The Prologue: Long Beach, California

I guess this serves as my official announcement: I am moving to Long Beach, California! This past year has been crazy stressful, and my restless soul and indecisive thinking didn't exactly make that any better. Regardless, it's FINALLY happening. Tomorrow, at 6 AM sharp, I will be leaving Ohio by car to head to LA with my favorite person. I can't even believe it. We will be making stops in Kansas City, Denver, and Arizona for the night - and of course, my favorite part, driving on the open road.

I've lived in so many different places within the past year and I've been traveling a lot. Not complaining, of course, but I realized what I was missing. I wanted to be apart of something again. You know? Like a good group of friends, a community of people, a theatre, a job, a fandom, a scene. I can't quite put a word to it..but I've been traveling for so long, physically and emotionally, and I haven't really committed to something in a while.

Because of this, I often feel quite lonely, nostalgic, and attached to the past. I remember little moments and glimpses of people. They say nostalgia makes us remember the past better than it actually was, and that's what a lot of my life has been like lately. But now, I am using that nostalgia as motivation to make more memories.

I have been indecisive about where I wanted to move. (specifically between New York or Los Angeles) And on top of that, it's not exactly easy to move to either city. But I feel blessed to be living in an apartment in Long Beach, considering that's my favorite area of California. I've written enough poetry about New York, and I will be back, but maybe in a few years. I'm ready for Long Beach.

It's quite exhilarating knowing all the things I wanted to do as a little girl I am already doing. In high school, I always thought, "I'll get to all that one day. Maybe in my 30's. Or 50's. I don't know." And here I am, taking the world as my own.

Throughout this road trip, I will be sharing little bits of it all via my blog and instagram. (I'll do my best.) From the music, to the scenery, to the oddities, to the food, to the emotions. I will do my best to showcase that all through my writing and photos.

This is the prologue to my journey. I don't know where it will take me, but I am feeling so very happy about it all. I am living out my philosophies on a daily basis and I couldn't be more proud.

So, with all of that being said, here's some pre-road trip essentials from me.

Lately, I've been obsessed with the Inside Out game for iOS. BUT I CAN'T GET PAST LEVEL 35. I think it's actually impossible unless you buy more gems...but I will find out on this very long road trip. I am also bring my 3DS so I can fix my town in ACNL, obviously. It needs some work. 
It's a ritual for me to always paint my nails before a trip. This shade is "sittin pretty" from essie. I love lavender-esque shades and I thought this symbolized rebirth and summer. Also, thanks to Alicia for this. I c u. 

Road trip food is my FAVORITE! Free hotel breakfasts, fast food, gas station snacks, coffee at inappropriate times, and packing all my favs. For the main course, I decided to make vegan salami sandwiches. Basically, it consists of: vegan salami, kale, chia seeds, yellow pepper and buffalo sauce. YESSSS! Well, for me at least. 

Making mixtapes make me realize how truly random my taste in music is. Now I know why I have such a hard time answering the "What music do you like?" question. Regardless, I'm bringing some CDs I've purchased, AKA every Lana CD ever, my Disney CD, and all of that. I made some new mixtapes featuring my favorite showtunes, a whole lot of Kendrick Lamar, and Panic at the Disco. Gosh, just a bunch of great music. If you wanna see my older mixtapes, click here.

And lastly, some reading material. I purposely didn't read it so I could save it for the road trip. Other than Game Informer, I brought my travel journal. I will be posting little realizations and thoughts that cross my mind via instagram daily. 


So, yeah. That's that. I can't wait to go on this journey and I can't wait to share it with you. Maybe I'll even see you along the way. Always,
Maria Elena

My Favs from Sherry London {& a Giveaway!}

Hey all! So, I've been SUPER busy lately, which is why I haven't been posting that much, but that will change very soon once I get settled into my new apartment. In the meantime, let's talk about fashion, cause I know that's something most of my readers are interested in.

Those dresses up there are pretty cute, right? Those are my favs from Sherry London's collection. Sherry London is a fashion brand that sells dresses on the fancy side. You know, weddings, homecoming, prom, red carpet events. Those kind of events. I compiled my favorite dresses from Sherry London all on the right! As you can see, I am a huge fan of chiffon and mesh. I don't really care if it's a cocktail or an evening dress, chiffon and mesh will do the trick for me!

They're doing a giveaway right now, and you can enter here! (or directly below) Best of luck to you all. XO

Sherry London

Draíocht. {poem}

how naive of me
to believe
the sun was setting for us

how silly of me
to believe
the leaves would finally fall for us

i close my eyes
for the light is too blinding
and i feel the steam on my skin
and i feel my fingers burning off with every keystroke
just as they did before,
when i was nothing but lifeless & heartless.
just as they did before.

my skin was widening & reddening
and i couldn't hide from my pixelated demons.
i couldn't hide from the truth plastered onto bricks in every borough.

it was in those vulnerable moments i realized what i was doing.
i was spilling coffee
and tripping on sidewalks
and bumping into the walls i built for myself.

i was so afraid of you and your sharp edges.

i visit you in my dreams
and you talk to me in songs
each sentence is a bridge taking me closer
to the city that you are.

i knew each ocean would bring you to me
and i would see you on every busy street.

the tourists would stop and stare
at the blue roses growing in the middle
of the sidewalk.

they felt our telepathy
and would catch us in our silhouette dreams.
i kept on blushing
and tripping
and falling
bruising every inch of my skin just for one thrill.

the societal pressure
was falling behind
the beating of my heart
but i couldn't fight it any longer.

you're more than a person
you're an entire city.

do you know?

i'm not going to throw around more or less than three words
i cannot sugar coat something that already has so much flavor.
i can't say much
but we both know.

for it is the draíocht that brought us together.
the childlike wonder and effortless connection
the poetic conversations between just us,
but we knew the stars aligned elsewhere.
(we can't deny it any longer.)

do you know?

my feet are in the sand and my heart resides in each and every ocean,
wavering it's way to you
holding your depth inside of it
but when i look up, i remember why you hated swimming.

and i remembered why i let go of my fear of all that's blue.
i looked in her navy arms and told her to never let me go,
because i couldn't walk on two feet
on crowded streets with you

i'm more afraid of you now than i ever was.

DOPE - A Review

Last night I got the opportunity to see a pre-screening of Dope, a film directed and written by Rick Famuyiwa. You might've seen the poster or perhaps even a trailer, but the film isn't exactly highly promoted. So, what is Dope all about?

Basically, Dope is a coming-of-age, edge-of-your-seat drama with just enough comedy to make it interesting. The protagonist, Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is just a 90's hip hop nerd who lives in "the bottoms" in Inglewood, California and seems to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He has dreams of going to Harvard and making a life for himself...until...him and his friends decide it would be a good idea to go to a drug dealers birthday party to "spice things up" in their normal life. Through a turn of events, Malcolm and his friends have to use their wit and experience to cheat the system and keep their good reputation.

This film was rather refreshing, inspiring, and thought-provoking. Bringing interesting questions to the table, such as, is the world really black and white (racially and metaphorically), or are people more complicated? Does every move you make define you?"

There wasn't one bad performance in this film, and that's an understatement. Every played their role well and truly transported me to Inglewood. My mind was so full of paranoia the entire film to the point where I was literally screaming in the theater, along with the people behind me. Although this is a modern film, the style of fitted tanks, snapbacks, and high waisted pants will transport you to an era of 90's hip hop and an aesthetic of classic Americana California.

It comes out on July 19th and is worth a watch. I give it a 9/10, only because I felt like every time I blinked I missed a huge part of the film. There were an excessive amount of twist and turns, along with some confusion if you don't totally immerse yourself. But when you do immerse yourself, Dope will teach you a lot about society, youth, and yourself.

A Reflection on the Myspace Generation

Myspace may be dead, but people often log into their old accounts to retrieve old photos and discover forgotten teen memories, according to the Wall Street Journal. Over 50 million people still visit the site each month. That’s nothing compared to Facebook’s daily 875 million visitors, but that sure is a lot for a website we thought fell off the Earth in 2008.

Traffic has shown the majority of the visitors come on Thursdays, maybe once or twice a month, to retrieve photos for #TBTs. Ah, I knew I wasn’t the only one! Myspace is a cyber scrapbook.

I can go on and on about how important Myspace is to me, but I want to talk about how it’s important to all of us, no matter how much we want to deny it.

Myspace truly captured an entire generation, even though some are afraid to admit it. Whenever I have a conversation with somebody about Myspace they act like it never happened.
“STOP. Don’t go there. Ew, did I really post that? Why did I wear that much eyeliner?”

Okay, we get it. You’re embarrassed that you teased your hair and took too many flip phone selfies. Regardless of how we looked or how many awkward things we did, I can tell you this: I am proud I got to be apart of the Myspace generation, and I hope you are too.

A generation so raw and so real. If I could still access my old Myspace comments, blogs and messages, I would be unlocking feelings I haven’t felt in a long time. It would be like taking a time machine into the past. It’s not the same feeling I get reading old journals, looking at old photos, or browsing through any other social network. Myspace was real and no one tried to hide behind a facade. People just posted without a filter. We were all kids trying to figure out who we are and that showed. In a sense, it was historical. It captured the authentic essence of teen angst.

Those env2 selfies that you were so excited to post on Myspace.

That’s how Myspace was different. You didn’t have to be family-friendly or politically correct like you have to be on Facebook. If we were feeling some type of way, we posted it. We never held back our feelings. Everyone knew what we were up to. Followers? What’s that? It didn’t matter how many friends you had, but DAMN, it sure did matter how you ranked them. That top 8 meant everything to us. Forget vintage filters and poetic captions, we just needed a classic mirror selfie with some Panic at the Disco lyrics. And sure, you might be thrilled when a ‘potential bae’ likes your instagram photo, but we KNEW shit was about to go down when we got a photo comment with the classic “<3333.”
Scene hair, bitchy comment fights, the excitement you felt when you saw your ‘crush’ was online. That orange symbol with green radiating from it. Don’t you remember that?

Overall, it was nice to have ONE social network for everything instead of 10 for a little bit of everything. It was consistent, it was real, and everyone was active.

Myspace was my cyber scrapbook. Photos, blogs, surveys, music, messages, and comments. Forget about going through my twitter feed. I could care less about retrieving my deactivated facebook account. Go ahead, stalk my instagram feed. I don’t care. You won’t be able to find anything interesting there. But if you logged onto my Myspace, you would know everything about a certain period of my life.

Thing is...we can’t really log onto our old Myspace accounts and retrieve these old memories anymore. Myspace betrayed us. In 2013, when they were experimenting with the site and giving it the revamp, they deleted our old blogs, messages, surveys, and comments. I felt like an entire part of my life was erased. No email. No public service announcement. No press. Nope, not even some kind of heads up. Before our eyes, everything was deleted. I guess they just assumed no one would care.

It comforted me to know that I wasn’t the only one that went on Myspace to retrieve old memories. Yet, over 90% of the people who use Myspace go on it for that exact reason. Therefore, when they deleted all of those cyber memories from the site, the internet was not happy. Many people say Myspace committed suicide on that day. Myspace could’ve lived perhaps another 50 years or so. But instead, they took another route.

I want to see the comments I got on my pictures. I wanna see my emotional blogposts and my brutally honest surveys. I wanna see the status fights I got into. I wanna see the awkward messages between me and my first boyfriend. I want to see all of that. Those were precious memories...and now they are gone. Without my consent. Without anyone’s consent.

Perhaps it was to make the website better. Maybe they thought if they transformed the website, it would make a comeback. But let’s face it, as long as the scene kids lived, Myspace would never die. We would always come back to retrieve these old memories. Now that they aren’t there anymore...we left.

Myspace, thanks for the memories. Even though they weren’t so sweet. I guess I should thank Tom for maintaining you at your peak. But the moment he left you, you started erasing everything. You betrayed us. Maybe one day I’ll forgive you. But until then...I’ll be waiting for you to magically retrieve all of our data. Please. Do it for the scene kids.

Overcoming Insecurity: My Vulnerable Red Face

Insecurity...something we all have at some point in our lives. I'm no longer insecure about my weight. I don't care if I get a few pimples every now and then. I could care less about the fat or lack of fat on my body. I'm over it. Vanity is no longer of interest to me. It takes time to get to that point of complete and utter confidence.

Every person is truly unique and beautiful. However...there's just one insecurity I have that lingers from time to time.

My vulnerable red face. My face is like a canvas, and my emotions are the paint. No matter how hard I try to stop them, they show. 

It's like something you see on Saturday morning cartoons, anime, and Disney films but you rarely see it in real life. Some people may even believe the whole 'face getting red thing' is a myth. That's where I can tell you, you are 100% wrong.

Here's the cycle I go through quite often: I do something. My face gets red. I feel my face getting red so I get nervous and even more embarrassed  My face then gets even more red. The person I am talking to obviously notices but pretends not to. I feel uncomfortable. I leave. I calm down a bit. And I'm back at it.

This has been happening for as long as I remember, and I thought it was something I could grow out of.  Most of the time, I'm unaware of it. Just the other day, I was talking to this 50 year old woman at the front desk of an airport about getting my flight changed. I felt cool about the situation, but then Andrew tells me, "you know your face was bright red that entire time, right?" I can't even tell you how often I've heard that sentence.

In 4th grade, my peers started to notice my face getting red. Boys would tease me about it. The kids in my class would actually say a bunch of things trying to make my face turn red, it was like a competition or something. The even worst part is sometimes my face got red for no reason, causing people to think I felt some type of way. Not always the case.

The years went by and nothing changed. In 8th grade, I remember one of my friends saying, "Wow. You can really tell when you like or don't like someone." We were standing in the lunch line and the expressions and colors on my face would change as each and every person walked by. My face was like some kind of 3D animation for people to observe.

By high school, my breath was caught in my throat every time I tried to say something and it's like my face was getting red with everything I said. I tried to avoid any conversation that would make me uncomfortable. It's like my face was exploding with emotion every time I talked to someone I liked, looked up to, or even someone I was intimidated by. Even if I was with someone I was comfortable around, if they brought up something even a tad awkward, you could see that awkwardness on my face.

This isn't something I expect to fade. It just happens. I don't know why, but it's still going on.

Over the years, I have been teased for it. In a mean way, and in an "aw that's so cute" way. Regardless, it's something I've been insecure about because I like to have a sense of mystery and coolness about me but I turn into an animated Disney character every social situation I'm in.

The thing is: I don't suffer from social anxiety. I'm not shy or nervous around people. Although I'm an introvert, I would say I'm rather comfortable in social situations. But this is just one of those things, you know? Sometimes, I even think about something awkward I did in the past and my face turns bright red, when I'm BY MYSELF. Sometimes, I'll even send a risky text or email, and I'll be sweating and hyperventilating as my face is the color of a tomato. (once again, by myself.)

I've learned it's rare. It's unique. It's something that makes me, me. It's a quirk I have and while it's embarrassing, some people find it cute. I'm slowly learning to love it. Sure, sometimes it makes me look like a babbling idiot. But hey, sometimes it makes me look like a Disney princess or an animated animal sidekick that talks or even an anime or manga character. If I look at myself like a cartoon, it makes me feel better about this plague of emotion on my face.

Maybe it's a blessing. How lucky am I to feel so deeply? How truly blessed I am to have emotions that actually show? It's expressive. I am happy that when I get nervous my stomach ties into a million knots. I am happy that when I'm sad I can barely fake a smile. A lot of people are numb to the world. Maybe you think I'm naive or innocent, but to tell you the truth, I'm just soft. I'm just doing me. Emotions exist for a reason, and society may tell us that we should hide them. I've spent all these years trying to hide my emotions and getting humiliated when they actually show. But I've come to the point where I love this quirk about me.

It's something that makes me a bit more animated, a bit more theatrical, a bit more artistic. If my face gets red around you, know you aren't indifferent to me. It may be because I like you or because I don't like you. But it means I feel emotion towards you, and that's pretty cool. Feelings are pretty cool.

To my fellow awkward red faces, know it's okay. We are rare, but we are in this together. This isn't something that you can hide unless you hide from people and the world. You can try to put makeup on or tan, but it won't stop your face from flushing with color. I hope the gifs included of super cute animated creatures makes you feel a bit better about yourself.

We are animated. 
I'm animated.
And that's pretty cool for a not-so-animated world.

Top Knots & Bows & Pastel Collars. #ootd

Hey lovelies! Yesterday, I did a top knot to my hair. The first time I ever did this was about two years ago and I remember falling in love with it. I felt this sense of vintage cuteness and confidence overwhelm me. A topknot adds purpose to any casual outfit, elegance to any formal outfit, and some zest to any business or work outfit. 

And let me tell you, I looooove adding a bow to my top knot. I use to actually run a small bow company on etsy so I literally have every color and design you can imagine! My style has always been pastel ballerina princess-esque, with a hint of business-menswear, child-like wonder and a hint of "IDGAF, I'm poor and cozy."

All in all, no matter what I wear, I know a topknot with a bow can define my outfit and really leave a mark. The thicker your hair, the better. I don't know why I have so much hair, but it comes in handy when trying out new hairstyles such as this. Thank you, genes.

Yesterday's outfit was: 
  • Black highwaisted pants from Charlotte Russe, 
  • mint green chiffon top with little pearls & a blunt collar. (Lauren Conrad)
  • Red heart bow made by me 
Here are some photos I took showcasing my outfit. Sorry not sorry, but I'm so obsessed with this look. I have an overwhelming amount of chiffon tops and they're quite hard to tuck in. They are thin, wrinkle easily, and are sometimes uncomfortably see-through. However, chiffon tops and high-waisted pants are best friends. Why, you ask? Because you can tie your top to give your outfit a classy, vintage look! Perfect for work. And perfect for the streets, am I right?

New York vs Los Angeles {bittersweet, nostalgic, enchanting}

The age old question. New York or LA. As many of you know, I've spent the past year living bicoastal. By living, I mean living. Forget tourism, forget sitting in the audience watching somebody else's show. I was the starring role, the director and the backstage crew all at once. It was my own show, that everybody yet nobody was watching. The majority of people didn't actually attend the show, they just checked in with people who actually bought tickets. Not because they truly cared, but because they wanted to hear that I failed. But little did those lurkers know, I wasn't living my life for a good resume and a successful list of accolades. I was living my life for genuine connections; for that feeling I get in my soul when doing something I love or meeting someone interesting. And that's really all there is to it.

This past year was everything I ever wanted. It was filled with more culture and experience I ever thought I would get the chance to experience in my entire life. It's like I wasn't just breathing in H20, I was breathing in the sea salt and the sand of LA and I was breathing in the aroma of fresh trash and urine in NYC. Every falafel cart and coffee shop was intoxicating me, bittersweetly, and I couldn't get enough of it. Suddenly, the scent of fresh pine and dying leaves was virtually unappealing and I wanted more of this 'trash glamour' lifestyle. I was willing to make sacrifices and feel pain just to be apart of it. I was willing to work hard. Because through all of the stress and the craziness, every now and then, there's that one moment that makes you feel more alive than ever. I didn't need drugs or caffeine for my senses to be intensified, I just needed to BE in a city. That's all it really took for me to feel that one indescribable feeling we all long for.

Maybe you've been hearing about me from your friends. Maybe you've been checking on me through social media. But nothing is what it seems. I rarely document everything I do online, it's mostly just random glimpses of my life and business, to be quite honest. It may seem like I am living some glamorous life, but it's far from that. I work to travel. I am always writing. I am always doing business. I am always making connections. I am not some privileged white girl using my parents money. My mom did give me $20 bucks once, (ba dum tst) but I want the world to know I do actual work for everything I have. My life has so much depth to it and if you think my life is just what I post on instagram + my blog, you have a lot to learn, my friend.

So, anyways. I attended Marymount Manhattan for a semester while living in New York, and I was shocked and almost felt bad for a lot of my peers. "My parents only give me 600 dollars a month of spending money. UGH!," they would say. I would look straight at the ground and chuckle because I was that flabbergasted. The words were taken right out of my mouth. I guess the reason I felt any sense of empathy for them, is because they will never know how it feels to struggle and go through life 100% independently. (I'm generalizing, I went to school with a lot of awesome individuals.) I've been trying to be independent since I came out of the womb, ask my mother. It's a feeling I thrive off of, but hey, everyones different, right? A lot of my peers were in New York, watching Netflix every night and occasionally seeing a broadway show. Most of them didn't leave their dorm. This also made me rather sad. I was getting up extra early and going to bed extra late. I went to every borough, every neighborhood, every eatery, I really tried to do everything. And that's from the poor girl who while being a full time student, was working AND doing an internship. 

I'm not bragging or fishing for compliments here, it's just I've dealt with so much criticism and gossip in the past year and I want to make it clear. I'm generally a private person, but what the hell. There it is. You guys happy? No, I didn't fail out of college. It was my choice to leave. No, I wasn't a stripper. But not a bad suggestion. No, I wasn't homeless. For crying out loud, you guys are getting creative with your rumors.

The longer I was in New York, I kept on thinking, "Damn, I need to go to LA." When everyone found out I was leaving New York, they acted like it was the end of the road for me. "Well, what's next? Are you gonna move in with your parents? Go back to school? Get a job?" And I told them all what I was going to do. I was going to go to California. No one believed I could do it. Even the ones who were polite about it assumed I wouldn't actually go.

But I did. And it just felt right for this chapter of my life, you know? It was new. It was similar to NYC but also quite the opposite. It was revitalizing and for the first time in a while, I felt like I was apart of something again.

Throughout the past year, I felt this agonizing need to write about my experiences in New York and Los Angeles and compare the two. I've written little blurbs about my experiences and I've posted a few photos every now and then. But what am I actually doing? How do I feel about all of this? What actually happened? This post is supposed to answer those questions. And hey, maybe it doesn't answer your questions. Either stop being so goddamn nosy or just contact me for crying out loud. (ba dum tst part two)

I'm already feeling quite nostalgic and I think there will always be apart of me that is lost. I can't ever chose between LA and NYC. But I can express my feelings, because that's kind of what I do.

I could reference Joan Didion's Goodbye to All That, and poetically and symbolically write about my experience in New York. I could tell you about my lovers and my haters. I could tell you about the late nights and the early mornings. I could even reference Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York," because yes, it has been waiting for me, but dang it drives me crazy. And I cannot forget one of my favorite series of articles by TimeOut: 31 reasons LA kicks New York's ass and 31 reasons New York kicks LA's ass.  But instead, I will just tell you bits and pieces of my experience. The pros and the cons, the humor, the pain and the truth. I will never be able to condense it all into one essay, but it's better than this mysteriousness I've been unknowingly living with.

                         The Pros of Living in Los Angeles

  • They have Disneyland. Disney always wins, and is a huge factor for me. 
  • They also have San Diego Comic Con, plus a whole lot of other cons. Nerd heaven.
  • They offer more spicy food than almost everywhere in the USA. Flamin hot everything. Jalapeno flavored everything. Sriracha flavored everything. I can get used to that!
  • Beaches, forests, mountains, parks. Nature of every kind.
  • I have this weird feeling of freedom and opportunity while in California. Like anything can happen any moment and your "big break" is waiting on you.
  • The weather. It's never too hot, never too cold. Always perfect.
  • You'll actually be able to afford your own apartment. An apartment that is a decent size. Take that, NYC!
  • It's easier to escape. In New York, you have to pay for an uber/taxi, a plane ticket and someone needs to sublet your place for you to just go to Connecticut or something. In LA, you could just go to the beach in 30 minutes.
The Cons of Living in Los Angeles
  • Driving. The drivers here aren't that bad, but the traffic is. You can expect to spend a few hours driving on a daily basis. Plus the gas, insurance and car payments. The struggle has never been realer.
  • Earthquakes! Haha, not really. I mean, they're overdue for a natural disaster so it deserves to be on the con list.
  • You don't get to be in New York. If you know what I mean by this, I appreciate you as a person.
  • Everything is really spread out. Correlating with #1, you will need to drive everywhere. But you know that cool mexican place? That relaxing park with a view of the city? That coffee shop that does the intense latte art? Yeah, they are all miles apart. As TimeOut said, "You can meander happily for an entire day in New York with no idea where you'll end up. In L.A., you'll drive to one cool neighborhood, go into the three or four places they have there, then get into your car and go to another "cool" place. It's too structured, dammit!"
  • PARKING. Why are almost all of the cons relating to driving? But yeah, expect to pay for parking. And not every apartment building offers parking so expect to deal with unrealistic street parking as well.
  • People care about you more here. Some would say this is a pro, but I mean, in New York I can walk around and go anywhere I want without being bothered. Everything is an issue in LA. I'm walking down the street and everyone wants to say hi to me. I go into this restaurant and everyone is either giving me a dirty look because I'm not blonde and rich, checking me out and making me feel uncomfortable or trying to small talk to be polite. Does this make me a terrible person? Call me in 5 years and I'll let you know. 
  • The fear of missing out. This might just be me, but everything is on the East Coast for me. I grew up in Ohio and then moved to New York. Old friends, old jobs, old feelings. You can never truly get closure but sometimes you just have to move on. I know I can always go back, but the fear of missing out is always with me in LA, regardless of all the opportunities ahead of me. 

The Pros of Living in New York
  • You get to be in New York. Next.
  • There are a lot more opportunities here in terms of business and art. You can easily pick up a quick job as a waitress or something. Then you can get an internship, a good job, some quick artistic gigs, whatever. I can't even tell you how many emails I get about being invited to events. There's always events, you know? LA doesn't have as many, and if they do, it will take you too long to get there anyways.
  • You get to be apart of something. Everyone in New York is in this secret club. It's like, sure, it's -20 degrees and we are all depressed and living paycheck to paycheck and breaking out and we're all dying due to intoxicating our bodies with pollution and alcohol, but we're all in this together! Cheers to that!
  • THE SUBWAY! YES. My love for the 456 has no bounds. It's so easy to get around. You can go to every borough within a day with no troubles. Plus, it's so relaxing. I don't mind commuting when on the subway. God bless the subway. Miss u bby.
  • You never run out of places to eat. *pushes glasses up* I once heard a little factoid stating you could eat at a different place everyday in NYC and never eat at the same place twice. Oddly enough, I believe it. There's so much diversity here in terms of food and you don't need to travel to experience it.
  • Coffee. LA keeps on trying to beat NYC in the coffee game but they just can't. Sorry West Coast.
  • It's harder to meet people here (naturally, at least), but when you do, it's genuine and beautiful and real. 
  • This is personal, but when I was younger I held New York in my heart. And then once I got there, and I couldn't really let go of it. No matter how much it sucks, I love it.
The Cons of Living in New York
  • Finding an apartment is really hard here. If you want your own place, you need perfect credit, you need to make 40 times the amount of the rent. You need to find room mates, lower your expectations and deal with selfish tenants and annoying walkups. Believe me, I was apartment hunting here for a while. It was rough, man.
  • The. weather. I really only like autumn in New York. Winter is too cold and summer is too hot. 
  • Grocery shopping doesn't really exist here. Just kidding, it does. But you have to dedicate a lot of time to it. Most people just use seamless, go out to eat, or make pit stops at Duane Reade to buy overpriced chips and ice cream. When I actually wanted to properly go grocery shopping, I had to go all the way up to Harlem, spend hours inside of Target, go all the way back to my place, and then it was already night time. Or, I could go to the local Whole Foods and spend my entire paycheck on a few organic/vegan dishes.
  • You will probably become uglier, inside and out. Although I was walking 5 miles a day and barely eating, I gained 20 pounds in New York. I really don't understand how this happened. And my mental health was bad too, which is obviously more important. It's hard to focus on yourself and have some me time while living in NYC.
  • It's really business heavy. You're always going to need to be moving fast, hustling, and going somewhere. There's a whole lot of work here but not a lot of play. In LA, it's okay to say you're taking things one day at a time or freelancing. People in NYC may give you a dirty look at the thought of that. 
  • At the end of each day, my entire body aches and I can barely gain the energy to make myself dinner. But it's because I was doing something I loved in a city that makes me feel alive. Should this go in the pro or the con section? The world may never know...

To compare LA and NYC, I would say everything TimeOut said is pretty accurate. I still stand by my previous statement, I will never be able to truly choose one. I will never settle down in one city and abandon the other. I will always live this bicoastal life of wanderlust and adventure. There's apart of me in both cities. I left some parts of me with people and some parts of me in places. And deep down, I know that will always be there. There's an urban legend that states when you travel, if you leave apart of you (physical or spiritual) somewhere, you will always come back. I buried things in the sand of Huntington Beach. And I had to leave A LOT of things in New York because nothing would fit in my suitcase. But physicality aside, I know I left a mark on people in both cities. Bittersweet, nostalgic yet enchanting...adjectives that will always follow me around. 

New York and Los Angeles are like separate worlds, separate dimensions that I can teleport to. You know how in Kingdom Hearts Sora travels between the worlds and he gets all sad when he leaves one world to go to another world but he knows he made a difference in those worlds and he knows he can always come back even though he needs to move on? No? Well, that's how I feel. (Sorry, I've been playing a lot of Kingdom Hearts lately while living this boring Ohio life.) 

But maybe Kairi's letter is right. Who knows, "staring a new journey may not be so hard, or maybe it has already begun. There are many worlds - but they share the same sky. One sky - one destiny."

Sometimes I look up at the night sky and it comforts me. Knowing the same sky hugging the California palm trees is hugging the city skyscrapers. Knowing the same moon I am looking at is the same moon you are looking at. In those moments, I feel like that little girl with dreams. I feel so whole, so free, so myself. And when I look up at that moon, no matter what city I am in, I can only hope that you feel the same. Maybe I'm not really saying goodbye to all that, but I am saying hello to all that and more. So here I am, sitting in a coffee shop, realizing the truth as I put it into words: I never have to choose a city, or a job, or a person, or a place. I already chose to be myself and to live an authentic life. Who knows what that means, but for now, I hope you can understand.

Always, Maria Elena

BEA & Book Con 2015 Round Up

As many of you know, I got the chance to attend BEA and Book Con this year! So much happened and I truly don't think I can successfully put it all in a post. But, hey, I can try!

I was really nervous upon entering the Javits Center. I'm all about #datconlife but I heard a lot of bad things about Book Con in the past. This is bound to happen when such a big event is going on, but I really do believe they made a whole lot of improvements from last year.

First, let's talk BEA.

Day 1: 

  • I got my press pass (eeeek!) and waited in line while eating a smuckers. How eventful. 
  • Day 1 was mostly aimlessly wandering the exhibitors hall, making / meeting friends and collecting books.
  • The feeling of excitement was setting in. I felt so blessed to be at a con surrounded by nerdtastic individuals. And I was back in NYC, YESSSS.

Day 2: 

  • Met Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York. He was a down-to-earth guy and we discussed what he's been doing while working with schools. 
  • Got an excerpt of Kunal Nayyar's new memoir. His writing was really witty and I never knew he had such an adventurous story of how he got into acting and theatre. Can't wait to read the whole thing!
  • Met one of my favorite actresses Julianne Moore. We actually talked for a good few minutes about the art of acting which was quite exciting for me! Loooove Julianne. 
Day 3:
  • Was one of the first people in the original, unofficial, and later ignored Mindy Kaling line. People were waiting in advanced but Penguin was telling people not to line up so early. Obviously, no one listened. Penguin ignored the actual organized line of people so when the real line started, it was a literal rampage of people. Oh gosh.
  • I got to meet Mindy and we talked fashion, obviously. I told her I'm expected Mindy for Macys within the next 10 years. Mark my words, it's coming.

Now, let's talk Book Con! I only went to Book Con on Saturday considering Sunday was basically just Khloe Kardashian and a bunch of random youtubers I never heard of. So, let's talk about Saturday.

  • I just found out about the wristband policy the day before. Sounds good on paper, was not so good in real life.
  • Events were at capacity way too early. No one should have to wake up at 4 AM just to see B.J. Novak speak. 
  • The crowd at Book Con was very fangirly. A lot of preteens and teenage girls who are obsessed with tumblr culture, youtubers and John Green. I was literally shocked at how people were waiting around just to see John Green speak. He goes to several cons a year, tours all over the world, and does signings. I find him to be a rather accessible individual and have met him several times. 
  • I got to take part of the "literary tattoo chain!" It's temporary, don't worry. Litographs is a really great company and I'm excited to see their future!
  • My favorite panel was the Girl Online / Girl IRL panel. It was great to see other girl writers getting it out there and I could totally relate to what they had to say. A future post dedicated to that panel is coming up. Speaking to Tavi again was awesome too. Love that girl. 
  • Book Con was AWESOME, but it didn't have that con feel to me. I don't know what it was, but it just seemed like a money-making scheme with a whole lot of disorganization. 
  • Book Con had it's ups and downs, but it is a pretty affordable con. You really have to experience it to get the most out of it. Next year I hear it's in Chicago. Will you be going?

So, You Want to Pay for College..

In high school, we learn the pythagorean theorem and detailed information about Henry VIII's wives. We learn all about how to write a paper in MLA and APA format, and even how do use parenthetical citations. But when it comes to finances? We learn very little to none. I even took a non-required personal finance class in high school and I know I still have a lot to learn about the world of finance.

 So what does one do when wanting to go to college with very little knowledge about actually paying for it? College is expensive and the last thing anyone would want to do is make a financial mistake that could ruin them in the long run. That's where College Ave comes in. They are a customer-service friendly online marketplace and will help you pay off your student loans without total confusion.

Ask questions, get competitive rates, and go through your repayment options. And yes, it's actually all in english! Not "only-finance-majors-can-understand-what-this-means" language. So, you won't have to call your mom or spend hours on to pay off your student loans. It's really that simple.

A recent 2015 study stated that 81 percent of students are aware of the cost of college but lack the knowledge to pay for it. When it comes down to it, our generation is quite educated and aware about their budget. However, there are very few helpful resources for us. College Ave Student Loans comes in hand. So, yeah. No surprises. No craziness. It's just helpful. You can apply within minutes!

College Ave will actually be teaming up with Chegg for an instagram contest. You can win a 5,000 scholarship, textbook credit or other prices. Gosh, isn't social media awesome? Check out the details here. Thank you to College Ave Student Loans and Her Campus for partnering with me on this post!