In College Without a Car

“Um, can you move your stuff? It’s blocking the path to the bathroom.”

I was huddled on the floor of a random Mexican restaurant in a slightly scary part of Los Angeles. My iPhone—which had 1 percent battery left—was hooked into the only outlet I could find, smack-dab next to the restrooms. My two duffle-bags were stacked precariously next to me. And as the disgruntled employee was pointing out, I was seriously harming anyone’s chances of peeing.

This was not what I’d envisioned for my first night of Thanksgiving break last year.

Two weeks earlier:

I didn’t bring a car to college, so I assumed every time I needed to get to or from San Luis Obispo my parents would give me a ride. My mom quickly set the record straight.

“Honey, I love you, but I’m not driving eight hours in one day every time you go on vacation. Don’t you have any friends who live near us?”

Unfortunately, I had picked my college group based on personality, not hometown proximity. They all lived in Northern California, which would be awesome when I wanted to visit San Francisco—but not so awesome right now, when I couldn’t hitch a ride.

Then, one of my friends suggested I check out Cal Poly’s rideshare page on Facebook.

“It’s really easy,” she explained. “People post where they’re headed and how many seats they have. Then you message someone who’s driving past or near your town.”

I immediately pulled up the page. No one was going through Riverside County, but one guy was driving to Orange County and said he could drop me off somewhere in L.A. My dad confirmed he’d pick me up. We decided we’d meet at a Cheesecake Factory right off the freeway.

When the driver, Evan, pulled up in front of my apartment, there were already people in every single passenger seat.

“Uh…” I said, unsure if Evan thought seatbelts weren’t necessities but luxuries, like 800-thread-count sheets or cashmere socks.

“Oh, it’s totally fine, we’ll just squeeze!” he said cheerily.

Tracking and Saving More Time, But Spending More Money

Two months ago, I signed a contract for a new part-time gig. About two days into the job, I started to worry. The job pays me for 20 hours each week. I can work those hours whenever I want, from wherever I want—it's pretty great.

The Cost Of Things: A Visit To The Cat Cafe

All I ever want to do is chill in a room full of cats, so if you are similarly minded, the Meow Parlour is an excellent idea. But, and I can’t emphasize this enough, no matter how much money you pay, they’re still cats and therefore fuzzy jerks.

The Cost of Things: Taking Care of LadyBusiness

I’m spending a small fortune on my personal appearance.

The Cost of Driving My Parents Home from the Hospital

Both my parents were in the ICU at Archbold Medical Center in Thomasville, my father with a broken neck and my mother with a fractured lower back. A truck had smashed into their SUV as they drove home from their Florida vacation.

Worst Freebie Ever? Famous Rollercoaster Breaks On 1st Day Of Season

The other day I bought some friends breakfast. It made me feel like The Queen Of The World, which is a good return on a $25 investment.

The Cost of Becoming Interested in Fencing as an Adult

When I first started fencing, I imagined the only gear I'd need is a cutlass, some of those thigh-high leather boots sported by Errol Flynn in Captain Blood, and a chandelier full of candles to show my enemies how sharp my weapon is. Who would have thought fencing is a full contact, anaerobic sport that requires an ocean of protective gear?

The Cost Of Things: Looking Effortless

ELLE recommends a $226 caftan-inspired dress from Steven Alan. There are cheaper caftans, though, that don't look like the clothing equivalent of porridge.

Things That Cost More Than A Trip To The Best Western-Style Hospital in Shanghai

One night at a business-class hotel here is like a fifth or a fourth of a night at a hospital; there it's like the other way around.