I’ve been on radio silence for the last few months as my life has been completely devoured by my new-ish job as a Hollywood personal assistant (still love it, though). England is everything I had hoped it would be, my … Continue reading
I’m breaking my long radio silence on the occasion of my 29th birthday.
The last time I found myself jotting notes on these pages, the world was crumbling after the election of–ugh, I’m not going to even go there. It’s my birthday AND HE WON’T BRING ME DOWN.
Lots has changed for me since then. Namely, I’ve relocated to another country, albeit temporarily, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in, quite possibly, my entire life. That’s not hyperbole or exaggeration. I am so sublimely happy working as a personal/writer’s assistant to a really cool actor that thinks I’m the bees knees (sucker!). The feeling is entirely mutual. It’s a literal love fest every day of this job. I’m sure it’s sickening to hear about, but just be glad you’re not witnessing it in person. You’d probably barf in three different colors.
Naturally, as a result of this euphoria, my anxiety and panic disorder has me catastrophizing anything and everything. You name it, I see the danger in it.
Eating gummy bears? I’m going to choke and die.
Boss does a really simple stunt. Boss will be injured and it’s all my fault for not swooping in and magically being the savior.
Showering? My, but these floors are slippery.
But I’m trying my best to put my irrational fears to bed and just live a little. Working on a movie set has been an education, to say the least. There are a million different acronyms, a million faces to put with a million names, and a million snacks to eat at Craft Services.
I considered writing more in depth about this life-changing experience, but going into detail may violate the well written, iron-clad Non Disclosure Agreement I’ve signed. If I do anything to fuck this job up, I WILL NEVER RECOVER.
Yep, 2017 has already been good to me, there is absolutely no denying it.
But I must say, 2016 was a roundhouse kick to the face so I am in no doubt that I deserve the positive changes that have been heaped into my lap. That may sound conceited/vain/entitled, but if you could’ve seen me last year…
I was a steaming pile of Hot Mess, littered with Epic Fail, and sprinkled with Deep-seated Regrets: relationships (ugh), career prospects–both survival and aspirational–(dismal), basic hygiene (putrid).
It wasn’t looking, or smelling, at all good for Short and Feisty.
And then the actor that I’d been doing PT writing work with for over a year decided to kick things into hyperdrive, offered me a chance to come on board full-time, and put me on a plane to London with 3 weeks’ notice.
Not. Playing. Around.
And now I’m sitting in my hotel room, about to wander over to set, wondering how I got so lucky. Forgetting the years and years of blood, sweat, and baby poop that got me to this point in time. Forgetting the vastly large amounts of rejection I’ve gotten as a writer and as an actor. Purposefully ignoring the miles and miles of road left to trudge before I get to where I ultimately want to be.
Because now I have that elusive mistress HOPE in my grasp and I’m not letting her go.
Here’s to 29.
This post is part of the Short and Feisty Finance Series.
Three years ago this summer, I packed up my worldly goods and moved 3,000 miles west. There were only a handful of naysayers that bemoaned the cost of such a move for someone so freshly out of college (2 years at that point). Everyone else was incredibly supportive of my Oregon Trail-esque (or, really, Route 66) journey. Moving solo put another hurdle in the path to the finish line because I was working on one person’s worth of savings–which at 24 years old, wasn’t much.
I should say that what I did was not the cheapest way to do it. Hibs (the BFF I recruited for the trip) and I took about 5 days to make the journey and we stopped at several free or inexpensive tourist attractions.
If you’re rich, purchase a moving service and fly your butt out there.
I’ll share some helpful tips for anyone hoping to make the jump on a dime.
- PLAN. A cross-country move takes a lot of it! So my usual off-the-cuff travel plans (exhibited here and here) just weren’t going to cut it. You’ve got to have a travel route, reservations at places to stay, and a time-line for starters.
- If you can, travel to your destination city a couple of months ahead of time. Scout potential neighborhoods to live in, connect with any people that you may know who already live there and ask their advice, troll craigslist to look for apartment price ranges. Rent a car as cheaply as possible and drive around for hours checking things out. This was hands-down the most valuable reconnaissance job.
- MONEY. I hadn’t saved very much money before my move. I had been working two jobs, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week but it was mostly going to my car payment, gas, student loans, and rent. The first thing I did when I resigned from my jobs was to put my student loans on deferral. I had mostly subsidized loans, so that worked in my favor as far as accruing interest.
I then took out a personal loan from my bank for about $5k. In the end, I only used about $500 of it, so I immediately paid the $4,500 back when I got settled in LA. Now that I’m committed to living debt-free, I sometimes cringe when I remember doing this BUT it was absolutely what I needed to do at the time to start living’ the dream…or the restless sleep before the dream because sometimes this whole waiting to break-in is less dreamy than I imagined.
- BUDDY. Find a friend that you like to travel with and con them into doing to trip with you. Promise lots of inside jokes and fun memories because you know you can’t pay their way entirely.
- DESTINATION. Have a landing place in mind. For me, Hibs’ Aunt and Uncle live in Orange County and very graciously let this traveling nomad crash at their house until I could get up to Los Angeles.
- TRANSPORTATION. Make sure your car is road ready.
- PACK LIGHT. I took whatever could fit in my back seat and my trunk. In fact, there was barely any room to fit Hibs’ travel stuff (sorry, Hibs). When I got to LA and found an apartment (the same building I’m in today) I unpacked and bought a bunch of new, yet inexpensive, furniture on credit. Yes, credit. Something I don’t do anymore, but it was completely necessary! I found a store that offered free financing for the first 18 months and paid the debt off in about 14 months so no interest!
That’s it! Those are the most important things to remember. If you want to sight-see, find free or inexpensive places. If you need some on-the-road entertainment, bring an MP# player and an AUX cord or do the old fashioned thing and burn a CD. Good luck on your move!
*SIDE NOTE* My 5 year old nanny kid didn’t know what a CD was until she saw me pull one out and stick it in the CD player…
Please excuse my awful title–I thought of it on the drive home from the park and convinced myself that it HAD to be used.
My last post, from the Short and Feisty Finances Series, brought you the budget for this trip, so now it’s time to get down to the Nature Nitty Gritty.
I was a Girl Scout for most of my formative years and grew up running through the trees, singing the hits of the Spice Girls, and preparing the silliest possible skits to share at the campfire. I can’t remember a time in the last 5 years where I spent a significant time exploring the flora and fauna of our untapped lands, so I figured it was about time.
While watching the nature documentary series Planet Earth (now streaming on Netflix), I learned that largest known living single stem tree on EARTH was 3.5 hours north of me.
So I packed up my car (read: I got into it with my phone, keys, wallet, and iPad mini–remember I neglected to plan) and mapped the route using the Google Maps app.
Through my AUX plug, I streamed the Overdrive app on my iPad and listened to some audiobooks that I’d checked out of the LA Public Library system–all over the internet.
WHAT IS THIS TECHNOLOGY!?
The fairly tedious drive is accented with giant oil rig farms, rows and rows of orange orchards (including the orchards for the clementine brand Lil’ Cuties!), and a good deal of run-down architecture–as if time forget this pocket of the state and left the buildings untouched.
I got through a good chunk of the beginning of “Dracula” when I started seeing signs for the park. Near to the entrance, a lake popped up to my left. This was especially puzzling to see for a SoCal transplant that moved one year into an on-going 4 year drought.
“What is that wet stuff down there,” I asked no one in particular, for there was no one in the car.
More puzzling were the lines in the mountains that looked like they’d been carved there:
Obviously the drought has taken it’s toll on this lake as that mark is where the water USED to be.
Further along and I encountered this cute little Happy Valley that gave me warm fuzzy feelings–for many years, I would daydream about California (most of my knowledge based off of 1960’s Disney live action movies) and this setting just brought back all of that TV nostalgia:
Up some more sloping hills, I came to the entrance of the park where I was given a map, a quarterly newspaper of park information, and where I bought my pass.
“Will there be signs pointing me to the General Sherman Tree?” I asked the booth attendant.
“Oh yeah, there’s tons of signs.”
WRONG. The signs for the General Sherman Tree didn’t start until you got close to it–before that, you have almost an hour’s worth of a drive to get up there. And it’s all through winding mountains, on a two lane road, some of which has absolutely NO barrier between your car and the gaping crevasse in the mountains.
As someone who has both an anxiety disorder AND a giant fear of heights, the 7,000+ foot ascent was no easy task–my hands were clutching the steering wheel so hard that I thought they may bleed and my foot remained so light on the gas pedal that I felt badly for anyone traveling behind me.
Lucky for me, since it was the middle of the week, there weren’t so many people traveling into the park, so I could go as slowly as I wanted.
When I entered The Giant Forest, my jaw dropped to my chest. HOLY MOLY I had never seen trees so tall or THICK. Some were so big that I guestimated you’d need at least 20 people linking arms to hug these giant plants.
The Big Daddy of them all, The General Sherman Tree, sits at the top of my must-see list. But first, I had to hike a half mile to get there.
For someone in moderately good shape, the hike down is a cinch. There were plenty of old people moseying down the trail and a long-legged Norse family that was walking slower than them and taking up the WHOLE FREAKING PATHWAY HOW ARE YOU SO SLOW YOU BLONDE HAIRED AMAZONIANS?!
At the base of these mountains, it was about 90 degrees that day but when I reached The General Sherman Tree, it was only a cool 67! NATURE! WONDERS! NATURE!
I got to the foot of the trail and was ready to meet the big daddy tree of all big daddy trees–
Stay tuned for Part 2!
I promised in my original post for the Short and Feisty Finance Series to give you some tids and bits on traveling solo on a budget. So when I had the inspiration to pick up my act and head out to the Sequoia National Forest two days ago, I rejoiced at the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Not only would I have the chance to get some fresh mountain air flowing through my bloodstream, but I would be able to make good on a blog promise.
SO. PRODUCTIVE. Y’ALL.
This’ll end up being a multi-part post to get to every Big Moment Detail on this trip–Sequoia National Park is huge and I only saw a tiny bit, but that’s actually a lot!
For this first post, we’ll stick to the financial aspects so I can redeem the radio silence I’ve permitted to pervade this blog:
Now the number one rule you need to know when starting this single travel endeavor is: planning is everything.
I kind of spontaneously decided last Friday that I’d be making this trek the following Tuesday. That is so unlike me (actually, it’s really like me). So, I did, indeed, break the cardinal rule. I work Saturday-Monday evening, with tiny little people that suck out my energy and focus like whiny, sadistic, mosquitos–so intense planning went by the wayside.
I did map out my route on the Google Maps app on my phone and determined that the mileage would equate to about a tank of gas in my Prius (7 hours round trip!). I enjoy driving, so the length of time didn’t deter me. I did NOT consider the fact that mountain driving, climbing to more than 7,000 feet, would probably take a harder toll on that gasoline estimate. It ended up being a little over a tank–$35.
Remember when I said that I didn’t put a lot of forethought into this trip? Well, this translated to neglecting a stratagem for obtaining victuals. There was a Starbucks not far from the entrance to the park that served as my “brunch” spot, and I was so put off by all the bear warnings (you can’t even leave it in your car because bears are smart and know what food looks like!) that I didn’t even bother to search for food in or near the park. I did drink plenty of the free water from the park re-fill stations. On the way back onto the highway, I revisited my friendly Starbucks and came to $16 total for all food and beverages. If you eat cheaply, you save so so much money. Skip the sit down restaurants and keep it moving.
Most of the National Parks have a “per car” entry fee–Sequoia’s fee is $20 per non-commercial vehicle. I plan to make a habit out of visiting as many National Parks as I can within the next year, so I sprung for the “America the Beautiful” Annual Pass which allows me to visit more than 2,000 federal recreation sites (that’s not even counting the many sites that don’t have an entry fee). That totals $80 for the pass. This is expensive up front but will end up saving a lot in entry fees if I use it like I’m planning to!
So for a full day of discovery and exploration, I cost my bank account: $131 (would’ve been $71 total without the pass).
That’s well worth the money for an awesome staycation visiting one of America’s most well-known and loved landmarks.
- Don’t follow my example and make sure to PLAN—
- Drive if the distance is reasonable and save on travel–
- Skip the sit down meals and go for either grocery store gatherings or safely consumable fast food–
- Find a place with little or NO entry fee OR find a pass that’ll allow for savings in the long run–
Over the next few days (more realistically, weeks) I’ll divulge all of the awesome-tastic-Sequoian details. There may or may not have been bears.