Doing Dallas: Now Walk It Out

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. There are few things I dislike more than waking up early or working out; among them are tonsillectomies, catheters, and paper cuts to the eye. So, when I found out about this next Dallas tradition, I was initially hesitant because it involved waking up early TO workout – basically my worst nightmare.  But, I decided to take one for the team because this activity is simply too perfectly, marvelously Dallasy to pass up.

NorthPark Center: A gym with free membership!

See, I was recently told that NorthPark Center is the place to workout on weekday mornings from 8 – 9 a.m. Apparently, walking around the giant square that is NorthPark is a wonderful (and popular) butt-toning activity. Never mind that your square neighborhood block is literally just steps from your front door – oh, no! It’s totally way better to drive a sizable distance to an establishment in which none of the stores are open yet and walk around the abandoned space. Fresh air and nature? Pshaw! Give me food court smells and window shopping or give me death! Okay – that might be a little extreme, but I was so fascinated with and tickled by this phenomenon that I had to try it out for myself.

Here’s what happened:

A Retroactive Live Blog: Walkin’ in NorthPark*

* This title should be read to the fabulous tune of “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 – Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014

11:00 p.m. – Already dreading waking up at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. Setting my alarm for 7:30 a.m., I cringe knowing that my precious REM cycle and dreams of Ryan Gosling will be soon be brutally interrupted.

1:24 a.m. – Unable to sleep; worried about how I’ll perform in the morning. Will there be sprints up the escalator stairs? Should I have a jogging stroller? Will there be relay races around the mall? Maybe I should bring my baton just in case.

2:20 a.m. – Five hours until I have to physically exert myself. Probably even break a sweat. Five…five…fiiiivvveeeee…

7:30 a.m. – The shrill sound of my alarm clock pierces my peaceful, baby-like slumber. NO. IT IS TOO EARLY FOR THIS. Log rolling out of my lofted bed, I land with a thud, grab the alarm and hit the snooze. I lay in fetal position on the floor, soaking up my last few minutes of sleep.

7:35 a.m. – Snooze alarm sounds. NOOO. Trying to figure out how to sleep more. “I’m working out, I don’t need to shower or wear make-up, right? Or will the Yogis roaming the straight in front of Lululemon judge my under eye circles and disheveled bun? After all, I am exercising in NorthPark Center – the social watering hole of Dallas – so I suppose I should look presentable.”

7:40 a.m. – JK. I like sleep more than bronzer, so I succumb to the snooze once again and decide that no selfies shall be taken in the making of this blog.

8:10 a.m. – Game face, though not made-up face, on, I have arrived and am ready to do this thang.

8:15 a.m. – Successfully enter the mall. Whoa. There are fewer people here than I expected – clearly the watering hole is experiencing a drought. Which way should I go? Is it like a, “On Tuesday/Thursday we walk counterclockwise” situation? Suddenly I see two powerwalking, baby-stroller-pushing women rapidly approaching and I panic. Intimidated by their show of speed, strength, and agility, I take off in the opposite direction.

8:17 a.m. – I discover a playlist on my iPod called “Running.” It’s been a while since I’ve needed to use such a playlist, and so it hasn’t been updated for some time. I click it anyway. The first song on the shuffle? "My Humps" by The Black Eyed Peas, of course.

Cool artsy statue or axe-murderer coming to kill me? YOU TELL ME.

8:20 a.m. – This is quite frightening. Walking down empty corridors alone, the statues somehow look much more threatening. Praying my exercise-attempt doesn’t become the topic of a 60 Minutes.

8:27 a.m. – I arrive at the escalators. No one is doing sprints up them – they’re really missing out on a solid workout. An escalator is totally like a stair climber, right? I take the steps two at a time and repeat. LOOK AT ME, DOING FITNESS.

8:27 a.m. – A rogue jogger just whizzed past. I REPEAT, A ROGUE JOGGER JUST WHIZZED PAST.

The skirt, tempting me as I walk.

8:33 a.m. – There is the CUTEST skirt on display in Anthro. I want to try it on! BUT OH WAIT. I can’t. Not only because the store isn’t open yet, but because I am here to workout, not to shop! What was I thinking!? I suppose my being in a mall and surrounded by merchandise threw me off – a mistake I will not make again.

8:40 a.m. – HALLELUJAH  the Starbucks is open! Vanilla latte, you get in my belly.

Hand-selfie, featuring a Vanilla latte, turned-off fountain, and a locked Dillards. #NorthParkAtDawn

8:42 a.m. – This is about the time I’d take a selfie, to prove I’ve actually woken-up and actually power-walked around a mall. Too bad I look like I fell off the back of a turnip truck. I settle for a hand-selfie instead.

8:50 a.m. – A precious old couple in complementary velvet athletic suits pass me by. My heart fills with joy. Then the reality of the situation sets in – I just got passed by 80-year-olds. Yikes. This signals it is time to go.

9:08 a.m. – Back home and BACK IN MY GLORIOUS BED. Good thing I don’t have class til noon. Night night!  


Chelsea is a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

Doing Dallas: Wholey Moly

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Confession: Saturday night was the first time I have ever set foot in a Whole Foods. I have lived with this secret for the past 21 years, always nodding along when friends mentioned their favorite soy crispettes or buckwheat variety, yet never actually knowing what these things were. As a college student on a budget and without kitchen facilities, I lived peaceably in my ignorance, until, leaving Brunch two weeks ago I overheard a hip young couple say, “Let’s drop by Whole Foods on our way home to grab some pomegranates and kale chips.” Yes, that is a direct quote. Struck by the realization that I’ve not embraced the Dallas lifestyle to the fullest, I decided to make a change.

My shirt matched a jug of agave nectar that was bigger than my head.

Living in Fear of a Fashion Faux Pas

In preparation for my journey, I scoured my closet for the most eco-friendly outfit I could find. I desperately wanted to look like I belonged and could think of nothing more embarrassing than giving-off non-organic vibes. Unfortunately, my wardrobe is severely lacking in hemp-based apparel, so I settled for the most hippie-esque outfit I own: a flowy little number with two wooden beads that I prayed screamed earthiness, paired with brown flats that hopefully suggested my desire to blend in with garden topsoil. Going against the Texan saying, “The bigger the hair, the closer to God,” I left my hair product-free to do my part in reducing humanity’s CFC and aerosol footprint. I was ready.

Katie was really drawn to our store’s personal touches. Thanks, Martin!

The Sights, The Smells, The Joy…

Walking through those sliding glass doors, I was instantly hit by a blast of cool air-conditioning and the smell of a victory garden. I knew I’d stumbled into something special. I mean, where else could I find fresh apple frangipane made by Martin? NO WHERE. Where else could I buy a lifetime supply of agave nectar? Not at Tom Thumb, that’s for sure. Where else could I buy both fermented probiotic coconut water and Toms shoes on the same aisle? I can’t think of any other establishment.

I wanted to skip up and down every aisle, to sift my fingers through all eight breeds of quinoa grains, to smell every imported coffee bean, to taste every beet juice, to wash with every artisanal handcrafted soap. Every aisle was a new adventure into organic taste bud bliss, every free sample a new love-affair.

Making Friends

After running around the store in a state of sheer ecstasy, it was time to get down to business. I had come to Whole Foods on a mission: to buy ingredients to make organic – and therefore healthy – chocolate chip cookies.

Any toddler-approved egg is good egg in my book.

My first stop was the egg aisle. Wanting to do this organic thing right, I voiced to my friends what I was looking for. “I just really want eggs that came from a happy chicken – one that had room to run and play on the range and that was a vegetarian and lived life to its fullest.” Yes, that is a direct quote. A woman shopping nearby overheard my qualifications and came to my aid.

“I really recommend those eggs there,” she said pointing to the expensive egg section. “I know they’re more costly, but they’re free range.”

“Thank you so much. I’ll definitely go with those. The chicken’s quality of life is what’s most important to me.”

Smiling, my helpful new friend walked away. As I went to pick up the eggs, I couldn’t help but notice the advertising on the carton.

Meeting a Challenge: Whole Foods or Hole in My Wallet?

Collecting the cookie ingredients, I was acutely aware of my final bill creeping higher and higher. I had entered the store with a mere $35 in my savings account and a generous $10 cookie budget. However, over half of my budget had already been spent on blissful chickens. Adding up the cost of all ingredients, I realized my little cookie endeavor would cost me $30.72 plus tax. Oh no. Concluding that leaving $2 for gas and the rest of the month’s expenses wouldn’t be wise, I retraced my once joy-filled steps to replace all of the items.

Katie and Rachael’s victorious reaction to finding the cheapest cookie ingredient: baking soda.

Lessons Learned

Leaving empty-handed and with cookie dreams shattered, we headed to a cheap ice cream shop, where for $2 I purchased a large scoop of coconut delight. As I was eating, however, I couldn’t help but wonder if the milk to make the ice cream had come from a happy cow, one that had room to run and play on the range and that was a vegetarian and lived life to the fullest…

Chelsea is a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!


Doing Dallas: Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. This past week, I found out about free Zumba classes in Klyde Warren Park. While the prospect of working-out (oi vey,) dropping it low, and sweating with strangers made me nervous, I knew this was too Dallas-y of an opportunity to pass up. Here is a glimpse into what happened:

A Retroactive Live Blog of My First Zumba Experience:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

11:15 AM – It’s been a while since I’ve worked out. Will I have enough energy? Should I carbo-load? Am I supposed to carbo-load the day-of or the night before? Does Zumba even warrant carbo-loading?


11:25 AM – Finally come to a decision. Going with tortellini for lunch. YAY CARBS!

11:30 AM – Watching Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” music video while eating to get into the Zumba spirit. Praying my hips tell the truth this evening.

12 – 4 PM – In English class. Cannot concentrate; thinking only of Zumba. What should I wear? Will I know anyone there? What if I’m the only one to show up and I’m so bad the teacher just leaves? I CANNOT BE THE ONLY ONE THERE. I retweet Klyde Warren Park’s tweet about the free class, hoping one of my Twitter followers will be really into the Zumba scene and decide to join.

4:50 PM – Zumba is in t-minus 1 hour, 10 minutes. Feeling low on energy. Decide another bowl of tortellini is the solution.

5:15 PM – Wearing spandex shorts and a Lululemon top. I totally look like a Zumba pro – no one will even be able to tell this is my first time. To Klyde Warren Park I go!


5:25 PM – Sitting at a stoplight I check the temperature. 100 degrees! In this heat, I’ll sweat so much it will be like I worked out for six hours instead of just one! Or I’ll pass out. Does fainting burn calories?

6:00 PM – I’m not the only one! There are 30 women and one man here. One woman has a striking resemblance to Meryl Streep, and I find this strangely comforting. I’m already sweating.

6:02 PM – I’ve positioned myself in the second row on the far right end. While I at first think this is a prime spot, once we begin getting down to a song with the chorus “I’m gonna get it tonight,” I realize that I’m right next to the glass windows of the Lark on the Park restaurant. It’s dinnertime, and the restaurant patrons are gawking at us. Oh, sweet Lord.

6:05 PM – The immunization I got on Monday is still very painful and I am having trouble lifting my left arm. I decide to substitute any move involving this extremity with a Rockette kick of my left leg. #NailedIt

6:07 PM – Actively confirming I have no rhythm and two left feet. I start to think about how I am always one step behind and going left when I’m supposed to go right. Struck by the fact that this sounds like a song lyric, I start composing the song in my head as I awkwardly shuffle along to the music.

6:14 PM – Why can I not do a body-roll?!? I am painfully aware that my feeble attempts resemble Phoebe dancing for Chandler on Friends.

6:20 PM – Actual words from the instructor: “I want to see bigger pelvic thrusts, people!” Wait…WHAT? Is this Zumba or Fifty Shades of Grey!?

6:25 PM – Really regretting that second bowl of tortellini. I’m cramping up hard and quickly losing the desire to go on living. I look over to Meryl Streep – she’s still going strong. This gives me inspiration to power through.

6:36 PM – “Sexy and I Know It” comes on. THIS IS MY JAM. All thoughts of cramps vanish as I drop it lower than I did in the discotecas of Spain.

6:40 PM – So much sweat in my burning eyes that I can no longer see the instructor. Clearly I put too much of my soul into that last song. “Womanizer” comes on. Though empowering, I decide to make this song my last.

6:44 PM – I came, I saw, I conquered (or so I tell myself). I act like I’m going to get a drink of water but really pick up my stuff and scram.


6:46 PM – A safe distance away from the action, I stop behind a pillar to take a picture of my fellow Zumba-mates continuing the workout. I realize how extremely creepy this looks. I look around to see if anyone notices me. I realize that looking around makes me appear even more creepy. I make a dash for the car.

6:55 PM – Sweet, sweet air-conditioning!

7:00 PM – I stop and get a cookie on my way home to reward my efforts. I have enjoyed my Zumba experience and plan on returning next week.

Chelsea is a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!


Doing Dallas: BRUNCH Edition

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Hey everyone and welcome to "Doing Dallas," a new, weekly post that features my thoughts and experiences on trying all things Dallas! This week, I decided to tackle the enigma that is Brunch. I’m not saying that I have never before eaten “brunch”—the combined breakfast/lunch meal with the cute celebrity couple name—because I have and I found it to be a swell experience. But I’m talking Brunch with a capital B—the sundresses, the #brunch Instas, the bottomless mimosas; the whole nine yards. That kind of Brunching is an exclusive club I had never visited, so Sunday morning I grabbed the bull by the horns (please note that appropriately Texan saying,) grabbed some friends, and headed to Uptown. Here’s what I learned:

The unhappy faces of my misled Brunchmates

1. Do Your Brunch Research

If you’re a Brunch novice like myself, don’t assume that you know how to navigate the murky waters of restaurant options; in trying to disguise your Brunch ignorance, you can easily lead yourself and others astray. Take, for example, my attempt to come off as a Brunch expert by suggesting we eat a restaurant I’d never been to but have driven past: Yolk. I mean, how Brunchy does that name sound?! After telling a white-lie by talking up the restaurant (“y’all, its so trendy and their omelets are to die for”) and paying for parking, we walked up to the door only to find out the restaurant hasn’t opened yet. Not “hasn’t opened” like we got their hours wrong, but “hasn’t opened” as in IT DOES NOT YET EXIST AS A RESTAURANT. Oops. #Awkward. After taking a picture of our fail—because Brunch in its entirety must be captured on camera—we headed off to another restaurant picked by someone other than myself.

Jenna Instagraming her healthy omelet. She even ordered the tomato-based, celery-containing Bloody Mary. She did Brunch right.

2. Know What to Order

Food is the glue that holds Brunch together and one wrong choice can send your whole morning of Brunch preparation down the tubes. Be smart and come prepared by knowing your Brunch terminology. Asking for “those eggs that are kind of runny but not raw but not solid” is a surefire way to tip off your angsty waiter that you’re a Brunch newbie. This fact will so appall him that he will proceed to forget about your table for the rest of your visit. He will also proceed to only get a 12 percent tip after doing so, but still, the situation could have been avoided had you mastered the Brunch vocabulary. Also, be cognizant of the fact that whatever you order will soon be on Instagram for all to see (refer to point three.) Accordingly, my choice of butter drenched French toast, sausage, and bacon next to my friend’s low-fat, low-carb egg-white vegetable omelet proved to be a bold choice.

My Instagram post. Aerial view? Check. Alcohol?  Check. Amazing hashtags? Indeed. And 39 likes…not too shabby.


3. Instagram

One thing I’ve learned from stalking my friends’ Brunch experiences is if you didn’t take a picture, it didn’t happen. Take as many photos of your food as possible from all angles—the artsier, the better. Pro tip: standing on your chair lands you a hipster aerial photo that will be coveted by all of your followers (see photo.) Use as many hashtags as possible—this will not be annoying but rather will show others how passionate you are about Brunching. If possible, make sure any alcohol you ordered is in the shot, too, so that everyone knows you’re a badass who drinks at 11 in the morning. Be sure to tag your location so all your followers know where to find you!

4. Topics of Conversation

Keep the conversation light—nothing too serious like politics or opinions about who should have won So You Think You Can Dance. After listening to conversations around us, we found three topics to be most prevalent: Betches, Booze, and Boys, or what I like to call the “Three B’s.” Try to insert into your conversation as many inspirational phrases as possible—“You must cultivate your own garden” and/or “You are NOT fat”—and you’re golden!

My experience was a positive one, and I am planning on becoming a monthly (possibly biweekly, if I’m feeling spontaneous and crazy) Bruncher. Cheers to the weekend and the phenomena that is Dallas Brunch!

Three satisfied Brunchers.

Chelsea Grogan is a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!