Well, the time has come dear friends for me to end my adventures in city bus-ness. After exactly 779 days, sponsorships from four different car manufacturers, two cab companies, and one instance of slut shaming via the automotive industry I am finally back in my vehicle and finally ready for the next chapter. I knew that I had a wild story with the last two years but I had NO idea that my car had one as well!!! Dudes, someone was LIVING in my vehicle and even had some sort of entertainment system set up.
I started this website on November 3, 2009 and by May of 2010 I hit a crossroad. I knew this website and social media in general made me INSANELY happy, but I had no idea how to actually turn anything that I was doing into a business. Instead of being capitalistic I discovered that I had my very basic needs currently met and that was all that was going to have to matter.
Earlier in 2010 I was named one of the Ford Fiesta Movement chapter 2 agents. Ford had given us (I repped 50% of team LA) a car, gas card, and tech toys. I boycotted the tech sch-tuff for more time with the car.
I gave up my everything I owned in my apartment that May and moved into the Fiesta. I slept down by Lincoln and Rose in Venice in the koi fish candy apple red car, and kept my beetle inside the garage of my old apartment. I only had to sleep in the Fiesta for about two weeks before my unexpected couch surfing adventure began.
At the time, I had three parking tickets on my beetle (you get parking tickets like hookers get herpes round these parts) but because I still had Florida plates on the vehicle, they had yet to boot it.
<tangent> I commercial modeled for a hot second in Florida back in 2009. Look ma, pretty pictures!
I had no idea, at the time, that DMVs didn't communicate to each other regarding parking tickets, but either way it all worked in my favor.
One of the first couches I crashed on was my buddy Kristie. She and I met through a casting we were holding for the Fiesta Movement and in exchange for me sleeping at her pad, I let her use my car.
Since I couldn't afford gas, or insurance it didn't matter to me anyway.
Low and behold, she then racked up two parking tickets.
Because we were both dead broke at the time (Kristie a little less broke), neither of us could pay it off.
The tickets just sat there (total count: 5) as I then left my car in various friend's garages at any given time.
I traveled hardcore couch surfing until January of that year when I was staying on a couch in Hollywood. My new buddy (I only stayed with people connected to the site, never old friends or family) had an extra parking space in his garage and he offered for me to leave my car there.
SWEET!!! I thought.
I then bopped around a bit more (but the car remained stationary) until May of 2011 when I got my current corporate sponsored apartment.
I had at that point racked up going to 12 states with only $10 to my name. I took that year and without knowing it managed to measure my influence through products I enjoyed that companies or people had sent me. Now that I had figures to tell these companies I was able to ask for monetary compensation in addition to product. (Hence how I got a corporate sponsored apartment.)
All of 2011 and the first half of 2012 was spent teetering on the edge of survival. I BELIEVED so through and through in this corporate sponsored existence, and this very eye opening path it was leading me down. I still couldn't see the end of the road to financial abundance but I just let it all go basking in this surreal happiness that I felt for the first time in my life.
Day after day and meeting after meeting I would have to take the city bus. It never bothered me, since again, I was just doing what I loved, but there were a handful of times that things got dicey.
By the end of last year, I decided it was shit or get off the pot time. This site was about to turn 3 and I either had to raise some money to take a next step, or I had to REALLY start roiding my sponsorships.
I need to picture abundance, I would say to myself over and over. I need to not be afraid that someone isn't going to pay an invoice or a sponsorship won't come to fruition. I need to just keep following my bliss and manifest, manifest, manifest.
Morning after morning, I would manifest just that.
I am going to never have to worry about money again, I reassured myself in meditation.
Even on my morning jog, I would listen to Jermaine Dupri and Jay-z's "Money ain't a thang" ...
If I could manifest this entire corporate sponsored existence and brand myself why couldn't I do it with money too?
By the end of last year things started to pick up. I was even able to purchase Christmas gifts for my family for the first time in two years ...
That felt AMAZING, btw!!!
Then this year, I was blessed with an opportunity to advise a start up and help build out their digital team. Since they are going to need so much help getting off the ground, it was a no brainer to ask for not just rev share but an actual salary.
I now had that check in addition to the money I was making from my sponsorships.
Then, in the middle of January I created a series of goals for myself to be able to execute. I called it a "dating detox" but what it really was was a self imposed kick in the ass and a chance to Miyagi the shiznat out of my life and finally start to get things together.
I bitch and moan on a weekly basis that I haven't found a guy that I liked, but was I the representation of what I was looking for?
Was I healthy? Taking care of myself emotionally, financially ... etc.?
The answer was no, so I then gave myself a series of next doable actions.
On the list, was my car.
I had talked about it over and over to people in my life saying that one day I was going to get it back, but the honest truth about it was that I was too scared.
As is, I came close to losing my apartment once (due to an invoice being SUPER late) so adding additional financial pressure to my existence wasn't something I was looking forward to.
I reminded myself over and over though that you can't see that next step until you just take it. I don't have to worry about coming up with the car insurance, and gas bill every month - my only job is to walk into my own state of bliss and allow the rest to just arrive.
It took me a couple of extra days outside of the detox, but I was able to hustle some extra sponsorships enabling me to pay off all my parking tickets. (The final total I paid was $691)
Up next was actually getting the car back in my possession.
I knew it wasn't going to start because it had been idle for those two years, but I wasn't sure how much the damage was going to be.
I had allocated 1K in my very limited budget for everything from start to finish to be done.
First up, was asking my friend if I could come by to get the car.
Not a problem, he said!
Great!! I'll be there Monday, (yesterday) I reassured.
Sunday night I then got online and placed an order for AAA membership. See, AAA tows your car for you up to 7 miles. My friend's place coincidentally happened to be 7.1 miles away from my mechanic in West LA.
That's just creepy, I thought, but clearly meant to be.
Yesterday, I sweet talked my way into my friend's garage (as he wasn't answering his phone) by one of his neighbors.
I approached my car and took a deep breath. Having been two years since I saw my little coche, I wasn't sure what to expect.
As I walked closer, I could clearly see the left back paneled window was busted out.
FFUUUCCKKK, I said outloud.
I then got a little closer and saw a plastic Target bag in it's place.
WTF?! I thought.
I then looked down into the window crevice and noticed that the window wasn't broken, it was merely pushed down.
I unlocked the door as I opened up the vehicle.
Inside the entire back seat was torn apart in addition to there being about 15-20 take out bags.
These. people. went. to. town.
I laughed as I investigated the front seat noticing they had found old headshots of mine, and they were littered all over the place as if on display.
Ewe so gross, I thought not wanting to know what they were doing with them.
My friend then came down moments later with a trash bag and helped me clean up the mess.
I hadn't been down here for a year, he said. Apparently they were living in my car too. (He was also in a similar situation with parking tickets.)
They were super considerate, I said. They pushed the window panel all the way down, and didn't just smash it. It was smart for them too to put the plastic bag over it for shelter. All of the windows are tinted so they could have gone unnoticed for quite some time.
I was then immediately struck with this feeling of gratitude. I CHOSE to live in a car and not have a home for a year in launching my business, but for these people it was SURVIVAL.
Say what you will about people that are homeless (oh they're all crazy, drug addicted, yada yada), but you NEVER know what someone else has gone through and you NEVER know what is TRULY going on in someone's life.
As I grabbed the last of the bags and a single glove, I said a small prayer for whoever lived in here.
I don't know who you are (nor do I care to ever know) but I am grateful you didn't cause any damage, and I am even MORE grateful to have been able to help out someone who clearly needed shelter.
Anytime I needed anything in the year that I didn't have a home, the universe and social media in particular manifested it for me. To have not even known I was also paying back that karma at the same time by providing shelter for someone else sent me OVER.THE.MOON.
So awesome, I thought as I stood up from the back of the car.
A few moments later AAA arrived carrying the crankiest human being on the planet.
He was looking for any excuse to not have to tow my vehicle and tried RELENTLESSLY to get the thing to start.
After a few tries, to my surprise, he actually succeeded.
Drive this now, he said.
Dude, I do NOT feel safe driving this thing, I said back with force. It's sat here for a year (I underestimated =) and I don't want to get into an accident. It needs a lot of work, I know it.
He then got behind the wheel of my car, and drove it outside.
I held my breath watching him drive as I FRREEEAKKKEEEEDDD worrying about the goo that was in the engine, and if the tires even had enough pressure.
He then brought the car outside, and began to set it up on the tow truck.
I laughed tweeting and posting on Facebook just HOW dirty my car was ...
As he was getting ready to finally clip the vehicle in, he noticed the back plate.
This expired in 2010, he said.
I know, I replied back. I haven't been driving it since I've been traveling.
Yeah but, he said, I can't tow a car that isn't currently registered.
What do you mean? I asked as my friend and I looked at each other funny.
I can't tow a vehicle that isn't currently registered he said again flustered.
He then grabbed his phone from the cab.
You should just leave it here in the street laughed my friend hoping it would get towed away for free anyway.
I laughed too, but remained slightly nervous that I wasn't going to be able to talk my way out of this.
A few minutes later, the driver returned and said, I can take it as long as you are responsible for the ticket.
It's exactly 7 miles away, I reassured. I promise nothing will happen.
Fine, he said tossing up his arms admitting defeat.
I then climbed in the cab with the driver as he finished up the set up.
My little baby was lifted up from the ground as I held my breath.
Please don't fall, please don't fall.
I then high fived my friend thanking him for watching my car.
Congratulations, he said.
Why thank you, I said with a wink and a bye.
The driver got in moments later and after a few minutes debating between google maps or navigation, we finally got the answer on our exact route.
Where are you from? I asked the driver.
Iran, he said back without emotion.
Oh, cool! I said. I hear it's very beautiful over there.
Yes, he said extremely curt.
I turned to my right staring out the window realizing I was not going to be able to make a new friend on this trip.
A few more awkward moments later, I asked if we could turn on the radio.
Yes, he said stern. You do it.
I then turned on his Sirius radio, and put on 90s on 9 (my fav channel).
First song up was Motown Philly by BoyztoMen ...
I started nodding my head to the beat while quietly staring out the window.
The music gets louder as I turn and realize the cranky driver is actually a fan of the track.
YOU like BoyztoMen? I ask.
Yes!!! He says as he starts moving his shoulders.
This. Is. Amazing. I said reaching for my phone and tweeting out what I was seeing.
Two songs later, we arrived at the mechanic as I attempted to high five my new friend.
I turned and thanked him for the ride as he immediately got out and told me to do so as well.
Alrite, I thought. I guess we aren't besties.
My mechanic then helped get the vehicle down as they examined the damage.
Do you know about how much it is going to be? I asked. (I've been going to these guys for 6 years, btw and they are AWESOME!!!)
Also, I made sure I wore no make up and sweats to have the whole "poor college kid" look. I knew these guys were relatively honest but you never know how greedy people can be after a recession.
I'll call you in an hour, said the mechanic. Do you have a ride?
I'm fine, I said. I'm going to go for a walk.
Having spent time living in that area when I first moved to LA, I knew where there was a Starbucks and a shady spot where I could grab a charge.
About 15 minutes, and a short cut later I found myself staring at a sign reading $50,000 reward.
I got closer to the pole it rested on.
WANTED: Information leading to arrest for murder.
Come to find out, a few days into the year a young man had been shot dead on Sawtelle Blvd. He had been walking with a friend and two men approached him asking where he was from before he was unexpectedly shot dead. The family wanted answers and thus a reward was now being offered.
I took a few steps back from the pole as I continued on my journey.
People tell me over and over that what I did was absolutely insane and I could have died, but NOT ONCE did I ever think of it like that.
Everything felt so strategic, I thought. But I guess they were right, it was kinda nuts.
Fortunately there were only two instances that were truly scary; once was when I got drugged at a bar, and the other when I got hit in the head with a brick. Hilarious, btw, that those two events happened AFTER I got a home. Never once did I even come CLOSE to danger during the couch surfing adventures.
Whoever knows when it is going to be your time. This poor dear was just walking with a friend and all of the sudden his life was cut short. Who would have ever considered something like that to be "risky?"
All that I know is that when it is my time it will be my time. In the MEANtime however, I have completely committed myself to walking in bliss and being adamant about strictly following my passion.
I continued to walk down the street a little more, and quickly realized that I knew the area.
Holy crap, I thought. I forgot this short cut lead me to Romeo's house.
I smiled as I walked a little closer to his old apartment building.
I then stood in his driveway.
A thousand smiles were had here, I thought, and the first time I loved was born here.
I spent about 5 minutes reminiscing about everything that had been and everything that was going to be. The last time I was here I was a naive girl that had just driven cross country for three days with a couple hundred dollars to her name, and an apartment found on craigslist. Since that time, I have not only discovered myself but successfully built a name for myself. I quickly realized this was a pronounced full circle moment.
How beautiful, I thought.
I then said my peace to the naive girl as I continued my adventure onto Starbucks.
An hour later, I got a call from the mechanic that everything was going to be about $600.
Wow, I thought. That's it?
Yeah, he said. Your back windows though are both broken. The motor went out for both of them, and while the one is jammed down the best we can do is help you put it back up. You're going to have to take care of that separately, he said.
Not a problem!! I said back. As long as I can actually drive the car, I can figure out the rest later.
Great, he said. Pick up the car tomorrow.
Thank you, I said hanging up the phone.
I then called my insurance agent, and got a great quote on a policy in addition to doing research to see what I would need to register my car in California. Because it is fully paid off I have the title, but unfortunately it was at my parent's house for safe keeping and not currently in my possession.
I'll have to deal, I thought.
This morning, after a breakfast meeting, I got a call from the mechanic letting me know the car was ready. I then got on the city bus for the last time strictly for necessity purposes, and laughed at all of the adventures I have had.
I learned so many amazing life lessons, I thought.
From out crazying the crazies, to learning that EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. there are BEAUTIFUL random acts of kindness witnessed among bus folk ... I had garnered in the last 2 years a greater appreciation for the people of Los Angeles.
I am so grateful for this life experience, I thought. I can now CONFIDENTLY deal with anything that gets thrown at me as I have had to do some gnarly shit to survive some late night bus rides. I'm the victor, I thought, not the victim.
About an hour later I arrived at the mechanic and I thanked him for the work done on my car. I'll see you soon, I said, but hopefully not TOO soon. =)
I then got in my car and went to the DMV. Everything is now fully registered (though I have to get the title before the end of the month so I can collect the plates), and my car is not only safe to drive but legal.
It was INCREDIBLE today to know that I have worked SO HARD for this opportunity and never again will I take for granted having a car, and the flexibility it provides.
I may not know if I am going to continue to be able to afford keeping it, but I know that isn't any of my concern. My only job in life is to keep leaping and keep dreaming bigger. This is going to be a year of abundance, and not just financially ... but emotionally.
I deserved this, I said to myself as I sat in my car once again. I really, really deserved this.
Now, onto the next goal. Namaste.
Special thanks: To all sponsors past and present, Bryce for watching the car, and each and every one of you. Thanks for letting me live out my passion!! xx