Summer Road Trip Series: from Melbourne down the Great Ocean Road

It’s time for an international road trip, yes?

Olivia of Halfway Somewhere took an amazing trip along the southern coast of Australia, and she shares her journey with us here today.

In her own words:

“The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s iconic destinations, and in December of last year (I’m in the southern hemisphere, so it was a summer trip!), I finally took the time to drive most of the way along it with my sister. We grew up just a few hours away but, like is often the case with places in your own state, it took me over 20 years to get there.”

Great Ocean Road

THE INSPIRATION

“I’d been wanting to do the trip for a while, but since I live far away for uni, whenever I went back home, I was too busy seeing friends and family to take the time. There really wasn’t any particular reason for going other than it was just time to get our act together and finally visit this area of the country.

We drove from Melbourne down to Geelong and from there it’s straight down to Torquay and onto the Great Ocean Road. There’s a lot of awesome little beach towns to stop in on along the way – Anglesea, Airey’s Inlet, and Lorne, to name a few.”

Great Ocean Road

THE HIGHLIGHTS

“One of the most fun stops along the way was the Split Point lighthouse. There’s nothing extraordinary about the lighthouse itself, except for the fact that it was the setting for a popular kids show in Australia in the ’90s, Round the Twist. We were singing the theme song for hours that day.

The other obvious one is the Twelve Apostles, the main attraction of the Great Ocean Road. We stopped by a few times since the first time they were mostly shrouded in fog and we stayed overnight close by. In the evening the view was amazing. Then as the sun went down, there were hundreds of baby penguins making their way in from the water, which was awesome to watch.

We stopped in Port Campbell, which is a really fun small town. The official Great Ocean Road goes all the way down to Warnambool, although you could actually keep going all the way to South Australia if you wanted to and had the time.”

Great Ocean Road

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“I just ticked off two road trip I’d been wanting to do (around the south of the USA and around the redwoods in California). My ultimate dream road trip is to buy an old Winnebago and spend a year or more slowly driving around. I’ve been a bit obsessed with this idea for a while now and my short recent trips and have only made it worse. Hopefully I can save up enough to do that in 2016, but we’ll have to see.”

Great Ocean Road

Olivia’s Blog // Twitter // Instagram

Have you ever been to Australia? Olivia’s trip makes me want to visit.

There’s another featured road trip scheduled for this time next week—but it’s not a car. Stay tuned!

Through the Lens: photos from July

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Summer is flying by.

I know, who wants to hear that? But even though I’m a little sad July is coming to a close, I’m really looking forward to August. I’m flying home for the first time since Christmas, my BFF and college roomie is coming to L.A. for a visit, and then I kick off my second year of grad school. It’ll be a busy month for sure, and I plan to soak it up before another crazy semester begins.

But right now, let’s have one last look at July, shall we? There were quite a few highlights.

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I cannot get enough of the beach. Even though it’s often a stressful, longer-than-it-should-be drive to the coast, it’s always worth the effort of getting there. Sunsets on the beach are where it’s at.

And how did I manage to snap the following photo of Obama? Journalism has its perks…

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President Obama was in town for about 24 hours, and a handful of the Neon Tommy reporters got to cover his LAX arrival, a speech he gave at a college and his departure. I covered his departure, which meant getting cleared by the White House and sitting on the tarmac in the hot sun for hours. All in all, I spent an entire day mostly waiting around for a couple exciting minutes of helicopters flying the president in, him walking from the helicopter to Air Force One and giving us a little wave before taking off again. See for yourself.

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(He’s looking right at me!)

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Though a lighter picture-taking month overall, July was jam-packed. Even though I’ve been juggling a couple of jobs and a night class, I’ve managed to sneak in plenty of fun, too: watching tons of fireworks with a sweet view from the top of a hill, revisiting a couple of favorite neighborhood spots (it’s hard to be a regular anywhere in this town—too many options!), and celebrating our one-year anniversary of living in L.A.!

And the fun won’t end in August. In fact, I’ve got an open spot for August’s Beer with a Blogger. Who wants to grab a couple of pints with me?!

I loved July—how about you? And what do you have going on next month?

 

 

Interweb Finds: the most-hated dog, Eurotripping & more

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I’m trying to be kind to my body.

Lately, I’ve had lots of aches and pains in my neck and back, and it’s no secret why. (Blogging, technically, is only making it worse.) I’ve also found myself popping more Ibuprofen than usual for headaches. So I’m doing more yoga at a new place (I’m taking a yoga studio tour, if you will, via Groupon), drinking more water and drinking less alcohol. And this week, I plan on taking the plunge and buying new running shoes. Mine are almost three years old. It’s time.

But right now, it’s interweb finds time. Check out this week’s link roundup:

Speaking of yoga, pets interrupting yoga is the cutest thing you’ll see all day.

Did you hear about the American Ninja Warrior competitor who kicked ass and broke records? She is incredible. (Kacy went to my undergrad alma mater, too—represent!)

As someone who browses rescue sites almost daily (ahem), I’m well aware of how overpopulated shelters are with pit bulls. In Los Angeles County alone, an estimated 200 pit bulls are killed every day. Here’s a powerful essay about the breed by a pit bull owner:

“There is no other dog that figures as often in the national narrative—no other dog as vilified on the evening news, no other dog as defended on television programs, no other dog as mythologized by both its enemies and its advocates, no other dog as discriminated against, no other dog as wantonly bred, no other dog as frequently abused, no other dog as promiscuously abandoned, no other dog as likely to end up in an animal shelter, no other dog as likely to be rescued, no other dog as likely to be killed.”

Check out these tree roots growing among concrete. They look like art!

I’ve loved following along on Sydney’s Eurotrip. (Doesn’t she look like she’s having a blast?)

“Women who are ambivalent about women against women against feminism.” The Bloggess nails it:

“I’m not saying you can’t choose to not be a feminist but know what you’re choosing. Don’t make a decision about a group based on the most radical beliefs of a group. Don’t get defensive if you get deeper and are exposed to difficult ideas about intersectionality and race and gender and colonialism and patriarchy and male liberation. Just listen. Some of it will make sense. Some of it won’t. Some of it will later when you’re a different person. Some of it you’ll change your mind about throughout your life and the world will change too. Some of it is bullshit. Some of it is truth. All of it is worth listening to.”

Age 30 is not a deadline. (Seriously, this mentality of “doing it all” in your twenties hurts everyone.)

 

And that’s all for now! Come back later this week for my monthly photo roundup, including shots of the Obama at LAX (!). But right now, I’m going to shut the computer and do a few stretches. What do you do when you’re not sick but your body hurts?

 

Summer Road Trip Series: from San Diego to San Francisco

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Have you ever traveled solo?

Like, get in the car/on a plane and spend a night or week or month (!) discovering, eating and sleeping by yourself?

I’ve realized… that I haven’t. Long day trips, yes, but I’ve yet to experience the peaceful silence of solitude that descends at night on my own. I’d like to change that one of these days, but for now, I’ll live vicariously through my next Summer Road Trip Series featured guest. Meet Corey of But We Will Stay, and follow along on her adventure traveling from San Diego to San Francisco!

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THE INSPIRATION

“To get out of town. To think in quiet. To take pictures. It was to see a friend that had just gotten back from Afghanistan and then explore some places on the California coast that I had seen Kevin Russ take amazing pictures of and that I never knew existed.”

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

“I almost didn’t go in the beginning AND when I first go to Fairfield my car smelled like sulfur… turns out the battery in my car was all but bursting into flames by the time I got to a Pep Boys the next morning. My clothes, being that they were in the trunk (where my battery is in my car, weird I know) smelled of sulfur so I had to air them out a bit.

I went Zuma Beach in Malibu to take a picture of a FOOD sign and went on to Santa Monica Pier to ride the ferris wheel. Turns out you are not allowed to do so by yourself there, so by myself so an employee had to ride with me.

I also went to Photobooth SF to get my tintype taken. That was an awesome experience and I highly recommend it. They have all different sorts of toy cameras and refurbished polaroid cameras. After getting my tin type I headed down the coast to stay in Morro Bay. The next morning I went to Montaña de Oro beach and Pirate’s Cove/Shell Beach. It ended up being a nude beach, but as it was very overcast when I was there, there were only a few sunbathing.”

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“In the fall I am moving out to Nashville, TN. I am so, so excited not just to live in a new city but to road trip it through the states to get there. I have my current plan on Roadtrippers. I am moving and making the most out of the trip, stopping and going a little out of my way here and there to see gorgeous things. I am so excited. I love road trips so much.”

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Corey’s Blog // Instagram // Twitter 

Good luck on your big move, Corey!

The series continues this time next week—with an international road trip!

Looking back: my first year in L.A.

one year in L.A.

We woke up in the canyons of Utah, braved 115-degree dry heat in Vegas, and paid nearly five dollars a gallon for the last leg of the trip. It was a Thursday, and it was L.A. or bust.

John and I arrived in Los Angeles one year ago Friday. We’d been on the road for 10 days, driving through small towns, big cities and vast deserts. We saw a lot of incredible things, but the most vivid memory of all was when we crossed into L.A. County. The highway was wide, the mountains were high and the setting sun gave it all a dreamy, hazy glow. We had made it. This was “home.”

driving into L.A.

Adjusting to our new surroundings wasn’t easy. Within the first day, we had a stinky iPhone full of air freshener juice and a ticket for talking on said phone as welcoming souvenirs. Thankfully, we had a place to stay, but finding an apartment was frustrating and difficult. Our bank accounts took major blows, jobs were scarce and grad school was looming. It was a lot to deal with at once.

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The first year certainly hasn’t been easy, but it has been amazing. I’ve had the chance to meet some extraordinary people working as a journalist and have taken the time to explore the Golden State with short road trips and camping adventures. I’ve woken up in a tent on the beach to see seals frolicking in the ocean, I’ve interviewed rock stars and activists and politicians, I’ve made a ton of new friends at school and through the blogging community, and I’ve had my best friend and partner next to me every step of the way. Being on this adventure with John has made the difficult times easier to deal with and the celebratory times even sweeter.

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And what’s not to love about L.A.? You could look at the negatives, and a lot of people choose to. I’ve encountered many of them myself, but the good has far outweighed the bad. Los Angeles is such a diverse city, both culturally and geologically, and that has made for so many new-to-me experiences. I needed a culture shock. I needed to step out of my comfort zone. And I needed to live in a city full of opportunities to make me realize just how many are open to me if I go after them.

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So thanks, Los Angeles, for giving me the biggest thrill of my life. Thanks for making me work for it and for letting me reap the rewards. Whether I stay another year, five years or a lifetime, I’ll always look back on the first 12 months as a game-changer.

Happy anniversary, Los Angeles.

 

Becoming yourself

Joyce Carol Oates quote

So much has changed in the past few years, it’s hard not to think I’ve changed drastically, too.

I certainly feel different. Wiser, more thoughtful, unafraid to ask for what I want, adventure-seeking and self-loving. My younger self would be pleased. Pleasantly surprised, even.

But I think Joyce Carol Oates—fabulous woman that she is—said it best when she wrote the line above. At our core, we always remain the same. The potential for all those qualities I mentioned was always within me. It just hadn’t been realized to its fullest yet. And if that’s the case, how much more room for growth is there? I’ll play it safe and say it’s limitless—just in case it exceeds my expectations.

@wittycassiehere Instagram

P.S. Related reading: A woman to aspire to

 

Summer Road Trip Series: from Chapel Hill to Los Angeles

This time last year, John and I sang together at an open mic night in Nashville.

We were on day two of our cross-country road trip, it was 96 degrees, and honky tonk music blared from just about every bar on Broadway. (I was also super paranoid that something was amiss with the holes where my wisdom teeth had been only a week and-a-half prior, but I prefer to forget all those saltwater rinses in gas station bathrooms.) Aaaaaand oversharing complete.

For round three of the Summer Road Trip Series, I’d like to introduce you to Evey Wilson, a journalist and photographer at UNC Chapel Hill.

Evey and her friend Em spent six days traveling 2,500 miles across the country from Chapel Hill, North Carolina headed west along I-40 and occasionally hitting up the famous Route 66. Along the way, they stopped in Asheville, Nashville, Oklahoma City, a couple small towns in Texas, Albuquerque, a couple places in Arizona (including the Grand Canyon), the Mojave Desert Preserve and, finally, Los Angeles.

In Evey’s own words: “I swear we danced and laughed every inch of the way.”

Evey Wilson

THE INSPIRATION

“One of my best friends, Em, got a job in L.A. for the summer, so we decided to make an adventure out of her move out there. Em and I are both photojournalists and have both been working on emotional, issue-driven pieces for the past few months so we wanted to document our adventure along Route 66 just for fun.”

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

We met so many incredible people! Route 66 is just a warp in the universe where so many fascinating people wind up somehow. A lot of the people we met had been traveling Route 66 and then eventually moved to live around the Route. It has that effect on you. The owner of the Midpoint Café in Adrian, Texas had been driving the route with his wife when they saw that the café was for sale and decided to buy it. We also met Bob ‘Crocodile’ Lile, a man that I swear knows every fact about the Route. He owns a gallery in Amarillo and does preservation for Route 66. I took a portrait that I just love of him and his dog, Lady.

There was a lovely woman, Judie Breidenback, with a stunningly unique ring that we met in her jewelry store in Albuquerque’s Old Town. Turns out she used the stones from her engagement ring to make her new, more modern ring. I asked her about the ring and she totally opened up. Judie told me that next week she will have been married for 59 years. Her advice? “Be willing first of all to say I’m sorry,” she says, “And even better, ‘that you were right.’ That’s really important.” She told me that she knew her marriage was going to last when they successfully made their first cross country trip, from California to New Jersey, after being married only a year.

I met so many people that had a heart for adventure. Along the way, Em and I kept bumping into this hilarious Brazilian family that was traveling the route and making a video of their trip as well. It was so much fun because we saw them a few times along the way and then we just happened to run into each other at the end of the Route 66 sign in Santa Monica. We were all celebrating together that we had finished our adventures.”

Evey Wilson

“If you have the chance, you need to stop in Oatman, Arizona. It’s this hilarious old mining town that is now overrun with donkeys. The townsmen acted out a bank robbery during lunch. It’s one of those bizarre things you can’t really imagine until you see it for yourself.

It’s a little bit out of the way so of course Em and I had neglected our gas tank. We hadn’t passed a gas station in miles and we had to drive up some pretty steep hills. We wound up coasting down those hills in neutral on an empty tank. We’re so stressed out that we’re laughing when Em rounds a curve somewhat quickly and all of a sudden there is a donkey in the middle of the road. What?? Where the heck are we? We rolled into this hilarious town with donkeys everywhere. Luckily the next gas station was downhill from town, so we got a chance to explore getting the history from a fireman, grabbing lunch at a cute bar and talking to an old man in a cowboy hat that had moved to Oatman from England. It was easily our most ridiculous stop.

Evey Wilson Evey Wilson

THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“I recently moved to North Carolina so I would love to explore my new state more. My next dream road trip would be traveling North Carolina Highway 12 along the coastline and through the islands of the Outer Banks. I would love to camp on the islands and learn about the coastal culture here.”

Evey Wilson

Follow Evey’s adventures on her blog and on Instagram 

I’m so enamored with Evey’s photos, I can’t wait to follow along on her next trip.

Keep an eye for a trip along the coast this time next week. Which coast? You’ll find out.

 

Interweb Finds: Corgis on the beach, finding your blogging roots & more

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Have you ever had an idea seemingly come out of nowhere that jolts your brain and prompts you into action?

(And I’m not just talking about the awesome T-shirt sayings that come to mind during a particularly hilarious and drunken conversation.)

Anyway, I had one of those ideas over the weekend, and I went to bed, woke up and still loved it. So I think that’s a good sign. I headed on over to the local library, got a library card (finally), and picked up a few books for research. I’m being a tease, because it’s not an idea I’ll share anytime soon, but it just got me thinking…

Other weekend highlights include eating Gelato al fresco, browsing the grocery store bakery above (like the pure frosting cheeseburgers), and announcing the winner to the Feminist Apparel giveaway! Congrats to Kiersten, a feminist after my own heart.

Now, for this week’s interweb finds:

Ten words every girl should learn.

Possibly the best thing ever: Corgi Beach Day. (The next one is the day after my birthday… I AM SO GOING. Even though I don’t have a corgi.)

Have you heard about the new film Boyhood? It was filmed over the course of 12 years in a young boy’s life.

People’s attitudes toward biking and cyclists can be pretty unreasonably charged with anger. Why is that? One alarming quote:

“A 2002 study found that drivers are far more likely to see a cyclist’s infraction as stemming from ineptitude or recklessness than an identical one committed by another driver.”

WARNING: cuteness overload. Seven kittens reacting in perfect unison to a shiny object.

Fellow bloggers and writers, have you found your blogging roots?

“You need to be rooted in blogland by something other than dreams of fame and fortune. Those roots, if they run deep enough, are what will sustain you through tough times. They’re what will allow you to be flexible, to go easy on yourself, and to keep pushing.”

A fascinating read about one man who studies and diagnoses depressed and OCD animals in zoos. Related: the case for the end of the modern zoo.

That’s all for this week! Now back to those library books.

 

wittycassiehere on Twitter

Summer Road Trip Series: from Detroit to San Diego

I remember the surreal feeling I got every time I told someone I was moving to California.

It’s something you need to keep repeating to remind yourself that it’s real, especially when you’re moving all the way across the country to do it.

That’s why Sarah of XO Sarah fame’s recent move to San Diego was so exciting to read about during the process. It brought me back to the rush of anticipation I felt for so long before my own big move.

To continue on with the Summer Road Trip Series (here’s part one), Sarah tells us about the big move she made last month to San Diego all the way from Detroit—more than 2,300 miles!

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THE INSPIRATION

“This road trip was a quickie! Four days in the car, blasting our way across the states as I moved from Detroit to San Diego. My friend Beth and my rat terrier, Slayer, came along for the ride in my tiny Scion.

Since we were trying arrive in San Diego at a certain time, most of the scenic photos were actually taken out the car window, flying 80 mph down the highway. Detroit to Omaha was fairly uneventful, outside of some killer enchiladas, a hail storm (thanks Michigan!), and massive wind turbine blades being hauled down the highway every hour or so. It was mostly farms and cows and quiet, which we happily disrupted with an Ace of Base Pandora station.”

XO Sarah

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

“In Denver we downed giant salads and met up with Beth’s friend who gave both of us dead-on tarot car readings over beers in the back of a dive bar. The next day we stopped a couple hours into the Rockies to cool off in Grizzly Creek and listened to old-timey bluegrass, which seemed perfect for the scenery.

Driving through the canyons in Utah was my favorite part of the trip. People use the word amazing a lot, but for this it is completely appropriate. I had never seen anything so big and empty.

On the creepy pitch-black drive into Vegas, Beth told me alien abduction stories and we were stunned by the sea of glitter that poured out of the mountains upon our arrival. Vegas from the ground is much more spectacular than Vegas from the air.

I drove the last five-hour leg to San Diego alone (Beth flew home from Vegas) and was drawn to the parched, vacant vastness of the desert more than I expected. Growing up in Michigan there are trees and grass and people everywhere – in the desert from Nevada to California there is nothing but sand and heat and I loved it.”

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“Now that I’m in California I’d love to road trip straight up the coast to Seattle. I’ve always wanted to see the redwoods, take a photo in front of the Full House house in San Francisco, kill my sugar craving with VooDoo donuts in Portland, and visit Pike Place Market and the Space Needle in Seattle. I’m also planning, now that I have my passport (only took me 29 years!), to get further out of the country than Canada at some point soon!”

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Sarah’s Blog // Twitter // Instagram

Live it up in San Diego, Sarah!

This time next week, I’ll have another cross-country trip to share. But this trip is taking the southern route.

 

Beer with a Blogger: Bar Food in Brentwood

How’s that for alliteration?

This month’s Beer with a Blogger was a long time coming. Hanna is a good blog friend of mine who lives in Brentwood on the West Side, but our busy lives have made it so that we’ve only met a couple of times in real life. We finally remedied that this past weekend. Read on!

Hanna Scott

THE BLOGGER

Hanna of the newly rebranded Filth. I’ve followed Hanna’s blog (formerly Excelsior Lady) since long before I moved to L.A. She made a similar cross-country move by way of Buffalo a few years ago, and I loved reading her thoughts on being a transplant in a vibrant, huge city. Hanna has one of those true artist brains, which I adore. (You can see some of her illustrations here—how cool are they?) Everything she draws or writes has a raw honesty that I really appreciate, and her eye for photography is spot-on. There’s nothing bland about her. And Hanna’s personality in real life is just as intriguing. Because we felt like we knew each other already the first time we met, it’s always been easy to talk to her. It helps that she’s got the most infectious smile and big, inviting blue eyes. Check out her blog, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Bar Food

THE BAR

Bar Food on Wilshire in Brentwood, a great happy hour spot seven days a week. And the happy hour deals are truly awesome, especially for L.A.—I had three beers (over the course of a BWAB record five-and-a-half hours) AND a hot dog, which all together cost $17 including tip! The drafts were $4 apiece and hot dogs are $1 all the time. Yelp reviewers says the other food is really good, too. The bartender was friendly, and we happened to come in on trivia night. Considering we weren’t anticipating playing trivia and the fact that we were first-time partners, we didn’t absolutely suck (i.e., we didn’t finish dead last). Neither of us is particularly great at trivia, though we killed the music round. The trivia host might’ve thrown a couple extra points our way for clever, albeit incorrect, answers. Bar Food had a fun, neighborhoody vibe.

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THE BEER

I enjoyed a Green Flash Black IPA and a Deschutes River Ale, while Hanna had a couple of Left Coast Asylum Belgian-Style Tripel Ales.

Bar Food dollar

Hanna & Cassie

grainy selfies FTW!

It was a blast hanging out with Hanna one-on-one for the first time (crazy it took nearly a year for that to happen!). We had a ton to talk about—staying true to our voices in writing, our love for L.A. and wanderlust for other parts of the world, and missing family back home. We also made a friend in a Bar Food regular, an older man in a beret who is a painter by way of Vancouver, born in Scotland. He was such a character, asking us about ourselves and sharing his white-haired wisdom. He was so sweet (and incredibly talkative), and Hanna and I later gushed at having made friends with such a cool dude. Between meeting him and playing several rounds of trivia, a night I expected to be a blast turned out to be just that and more.

Hanna and I vowed not to let so much time go by before hanging out again. Next time, we’re looping in Rachel so they can finally meet!

Are you a blogger living in (or visiting!) L.A.? Do you like beer? Shoot me an email at wittycassiehere (at) gmail (dot) com, and let’s go to happy hour!