I’ve never been on a vacation that didn’t include some sort of intense agenda. My family vacations, while wonderful, have always been busy and jam-packed of activities. This isn’t a bad thing, but I really wanted to leave Springfield, MO, and feel little to no pressure to get anything done. Somehow it worked out that I could accomplish this in Los Angeles, CA–I could stay for free with some friends, and while I had a few things I definitely wanted to do, I knew that I could relax and spontaneously find fun things to do with my friends, once we felt like it. I wont tell you everything about my delightful little trip to LA LA Land, but there are a few things worth pointing out.
1. I flew Allegiant Air straight from Springfield to LA. Pretty cheap and convenient. But let me tell you something about Allegiant Air (or probably, airlines in general): they will straight up lie to you about how much overhead storage is available. I’m not getting a paycheck for being a first-year teacher until September, so I’m trying to save as much money while spending money as I can, so I sat in “open seating,” which means crammed in the back. By the time those of us in the Z40’s are being seated, a flight attendant informed the frugal flyers that they may check their bags for free because there is “no more room” in overhead storage. I hate waiting to reunite with my luggage post-flight, so I packed in such a way as to avoid that. I was kind of annoyed that I had to check my luggage, but I understood: I was sitting in the back, the last to be boarded. It happens.
Then I get on the plane and there is SO MUCH SPARE ROOM! In the front with the people who bought tickets early/reserved seats, and in the back with the creeps like me! I would have just brought my small luggage with me if I had been told this–if I had been told the truth. It isn’t that big of a deal, but why would I let myself be inconvenienced with waiting for my own stuff if I didn’t have to? Or risk having my stuff lost somehow? I was not going to let this happen on the way back.
And then I did. I fell for this trick twice. Seriously.
1.5. The flights themselves weren’t too miserable. A quick three hours. The flight to LA was, for some reason, the loudest three hours of my life. The plane was like an amp feeding back constantly. I tried to tune it out by reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which I was reading because I might be able to teach it to my juniors this fall. I got through around 100 pages on the plane, and that night, while asleep on my friend’s couch, I dreamt that I was solving a brutal murder as it was happening in my own house, except that my house looked like my grandma’s house, and I was also attacking the killers with an African fighting stick native to the mountains of Lesotho, and I knew the killers were coming because I think the murder had already happened and there was some sort of time travel involved to stop the murder from occurring in the first place. Also, I have no idea who was murdered. It was weird.
2. My first full day I went to Paramount Pictures. I met an incredibly nice woman several months ago who works on the excellent show, Community. She showed us around the sets (I got to be in the cafeteria, the dean’s office, and even THE STUDY ROOM!) and I frantically searched for Alison Brie. But only so I could propose to her. I did not find her. It was very cool, and I stupidly didn’t take ANY PICTURES AT ALL.
4. We walked around Santa Monica Blvd so I could see stores I was unfamiliar with (which are most stores), and to see a street performer balance bowls on this feet and then kick them up in the air in a way that makes them land on his head perfectly balanced (OK, that isn’t why I was there, but I did see that). I went into an Urban Outfitters for the first time–mostly I went to remind myself that I’m not cool. We went into a Starbucks and I found something pretty interesting: the bathroom doors have keypad locks and you need a special code on a receipt in order to poop. It makes going to the bathroom way more exciting–I felt like I was sneaking into a government facility or a specially guarded vault.
5. I saw a person who owned an iPod begging for change.
6. The weather in LA is strangely comfortable. While my hometown and neighboring states were experiencing a heat wave, LA managed to be some mystery temperature that was comfortable for anyone wearing pretty much any thing. I saw dudes with tank tops and short shorts walking along the street right next to people in long pants, a shirt, and a jacket or cardigan. In the middle of the day. People always complain about how expensive rent is there–one could easily just camp out for most of the year.
7. I ate at some great burger places that I cannot have in Springfield. And I looooove hamburgers, so this was a treat. I got to eat at great places like Umami Burgers, In And Out Burger, and Jack In The Box. (Just kidding about that last one. I really did eat there, but it wasn’t that great. I’m sure you understood I was joking, and all of this explanation is probably unnecessary.)
8. On Saturday I went to the famous UCB Theatre to see the famous show ASSSSCAT, starring Matt Walsh, Matt Besser, and Ian Roberts (as well as other improvisers). If you watch any comedies now-a-days (TV or Movies or even some online stuff, like stuff from Funny or Die), you have seen these three guys. They show up all over the place. For example, Ian Roberts is “The Literal Doctor” in Arrested Development. The set up of the UCB Theatre is really cool–small, chairs crammed close, and there are even seats on the wings of the stage. I sat on stage right. I could basically touch Matt Walsh’s hipster handlebar mustache. The look of these guys doing improv was so casual, it was almost shocking. Not distracting, though. Matt Walsh was chewing gum throughout the whole show, generally spoke pretty apathetically, wore a baseball cap and an inside-out shirt that said “KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD,” and he still totally killed it. Ian Roberts wore shorts on stage. I’ve never seen someone do that in an improv show before (but enough about the improvisers’ fashion…).
The ASSSSCAT show starts with the “Upright Citizens Brigade” (Walsh, Besser, Roberts, and Amy Poehler, if she were there and not being more famous) talking to the audience for like 20 minutes. They asked who in the audience was here on a date. A few couples raised their hands and the guys bantered with them. First, with a young couple who had been together for four years. Then, another young couple who had been together for eight years. And according to the couples, neither of them had really ever talked about getting married to each other. This blew the Brigade’s minds. They then found a not-as-young couple who had been together for nine months. This couple had talked about marriage, and had actually decided that they were getting married someday. The man said he wasn’t going to propose until the “time was right.” Well, Ian Roberts called BS on that and said that if you know she’s the one there is no “right time,” but that basically any time will work. Then Roberts did what he called “his thing,” which is when he pulls a real engagement ring out from his pocket (he claims to always have it on stage with him in his pocket) and offers it to the man so long as he proposes right then and there. The man accepted and proposed. His girlfriend-turned-fiance cried (and I think might have been a little drunk?) and said yes. The place went nuts. I couldn’t believe it. And that was in the first 20 minutes.
The rest of the show was excellent, and if you have never seen an ASSSSCAT show (you can watch an older recorded show on Netflix instant watch–DO IT) or a long-form improv show like a Harold or an Armando, I highly recommend it. There is nothing quite like seeing that kind of spontaneous wit, team work, and connections made…in a way that will make you laugh a lot. If I lived in LA, I’d blow all my money at UCB. Or Amoeba Records.
Those are the highlights. I did other cool things, and my host and tour guide (my friend, Grant) was really great about finding great stuff for us to do–from art museums to just chilling out and marathoning Childrens Hospital, which I should have been watching years ago. I hope the next time I vacation, my to-do list is equally sparse.