what is it jess

Welcome to 2015

2014 is gone. I had a really fantastic Christmas break (it went by waaay too fast) and we're into a new year. Lots of good movies come out this year, which is pretty exciting. I have plans for a good year, like going to California and getting back into school, which is also something to look forward to, if I can stop stressing about everything.

Also, in a couple days it'll be mine and Christian's two year anniversary. Crazy how time flies. <3

And, as everyone does, I've made a couple resolutions — hopefully ones I can keep up. Basically some things that I've been wanting to do, but since it's the new year and these are things that mean a lot to me, I figured it might be a nice fresh start for the year. They're mostly resolutions that everyone makes at the end of the year and give up over the span of a couple weeks, but they're ones I want to keep doing for longer than 2015.

  • I had given little thought to my calorie intake as of late, because my thoughts were on other things. I've been drinking lattes, sometimes two or three a day, eating way more than I should, taking in a lot of sugar from my marathon teas, enjoying lots of burgers and pizza and cookies and I'm very not happy with how I look currently. I'm starting back on eating healthier to feel better. I also got a perfect tea mug from Davids Tea for Christmas, so I'm expanding my tea tastes! Ones without milk or sugar.
  • I'd stopped going to the gym before our road trip this summer, which I think also spawned the eating thing. I want to go back, and be consistent about it. I loved how I felt while I was going and almost getting up to my body weight in lifting things. I'm starting Monday!
  • I want to start writing again. I feel it's an integral part fo me, something I've been doing for a lot of years sometimes as a coping mechanism and also as a form of funneling my creativity into something. I've been wanting to get back into it for a while, I just needed to understand that it doesn't even have to be good writing, I just have to write every day. Which I am trying to do.

Simple things. Ones that will make a big difference in my general well-being and feel goods and longevity. Also I'm excited to share pictures when I finally get visible abs.

I rang in the new year with my bestest friends. I dressed up and was a pretty girl. We played beer pong, with random-made teams (we also made signs for them), talked about our year and favourite memories and resolutions and even had a snack counter. We went and saw the fireworks at parade square to ring in 2015.

To 2015! May it be a better year than last for everyone.

posted by Jessica Shortt

December Again

It's that time of year again, the apparently most wonderful time of the year. Christmas has always been a weird holiday for me.

The past month has been interesting, for lack of a better word. The job I was excited about going into, being the designer and web developer started spiralling downwards. I found out I wasn't the only unhappy one at my work and it ended with the entire development team giving their two weeks on one phone call. One and a half days into my two weeks she dismissed me. I've been looking for freelance work and keep being told I'm not "experienced enough" or "given my education...", I keep losing jobs. I'm also trying to get back to school and pay off my summer semester because student loans won't help me out and my computer died and it would cost more than the computer was worth to fix it and I had to get a new one it's just been a stressful month where I'm eating more than I should because I just want something to do with my hands and face. I've also been marathon drinking tea again where I had stopped for a while. Not even good tea, orange pekoe with a lot of brown sugar and milk. I'm talking like, six cups a day mostly for the sugar.

I picked up crocheting again after a really long hiatus, making a couple of cute little dolls (called amigurumis), including an octopus and a duck (which I've yet to finish). I made myself a hat, a scarf and some other odd things including a hat for Christian, trying to get good at it. It's very comforting in its monotony.


I had started making myself a blanket when Faren asked me to make a couple more amigurumis. Ironman, Batman, Superman and Spiderman for her cousin for Christmas. They turned out okay and I marathoned Pretty Little Liars while I did, but ended up staying up the entire night before I left Halifax finishing it. By 9AM, nothing felt like reality anymore and I was dizzy. Three of my fingers are still actually pretty numb and dry and peeling and I have no urge to crochet again anytime soon. I made the crocheted things including the bodies and arms and legs and capes/ears for Batman and let Faren go nuts with constructing them, mostly because I ran out of time, but also so she could say she made them! It was a lot of trial and error, and some are different shapes (see silly looking Ironman), but I learned a lot and did all of them without a pattern!

amigurumi dolls

But this Christmas, I wasn't really looking forward to anything, in fact, I was vehemently against getting into the holiday spirit because I was a little scared of what trying to enjoy it may bring, but Christian and his family invited me home with them and these days have been some of the most relaxing and stress-free days I've had in a really long time, it feels really fantastic. I can't believe Christmas came so quickly though. But I don't have to spend three weeks away from Christian!

Today Christian and I went for a walk in his hometown to a cafe and had breakfast and special eggnog lattes that looked like this:

eggnog latte

Tonight we started a puzzle and watched a movie and had ice cream in our jammies with Christian's family and it was really awesome. So I guess I can wish you all happy holidays!

posted by Jessica Shortt

Happy Birthday WIIJ!

One year ago today, I purchased the domain for whatisitjess.com, not knowing exactly what I wanted. After writing down possible names for a blog, I decided to purchase this one "just in case someone else bought it before me" and now I'm stuck with it. I've even thought about rebranding, coming up with a cooler name, to no avail. Christian says the name is fine and I guess at this point, it is. What is it, Jess? I still don't know if I know.

The last year has been full of firsts and fun and flying and all that good stuff. From Toronto back to Halifax and down to California. I picked up crocheting, forgot about it and picked it back up again, went to an IKEA for the first time, experienced the coldest winter Toronto has had in years, saw two different red pandas, didn't get a job at Apple after lots of interviewing, couldn't go back to school for a semester, worked, had a lot of stress but also a lot of happiness, I also went on an epic roadtrip and saw so many things on my bucket list. It's been something, one of the best years of my life and I can't imagine it any other way. I like having this blog because (hi mom) I get to look back on it and read through it and remember, I'm excited for what the next year will bring and I'm going to continue documenting it and having fun. Wait and see what is going to happen next. :)

I also know I haven't been posting much lately, but that's because nothing's reeeally been happening. And my computer died and I had to get a new one, and I lost all the files for this blog. And actually nothing's been happening. But I'm working on it, stick around pls.


posted by Jessica Shortt

A Spooky LazyTown Halloween Post

As many of you know, Halloween happens to be my favorite holiday. Well, I'm not actually sure if it's a holiday, but it's my favorite event of the year, even better than my birthday or Christmas. The past couple of years I've been trying to have the most fun with it I can by making my own costumes, which is a blast.

I may be compensating for when it really mattered as a kid to dress up. I kind of copped out. When I started going trick or treating with my high school friends, I just was way toooooo cool to spend time on a costume (they most likely would have made fun of me for actually trying on a costume anyway). One year I went out as Captain Underpants by wearing pyjama shorts and a red cape. It was sad, and I really don't care to look back on it.

I mean, I don't even care about the candy. It's all about dressing up and having fun. Two years ago I made a Harley Quinn costume completely from scratch, buying the material and sewing it together. By hand. Maybe soon I'll get a sewing machine and I can do better because I know I could have done better with that one if it wasn't all hand sewing labour.

Last year was kind of disappointing because I dressed up as Kim Possible and missed the fun and no one seemed interested in doing Halloween. Christian and I tried going to the Halloween geek beer but showed up late and couldn't get in, so we just went to get gelato and went home and I took off my costume and cried a little.

This year for whatever reason I got it in my head that I wanted to be the girl from lazy town after becoming obsessed with this song.

I'm not even sure why. I usually go for redheaded characters like Poison Ivy or Anna. I was still excited this year because everyone was in the house and also excited about dressing up. But I was a real adult and working this year, I was a little scared of my day being ruined. I was thinking I got off at maybe five or six, got home and dressed up way too late for my liking because it seems everyone at my work hates Halloween. Not fun. Who hates Halloween?

The company I work for is launching in Toronto soon and half of our office is gone there, we had to finish a page starting a couple Fridays ago and if it was perfect by the following Monday, we were promised Halloween off. We managed to finish it, I stayed until seven working on it and we managed to pull it off by Saturday. Halloween off!! I was so excited that I just get to be in my costume all day and loving life and sitting around and sleeping in and being ready for the party to follow.

When I woke up at noon on Friday with Christian, he asked if I wanted to go get breakfast at our new favourite breakfast place. It's on Hollis street and it's called PG Cafe. They do all day breakfast and it's so cheap and so good and it's local!! Would suggest for anyone wanting to try new restaurant options because the owners are really nice and everything.

The previous evening, Halloween eve, Christian and I went to find a pumpkin to carve, because it's one of our favourite parts of the Halloween holiday season. It seems we waited too long to find something to carve and the three stores we tried to get a pumpkin from had sold out. People get crazy about pumpkins.

I had a meeting to go to late afternoon on Halloween day, so I wasn't able to get dressed up until around six. But when I did, boy did I ever. Faren so graciously did my makeup for me, and we even tried to put fake eyelashes on me. That didn't work out. But my makeup looked pretty rad anyway.

So, my costume was a while in the making. I wanted to start with a base white dress and dye and then paint it to my liking. I ordered a cheap dress off the forever 21 website, because finding anything in the store is a nightmare. Then I ended up sending it to the wrong address and by the time they opened so I could call them, they said they were already printing off shipping labels so I couldn't change the address. I don't see how it would be so hard to do something like that. So I had to cancel that order. I ended up making my own dress out of fabric I had bought last year for making my own duvet and then was chosen for curtains. Ah well, I got to be creative. It then took forever to paint and glue and cut out extra fabric and make it look like an actual dress and also like the girl from Lazytown's dress. By the time Thursday night rolled around, I was so tired of looking at it that I just wanted Halloween to be there already so I could stop looking at it and other people had to instead of me.

We had a dance party with fun Halloween songs and all the current popular songs about butts and stuffed our faces with fun-sized candy bars and chips and pizza. We got 4 whole kids to our door in one group, so a lot of candy was left for us to eat. I was hoping for more kids. We got more last year when we weren't prepared and we didn't decorate the outside of our house. This year we covered the front step and outside bush with spider webs and caution tape. Maybe it looked too much like an abandoned house.

No one anywhere we went seemed to recognize Christian's costume, which was unfortunate because I think it was good. Can you guess what he was?

We went to the Halloween geek beer held at the CS building at Dal to show our costumes off, and most people were dressed up there. My favourite costume of the people I didn't know was a girl dressed up as a pineapple. We stayed long enough to hear the results of the costume contest, which unfortunately none of us won. I don't see how, because we all had pretty rad costumes. I think it was rigged. A guy who had a beer box on his head and called himself Captain Nova Scotia won first place. So we left and returned home to play sociables and drink Halloween punch.

I already have my costume for next year picked out. It's going to take a bit of work, so I'm starting on it now. I'm really excited and I can't believe that it's so far away right now. We need a Summerween or something.

posted by Jessica Shortt

Our last two days in California 2014

We decided that we weren't going to get to Las Vegas this trip, but there's always the next summer and that means we can add in the Grand Canyon, a true night in Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam (plans already!). That's completely fine though, we got to relax on our last full day in California. We started it off by going to Starbucks and having delicious egg and bacon sandwiches and iced coffee.

We were eager to go find a beach and spend the day relaxing on the sand. We went to get buckets and ice for our ice bucket challenge that we had gotten challenged to days before. It took us much longer than it should have to gather up the things we needed to do the actual challenge, we went to a dollar tree and didn't find anything, so we went to Walmart, which was a really far drive away.

An hour and a half later we did end up near the beach. Finding parking was really really hard. It seemed everyone had the same idea we did because finding parking was a nightmare. We circled around roads, parking lots, got our parking space stolen a couple times and finally found a parking space another half hour later. Then as we were getting ready, we had a steady stream of people asking us if we were leaving or just getting there.

We were at Mission beach, one of the top beaches in Google lists of top beaches in San Diego. There was a bay part that was really nice, and a lot of people had brought giant tents and were pretty much having day parties with barbeques and playing volleyball and playing in the sand. We wanted better. We found the boardwalk somehow, found some digging tools and then tried to record a video.

A nice guy walking by started talking to us. Probably just being nice but ended up recording our video for us and introducing us in it. That was pretty cool of him to do because getting it set up was much longer than I might have been comfortable staying and doing with two Canadian strangers. We dumped icy seawater over our heads, and getting such salty water in your eyes is not a good feeling. Not at all.

That was over with and we were excited about playing in the sand, so we found ourselves a spot and started digging. As you know Christian likes to dig and jabbed at me for not helping him last time, so we started digging deep and piling it on in the center.

The sand here is so malleable and great to build castles with, I wish we had've stumbled upon a sand castle building contest because that would have been fun. After our sand castle was good enough, we started making things into it.

Oh, and of course we had a little helper. Kids love sand castles apparently. She was a bit more of a hinderance than a help, cracking stuff and being a little too harsh and the dad was a little weird. But eventually she got the idea to be careful and did "pat pat" and patted the sand down where it was cracking.

Between hour four and five it really started looking like something, like a real sand castle. My first super hands on one. We didn't even really use buckets, we only used shovels to dig. And it was deeeeep.

At the end it turned out really nice, we were really proud of it and people were coming by and complimenting us about it. You can see the boardwalk in the background. It was a pretty great place. Even though we spent the day digging and sculpting, it was really relaxing, and a nice way to wind down after the hectic week and all the walking around.

It was really hard to leave such work, to walk away from it to let some kid destroy it. But we managed to. In the six hours we actually were at the beach, about four people lost their children and the lifeguards made an announcement. We had a woman yell at us for not looking harder for her child.

We were covered in sand, well I was from head to toe. Christian less. We found a shower, changed and headed out to eat some supper. We found an In-N-Out close and each got two burgers and shared a fries. Just like the last couple of times we had been to the restaurant, we ordered a bunch of burgers to eat because we were going to miss it so much. Damn you In-N-Out for only being in California.

We decided to drive as far as we could that night, backtracking on the fastest highway back. We made it to LA before I couldn't drive anymore and we ended up staying in a pretty dingy motel. The one time we didn't get lucky with the Expedia app, which had served us well on the trip.

We woke up early and spent the next day driving almost entirely. I saw a tumbleweed and the highway was mostly straight and we didn't get back service for a really long time. The speed limit was above average so that felt a lot better. We even greeted a motorcycle on the highway.

We made it back to San Francisco, taking the Bay Bridge in. Traffic was bumper to bumper and not moving very fast at all. Waze keept recalculating because of the build-up, I'm not actually sure why because it was nowhere near rush hour time. But what should have taken five minutes to get on the bridge actually took half an hour.

In the midst of it, Waze told us to take this route where we had to cut through traffic but the sign said only buses and carpools. Well, we were two people and Christian urged me to trust in Waze. We seemed to bypass both the traffic and the toll entirely, which was weird and felt wrong but all of a sudden we were on the Bay Bridge and on our way into San Francisco.

I dropped Christian off at the San Francisco airport and went to find a gas station so I could fill up the car. I had seven miles left on it by the time I did find one and I had to withdraw money to pay for it and I had to use the bathroom so bad and it was weird being alone after the week entirely spent with Christian. I filled it up and drove to San Jose Airport to return the car and get to my flight.

I got the car back on time and found the place I was supposed to go and luckily for me my flight was arriving early. I boarded my plane to go back to LA where I was just that morning, erasing all the efforts I had made today driving to San Francisco.

Christian and I met in Washington and flew back into Halifax together. We struggled with the Immigration form, accidentally checking the commercial goods box when we didn't actually mean to. We got through okay and didn't have our luggage searched.

posted by Jessica Shortt

San Diego Zoo & More Red Pandas

We had found a place late that night that promised a loft with a view of the stars while we slept. The guy had "upgraded" us apparently, and I say that in definitive quotations. It was a very comfortable mattress, and we had a decent sleep, but I woke up and stepped down on the floor and ants carried me to the bathroom. I'm talking like, the floor was covered in ants crawling around and they started making their way up the bed. We didn't stay very long and packed up, shaking things off and got out of there without talking to anyone who was staying or living in the house.

We packed the car, getting some clean clothes and pushing things back in the trunk and went to get breakfast at a place we found on Yelp. We drove down the road, got on the highway, down some more roads and started up a really big hill. I guess this was the first time I had looked in my rear-view mirror and discovered I couldn't see through it.

gasp I think the trunk's open.

So, if you know Christian, which I'm going to assume you don't, but if you did you'd know he's not the best packer in the world. By that I mean, he waits a little bit until last minute. I mean I suppose we had been living out of our suitcases. Our trunk was filled with clothes of his spilling out of his suitcase and clothes he had bought at H&M in Beverly Hills and some odds and ends he had laying around in our house in Sunnyvale that were stuffed into an H&M bag.

A couple things had fallen out of his H&M bag, because well, it was a shopping bag and the trunk wasn't meant to be left open. We went back around, found some clothes, some small trinkets, some water bottles. We didn't see much else, but they got thrown into the back seat. We went around one more time and found some electrical tape, a run over pen holder and a bracelet from our first rave. Back seat. We went around one more time, slower and stopped on the side of the highway, Christian thought he saw something.

His Kindle was laying in the middle of the highway, on a highway in San Diego, many cars had run over it. It was a mess of crushed screen, buttons completely off, the interior wiring exposed. It was a sad moment. We bowed our heads in a moment of silence for the fallen Kindle.

The line for the place we were going to eat at was really long, so we got frozen yoghurt for breakfast and went to the Apple Store to see if we could fix his phone, which wasn't recognizing the chargey cord. It turned out there was lint in it, and we found ourselves at the LEGO store, playing in one of those free lego pits. Christian became 5 years old again.

Then I got a dress, yay.

We left very soon after that to visit the zoo. We had one of the best burgers I've ever had, so big. A duck came up to us while we were eating and stood right next to where we were seated while we fed him fries. Well, Christian fed him fries and I was a little scared of getting bit. I eventually did give him a fry (a very long one to protect my fingers), and he rips it right out of my hand. Apparently ducks love fries.

We weren't wearing very good shoes for walking and after the multiple days of being on our feet all day, it was safe to say they hurt a little. We still managed to walk around the entire park and see all of the animals.

This was the first animal we saw, a meercat. They were sleeeeeeeping, and a little startled.

Also, I didn't realize rhinos looked like they had armor on.

Hippoes and toucans and weird antelope thing, oh my!

I didn't realized I would look this silly in front of the giraffes. I was hoping to look more kid in a zoo that's very happy to be seeing giraffes for the first time happy.

But this is a baby giraffe.

And this kitty was sitting watching everyone with his paw in his mouth, it was so adorable. :3

And these are elephants.

And this was an elephant with his tongue out waiting for hay to fall in his mouth.

We decided to take a couple pictures with the hippo lying down. I wanted to flop next to it and pretend we were sleeping like the hippo, but we were more adult about it and rode it like a horsie.

Then we saw the red panda. And we saw him for a good twenty minutes. My favourite part, as always. :) He was active and walking around and he wouldn't stay still, but it was still fun to see.

This is Jess watching red panda.

After we were done seeing the animals, the park was almost closed. We went to go get a caricature of ourselves, something we've been meaning to do for a couple months, there were so many places to get it done. I think it turned out well.

Grasping our newly drawn picture, we went on the sky tour in the dark and took a bus back to the entrance. We saw a lot and we were sleepy. We went to this adorable inn, with a king sized bed and white sheets and an adorable little patio all to ourselves. It was definitely somewhere I want to go back to and spend multiple nights at, the nightlife seemed great and there was golfing and some other activities. It was so beautiful.

We watched a couple episodes of Bojack Horseman and ate our weight in Welch's fruit snacks (!!) and went to sleep.

posted by Jessica Shortt

Disneyland! <3

We stayed the night before about a mile away from Disneyland, in a cute place that had a bunch of coffee and snacks laid out for us Airbnb-ers. She offered Welch's snacks, which kickstarted my multi-day obsession with the fruit snacks. Yum.

We went to breakfast at a place the Airbnb place recommended, your typical American diner. It was cool, wood, and we had four different waitresses. Like, we sat down at our table and four of them came over pretty much in succession offering coffee. We got the yummiest food though, very filling. Very very filling. Can you guess which one belongs to which one of us?

It didn't take us very long to find parking. Christian got badly sunburnt the day before in Hollywood so he made us slather on sunscreen. We looked like ghosts walking around. We parked in the parking structure at Donald 3 something the first day. When you get in the minimal security where they give your bag a quick squeeze, we had the option to go left to Disneyland or right to Disneyland:California Adventure. Luckily Christian had got us a 1 park per day pass so obviously we headed to the Disneyland park first. :)

It was one of the hotter days, around 95F ... I mean 35C so we were just sweating the entire day, we made sure to drink lots of water.

It was so Disney as soon as we walked in. We saw Mickey and Minnie as we walked down Main St. We turned to each other and decided that we'd get a picture with them later, we'd have lots of chances to. We never did, as much as we saw them. We said we'd do it later every time. That's okay though, we got pictures with other characters.

We took the "It's a Small World" ride, where, as Christian says, kids disappear to when they get lost at Disneyland. We had the song stuck in our heads for half the day after that. We made it to Toontown, where we found Pluto (Faren thought he was Goofy). So we took a picture with him.

I absolutely love the level of contrast in this picture. I'll have to get it blown up and hung up on my wall. #unedited

What I loved about the park is that care was put into every single aspect of every small detail. They whole-assed everything, didn't half-ass anything. At all. Walking through Toontown felt like walking into a cartoon, there were cool cartoon hills that were kind of a brain-mystifier.

We went on, I think all the rides. Except the Haunted House, which was closed. But it was all lovely. After the rides I liked going and seeing the pictures, you know, even though were weren't going to buy any.

This was my first time on Space Mountain. Oh my god it was my favourite I think. They were all my favourite. But this ride was my most favourite.

This was on a really steep log flume drop.

The Buzz Lightyear game was a lot of fun, we just got to shoot things. After we got out the first time, we turned back around and went in a second time. Christian won both times (as he did with all the shooty games) and my score wasn't 0, it was just lower than his. Way to rub it in.

There were some really cool things there, the mountains they built felt like actual mountains.

There were so many awesome things that describing it wouldn't do it justice. I've said it before, but this is the king of things you have to experience yourself that you just can't take pictures of.

We took a lot of pictures with characters.

In the evening we went to see the parade, which is also awesome. Our feet hurt and we were happy to sit down for a while and enjoy the song and all the Disney characters dancing by. It was something. There were so many people around us after the parade was over. It was crazy.

I think a lot of people left, but we still had an agenda: hit more rides. There was almost an entire section of the park we hadn't got to yet.

We did that and we were just getting off Space Mountain for the second time when the fireworks started. We rushed to get ot the other side of the castle, but they were herding people away from it. We still had a pretty good vantage point. I definitely know they were the best fireworks I've ever seen in my life. It was quite the show and it was so captivating that we mostly stood there watching as they exploded all around us.

After that was over we were on our way out and decided to get a picture in front of the castle. Turns out it's pretty hard to get a good picture in the dark and everyone wants to use flash and not get enough of the castle in. I do really like this picture, regardless of how little the castle is in it.

But this one turned out okay, the last people we asked had a professional lighting thing and shone it on us instead of using flash.

We found a hotel instead of bothering with Airbnb, mostly because the place we booked wasn't responding. We passed out as soon as we got in and woke up the next morning to repeat.

This time we parked in Goofy and went to the other park. Which is awesome and more rides-y than the original Disneyland. The care they took that I was talking about earlier was evident here as well, for example the benches in the A Bug's Life were modeled after used popsicle sticks, with the fruit colouring on half.

Speaking of the A Bug's Life part, there was this 3D adventure in it and there's this part where he tells you to stay seated for the bugs to come out and these things move on your seat. I jumped so far up, and we were sitting in the front row, slightly embarassing.

We also went on all the rides here. A lot were closed for a while, including the biggest rollercoaster there and we had to go back later. There was another Toy Story shooting one which we also went on twice like the Buzz Lightyear one.

It was all a lot of fun and we were really lucky to get on all the rides. I was scared they'd be out of service all day, but I think we just managed to squeeze them in.

The Tower Of Terror was sooooooooo much fun. Remember when I mentioned that really scary drop ride at California's Great America? This was kind of like that but more amazing. It dropped and then went back up and went down and we were totally lifted off our seats and it toed the line of scary and was just plain fun.

We had too much fun in an obstacle course chasing each other with water and I managed to lose my sunglasses. We went to the lost and found later on to describe them and they said they'd send them back but they haven't yet.

On our way to ride the Tower of Terror for the second time, we were stopped at the Cars area and asked if we wanted Fast-Trak tickets to the Cars ride, which was one of the ones we hadn't got on that day. We went for it. The Cars section is also amazing. It looks exactly like the movie town in Cars and they sold drinks in cone shaped cups.

The ride was awesome. I'm glad we got in instead of going on the Tower of Terror again, even though that was amazingly fun. It started off kind of slow and kind of like the movie went but then we met with another car and we raced the other car. Ours won, but it was so exciting and we went through the race like in the movie where he races with Doc(?).

We watched the fireworks in Disneyland from the place between the parks. We were so lucky to have people walking in front of us the entire time the fireworks were going to frantically get into the park at the last hour. Ah well.

We decided to drive to San Diego from Anaheim. A long drive at 10 at night when you're exhausted from having fun and being on your feet all day. I was having a hard time staying awake and Christian was doing a terrible job of helping me stay awake by consistently falling asleep, but he was sleepy too so it was understandable.

All in all, magical. Very magical. Going to do again.

posted by Jessica Shortt

5983km from home : Long Beach, Venice Beach, Hollywood and Beverly Hills in a Day

We woke up the next morning at 6:30 (so many early mornings!) and drove to Long Beach for breakfast. I forgot to mention this in the last post, but Los Angeles is a dump. It just looks beaten down and uncared for and it's really...jarring coming into it. I didn't expect it to be like this. Long Beach was definitely my favorite part of LA, it was nicer and looked more cared for. We found some nice little places in LA, making the best of a bad city.

We went to this awesome little hipster diner and got some good eats. Here you can see my sammy. Amazingly delicious.

We stayed and enjoyed the serenity for a couple minutes while I answered some emails and then headed to Venice Beach for a nice walk on the boardwalk and looking at the beach. Christian mentioned Kassem G does all his videos here and that's kind of cool. There were a lot of t-shirt shops and people biking and I liked it a lot. Rollerblading is cool here!!

Christian and I meandered around the boardwalk for a while, looking in the shirt shops and tried to find some ice cream. Unfortunately for us, that day the ice cream trucks hadn't arrived or something and we wanted ice cream. We were lucky to have gone on a Tuesday when it wasn't as busy though I suppose. We both got some shirts and some memorabilia here, as it's a pretty iconic place apparently. I'm told there's also an area called Muscle Beach along it because of something Arnold Schwarznegger did. We made it down to the beach though and stepped in the water for reals. All the beaches down here are pretty beautiful as beaches tend to be.

We stayed there for a while and enjoyed the sun and the entire boardwalky part of it. Have I mentioned I really like boardwalks? So cool. Why don't we have any cool boardwalks in NS. Then we left for the Hollywood Walk of Fame to walk over some famous people's stars.

Finding parking actually on Hollywood Boulevard is a nightmare, and my weak point when I drive is definitely finding parking and doing it. It stresses me out, especially in big cities like Los Angeles where it's so congested with people. We actually did find parking on the actual boulevard and not a side street, I'm going with the belief that we got really lucky.

No one special is in this picture, it was just the only place that was momentarily clear of people to get a good shot of the stars. There are a lot of tourists here falling into the tourist trap of buying a tour of celebrities houses. I think we got asked upwards of 20 times if we wanted a tour "half price". It was hard to say no to some because they kept talking as they stood on Tom Cruise's star and you're just like go away I just want a picture of Tom Cruise's star.

It was a generously hot day and the pavement was scorching hot under the sun. Our naked skin suffered greatly. Christian has quite the tan lines from it, even better than his farmers tan because we forgot to put on sunscreen and we really should have. I think I fried my knees a little from kneeling on the pavement.

We got this one and were going to send it to Khanh but I think we forgot.

These pictures are super touristy and I'm totally not sorry because of how much fun it was.

We get down to what we think is the end and it keeps going in all the directions. I didn't realize it went on so far. I'm sad to say we didn't see all of them, but we saw the important ones.

It turns out Robert Downey Jr. doesn't actually have a star on the walk of fame, but has his hands and feet immortalized in the pavement in front of the Chinese theatre, which is where the most important people like Shirley Temple and the cast of Twilight get their names.

After that, we headed to the Hollywood sign, which is waaaaay up in the hills of Hollywood, or what I think is called Hollywood Hills. It was pretty awesome to be up there. They make it really hard not to trespass there (we managed not to!) and the people who live there get cranky if you park in the general area of their homes.

We drove back down the hill, the time of day is late afternoon. We figured we'd hit up Universal Studios because we wanted two full days at Disneyland instead of the half day we had left. We made our way over there and found out it closed at five. A theme park closing at five, wtf. It wasn't worth less than 2 hours for the price of admission, but Christian found this free museum called the Getty Museum that was the top-rated thing to do in LA, so we went there. It was so worth it. There were sculptures and paintings and drawings and they were all amazing. It was held in these white buildings with lots of glass on the top of a mountain overlooking Los Angeles. We got a lot of looking at stuff in, and even took a picture with a sculpture that the museum encourages you instagram.

After that closed we left towards Beverly Hills for dinner. Americans don't know what supper is, and our roommates laughed at us when we did say supper. Am I alone in thinking dinner is a lunchtime word? We ate at this place that boasted garlic made dishes called The Stinking Rose, which kind of reminded us of Monica's restaurant. Like, I'm talking garlic on every dish. Full cloves of it. We wanted Italian, and this place seemed really great. And it was.

We had some bread to start that was garlic'd, some caesar salad, I don't remember if it had garlic in it and we each had a garlic spaghetti dish. I guess the service was taking too long for the waiter and he felt bad so he provided us with garlic ice cream to try, on the house. I liked it, it was a little spicy in a weird way you don't get with ice cream, but I think Christian hated it. So we got an extra chocolate mousse cake. It wasn't so bad because we were exposed to the garlic so much before we ate the ice cream, but if you just tried it on a whim without desensitizing yourself it would be so overpowering.

posted by Jessica Shortt

5983km from home: The Road to Los Angeles

Guess what. We tried to rent a car. Again. We almost got one. So so almost. They said it would be okay to use my debit card because they saw how desperate we were to get a car and relented a little. If only my stupid Canadian debit card would work in this damn country. Sometimes it's so frustrating not being an American. And not being 25. And not having a credit card.

In the end, I guess it turned out okay not getting a car, because after asking our roommate Garrett if we could stay one more night, he mentioned he hadn't realized we were leaving so soon and we spent the evening with him and his girlfriend Gina. We ate some pizza, drank some delicious margaritas and played Cards Against Humanity. It really was a fun night and he invited us 'shoosting' in the morning.

Sunday morning we woke up early and left southward bound to a shooting range, where we got to shoot guns at clay things aka skeet shooting. It was my first time shooting a gun, especially a shotgun and I was hopeless until an old guy came over and told me to rest my cheek on the gun. Also I was closing the wrong eye. That helped tremendously and I ended up hitting one!! We got to do real 'merican stuff and then ate barbeque to finish it off.

I'm not going to tell you how we got a car, but I assure you it was legally. No grand theft auto or anything like that. We had a few hiccups before we ended up getting it, which was in the evening and the sun was setting, so our roommates let us stay another night and we had steak and pesto pasta and more of the best margaritas ever. We went with Joe to the Tesla store to get some swag (with an owner discount), we both got some pretty awesome tshirts and Christian got a mug, which ended up breaking on the way out the door the next morning.

We went to bed decently early and we woke up at 5AM to leave. We wanted to have already been an hour away from LA at this point in the day, but we weren't and that was okay. We had an eight hour drive ahead of us.

Aaron Paul had been posting information about a scavenger hunt the day of the Emmys, which Christian found out about the night before or slightly earlier, but he got really excited about it and we wanted to be there for that. But then we found out it started at 11AM and only lasted two hours, and we were further away than we would have liked to have been. We missed out on meeting RJ Mitte at an IHOP, and most likely Aaron Paul, which would have been amazing.

A couple things happened. We didn't leave until around 6, then we were headed down Highway 5, which isn't the highway we wanted to be on, it goes straight down the state and we wanted to be going down the coast on Highway 1, the movie highway. Longer, but better. We stopped at a McDonald's for breakfast around 8, then had to backtrack for an hour to get to the highway. Worth it. It was trees and hills on one side and cliffs, looking out into the Pacific on the other side.

All the images are links now for handier viewing.

The roads were turny and we had some very sharp hairpin turns. I saw 11 red mustangs on this road alone. Christian fell asleep a couple times here. This is what the road looked like most of the way.

It was a lot of highway driving.

There's not really much we wanted to see between San Jose and Los Angeles, but we drove through some nice ocean-side towns including Santa Barbara. We saw some zebras on a farm, in very high numbers for North America, and that was pretty awesome. I guess it helps that California is pretty much a desert. We drove past Hearst Castle and through San Luis Obispo, which is a beautiful and quaint little town, home of Cal Poly school. We finally stopped in Ventura, which is where we wanted to be the night before, and decided to go get some Indian food. Indian food is good, right? Right.

We got in and the guy asks if we ever had Indian food before, of course we have. I don't know if he ever saw my face, his eyes were on my boobs the entire time. It also didn't help that we were the only ones in the restaurant.

Christian got Chicken Tikka Masala and I got the Butter Chicken. We got some rice and naan bread and mango lassi for the table. He brings it over and that's cool. We eat, we're stuffed. We can't finish a bit of it because it was a big meal. We want to get going to LA as well, so the guy comes over again and asks if we're done. Christian says yes and asks for the bill. The guy goes "No you are not done eating, finish it!" and walks away. This happens one more time and then he brings me a drink, "for the lady". I don't know exactly what it was, but Christian asks for the check again and he clears the table. Then he brings over rice pudding "on the house" and walks away. I didn't want to eat it, I was already so full. Like, full on food baby at Thanksgiving full. We manage it down, separate the drink he brought into our water glasses and he finally brings over the check. And walks away again. We manage to pay and bolt. It was the weirdest dining experience I think I've ever had.

We finally get to LA an hour after that, about 5:30-6:00. A long away from 11AM. We find the Staples centre where the Emmys are being held and find parking a long time after that. I'm pretty proud of myself to have been driving both in LA and once on an eight lane highway! And people told me I wouldn't be able to drive in Toronto. Psh.

We watched the Emmys in a bar beside where they were being held, very upscale. Christian got a beer. I got nothing because I get to be driver.

After they were over we tried to find the red carpet. And did. I don't know if we were supposed to be there, and I'm not sure why they hid it so much away from the public if it's such a public event, but there were a lot of well-dressed people streaming out. We saw Miss Claudette and Crazy Eyes and Big Boo walking out and posing and Stephen Colbert and a lot of people holding Emmys that we didn't recognize. Louis CK walked right past us, close enough where we could slap him. Did you know he's really tall?

We got pushed away by security for some reason, even though we weren't doing any harm. We walked back out and found a girl walking in a red dress leaving a trail of fainting people. It was Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and she looked a little lost and there were paparazzi with cameras in her face and it was kind of sad. We also saw Jim Parsons talking to some interviewers when we peeked around a wall. We didn't get a good look because then all the little girls there discovered it and ran over with their iPads and phones and squeals and got securitys attention.

We were leaving and walked right past Derek Hough, and he looks just as pretty in real life. After that we walked around a bit and decided to go back to our Airbnb place for the night. Another early morning the next day. We got there and it was an old guy living in a mansion. He had so many old artificats, pottery from the Inca, Aztecs, Mayans. Things from Greece, India, Italy, Russia, Nazi war stuff like helmets and cutlery. It was all very cool and we got a walking tour and story of it all along with a glass of orange juice before we passed out.

posted by Jessica Shortt

The Winchester Mystery House

This weekend was a very low key weekend, as it's the last one before we drive all over the state of California and look at some things. I'm still trying to work out how we're going to fit so much fun in so many days, I'm trying to create almost an itinerary in my head because it kind of drives me crazy not knowing what's going to happen exactly, like driving with Christian navigating and telling me to turn off the exit we are passing at 65mph. It's hard. So that means this is Christian's last week at work, and along with last week they are very busy weeks with lots of extra hours being put in.

For me, it means I only have a week to get myself together. I've been having a really hard time feeling motivated to do anything, as the last couple of freelance deals and job leads for the Fall have fallen through. It's a slippery slope once the motivation goes away and by the end of the day all you've done is watch Gossip Girl and read an entire book in a dystopian setting and manage to eat more than you planned and you're still in your pyjamas. From two days ago.

On Saturday Christian and I tried to get tickets online to the Winchester Mystery House, but couldn't because apparently you need to buy tickets a day in advance on the website, and we didn't realize we could just go to the place and request tickets and get them. Ha. That was okay, I imagine Christian wanted to do a little relaxing after his busy week, some days he wasn't home until 7 or closer to 8. His team is working him really hard to finish his project. We walked to Michaels to get a new brush and we ended up walking around forever looking at stuff because it's really hard not to get sucked into the amazingness of an art store. We got back and did some watercolour paintings and that was really fun. One of our roommates said that we "are always having too much fun" because I guess they hear us just laughing in our room for an hour at a time and wonder if something could ever make them that happy. Their words, not mine. What mostly happens here is Christian sticks his fingers up my nose and tickles me for making a terrible laugh that he hates.

So we got tickets for the tour the next day and then went to see Let's Be Cops. Hilarious movie, was only expecting it to be like Nick and Coach try to be cops but it was so much better.

The Winchester Mystery House is something that I discovered a couple years ago. Fascinated by it, and reading almost the entire Wikipedia article to Christian, I decided that it was on my bucket list. I had to see it before I died. I mean, it's so interesting. In my mind, I was going to get to it in some distant future, maybe if I found it again. I completely forgot where it was, somewhere in California maybe.

    At some point after her husband's death in 1881 a Boston medium told Sarah Winchester that she should leave her home in New Haven and travel West, where she must continuously build a home for herself and the spirits of people who had fallen victim to Winchester rifles. Winchester left New Haven and headed for California. Sources claim that Winchester came to believe her family and fortune were haunted by ghosts, and that only by continuously building them a house could she appease these spirits.
    In 1884 she purchased an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and began building her mansion. Carpenters were hired and worked on the house day and night until it became a seven story mansion. She did not use an architect and added on to the building in a haphazard fashion, so that the home contains numerous oddities like doors or stairs that go nowhere, windows overlooking other rooms, and stairs with odd-sized risers.

I highly recommend reading the Wikipedia article on it. It's fascinating.

We were on an Apple shuttle with a guy recommending things we definitely should do while we're here. The house came up and I gasped, remembering it all over again. It turns out we're only a ten minute drive from it! It's in San Jose, the neighbouring city!!! We decided to add it into one of our weekends here. That was this Sunday we finally got to it.

We had booked for 3:00 and ended up getting there past that time, like at 3:20 because we are usually late to things. The guy was really nice and put us in a later tour group, at 3:50. So we walked around the gift shop while we waited and they had some pretty cool stuff there, capitalizing on this woman's insanity.

Christian got this lovely picture and I took it from his phone without him noticing. (Shh!)

So this woman did not have any plans on building the house, and haphazardly added on to it on a whim. Apparently she was only 4 feet 11 inches tall and had some of the stairs were made only at only a couple inch rise. There were actually stairs that went to nowhere and doors that lead to nowhere. As she added onto the house she just engulfed whatever structure was there and made it into the house. She had a "Hall of Fires" in the house that had like eight fireplaces and some radiators that make it really hot because she had super bad arthritis and it used to be the water tower and the walls are still slanted to represent that.

10 points for whoever can tell me who the goddess of the harvest is. We're holding hands and she's saying sweet things to me. The statues are original.

The house used to be seven stories tall until an earthquake in 1906 that collapsed three stories and she took it as a sign from unhappy spirits that she was getting too close to finishing the front of the house. So she stopped all construction on that. Apparently she also slept in a different room every night and we got to go into her bedroom where she died and her seance room and the room she was trapped in during this earthquake. Also there was a servants floor. Some of the hallways were super narrow and the rooms really small, but others were gigantic and it didn't make sense, but I don't think it was supposed to.

She had things imported from everywhere, all the stained glass in the house is bought from Tiffany & Co. She had rooms full of things imported from Asia, Austria, Germany, England, South America, etc. A lot of imported plants and building materials and chandeliers. There were so many things that were cutting edge, new technologies for the times, such as divets cut in the counter by the sink to allow water to drain back into it, and newly patented things that she had to have. She even had three elevators!

This is the kitchen she used before the 1906 earthquake and I don't understand why she stopped using it. Maybe because it was closer to the front of the house, but she built a new one just down the hall from it.

Here's what the house looks like looking toward the back of the house from a fourth story window, we weren't actually allowed to take pictures inside because apparently the house is copyrighted, which makes absolutely no sense and why would they do that. Can you believe they only waited a year after Mrs. Winchester's death to start doing tours of the house? It's been 91 years.

The tour was really nice and we went on the extended tour which showed us the basement where we had to wear hardharts and the aviary and her garage and place where she dried apricots, but it would have been nice to be able to explore the entirety of the house on my own and look into nooks and crannys.

If I had to give one word to describe the house, it would be bizarre, which is a word of choice when a lot of people try to describe it. I asked Christian what his word would be, and he also said bizarre. There really are stairs leading to the ceiling and doors that don't connect to anything and windows into rooms. A notable example is a bathroom on the fourth floor that has a door behind the tub looking in, but there's a wall on the other side, the door opens into a wall.

It was an amazing tour and I get to cross that off my bucket list, I'm so happy. I also got to play with a fun umbrella while we were waiting for the tour to start and I think I want one in my life. It's in rainbow sections and when you twist it, it looks super cool!

We missed a Friday the 13th in June, but apparently they do flashlight tours of the house, where they turn off all the lights and your only guidance is by flashlights. It would be super freaky. They only do it on Friday the 13ths and around Halloween, and I don't know if I could. There have been numerous sightings of a ghost in the basement of the house that matches the description of a real guy who worked there, and I could see how. The basement was a little freaky.

I want to go again, and again. I loved it.

posted by Jessica Shortt
« Older Posts