Recently I’ve obsessively been researching travel to another country. I want to go to 30 countries before turning 30 years old and am currently at 26 countries at the age of 26 (I guess you can say I’m on my way). Unfortunately, the past year was extremely expensive. I moved across the country for a new job and spent so much on moving expenses alone (Who knew moving a mattress could be over $1000…not me). I found myself at a new job where I would have to wait awhile before earning a significant amount of PTO since I’d have to use my only accrued days for visiting family over the holidays. Plus, I just turned 26 and now am paying a lot more for my own health insurance. This also includes expensive adult braces to fix my TMJ issues that I’ve been putting off for 2 years.
On a side note, I made a joke about losing weight on Invisalign, since you have to take them out to eat or drink anything but water and you get too lazy to take them out. The official Invisalign twitter account decided to reply and I don’t think they understood my humor as you can see in the tweets below.
Soon, I found myself searching travel credit card sign up bonuses like crazy, including a search on the Facebook group called Girls LOVE Travel (#GLT). Organized by Haley Woods, Girls LOVE Travel is a global community of over 1 million active and aspiring female travelers providing resources and empowerment to one another through safety, socializing and support. What I love about the group is that you ask advice on any travel question you may have, but can easily search the group as someone has already had the same question as you. Also there are lots of people sharing their travel stories and photos of their journeys. I find it fascinating that all of the members can lead such different lives, but traveling has such an impact for each and every member.
Sometimes I get lost on the page, imagining my next travel adventures. Recently, I’ve been noticing a lot of people asking for recommendations on a place I either currently live or have lived before. For myself, I grew up in Philadelphia, but lived in Los Angeles for a bit, and now live in Birmingham, Alabama. I can usually spit off a couple things to do off the top of my head, but found that I really didn’t know about some of the hidden treasures of my own hometown. I was learning more from the comments of these recommendation posts than I had ever learned by actually living there myself.
I find that I got so into my work or school routine, that I barely made the time to explore my own city, only yearning for the next time I could hop on a plane. The irony is that I was dying to get far away to go on an adventure, when there were plenty of adventures in my own town just minutes away. I think we all get stuck in this mindset that a “travel trip,” has to be a plane ride away to some exotic location, but a travel trip to me is really about the adventure. You don’t have to go far away to see beautiful nature, a quirky museum, or to eat great food.
Not to say that I still don’t want to go on a big trip this year and mark off a new country, but I do have a new appreciation for the city that I currently live in. I moved to Birmingham only 4 months ago and have already done so much! If you do not follow my blog (which why wouldn’t you), I am doing a challenge called #52thingstodoinbham, where I try something new every week that you can only do in Birmingham, Alabama. You can also follow along by searching the hashtag on Facebook or Instagram (@shake_ur_bonbon). Already I have completed 21 things out of the 52 on my ever growing list. Not only did I learn more about my new city, but I have had some amazing adventures and met some great new friends along the way. Isn’t that what travel is all about anyways?
I constantly feel this need to get away and travel. I think it is a product of just being in my mid-20s and so unsure of what the next 5 or even 10 years hold. From one side I feel this pressure to do everything as soon as possible. That I need to reach my goals and travel across the entire globe as soon as possible as if somehow time will run out at any moment. On the other hand, is this grandma inside of me telling me to slow my roll and maybe just take a full night of doing nothing but watch Chopped. I always somehow end up looking up cheap flights and planning trips I never go on. Even during study abroad I was overwhelmed at the thought of hitting up so many European countries, when I could have spent 6 months in Ireland alone and still not have done everything. No matter what I was doing, I always just felt this need to travel or plan a travel trip to look forward to, but I am still learning how to stand still. I’m learning how to enjoy the moment and the little things that make each day an adventure.
Okay before I get all mushy on here (to be fair it is close to Valentine’s Day) I’ll wrap it up. Until next time, please enjoy this photo of us keeping safe during a tornado warning…
If you are interested in learning more about Girls LOVE Travel, check out the links below:
- IG: Instagram.com/girlslovetravel/
- FB Page: Facebook.com/girlsLOVEtravel/
- Store for Branded items: https://www.promoplace.com/glt-store
Girls LOVE Travel (GLT), was founded by Haley Woods on Dec 30, 2015. Girls LOVE Travel is a registered trademark with the USPTO and the GLT Logo is copyrighted. Girls LOVE Travel, LLc. is filed as an S Corp with the US government. Unauthorized use of the GLT name, logo or likeness to create merchandise, trips, or spin-off groups/subgroups will result in removal from GLT and all of its subgroups.
It seems that another year has passed. Not only is my birthday today, but in 3 days we will finish another revolution around the sun and toast champagne to 2020. Every year on my birthday for the past 3 years, I have written a blog post while waiting to board a delayed flight to Orlando from Philadelphia. Each time I get sentimental because of the time of the year. We are supposed to list out our goals for the new year and reflect back on how we did this past year. It’s hard to judge, when so much has changed just within the past couple months.
This year feels a bit different. Maybe it’s because it’s the first year that things actually start to get worse as you age. At 25 I could rent a car and my car insurance went down $40. Now at 26, I have to get off my parent’s really great insurance and get my own high deductible BS plan. Also, I’m just tired, all the time. I guess I really just need the new Adele album or something to get me through the new year.
What I am finding to be the most difficult is the constant change. The moving around, the uprooting, and the traveling. I swear no matter how many flights I have been, I never have enough miles to get anything for free and I’m just constantly in debt. If you read my prior blogs, you will know at the beginning of this year, I was working a night shift (4pm-midnight) and then gradually in the spring, I went back to 9am-5pm with a promotion. Things were finally starting to balance out. I had my routine down and I even found a yoga place in LA I could afford once a week. Then I was offered a job as a comedy writer/producer in Birmingham, Alabama. In October I packed up all my things, drove cross-country, took a risk and started over yet again.
I think we as humans are like trees. When we enter a new environment, there is little keeping up standing still. Most of the time you don’t have friends, family, or any communities. It seems as if a simple gust of wind could easily move you to another nearby forest. Then a couple weeks go by and you start to get situated in your new apartment, hanging up photos and artwork, and you finally get comfortable at your new job. A couple more weeks go by and you start to meet some new people your age, and take the leap to leave your apartment on a Saturday night. Suddenly the roots grow a bit deeper in the ground, stabilizing your base within the forest. As time went on I didn’t realize how big my roots had started to grow in Los Angeles, until I uprooted them from the ground and planted my tree in a completely new city. The good news is that it has been a couple weeks for me and my roots are slowly taking place, at least enough to hold me steady if a strong wind (or perhaps tornado in Alabama) swings my way.
So now I sit again in the Philadelphia airport with my free birthday Starbucks drink, typing away at how I think the past year has gone by. In an essay I wrote for the UCLA Professional Program application, I wrote that “scar tissue was like the knots in wood; nature’s way of dealing with stress put into a system.” At the time I was talking about overcoming a recent surgery, but now I see it as more than just scar tissue. As humans we adapt to whatever scenario we are thrown into. No matter the stress put in our system, we find a way to adapt and grow even stronger. In a small-scale way, I am just another person trying to figure out what I want in life, but growing even stronger with every change. So here is to another year of big changes not for myself, but hopefully for everyone out there reading!
For anyone who follows me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have already seen my ongoing challenge #52thingstodoinbham. Every week I have to do something you can only do in Birmingham, Alabama that I have never done before. This can include everything from food, drinks, hiking spots, museums, or even just points of interest. Although I would love to do one thing every week, it has been hard with the holidays and weddings taking up some of my weekends. I am already at #day11 of the challenge and I can honestly say it is helping so much to learn my new city. Not only am I going to all different areas of the city, but I am learning so much about the city and its history. Feel free to go check out the hashtag, share the posts, and send me any tips for things to do around the Birmingham area.
Now I must go board my flight, but until next time please enjoy this photo of me getting a bit tipsy and joining a zydeco band with a washboard and spoons on Bourbon Street…
As most of you know, I recently uprooted my life to Birmingham, Alabama for a new job. I have moved a lot in the past 7 years, so much, that I have not stayed in the same apartment for over a year in the past 7 years. Over the span of those 7 years, I lived in 6 different cities. Like most of you, my life was a constant mess of stress and a full schedule. For the past 2.5 years in Los Angeles, I filled my time with a full-time job and night classes. I spent every moment busy and any free time writing.
For the first time in my life, I took a step back. I had start climbing to the top, but I was unsure it was a climb I wanted to be on. I was not sure who I was anymore. I was simply a mass of matter getting through the craziness of each day.
Fast forward to driving cross country and moving into my first single apartment, and crazily shopping for furniture and anything to fill the walls. Then a week passed and the craziness all stopped. I finished moving all the furniture and unloading the boxes. I had cleaned the apartment 5 times over. It was just me, alone in my very clean apartment and for the first time in a long time, I had what people would call “down time.” I actually found myself with a lot of it.
What do I do with my down time? Surely, I have to have hobbies outside of work and writing. Right? I came to the scariest conclusion of them all, something I was scared to admit, but I no longer knew myself. I had no hobbies anymore, or worse I did not even know what I was interested in anymore.
People told me to go on Meetup or similar sites to find a group and go out and meet people with similar interests. What did I even like to do? All I’ve been doing in stressing over work and school for so long that I forgot what it was actually like to plan something for the pure purpose of fun. What did I enjoy doing other than stressing myself out?
So, then I went down a rabbit hole of looking up things to do and meet up groups and it is a struggle out there. For one, as a girl alone in a city that I don’t know, there are just some things I don’t feel comfortable going to alone. There are just some other groups that I know I won’t like. For example, the skiing group. I am sure you are all lovely people, but I found out at a young age that even the bunny hill was a disaster for me. The promise of sipping hot chocolate in the lodge only worked to get me to go back one time too many (just ask my mom how the Girl Scout ski trip went and you’ll know). Also, some sites are not for meeting friends, they are confusing dating sites so be careful folks.
In my strange google searching about meet up groups and events, I came across a quote from Carol Burnett tonight that reads, “only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” I have no idea the context in which she is speaking, but the quote stuck with me. No one is going to give me some magical beans that would just fill all the time. If I’m not willing to go out there and do it for myself and find things that made me happy, then nothing will ever change. I would be forever stuck coming home to my terribly cooked dinners, re-watching Gilmore Girls for the fifth time.
I re-read a blog post I wrote on my 25th birthday, which also coincides with the new year because they are 3 days apart. Yes, people forget about my birthday due to Christmas and New Year’s, and if you’re reading this I am now expecting double gifts because I get gypped some years (just kidding – but am I?). Anyways, I made a promise to myself that I was going to make decisions solely on the purpose of putting my happiness first. In case you are wondering how it’s going, well I just uprooted my life and don’t know what I am doing (so like really good I think).
So, now it is time. I will be leaving my house to try activities I have never tried next week in hopes that I like one of them. I am terrified to go do something completely new with complete strangers in a city that makes no sense to me still, but here we go. Here is to turning 26 soon and still having no idea what I’m doing. Updates to follow.
Until next time, please enjoy this photo of me on the set of my first video with It’s a Southern Thing…
The finished video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXhSPLcVfvs&t=1s
Well friends it’s official, I signed a lease and now live in Birmingham, Alabama. Just when I thought moving to Los Angeles with no job or place to live would be difficult, I actually found this move a bit more infuriating. The first move, I had no furniture or kitchen supplies. I bought most stuff there and packed my car with clothes and my beloved air mattress. This time, I had things to worry about. I had a bed frame, box spring, and a mattress! I even had a dresser. This was my first experience hiring a moving company and so far, I am in an empty apartment, with no internet, barely any furniture, awaiting all my belongings, with an ETA that is over a week off from the move in day. Oh yeah, the internet is still not up.
I’m currently writing from a local coffee shop I found down the block. It is actually quite nice. Shout out to O’Henry’s Coffee. Meanwhile, I’ve spent the whole day on the phone trying to set up everything else. After only two mental breakdowns, I think I’m in an okay place considering I just uprooted everything. I guess you will need to ask me after I go to the DMV next week for my mood. I think tonight, I will do my favorite activity of staring at a blank wall, trying to fall asleep on the new couch I had to buy just to have somewhere to sit and sleep till my stuff arrives. Granted, I was going to buy a couch eventually, but my credit card thinks otherwise.
I sounds like I’m ranting, well because I am. Moving totally sucks. I’ve spent all my money and can’t even watch Netflix in my own place until the internet decides to show up. I am not sure if I just blocked out the memory of moving all my stuff to Los Angeles, or if it really was not as bad. On the bright side, my shower tub was fixed and my water is turned on so I can take a shower. Also, the electricity is on and I can use the kitchen. In terms of my stuff not arriving, a quick trip to Target for a towel, some plates and other kitchen things can last out the week. Side note: I now live 2 minutes from a Target and Fresh Market and will spend all my time there. If you have not been to a Fresh Market you have not lived. I used to go there for fun in college (I had no life as you can tell).
This is my first time living alone. I have always had room mates, but now that the rent is cheaper down south, I finally decided to live alone. It is really weird. You come back inside and no one is there. You go to the fridge and everything is yours. Even the common space has only your decorations or things. This is my first time ever having to even purchase a TV, TV stand, couch, matching chairs (I have never had 2 matching chairs till now), and a rug. I truly thought all of that would fill the place, but alas it still looks very empty. If it weren’t for the spending money aspect of it, I really did enjoy getting to pick out furniture. If someone wants to put me on one of those decorating/design shows on HGTV, I will not fight you. I will also give you my Venmo.
For the past days my mom and dad have been down in Alabama helping me move. Sadly, since the moving company messed up and none of my things are here, there was only so much we could set up and unpack. Thank you to both of them for taking the time to help me down here. I don’t think I could have done all of this alone. They both left for Philly this afternoon, and then that’s when it hit me. I am alone. Silence. No one in this place, but me (and well the techno music coming from the upstairs unit). I felt like Liz Lemon in the pilot of Thirty Rock, where she chokes alone in her single apartment. I’m fine. We are all fine.
I know so many other people go through this every day. People move every day. People live alone every day. At 25 I thought I’d be better equipped and emotionally ready, but I am still terrified. I guess it is time to start discovering the area and going outside the apartment. It is way easier to write that than to go out and do it. I still have so much to get done, but now I am just awaiting other things to happen.
Once I am more settled, I want to do something to force myself to get to know the city (and possibly meet some friends along the way). A shout out to Julia, who actually did this in Los Angeles and gave me the idea. She did a new LA only thing every week. Whether it be a museum, park, shop, or even a dining experience, it had to be something new each week that was LA specific. I thought it was an amazing idea, especially for someone like myself who is new to a city. With this in mind, I may start 52 things to do in Birmingham, which is basically me just doing something new in the city every week that I can only do in Birmingham. If we can count Vulcan as my first week that would be great! Don’t worry you’ll read about it in the next paragraph. I may need to wait until I am a little more settled in, but I do plan on starting this and keeping the blog updated with each new thing. If any Birmingham friends want to join please let me know as you can tell I am very lonely at this time.
On a more light-hearted note, we visited the Vulcan Statue and park in Homewood, Alabama. It is a suburb of Birmingham, where I now live. It is a giant sculpture of the Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, that is a symbol of the city’s iron origins. There is a museum to walk around that tells the history of Birmingham and its role in the industrial revolution. Since we are children, we played the scavenger hunt meant for children through the museum. Highly suggest the scavenger hunt!
The Vulcan sits atop a hill and you can take the stairs or elevator up to see views of the city. One admission ticket works all day so you can even go back at night to take in the views with some wine and beer in hand. The park is also gorgeous and features a great walking/biking path.
Here is to new adventures in a new city! It can only get better once the movers arrive this weekend!
Until next time, please enjoy the most important view of the Vulcan statue…
As many of you know, I have just arrived in Birmingham, Alabama for a new job. I have spent the last few days road tripping cross country from Los Angeles with my mom. We had the pleasure of visiting 8 states over the course of 5 days. I had done parts of this road trip before as I have moved quite a couple times, but this is my first time doing the road trip while having a blog (so now you get to hear all about it, but I promise I’ll keep it fun).
The first day we left bright and early from Los Angeles and went all the way to Flagstaff, Arizona. It amazed me how long it took just to get out of Los Angeles (you know traffic and such), but once you are out of the city, the landscape is gorgeous. You are surrounded by mountains and deserts. One thing that really stood out to me as the days continued was how much the landscape changed day to day. It felt like it would happen all of the sudden, but maybe it was because I was too invested in my Spotify playlists to really pay attention. I sometimes forget just how big and vast our country is.
Some people here may know that Route 66 is decommissioned and you can no longer drive it all the way from Santa Monica to Chicago. It is now replaced mostly on the southern route by I-40. Even the last time I did this trip, I did not know much about Route 66, other than the famous song about getting your kicks, and that there were diners along the way. This time, I really wanted to look up the history behind the infamous road and truly understand the oddities we were seeing along the journey.
Before Route 66, there were no roads interlinking major cities, only some country roads between small towns. While legislation for public highways first appeared in 1916, Congress enacted a plan for national highway construction in 1925. The numerical designation 66 was assigned to the Chicago-to-Los Angeles route in the summer of 1926 and it soon became the nation’s principal east-west link. The road connected the main streets of rural and urban communities and for the first time most of these small towns had access to a major national thoroughfare. Now small farmers could transport their goods to major cities across the US. By 1930, the trucking industry had come to rival the railroads for preeminence in the American shipping industry.
John Steinbeck’s classic novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” calls Route 66 the “Mother Road.” The book, as well as the film, immortalized Route 66 in the minds of all Americans, as an estimated 210,000 people migrated to California to escape the dust bowl. From then on, the road came to symbolize a road to opportunity. I may dare say a road to the American Dream.
By 1938, Route 66 was reported as a continuously paved roadway, ready for all weather. Now that this all-weather road was ready, Army captain, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who found his command bogged down near Ft. Riley, Kansas, while on a coast-to-coast maneuver, was about to get the inspiration for a new system of transportation. The War Department need improved highways for rapid mobilization during wartime and to promote national defense during peacetime. When America became involved in World War II, the War Department wanted to use the west for military training bases because of the geographic isolation as well as the dry weather. Route 66 helped to facilitate the single greatest wartime manpower mobilization in the history of the nation.
After the war, Americans were now more mobile than ever. They could leave behind the harsh winters up north, and head down Route 66 to relocate. This is the same time the popular phrase, “get your kicks on Route 66,” appeared in the famous song by Bobby Troup and Tommy Dorsey. Later, it was released in 1946 by Nat King Cole. Store owners, motel managers, and gas station attendances recognized early on that even the poorest travelers needed food, water, gas, car maintenance and a place to rest. It was no longer the military bringing in all the money, but now the tourists.
Sadly Route 66 does not have a happy ending (I did tell you it was decommissioned at the beginning to be fair). Soon, the overused road became too narrow and deteriorated to drive on safely. The same public lobby that gained popularity for Route 66, now was creating its demise. Poetic if you ask me. Dwight D. Eisenhower was in his second term in the White House and was very impressed with the German’s use of the Autobahn, or national highways crossings their country, that allowed individuals to drive with speed and safety at the same time. Congress passed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which provided the finances for a national interstate and defense highway system. By 1970, almost all segments of the original Route 66 were bypassed by a modern four land highway. For most of our drive this was I-40.
Now that I have given you a history lesson, I want to focus more on the symbolisms of this road. It was the first-time people from one part of the country could even get goods and services to another part of the country hundreds of miles away. More importantly, it was the first time, everyday people, could take a road trip, and make the decision to move for an improved life. As you drive down I-40, you pass many relics of what used to be along the route, including broken down gas stations, foreclosed buildings, old cafes, and entire ghost towns. While intriguing, I also found it quite sad to see a booming industry fall and crumble, causing all the little towns that spiked from Route 66, to suddenly fall out of existence. Like everything in life, something new and improved always comes along and the others around it will fall. The new ways are constantly pushing out the old ways in an endless cycle.
For me, it was realizing that I had the privileged of road tripping across country to take a job in another state. Unlike times of the past, I was able to drive safely and speedily across 8 states in 5 days. It is crazy to think that before interstates and even before Route 66, none of this would have been possible. Although the dreams of those small towns are now standing as ghost towns, the idea of the road to opportunity still keeps its inspiration. I have driven this route 3 times and each one has brought opportunity just in the sheer fact that I am able to travel with my car. It has also connected people on a different level. Not only do you just know the people in your small town, but now you can travel to any US city and meet people across the nation. The most interesting part of the whole adventure was meeting people across the way and seeing how much we all have in common even if we live hundreds of miles apart. Before I continue going on about roads forever, here are the actual attractions we stopped at.
Our first major stop was Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. It is a pit stops that features tree shapes with bottles and antiques. A fun place to walk around and take pictures. No bathrooms though. Afterwards we stopped in Kingman, Arizona, home to a famous Route 66 diner, Mr. D’z. The town is filled with Route 66 murals and even a Route 66 museum. We also stopped at Area 66 in Arizona, that claims to have been the sight of an alien crash landing. There is a museum (yes, we did have to pay to see it) and I am bound to secrecy. I do believe in aliens if anyone was wondering. Finally, that night we got to Flagstaff, Arizona for some rest.
The next day we headed to see the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, we had rain for majority of the day and night, but we did not let that stop us from seeing the sights. As we chugged along, we stopped in Winslow, Arizona to stand on a corner (if you don’t know that song reference, then we need to have a long talk). After we made a pit stop at the Little Painted Desert Park. It wasn’t really a park if you ask me. It was a dirt road filled with pot holes, that led to a cliffs edge with beautiful views of the colored desert. There was no guard rails or parking and if you weren’t paying attention, your car could literally just drive right off the cliff. Since we weren’t trying to pull a Thelma & Louise, we continued on to the Petrified Forest. As I said earlier, it was raining all day, so we had to drive most of the park and only get out for short periods to get photos and views. That night we made it to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was also our first time change and really freaked us out as the GPS changed before we came to the realization ourselves.
That next morning, we headed to the old historic part of Albuquerque. It is filled with cute shops, restaurants and buildings. We walked around (may have bought more candles, do not judge) for a bit and then had a mini pit stop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Of course, we got some Mexican food and did some more shopping. Then, we were on the road to Amarillo, Texas. Once we crossed into Texas, it was the first time the landscape changed drastically. It was also luckily our last time change of the trip. Before dark, we snapped a photo of Cadillac Ranch. Another classic Route 66 roadside attraction, featuring Cadillacs stuck in the ground covered in the spray paint of many tourists over the years.
The next day was our longest drive. We first stopped in Shamrock, Texas. It was yet another small town that still had some parts of the original Route 66 that ran through the main drag. I guess we can say we did drive on Route 66. The town has a piece of the famous Blarney Stone from Ireland (except I did not want to kiss this one without a Lysol wipe). The town is also the official Saint Patrick’s celebration city of Texas. Along with this, the town has U Drop Inn, an art deco gas station/diner from the 1930s that used to be a stop along 66. Even Elvis once sat at a booth at the café. You may also recognize the iconic style of the stop from the Pixar movie, Cars, which took inspiration from Shamrock, TX for the design of Radiator Springs. We had to quickly make it through Oklahoma (no time to stop really) in order to get to our hotel in Fort Smith, Arkansas before dark.
That next morning, we had some amazing maple pecan lattes from a local joint called the Fort Smith Coffee Company. Then, we headed out to Little Rock, Arkansas. First, we went to the President Clinton library and museum. Although interesting, it was more intriguing to see Central High School. If you are unaware of The Little Rock Nine and the famous desegregation of the school, I highly suggest you educate yourself. It was horrible to think this did not happen so long ago, and really made me see how much further we still have to come as a nation. After Little Rock, we drove into Memphis, Tennessee for the night and were able to go out on Beale Street. It reminded me a lot of Bourbon Street, filled with neon lights, open alcohol carry, and lots of tourists. A shout out to the amazing police officer who helped my mother and I get away from three creepy middle-aged men trying to hit on us. He was a true gentleman and every man should try to help women who they see in uncomfortable situations.
For our last day of the road trip, we stopped in Tupelo, Mississippi. Our first stop was to Queen’s Reward, a local meadery. For those who don’t know, mead is in fact alcohol, that is created from fermented honey. All it requires is honey, yeast, and water, and it’s delicious. Queen’s Reward uses only local Mississippi honey and provides tastings and even mead slushies. It was amazing getting the run down from the owner herself. Afterwards we went to see the birthplace of Elvis Presley. The attraction has the actual 2 room house (one bedroom, and a kitchen) that Elvis was born in. You can also go inside the church Elvis attended as a boy as well as a museum full of relics and paraphernalia. I am not a huge Elvis fan, but it was awesome to see the humble beginnings of where it all started.
From Tupelo, it was only a short drive into Birmingham. We arrived Friday evening and were excited to finally stay put in the same location for a couple days. Luckily, we were able to find an awesome apartment in the Homewood area of Birmingham today and we will start the move in process in the next couple days. It’s time to continue down the mother road of opportunities! A huge thank you to my mom for coming on this road trip with me and always supporting my dreams. Also, a shout out to my dad who is helping move the furniture and set up internet out here in Alabama. Roll Tide!
Until next time, please enjoy this photo of a questionable neon sign on Beale Street….
Please also enjoy this photo of Cali girl achieving her greatest accomplishment to date, fitting both her favorite balls in her mouth at the same time…
Hello world! Life is getting a bit crazy, so I’m trying to squeeze in a post about Vancouver before uprooting my life and driving cross country for the fourth time. I’m not panicking, you are!
About a week ago, Chad and I went on a mini 5-day vacation to Vancouver, Canada. Why Vancouver? Well if you want to get Global Entry and do an interview without having to schedule one (which you cannot schedule at LAX or Burbank by the way), you can do the interview while coming back on an international flight. We figured kill two birds with one stone. Travel to a new country and complete our global entry applications. Also, Vancouver is a city I have been wanting to visit since I’ve moved to California.
Vancouver is a beautiful city! It was so clean and easy to get around. Maybe one day I could even see myself living there (one move at a time for now). Our first day was spent walking around the city. Of course, our first stop was a convenience store to buy umbrellas. Our idiot selves did not think that the pacific northwest would be rainy enough to warrant umbrellas during our visit. To be fair we packed very last minute. We stopped by English Bay Beach, which was gorgeous. Also, what stood out to me was the plethora of purple shells lining the shore.
Next to the beach were these creepy (maybe not creepy to others) statues of a little boy. I naturally sorority squatted next to one of them.
Next, we walked around Stanley Park. It is a large park that borders downtown Vancouver and is surrounded by the waters of Burrard Inlet and English Bay. Fun fact: Stanley Park is about one-fifth larger than New York’s Central Park. There are a lot of attractions, hiking spots, and restaurants around. the park. Prior to its uses as a public park, it was the traditional territory of Coast Salish First Nations and its history of habitation dates back more than 3,200 years.
The park features an 8.8km seawall that surrounds the peninsula. here is also Lions Gate Bridge which is visible from the seawall. Last thing I’ll mention in the park is the totem poles. These feature work by Kwakwaka’waka people of northern Vancouver Island as well as local Nations.
Later that evening we had dinner at The Dark Table. The below italicized text is from their website and I think it sums up what they are about perfectly:
“The blind dining concept originated in Switzerland in the home of a blind man—Jorge Spielmann—who blindfolded his guests in an attempt to show them what eating is like for a blind person.
Spielmann’s guests enjoyed the experience immensely, and claimed that when their sense of sight was removed, taste, smell, hearing and touch were amplified to the extent that the social act of eating took on a whole new meaning. These initial dinners evolved into a restaurant concept that included a dark dining room and blind servers, a tradition that Dark Table will continue.
With an unemployment rate of 70%, the blind face obvious challenges in a society that is preoccupied with visual communication, but in a dark dining environment, the tables are turned—the non-sighted servers guide the sighted.
While Alameddine is proud to offer employment to blind and visually impaired people, he admits that it is truly the blind offering this unique, eye-opening experience to the sighted.”
So, in case you were questioning it, yes, we ate in complete darkness. It was so dark that when you closed your eyes it was no different than keeping them open. Our waitress, Yuko, who was amazing by the way, lead us to our table and served us all evening. At first, I was little anxious. I am actually pretty terrified of the dark, so this experience was a bit fear inducing at the start, but by the end, I learned that I am fine and I should just trust my instincts. I must admit that Chad and I both ate lemons by accident. That was an unexpected twist (lemon puns). I also may have gotten food all over my face trying to get bites into my mouth. Overall the experience was incredible and opened my eyes (okay terrible way to word this, but here we go) to the way someone who is blind would experience something as simple as dining out with friends. They have locations in Montreal and Toronto as well. If you have a chance to go, it is worth the trip!
The next morning, we went to Granville Island. It is a peninsula that was once an industrial manufacturing area, but now is a thriving spot for visitors. There is a daily market open as well as many restaurants and shops right on the water.
Later that day we adventured to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park. The bridge is a simple suspension bridge that crosses the Capilano River. It is 140 meters long and 70 meters above the river (look at me using the metric system now that I traveled). The park also features tree top adventures with hiking paths running through the tree tops with mini suspension bridges connecting them. For the thrill seekers, there is the cliff walk, which is a narrow walk right at the edge of the 70-meter drop to the river. Of course, we had to walk across!
The next day we did as every basic girl does, we waiting an hour in line to try a hip brunch spot called Jam Café. I don’t know if I can ever say food is worth an hour wait in the rain, but my food was amazing! We then walked to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. It is a classical Chinese garden, which is the first Chinese garden built outside of China.
We also walked around the Gastown district of town. Gastown was Vancouver’s first downtown core named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain, and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area’s first saloon. The town soon prospered and quickly became the center of trade and commerce. Obviously, there is a lot of history that happened from then to the Gastown now, which features a hip part of town with old buildings, new restaurants, eclectic shops, and many tourists. I will spare you all the details here. Fun fact: Gastown was designation a National Historic Site of Canada in 2009.
Gastown’s most famous landmark is the Steam Clock. It was built in 1977 to cover a steam grate. Although originally the clock required power from electricity, with the financial support of local businesses, the steam mechanisms were restored and it now stands as a major tourist attraction.
For our last day, we headed first to the VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Now a beautiful botanical garden, was once an old golf course, that the British Columbia provincial government and the city of Vancouver signed an agreement to provide the funding to develop a public garden (Leslie Knobe would be proud I think). The place also featured a hedge maze and waterfall.
After the gardens we went to Salt’s Tasting Room, a wine tasting place on Blood Alley (yes, I did type Blood Alley – supposedly it was not a nicer area of town just a short time ago). The place had a ton of wines, cheeses, and meats. What is not to love? Since we had to be in the taxi to the airport by 4pm, we had to call it an early night.
We got back from our vacation and Chad had to immediately leave for a gig in New York City. Now, I am finishing up my last week of work in Los Angeles and scheduling the moving company to pick up all my things (okay just my bed and dresser, I don’t have that much real things). Then, this Sunday my mom and I start our road trip cross country to Alabama. Roll Tide! Lots more updates to come!
Until next time, please enjoy this photo of the food options on the tree top adventures that I obviously purchased with my hot chocolate…
I know that some people may already know, but big life news is ahead! As of September 22nd, I will once again be packing up my car and driving cross country to Alabama. I accepted a job at Red Clay Media in Birmingham, AL as a comedy writer/producer for It’s a Southern Thing. I am beyond excited to get started, but of course a little nervous uprooting my life yet again.
Check out It’s a Southern Thing here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDyCK-HRoSqUsowdKzOVHZA
For the past 7 years, I have never lived in the same apartment for over a year. May sound crazy, but I was bouncing between college, study abroad, new housing, back to Philly, and eventually LA. The only difference is that this time I have actual furniture (I guess because I am now an adult and moved past my blow-up air mattress and Walmart plastic dresser days). I used to be able to fit all my belongings in the trunk of my car, but now I must embark on a journey of calling a moving truck and for the first time ever living in an apartment by myself. As much as change can be scary, I am very excited for it.
As of August, I had officially been living in LA for 2 years. It has also been 5 years since I first came out here for my first internship. Although it feels like forever ago that Katie and I arrived with no place to live as we desperately moved into the only apartment that accepted us. We would job search for hours as we sat in our furniture-less apartment, dreaming of the days when we would finally both have it together enough to buy a matching plate set. For anyone planning on moving to a city with no job or place to live, it is an obvious risk, but well worth it. I can safely say, we both have beds, real dressers, couches, and 3 chairs (non-matching, but at least there are more than 2). More importantly we both have jobs, friends, connections and lives out here. Now, it only makes leaving harder. The more roots I have stuck in the ground, the harder they become to unwind. Although I have so many good things ahead in Birmingham, each time I leave a new city, it only becomes harder.
Over the past two years, I have not only grown my career and writing, but I have also grown so much as a person. I learned how to fend for myself more than I ever had to college. So much has happened, but there is still so much I feel that I need to do. I’ve been out here for two year and never even hiked to the Hollywood sign. It’s strange how you always tell yourself you are going to do all these things in your new city, and you don’t realize until you are packing up your things, that the list you made is only half checked off. It is cool to look back and think of all the things I did that weren’t even on the check list to begin with. Those are always my favorite memories.
Some like to call this part of life “starting over.” I hate to use the phrase because it implies I am ending everything I just had. Like with each move in life, all the past moves have stayed with me and made me into the person I am today. We are never truly starting over, as everything in our past continues to push us forward.
Now I am typing up my thoughts as I sit in my favorite coffee shop in North Hollywood. The same coffee shop where I wrote “Lady Parts,” and spent countless hours writing new stories and sketches. Too bad my half-filled punch card won’t be as valuable down south, unless someone wants to come eat a crap ton of pie with me before I leave LA. I’m not crying, you’re crying!
Thank you to everyone I met out here in Los Angeles. From work, classes, and flag football, it has been quite a ride. I have made some amazing connections and learned more than I could have possibly imagined.
I am spending my last weekend in LA packing up, tying up loose ends, and trying to fit in as many goodbyes as possible. On Wednesday I leave for a small vacation to Vancouver with Chad. When I return, I work my last week at Encore, have the movers pick up my things, and leave that Sunday to start my road trip to Alabama (Roll Tide). Of course, more updates to come as I journey to Vancouver and drive cross country with my mom.
Until then, please enjoy this photo of us enjoying the Good Burger Pop Up (I’m a dude, you’re a dude, we’re all dudes)…
It has been a whirlwind of a month. Ups and downs. Lows and highs. It’s almost as if I’m doing this thing called life.
June marked my two-year anniversary of moving to Los Angeles. For those of you who do not know, I purchased a one-way ticket to LA with no job or place to live once I was cleared from my doctor.
I always get questions about life in LA and the glamorous world of Hollywood. Well, not to burst your bubble, but it isn’t just celebrity sightings and brunch every day. Los Angeles is just like any other city. There are good parts. There are bad parts. It is not any more glamorous than anywhere else I have lived. Maybe people have visions of me driving down palm tree lined streets in my fancy car (I did get an electric car though so maybe that makes me more LA). Everyone wants to believe that in LA everything is amazing, but it’s like any other place. I live in a decent apartment, go to work, come home, and repeat. Stuck in the same never-ending cycle you are, opening the same door repeatedly even though you know where it leads.
I believe we live life in circles. Highs turning into lows turning back into highs. On Saturday I literally and figuratively came full circle on a journey that started from as young as I can remember. Not to say that the circle or journey is complete, but it made a significant upturn.
For those who may not know me or have not read any prior blog posts, I had been struggling with female health issues for a long time. I had no idea I was even struggling with them until I was old enough to understand what was wrong. Flash forward to the year after college graduation (May 2016). I moved home and immediately got surgery with a 6 weeks minimum bed rest period. I learned so much through the experience, but the biggest thing was confidence to speak out on female health care in hopes that I can make someone else’s experience better than mine. I wrote the blog post, “Bonnie’s Bed Post,” exactly three years ago about the surgery and received a lot of great feedback. What made me the happiest was people reaching out to me after reading the post. People either were curious enough to want to learn and education themselves on the topic or people were also struggling and happy to see someone talking about it. All we want as human beings is to not feel alone. When you are going through a health issue that is marked as taboo, or has little research, it can feel as if you are isolated from everyone else. All I would have wanted was to know someone else who made it through. Someone to talk to. Someone to relate to.
I figured what better way to relate to not just women dealing with these issues, but to everyone around the world, than a TV comedy. The point is not just to talk about women’s issues, but to do it in a way, that starts a conversation, and leaves room for a couple laughs. I set out on a journey to LA for the UCLA Professional Program for TV Comedy Writing (found out I got in a week after buying the one-way flight, so that worked out), and learned not only about screenwriting, but how to turn my personal stories into something that everyone could relate to.
Fast-forward to the summer of 2018. I graduated the UCLA program with a script titled, “Lady Parts.” I continued working on it after the program and started submitting to contests in hopes it would gain some attention. I kept taking the feedback from all the rejections and continued re-working the script. Fast forward again to July 2019. I’m at home watching the Bachelorette while eating a Trader Joe’s microwave chicken pot pie (actually really tasty), when my phone dings. I got an email. I won? I WON? My script was the 2019 grand prize winner for the ISA’s Table Read My Screenplay Hollywood.
Now here is where the story gets hard for people. Lots of people assumed that suddenly I would quit my job and that agents, managers, and producers would be calling me all day. I hate to tell you, but my phone was quiet. Just because you win a competition, does not mean Netflix is calling you asking to make your TV show for millions of dollars. It is just not how it works. Again, I was sitting home watching the Bachelorette and not even as it aired because I’m too poor for cable. I’m sure you hear those Hollywood stories of actors getting their big break when they only have $1 left to their name. Those stories are true for a reason. Things don’t just happen out here, you must make them happen for yourself (a little luck never hurts either).
By winning the contest, my script had a live table read by professional actors and actresses which was directed by a professional director. I also got free entry to the Hollywood Pitch Festival. This all took place the Lowe’s Hotel in Hollywood. I want to thank ISA, the actors and actresses, and the director for taking the time to bring my story to life. It was pleasure getting to work with such talent!
The pitch festival was a weekend long event, but since we were doing a run-through of the table read, I only attended part of it. The festival had a big room lined with tables. Each table hosted an agent, manager, or producer/production company, waiting to hear your pitch. The tables all switched out every 2 hours for 3 days straight. You only had 5 minutes at each table. Also, you had to make reservations ahead of time for certain individuals, otherwise you were in the standby line and paired with whoever was open at the time. This could be good or bad depending on what you are pitching. For example, my TV female comedy may not be what the horror sci-fi feature agents are looking for. No matter whose table you were at, you never know what will intrigue them and it is always great practice.
The pitch festival felt like boarding a train at a crowded station. Every 5 minutes someone would yell the time and groups of pitchers would rush through the door trying anything to get their script in the right hands. It was a constant frenzy of yelling, running, and like most things waiting in line.
The most exciting part of the whole competition was winning the table read. I spent the afternoon working with the director and actors doing read throughs. It was my first time working with a director on something I had written. For people who don’t write, imagine your personal journal being written aloud by actors. For me, it is completely terrifying. What if people don’t like what you have to say? What if people don’t laugh? I think the greatest thing that happened was watching the actors and directors play certain roles or say certain lines differently then how I imagined. Just because I imagined a certain scene a specific way, it will come across differently to everyone reading it. The experience was invaluable.
It came time for the actual table. It was my first time having the script read aloud to a group other than my UCLA workshop class back in 2018. I was so nervous, I could barely breathe. Not to mention my dad was right behind me and the first scene, well it was a sex scene. I sat in the front row, unable to see the audience’s reactions. As the reading continued, I was ecstatic to hear laughter. For me it just sounded like there was a laugh track playing, but that means I accomplished my comedy goals. There is a video of the live table read and once I have it I can send to anyone who is interested.
After the reading we all celebrated at Cabo Wabo next door to the hotel. Of course, people were saying congrats and complimenting the writing, but what got me most excited was having people, especially men, come up and ask questions about female health care and sexuality. I got a lot of comments like “I had no idea women went through all that,” or “I had no idea this was even an issue.” For these people, I got the conversation started. Even if a few people walk away with a new outlook on female health care and sexuality, then I have done my job.
This brings me back to the idea of having the script sold, or having agents calling me all day. Everyone keeps asking what are you going to do next? What are the next steps? Let me tell you very simply, I do not know. As I mentioned in my earlier blog posts this year, I was going to make this year about my own happiness. I was going to make decisions that made me happy. You know what made me happy? Getting a conversation started. Watching people laugh at a script I’ve been planning and working on for 2 years. Writing a script that men and women can relate to. So, what if the script isn’t being made into a Netflix series this year? It doesn’t mean it will never happen. It just means there is a time and place for everything. For me, this was all a personal win. I struggled so hard after all my health issues to finally come to terms with them. To finally feel like I was in a place to share my story and write about it. To now have it out in the open and have it read aloud to strangers is more of a win than I could have ever asked for. I owe a big thank you to everyone at ISA who helped to put the table read together as well as my support system at home for encouraging me to continue writing every day.
As I said earlier it is a series of never-ending circles. Circles of ups and downs, and I have no idea what is going to happen next. All I know is that everything will work out how it is supposed to happen.
Until next time, please enjoy this photo of me riding a mechanical bull, except it is a taco…
Hello friends and family! I am sorry it has taken me so long to crank out another blog post, but as per usual life has been hectic the past couple months. The last I had written on here, I was on a family vacation to Jamaica, but now I find myself trying to keep up with work, classes, travel, and social life (well I am trying to have a social life).
I started taking sketch comedy classes at Upright Citizens Brigade. You may remember I took a class there when I first moved to LA. After I finished up UCLA, I decided that I wanted to continue taking sketch classes and signed up for level 2. Give me a couple weeks and I’ll be writing for SNL of course. The cool part about the theater is that they let you put on your own shows, granted you bring your own actors and props. I was talking with some of my classmates and hopefully we can all get together and plan a show to perform using our sketches from class. Once we have a date, I’ll send an invite on Facebook if anyone is interested in coming to watch.
As most of you know I have been working a night shift (4pm-midnight) for the past year at my current job. I am happy to announce that I will no longer be on the total night shift starting this week, and that I will slowly shift back to day time. Although I will miss sleeping in, I am so happy to have my nights free.
Working nights for a year taught me a great deal about being alone. As an extrovert, spending my morning hours with no one to talk to and no one to physically see, could leave me feeling depressed. I ended up deleting Snapchat, and almost deleting Instagram, because seeing my friends having fun, while I was at work, was not in any way good for my mental health. It made me realize how much we try to show we are having fun and how perfect we are to our friends and family, but it is all just a façade. I could send pictures of my mornings and with the right caption, it could suddenly feel as if everything is perfect. As a fellow millennial I am guilty of it myself, but I am trying not to believe that everyone around me is living perfect lives. I wanted to get out of my rut and feeling sorry for myself. I got off my phone and delved back into writing. One of the only places I don’t put on a mask and try to pour myself into every character I write.
The craziest part of this whole LA adventure is that I am finally lapping myself. During my first year here, everything was so new. For example, Spring came around, and it was my first Passover and Easter in LA. When Saint Patrick’s Day came last year, it was my first ever in LA. I watched as the months passed and could not believe how much was changing with each one of them. I talked about this in my past blog, but I am fascinated with the way we as humans measure time and monumental occasions.
Instead of going on a rant about time again, I wanted to focus on self-worth. As the months of 2019 crept along, I found that I was continuing my same patterns, focusing on where I thought I should be and not where I wanted to be. At 25 years old, there are so many benchmarks you feel like you have to hit. We are constantly being told to show that we are perfect, when in fact we are all exactly where we need to be. What it all boiled down to was that I did not have the confidence I thought I had in myself. It did not matter what benchmark I had hit, or if it had made everyone like my recent post, this year I really started to hone in on whether it felt like a benchmark to me? Was this something I really wanted?
I took to heart a lot of comments I had on my earlier post about turning 25. I realized that change doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it takes months, or probably the whole year to figure it out. My dad had given me the advice to continue doing what I love.
Along with the sketch comedy writing courses, I stuck with the flag football on Saturdays. I love meeting new people and having an excuse to run around on the beach (and also an excuse to grab a Bloody Mary afterwards).
As of yesterday, I started working out again and may even go to a yoga class once a week. I don’t have any equipment or money to join a gym, so I follow along to videos on my laptop, while using wine bottles as the weights. For heavy weights I use handles or sometimes cartons of milk.
Also, I chopped off my hair and I’m in love with it again. For the first time, I didn’t sit there and think about what other people would say if I cut all my hair and styled it a certain way. It was a c’est la vie moment! All that’s left in my eat, prey, love adventure is to book a trip to Europe (but my bank account says otherwise).
When I first said I was buying a one-way flight to LA with no place to live and no job, everyone called me crazy. Although, it was the happiest I had been in a long time. It felt like I was finally making a move in the right direction. To this day, I am sure people still think buying a one-way flight is a crazy decision, but I am starting to realize we should relish the crazy. The crazy is what makes you happy. The crazy is what drives you to reach your dreams. The crazy is what stops you from becoming mundane. So after almost two years out in LA, yes, I am in fact still crazy and it seems to be working out just fine. I hope to stay crazy, because I am finding that in my craziest moments, is when I truly accomplish what I want.
Lastly, Chad adopted a puppy named Cali. She is already the love of my life. Until next time, please enjoy these adorable puppy photos…