Social in SoCal part 2 | Spring Break 2016

Last time on Spring Break 2016, I saw my old friend Ran after over a decade apart and explored Santa Monica and Venice Beach with her. She was a much-needed ray of sunshine on the still-overcast day. After eating In-n-Out, we set off for Griffith Park before spending even more time with more friends!

Griffith Observatory

DSC00680We got to take a “scenic” drive up to Griffith Park to check out the famous observatory, during which we saw many fancy Spanish-style houses. (Really getting that true California experience.) The drive up through the park was gorgeous but long, and as we neared the ridge where the observatory sits, we were faced with a lot of cars trying to do the same thing. We waited in a long conga line of cars for a good 15 minutes, inching up slowly, watching hikers walk by, and passing a lot of parked cars as we got up there. Ben started wondering if we should park also, but we were still a decent distance from the observatory, and it was a steep hike up! I didn’t want us to park only to discover a bounty of great parking nearer to the observatory, but I got really nervous as we climbed closer and closer.


Luckily for us, as the staff were controlling inflow and outflow to parking, while we were directed back down and around the ridge to a farther lot (noooooo), a staff member told us that they had just opened the lot right in front of the observatory and to go back. We did and got a spot REALLY close! So close that we were really sure it was a handicapped spot for a while but I couldn’t see any indication that it was. Several cars in front of us passed the spot, probably also suspecting that it was too good to be true, but we nabbed it and it was one of the luckiest moments in my life hahaha. (Also, parking is free.)

This was taken so close to our parking spot! How nuts!


It was still fairly overcast when we finally got out of the car and looked upon the still-beautiful Griffith Observatory. One of the ulterior motives we had for visiting, aside from visiting the observatory itself in all its free admission glory, was because it has an amazing view of the Hollywood sign.


Not only did we not have to hike to see this iconic LA landmark, the most magical thing happened: the sun started to come out. I have seen the sun before, of course, but you wouldn’t know it from how I almost cried at the sight of golden light through the clouds and how many photos I took.

The Hollywood sign was only the 2nd most exciting thing in this photo

2016-04-09 19.05.08

2016-04-09 19.05.46

I basically was too scared to actually enter the observatory, for fear that I would squander the few precious hours of sunlight that we had, but I finally did go inside.


The Griffith Observatory is really amazing. Again, it’s totally free to go in and explore all the cool exhibits, like the Tesla coil, a working camera obscura room, scales that you can use to see how much you’d weigh on different planets. We acted too late to see the last planetarium show, which I am quite sad about and would recommend you not hesitate so much to try to catch it. It is kind of the signature thing to catch at an observatory with a planetarium, but we got confused in the mayhem of ticketing and the deluge of people at the front. We also watched the documentary, The Once and Future Griffith Observatory, about the observatory itself in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater, narrated and presented by the late and great Nimoy. I really loved learning about the history of this iconic landmark and how it fit into what was going on with astronomy and Southern California’s history as well.

Foucault Pendulum that proves the rotation of the earth
2016-04-09 17.41.39
Part of the enviably huge and beautiful celestial jewelry collection that accompanied a timeline of time and space

We also caught a really cute marriage proposal outside as got ready to leave! I wasn’t sure if they were hoping to catch the girl when she came out or if she was in the camera obscura room that was showing the outside of the observatory, but it was very sweet and had us in a great mood as we left to see some friends.

“Will you marry me?”
A huge crowd of people, not all of whom were part of the proposal group! There were a few prom groups there, I believe!


We headed for Koreatown to gorge on friendship and AYCE (all you can eat) Korean BBQ. First I met up with some friends from Xanga! I had met Sonlay and Alex before, although I hadn’t seen Alex in a few years, but it was my first time meeting Lily, who I’d been talking to for a few years now, and Sonlay’s roommate Mark. It was great to get to see again / meet for the first time some high-quality Xangans. It still blows my mind a little that I made friends through a blogging platform I’d been using for over a decade during the last 2 years of Xanga being around. I actually didn’t even realize that I was meeting Lily and Mark for the first time, because I’ve talked to them so much over the years and met all these mutual Xanga friends that it didn’t occur to me that I hadn’t met them before. Especially because I was so nervous to meet the other friends who were joining us.

Unfortunately, they were running late because of subway stuff (a coast-to-coast issue) and we had to relocate to Star BBQ (I mean, honestly, I can’t be too mad about relocating to a place with “Star” in the name) but I was finally able to meet Adam and Briana! Don’t tell them I told you guys this (shh!) (if either of you two read this, shh!), but I was extreeeeemely nervous to meet them. I got to know Briana through Disneybounding, and I am going to talk about her amazing bounds another day on this blog, but she was always so sweet and funny and kind of amazing with her Disneybounds and cosplays. Through Briana, I got to know her boyfriend Adam, who is hilarious and was also SUPREMELY helpful when I was planning our LA and Disneyland days. Honestly, I don’t know what I would’ve done without his tips and advice. But basically, Adam and Briana were always Internet celebrity-type people to me that I never thought I would actually get to meet, so the fact that they had so happily agreed to see me when I was in town totally blew my mind.

Star BBQ was fun because a) it was actually Adam and Briana’s first time having Korean BBQ! and b) we were only served “water”. Briana noticed when we walked in that the fridge of Korean beers had a sign saying that they were not currently serving alcohol. My Xanga friends were immediately like, “What do you mean you’re not serving alcohol? At a Korean restaurant???” Our server apologized for alcohol not being available but did let us know that we could have flavored water if we were interested. (The flavored water was soju!) We actually got several different flavors of flavored water, but because I was only given a flavored water cup for my regular water, I did get the different types of water confused once. Still, it was a fun time, despite me having to reign in my stomach so that I wasn’t the last person stuffing my face at an AYCE joint. Again.

From there, we tried to head to a karaoke place that said they could accommodate our group of 8 people without a reservation (always make reservations, folks!) but when we arrived, they said NOPE and we went back to Star BBQ which was underneath a place called Star Karaoke. (!!!) We had to wait about half an hour, but it was a nice time for me to get to know Adam and Briana better without meat sizzling between us, since I had that luxury before we went to barbecue with my Xanga buddies.

THEN KARAOKE. I mean, I will never not have fun at karaoke, I think. At first, I was too shy to put down any of my favorite Disney hits because Adam and Briana are such a Disney power couple, but Lily – unencumbered by the star-strucked-ness that I was feeling – was not going to be held back from singing her favorite Disney songs. This emboldened me to pick some really out there songs (“Careless Whisper”, “I’m On a Boat”, to name a few…) that, gratefully, Adam and Ben sang along with me.

The karaoke joint closed and we walked back to our car, which had been moved from the lot where we valet parked it so that was a small scare ahahaha. We bid our farewells and headed back to our AirBnB, pretty exhausted but really glad to have been able to meet friends for the first time in years or ever!

From left to right: Adam, Briana, Me, Ben (in back), Mark (in front), Lily, Alex, and Sonlay

What did I miss at the Griffith Observatory and Koreatown?
Have you met friends from the Internet in person and been really nervous and/or starstruck by it?

Favorite Duets to Sing

I am a karaoke fiend, but even a spotlight-hog like me knows that often, two is better than one.

After all, no matter how good of a singer you may be (and I’m just an okay singer), you can’t really harmonize with yourself (in real time).

So, as I say goodbye to one of my favorite karaoke buddies as he heads off to medical school, I thought I’d round up some of my favorite duets.

Is it weird to sing duets with people I am platonic with?

Eh… sometimes. Especially when a lot of my local duet partners are close friends of my boyfriend’s, primarily because we are more intense about karaoke than my boyfriend is. ^^;

Some duets are more romantic than others, and those can be dangerous.

But saying no to karaoke is difficult enough. Saying no to the rare opportunity of having someone singing the harmonies that I can’t? Nearly impossible to deny.

Sometimes when I’m lonely (slash can’t get anyone to come to do karaoke with me), I’ll record one part and sing duets with myself. I’m not totally crazy for this, am I?

As you can see, this list is all over the place. Contemporary, oldies, musicals… duets are everywhere and I am so glad.

(I can’t find a live performance of this, but this is my favorite version.)

And don’t think I forgot about this one! You know how much I love my holiday music.

Also I may or may not have learned to sing in Korean for this one.

For those of you who can’t/don’t want to load the videos, here’s a list, kind of sorted by how often I get to sing them and/or how much I like singing them (there is a weak correlation between the two, but you’ll have to guess whether a song is up on the top of the list because I like it or my duet partners like it)

  1. “Lucky” – Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
  2. “My Boo” – Usher & Alicia Keys
  3.  “Endless Love” – Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
  4. “No Air” – Jordin Sparks ft. Chris Brown
  5. “Falling Slowly” – Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová
  6. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – Margaret Whiting & Johnny Mercer (not the version I posted)
  7. “Love is an Open Door” – Kristen Bell & Santino Fontana
  8. “Phantom of the Opera” – Sarah Brightman & Michael Crawford
  9. “Say Something” – A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera
  10. “Two is Better Than One” – Boys Like Girls ft. Taylor Swift
  11. “Timeless” – Jang Ri In & Xiah Junsu (original by Justin Guarini & Kelly Clarkson)

*Honorable mention: “Love the Way You Lie” – Eminem ft. Rihanna

This is an honorable mention, not because I don’t like singing it but because I usually end up singing both parts alone. People are amused by me getting angry and rapping Eminem’s verses. Who am I to deny them and not make a fool of myself?

Which duets am I missing?
Do you like singing duets? (Wanna sing one with me?)
Am I crazy for trying to sing them alone in my room or is this something you’d want to hear?

Birthdays & Bar Crawls

This was one of the more eventful and social weekends I’ve had in a long time. Being the extrovert that I am, I was really glad to get to spend time with friends.


I guess we can kick off with happy hour on Friday. One of my coworkers unlocked a work achievement, so we had sangria and bread and hummus at Levante’s. It was a bit chilly, but we asked to be seated outside. The waiter seemed completely bewildered by this request, but I don’t know, my group wanted to sit outside. It was nice to wrap up the week with some work buddies, and I’m glad I have work buddies to hang out with!

During this time, I was checking with some friends about a birthday dinner I was going to later. I had checked the map and thought I got the location wrong. No way we were going to the Biergarten Haus that was a 25 minute walk away from the nearest metro station? Really?

Yes, really. After about 5 minutes of bickering on the phone, I decided that my boyfriend shouldn’t wait for me at his place (where I was going to drop off my work bag and lunchbox) and that I would meet our friends at Union Station, where we would all walk to Biergarten Haus together. I wandered around the mall of Union Station, admiring the architectural details (it’s a truly beautiful building) and had some guy tell me that “they’re coming, don’t you worry” only to then see about a dozen Chinese tourists round the corner.
Oh yes, this man thought I was waiting on Chinese tourists because why not. -____-”

Anyhow, the walk wasn’t so bad with everyone together. I would’ve really hated having to walk there by myself. You go a mile through this residential area in eastern DC (keeping in mind that southeast DC is one of the most dangerous areas in the country) and finally stumble upon a very lively street. That is completely not metro-accessible. Even the buses don’t go out here. (WHY)

BUT Biergarten Haus is pretty authentic as a German beer place, and everyone really loved their brews. There was German music playing and I had schnitzel and the environment felt good. There is a lot of outdoor seating and the patio is supposed to be heated, but it was chilly that night. I liked it but it is really out of the way.

My drink of the evening was the Erdinger Kristall Weiss, here pictured with the three wurst platter of bratwurst, bauernwurst, and knackwurst and the Jägerschnitzel with sauerkraut and spätzle.
My drink of the evening was the Erdinger Kristall Weiss, here pictured with the three wurst platter of bratwurst, bauernwurst, and knackwurst and the Jägerschnitzel with sauerkraut and spätzle.

From there, we went to FM Karaoke, which is a Korean karaoke/noraebang joint that I have not been to before. My boyfriend’s best friend really wanted to sing “All of Me” by John Legend, and he claimed that while our usual karaoke place didn’t have it, FM Karaoke did. I always notice one interesting thing with my boyfriend’s group of friends and that is that even though it’s all Asian guys (I was the only girl in the group) every time we hang out, there are almost never any Korean people in the group. However, we still go to Korean BBQ and Korean karaoke relatively often. Both are places where it’s helpful to have a Korean person available to translate and interpret and butter up staff.

2014-04-19 00.46.00
Singing “Careless Whisper” set to some Korean drama/music video, with “Let It Go” on queue and soju in people’s bellies.

REGARDLESS it was a bangin’ good time. I have noticed some very major differences between karaoke-ing as a bro (I’m a half-decent bro when I put my mind to it) and karaoke-ing with girls. There is a lot more rap (I mean a lot more) and a lot less Taylor Swift, Spice Girls, Ke$ha, etc. And when I rap to impress potential new bros, I go hard. I only know a handful of songs, but I do pretty well considering I have negative street cred and have a children’s sing-along voice.

You think this is a game? I memorized the lyrics to this song when I was 11, with exactly zero idea of what they meant.

I get to combine my ability to sing Rihanna and my admiration for Eminem here by doing the entire song on my own.

This song is weirdly popular with my boyfriend’s friends, so I had a lot of exposure and time to learn the words.

I don’t typically sing these at karaoke, so it was a special treat (slash torture) for my new bros. I sang “Let It Go” and couldn’t belt that note that early in the evening, but I managed fine for “Titanium” (David Guetta ft. Sia) and we had a tambourine so I think the night went well.

Korean karaoke does hold the distinct advantage of understanding the importance of a tambourine.
Korean karaoke does hold the distinct advantage of understanding the importance of a tambourine.


My boyfriend and I met one of my closest friends for the DC Bunny Hop Bar Crawl. Some of you may remember I don’t drink much, but I wanted to explore the DC bars a little bit and i thought this was just a nice occasion to get out and hang out.

We started at The Front Page at around noon to pick up our 21-verified (but you still get ID checked) wristbands, souvenir mugs, and a ticket for a free beer after 4 PM. We started at Mad Hatter, an Alice in Wonderland-themed bar that I’ve visited before for my college roommate’s birthday, for some brunch. Even though there were some brunch specials for bar crawl participants at other places, we wanted to just sit down and have a nice brunch nearby, and this was the closest participating bar to us. I got me some eggs benny (well, technically I splurged on “eggs Chesapeake” because I wanted crab cake) and we got to catch up on life.

Eggs Chesapeake at Mad Hatter
Eggs Chesapeake at Mad Hatter

Not wanting to limit ourselves to once place, we headed to Ozio to get our $3 mimosas, which didn’t turn our color-changing cups a different color as promised. It was really quiet at Ozio, and we could hear something electric crackling… so after nursing our food comas and spending a long time catching up on life even further,  we headed to Sign of the Whale.

Yo. This place was packed and bumpin’ and it was 3 PM on a Saturday. Lots of people dancing to loudly playing “Forget You” by Ceelo Green when we showed up. We each had a jelly bean shot, and I’m not sure what is in it but they tasted pretty good. (That’s a good bet that the alcohol content wasn’t very high, just the way I like ’em :P) We were in and out of Sign of the Whale, as it was rowdy and also getting a bit on the late side.

Our next stop was The Mighty Pint, where we had each had a Captain Morgan & Coke. At this point, we found that our color-changing cups did, in fact, change color with cold drinks and we were glad our cups weren’t defective. We took our time with our drinks and by the time we finished, it was close to 4 and we were able to head back to Front Page to pick up our free beers.

2014-04-19 15.21.42

After a quick coffee stop for my boyfriend at Panera, we headed back to Front Page where we each kicked back with a free Bud Light and tried to guess what the relationships between other people in the bar were. Girlfriend meeting the guys friends for the first time? Honeymoon-phase couple? First day-date?

Me, Molly, and Ben

THEN we stopped by Hello Cupcake for some yummy cupcakes. They all looked so good and inviting but I settled on a cookies-n-cream one, which tasted like a cookie but had that cupcake texture and was topped with a teeny cookie. So good. I haven’t had Hello Cupcake since someone brought me one my freshman year of college and this was my first time in the shop.

Mollys “you tart”, Bens red velvet, and my cookies-n-cream cupcakes from Hello Cupcake

My brother also came home this weekend, so it was nice to spend some time with him. All in all, it was definitely a good weekend. 🙂 And significantly less traumatizing that my Easter Adventure of 2011, which I wrote about on my Xanga and may share with you again next Easter.

How was your Easter?
What are your favorite happy hour bars? Dupont Circle in DC is an area just crawling with bars and not a whole lot else, really.