Beer with a Blogger: Angel City Brewery in DTLA

There’s something very special about blog-friends-turned-real-life-friends.

When you’ve been following each other’s blogs for months (or even years!) and finally meet for the first time, it can be so surreal, because even though you’ve exchanged dozens of comments, read about their most personal experiences and seen plenty of pictures of them, it’s still strange at first that they’re actual people with voices and stuff. It’s also bizarre how totally normal it is to meet them and, like with old friends, have a million things to talk about.

Which is exactly what it was like meeting Rachel for the first time last summer.

Rachel of Existation

THE BLOGGER

Rachel Jackson, the photographer, writer and adventurer behind Existation. This Minnesota lady moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to pursue her California dream (something that instantly attracted me to her blog, since I had dreams and plans of doing the very same). Now, she and her boyfriend Toby live in West Hollywood and explore the great state of California whenever they get the chance. (Check out her photos of Joshua Tree and June Lake, and you’ll want to move out here, too.) What I love about Rachel is how warm, inviting and open she is. Must be that Midwestern charm. Follow Rachel on Instagram and Twitter.

Angel City Brewery

THE BAR

Angel City Brewery in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles. This might just be my new favorite spot. The vibe is very industrial/casual/chic in this bowling alley-sized warehouse, where dogs are welcome and the bartenders are friendly. Angel City opened up almost a year ago exactly and doesn’t serve food, but it regularly welcomes food trucks to its parking lot. Live music, darts and regular run + yoga + beer events make it the perfect neighborhood spot, and quite frankly, I’m a bit jealous of everyone who lives within walking distance of this place. (There are so many other great spots in this part of downtown, too.)

THE BEER

An Angeleno IPA for me and a Mexican Cola Beer for Rachel—this one seemed to be a hit among the other patrons, too. All imbibed beverages brewed in-house, of course.

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Every time Rachel and I get together, the conversation flows naturally, and we end up chatting about so many different things. Namely, all the adventures we want to take, our anxieties and excitement about the future, creative outlets and inspiration, and the paths that have led us to where we are now. It always makes for good, much-needed girl talk.

Oh, and the brewery is just around the corner from the building where Jess and the boys from New Girl live, so of course we had to get a picture.

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Real-life friend status even further solidified and a love for Angel City Brewery established. Good times.

Cassie and Rachel

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!

California, here we come: a journey

This post is the first in a series of guest posts by talented writers, photographers, and more. (Though I wish the title were autobiographical!) Read on to learn about Existation blogger Rachel’s cross-country move to California.

guest post series

Eight years ago, Seth Cohen changed my life forever.

It was the summer before my junior year of high school, and I was two months shy of turning seventeen. I was young, full of hope, and easily influenced by television and pop culture (who am I kidding, I still am) when my friends and I settled in one fateful night to watch a newfangled show about an exotic place called The O.C. Cue soaring panoramic views of palm trees and the ocean, witty one-liners from the mouth of a curly-haired skater boy, and of course, this opening song, in all of its glory:

I was hooked. I had never been to Southern California before, despite frequent family vacations, and I envisioned it as a mecca of tanned surfer boys and breezy, sunshine-filled days at the beach, where everyone was rich and carefree and got to date Adam Brody. You get the picture.

Existation_guest postFast forward to the present day. As I write this, I am sitting in a coffee shop a few blocks away from the beach, listening to music and watching palm trees wave in the breeze. A tanned surfer boy walks by, and groups of people are sitting at tables and laughing outside in the sunshine.

I’ll give you one guess as to where I am…

Mmhmm. I made it. But it took a lot longer than I expected to get here.

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Except for a brief five-year stint in New Jersey when I was a kid, I am Minnesota born-and-raised. I grew up in a suburb of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul, represent!) and I had a wonderful, Midwestern childhood full of snowy winters and hot, humid summers at our lakeside cabin. My family traveled a lot, so I was never wanting for new experiences and places, and for the most part, I was content—that is, until Seth Cohen and his magical wonderland came along. I had never before experienced such an intense desire to be somewhere else; it niggled its way into my daydreams and future plans, and with each passing year, the cold winters and extreme weather seemed to grow more and more unbearable now that I was armed with the knowledge that a place with mild seasons and hardly any precipitation existed.

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In my freshman year of college, my friend Caitlin and I wheedled and begged our way into getting out parents to let us use our corresponding spring breaks to go to Newport Beach, home to Ryan, Marissa, Summer and Seth. Oh, Seth. At the time, we were both eighteen, and more than a little naive to the ways of traveling on our own. Too young to rent a car, we hoofed it from place to place, catching the occasional bus along the way. Also, unaware that California in March is actually quite chilly, and ignoring the fact that even when it is chilly, you can still get a sunburn, we neglected to bring much warm clothing or wear much sunscreen. The result, as you can imagine, was a couple of red faces, tired feet, and numb fingers and toes. Though the trip was ultimately exhausting, and there was nothing especially glamorous or exotic about it, it only strengthened my resolve to relocate. I wanted a change of scenery. I wanted the ocean just outside my front door. I wanted to be a California Girl.

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However, no matter how badly you want something, actually making the leap is an entirely different story. I could tell you my whole life story, but what it all boils down to is this: I never had a “good” reason to leave. I started college in Minneapolis, and after a brief flirtation with the idea of Portland, transferred to Iowa to finish up my degree (sociology, with a minor in Spanish). I was a counselor at a summer camp in between school years, and developed deep friendships and relationships that made it hard to think of living anywhere but the Midwest. I was lulled into a comfortable rhythm: school, home, camp. School, home, camp.

And on and on, for four years.

My restlessness never fully ebbed, but it got lost in between the comfortable cushions of my warm, predictable life. I probably could have gone on like that forever, but then I decided to drink and play on the beach study abroad in Costa Rica, and lo and behold, my wanderlust made a rebound. I returned from abroad with renewed vigor, determined to be home only just long enough to save up some money for a backpacking journey through South America.

And then love walked in. Or rather… I walked in on it. Pooping.

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That, ladies and gentlemen, is my boyfriend, Toby, and he destroyed all of my travel plans.

Two months after my glorious return to the United States, I went to a broomball tournament being held to raise money for the aforementioned summer camp. A bunch of us were sharing a cabin on a lake, Toby was pooping in the bathroom, and I walked in on him. No joke. Love at first sight.

Well okay, not really. But love developed over the next several months, and though my grand plans to hike around and speak lots of Spanish down south were tossed out the window for the time being, we did discover that we had one key thing in common: the desire to get out of Minnesota, and to get out as soon as possible.

Toby is an actor, and he had been torn between New York and Los Angeles for years, unable to make a definite move to either coast. Lucky for me, I’m beautiful and talented and inspiring and awesome, so it didn’t take much convincing on my part to help him choose the latter. I steered my wanderlust in the direction of California, and a year and a half later, after lots and lots of money saving, we were on the road in my tiny little yellow hatchback, Liz Lemon. Headed west. Finally.

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It is here that I need to let you in on a not-so-little secret: moving to the other side of the country is scary. And sad. And overwhelming. It is incredibly exhilarating and wonderful, but it is also all of those other things. I am a planner by nature, and I planned the shit out of our move, but no amount of planning prepared me for the nostalgia and self-doubt and what the hell am I doing with my life-ness that has intermittently pervaded my brain since watching the Minneapolis skyline fade away in my rearview mirror.

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I got lucky. I love living in Los Angeles even more than I thought I was going to, and that’s saying something, because I had the bar set incredibly high. Moving out here is, hands down, the best decision I have made in my life. But a decision being good and right doesn’t necessarily make it easy or perfect. I have spent the past year and a half going through more personal growth than ever before in my life, which isn’t an easy thing to deal with when there is so much distance between me and many of my loved ones. There have been many tears amid my general ecstasy for being able to drive to the coast whenever I want; luckily, it is the coast that usually calms and centers me in the end, and reminds me why I came out here in the first place: to explore, discover, and experience life at its fullest.

Also, I once saw Ryan Reynolds driving behind me down Santa Monica Boulevard. So there’s that.

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I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world. When I look back on where this whole journey started, I am wowed by how far I have come. I finally understand the meaning of the phrase “meant to be.” California and I were made for each other. We sync up well. Every day here brings a level of excitement I never experienced in Minnesota, be it driving along the crest of the Hollywood Hills as a part of my daily commute or climbing up a giant canyon as a form of exercise. Palm trees glinting in the sunlight make me grin; being able to drive down the highway with the windows down in the middle of January makes me want to jump for joy (little hint: wait until after exiting the car before attempting to do that last bit).

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None of this is to say that I don’t get homesick or cry every time I leave Minnesota after a trip home. It simply means that at this point in my life, this is the right place for me to be. I might miss my family and friends, but let’s be real, the internet is a magical instrument of constant communication (it’s also an excellent way to share pictures of the beach and brag about how warm it is while everyone back home is dealing with negative fifty million degree temperatures. Not that I would ever do that, of course…), so no one is ever more than a click away.

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Moral of the story: life is good. I followed my passion, and ended up being exactly where I should be. And it’s all thanks to Seth Cohen. I’d kiss him if I could. Just a nice little thank you peck on the cheek, of course; I’m a taken gal now. Unless it was just a nice little thank you peck on the lips. That wouldn’t be inappropriate, right? And maybe it would linger a little bit. I don’t think there would be anything wrong with that. And maybe some hugging would be involved. Lingering hugging.

Anyway. Someday it’ll happen. Until then, Seth, you know where to find me:

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Existation RachelRachel is a photographer/writer/nanny extraordinaire. She lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and her yellow hatchback, Liz Lemon. Together, they go on many adventures, which she (Rachel, not Liz Lemon) documents on her blog, along with other random photos, quotes, thoughts and tidbits from her daily life. Check out the links below to see more of her photos and words; she’d love to meet you!

Blog: Existation | Professional Site: Ebb & Flow Photography | Twitter: @chickpokipsie