Where in LA is the Bar on New Girl?

Thanks to the magic of Netflix, this year I discovered and became obsessed with a little show called “New Girl.” The show tells the story of a quirky 30-something girl played by Zooey Deschanel, and her three male roommates who live very hipster lives in Los Angeles. Recently, after indulging in a “New Girl” marathon I noticed that the hilarious quartet share a loft in what appears to be the Arts District in Downtown. This would not be a problem except that they hang out at a neighborhood bar that I know for a fact is not anywhere near the Arts District! I know… Why was I so alarmed by this stupid detail? Well, probably because I watched too many episodes in a row and because every time the scene put the cast in the bar, they flashed the picture of the outside of a bar I recognized. Yup, if you have never noticed, go back and watch an episode, (or twelve), and notice that their neighborhood bar, is in fact The Griffin.

hipster bar los angeles

This bar is located in Atwater Village on Los Feliz Blvd. and is nowhere near the Arts District, but I guess that is what is defined as suspension of belief. It had been many years since I had visited The Griffin and while I was certain that “New Girl” used the outside of the bar, what with the unmistakable sign portraying a bright green griffin in silhouette, I was not sure if they filmed the show on location or on a set. I decided this would be a good excuse for a Happy Hour adventure, and so on a Friday near dusk, I gathered my friends and went on a double mission.

happy hour

My first mission was to satiate my end of the work week thirst and that was easy because The Griffin hosts Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 5pm to 7pm. Their specials consist of $5 draft beers, $5 well drinks, $5 wines by the glass, along with assorted food items that I would classify as pretty typical bar food. Their beer list is short but solid, providing a good beer for every palate. I started off with a Telegraph California Ale and then switched over to a Moscow Mule which was perfectly refreshing and gingery.

After a couple of drinks, I was onto the second part of my mission and after much deliberation, we decided that no, the show was not filmed there. While both the fictional bar and The Griffin share similarities, like the dark atmosphere and too cool for school patrons, the Griffin has a Medieval meets Arabian Nights kind of coziness. The bar has fire places, leather seating in one room and then low to the floor tables with plush tapestries on the walls in another. The bar also has a patio that would be a great place to hang out in except smokers still exist in LA. Who knew?

To be honest, at the end of my Happy Hour adventure I concluded that the best part of my experience there was trying to figure out if “New Girl” was filmed there. It is a middle of the road type of Happy Hour. Nothing about it was bad, but nothing really stood out to me either.

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

I May Never Have Kids & I Need to Be Ok With That

Guest Post By: Anonymous with intro by Her 30’s


As a woman in her thirties, the topic of children comes up a great deal, though not in the conventional way. My friends and I are mostly wondering whether we will ever have any? Society keeps telling us that time is running out and that if we are ever going to pursue motherhood, we should get on it sooner rather than later. I understand the science that supports this belief but I still can’t help but feel like it’s a scare tactic. After all I have some inspiring examples of what most would consider belated motherhood: my own mother who was 40 when she had me, and my friend A, who was 42 when she had little B.

In a past article I wrote about how delaying marriage is not just a cultural trend but a fact among on the cusp Gen Xers and Millenials. I’ve also wondered what motherhood is really like after reading a very convincing article on Time Magazine called “The Childfree Life” by Lauren Sandler. What I’ve discovered on my 30-something path is that the definition of adulthood has changed. There is no rigid definition or timeline for reaching adulthood, being married, or becoming a mother, and this is scary and confusing and wonderful all at the same time.

photo credit: Time

photo credit: Time

The following is a guest post by Anonymous, wondering where her 30-something path will take her.

Guest Post

On the plane ride home from a week of work I thought about my dance partner and how youthful, happy, in love and full of energy she was. The love between her boyfriend and her seems real and pure. When we would pass children on the street she would coo at them like I would if I saw a kitten. I also wondered why I always got stuck next to a child that was screaming or crying? I thought to myself, yeah I’m probably not going to have any kids.

Later I got up and waited in a long line for the bathroom. My legs were swollen from traveling, something that used to never happen. While I was waiting, a beautiful happy round stewardess passed by me and said, “Your daughters are beautiful.” (She was the type I would have loved drawing in life drawing class.) I told her she COULDN’T be talking about me. Then she said, “Oh these two little girls have hair just like yours.” Just then a lady came out of the bathroom. I went in and processed what had happened. I got chills up my arm.

The not knowing if I’ll ever hear those words “your daughters.” Was the universe saying “you may hear those words… did you like the way that sounded?” Whatever it was meant to do, it freaked me out. It made me feel happy, sad, hopeful and confused all in one. I’m in my thirties and single. I know I’m not the only one but it’s still very clear that I made a choice to exclude distractions from my life or try to at least. I made a choice and I may never have kids and I will need to be ok with that.


Having the “Talk” is Never Easy, but Perhaps this Book Can Help: Why Women Have Sex?

As a woman in her thirties, who grew up in a very repressed household that never ever spoke about, or acknowledged the existence of sex, I’ve come by my knowledge of anything related to female sexuality via friends, personal experience, books and internet research. What saved me from turning into a virgin, spinster, cat lady who thinks sex is an offense and my body dirty and sinful, is my curiosity and my non-judgmental will to learn. I think that was my way of rebelling. Since my parents were so closed and fearful of so many things, I would be open and willing to learn about it all just to spite them. (Take that Mom and Dad!)

While I would not like to repeat this “if we never talk about it, it doesn’t exist,” policy with any future children I may have, it did save me from having to deal with any type of embarrassing and uncomfortable conversations with my parents. It especially saved me from ever having to imagine my parents as sexual beings. My friends have horror stories of figuring out that their parents have sex and you know what, I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

Excellent 30-something read. Especially if you're getting ready to have the "talk."

Excellent 30-something read, especially if you’re getting ready to have the “talk.”

You may be wondering, what is this blog post is about already? Well, I’m listening to a book called “Why Women Have Sex” by Cindy M. Meston, PH.D and David M. Buss, PH.D. It is written like a scientific study with data and facts, but it is easy to understand because it incorporates anecdotes collected from real women surveyed during the research phase of the book. It touches upon all subject matter relating to female sexuality and since I have no personal experience with ever having the “talk,” I figured I could take a more scientific approach to the it. I plan on referencing this book and prescribing it to any future daughter, before we ever have to have the infamous “talk.” Because the more I think about it, if I ever do have to have the “talk,” I’ll probably be pushing 50 and I may not really want to deal with it; without science to back me up that is.

I will leave you with an interesting fact from “Why Women Have Sex”: Did you know that there is a Women’s Orgasm Committee for the World Health Organization, and that in 2003 they defined the female orgasm?

Here is what they came up with- “a variable transient peak sensation of intense pleasure, creating an altered state of consciousness, usually accompanied by involuntary, rhythmic contractions of the pelvic striated circumvaginal musculature, often with concomitant uterine and anal contractions and myotonia that resolves the sexually-induced vasocongestion (sometimes only partially), usually with an induction of well-being and contentment.”

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

Aren’t We All Just Looking For Love? 12 Qualities to look for.

Elite DailyIt may have been decided back in the 90’s that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, but deep down, underneath our varying exteriors, way down, deep below the psyche and social constructs that define our gender, we are very similar. Humans are social creatures that have evolved to give and look for love. The concept of love and the importance it is given is defined by each particular culture, but here in the US, where this blog post takes place, the concept of romantic love is as important as the physical and unconscious act of breathing. We love love. We want to find love, be in love and keep love forever.

Losing one’s true love is not just tragic but also news worthy. I recently came across an article on Elite Daily written by Paul Hudson titled, “12 Special Qualities A Woman Has That Mean You Should Never Let Her Go.” I was intrigued because here was a man, admitting to the world that he had regrets about losing a good woman. The article reads like a cheesy pop ballad, but I have to admit that this is the fantasy of every woman who has ever been dumped, including my own. Who wouldn’t want to read or hear about the
regrets of a man she once loved, but was too immature to appreciate it at the time?

At first read I was like, “that’s right loser writhe in your regret, ” and then I realized that the qualities he describes are the same ones that I had found in my husband, the same qualities that made me fall in love and keep me in love with him. Men and women, we aren’t so different. We are looking for these universal qualities of good character, but for some reason can’t figure out how to communicate these needs and wants to each other.

 So here is Paul Hudson’s list. Ladies, if you find a man with all of these qualities, and he is rocking your world, do not let him go.

1. (He’s)/She’s smarter than you

2. He’s)/She’s beautiful. (handsome)

3. He’s)/She’s kind and nurturing.

4. He’s)/She’s vivacious.

5. He’s)/She loves you with all her heart.

6. He’s)/She’s willing to make compromises.

7. He/She feels like home.

8. He/She is more than happy to tell you when you’re wrong.

9. He/She is strong, but feminine. Yes, even this one. Replace feminine with sensitive.

10. He’s)/She’s passionate.

11. He’s)/She’s driven.

12. He/She means the world to you.

 By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

Why Does this T-Shirt Make Me Feel Fat?

Just looked on the Urban Outfitters website & the shirt is sold out. Of course...

Just looked on the Urban Outfitters website & the shirt is sold out. Of course…

In the early nineties there was a clothing store that I thought was the coolest, most chic store in all of the land. It was called Contempo Casuals and it dressed me from about age 11 to 16. During that time, Contempo began to release what today would be considered graphic tees. These shirts were, in typical 90’s fashion, oversized so that one could tuck them in, and were covered from neckline to torso with words containing Be Dazzled i’s and o’s. The t-shirts sparkled both from the rhinestones and from the words, which were usually poems or narratives about peace and equality. Friends and strangers alike would often stop me in the hall, or at lunch because they wanted to read what was on my shirt. It was a novelty back then and I felt great because I was in fashion and spreading a positive message.

Imagine that, a t-shirt that was not an advertisement for a designer, and teenagers who actually cared enough to read an entire paragraph pressed in small font on a t-shirt? Those were definitely different times.

I knew the fashion cycle had made it’s way back to the nineties because I started noticing that teenagers were all dressing like I used to dress, somewhere between grunge and clueless, flannels and Doc Martens, knee highs and cardigans. But still, I hadn’t thought about Contempo or my t-shirts in years until I saw this headline on Women’s Rights News: Sophia Bush Declares War On Urban Outfitters For Selling A Shirt With The Words “Eat Less.”

What the fudge!? These are definitely different times. T-shirts are mostly billboards or clever graphics, and teenagers don’t have the patience to read paragraphs, they read catch phrases and tweets, but what has remained the same since the nineties, is the fact that teenagers, especially girls, are prone to eating disorders.

There are so many things wrong with this t-shirt. But ultimately, the fact that this t-shirt was made says that there are so many things wrong with society as a whole, because nothing exists or is created in a vacuum. There were the people who designed it, the company that approved and produced this design, the buyers who put in the stores, and the consumers who actually purchased it and wore it on the street. What I am getting at is that we are all at fault for the existence of this shirt, its message, and the effect that these two seemingly harmless words, “Eat Less,” have on us.

As if being a teenage girl isn’t hard enough…

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

A 30 Something Beauty Regime

Generally speaking, a woman’s grooming routine takes twice, if not three times as long as most man’s. My husband will hop in the shower, get dressed and be out the door, ready for work in 15 minutes. It’s incredible! I on the other hand have to go through a process that includes various products at different stages of the grooming routine. Funny part is, that while I am girly, and I do have a getting-ready to-leave-the-house-process, I do not have a regime.

Here is the difference. A process will include the typical aspects of female grooming: getting clean, getting dressed, doing something with one’s hair, putting on some cosmetics. A regime takes all of these processes and refines them to an art form. Getting clean can include different types of soaps for different parts of the body, loofas, washcloths, hair products, shaving, tweezing, using a pumice stone and applying an array of moisturizers and oils. (Remember, that is just the getting clean part.) A grooming regime is an extensive and detailed process a woman will create and put her self through in order to look her best on a daily basis.

This type of woman always looks perfectly put together no matter where she is going, and while I have always admired her, I have also always wondered the following: How early does she have to get up every morning to do all of this and, how much money is she spending to look this good?

In my twenties, with the glow and excitement of youth, I could get away with doing the minimum, but as a woman in her thirties, I have noticed that little by little it has become necessary to introduce certain products or aspects to the grooming process. I now experiment with different moisturizers that contain sunblock. I will soon have to start dyeing my hair to cover up the emerging and incessant grays. I have to figure out how to use concealer properly and how to use the eyelash torture device, other wise known as the eyelash curler.

 My grooming routine is getting longer and my patience for it is getting shorter. I know that I do not have to participate and that I could just go au naturel. After all, don’t I always talk about aging gracefully? Wouldn’t I be making a stand against the media and the cosmetic companies that enslave us to their products and constantly sell us on the idea that au naturel is not good enough? I could… But I really can’t. I know myself too well. Unfortunately, I am much too vain.

 So what new products have you discovered and included into your grooming process in your thirties?

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf



There is a long skinny bar on Hillhurst Avenue that has been satiating my appetite for gourmet food, delectable wine from all over the world and craft beer for years. And while I have food porn dreams about the Pasta served at my table directly from its foray in a giant parmesan cheese wheel, the bill at the end of the night has always felt more like a nightmare. I don’t know why I am always surprised! It is a delicious and expensive night out and no matter how many times I tell myself that I really cannot afford to go there very often, I just can’t help it. It is that good and what has made it worse, is that the owner as well as some of the bartenders and wait staff now know me. Let’s just say that in my life I don’t have “Cheers,” the friendly neighborhood bar where everybody knows my name. I have Vinoteca, the cave-like bar I stroll into late at night with my musician friends after shows, where the owner, a flirty Brazilian gentleman knows my name, and where sometimes I can trade a smile for a refill of wine. 

I love Vinoteca and now I can love it more without taking out a new credit card. Sunday is Happy Hour all day long. They have a normal Happy Hour schedule Monday through Friday from 4 to 7pm, but on Sunday, I can get there leisurely at any time of day and truly enjoy Happy Hour without the after work rush or crowd. Draft beers are $4, bottled beer is $3. Their beer list is not very extensive but the choices they have are well paired with the Italian and Brazilian fusion cuisine Vinoteca is known for. Wine ranges between $6 and $8 depending on the style. They have an ever changing list of wine varietals from regions all over the world. Happy Hour at Vinoteca is a good opportunity to wine taste with friends at half the price. The pours are generous, perfect for sharing and the bartenders knowledgeable.

Vinoteca is an extension of a larger restaurant called Vinoteca Farfalla located literally down the hall. The food they serve at the bar is extraordinary because it comes from the same kitchen as the restaurant. Their Happy Hour specialties include thin crust and perfectly crispy pizzas topped with European cheeses, charcuterie and fresh veggies. They serve a variety of inspired salads like my favorite which includes interesting toppings like plantain, hearts of palm and avocado.  The menu does not change very much for Happy Hour. They serve all of the same items they do for dinner but at a much friendlier price.

If you, the reader, ever find yourself at Vinoteca on a Sunday night for Happy Hour and all of the sudden the long table in the back next to the wine racked wall burst out into spontaneous song and dance, come say hello. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, when I show up with my musician friends after shows, we eat, we drink, the Spanish guitar leaves the case and live entertainment ensues just because. 


By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

10 Tips on How to Work From Home

It has been almost a month since I decided to renounce my conventional 9 to 5 life and pursue my nagging professional goals as if someone was already paying me a substantial salary to do it. Some people might call this daring while others may say it’s preposterous. After all, as a woman already in her thirties, shouldn’t I have gotten this dreaming business out of the way already? Shouldn’t I be properly settled into a comfortable suburban existence with an actual career trajectory, or children, or if I was a real over achiever, both?

This past summer I kept thinking of how everyone has his or her own path in life and examining where mine had taken me. It was very difficult to truly step outside of myself and pin point the choices and decisions that had brought me to my current reality: I was at a job with no prospect for actual advancement, I was not going to a mother anytime soon, I was treating my passions like hobbies and conforming into someone else’s version of who I should be. Changes desperately needed to be made. I closed my eyes and took that proverbial leap of faith.  

So now I work from home. I am happy, healthy and so utterly energized every single day because I am pursuing my own real and attainable goals. There is only one problem. I love what I am doing so much, that I found myself working all of the time no matter the hour, the day or the place. I realized that while I am enjoying the process, this is not conducive towards a balanced life, but rather more conducive to a bad case of beginners burn out. In order to remedy this, I’ve had to teach myself how to work from home.

Here are some tips:

 1. Designate an actual workspace, whether that is your kitchen table or a home office and keep it consistent so that you get used to working in that space.

2. Put yourself on a schedule and stick to it. This will help with productivity and keep you from working day and night.

3. Break up the day between work activities and home activities. Sometimes I can’t sit for that long, so I will take a break from my mental work and do some physical work like the dishes, or watering the lawn.

4. Reduce distractions by turning off notices on your phone or computer and set aside a time to catch up with you social media, email, texts and phone calls.

5. Actually get ready for work so that you aren’t in your PJ’s all day. I have a morning routine of cleaning the house and personal grooming that allows me to focus on work for the rest of the day.

6. Set up some time after work to socialize with people. In other words, leave your house every once in a while and talk to a real person. Sometimes some friendly feedback is all you need to get even more inspired ideas.

7. Have a back up place to work if your designated workspace is not available. If you can’t work at home because you have guests, go to a coffee shop or the library.

8. Remember to eat. One of the advantages of working from home is that you can eat healthy without spending money on lunch everyday.

9. Set small daily or weekly goals to keep you motivated.

10. Reward and celebrate any and all victories. Pursuing what some would consider an unattainable goal is hard enough. Be supportive to yourself as you would be to your best friend.

Do you work from home? Do you have any tips you would like to share? 

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

An A-Z Guide of Forgotten Cocktails

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

As a woman in her thirties I like to think that I have classic sensibilities. I like classic movies that care more about character development and plot rather than CGI effects. I gravitate towards a simple and classic style of dress and believe that stud pearl earrings can add a touch of elegance to any outfit. I like tradition, antiques, and items of nostalgia. My classic sensibilities come from the fact that I value craftsmanship and stories. So it was with great excitement that I came across an A-Z Guide of Forgotten Cocktails, which includes the recipes, dates and stories of origin.

classic cocktails

Browsing down the alphabet of libations with names like French 75, Gin Rickey and Harvey Wallbanger, made me imagine the celebrations, as well as the sorrows of yesteryear that these drinks accompanied. I wanted to make and try them all, an ambitious idea for a small framed woman with hardly any of the ingredients, nor the equipment to make proper cocktails. So what’s an ambitious woman in her thirties to do? Why, learn to set long term goals of course.

Craft cocktails bars that boast homemade syrups and quality liqueurs abound in Los Angeles. I can take my A-Z Guide on the go and work my way down the list and call it the Classic Cocktails Challenge of 2014, or the CCC for short. I can drink cocktails all around the city, document my experience and create a rating system. Or I could just use my guide as a reference whenever I am out and feel like a cocktail. It’s not that serious. 

(Though if anybody out there wants to sponsor the Classic Cocktail Challenge of 2014, I’m sure we can bring that sexy idea back… Just sayin’.)


Courtesy of Neomam Studios

Courtesy of Neomam Studios


Goodbye to my 30’s & Embracing My Inner 9th Grader

There is something about teaching 9th grade English that I find magical and rewarding.  Unlike sophomores who teeter between tinges of optimism, cynicism and weariness, and juniors who wearily and anxiously anticipate, “this will be over soon”, or seniors who know “this will be over soon,” freshmen are an abundance of emotion- enthusiasm, dread, and indifference, or a mixture of each- for the newness and strangeness of high school.  They have left their ordinary worlds of middle school and have embarked on a journey that will most often leave them feeling like they have been swallowed up by the unknown.  They will experience tests and trials, but victories will be short lived.  Perhaps they do not see the big picture yet, in the ninth grade, but in time they will learn that they will repeat this cycle over and over again.  It is the monomyth, the hero’s journey, the archetypal pattern that every story follows.

This fall, I have the good fortune of teaching five ninth grade classes.  Such a schedule is timely- Not only am I at long last finishing my MFA thesis this semester, I also am turning 40.  As I say goodbye to my thirties this week, I realize how important it is to keep that inner ninth grader inside of me.

My first week of high school I was twelve years old, 5’1, and 150 lbs.  We had the torture of something called freshman swimming that first six weeks of school.  I was the only girl in my class whose mother refused to buy her a Speedo swimsuit, and instead wore a pink flowered suit with a ruffle on the butt.  My teacher, Coach Walthour, a former Olympian, who won the bronze metal for the 400 butterfly, was an intimidating, barking old man, near retirement.  To complicate matters, the beautifully sculpted captains of the boys water polo team decided they would practice during the time we had freshman swimming.  Needless to say, I suited up every day, but sat trembling on the bleachers with my towel wrapped around me.  At the end of the torturous six weeks, my teacher said, “HENARES THE ONLY REASON I’M GIVING YOU A D- INSTEAD OF AN F IS BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOUR SORRY ASS IN MY CLASS AGAIN.”

My grades my first quarter in high school were abysmal.  I did not try at much- I seldom did homework, I refused to take notes.  I stayed in the girl’s locker room of the gym during lunch. 

It wasn’t just being a  high school freshman, it was something else, something that affected all of us.   Within our first month of freshman year, Daniel died.  Daniel was supposed to be captain of the freshman football team, everyone loved him. To this day, I still have the Hello Kitty pencil box Daniel gave me for my birthday in sixth grade. Our high school was a very small school- only 650 students.  (To put it in perspective, the entire freshman class of the school I teach at has more students.)  Daniel had been riding a motorcycle without a helmet after football practice our first week of school.  He crashed and was on life support for three weeks.  My English teacher made the announcement to us that he had passed away.  We didn’t have classes for the entire day.  Mean old Coach Walthour didn’t make us suit up or swim.  None of us knew how to process what had happened.  We were reading The Human Comedy by William Saroyan in freshman English.  In his introductory essay, “Why I Write,” Saroyan said he wrote to cheat death.  While Daniel was on life support, I made a vow to myself that if he died, someday I would write.  Someday I would cheat death.  

My first six weeks of high school were abysmal.  My grades were terrible.  But by the end of the fall semester, I improved my grades, became more social, lost a little weight, and even earned an ‘A-’ in Phys Ed.

 Twenty-seven years later, upon turning forty and saying goodbye to the mistakes and triumphs of my thirties, I realize I have always been the same girl I was in the ninth grade, filled with enthusiasm, dread, and indifference for the world.  In many ways I am still that girl tightly wrapped in a towel, terrified and trembling on the bleachers, or the girl in the back of the class with her nose buried in a book.  I have never stopped being the girl that vowed to one day write, and cheat death.  The girl who has had to shrug off the poor grades of those first six weeks of school, pick up the broken pieces of herself and re-emerge triumphant, again and again and again.  

By: Nicole Henares

then & now

9th grade



Nicole Henares is a high school English teacher who sometimes can be found masquerading as a poet.