Sunday, January 31, 2010


I have never in my life been so happy to see LA traffic as I was about three hours ago, driving from Santa Maria to my parents' house in Cerritos.

So much has happened in the last month, mostly involving working non-stop and being attached to my computer for every. single. waking hour, but there were some good times. Some funny things happened, we got a little loopy, and there were copious amounts of alcohol involved in the keeping of my sanity.

Photos and stories coming soon.

Meanwhile, I have another week or so left before this movie is complete and printed to film, which is when I will finally- finally- be able to sleep without psychedelic dreams involving Cheshire Cats, Mad Hatters, and shrill queens that shriek, "Off with their heads!"

Just need to survive for the next couple weeks...

See you on the other side, blog.


Monday, January 25, 2010

The Hitching Post, Casmalia

The Hitching Post
3325 Point Sal Road
Casmalia, CA 93429

Telephone: 805.937.6151

4:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Monday - Saturday:
4:30 pm - 9:30 pm

I know, I've been away from my blog for what feels like an eternity and all I have is a restaurant review. A restaurant review that I've been writing for four days because I can only get a couple words typed before I have to go run around and work.

The past few weeks, spent in picturesque Santa Maria, amid vineyards, fields, horses, and more fields, have been the most stressful of my life. I think half of my hair has fallen out, my skin has broken out into what looks like hives, and I have never tossed and turned more.

The end of a movie has never been so painful, so arduous. I'm in Santa Maria with several of my co-workers, of which there are three that I spend most of my time with. We all leave the hotel together, have lunch together, complain together, have dinner together, and go back to the hotel together, complaining some more. It's a bonding experience, I suppose, in the trenches of what feels like warfare.

(Ah, overly dramatic blogging whilst stuck in the boondocks of central California!)

One night .... Friday, I think (the days all blend together), we decided that we were going to leave at 8:00 and go to dinner at the Hitching Post, a pretty famous place.

There are two locations, one in Casmalia and one in Buellton. Buellton's HP is famous because of "Sideways," which was partially filmed there. The one in Casmalia is famous because it's the original.

I wish I had had the energy to take photos of the place, because it's pretty amazing. Taxidermy, mismatched plates, cowhides on the walls, all the paraphernalia that I connect to cowboys and country cookin' were represented. There were antique metal tractor seats and giant rusty saws on the walls. What could be more cowboy than that?

The drive from Santa Maria to Casmalia isn't long, but it's terrifying. It's been getting dark here around 6:00 or earlier, so by the time we trekked out, it was pitch black. Once we got outside Santa Maria, in all of four minutes, there was a single long winding road that we had to take. Not one streetlight for about five miles, with deep ditches on either side of the road. And, most horrifyingly, no cell reception. At all.

I think this is where serial killers dump bodies.

I was never so happy to see a restaurant in my life, dilapidated or no.

Once we were settled in, away from the 40 degree temperature outside (that's COLD), I felt better. Then I saw the awesome grill that they use, and I felt even better still. After a glass of Syrah, all was right with the world.

The Hitching Post makes their own wines, and we ended up splitting two bottles between four people (I drank less than the boys). We had the Syrah first and then a Pinot Noir, and sadly, the Syrah was better. The Pinot wasn't bad, just not great.

When we were seated, there was a large basket of crackers (literally, like saltines and buttery Club crackers), a bowl full of butter, and a little platter of vegetables (olives, green onions, sliced pickles, carrot sticks, radishes, and pepperoncinis) on the table. The vegetables had ice cubes on them. I don't know why, and no one else could tell me.

Being in cow country, we expected local grass-fed beef. Nope, all their beef is from the Midwest. Strange, but whatever. We all ordered some form of steak (I had top sirloin) with grilled vegetables and salad.

It's down home country cooking, comforting and good and very unpretentious. I liked the grilled vegetables a lot- red onions, yellow and red bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms were skewered before grilling with their house seasoning, then unskewered before serving. They weren't overcooked and retained a great bite. Vegetables in California, even during winter (er, "winter") are generally quite good and don't merit overly long cooking times, particularly on the grill.

The steak, though. The steak was amazing. AMAZING.

Between the four of us, we had two top sirloins, one New York, and one rib-eye. Not a single complaint to be found anywhere. The oak, the grill, the seasonings, the cook ... some sort of alchemy made it an amazing steak, cooked very well. The only slight quibble I had was that it was a bit overcooked- I like a little more red and a little less pink- but it was still gorgeously yummy.

Dessert, very fitting of our surroundings, was ice cream. There were four options- vanilla, vanilla with chocolate sauce, rocky road, and orange sherbet. Simple, simple, simple. No fanfare, no fancy silver or china, but really good food.

It almost made the anxiety of the day melt away. Almost. I think it would have been more successful if I hadn't gone back to the hotel and worked afterward, with a rosy glow from too much food.

The only redeeming thing about Santa Maria, it seems, would be particular places made famous for their barbecued steaks. I'll have to find a few more places to go back to the Hitching Post to make my time here seem well spent. (One of the supervisors here with me said, "That rib-eye at Hitching Post kicked my ass. It was the best steak I ever had.")

Hopefully this post wasn't too incoherent. I don't have time for spell check or for proofreading right now.

Back when I'm back!


Sunday, January 17, 2010


This is one of my producers at work. Isn't that awesome?

Not so awesome are the hours I am working right now. Of course.


Saturday, January 09, 2010


I can't believe it's been four days since I've blogged. It's been at least a week since I browsed non-work-related websites or shopped online.

My work has taken over every hour of my life. I literally get about half an hour at a time not dedicated to work, and most of that time is spent in the shower, fighting sleep whilst lathering and rinsing and trying to remember if I repeated or not.

I have been typing this post piecemeal, about three words at a time, since 8:30 in the morning. I keep thinking I have some time ... but no, I get pulled away.

In the time since my last post, I have been on a plane twice, spent two nights in a hotel room, and worked at least fourteen hours each day. Yep, definitely the end of the show.

I'll be back, I don't know when. I took a plethora of photos in December for this very purpose, so if I ever get it together, I'll get through those.

Happy January, I'm traveling for work again come Monday!


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Family Christmas

I was looking through my photos to see what I could delete off my work laptop in the twenty seconds of free time I found after a meeting, and realized that- goodness!- I had never posted about my family's Christmas!

For crying out loud, how could I forget such a thing??

Our beloved old dog. She's so cute, even though she's ancient. I love this dog dearly, and I don't like dogs- there was an incident when I was a child, when a neighbor's dog chased me all the way up and down our cul-de-sac. I've never forgotten that dog (his name was Tiger), and I never knew I could love a dog until I met our darling Ginger.

One part of our Christmas lunch? Hot links. Because we're a strange, strange family. My dad really adores hot links, and he voted to have these instead of ham for Christmas. (He doesn't like turkey, never will.) An interesting aside- my dad's favorite protein is probably chicken. He didn't realize until this year that chicken, like turkey, has dark and white meat! Silly dad.

That foil-wrapped package next to the hot links on the grill contained lovely onions. I cut them into thin wedges, leaving the root ends attached so they wouldn't fall completely apart. My sister wrapped them in foil along with some cut-up butter, and they got tossed on the grill. We had a hazy plan of making bangers and mash for my dad and cousin the next day, but I don't think that happened.

My sister's jalapeno poppers, the runaway hit of Thanksgiving, made another appearance for Christmas. My dad can eat about half a platter, and my cousin is most definitely capable of eating the entire other half. Those pigs!

We went super simple for the sides- green beans and corn. They were both really good. I think we were so tired from Thanksgiving and the constant eating that we wanted easy, clean food for Christmas. The corn, especially, was really delicious. We don't eat corn with butter, so good corn is essential.

Green beans. I prefer the thicker green beans to the thinner haricot verts, which seem to wilt very quickly. I love green beans, my family loves green beans, and we only had a very tiny bit leftover for the next day. No matter how many beans we buy, we eat nearly all of them during the first meal.

The bird, with hot links nestled up to him. He was a delicious bird, though a bit pale. The gravy was also outstanding- my cousin swooned. Okay, he didn't swoon, but he did love the gravy. If he was a girl, he would have swooned.

Ah, jeon. A favorite of everyone! My mother, bless her, protests every single year. She doesn't want to make jeon. What if she just doesn't make jeon? What if we just eat rice? (RICE, I ask you! RICE?!) What if we just skip the jeon entirely? My sister and I bully her into making jeon every year, for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thank goodness children are still capable of guilting their parents into doing things!

My mother makes centerpieces every year (or almost almost year) for some of our family friends. This one was a small one that we had at home, just for us. It smelled gorgeous and was very festive, in its green and red glory.

Table for five. My word, we're oinkers! My dad and cousin had white zinfandel, my mother, sister and I opted for sparkling grape juice. I know, we're boring. I worked on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, there was no way I wanted any trace of hangover anytime around Christmas.

I forgot to take a picture of the gravy in its dish, so I took a picture of the gravy happily greeting mashed potatoes and turkey. A perfect trio, if you ask me.

We're a family of very efficient cleaners. We take forever to eat, because we're talking and yammering and laughing and telling stories and making fun of each other, but once we're done eating? That table is cleared and leftovers are put into containers pronto. Especially with the lure of dessert (apple and pumpkin pie) and coffee, my mother, sister, and I can clean off the table and entire kitchen in the blink of an eye.

While I did the dishes and my sister scooped food into containers, my mother picked apart the turkey. We have a little old puppy, after all, that gets all the fat off the meat that our family eats. My mom can pick a bird faster than I can wash dishes. She got the wishbone out, which my sister and cousin pulled apart. He didn't know of the wishbone tradition, so it was nice that we were able to introduce him to an archaic and useless piece of Americana.

My cousin seemed to enjoy his Korean-American Christmas experience, all in all. He's off in New York and I haven't spoken to him since the first of the year, when he called to tell me that he'd landed safely, but I'm sure he's having a grand ol' time.

I discovered that when my father is sated with wine and good food, he is quite the crooner. I don't know why we waited so long to buy him a guitar- he used to have one years and years ago, and I distinctly remember it- but I am so glad he has one now.

Makes me wish it was Christmas all over again, rather than a stiflingly hot January (78 degrees today, what is going on??), most of which I will be spending in my office, in a car en route to Santa Maria, or working at home.

It was a mere week and a half ago, but it feels like it's been years.

Can't wait for next Christmas!



This year is off to an inauspicious start.

I went, as usual, to Santa Maria yesterday morning for work. I don't know what my nondisclosure states, so I'm not even going to get into it.

Anyway, it's a three-hour car ride, and I get pretty nauseous when I'm not driving. So three hours of fun, with me cooped up in a car with a strange driver and anywhere from one to three co-workers. FUN. TIMES. AHEAD.

We were planning on coming back either today or tomorrow, depending on how things went. One of my co-workers, who had driven up by herself in her own car, received a phone call last night. Her father had passed away.

So at 9:00 at night, what were we to do? We're certainly not letting her drive herself back to LA.

I took her car and drove her, plus our luggage, back to work last night. I got home a bit before 1:00 in the morning and am still tired. I'm so sad for my friend, because she is a great person and full of love for her family. I'm so sad for all of her family, because it's a tremendously hard thing, to grieve for a lost parent.

This year, it's been rough. And we're not even past Week 1.


Saturday, January 02, 2010


I can't believe it's 2010.

I mean, I can believe it, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.

To me, 2010 represents my adulthood.

Since graduating high school in 2000, I always looked to my ten-year reunion as a sort of milestone. I'd be out of college and working and, hopefully, professionally set, going in a good direction. I assumed that by the time I was 28 (this June ... shudder), I would be an "adult."

A very stupid thought process from an 18-year-old me, but it's what I believed at the time. Now, at 27, I know that none of it is true. I will never feel truly "adult," unless you count that time when I didn't get carded.

I'm not married with two kids and a station wagon, but I don't know why I assumed that 28 was when all of that needed to happen by (minus the station wagon- minus the minivan, too- minus any soccer mom car). I have time. Well, I don't have that much time, unless I want to use a surrogate or have IVF babies.

I may still become a crazy cat lady, living in deluded spinsterhood, next door to my crazy rabbit lady of a sister. You never know how these things do or don't work out, after all.

28 has always been a scary age for me because my mother got married the year she turned 28. In fact, she was my current age when she was married (she turned 28 three months after she married my dad). That's scary to me because at the time, my mother was told by pretty much everyone that she was an old maid. Scary, scary, scary.

Tossing fears, uncertainties, illnesses (cough, cough!), and confusion aside, here's what I've done so far this year:

January 1:
3:30 a.m. woke up groggily to take my cousin to the airport (he's going to the east coast for two weeks).
4:30 a.m. got home and crawled back into bed.
6:30 a.m. tried to get up.
6:35 a.m. really tried to get up.
6:40 a.m. got up. Collapsed. Tried again.
7:00 a.m. got to church, shivering in the cold, and made it through New Year's service. Barely.
Then had rice cake soup (떡국, pronounced "ddeok-guk" or "tteok-guk"), traditional for January 1.
8:30 a.m. got home and ensconced myself in front of the TV with my sister. Watched part of the DVR'ed Rose Parade.
Remained prone for most of the day, lapsing in and out of that strange, delirious grogginess that happens when one has been awake far too much.
8:00 p.m. (!) crawled back into bed after taking some echinacea and Tylenol cold medicine. Sniffled for a while, then slept like a dead person.

January 2:
6:30 a.m. woke up and turned on my laptop for the first time in 36 hours. Blessedly work-free 36 hours.
7:15 a.m. got ready to go to work. Oh, yes.
8:30 a.m. got to work. It's very quite and dark and sad here. And it's freezing cold.

An inauspicious start to the new year, I must say. What with the sniffling and the working and the constant confusion about what day it is (it feels like Monday today), I've decided that February 1 will be the real start to my new year.

Alice-time does not equal real time, so January is the new December in Wonderland.

I hope everyone on the internet has had a much better New Year's than me, without too much in the way of hangovers (though a nice spicy Bloody Mary will fix that right up).

Happy 2010!