Hitting the two year mark

A very tech-savy friend introduced me to TimeHop several years ago, and I was immediately enthralled. TimeHop acts as a time machine, sending you the updates you posted on the same day in years past.

Glued to whichever social media networks we’ve grown most fond of over the last decade, all of us — young and old — are consistently creating content, whether we realize it or not. Once our update is posted, commented on, and liked a few dozen times, several days pass and we move on to the next update, and then the next. Those posts seemingly cease to exist, especially in a world like Twitter, where some send hundreds of updates a day into the Twitosphere.

Being able to see what I posted a year ago, three years ago, even six years ago is fascinating. Now that I’m 25,  the years are no longer marked by semesters, summer breaks and finals weeks. Life has begun to fly by at a scary speed. I look at the calendar and am shocked that it’s already May, and I really swear that what happened in my life six months or a year ago had just occurred.

I love that TimeHop lets me appreciate the various mental and physical places I was in all those years prior. Some updates make me laugh, some make me cringe. Some make me shake my head and wonder what I was thinking. Others make me proud. It’s fun to look back and reflect, I feel like we live in a society and culture that’s always pushing forward to the next thing and the next, and we don’t take much time to look back.

So when my TimeHop app notified me today that it has officially been two years to the day that I put in my two weeks notice at TechTarget, I could barely believe it. In many ways, it feels like much more than just two years since I left Massachusetts. In other ways, I can’t fathom two whole years have come and gone.

I’ve done some amazing things over the past two years. I subleased an apartment and sold the majority of my physical belongings. I drove a massive UHaul to another state and rented my first storage unit. I said goodbye to a city that I called home for six years, and left dozens of daily friendships and replaced them with long distance ones.

I learned to speak another language. I traveled to six new countries, and spent weeks exploring each of them. I carried my life in a 55 liter backpack for three solid months, and successfully traveled solo for more time than I thought I could. I met people from all across the world of all ages, and connected with them on social media to expand my social circles to several new continents.

I moved back in with my parents, which is something I’m relatively sure I swore I would never do again. I fell in love (another thing I’d sworn off at that point in my life). I took my very first community college class… after I’d already received my Bachelors degree. And after months and months of wavering and indecision, I committed to staying in California, where I hadn’t lived in the better part of a decade. I reconnected with Los Angeles friends, and salvaged long time friends that we’re feeling destructive and unproductive. I reunited with east coast friends, in familiar cities and new states. I built new friendships, with women I feel so lucky to know.

And now, two years later, I’m finally feeling ready and willing to go back to a steady 9 to 5. I’m even ready to take on cubicle life again. Well, sort of.

Do I love being cooped up inside for eight hours a day? No, of course not. But do I miss content production, the creative process, writing about new subjects and constantly learning about new things? Absolutely. I miss having my hands in a content management system, I miss implementing SEO best practices. I miss interacting with my readers on social media, and pitching my blog posts.

And so it’s time. Two years later, to be back in the workforce. Of course just because I make that decision, doesn’t mean all is said and done. I’ve been and felt ready since the start of 2014, and have been job searching and applying since then. I thought I’d be through the process by now, but unfortunately, it’s rather grueling.

I’ve lost patience and motivation more than I’d like to admit, but what helped recently was writing a post for the Intent.com blog, which helps readers spell out their intents for the coming days, weeks and months. Whether a fitness and wellness, social or career goal, Intent is a place where you can type out what you plan to be doing so you can hold yourself accountable. I wrote a post on Keeping the Faith during a Job Search, which was a great way to both rant about the frustrations of writing endless job applications and remind myself that I will find an amazing job and the pieces will all fall into place eventually, and that losing patience is okay, but that it will still all work out.

When terror hits home

Dealing with December’s Newtown shootings was rough. I was out of the country, thousands of miles away from home and all of the people who were grappling with this unexplainable violence. I was traveling and having the time of my life, when all of a sudden 20 innocent children in a Connecticut town — just a few miles down the highway from where three of my closest friends grew up — snapped me back to reality. I didn’t admit it then, but it certainly affected my emotional state the last two weeks of my trip.

But I never wrote anything on my blog about what happened in Newtown. And there’s a reason for that.

In this day and age of social media, blogs, and more online news resources than one can even name, when violent, scary events make national news, an outpour of emotional commentary comes with that news. In some ways, it’s comforting. Other writers express the fears, pain, and anger that you too have welling inside of you, and in a time of distress, it makes you feel less alone.

But in other ways, especially as a recent Journalism School graduate, it’s exhausting, and frustrating, to feel like our news agencies, so visible to the rest of the world’s eyes, are pushing and prodding these poor people dealing with deaths and incomprehensible injuries. These innocent families, who have already suffered enough, don’t need to be in the spotlight of the US’s desperate-for-viewership-and-high-ratings news agencies. Nor do the innocent family members and acquaintances of the suspects themselves. Just because they have a crazy nephew or second cousin twice removed, or even just a son who went to high school prom with this man, doesn’t mean their privacy needs to be invaded as well.

I hesitate to add to the jumble of reports, reactions, and emotions already on the internet about last Monday’s events in Boston. That being said, these Boston bombings hit even closer to home than the events in Newtown.  I feel like I, at least partially, lived through the terror and exhaustion that Boston residents did last week, and I wanted to express the conflicted emotions I experienced over the last 7 days.

There are few things that really change your world more than knowing that the city you called home for 6 years was just attacked, and that not only are you 3,000 miles away from that city, but that you are helpless in doing anything to help your city, and your best friends who are still residents of that city, in their time of desperation.

Hearing the news about Boston rocked me to my core. I could barely function on Monday — I felt like a walking zombie, trying to process everything. Listening to NPR and watching the news was horrifying — clips of the bombs going off on a street where I used to walk every single day for more than five years was surreal. I couldn’t believe this was happening, to a city I call mine. It felt like a movie, not real life, because I wasn’t physically there to experience it.

But instead of feeling relief that I was across the country and safe in my own home, I felt guilty. It seems backwards, but I felt horrific that my friends were facing this without me, that I lay a tiny little sliver of claim to Boston and I wasn’t there.

But what’s important to understand, is that millions of people in the US have once called Boston home. It is a city comprised of more than 50 colleges and universities — hundreds of thousands of 18 year olds migrate to Boston every September to spend four or five (or in my case, six) years of their lives developing life-changing friendships and growing into young adults in this spectacular city filled with young people, yet compounded by an amazing history.

Don’t get me wrong, I have more than few complaints about Boston. For starters, the MBTA’s Green Line, the freezing cold, and the glamorous MassHoles (the not-so-nice nickname outsiders give Massachusetts natives) I found myself living amongst for many years. But Boston was my home. It was where I truly developed into who I am today. Where I discovered and established my independence. Where I worked my first journalism-related job. Where I was a reporter of all sorts. Where I still know the subway and the streets like the back of my hand. Where I graduated from Northeastern University, of which I am an incredibly proud alum. Where I have thousands of amazingly fond memories out and about in the city – some just a few feet or a few blocks from where those pressure bombs exploded.

I worked at the American Eagle on Newbury Street, just one block north of Boylston and one block west of Dartmouth Street, where the first bomb went off. I would take the 39 bus down Boylston Street to Copley station several times a week. I did research projects for school at the Boston Public Library, across the street. I walked through the Prudential Center hundreds of times. Some of my favorite bars: Pour House, Cactus Club, Lolita, and Towne, are all within a few blocks. When my parents came to Boston for graduation, they stayed at the Fairmount Hotel right on Copley Square.

I did some Facebook self-stalking and found a handful of pictures of me and my friends around Boston:

So how do you handle it when your home, what feels like a part of you, has been attacked? It struck me suddenly: this is what people all across the world, living in countries much less safe than ours, feel on a regular basis. Their safety is constantly at risk. Their hometowns are always potential targets.

Here in the US, we’re sheltered, and we’re more lucky than we can imagine. So when these acts of violence are aimed toward us and our country and all that it stands for (good and bad), it’s often hard to take a step back and realize these things happen in other countries too. But they happen on a much more regular basis, and in many cases, violence is caused by governments themselves. It doesn’t make what happened in Boston any easier or justify it by any means, but, for me at least, it does bring a little bit of perspective.

A friend who is several years older than I am unintentionally brought an interesting thought to me. In my anxiety, frustration, and emotion of last week, I was talking to him about how genuinely sad and broken these events made me feel, and even though I knew Boston didn’t mean as much to him as it did to me, I asked why he didn’t seem so broken down about it.

“It’s less shocking to me,” he had said. In his lifetime, nearly a decade longer than mine, he remembers more of the violent events of recent history: the Oklahoma City bombings, September 11th, of course, the Little Rock shooting, and the recent Newtown incident, to name just a few. It’s not that he wants these things to happen, but he almost can expect that they will. He isn’t a beat down, depressed, or otherwise numb guy, and because of that, I hated his answer. But once I gave myself time to digest what he’d said to me, and our conversation following his immediate reaction, it makes a lot of sense. As we get older, we become more realistic. Our childhood sense of trust and wonder and good disappears slowly as we see more and more violence and bad in the world. And as a result, these horrific tragedies affect us less and less. I like to think it’s not true, that at the age of 60 these types of tragedies will upset me just as much as they do now, but I guess I won’t know that for another 36 years.

On the flip side, I will say that it’s a comfort and a relief to see the positive coverage of the aftermath of these bombings. Hearing the stories of the heroes who helped saved lives, of the people who rushed towards the sites and not away from them, and of the positive actions of so many people across the country, whether groups of runners dedicating their milage to Boston, people rushing out to donate blood, or the Chicago Tribune sending pizza to the Boston Globe’s newsroom, has been a a huge uplift.


The ending love of our unbelievably long group iMessage last week

For several years during my time at Northeastern, I was a tour guide and eventually served as co-president of the volunteer tour guide program. I made dozens of amazing friendships through the group, many of which have lasted long past graduation. Five of us, who I call my “admissions girls,” all hang out and talk on a somewhat regular basis (as much as we can with one of us in LA and another in NYC). We have a group iMessage chat, and we probably sent a total of 2,000 text messages over the course of last week.

Other friends, too, who I’d walked through Copley with, gone to school with down the street, who were volunteering for the Marathon that day, or who had friends or girlfriends or relatives running the course that day. Reaching out to them in the fear and aftermath of the bombings was terrifying, but so grounding at the same time.

Of course it was confusing, and horrific, and heartbreaking to face all of these conflicting news reports. To watch our city get such overwhelming, somewhat negative, media attention.  But what a comfort, to have my girlfriends to complain and gush and freak out to. It made me realize that in all the chaos of the world, in all the unknown and violence, that what really matters in this world are the relationships we’ve forged, not the physical city streets where those friendships were solidified. I’d sat and drank dozens of 20 oz Pour House Blue Moons with these friends on the very street where the bombs had gone off. But it didn’t matter. What matters is that we have each other.

11 Fun Facts: My Liebster Award answers

As a member of the Her Campus Bloggers Network (or HCBN), I’m now a part of a community of young women who, on top of being Her Campus writers, also maintain their own blogs. Many of them have been nominating group members for the “Liebster Award,” which several google searches taught me is simply the German word for “dearest,” and is a bloggers version of an ice breaker thats been floating around the internet for just about two years.


Though this sort of survey-like question answering reminds me of my TOD and LJ days (extra points if you understand those references) I figured, what the heck, I can have some fun with these.

The basic rules: First, answer 11 questions posed to you by the blogger you were nominated by. For me, that was the fabulous Dani Wong, a sweet Nor Cal native who was one of my Her Campus writers when I was president of the NU branch two years ago. Then, write another 11 questions, to be answered for other bloggers, who you will then nominate for the award.

1. If you could spend five years in another country, which one would it be?
Right now I’m pretty focused on solidifying my Spanish speaking skills, so I’d have to say Spain. I’ve dreamt of spending time in Europe for so long and heard so many amazing things about the country, it’d be the perfect opportunity.

2.  What motivated you to start your blog?
When I quit my job last May without a more solidified plan than to get off my ass, out of my cubicle, and go travel, I knew I was taking a huge risk, and that I was one of very few people willing to take that risk. My blog is almost like my public diary – it’s a perfect way to help record all of the amazing adventures I’ve been on, and will go on, as a budding writer and travel enthusiast. I want to share all of my experiences as a backpacker and recent graduate to inspire and motivate other young women.

3.  What was your best college experience? Worst?
I’d say my best college experience was volunteering as a tour guide for Northeastern University. I met some of my best friends, and had the opportunity for so much personal growth while I spent 4 years on the leadership committee of the program. Interacting with high school juniors and seniors struggling with the choice of where to spend their next 5 years was extremely rewarding, and taught me how to articulate my thoughts (and deal with awkward parents!)

My worst college experience was probably the life lesson of picking some very wrong girlfriends. Unfortunately, when freshman year starts, we’re all often desperate and overeager to meet new friends. I learned too late that I didn’t weed out my friends the way I should have, and there were girls in my circles of friends who added more misery and drama to my social life than anyone should ever have to deal with.

4. How would you describe yourself in three words?
passionate, planner, traveler

5. What’s your best quality and why?
I like to think of myself as a good friend — I have so many amazing women in my life I’m lucky to call my best friends, but I’m challenged in that those women are spread across the country, on both coasts. Keeping in touch consistently with friends who aren’t every day, hang-out-in-person-with friends is a challenge, but it’s something I’m continually putting effort into. I always make effort to make my friends my number one priority, and pride myself on being someone they can count on regardless of whether they have good news or bad news to share with me.

6. Where do you get your inspiration for your blog?
Lately, it’s been a struggle to come up with what to write — without an amazing adventure to blog about, without the chance to cross borders and interact with new friends every night, my life seems relatively mundane. But as I research my next big trip, it’s becoming easier to think about the things I wanted to know before I left for South America so that I can start to produce answers to those questions to help future SA backpackers.

7.  How do you cheer yourself up when you’re having a bad day?
Distracting myself with (bad) reality television, In N Out Animal fries and Vogue is often my go-to. Or a solid run on the treadmill to get my frustrations out.

8.  What is your ideal first date
Froyo and a relaxing meander through a cutesy neighborhood — first dates are always so awkward, but it’s fun to judge guys on what toppings they pick for their yogurt!

9.  If you could hang out with any movie character, who would it be?
I‘d get a kick out of getting cocktails with Mindy Kaling. I think her new show is phenomenal, and I bet she would be an amazing woman to learn from.

10.  What is your dream job and how do you plan to get there?
Part of the reason I’ve returned to LA and am back living at my parent’s house is because I’m still really struggling to find the answer to this question. I like to think I want to be a travel writer, but the reality is, I want to settle down eventually: put down roots, get married and have a family. Even though writing and traveling are my two passions, I’m not sure being a travel writer is really what I want for myself. Right now, I think something that combines writing, my passion for seeing the world, and the skills I’ve honed working as an online content producer would be the best thing for me, but who knows where those skills and passions will lead me. I’m excited to not have a solidified dream, and to develop one in the coming months and years. Being open and flexible to all sorts of career paths and dreams is daunting, but it’s also very exciting.

11.  What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
Right now, I’m totally hooked on Taylor Swift’s latest album, Red. It’s embarrassing, but it’s damn catchy, and even though she’s a serial dater, her lyrics about heartbreak just ring true in all the right ways. Also, I can’t stop eating Trader Joe’s white cheddar popcorn. I can easily eat a bag in one sitting!

My eleven questions, for Peggy Menn, over at nuances & nostalgia and Hillary Cohen, a fellow fast talker who does some great YouTube video blogging.

  1. What’s your favorite item of clothing in your closet?
  2. Tell us about your best childhood memory.
  3. If you could be any celebrity for a day, who would you be?
  4. What’s the next trip or vacation you’re planning?
  5. If you could go back and remake one decision in your life, which decision would you take back?
  6. Which good books have you read so far this year?
  7. Pepsi or Coke?
  8. What’s your favorite thing about being a blogger?
  9. If you could have a $5,000 shopping spree at any store, which store would you chose?
  10. What was your first pet?
  11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

It’s a small world: From Bolivia to Montreal

Four and a half months ago, Thai An, Camille, and I met in Cochabamba, Bolivia under bizarre circumstances. The entire country was shut down for Census Day, and we weren’t allowed to leave our less-than-glamorous accommodations at Hotel Gloria for a solid 24 hours.

The situation was far from the dire: we had TVs, wifi, and had been able to go to the grocery store the day before to stock up on food. But still, when you’re backpackers traveling through a foreign country, it’s against your very nature to sit inside all day doing next to nothing.

Thai An, originally from Montreal, was working an internship in Sucre, and had been flown to Cochabamba for a conference that was eventually cancelled. Camille, who is from Paris, was in the middle of a one year, round-the-world backpacking trip. I was just past the midpoint of my 3 month trip, and still a gimp from recently tearing the ligament in my foot.

The three of us chatted, laughed and joked, watched TV, cut up fruit and made homemade guacamole in the common area of the hotel since there was no kitchen we could use. After spending hours together killing time online, lounging on not so comfortable couches, and getting to know each other, we’d said goodbye, and the next day I left at the crack of dawn for my epic journey to Toro Toro national park.

Thai An and I met up a few days later when I was in Sucre, and we’d all become Facebook friends, following each others travels after we’d parted ways. Two weeks ago, just before my 8 day trip to Montreal, I posted on Thai An’s wall, letting her know I’d be in Montreal and that we should grab drinks if she was around.

A few hours later, I had a notification that Camille had commented on my post as well. “I will be there too!!!!!!!” she’d written. What were the chances?

Turns out Camille was on the very last leg of her 13 months of travel, visiting old friends for a few days before making her way back to Paris. I was in the city where both my parents were born and raised for a mother-daughter vacation, to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover and spend time with extended family.

I could hardly believe it, but the following Thursday, the three of us, plus my Mom, were hugging hello at L’Avenue, a trendy brunch spot in Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood.

“It’s a small world” may be one of the oldest cliches in the book, but it has never rung truer. Five months ago, I never would have been able to guess that my I would be meeting two women I’d spent a few days with in Bolivia for to-die-for Eggs Benedict on Mont-Royal Avenue.

Holding on to memories

It’s hard to believe, but this weekend will mark two and a half months since I’ve been back from South America.

The excitement, the euphoric high of having traversed through five countries and begun to master another language, is starting to wear off, and the frustrations of every day life, and the real world, are creeping in.

I’m distracted and stressed out by all the dumb little stuff again — fender benders, shlepping to doctors appointments, running errands, filing my taxes, and the joys of spending my afternoons sitting in traffic, aggravated with LA drivers and knowing that gas is over $4.15 a gallon. It’s easy to forget that only three months ago I was jumping out of an airplane over Argentina, riding in a jeep across the Bolivian desert, and sipping amazing wine in Mendoza.

A few days ago, my gold Ray Band (no, that’s not a typo) aviators that I bought on the streets of Arequipa for $3 fell out of my hand onto the sidewalk, one of the lenses cracking half from the fall. I was oddly devastated. Not just because it’s nearly impossible for me to find sunglasses that flatter my face, but because of all the amazing things I saw through those lenses half a world away. I was suddenly overwhelmed with thoughts of all of the incredible people I interacted with, whether for 5 minutes or 5 days, whom I’d met in those sunglasses. Of course the memories didn’t break or get thrown out with my glasses, but it made me realize how easy it is to forget all of the little moments and interactions I cherished over the 3 months I was gone.

In an effort not to lose those moments (thanks Dad for genetically dooming me with your terrible memory), I wanted to think back on, and share, a few random memories from my travels.

– On one of the overnight bus rides I took through Bolivia, I ended up next to an older gentleman who found out I could speak some basic Spanish and so he began to talk (and talk, and talk) to me. I’d just hurt my foot, and had to cancel my trip to the rainforest because no flights were taking off, so was in no mood to converse, let alone in Spanish. But this man kept talking, kept pushing to ask questions about my life in the U.S., about what my parents do, about why living at home close to your family isn’t common in America. He told me all about his daughters, his family, his past working for the Bolivian military. I only understood about half of what he was saying, and even though internally, in that moment, I was less than thrilled to be talking and not getting some sleep, thinking back, his excitement to communicate with a foreigner and hear about my life was endearing, and I’m thankful for that conversation.

– I remember so vividly the Bolivian night sky on the second night of my Salar tour. It was the type of December night where no matter how many layers you had on, the cold sank directly into your bones, but I was so infatuated with the bright stars that I just stood outside our hostel straining my neck, in awe with the glittering galaxies in the distance. It had been years since I’d really spent time just looking at the night sky, and I’d missed that feeling.

– Down in Bariloche, I rented a car with three guys I’d met in my hostel, and we drove several hundred kilometers in a day through the area’s lake region. At one of our many stops, we walked off the road a ways and stumbled upon a serene river that looked eerily similar to Early Intake, a river surrounded by high rocks not far from the summer camp I went to. In that moment, I had a sudden, unexpected flood of childhood camp memories, and felt overcome by a truly cliche, warm and fuzzy feeling.

– My first home stay in Manta, Ecuador, was with a very sweet family whom I desperately wanted to communicate with, but since it was only my second week studying Spanish, my vocabulary was rather unimpressive. We couldn’t say a whole lot to each other, but they had two little dogs, Arnold and Bruno, so we bonded over feeding and playing with them instead.

– On vacation, my joy didn’t have to come from complex emotions or places – it often came from the most basic things. After hours of hiking and sweating and wearing the same clothes for days on end, I appreciated a simple hot shower, clean laundry, and a twin sized, bottom bunk bed more than anything. On afternoons where I could have been doing anything, sitting in the sun with my book and a glass bottle of Coca Cola was all I could have wanted. It’s easy to forget the simple joys – I miss those moments.


Three weeks of photos from Argentina & Chile

As promised (finally!), here are the photographic highlights from my last 3 weeks on the road in Argentina and Chile.

They start with a few photos from SaltaCordoba, and Mendoza, before I jumped down to Bariloche in Argentina’s Patagonia. From there, I crossed the border to spend a rainy week in Puerto Varas and Valdivia (because of the crummy weather, there are very few photos), then made a long haul up to Vina del Mar to spend my last days of vacation on the beach soaking up some final South American sunshine.


The Plan: 36 days later…

I’ve been back home for just over a month, and though it’s crazy to think how little time has passed, some pretty big changes have come about in these last 5 weeks.

The biggest news, is that I’ve officially decided to call Los Angeles my home for the next year.

The plan was always NYC. I dreamed of living in the same city of so many of my favorite people who have relocated to Manhattan from across the country. I imagined runs through Central Park, Brooklyn brunch dates with my best friend, finally mastering the MTA, even normal happy hour specials after years of cursing Boston’s ridiculous laws.

But NYC is expensive. It’s more than expensive – it’s exorbitant. I know the ‘hip’ thing is to be broke in Manhattan (or now, Brooklyn & Queens), but if I realistically wanted to be paying rent, taking the subway every day, and even just occasionally joining my best friends for cocktails, club nights, and brunches, there was no way I’d be able to work part time, freelance on the side, and put more than a few pretty pennies toward my travel goals.

I have a new-found, lofty dream of becoming a travel writer, but I know it’s a business where you have to start at the very, very bottom, and climb all the way up. I also know it’s not a business where you can expect to make money right away, or even find success right way, but I’m determined to pursue my goals and try, even if it is a bit of a pipe dream.

In pursuing this dream, I’m taking a gigantic step backwards. I’m making saving money the priority, and therefore, I’m moving back into my parents’ house. Considering it was less than 9 months ago that I was employed, financially independent, and living on my own in a Boston apartment, you can imagine my parents shock, and slight displeasure, to learn that their almost-25 year old daughter was back at home for the first time in nearly 7 years to take over her childhood room.

I’d like to say that free rent makes up for it all, but for one, I’m not living at home completely for free (I’ll be paying for utilities & my groceries). I also know that being back under my parents roof will be a bit of a challenge. I was so proud to be one of the few college grads to stand on her own two feet immediately after I took off my cap & gown, so you can imagine my disappointment having to say I’m back under their roof. But I’m making this sacrifice now, hoping it will pay off down the line.

I’m now officially employed once again. Not by any sort of journalistic or writing establishment, but I’ve got a great gig working 20-25 hours a week as a nanny/driver for a wonderful LA family with a 13 & 15 year old. Since my expenses in Los Angeles will be very minimal, I’ll be able to put the majority of my earnings towards the one thing I’ve been dreaming of since my plane landed at LAX on December 30: another backpacking trip.

The ultimate goal is a six-month backpacking journey through the entirety of Southeast Asia, with a plan to leave sometime at the beginning of 2014. I’m hoping to have built up a substantial number of freelance connections and opportunities by then, so I can get on the road with a longer time frame and the goal of doing much more writing for outside publications, rather than just myself and this blog.

In the middle of January, I faced New England winter once again and skipped out east for a quick 10 day visit. I spent 4 days in Boston catching up with old friends, bosses & professors, then my friends Christine & Meg drove with me southwest 100 miles to the town of Middletown, Connecticut, where 90% of my worldly possessions have been sitting in storage since May.

Though I sold all of my furniture sans my mattress, TV and a few odd Ikea items, I still had lots of, well, to be very frank, crap. All of which needed to be sorted through. I never packed my storage unit with the thought that I would be headed back to California in the near future; the plan was always to be in NYC.

So through Craigslist I sold as much of my stuff as I could, donated the rest to a local homeless shelter and Goodwill, and shipped the absolute necessities (mainly clothes & shoes, plus my beloved Essie collection) back to Los Angeles.

And now, here I am. Back in LA, starting to settle down. I’m the proud sole driver and lender of my mother’s 1998 Toyota minivan — it’s so far from cool it’s pretty hysterical, but it’s on loan to me for free, the insurance is dirt cheap, and it drives from point A to point B, so that’s all that matters.

I’ve joined a gym, found intermediate Spanish classes at a local Community College four mornings a week, and started, slowly but surely, to reach out to my writing contacts, family friends, and my other network connections to start cranking out some travel stories from my time in South America.

I’m scared, but I’m excited. I know I’m taking a huge risk, and an even bigger leap of faith, and I just hope with some hard work, and a little bit of luck, I can pull this all off.

And if I can’t? If I fail? I’m promising myself I’ll give it a year. And after that, if I’m nowhere? I’ll take a few of the hard earned dollars I’ve put away, head to Southeast Asia anyways, and then come back to the US sooner than expected, but with the mindset that it’s time to do some serious searching for a full time job. I’m being lofty, but I’m also being realistic.

So there you have it: The Plan.

I hope you’re all excited to hear about the trials, tribulations, exhaustions & excitements as they come! Here’s to an amazing 2013!

I’m an HCBN member!

My alma mater Her Campus has created a Bloggers Network, and I’ve officially been accepted! I am so proud and excited to have their badge on my site and to be partnering with them for the chance to write about any awesome travel-related events, products, and/or opportunities!

BloggerNetworkLogoFor those of you who haven’t heard of Her Campus yet, they are an amazing website written completely for, and by, young women in college. I wrote for the main, national site and I headed up the Northeastern University branch, which is a page hosted by Her Campus, but all of the content on that branch page is created by student staff writers at each university.

The site was founded by 3 Harvard alum — Stephanie, Windsor, and Annie — all incredible girls who I had the lucky opportunity to meet since our universities reside in the same city! I’m so excited that their site has seen such incredible success and taken off so much since they started it back in 2010. It truly is an incredible resource and writing opportunity for young college women!

Anyways, enough gushing, I just wanted to share the exciting news! Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

xo, Rachel

PS – I really do swear that I’ll have a life update, plus all my favorite photos from post-Macbook death, up soon. Sorting photos & getting everything organized now that I’m back in the States has just been quite the process!

Video proof I jumped out of an airplane!

Slowly but surely I’m sorting through all of my pictures from the last month of my travels so I can get them posted on here, but in the mean time, I was finally able to rewatch and upload my skydiving video!

Embedded from YouTube for your viewing pleasure — proof that I really was crazy enough to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet!