going into Griffith Park and maybe finding a path there.

Heading over to Griffith Park, we then realized that the hike required from that area to get to where we needed was going to be kind of insane. It wasScreen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.42.51 PM a collective decision that ‘fuck it, too much hassle’ as we saw the sign while driving by and at the mall. That’s really quite good enough, imo. An idea hit us to go to do some vintage clothes shopping. Kylee knew of one shop we could try to visit, and that’s the area we ended up sticking around in for several hours! Fox That, Cherry Pick Vintage, and a few others were all nearby so we had fun poking through clothes we’d probably never wear, hoping to find a diamond in the rough.

Although we didn’t find anything there, we continued on walking quite a ways to get to Soap Plant & WACKO, this crazy big store that reminds me of Spencers and a giant figure/toy type novelty shop. On our way there, we passed by several shops that we thought, hey, we should check this out on the way back. Inside WACKO, the AC felt wonderful because it was growing quite warmer outside. They had pretty much anything you could think of and much you would never think you needed, but suddenly wanted. I was actually so overwhelmed I didn’t get anything here, but I had an enormously fun time seeing what they carried instead. We started to back track and stopped into this Half Off clothing store. Not sure if it’s part vintage part whatever, but I actually happened to find two very cool things here. AND THEY FIT! ^__^/ *screams for joy*

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.43.59 PMOne of them was a very colourful dress. Yes. Dress. more casual than dressy, it was vividly magentas and purples and oranges. Nothing I’d think to wear, but I noticed this dress had a hoody to it. It was made of thin material. On the dress itself, there was little planets and happy suns. On the hood, there was a cherub riding a lion. It was just ADORABLE and really neat of a design. I’d never seen anything like that before. I decided to put it on over my outfit and sure enough, it fit! Towards the other side, I saw these flowy thinner material sweaters with designs on the back. One of them was a lady smoking little lace hearts as the puffs of smokes. IDK why, but that piece spoke to me! There were other colours and other designs, but this maroon one with the smoking lady just did it for me. It actually went well with the outfit I was wearing, so I figured I’d buy it and wear it to the really late brunch we were having soon.

I have been still hard at work on keeping myself in better shape, so this was a special moment. I was able to step back and appreciate some of the progress I’ve made over the past few years. Being able to grab a unique item that spoke to me and have it fit nice was a super happy YAY moment. I felt so good walking out of the shop with both those pieces, and for a really really steal of a price! <33 that dress is going to be worn whenever the mood strikes, and I think everytime I put it on it will remind me of how far I have come, and happy memories of where I have been. ;__;

The further walking backtracked us closer to the car, but we had to stop because we saw a giant birdcage with two fluffy kittens in it. Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.43.13 PMUGHHHH THE CUTENESS. Of course we stopped to stick our fingers through to pet them and pay them some attention. We spoke to the ladies about them too. They were hoping to adopt them both together, and I mentioned some of my kitties back home and how I had 3. I recall the lady mentioning that ‘3 was very IN’ as though now people were finally understanding it was good to have 3 cats. hahah. She was so nice though, they gave me a sample of cat food with a little mousey toy attached for my fur babies back home. I sure do hope someone adopted the cuties! It was so nice to get to visit with Sarah, and sadly she had to head back and we needed to head out to Malo for our late brunchy meal.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.43.42 PMMalo is over in Silver Lake (I think? right?) and Kylee had put out the word that hey, if you are in the area or can stop by, come mingle. It was really sweet, and I was hoping to see a few familiar or new faces while there. It wasn’t terribly busy, so we found a nice table outside to chill at. I tried out their white sangria and Kylee got this spicy bloody mary drink. I’d never had anything with chorizo, and contuining my food adventure, ended up getting a breakfast taco made with some chorizo – it was smokey and interesting, I think I liked it. They had some decent foods here. What I remember most is their cucumber infused water. I got a cucumber when I got home to recreate it for flavour in my water, since I drink so damn much of the stuff. hah. People trickled in, and it was a surprise that anybody could take the time/effort to come out and see me! We had a great conversation for awhile, and time passed by very quickly. (TY TO ALL OF YOU WHO CAME, REALLY APPRECIATE IT A LOT!!!) 

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.44.08 PMKim and Josh were two of the people who stopped by, and I’d mentioned wanting to find a good coffee place, like something I could bring back that was definitive from LA. So Kim, Josh, and us ventured into Silver Lake and walked over to Intelligentsia Coffee. WHOA. This place was srs bizness, and I know because I got a coffee made here to sample – it was amazingly strong. It had one of those fancy designs in it, too. *squee* :3 They had some unique flavours to select from. I grabbed a bag that was supposed to be reminiscent of baked apples, something for fall time, as a thank you gift for Lauren and Evan caring for the pupster while I was gone. Overall review, it’s fancy coffee, so not anywhere I would go everyday but I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area or want a pick-me-up treat.

Now super caffeinated, we ventured onward to this really cool little comic book shop called Secret Headquarters. I just loved the artwork on all the walls (yes it was for sale, as well) I discovered a new artist I really thought was cool, and they even had a book in stock about his art! There was a little shelf of zines that I managed to find a cute one with charming illustrations. Also lots of regular books, and I saw the newest from Neil Gaiman and promised myself to read it soon. Nice place with relaxed atmosphere, and we had fun pawing through all the various books and everybody walked away with something! Not far from there was a record shop called Vacation Vinyl which had the craziest mix of all kinds of records you could probably ever want. I’m not the biggest record person myself, but I enjoy the old artwork. The owner was super friendly and had no problem playing any record you wanted to sample from. The prices seemed reasonable as well. A great spot for any music lovers to stop in at.

Liam nudged us to see if we wanted to hang out for a bit – OF COURSE! So we walked over to Cold Stone Creamery and had some delightful ice cream. I forgot how nice it was to sit outside and eat a little cup of it. We had a great convo about what we’d been up to, and time passed pretty fast. It was getting late, and we had to get back to wind down and pack up.

And what a way to cap off the night, hanging out with really chill people over in Silver Lake – if there was more time, I’m certain there were more neat shops to peek into. I had to get back to packing and wake up early for a very long day of travel, but it was all worth it. Kylee showed me an amazing time in Cali. At the risk of sounding overly sappy, I don’t care. She really made my year. I have had a good time adventuring with her anywhere we are (Indy, NC, now Cali!) and really missed her company! AND missed working on something with her. I can’t believe I got to do both all together. What luck!! ^_^

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ACTUAL HORROR STORY:

do I know how to party or what?
do I know how to party or what?

To recap last year’s actual horror event, in October I was trapped in a hospital after having a spontaneous lung collapse while at work.  This time was way worse than my first collapse that happened years back in college (when I fell and broke my foot – I did a 2 for 1 and passed out completely while stepping off a curb – GO ME!) I put off getting seen because I underestimated the kind of pain I was experiencing and tried to power through. Bad idea. Suddenly, I found myself being whisked off to the ICU, requiring surgery that very next morning. They wanted to thicken the wall of my weaker lung, and to do that, they blew the most irritating powder you can imagine inside of it. Also ended up with the usual icky draining tube situation, which is a special kind of pain that I hope you all never experience. Awesome times recovery there. Many pills and much sleeping and pain.

Thankfully, I made a huge recovery, minus nerve damage and an inconsistent sharp pain I get when it’s super cold out or I breathe really deep (like a Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 8.19.36 AMyawn). Hoping eventually that it stretches back out a bit and stops, but I know it may never. If you poke the huge scar on my back in my lung area, the nerves in my front tummy area zing off. Neat party trick! I may have lost Halloween and one of my favourite seasons (fall/Halloween), but this year MORE than made up for it. I remain hopeful that is the LAST time I ever have a lung go pop for any reason. Strangely, both times they really couldn’t confirm what caused it. Obvious answer: my lungs were sneaky and had little weak areas just waiting to get me. I feel like I have an Ironman type lung now, so unless the right one…  Anyway, it’s a bit spooky in that regard.

Back in the day, Kylee and I used to live in the same apartment complex, and I could simply walk down the road a little bit to visit. Sometimes I still catch myself thinking she’s still there after talking online awhile, and have to remember “Oh, right! She’s not nearby anymore!” We met in college, became fast friends and editing cohorts, and saw each other pretty often outside of classes working on projects. These days, we’re chatting every day online, but also it’s so good to connect again in person. As much as I am for all of my online interactions & innernetz friends, it’s great to be in the same space and go out to do things. Life gets really busy, and I do understand it’s hard to stay connected or go hang out. But if this experience taught me anything, the effort is usually worth it, so I encourage all of  you to take time out of your years to S T O P your life for even a little bit. Even if you’re tired, broke, or super busy after it to make it happen. DO IT.

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What better time than after she’d gotten time to settle herself into the eternally sunny lands – and we got to explore more of the area together. Being with the best people who were there for me going through recovery in a new setting was great. To me, before heading out there, LA just seemed like this mysterious area filled with lots of cool or interesting shops, fancy juices & food, A SHITTON of traffic, film industry work, and random craziness events. I’d look at in depth maps of it and think there would be no way I’d ever learn it or figure out the area or how to park, anywhere, ever. What I can say is upon arriving, it was so nice to put a visual to the area in my mind. I feel like I got to see some of the area that I could in my short time there, all thanks to her masterful planning skills of where to go and what to do. I can’t thank her enough for inviting me out and making it all happen!!! <3 I’ve taken back some very cool memories that will not ever fade.

THANK YOU KYLEE!!! ^__^/ *throws confetti*

 

Alex Buono’s Visual Storytelling 2 Workshop

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 3.07.42 PMOn the first day of September, I woke up at a quite ‘lovely’ early hour to get ready to attend a workshop out in Charlotte about production and lighting, hosted by SNL’s Alex Buono called Visual Storytelling 2. It was a humid, foggy morning, and since it’s a bit of a drive from Winston Salem, I needed to wake up extra early to meet up. I went with three other coworkers, and we all piled in a car to head out. Much Queen music was heard (and even sleepily sung along to via inability to NOT sing along to Queen songs), a caffeine and cold medicine pillaging of Sheetz happened (2 sickies battling it out), and we made it there with little trouble.

In case you have no idea who I am or what I do, I’m a video editor! So what am I doing at this workshop focused on production? I’m glad you asked. I asked the same thing, at first. I think the most obvious detail is that this workshop is great for production minded people, but also a very informative and fun learning experience to attendScreen Shot 2015-09-03 at 4.11.57 PM if you are at all involved in filmmaking from writing to shooting to lights and more. I would love to see all the nitty gritty scary and delicious details of how their editor manages a barely 1/2 day to get everything edited together, but that’s okay. I do more than video editing. I’ve shot short films to live events, held a boom mic til my arms wanted to fall off permanently, written scripts, even tried directing! We all have our ‘thing’ we do, but then again, it’s good to explore those ‘other things’. That’s my answer. This is a great opportunity for anybody in my humble opinion. I quite enjoyed the day learning tips and tricks, getting that in-depth look behind that glorious SNL curtain.

I furiously scribbled down some notes, despite the reminder that a lot of things would be made available to you from the slides at the end of the workshop through an email. I definitely won’t be covering everything, but I’d love to share with you highlights, plus some of the super cool things we got to see a live demo. IT WAS COOL. Really the live demos are what shine here! It’s one thing to talk about stuff, but quite another to go through and light a mini set live for us to see and experiment with. Truly fascinating to see things like rotating light stands to mimic traffic/stoplights or that giant seemingly expensive light that can do so many useful things. I have an impressed love for Freefly Movi steadicam because I saw someone following someone else around the room a few times without it even kicking up any fuss. Also, PIXEL STICKS!!!

Pixel sticks are a dream come true as a gif and practical effect lover. I want to get one, go outside, and play with it for awhile. So you pair this with long exposure timelapse = Awesome!!

Using laser cut vinyl stickers to create custom type bokeh effect, as seen here with my wonderful caffeinated photo ability:

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(Apparently I really don’t watch sports, and this is our state team mascot of sorts? It’s in the shape of… A hornet! Ah yes.. lots of those in the summer ugh D:)

 

“Free Lensing” or lens whacking, whichever way you want to say it – where you take the lens off the camera and instead, manually hold it (carefully!) up and pull it closer or further away or tilt to create focal plane distortions and some really cool effects. Go try it now if you haven’t. It’s definitely an interesting technique!

Learning not to be afraid of shadows – YOU DO NOT NEED A FILL LIGHT for all teh things. It’s okay. Let it have some character and shadow. In depth discussion on lights and their uses. I like how most importantly he stressed that it wasn’t how fancy your equipment was, but what you did with them.

Mixed color temperatures: the trials and tribulations of shooting under fluorescent, daylight, combinations bulbs, and the like. Trusting your color meters, especially when it comes to green vs. magenta.

Recreating fire flickering lights using a backdrop and bouncing it with some bleached or unbleached muslin fabric. Actually I learned a whole ton about an array of fabrics and materials and “things” to bounce your lighting with based on soft or hard light needed.

His tips on music videos – shooting the performance first, then come back in to shoot a ton of story beats, keep your camera moving, and most importantly, make the subject all purty-like as possible.

Wishing Boot music video demo

Highlight from Theater Lighting demo (now with 100% more diamond encrusted unicorns…)

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 5.18.03 PMAll the successful ways that you can use visual subtext to add more depth to your film. Things like the oranges in Godfather movie or even colours. “Engage, not define” because speculating helps engage and come into your world.

I love learning about this stuff because it’s not usually something you necessarily pick up on the first time watching through. It’s not as though it’s hidden, either, but it’s just kind of ‘there’ and we all can interpret these things to our own liking. It brings about a lot of discussion too after viewing.

I’m sure there’s probably a number of films you could go watch now and try to hunt down some of their visual subtext used, perhaps like Fight Club or Silence of the Lambs? 😉

I asked Evan, Shannon, and Darren for their favourite part of the workshop to help share what we all took away from it:

Evan: Learning SNL’s process – getting so much done, in so little time, with such quality! INSPIRING!!

Shannon: Visual Subtext – all the film theory, 7 ways to convey deep meaning with all that tech stuff, and hearing from someone so versed in so many genres!

Darren: His passion and accessibility of doing as much in-camera effects and not leaving it all up to post-production

(and the world hears loud claps from fellow editors! yes. this. haha)

And to highlight some of the rest of the workshop, please enjoy these:

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My First NAB Adventure!

Yes, I’m a part of the NAB Show virgins. Well… I mean to say, I was!

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 2.50.47 PMThere’s many great articles already out there about being new to NAB and for surviving it with grace and sanity. That’s not exactly what I’ll be writing about, or rather, not specifically. I just want to share with all of you about my experiences while there, perhaps you’ll learn something new or at least be entertained reading. For people who couldn’t make it, I feel your feels. I know. And to give a glimpse through my eyes, I tried to Periscope (the new broadcast live app) my exploring of the South Hall, the monorail ride, Fremont Street, and much more. I hope you got to enjoy those. If not, there’s a plethora of pics you can view. ^__^ So. This will be about things I did right, things I didn’t, and how absolutely wonderful of a time I had meeting you all. Regrettably so, there were people I didn’t get to meet as we couldn’t cross paths (for instance, Angie and Andrew! lol) Hopefully we can meet up next time. I’ve never been surrounded by so many friends in one spot or been able to openly speak to so many vendors about specific questions. I understand why people enjoy going so very much!! Even if you travel alone, you won’t be for long once you arrive! ^_^

FOUR PILLOWS.
FOUR PILLOWS.

I stayed at the Westgate hotel (formerly, LVH I believe?) this year because I’d seen it was close to the convention center, and the less chance for me to get lost, the better. I was lucky to meet up with the awesome Kylee pretty soon at the airport to begin this adventure. I was beyond thrilled that I got one of the renovated rooms. I instantly jumped on the bed “WITH FOUR PILLOWS! OMG” You have to excuse me, I don’t get to travel very often so I’m easily amused by ‘the little things’. My first night there was mostly getting a bearing on the area, the hotel itself which mazed around with restaurants, casino stuff, and cafe/shops. I got to meet Michael Cardillo (also an NAB virgin this year) and the three of us walked around the strip and saw places like the Bellagio and Caesar’s – notably the inside part where the ceiling is an afternoon strangely blue sky, which made us feel weird because it felt like 3am time wise but inside there, suddenly it made it feel like 3pm!! I even saw the fountain show outside, despite the insane cramped quarters to do it. Many interesting characters and vendors on the side of the sidewalks, everywhere around there. Sandwiching the trip with fun adventures first night and last night: On my very last night in Vegas, I was taken by entertaining Matt Penn, Deb, and Kylee to eat the infamous In-N-Out and see Fremont Street, which shall forever live fondly in my memory. I only wish more of us could have been there, what a fun night!

 

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As for NAB itself…

NABShow South Hall.. holy crap.
NABShow South Hall.. holy crap.

Nothing prepares you for that first step down the stairs and into the South hall on Monday morning. Nothing. I am beyond glad I was not alone and I had Kylee there to support me, dazzled and nervous as I was on my first day on the floor. People. Lights. THINGS. STUFF! Good luck focusing on anything at any given time. And after that, my days are a blur. I’m kidding. Well, kind of. Highlight sessions included the editors from the Hobbit, Premiere/Adobe, the gender gap panel, the Walking Dead panel, after effects tips & tricks, and Sandra Adair w/ Norman Hollyn.

What do I think I did that was awesome?

I didn’t close myself off to possibilities. I said yes to many things to network and grow. I pushed myself hard.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 3.40.12 PMSummoned every bit of courage to speak to people I’ve always wanted to meet. Attended classes & sessions I told myself there was absolutely no way I’d miss it, no matter how early it was or how far of walking it’d take. STOPPED BEING SUCH AN INTROVERT for the week! Every time I wanted to go back to the hotel for a break, I asked myself if I was really genuinely exhausted or trying to excuse myself from being uncomfortable. Almost every time, it was because I was feeling overwhelmed (rightly so!) which simply meant I should stand outside for 10 minutes and get back in there, champ! Tuesday I didn’t even see the hotel from the time I woke up until very very late. I had people tell me how busy they’d seen me via twitter pics and updates, and I felt like I was glowing on cloud 9. It just confirmed I really did my very best to maximize my time while there. I DID IT. This is not the time to hide in the shadows. It was a large victory for someone like me. I can honestly say I’m proud – I grew more and pushed myself to keep going, finding that the unease would pass, and soon I’d be back to enjoying myself immensely while chatting up a Twitterlands friend or speaking to various vendors learning new things.

Women of NAB sushi!
Women of NAB sushi!

If there was any networking or fun event going on later that evening, I said yes or tried my best to attend it. For the most part, I made it to many night events I wanted to, minus a few major ones missed that I was either extremely worn out for or happened to miss while at another one. >.< WTB more time & energy, please! Notable ones included the #postchat meetup, Women of NAB sushi dinner, Adobe party, KISS Golf, Supermeet, etc. that I was glad I was able to make it out for. It was a fun way to end each day. Sometimes, things happened spontaneously and were equally fun! There is no wrong way to go about your evenings while here, so long as you’re fueling up noms at some point and having a good time.

Introvert Story Time:

Jason and me
Jason and me

Early on, I remember seeing Jason Levine from Adobe doing a presentation and thinking how on earth would I approach in the mass of people to meet him. What was I even going to say first? There is a little mental block that can happen when you suddenly recognize someone and think “ohhhh man, here’s my chance! I don’t want to screw it up!” I snuck up in the crowd after the presentation finished and kind of hid behind the taller people in front of me, sure if I was to do something nervous-silly that I could have a quick exit. Instead, the funny thing was he recognized me and waved, and in one minute, instantly I felt like I’d worried for nothing! He was incredibly easy to talk to (could have for hours, perhaps one day!) and very friendly, and I had an absolute blast chatting. Remember, the people you know off Twitter or otherwise that you meet up at NAB are your friends. So think of it like meeting up with a friend. ^__^ I’d met someone that I’d always wanted to meet, and I couldn’t be happier for it. I would have regretted if I’d listened to that inner introvert voice who assured me attending the live session and seeing them from afar “was enough” 🙂

So you see, don’t build things up so much in your head. Trust yourself. You’re going to be just fine.

This same experience happened again and again, and the nerves lessened, plus I got better at it each time. I feel different having just experienced all this condensed socializing.

Me, Kylee, & Sian
Me, Kylee, & Sian

Early on, I was able to meet Sian Fever through Kylee at a delicious brunch at the Avenue at her hotel. It was like meeting up with an old friend!! We all ended up having a long brunch, great conversation, and it turned out to be someone special that I enjoyed spending time with. She’s someone that radiates a lot of happy energy that you’re drawn to, so hopefully next year you’ll get the pleasure to meet her. It’s funny how you’ll meet someone initially and then run across them later on the floor or at events in the evenings. People you didn’t know or people you only knew through Twitterlands, right here to go grab dinner with! There were silly fun times with Monica ‘GlitterShitter’ haha – this gal is amazing, Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 2.55.42 PMa must-meet, and knows her stuff! Really enjoyed watching her demo at Rampant Design. The whole time watching all I thought was “I WANNA DO THIS!” She’s incredibly fun to spend time with, and I’m glad I got to hang with her more in the week!! PS: Epic nails are epic. And both of them wore super cute dresses that made me re-consider wearing them sometimes. Cherry bomb and Alice n Wonderland, wow! ^__^/<3

I met so many people at the #postchat meetup, I worry I have a hazy memory to even touch the surface of this epic night, but I want to try anyway. Last year, Kylee passed around a pink domo bear that some of you took surprise awesome pics with later made me have FEELS. ;__; I wasn’t even there and people were trying to cheer me up. I’d been looking forward to attending this for ages and will continue to any year I can make it out.

Jesse, Eric, and Matthew at #Postchat Meetup
Jesse, Eric, and Matthew at #Postchat Meetup

I got to meet the legendary Jesse Averna and Gordon Burkell (AoTG) finally, and Jesse had a little keyboard with him people could sign 😀 Felt like a neat memory from camp. I can’t even begin to account for everyone I met there, and I won’t even try, but I will say you all know who you are – thank you for talking to me and showing me a good time! SO happy to get to meet Weston Woodbury, after having gotten to work with him remotely on a seriously fun project for me, it was someone I definitely wanted to cross paths with, and we did! YAY. We had fun convos about gaming (ahh EQ days!) and much more – he’s someone I would enjoy hanging out with plenty! Stay in touch, ya hear!? Also got to meet the epic and hilarious Al Mooney (meant to get pic of your Rilakkuma bear w/my Kuritsu Nyanko black kittay toys together, WHOOPS!) Sean Mullen of Rampant DesignsJason Konoza and Eric Harnden who I have been meaning to cross paths with for some time! Got everlasting glowsticks from Kanen Flowers from That Studio, who I’d enjoyed doing a podcast with. Seriously, are they super powered glowsticks or is Vegas crazy energy powering them!? >.<

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I can’t describe how cool it was to finally run into more from our ‘Twin Club’ (also including Jesse and his bro!) haha the epic Diamond brothers, Josh and Jason, over at Frame.Io. I got to chat to them for much longer than I thought possible, got to ask a few specifics about Frame Io, and told a nerdy story about birthdays which ended with a picture. A true highlight!

I knew about the infamous WallyCam from previous years, and sure enough, I found myself talking to his selfie stick camera about my excitement to be at NAB & the #postchat meetup, all the while Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 2.50.07 PMtrying hard to forget I was being filmed. >.< I am glad I got to meet Walter in person, as well, a pleasure. I was lucky to be in the video with a great group of ladies who joined me, YAY! You can see that video here. In fact, there are many WallyCam’s from this year I’d suggest checking out, such as Jesse Averna’s interview about #postchat or Kylee Wall‘s interview about #postgendergap. If you were able to attend or not, there’s some really entertaining and informative stuff to enjoy watching.

I got to hang out often with Andrew regaling our old work horror stories and much more – this guy’s so easy to talk to! Live closer, dammit! I watched Matt’s epic goofy dance down Fremont St old strip while later chatting to Deb about anime at the gamer bar. These two!! I wish you guys lived closer. You are awesome! Listened to some fascinating stories from Ben Barden about his travels, if only there was more time – he took some fantastic photos at #postchat too ^_^ Also, I had a good podcast chat with Liam, who I’d been meaning to get more time with since I had to leave EditFest early the last time. He’s a very motivated guy that I could learn a thing or two from. OH and a very lucky winner hehe I had a very comforting and cool conversation with the guys at Screenlight about being an introvert, being new to NAB, got a secret recco for noms, and a nice little demo of Screenlight and how it works. Wonderful conversation with Matt Fisher of License Lab, (sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet up, Dennis!) who we found out hails from Evansville, and we all recalled memories of good ol Indy. He’s simply awesome to chat with! I got to hang with the Lucky’s lunch group (@dhepburn @EllsDynamic @EricAddison @ChrisContiPhoto @Adamski @h_hepburn) discussing evils of cable & everything in-between, lovely ladies of NAB, and much more than I could ever possibly describe (…or we’d all be here awhile), thank you all for the chats and fun!! Thank you so ever much 🙂 I was sad when NAB was over and we all had to head back home.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 3.28.02 PMOn the whole, I made it through the long walking sessions more gracefully than I thought I would. Any concerns I had about my healed up lung were very minimal. I could trek that place all the same. I was told a little tip by Deb Eschweiler before even coming out that I’d tucked away in my mind. It wasn’t until nearing the end of things that I’d found myself happily soaking my feet before dinner in nice hot water to loosen the muscles up. Comfies shoes or not, you may find Deb’s trick equally helpful.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 3.41.05 PMAside from fashion-be-screwed and bringing your most comfortable pair of shoes, the other best tip was to bring extra socks. I mean, bring your whole lot! If you happen to stop by your hotel between NAB day and your nightly events, you will be extremely refreshed simply by switching into a fresh pair. I ended up bringing so many that I didn’t use them all. In fact, wardrobe wise, I think I did pretty good. Lots of tees, a few tanks, two pairs of my fav jeans, and comfy soft leggings (including the epic unicorn/robot dino pair I wore to postchat mwahah) as well as even a dress in case of sudden fancy-pants moments. As far as outer layers go, I brought my favourite lucky plaid shirt (as it saw me through my popped lung back in october) as well as two different hoodies. Ah yes, and my super lucky flying tee that has a fun little Nova in a hero cape, SuperNova, that I always wear every time I fly.

sandstorm in Vegas
sandstorm in Vegas

And that brings me to the weather this year in Vegas… I’ve heard it gets quite hot in the day and that it cools off at night. It does indeed get warm during the day. Lots of sun, so you’ll need sunglasses, and if you are as ghostly pale as me? You’ll want some kind of face sunscreen, at the least. I don’t know how previous years specifically went, but this year we were delighted by a dusty sand storm thing midweek. I have never in all my life seen such a thing. Bizarre doesn’t begin to describe it, but with it came along gusty cold dusty winds which continued on for the next few days. My contacts were not impressed. lol. You’ll be mainly walking to NAB in the wee hours of the morning and/or when the sun is starting to go down to head back. I would definitely not underestimate how much it cools off. If you find yourself only with shorts and a light jacket, you might regret that. I tossed a hoodie into my backpack I brought in each day or simply wore it and took off as need be. Anyone with longer hair, bring hair ties! It can get windy :O

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 3.27.36 PMFlying. I still don’t really like it. xD Sorry. I love glancing out the window once we’ve reached a certain height, marveling at everything below. It feels surreal. I like seeing all the clouds and sun, or the stars and lit up cities at night. I don’t love turbulence or being packed in a full plane like sardines. LOL! Who does? It wasn’t too bad on my adventures out to Vegas, but certainly on my way home it was different. Between the sand storm and the rain storms near NC, I had a little bit of a rough flight, so much so that not even a rum & coke could entirely fix that. So perhaps all I mean to say is be prepared for a possible bumpy ride. Your return flight may be a little harder to deal with than your flight coming out. You’re more tired, thoroughly exhausted, ready to see your partners/fam/kitties/familiar faces. I remembered that if the flight attendants weren’t freaking out, that I shouldn’t be either. I flicked back on the Lord of the Rings movie that I’d loaded on my phone, zen’ed my nerves, and things went a bit better. Prep yourself with good music and movies. Keep your mind busy as possible, and remember you just experienced something amazing and this ride will pass quicker if you stop paying attention!

PORTABLE BATTERY! I cannot even begin to say what a relief it was to have it on this trip. I didn’t once have any issue where my phone was dying and I was Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 2.50.29 PMtied to a wall outlet while trying to network. I could breeze through the airport secure in knowing I would not have to be leaping to the nearest station to charge up (if one was even free, that is!) I will never travel without it again. Ever. I think a lot of people had portables with them, but if I’d come across anyone who needed some juice, I had a double USB port charger at the ready. I think I got mine for a bit under $30, and it was worth every penny. Do yourself a favour and purchase some sort of battery so you can keep up with everything.

The lines for noms and caffeine at any hall, south/central/noth, were truly of epic proportions. You can’t count on X place having X item that you saw mid day Sunday because chances are, it’s been Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 3.58.57 PMravaged and there’s no light snacks left except carby stuff. There were several times I braved the lines and waited it out – often, I would find myself chatting up my waiting line partner and suddenly exchanging cards and having a nice conversation. While I would say avoid these if you can at certain hours, there’s certainly some networking to be had if you keep yourself open to it. And, if you are lucky, that prized protein pack from Starbucks WILL be available still. hah.

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speak up to those around you!

That brings me to another fond story I’d like to share.. about strangers or wandering around Vegas and NAB alone. I had gotten up very early one morning to attend the Walking Dead panel. This was one of those won’t-miss sessions I promised myself I’d go to. It was the first time I was taking the monorail alone and heading into the halls alone. While nervous, I knew there was no other way around it, and I was going to have to trust myself to get there. That I would figure out a way if I found myself lost or took the wrong direction out. During this morning, I almost went to the wrong side of the monorail and quickly realized it. Scooting over to the proper side, there were two businessmen waiting there as well. One turned to me and mentioned he really liked my style. :O Wow. Okay! We were starting to chat and before long, he mentioned he watched anime and dressed up as Inuyasha for conventions. He even had the NecoMimi brainwave ears, WAIT! Really?! This was pretty damn cool. We chatted all the way while walking to the halls, exchanged cards, and headed about our days. I intended to run upstairs to their booth and see the ears, but sadly that turned out to be an incredibly busy day for me.

Don’t judge people by how they look, whether they have purple hair or wear a suit. Have you heard this a billion times by now? I myself would have never guessed either of them would be into anything like that, and a little trip on a monorail changed that. It was a good reminder that I hope you all take with you every time you go to an event like this.. don’t avoid someone simply because of how they look. Talk to them! Find out. Maybe you jive, maybe you don’t. You’ll never know until you try.

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Kiss golf time!

As for my experience as a woman at NAB (who happens to also have colourful hair/different look).. it is a mixed bag. I’ve heard about past years, and I do feel like it’s improved since then. There were times I feel like people treated me equally & well, and a few times where I felt like I was being dismissed or a bit ignored because it was assumed I wasn’t someone in the industry. Definitely the first day was the hardest for me on that front. I wasn’t sure what everybody would make of me. I realize I express myself pretty openly with how I look, and I don’t particularly love to don any ‘professional look’ suit for instance. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not me. But hey, most of us wear jeans and nerdy tees so I’m no different there. Certainly a few booths had questionable setups. A lot less booth babes. But sometimes assumptions would sneak their way in.. even during dinners with strangers! One time, during a sushi dinner with the lovely ladies Kylee and Sian, someone thought we meant we were reporters when asked what we do, “Editors.” >.> Um. Hm. But I am happy to say that more often than not, I was greeted friendly and spoken with like anybody else. That’s all I wanted or I think any of us would want. To feel included.

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#postgendergap panel

To that point, I attended the Women of NAB sushi dinner, which was full of interesting ladies and filled my tummy with delicious sushi over chatting. I felt welcomed even though I didn’t really know anyone at first, everyone was friendly and easy to get on with. Also, I was in a front row seat along with Andrew Kimery and Liam Johnson to watch Sian and Kylee as part of a panel with Ellen Wixted and Megan McGough, moderated by Amy DeLouise for “Working Together to Close the Gender Gap in Post Production.” There was some really great discussions had afterwards over drinks. If you weren’t able to attend, I highly suggest checking out their hashtag #postgendergap on Twitter!

Were there things I could have done better? Oh dear me, yes!! I planned many classes that ended up being in North to South hall. The little N or S before the room # hadn’t really meant much to me beforehand. HAH. I didn’t realize the sheer distance until my first day, and believe me whether in shape or not, that distance is pretty hard to navigate under a short time frame. The rest of the week I adjusted my schedule to make sure I wasn’t unrealistically expecting myself to get from upstairs south hall to upstairs north hall in 15 minutes. Not to mention needing a water/bio break NEWSFLASH: We’re not machines!

Taking a mid afternoon break during the chaos!
Taking a mid afternoon break during the chaos!

I think it goes without saying that making sure you’ve eaten properly while hiking all through the show floors is a challenge. I had nuts and jerky and snacks, but really, it’s not a meal. It sounds easy in theory if you plan it out and bring them along, I just wasn’t prepared for how extra hungry I was by the end of each day regardless. Thankfully, there’s plentiful and even healthy options you can stuff yer face with by dinner time. You may be able to find out what night events have noms and plan ahead for that, like the Supermeet or KISS Golf events. I still say, make sure you have something edible always on yourself in case of any nom-mergency. >.< My hotel cafe had these little protein bars I could tuck in my purse for a pick me up. All that walking. All the excitement and networking takes energy. Not to mention most likely having had less sleep than usual. Just know it will go wrong, despite your best efforts. All these things can make or break your experience. No one is going to have a good time when you’re barely awake, grumpy from lack of food, and have super sore feet. I felt pretty darn good most days, and even then, I could do better. Take care of yourself, and you will be happier for it.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 3.27.19 PMHow I avoided getting sick? Hand sanitizer on a little holder around my backpack/purse. Each night I made sure to rehydrate the heck out of myself between water and orange juice. I don’t normally drink juice, but in this case, I decided it was a necessity. My nose would get a little stuffy (just from the dry air, more than a cold) and most times by the time I dragged myself in to lay down, my voice was raw and I was exhausted. Hilariously, I spent usually a very quiet hour uploading pictures and catching up social media stuff. It was my nightly ritual, and pretty fun one at that – I’d see a picture and think OH WOW I really did that! hehe. The cafe downstairs had little bottles of apple/orange always stocked, so it was convenient on my way back in. Sometimes I finished the rest in the morning for a boost. Also, sheer will not to catch any colds or worse. hah. I think it worked 😉

TL;DR

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 2.54.26 PMMy two main thoughts regarding NAB: I wish I’d had more time and could have done more! It’s really quite impossible, no matter what you plan. Where else will I be so lucky to have so many great sessions, speakers, and floors to explore? Thank you all for showing me a great time, helping me network, showing me around the area, and most of all, making me feel included. I needed it more than you know, and I feel grateful to know/meet you in person FINALLY, mentally refreshed, and more determined than ever to keep being better.

You’re all awesome. <3

– Katie @ninjakittay

Your colourful haired ninja editor.

PS: By attending the Walking Dead Panel, I won a signed dvd by Kirkman out of sheer luck! <3 /squee.

much signed, very wow.
much signed, very wow.

the closest I've ever been to anybody famous O__O GLEEEN! wait! Sign my dvd haha
the closest I’ve ever been to anybody famous O__O GLEEEN! wait! Sign my dvd haha