Mixed Reviews for The Happy Place

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If you have instagram you are probably well aware of all these pop-up museum-like “experiences” that you can visit and blow up your feed with weird cool pictures. I think I am just about officially over them. But I still have a weakness for them. Because I love love love cool weird photos!

You know what I don’t love? Long lines of people watching you take your weird cool photos. I’m so over it! Said the middle-aged woman wearing crop pants that seem to be painfully out of style.

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The Happy Place is not on my list of things to do if you are in LA. In fact, I’ll probably tell you to avoid it UNLESS you are a little bit crazy like me and you have a friend who is trying to land modeling gigs.

I love having a friend who is a model. Yep, Lubna grew up and now she’s going to acting school, getting her headshots done and hitting the pavement to land an agent and hopefully a decent paycheck. She is a really good model but it’s not an easy field. I wish I had my own agency because I love spotting people who I know will take good pictures and I’d love to give her a good paying job.

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We hadn’t hung out together in a while so I bought the tickets and we headed off to LA for a fun day of catching up and taking silly shots. It was the perfect photographer-model date. Especially since I’m liking to take my own picture less and less. (Age, damn you!) I took a lot of photos of my feet.

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There are definitely a lot of cool rooms with lots of great lighting to experiment with. But you have to move from room to room with a mob and there is nothing that makes me more nervous than having a group watch me set up for a shot. Lots of times I just bailed. I’m not waiting to take a turn for a shot and then have everyone else watch me do the same exact thing.

There is this one room where you can jump into an above-ground pool of yellow balls and the Happy Place Logo is placed predominantly behind you. It’s a great set-up BUT you have an audience of like 30-40 people watching you! I was so nervous to jump I actually got sweaty palms. What if I slipped and banged my head on the platform or what if all the balls flew out of the pool because I’m such a whale?!!  I’m not a whale but still, this is where my mind goes. In the name of fun I forced myself to do it but the assistant who was there to take my photo somehow got my camera wrong and missed the shot. She said I could do it again but I was OVER it. Forget that.

Lubna of course nailed it with a flip because she’s amazing and a fitness model but I only got it on video because I also got my camera wrong and missed the shot. Doh!

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I will say that in spite of my eye rolls and complaining, we were inventive. We came up with shots everyone else wasn’t doing because we are experienced badasses at photography. But still, I felt silly. It just kind of ruined the novelty of the event when you see how stupid everyone else looks doing these forced fake happy faces for their snapchat feed or instagram feeds. Do their followers know that two seconds before that shot that looks like they are having so much fun they were actually standing there bored out of their skull, mindlessly scrolling through their own feeds? Fakety fake fake.

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And yet still, I’m not completely cured of wanting to go to these things. I’ve got tickets to The Cado in June because, come on AVOCADOS!!!  But it does make me want to continue to cultivate my own free spirit.

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But the photos are cool right? Loobyloo is so much fun. She’s always up for posing any which way I direct.

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And she’s gorgeous! Even if she did fry her hair to death by attempting to go blonde. The Orange County ideal of beauty is so strong even Lubna fell victim to it but I’m in her ear constantly telling her that her natural beauty far surpasses any fake Barbie look that is so prevalent around here.

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As we left the crowds of The Happy Place and found our way down to my car in the underground parking garage, we spied these funny pipes on a wall with NOBODY WAITING THEIR TURN to take a photo!!!

I think it’s my best shot of all.

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Then we went out for tacos because duh, it was Cinco de Mayo. Not that everyday isn’t a good day for tacos.

Have you been to Guisados? So good! Mole tacos, some fried cheese taco that was out of this world and HORCHATA cold brew that tasted like a churro in a cup!

That’s my review: skip The Happy Place and go to Guisados instead which is conveniently right by The Last Bookstore! Yes, I will be blogging that experience here soon. Stay tuned!

Another Trip to LA: Minefaire and Chinatown

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It seems like ages ago we went to LA for Minefaire. It was snoresville but we did have a great time in Los Angeles afterwards. I always love a day in LA for adventure. Traffic not so much but adventure, yes. Everything there is charmingly different from Orange County and it always feels like an infusion of much needed variety.

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We don’t have graffiti where we live. If so much as the tiniest tag goes up on a wall or a fence it is gone the next day, no questions asked. I guess that is a good thing but I do love street art, especially really good street art. Sometimes I just want to paint my house purple in rebellion but I’m all hot air.

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Minefair and Minecon are not the same thing at all. Payam bought these tickets for the girls a long time ago before we even knew there was a difference. I’m sure to die-hard gamers it was pretty cool but to me it was just a giant conference room  filled with computers where kids were zoning out. We can do that at home. The store was pretty cool I guess. If you need another stuffed creeper, which we don’t. I did find a reason to have a pumpkin headed snowman of course. Gotta throw that in for seasonal decorations.

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The funny part was that we went to Minefair ON Payam’s birthday. Driving to LA in horrible traffic and then hanging out with gamers is not exactly his favorite thing to do but I guess he loves his girls. I add myself into that group because of how much I love adventure in LA, even if it does include a lame convention for a game that I’m not that into.

Bug is into Minecraft and she’s really good at creating these really cool houses and buildings. She’s thinking she might want to be an architect when she grows up and I am heartily encouraging that. I wanted to be an architect too way back in the day but I got discouraged by all the math.

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The best part of Minefair was going outside and eating street food. I love fresh tacos made on an industrial-sized cookie sheet over a propane tank. I am ever amazed at how ingenious street vendors are. And to think I wouldn’t rent an apartment because it had a hot plate and not a real stove! I should have taken some lessons from these guys.

I especially love the fresh fruit in cups. Coconut, mangos, cantaloupe, cucumbers…a squeeze of lime and some chili powder–yum! I always worry about getting food poisoning because surely things can’t be that clean but we never do. Street germs are good I guess.

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After our lunch in the street we decided we weren’t ready to go home yet so we took a quick trip to Chinatown. We love ducking into the little shops and discovering new things.

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I feel privileged that I get to follow Bug and Joon around and take pictures. They are getting prettier and prettier every day. I feel like I have my own models constantly walking around with me just asking me to take their picture. I need to take my real camera out more often. Whenever I do I always have such a good time with it.

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After Chinatown we rushed home to go to a violin concert that Bug’s new violin teacher was starring in. Her teacher is really really good. Like ripping up the violin in a floor-length red velvet dress good. The girls sat there mesmerized, not even bored at all.  Sadly I have no photos of that. I wish I could have but I was shy to take my camera into the theatre.

I didn’t even tell you that we hired a private tutor for violin lessons for Bug. She’s getting serious about violin and unfortunately her class at school is kinda stuck and not progressing so she’s forging on ahead with private lessons. I’m really proud of her. Of course getting her to practice regularly is a challenge but that’s really what this whole thing is about anyway. I’m really happy that she is not giving up on something that she is good at.

After the concert the girls and I stopped by a grocery store and bought Payam a cake. He didn’t go to the concert so it was our little surprise.

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Which he wholeheartedly deserved.