After my Toronto trip, I was so excited to be greeted by warm weather in LA. However, I had to connect through Atlanta before arriving in LA.
When I got to Atlanta, I checked my phone and received some new messages between the time WiFi went out and we landed. Without getting into it too much, it was some drama that I couldn’t deal with. And usually, it would have been fine but I was headed to my sixth city, sixth store opening and by this time exhaustion was setting in. But I hadn’t cried yet this month, so I feel like I was doing OK…
And then the tears came.
Getting upgraded in Atlanta is difficult. I hear it’s because Delta let’s their corporate execs book first class, but who knows. In any event, I was in row 19. Not an exit row 19, just a regular row. In the middle. Yeah. And exhausted.
Apparently, Delta must thank you for being a Diamond when you get Diamond status for the next year or something? Because a flight attendant came over and said, “Ms. Oras?”
I took off my headphones and said yes, in a confused voice. Instantly I panicked because I feel like the only time they are going to call you out on a plane is because you’ve done something really bad or there was some message from the ground to you. Now, both of those things are ludicrous, I know, but my brain was working on like 3-4 hours sleep per night for a month.
So, the flight attendant says, Ms. Oras, we’d like to thank you for choosing Delta and for obtaining Diamond status (or something to that effect, because my random insane anxiety only let me catch a few words). And then it happened. Tears. And I don’t mean like I shed a tear, no, that’d be easy to hide. Tears, like streaming.
I was so embarrassed and I put my head in my hands and said “I’m sorry, it’s just I have no life because I fly too much.”
I don’t think the flight attendant knew what to do, but he was nice, I think. I don’t even remember. And the people sitting next to me definitely thought I was insane. I did pull myself back together and all was well. And hey, at least it was probably a more appropriate breakdown than when the time I lost it because Pitbull signed a CD for me and said Happy Birthday.
When you travel like this, and work this much, and are always exhausted, a breakdown is bound to happen. And somehow, when it does, it’s like a recharge and fixes everything. I’m happy to report, upon writing this, I’ve been breakdown free.
So, after that ordeal, I land in LA. I get my rental (have I mentioned I just keep renting a Chevy Traverse in each city, and I’m really digging it?) and head right to the mall in Los Cerritos. On the way, the local radio station, KDAY, was playing these old school hip hop mixes and it definitely helped me deal with the Friday rush hour traffic.
After I set up my stuff, I paused for a second, as I realized this may be our last concert set up for awhile. So much goes into planning an event like this, but the feeling of watching it happen, and making fans so happy is an indescribable feeling.
I got back to the hotel, did dinner and then went to back to the mall for a bit. Then I went to the hotel and to bed. I was so tired and we had our event early the next day. Well, that didn’t go as planned. I woke up super early and was sick as can be. I’m still thinking it was the room service salad, I don’t know, but it was awful. However, the show must go on!
We did our normal opening, and everything went really well. Nothing like going out with a bang. I was still feeling like crap, but surviving.
Next was lunch at Nordstrom Bistro (I love when Nordstrom at our mall has a café or Bistro. That or Neiman’s is my go to.) I was finally ready to eat and had the and the broth of the French onion soup and a little bit of hummous.
I don’t talk many specifics when it comes to work, but I want to share this story. Sometimes we have opportunities to surprise fans with signed CDs, signed guitars, or meet and greets. We met this one particular fan that did not get a meet and greet and was a huge Kelly Clarkson fan (it’s a raffle system for the first people in line, 100 winners when we have about 500 in line or so). Her younger sister, however, did win and ended up giving her the winning badge. Then her sister won again, and gave her badge to a man that has been a huge fan for 12 years and has never met Kelly.
Now the sisters (and another friend that didn’t have a meet and greet) drove three hours to the show. And for the younger sisters, it was their first concert ever. They were awesome, too. They were super nice to the staff while waiting in line, and were posting tons of pictures on Instagram with the hashtag – just having fun. Well, my co-worker and I found them in the pit of fans waiting for the concert to start, and gave the two younger sisters meet and greet passes so now all three could meet Kelly Clarkson. They were ecstatic.
It doesn’t end there. We had a few Kelly Clarkson signed guitars reserved for surprise and delighting, So, when the sisters finished the meet and greet, we surprised the older sister (who has been a HUGE KC fan since day one) with a signed guitar. Her reaction was priceless. First it was shock, followed by disbelief, then tears and hugs. The pure joy and happiness we can bring to people (not to mention all the software and hardware grants we give out to each city) sometimes erases all the exhaustion that we endure.
Thankfully I have so many stories like this, and so many amazing people I’ve met who are truly special and I love when we can make their life even better. And yes, I cried when she hugged me. I can’t help it.
The concert finished and I’ve never felt more relief in my life. We survived November. Kelly’s last song was “Stronger” and I couldn’t think of a more fitting song.
We were starving, so it was back to Cerritos to grab food from the only place that was open, TGIFriday’s.
OK, I don’t expect much from the middle American chain restaurant this was the worst chain I’ve ever been to. It was unusually bright for about midnight, like uncomfortable on the eyes bright. But even worse, it allowed us to see the pure dirtiness that was every part of this restaurant. There were a lot of tables not cleared yet (and still were not cleared by the time we left) and the restaurant had food/silverware/who knows what else on the floor. However, we were starving and it was literally the only thing open.
The restaurant was extremely short staffed, food took over an hour to come out, that was after however long it took to actually get someone to place our order. Like I said, it was desperation at this point. When the food finally arrived, it was fine…
After another round of the bottomless mimosa, it was time for me to move on. I walked a few blocks to the Cat & The Fiddle, as I heard it was closing at the end of December. I sat outside and had a quick cocktail (though, apparently I didn’t take a photo of my time here). Apparently the landlord did not renew the lease, which is too bad because it’s a great bar with an amazing patio.
While I was a Cat & The Fiddle, my friend Jim called and I Ubered a few miles away to pick him up, then we went to Marix Tex Mex Cafe for margaritas (which you can order in pitchers, by the way). Jim and I caught up, drank margs on the patio, and planned the night.
One note – gay bars never have purse holders in the bathroom (in fact, one of my best friends owns am awesome gay bar in Seattle and I told him that was the only thing I’d change about his bar). So, I always carry my own. (Also, check out the Qlipter, it’s one of my travel essentials.)
And here was my monstrosity of a drunken creation. I did not finish it, or even come close.