A Weekend in San Marcos, CA

A couple weekends ago, I made a quick trip back to California for a friend’s wedding. I feel like future Tess may have to start being a little selective about the events that I fly home for since most of the people I grew up with still live in Orange County and I don’t foresee many of them going far from home when it comes to wedding locations, etc., but this was one wedding that I had no intention of missing.

It was a friend that had been in my kindergarten class, and we somehow managed to stay friends through elementary school, junior high and high school. It helped that our families were also very close: for as long as I can remember I’ve been making gingerbread houses with his grandparents every year before Christmas, and we grew up going on family vacations and spending various holidays together.

We didn’t go to the same colleges, and had seen much less of each other since graduating high school. So I was thrilled to get a Save the Date for his wedding after I heard that he proposed to his beautiful college sweetheart.

I flew into San Diego bright and early on the Friday before the wedding, and got to spend the day with my lovely Mom exploring Seaport Village and La Jolla before heading up to San Marcos in the afternoon. Nearly all of the people I knew attending this wedding were parents of the kids I grew up going to school with. Like my mom, they had stayed very close to the groom’s parents over the years. It was great to see so many people who had known me when I was younger and actually have the chance to hang with them as one of the adults for the first time.

My boyfriend flew in very late Friday night, so he my Mom and I spent Saturday morning walking around the little lake near our hotel and taking it easy. That afternoon, we drove about 10 minutes away to the wedding venue. It was a beautiful location: all outdoor, with an area for the ceremony under the trees and a separate space under a huge tent for the reception.

The whole evening was wonderful. Even a few weeks later I haven’t stopped thinking about the amount of love and joy that was palpable in everything that night. I also think that since this was one of the people that I’ve known the longest in life outside family, it put everything in perspective for me in a way that I wasn’t expecting. I feel so lucky to have been included in such a special day, and to see this boy I’ve known since we were 5 transformed into the husband of his new bride’s dreams was something that I don’t think I will ever forget.

On Sunday we left San Marcos and headed up the coast to Laguna Beach to hang with my Dad for the day. We stopped in San Clemente to grab breakfast and caffeine at Bear Coast Coffee, a place my boyfriend had always wanted to try, but never made it to when we lived in LA. (Review: the latte was excellent and we got one of  their mini apple pie/ scone situations fresh out of the oven and it was ahhhhmazing!)

Laguna was absolutely beautiful. The fog burned off right after we got there, so we spent the afternoon wandering through the shops and along the beach before having dinner al fresco at my Dad’ girlfriend’s house. The long weekend went by too fast (as they always do), but overall it was wonderful to see old friends and spend a little much needed time with my family.

The Bride & Groom!

Savannah, Georgia

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I boarded trains, planes and automobiles (more specifically, subways, trains, air trams, planes and creepy cab rides) for a long weekend and Easter vacation to Savannah.

Whenever we travel with Nathan’s family, I tend to take a backseat to the planning process. I’d rather not go into these trips with my own set of plans and expectations, since I am arguably the most easy going between the three “kids” (including Nathan & his brother), and therefore more inclined to be cool with whatever we do. Often, my role is to back up Nathan’s mom in whatever she wants to do or else she’ll be overruled by her sons (who would probably rather be using up their family’s data plan streaming a soccer/basketball/football game inside some generic, air conditioned location).

So I had done little to no research about Savannah (almost embarrassingly so) in order to negate the high expectations I unwittingly have for weekend trips like this. And it clearly worked, because here begins my loving Ode to Savannah.

We arrived late Thursday night and took a cab straight from the airport to our hotel. The one cab driver at the airport had his spiel down to a science: Step One, make sure passengers have never been there before. Since we hadn’t, Step Two began even before we had turned out of the airport: launch into a well rehearsed speech on various trivia information about Savannah. This was clearly his millionth time reciting these facts, and although some of them were clearly outdated/ flat out not true, I realized too late that I should have been recording these stats on my phone or at least taking notes. Amongst many other facts, we learned that Savannah is the most haunted city (still up for debate, as I was overruled by scaredy cats and not allowed to go on any of the numerous walking Ghost Tours offered daily after dark), the third most visited city in the country (obviously false, my fact checking findings didn’t even rank it in the top 20 on most lists), and home to the largest historic district (True! It’s literally a city “built on the bones of it’s own dead”…which corroborates both its history and its ghostly-ness.). The whole ride we were mumbling responses like “gee!” and “wow!” and “oh, really?” while crossing our fingers that this wasn’t some creepy prelude to our untimely murders, our bodies never to be found as they would be devoured by alligators, the remains swallowed by marshland… In the end we made it to the hotel and fell asleep shortly before our heads hit the pillows.

Friday morning we met up with Nathan’s family in the lobby and got ready to see the city in daylight for the first time. Quick reminder: I went to school in Texas and developed a healthy love affair with The South (sweet tea, puffy white clouds, saying “y’all”, a generally slower pace to life, all that jazz). So when we stepped outside, it was like I was hit by a wall of familiarity and nostalgia (and yes, humidity) that I had not anticipated.

The temperatures were in low the 80s with a warm breeze, the sky was that pure shade of blue that you can only find in wide open spaces (a color you almost forget about when you live in a big city long enough), and giant cotton ball clouds were peaking over the buildings and trees in abundance. And oh, those trees! Like the intangible feeling of The South, certain trees can make me feel at home in places I’ve never once laid eyes on previously. There were as many types of trees lining each street as there were shades of green, and more often than not they were draped in a glorious Spanish moss that gave even the most mundane road a shrouded ambiance of alluring charm that you didn’t know was missing from your life until you wandered through Savannah on a glorious weekend in April.

Every direction we turned, I felt like a little kid seeing the ocean for the first time: filled with sheer wonderment that I had lived this long without this place in my life. And it just kept getting better. Nathan’s mom and I convinced the boys to hop on a trolley tour of the downtown, complete with an over-the-top tour guide dressed as a wannabe Scarlett O’Hara. As unnecessary as her lavish presentation was, I loved hearing about the history of the town and about the different monuments and historic landmarks at the center of each square that we passed. I’m very convinced that no matter how “touristy” bus tours and the like are, there is no better way to get an overview of a new place so you can best decide where to concentrate your time. Downtown Savannah is delightfully walkable, and we easily meandered in and out of shops and down to the waterfront for the rest of the afternoon.

On Saturday we decided to drive and see Hilton Head, about an hour out of the city. While I’d heard a lot about the beautiful golf course, I honestly wasn’t expecting much else. We had thrown in our bathing suits “just in case”, but this California native wasn’t about to het her hopes up. The drive through South Carolina was green and pleasantly uneventful, albeit with some slightly red-neck vibes. We parked at Coligny Beach and walked through a few shops, but it wasn’t until we hit the sand that it passed the Tess Beach Test. My only other southern beach experience was Destin, Florida, where I went for spring break during my senior year of college. While Destin was too cold for real swimming, we spent plenty of time at the beach and wading through the shallows. Hilton Head’s beach had the same fine, white sand of Florida, but with possibly the warmest ocean water I’ve ever felt. Coming from a Pacific Oceander™ I know that doesn’t say much, but still. We quickly changed into our suits and soaked up the sun for a couple blissful hours.

From there we headed back to Savannah and decided to drive out to Tybee Island while we were at it. While Tybee definitely didn’t have the resort feel of Hilton Head, we found everything to be surprisingly well maintained (nicely painted, clean, etc.) for an easy-going beach town prone to damaging storms. It was reminiscent of Florida beach cities as well, and would definitely make for a nice beach day from Savannah (only about a 30 minute drive).

I don’t usually include specific shops or restaurants because I feel that it’s all about the moment and the company, but there were a few places we went over the course of the weekend that I wanted to mention.

The Paris Market: I had somehow stumbled upon this shop’s Instagram account several months ago, before I even knew we would be visiting Savannah. It’s the perfect blend of Anthropologie-esque home goods & decor mixed with Your Favorite Stationary Store and a healthy dose of southern charm. Aka everything I love in life.

The Grey: We went here for a nice dinner on Friday night, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Living in LA & NYC has definitely skewed the way I value the price of a nice dinner. For a table of four, we got 5 shared plates (if you’re interested: 3 from the “Middles” section of the menu and 2 Sides), two glasses of wine and a “flight” of gin (three types of gin and a glass of tonic) and the bill was just over $100. We all agreed that every single dish was not only unique but delicious (sometimes a hard-to-find combination), and we wouldn’t have ordered any differently.

The Coffee Fox: Nathan is a notorious coffee snob, so this is one of the places he had found for us to try. Since I had already had coffee prior to this outing, I opted for their iced matcha latte instead. And I had forgotten how good matcha could taste. So yes, I’m recommending a coffee shop on nothing to do with their actual coffee.

IMG_0191The Collins Quarter: This comes with a disclaimer–we didn’t get the chance to eat here, but stopped in for a cocktail one evening and returned for a coffee on our last morning in town. Based on ambiance alone (and what I glimpsed on people’s plates), this is high on my list of places to have a meal next time we visit. Although I was underwhelmed with their coffee, they get bonus points for the cute walk-up take out window à la Butcher’s Daughter on Abbott Kinney in LA.

Vic’s on the River: We had Easter brunch here…would return for the biscuits alone.

Crazy Crab Jarvis Creek (Hilton Head): We stopped here for lunch on our way back to Savannah. Loved sitting outside and enjoying the marshy river view. While the drinking water tasted slightly chlorinated, the fish tacos were amazing. We also overheard that there were 9 cats that live around the restaurant, to me that only adds bonus points.

I may have mentioned in previous posts, but out of all the places I have lived thus far I haven’t ever found somewhere I could see myself settling down and living for a good chunk of my life. Many places check off multiple boxes on my list of requirements, but there was always one major category missing. Either a place did not have enough potential career opportunities close by, or it was lacking that perfect amount of suburban charm while not feeling too small-town. Savannah snuck up on me and blew my low expectations out of the water. It has that coveted Southern charm, plenty to offer as far as restaurants and things to do, is on the coast, and isn’t out of reach from major cities along the east coast and in the southern states. I’m not going to start packing my bags just yet, but Savannah has easily just jumped to the top of my list for places to live in the future.

Weekend Trip to New Haven

For the past year, Nathan has been going through the process of getting the title to his car transferred to his name in order to renew its registration. Since we moved to NY, he’s had a temporary permit, but that expired shortly after the new year, so the car has been in a sort of “time out” until we can legally drive it. Long story short, after Nathan’s second trip to the DMV last week, we replaced the old Texas license plates with some (hideous, but legal) NY ones!

To celebrate, we busted the car out of car jail (aka a lot off 54th street) and headed out of the city for the weekend.

For two suburban kids hightailing it out of the big city for the first time in months, we were downright giddy. We had loosely chosen New Haven as our destination because of it’s easy proximity from the City (around 2 hours drive), as well as the fact that Yale’s lacrosse team had its season opener scheduled midday on Saturday. I’m no die-hard lacrosse fan—that’s Nathan’s territory—but the thought of bundling up and sitting in some good old-fashioned bleachers in a quintessential New England setting sounded nostalgically fun to me. Not to mention, I had never been to Rory Gilmore’s alma mater and wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to glimpse some elusive Life and Death brigaders if given the chance.

Although sun was forecasted for the weekend, highs were in the 20s. No big deal, we thought, just throw in a couple extra sweaters and a blanket for good measure. Then I learned that the whole “wind chill” thing was no joke. It took a bearable 24 degrees in the sunshine to single digits with just one gust, instantly freezing any exposed skin (how are you supposed to keep your nose protected without a ski mask??). Despite this, we still made a point to visit the desolate Connecticut beach—I dipped my fingers into the Atlantic for the first time from this coast—before getting lunch at a diner on the water called Jimmies of Savin Rock (it’s exactly what you’re picturing). Nathan also found me a lighthouse (!), which we made it to just in time to catch the sunset. The awesome views narrowly outweighed the absolutely freezing wind that almost blew us over as we ran back to the car about 30 seconds after the sun had taken its final bow.

Frigid temps aside, Yale did not disappoint. The campus was the perfect embodiment of all of my romantic Ivy League imaginings with a dash of Hogwarts thrown in. That being said, Nathan and I both agreed that had we probably would not have enjoyed attending there for undergrad (pretending for a moment that either of us could have gotten in). Speaking for myself—though I doubt I’m alone here—I loved my college experience for more than the just academics. While I took courses seriously (my Dad once calculated how much money each individual class cost in attempt to guilt me into never skipping…it worked), I enjoyed college for much more than that. The undergrad-focused atmosphere in a true college town is something that can’t be replicated. I just didn’t get that vibe from Yale. I have no doubt the students there are super-smart (and probably better prepared for the Real World), but are they having any fun???

Apart from pondering the enjoyment of the kids on campus, we also spent a good amount just driving around the delightfully suburban neighborhoods of New Haven. Nathan and I have always enjoyed this pastime. It tends to open up an unencumbered dialogue about future homes: likes and dislikes about this screened in porch or that paint color, stand-out houses or streets, etc. It’s like it allows us to compile an image of everything we like in our minds: the perfect home in some yet-to-be-determined neighborhood. Somewhere close enough to a big-ish city with opportunities to continue growing in our professional fields, but removed enough that weekend trips to Target and carpools to soccer games on weekends are commonplace…

Speaking of Target, you can bet that our lazy Sunday drive back to the city meant stopping in three small towns along the way: first for a Target that was blissfully empty, where we filled our cart to the brim because we knew the trunk of the car was ready and willing to carry it back to our apartment (and our arms wouldn’t have to); second to a mall, because nothing makes Nathan happier than wandering and taking in the enticing commercial-ness of it all; and third to a Total Wines, where we bemoaned the cheapness of everything compared to the city, and stocked up on Chardonnays and whiskey.

While this might not sound like a particularly exciting trip to some, it was exactly what we had wanted. We spent the weekend quietly celebrating 3.5 years together, just driving around and doing things we probably took for granted in Texas and California. We came back to the city feeling refreshed, and a little more mentally prepared to blend back in with the masses, ready to be sardined onto the subway first thing Monday morning.



Reading List, Part One

Well folks, 2017 is here. Which means New Year, new me…right? To be honest, I’ve come to resent that adage ever so slightly. With the beginning of each year comes a certain pressure to reinvent one’s self, or at least pretend to really try for the first day or week or month: to go to the gym, to eat well, to get up earlier, and so on and do forth.

The fact that I was coming into the New Year after having moved cross-country to a brand new city and thus a little down about spending my first holiday away from my family, along with not being thrilled with how a new job was starting out (both topics for another post) left me a little less than enthused about the prospect of reinventing myself for January 1st.

Therefore I decided to approach my ‘resolutions’ a little differently this year. Instead of (another) dramatic lifestyle change, I decided to try and nourish smaller passions that had been put on hold for one reason or another. This is my way of attempting—instead of diving headfirst into a drastic change of sorts—to nurture my mental and emotion health first through the little things: creative outlets like drawing and doodling, writing about things that I’m passionate about, and a return to the mental stimulation of diving into a good book.

So here are the first few books I’ve made it through since the start of the year. Each has been very different, but I’ve honestly loved them all—2 out of 3 came recommended by my book-club attending, reader Bee of a mother who set me up for success. Enjoy!



 All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I started this book on a bit of a whim, and I owe much of my renewed appreciation for escaping into a good story to this. There’s something so highly satisfying about a well-done blend of history and fiction. This book depicts the life of sightless young Marie-Laure, whose father is the master of the locks at the Museum of Natural History in Paris; and Werner, an orphan from a small German mining town who has a penchant for the mechanics of radios; both growing up at the start of World War II.

The lives of these two children are wrenched apart and uprooted in very different ways as their countries deal with all the transition that war brought with it. The parallels, innermost thoughts and aspirations of Marie-Laure and Werner are charmingly and heartbreakingly similar. Marie-Laure spends her days studying the miniature models of her Parisian arrondissement and subsequent walled town of Saint-Malo that her father crafts for her so she can self-sufficiently find her way around outside. Werner’s secret aspirations of higher learning and his expert knowledge of building and fixing radios that make him an invaluable asset for tracking German resistance. Two very different perspectives of the war from children caught on opposite sides, their stories finally converge in the stronghold of Saint-Malo in a heartbreaking account of youthful innocence coupled with a tragically mature wisdom that only growing up in the midst of war could bring.

**Tess takeaway: If you like seeing history from a truly unique perspective and quotably beautiful writing.


me-before-you-book-cover-jan-12-p122Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 

I somehow never managed to see this film when it came out—a surprising fact considering my love of heartbreakingly predictable Nicholas Sparks-esque romances—which thankfully allowed me to create my own perception of the characters without the constraints of (the equally gorgeous) Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin.

This story kept me guessing to the last page. I can’t emphasize the importance of maintaining ignorance as to the ending—if you’ve somehow managed to keep an unsullied perspective of this story like I did, avoid any “spoiler alerts” or friends who may have read/ seen this like the plague. It’s one of those stories that relies heavily on an element of surprise in order to play with your emotions (in the best of ways) to the very last.

Twenty-something Louisa Clarke lives a narrow life with her working-class family in a small English town. Louisa’s relatively unambitious career trajectory is thrown on its head when the local café she has worked at for years closes up shop. She is hopelessly unqualified and fails miserably at several random employment opportunities in her small town. At her wits end, she accepts a position as a caretaker of a quadriplegic man—the once successful, exceedingly wealthy and (of course) handsome Will Traynor. Her primary job is to bring light into his now narrowly confined world. After a tumultuous start, Louisa slowly becomes acquainted with Will’s contempt and bitter resentment of his newly confined lifestyle. She begins to understand the internal battle of a man who once lived a life so large her limited experiences pale dramatically in comparison.

It is both dark and uplifting, and will encourage a life lived to the fullest. Tears were definitely shed. You will turn the last page and need to take a few minutes to dejectedly stare out the window before getting up with the sudden urgency to do something meaningful with your life. Don’t worry, this will wear off shortly thereafter and you’ll be left with an unconventional love story that reminds you that a situation could always be worse, and to not take anything for granted.

**Tess takeaway: If you like a slow-unfolding British romance and the thought of living in a tiny town near a castle.



Bloom: Navigating Life and Style by Estée Lalonde
This strays from the fictional theme of the first two books, but it has been an equally exceptional, if not even more inspiring read. I fairly recently became acquainted with Estée’s YouTube channel (both her main lifestyle/ beauty channel as well as the vlog-oriented Everyday Estée), and I have to say, she’s quickly become one of my favorites. I am enthralled by the online world in which you can watch a person cultivating their passions for an audience of a million  viewers, yet still feel that they are talking to you personally as if you are close friends. I stumbled upon Estée’s channel at a time when I had just moved far away from any friends or family, and quickly related to her experience of moving from Canada to London without knowing a soul apart from her boyfriend.

Bloom details different aspects of Estée’s life in eight organized sections: Life, People, Work, Beauty, Fashion, Home, Travel and Food. Not only does she offer her perspective along with personal anecdotes on these topics, but she also gives advice without seeming preachy or showy in any way. I feel like it could be easy for a book like this to turn “read about how great my life is and look at how beautiful I am and see my gorgeous home and dog and boyfriend, etc.” But the thing about someone whose life is so open to the public eye is that it’s fairly easy to suss out their true personality by merely watching a video or two. From the start, Estée has seemed so down to earth that I couldn’t help but be impressed by the openness and directness with which she communicates her opinions and passions. I don’t agree with her on everything, but I have great respect for her motivations and what she does, which is what drew me to her book.

Bloom has definitely lent another welcome perspective on Estée’s lifestyle and personality, and has inspired me to focus on areas of my life that I might not have honed in on myself. Would I love to work from home and have a beautiful house filled with plants and bespoke furniture? Of course. (Although still not sold on her love of crystals.) But this book has been more about finding ways to adapt my own version of her many philosophies into my life. To name a few: wholeheartedly embracing new experiences no matter how anxiety-inducing, incorporating unique and meaningful décor (and plants) into my living space, and treating beauty and fashion as an ever changing process of self-discovery.

**Tess takeaway: If you like real life and (so many) awesomely relatable and unashamed throw-back pictures.


Well there you have it, the first three books on my New Year’s reading list. I saw someone post about a goal of reading 52 books in 52 weeks last year and that concept has definitely inspired me to always have a new book lined up and ready to go. Especially now that I have twice-daily subway rides to look forward to on my way to and from work: prime time for getting in a quick chapter or two each day if nothing else!

Please let me know your thoughts on the above, and of course suggestions are welcome as to what should be next on my list!


Not an Easy Subject

At the funeral, a friend of the family asked me if I had ever known someone with cancer. I shook my head no, I had never closely witnessed anyone go through something like this in my life. She went on to say that she had seen the signs early on, and had pointed it out to another neighborhood friend who hadn’t been so astute. Or whatever her point was in telling me this. I had definitely not seen the signs early on.

I still haven’t figured out how to talk about this, as I’m attempting to put it to words on paper now I feel the onset of emotion: throat closing up, tears welling in the back of my eyes. I wish I could say I’ve gotten better at holding it back, but I haven’t. I’m still sad. It’s not a debilitating sadness, I simply don’t let myself go there anymore. But sometimes, certain triggers pop into my head and I can’t help it.

Which is part of the reason that I feel like I need to write about it. Like an albatross around my blogging neck, I feel like this is something I have to share before I can write about my next vacation or Sunday by the pool. If, at the very least, to let a little bit of the pain flow from me onto the metaphorical paper that is this blog.

My boyfriend’s dad passed away in February after a very quick battle with liver cancer. When you hear liver cancer, you might immediately think alcoholic. In most cases you’d be correct, but not this one. This was one of the rarest forms: bile duct liver cancer. One that isn’t caused by the abuse of alcohol,  doesn’t have obvious symptoms, and one that most often isn’t discovered or diagnosed until it’s too late.

Here’s the timeline from my perspective:

  • In late October, when he came to visit California, his dad wasn’t feeling very well. He had some kind of bug, but for the most part still seemed like his usual jovial self.
  • I went home with Nathan to Texas for Thanksgiving. While again, his dad wasn’t feeling 100%, he still partook in the all the traditions they had involving football, turkeys, neighbors and family.
  • When Nathan when back home for the holidays in December, he called me on Christmas Eve and told me that they found lump on his Dad’s liver, so he was going to stay home a few extra weeks.
  • In February, Nathan and I had planned a vacation to go to Canada for Valentine’s weekend. The night before we were going to leave, his Dad was hospitalized. We flew to Dallas instead.
  • I came back to California on a Tuesday to go back to work. Nathan’s dad passed away the following Friday.

A lot of the time, I feel guilty for crying. For feeling this loss as deeply as I do. I find myself justifying my relationship with Nathan’s family: I have known Nathan since college, and we’ve dated for almost 3 years. Is this necessary?

Here’s the thing. Nathan’s dad was someone who I always assumed I would grow to know more of and better as the years went on. Someone who would be at our wedding, who would be in our lives and the lives of our future children for a long time. Having this person suddenly gone from not only the present but also the future is something that I have not come to terms with yet.

Throughout the countless articles I read, it’s taken a while for me to realize that it’s okay to feel this way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Sadness does not have to be justified, and feeling emotion does not make me weak. It makes me human.

Life Changes

Do you ever feel like your life is moving forward but it’s leaving you behind? Sitting here on this quiet Sunday, I’m reflecting on the changes that have taken place recently…

Last May, I graduated college without a clue as to what I wanted to do. I then moved from Texas back to my home state of California. Shortly after that, my best friend moved as well, joining me at my Mom’s house, where we lived for 3 months. In October, we moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. We were living in Brentwood, she had a job in Venice, and I was burning through what little money I had saved like no body’s business. For those 3 months, I was more lost than I have ever been.

Then, the week before Christmas, I had my third interview with an entertainment advertising agency that was located—wait for it—two blocks from where my roommate worked in Venice (and it was only another two blocks from the agency to the ocean I might add). The day after my third interview, I received an offer letter with a salary expressed annually and some crazy things called benefits (still not entirely sure what those are).

In the month of January, I started a full-time, big kid job, signed a year’s lease, and moved into a town house in Culver City with my friend, just three miles from where we both worked.

I thought moving away from home and going out of state to college was hard. I thought my parents’ divorce was hard. But the raw new-ness of my life these days is almost indescribable.

My first week at my new job was the most overwhelming thing I’ve ever experienced. Unlike my previous internships or part-time jobs, where there was always a general end in sight, this new commitment is indefinite. There is a serious learning curve, too: figuring out the system by which things are done, getting to know the personalities of the clients, not to mention the names and personalities of the people I now work with on a daily basis. But the part that terrified me the most about that first week was the foreboding feeling that I had just signed my life away and committed myself for an indefinite amount of time. I think deep down I am still unsure whether LA is the right place for me. Yet here I am working full time, signing a year’s lease, and learning the ins and outs of a job that is completely foreign to me. I don’t know if everyone experiences these fears to some degree, but I worry that my lack of a grand life plan will cause me to lose myself in the momentum of work and money and the ultimate objective of success.

There are so many things I want to do, yet can I concretely picture myself doing them? Being swept up in this whirlwind journey is not a bad thing if it’s leading me to where I ultimately want to go. But where exactly is that? How do I turn my vague dreams into actual plans for the future?

For the time being, the majority of these questions will just have to be left unanswered. But for today, I can make a budget, and start putting some of my newfound income toward future adventures, whatever they may be.


Here are a few random nuggets if information that I’ve learned in the last week or so that I thought I’d share. Lots of randomness, but that’s my life these days.

There’s a whole circuit of unemployed youths who volunteer at all the film festivals that take place in the city of Los Angeles. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to spend my recent multitudes of free time in this productive manner, but my eyes have recently been opened. A whole new world…
Come find me at LA Femme Film Festival this weekend.

I have hidden talents when it comes to following instructions and communicating with tech/ customer support people. Last Friday, I managed to talk to 5 different Time Warner Cable personnel and finally set us up for an internet and cable package. Said package turned out to be a huge pain in my butt, because unbeknownst to me, I was signed up for “such a great deal”*** that included not only internet and cable, but phone as well. After a lot of back and forth both over the phone and in person, a few tears of frustration, and a few years off my life, I managed to get the cable box working, as well as our internet modem. The only thing left was the router. Let me just say right here: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE PURCHASE AN E2500 LINKSYS ROUTER. The software (or was it the firmware?) isn’t compatible with computer technology from this century, so you’ll end up having to live chat with tech support for an hour and—using two computers—you’ll eventually end up reconfiguring the router through a secret backdoor portal that only the guy from the Twilight Zone should know about. Moral of the story: we now have cable and wifi!!! And I will never again take for granted an internet connection.
***After the fourth person told me what a great deal I was getting, I stopped believing them and started believing that all Time Warner Cable people are brainwashed to repeat the phrase “such a good deal”, while also giving different information than the last (generally incompetent) customer service rep.

Paper companies are my people. Upon not making any progress with various coffee shops I applied to, I started trying to think of other places in the area at which I might actually enjoy working in my spare time. It turns out I have an obsession with pretty papers and calligraphy for a reason. I was randomly looking at my newly discovered—and now favorite—paper company’s website, I found their “Meet Our Team” page. Not only were their pictures all adorable, but their bios just about killed me. Let’s just say I could have crafted my own bio from bits and pieces of the six girls’ profiles on that page: Right off the bat, ice cream was mentioned. One of them doesn’t like ginger (major bleh). One of them is a “DOG LOVER EXTRAORDINAIRE”. Ice cream was mentioned again, this time in conjunction with the words “balsamic strawberry and salted caramel”. Ribbons. Hikes in LA. Bookworm. If I had a list of buzzwords that made me happy, this page was the pinnacle of Tess’ Happy Place. Logically, I’m way too similar to all of them to actually get a job there, but that sure as heck isn’t going to stop me from trying.

Honestly, these first few weeks living in the big city have been a little rough. But I keep telling myself that good things are right around the corner. Light at the end of the tunnel. Rainbow at the end of a storm? You get the picture. Chin up buttercup.