California dreamin’: Life in Los Angeles according to transplants

Today’s post is one of epic proportions, so here’s a very brief intro before we dive right in!

What do you do when you’re stepping into the unknown by moving to a state on the other side of the country and don’t know what to expect? Talk to people who have done it before you! Lucky for me, I knew a couple of rad bloggers (Rachel and Hanna) and was recently introduced to a few more (Abby, Nikki, and Esther) who were willing to answer some of my burning questions. If you dream of or plan on moving to the City of Angels one day (or if you just like to visit), read on for these successful transplants’ advice and experiences.

L.A. Q&A

What brought you to L.A. and why? Adventure, school, a job, a lover?

Hanna: Adventure, a job, and a lover! I graduated college with a job offer in L.A. that I had picked up from an internship. I’m always up for an adventure. The lover was my boss at said job (whoops).

Abby and Esther: A job!

Rachel: Part adventure, part lover. I’ve wanted to live in Los Angeles since high school, and my boyfriend wanted to pursue a career in film acting in Hollywood, so when we started dating and made that connection, I knew it was only a matter of time before we came out here. I was right!

Nikki: I actually first moved out here as part of a study “abroad” internship program at Boston University (my alma mater), so work and school! I always knew I didn’t have much of a choice to start my career anywhere else (I studied TV writing and producing in college), so it seemed like the safest transition.

Esther & Jacob

Did you roadtrip it or fly? Describe the journey getting there.

Hanna: I bought a one-way flight, and then had to have my parents help me into the car/pull over when I started dry heaving from nerves on the way to the airport, LOL.

Esther: We drove a Penske cross-country with a car tow and with our two cats. Because we had our cats, we ended up only making one stop in Oklahoma and making it to California in two days. It would have been sooner, but we hit a rough patch in New Mexico where there was a snow storm. Who knew it snowed in New Mexico!

Abby: I flew. I don’t really like being in the car (and I live in L.A., go figure) so the thought of that drive was miserable for me. That January, I was super busy with travels, family plans, work, etc. and I came to L.A. for a week to find a place to live. Found it, flew back to Raleigh, packed up all of my things and loaded them onto a moving truck. Flew to Baltimore for a few days for work and to hang with the fam before leaving. My parents dropped me off at BWI and six hours later, I landed in L.A.

Rachel: We roadtripped. Since we were both between jobs and had a good chunk of cash in our pockets, we allowed our trip to be a leisurely one; we camped in the Badlands and stayed with friends and family in Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado. It was a wonderful trip, because we didn’t have any responsibilities or many bills to pay; we just kind of floated around enjoying life. The only stressful part of our journey was the end of it: we were supposed to stay in Las Vegas on the last night, and it turned out the hotel we were supposed to stay at didn’t have secure parking (which we were promised) for our car loaded up with all of our belongings, so we ended up having to get back on the road and drive the last four hours to Los Angeles. We had started the morning in Denver, Colorado, and didn’t get in to L.A. until about 1 a.m. 16+ hours of driving. Not pretty.

Nikki: My journey was kind of in two parts. When I first came out for school, I didn’t know if I was going to end up staying after the semester so I flew out here with a couple suitcases. However, I ended up getting hired full-time at one of my internships two weeks before the program was over, so I had to very quickly find a long-term apartment, fly back to Boston for a weekend, graduate, pack a couple more suitcases and come back for work on Monday! It was kind of a crazy whirlwind, but looking back, I think I got very lucky everything worked out the way it did.

Hanna of Excelsior Lady

What was the biggest culture shock/adjustment after relocating?

Hanna: There were a million things to do and an ease with which I could do them. Growing up in such a tiny town made me totally unaware that there were such interesting things to experience in L.A.; I had to learn how to live!

Abby: Despite its reputation, L.A. is one of the most laid back places I’ve ever lived. People are super calm and relaxed, the days start later in the morning, most people are really friendly. I wasn’t expecting that.

Rachel: Definitely the traffic. I refused to drive on the freeways for almost a month after we got out here, because they were SO intimidating. Luckily, I eventually adjusted; now I’m an aggressive badass behind the wheel.

 

There are a lot of stereotypes associated with L.A. (Tons of plastic surgery, self-centered people, horrible traffic, etc.). Based on your experience, would you say they’re all true, or can you dispel some of them?

Hanna: Everyone says L.A. people are the worst, but all of the people I’m closest to here were born and raised in L.A.—they’re my favorite people in the world! They know the city like no one else. Not all the rumors are true; however, there is a lady that I see every morning walking her chihuahua in a pink stroller, and she looks like she’s had quite a lot of work done. I feel like she’s who people picture when they think of stereotypical L.A.

Rachel: The stuff about the traffic is true, but you get used to it (unless you’re in a hurry; then it’s your worst enemy). But the people are great, because almost everyone you’ll meet is a transplant from somewhere else, and everyone is here to pursue a dream, so it’s kind of like We’re All In This Together Land.

Nikki: I can’t say I haven’t met the stereotypical L.A. people—plastic surgery, self-centered, backstabbing Real Housewives types—but I can say that they are definitely in the minority. The cool part of L.A. is that a lot of people out here are also transplants from all over the place, so the majority of people I have met since moving here are actually very “un-L.A.” Also, as much as I wish I could dispel it, the traffic in L.A. really IS as bad as they say. I’ve spent the better part of two years avoiding freeways at all costs.

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L.A. is a pretty spread out collection of totally different neighborhoods. What makes yours a unique and cool place to live?

Hanna: I love the west side because it’s so much cooler. We get the marine layer and a lot more clouds. It’s a great/safe area to explore on foot, too.

Esther: We like where we live because we have friends that live out here. It’s nice to be able to live, work, and play without having to deal with traffic.

Abby: West Hollywood is a really fun place to be. It’s super young, central to both the beach and the mountains, always something new to do and see. The Grove is a couple of blocks away, lots of celeb sightings—it feels very L.A. to me.

Rachel: West Hollywood is in the middle of everything! It’s near Hollywood, hiking in the hills, tons of fun shopping, movie theaters, parks, restaurants, bars, etc. Also, almost half of the population is gay men, so the gay bar scene is incredible, and everyone who lives here is super open-minded. And there’s the gay pride parade and the Halloween Carnaval…ugh, so many things. I love it here.

Nikki: The neighborhood I live in now is very quiet and full of families—it’s one of the more residential areas of L.A.—but my favorite part about it is how close it is to everything else. I also spend a lot of time in Santa Monica (which is where my office is) and Culver City (which is walking distance from my apartment!).

 

What’s your favorite bar/restaurant in your neighborhood? (And recommend a menu item!)

Hanna: Literati Cafe is practically across the street from my apartment, and on Tuesdays they have grilled cheese night: four different kinds of grilled cheese (I personally love the Fontina, rosemary & grape grilled cheese with their own special recipe for tomato soup. It tastes like HEAVEN). They also have a pretty great Bloody Mary…

Esther: So far my favorite restaurant is Cafe Verona in Mid-City West. Definitely worth the drive.

Abby: The Village Idiot is great, Eveleigh has amazing food and a cool vibe… to be honest, if you’re on Third Street you won’t find a restaurant you don’t like.  Menu items: The Village Idiot is all organic food (their meatballs are unreal) and Eveleigh has a great burger (and fabulous wine menu).

Rachel: I love Evo Kitchen, which is on Sunset Boulevard only a few blocks away from our place. They have delicious food, and it’s small with a nice ambiance, so it’s not overwhelming to go there. Their cheesy garlic bread is soooo tasty, as well as their pizza. Oh, and the parmesan cheese fries at The Counter, which is right across the street, are crack. Pure crack. Your mouth will never be the same.

Nikki: I’m going to cheat here, because I spend so much time at work that I end up out in Santa Monica far more than I do by my place! But personal favorite hangout is the Basement Tavern, which is a little kind of dive bar underneath the Victorian Hotel—the ambiance is very cool, and their happy hour is amazing!

Rachel of Existation

What’s your favorite part about living in L.A.?

Hanna: The things I’ve experienced since moving here are unreal. EVERYTHING is accessible. In a three-hour drive you can be at a painted mountain in the desert, in Mexico, or in a national forest. It doesn’t matter what you want, there is somewhere in or around this city that can supply you with it.

Esther: The FOOD. There are countless options of good food. I never feel like I have to go back to the same place twice.

Abby: The options. You can go to the beach for a day, the mountains for a day, wine tasting, surfing, to a museum, to watch a movie being filmed, sit in a live audience… the options are endless. And of course, the weather.

Nikki: I have way too many, but probably the weather, the really great Mexican food, and I’m not ashamed to admit that the proximity to Disneyland REALLY doesn’t hurt.

 

The weather has GOT to be heaven. Do you ever pinch yourself/taunt your friends and family back home when it’s 70 degrees in December?

Esther: I need to remind myself to be grateful more often. It’s funny how when you visit, everything seems sunny and amazing. When you live here, sometimes it becomes your new normal. And the one day it’s rainy, you’re thinking… I moved to L.A. for this?? Haha.

Abby: Ha! The weather is unreal. It is so beautiful and it inspires good health. You’re always wanting to be outside, whether you’re hiking, running, sitting at the beach or sitting outside for brunch. It’s amazing.

Rachel: I try really hard to hold back from taunting, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Everyone back in Minnesota is always either complaining about how cold it is or how hot it is, and I was the same way when I lived there, but in L.A. the weather is so mild and consistent that I don’t even have to think about it (unless I’m leaning back and savoring how beautiful it is). It’s glorious.

Nikki: All the time. There is no better feeling than sending photos from Malibu beach to my sisters while they’re shoveling out the driveway back home!

 

Now that you’ve made the move and lived to tell the tale, would you have done anything differently in the uprooting process?

Hanna: Even though I left and came back, I don’t think I’d do anything differently. The people I’ve met through what I originally considered mistakes on my part (for example, taking two months to find an apartment the first time I moved) prove that everything worked out for the best.

Esther: Try to focus on the positives. I think I was so homesick and missing my friends that sometimes I was looking for negative things. Whenever there was a rude person, I would dwell on it. There’s a lot of great things about L.A., that I would have much rather spent my time enjoying L.A. rather than sulking.

Abby: I don’t think so. I probably would have spent more than seven days in L.A. two weeks before I moved, but that was part of the adventure, I guess.

Nikki: In retrospect, I think I would have made the drive instead of flying. First off, a cross-country road trip has always been on my bucket list, but more importantly I feel like I had to leave a lot of important things behind when I made the move that are still slowly finding their way out here. If I had had the opportunity (or even the knowledge I would be staying here permanently), I would have really taken my time and enjoyed the adventure of it.

Nikki of Nicol-ette

Lots of people move to L.A., but not everyone stays. Do you intend to stay permanently? Indefinitely?

Hanna: I’m going to be here for while. I love moving and change, but I might actually love L.A. more than both of those things.

Esther: We’re giving it a year, and we’ll evaluate how we feel.

Abby: My plans for now are to stay permanently.

Rachel: This is yet to be determined. Right now it’s definitely the place for me, and I’d like to say that I could live here forever, but I know that eventually I’ll want to settle down and have a family, and I’m not sure this is the best place to do that. Houses are ridiculously expensive and most of my family is far away. So we’ll see. I’m keeping an open mind about the future.

Nikki: I do love it here, but I don’t know that this is where I’m going to spend the rest of my life. I do miss the East Coast, and hope that maybe someday I’ll be in a position where maybe I can relocate to NYC or even overseas!


What advice would you give to someone (like me!) moving to L.A.?

Hanna: Don’t assume that landlords/jobs will contact YOU if they’re interested. There are a million people going after the same things that you want, and you absolutely have to be proactive to get what you want!

Esther: Find a good, core group of people that you like. They will be your support group while you are adjusting to the new city and culture.

Abby: Follow L.A. outlets on their social channels before you move (and when you get here). For example, @LAist on Twitter offers great info about what’s going on in L.A. That way you’re connected and if there is something happening that interests you, you can be there. Great way to keep your finger on the L.A. pulse and meet people!

Rachel: I would say that the most important thing to remember is that Skype and the internet are magical tools of communication, so you never have to feel TOO homesick. And always keep your sense of adventure and an open mind; settling in to a new city requires flexibility and knowing that not everything is going to be perfect. Also, if you’re stuck in traffic, chances are you will be able to see a palm tree, so find the nearest one and meditate on it instead of getting angry at the car in front of you.

Nikki: Keep an open mind about everything. A lot of people told me that L.A. was very much a love-it-or-leave-it kind of city, but like any city I think a large part of the experience is what you make of it. There are so many fun and crazy opportunities here (some obvious and some not so much) that, if you’re open to them, you can find all kinds of different reasons to love it—or at the very least not hate it—here.

 

Thanks, guys, for your amazing stories and expert advice! Do you have any questions for these L.A. ladies? Or are you an L.A. native or transplant with two cents to add? Chime in in the comments!

Money matters

Sheila the Mazda2

Friday evening, I somewhat impulsively became the proud owner of a new car.

The adorable manual Mazda2’s name came to me by accident in a slip of the tongue in my post-purchase shock—Sheila. Her name is Sheila. And she will be my California car.

Thankfully, I got a great deal—Sheila, brand new, cost about the same as this model costs used, thanks to an employee pricing event. Though it was a quick decision on my part (it was the last day of the sales event!), I knew I’d regret not getting this car for the price. And I was right to do it—I’m so happy to have a reliable (and, omg, CUTE) car. But with a new car comes a down payment and several years of financing, and this was the first of many blows to my bank account with this move to L.A.

John and I are embarking on an amazing journey. We’re following our dreams of living in California, I’ll be getting my master’s degree, and after four-plus years of coupledom, we’ll finally be living together. (I cannot WAIT for John to see my retainer.)

It’s pretty romantic on the surface, and I have no doubt we’re doing the right thing. But with following your dreams comes an inevitable, not-so-romantic side of things: the financial burden of doing so.

By quitting my job and moving to California, I’m giving up a certain level of stability. Though my mostly part-time income was modest, I lived at home, commuted less than 15 minutes to work, and managed to save a fair amount of money. It was the responsible thing to do, and now that I’m packing up my things for this cross-country move, I’m so glad I was patient and socked it away.

Despite all that, I know my savings will vanish way faster than it took to build them up. Aside from the car payments, we’ll have the cost of shipping out our stuff, food and lodging along the way, first month’s rent plus deposit, utilities, insurance, groceries, school (uh, big one), hopefully the occasional fun (but cheap) outing, and gas. (Luckily, Sheila is excellent on gas.) I mean, whoa. This is a lot of new financial responsibility for a girl who has had very little of it living with mom. Consider the factors that many of these costs will be up front in large sums and neither of us have secured jobs out West, and it’s a little intimidating.

Am I worried? I have my moments, of course, but not really. I think about it daily, but I don’t doubt our ability to make it work. I will not be picky in my search for flexible, part-time work because I can’t afford to be. I think that attitude will serve me well because it will keep me both humble and hard-working. I’ve been pretty comfortable over the past few years. Maybe I’ve gotten soft. L.A. will snap me out of that real fast, and I think it’s a good thing.

So I tell you these things to remain transparent. Yes, I’m excited—elated—to be making this amazing trip with John. The new car? I’m in love. But these decisions we’ve made that may seem easy and carefree on the outside are actually the result of a lot of patience and sacrifice, and there’s a lot of hard work and even more sacrifice in our future to actually sustain this “California dreamin'” lifestyle we want.

It will not be easy, but it will be totally worth it. Sheila better get ready for some drivin’.

The biggest news

Guys. I want to be honest with you about something. There’s a pretty major thing I’ve been wanting to share for quite some time that I’ve had to keep quiet for a number of reasons. There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding this big change. I had to be sure it was the real deal, but it’s made for months of agony. (Keeping secrets is hard, as it turns out.)

You see, I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction in which I want to take not just this blog, but my life. And the direction I’ve decided on? West. As in westward. As in California, motherfuckers.

I’m not going on vacation, friends. Simply put, John and I are paring down our belongings, mapping out our cross-country route, and moving to Los Angeles. In precisely two months.

Sounds dreamy, right? Yeah, it’s still pretty surreal to me. But there’s more.

Aside from the year-round balmy temperatures and Pacific Ocean sunsets, there’s another source of motivation for this journey. Not only will I be moving in with my boyfriend of four years (and driving 2,600 miles to do so), but I’ll also begin a graduate program in journalism at the University of Southern California.

And here I am. Freaking out in the best possible way.

Witty Title Here is moving to Los Angeles!

Do I sound calm? It’s because it’s still only just now hitting me. Researching and applying to graduate programs, waiting for their responses, and scouring Craigslist apartment listings have all consumed my energy and brain space for months. But telling you guys, here, today (oh, and also my employers)? THAT’S what makes it feel real. And I am so. damn. excited. You guys—I’m MOVING to CALIFORNIA!!! (See?! Totally not calm!)

So that’s my news! It’s big. I’m elated. The next few months (plus, of course, the two years it takes to complete the journalism program) will be some of the toughest, scariest, and most exciting months of my life. And I cannot wait to share them with you. I’ll be busy as hell. But at least I’ll never have a shortage of blogging material. (As I like to remind myself: Live a life worth blogging about!)

So I hope you’re along for the ride. Because Witty Title Here is going west.

 

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

 

A year in photos

2012 was one of my busiest and best years yet. It was also my most photo-filled, so what better way to sum up the year than with a few of my favorite shots? Some 2012 highlights: John and I took an epic trip to southern California that even a phlegmy, hacking cough couldn’t ruin. I got bangs and then spent the rest of the year growing them out. I took on an internship (which led to a part-time gig) at Urbanite magazine on top of my other job until the magazine folded. One of my bestest friends got married, and although I couldn’t convince her to let Bill Murray (their sheep) be the ring bearer, I did get to be a bridesmaid. I attended a number of musical events—the most memorable (and painful) being Firefly Music Festival. And most importantly, I amped up this here blog by putting in more writing time, launching an interview series, and getting to know you guys better. When my hard work was recognized by the Baltimore Sun thanks to your votes, that felt pretty darn special. Thank you for that.

So while 2012 was arguably one of my best years yet, I’m prepared to say the same about 2013 a year from now. There’s a lot I have planned that I can’t wait to share with you guys, and I’m lucky to have people who care to read about my adventures. I hope your own plans and adventures are equally as thrilling—and if not, why aren’t they? There’s no better time to come up with some dreams than right now.

Oh, and psst…

Nikon D3200

I got a fancy new camera. Don’t worry, I’m not done with film photography. But I WILL be taking a lot more pictures. See you in 2013!

California coast

Highway 1 Hollywood sign Baltimore architecture Baltimore drinkery

Clipper Mill

self portrait girlies the mutts the mutts the sisters the sisters Ocean City desk girlfriends

alpaca

kitteh party time believe New York City autumn light family in Tennessee Patterson theatre Baltimore

Mobbies at Creative Alliance

Mobbies at Creative Alliance name in the sand