Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Paint Nite

Four colors.

Five paintbrushes.

Two beers and two slices of pizza big enough for Malibu Barbie.

Paint Nite (or Sit and Sip) has been sweeping through cities like crazy- all over social media (including Groupon, Living Social and Yelp!) we've seen pictures of cheesy girl friends, clinking wine glasses in front of half-finished canvases.

It was time we joined the trend.
 Also, I have a hard time saying no to 50% off.

The website is super easy to use- you scroll through and can choose your painting based on proximity of the location, the type of painting or how hard the painting is rated. Seeing as this was our first time (and after work), we needed close by, something we wouldn't get tired of looking at, and EASY.

Turns out, easy is in the eye of the previously-painted-before.
Although there were some venues just down the street from us, we really liked the look of a particular painting, so we headed off to a little Italian restaurant (+ bar) in Glendale. We're totally coming back because those raviolis looked GOOD. The bar was big by drinking/eating standards but as soon as you throw in a 2x3 canvas at each place setting, cups, brushes, paint plates and beer, you're looking at pretty tight quarters.
Mr. E and I set ourselves up in a booth, and quickly realized that this was a class of friends. There were easily 30 people there, but it was less of a "date" thing and more of a "group date" experience.

Our instructor was sweet, had a little trouble with the feedback of her headset, but she played some good tunes in between the instructions (Don't mix your water and your drink!) and was generous with the compliments.

What I really liked about painting this way was all of the examples you had surrounding you. There was a finished canvas at the front, the instructor painted a second one with you, there were tiny examples sitting at your station and everyone else was painting the exact. same. thing. So comparison wasn't an issue- even if yours sucked (which you're not allowed to say out loud), you can bet you'll find someone worse than you.
What I didn't like? My perfectionist streak was not as thankful for the alcohol as my social butterfly self would have liked. The one beer may have loosened my inhibitions to strike up small talk, but when focusing on a certain method of brushing I could have used a little more focus.

Mr. E, suprisingly, was completely in his element. He loved the cathartic motions, mixing the colors and working to make sure that his background trees looked different from his foreground- he played with dimensions and perspective and showed a little competitive streak I didn't know his fine motor skills were capable of.
I think by far the best ending to a date has got to be: When can we do this again?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hie Thee to Zion

Zion is apparently an international hotspot.
Is it the stunning views? The trails for hikers of all levels? Perhaps it's the absolute silence and the stunning cascade of heavenly bodies that surround you once the sun sets behind the cliffs. I haven't quite figured out how to take pictures of stars with my iPhone, but if it looked like this during the day...imagine what that looked like by the light of a waxing moon.
For four days there's actually quite a lot to do in Zion. That is, if you are surrounded by nieces and nephews, catching up with sisters-in-law, tending to injuries, cooking any and all meals and/or trying to find a free bathroom for a quick second. Just me?
We biked from the park entrance to the Lodge almost 5 miles away (uphill, both directions, in the snow...).
We hiked a mile along the Virgin River until we dead-ended at the river itself....then we took up walking sticks, double-bagged our valuables and trudged in. Much like the California surf, the water was cold but soon numbed your feet.
We also hiked to see the canyon view- through a tunnel and out the other side, there's a (perilous) staircase, some natural, some not, that deposits you at a cliff edge with a stunning vista of the park. Granted, it was no Angel's Landing (same idea, but a four hour trek and one of the highest points in the park- not suggested for kids. Me. People with a fear of heights.)
We swam for most of the day- hiking was strictly a morning sport as the heat of the day quickly baked everything in the canyon.
My favorite part of the trip? Catching a wide-eyed Mr. E as he spouted geological tidbits, trying to cram every rock and crevice into his memory bank like a kid at a museum. We vowed to hike more often- and actually get out and camp once in a while!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Heads Up!

We've kind of got a lot of balls in the air right now in our household.
Forgive my giant face- this is as close as I can come to showing you where I work!
I was hired (as a contractor) at Baxter Bioscience with a whole new schedule (5am-1:30pm!) so my days have become pretty limited. Then Mr. E found a position on an HBO show that has him working 12+ hour days- so we kind of pass like ships in the night.
Cast and Crew private screening for Wish I Was Here- Mr. E's first job on a Hollywood movie!
And then a car accident.
And then Mr. E's thesis film Ganas was accepted into a prestigious short film festival called Holly Shorts.
And then Mr. E decided to submit a short film to Project Greenlight- sort of a documentary series that follows aspiring filmmakers spearheaded by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

And of course this is all in the same week, because when it rains it pours.
But with my extra time at home I've been house-keeping: donating, organizing, de-cluttering. I've pulled out craft projects that had been gathering dust: quilts and cross-stitches that have seen better days. It's been nice to head into the changing of the seasons with some productivity under my belt.

In the meantime we've kept busy around the city- vacationing, day-tripping and experiencing all  most of what LA has to offer.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Legacy to Leave Behind

Since we're coming up on the year anniversary of Mr. E's thesis film Ganas (and his graduation!) I thought it'd be fun to reminisce about leaving our mark on Dodge College.
 
 Don't tell my mother, but we definitely vandalized the theater.

We were sitting in one of the backrows during a screening or a class or some such, holding hands and enjoying each others company far more than we were enjoying what was onstage, when I realized the tiny gold plate on the arm rest was loose.
Inspiration struck and I stuffed that sucker in my purse.
A few weeks later we snuck in as a family to glue it back into place- so really we were maintaining the integrity of the venue, right? We squeezed our bewildered pup into my purse (she's half chihuahua, after all, she should be right at home) and walked in like we owned the place.
A phone flashlight and a bottle of craft glue later we were left with this. A legacy for future students to find and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let's go to the Museum

I've been to a museum or two in my day, so I was really excited to hear that LA's museums opened up their doors FOR FREE for a day. And even though we missed that day (there's always next year) it sparked an itch that only $10 could scratch.

Come to find out that the CA Science Center is free everyday, so a) science RULES and b) we made sure to go bright and early because I heard it was in the ghetto, which is actually Angeleno for next to USC. Mr. E and I reminisced about the skipped opportunity there as USC was originally his first choice for film school until Chapman knocked it out of the park.
The outside is absolutely lovely and I couldn't help think what pretty wedding pictures could be taken here. Now that I'm past all the wedding hassle, I love imagining industrial wedding venues (as opposed to the ethereal flowery type that is so often flaunted).
Inside, though? Not. As. Impressed.
 I mean, it was cool to look at all of the space things- the Endeavor (which is extra $$, so no thanks) and other space-related parts. The habitats of the world, their creatures and their patterns, the exhibit on LA and the trash we use, the functions of the body and how life evolves, changes and adapts to fit the world it lives in. But all of the exhibits felt old- the plastic was garish and the color scheme was reminiscent of a doctor's office.
In reality I was probably unfairly comparing it to the Children's Discovery Museum down the road from us in Orange. We passed that giant cube everyday and finally found ourselves on the inside one weekend. Granted, it may have been the Indiana Jones exhibit that tempted us, but we stayed for all of the gadgets and the activities. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves there, so to see the moldy too-dark rooms that LA offered was disappointing, in the least.
Like tap water when you really wanted Hi-C. At least there's always LACMA to look forward to.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chinatown

One thing I certainly didn't expect to happen was how social Mr. E and I become once we moved to Los Angeles. We both prefer to hermit ourselves away at home, tinkering with our books and movies, but there is just so much to DO in LA we'd be remiss if we didn't enjoy it all. But sometimes the hanger takes over and you just can't enjoy yourself without food.

That's how we ate Greek fusion pitas at the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown.
We should have known that streets would be closed off- it was a parade after all. But we're new to this sort of thing and the streets of LA have a mischievous nature to them in the first place, full of hidden side streets and colorful expletives when you take the wrong turn. The tall buildings wink their bright windows at you in laughter and you quickly learn to avoid taking anything car-related personally.

The Catholic church we parked at was truly a haven in our time of need- both in (nearness) and in price. Any Angeleno will tell you that $8/day is an absolute steal. If we had lived any closer I would have parked our car their overnight on a regular basis. We followed the crowds down streets, around school buses, over and under bridges until we came to what we assumed was the end of the parade. The floats seemed sad and exhausted, more Mexican skirt-dancing children than dragon puppets and the ground was littered with the impressive aftermath of poppers and streamers.
We braved the throngs and walked single file against the current following the parade. I kept a firm hand on Mr. E's arm and a tight grip on my phone, trying to take pictures one-handed. I had never been to Chinatown and the shops beckoned with their foliage fronts and tiny animal cages. Would you like to buy a turtle? A song bird? Fresh vegetables out of soggy cardboard boxes? A knock-off bamboo hat, the only time Made in China makes you wonder if it's truly authentic.
We passed from restaurant to restaurant, feeling much like Mary and Joseph- driven by my midsection and turned away at the door. An hour wait was too long when you're surrounded with the smell of pork bao and chicken dumplings. The plaza was thick with people, but what struck you most of all was the color- the brightly painted walls and doors, the lanterns hung haphazard across roofs and bits of paper exploded periodically as late-comers paid $3 for a three-foot confetti cannon. I bought two buns and a donut-type confection covered in sugar and the size of my two fists, paid the young girl  behind the hastily erected table as she munched on an egg bun.
But a bun or two will never be enough to satisfy my husband's bottomless pit of a stomach and we were really intent on fully immersing ourselves in culture, but the day was long, the noise was loud and the food trucks were just so...available. They lined up like quaint little houses in the back alley, humming and whirring and emitting such lovely aromas you wanted to kidnap a food-truck-chef and bring them home because my kitchen is at least the same size so they wouldn't mind, right?
So we caved and congratulated ourselves on at least getting off the couch today, and look at all the walking we did plus food trucks are cheaper than Chinese sit-down restaurants. We munched our too-hot-pitas back the way we came, the streets quickly and forcefully being cleared of pedestrians so the street cleaners could hoover and sweep and spray all the litter away like it never happened, or maybe just happened last week. We held our noses past the bridge because the beginning and the endings always smell like pee- it's downtown, folks- and although we were really looking forward to seeing our pup again, we detoured to the church grounds because it demanded our attention in the setting sun.
And this is how I know my husband loves me most, because he'll suffer through an entire day on his feet, eat strange foods and watch strange people, tolerate the monster I become when I'm hungry and sit and smile as I sit in the passenger seat and sing my heart out, just so happy to have all of this.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March Forth

There's a sticker in my bathtub and a Thing toy underneath my living room chair, remnants of a rainbow-sprinkle-smile whirlwind that visited us this month.
A new grill has made it's home in the cupboard and our favorite pub down the street invited us in for a pint or two. We beat the pavement downtown, tasting Cuban pastries and the local candy store's finest.
We cheered on dogs and compared chai tea recipes, watched cheesy Korean gangster movies and listened to creepy stories read amidst macabre clowns and Guinness cupcakes.
We celebrated Mr. E on another year; older and possibly wiser, though wise was never his strong suit. Compassionate, eloquent, hard-working and brilliantly funny are more his style.

We debated and cajoled, unraveled and stitched ourselves back together, both sides searching for understanding in the midst of being understood.

The visits are few and far between, citing a myriad of justified excuses (work, money, kids, distance) but enjoyed thoroughly until the very last drop, until, exhausted, we part ways and fall asleep two hours too early on the couch.