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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
After 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.”
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.
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 laugh. 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! ^_^
While 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.
There 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! >.<
After 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 could 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 excited 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.
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!!
More 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 with 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.
Eventually 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.
As 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.
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 half 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.
Arriving 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 saw 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!
After 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!
After 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. >.<
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.
Once 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
Kylee 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 >.<
After 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!
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.
The 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 change 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?
In-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!
Halloween 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.
Sunday 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…
While 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 was 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*
One 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. UGHHHH 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.
Malo 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!!!)
Kim 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!! ^_^
ACTUAL HORROR STORY:
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 yawn). 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.
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.