Author Archives: missamandapearl

About missamandapearl

♥ I'm a spunky girl with a big heart and an open mind. I can't ride a bike and dislike capital letters. I'm slightly obsessed with my kitties - Daisy, Stella, Loki and Marley - but I bet if they were yours you would be, too. I laugh all the time - loudly and mostly at myself. my favorite things include, but aren't limited to: fabulous people, my fantastic husband-to-be, traveling, live music, social media, a good read, working out, furry friends, the Golden State Warriors, photography, and sushi. Everyone, including you, looks like an animal - and I won't hesitate to tell you which one. I was born and raised in the 650, spent some of the best years of my life at UCSB as a gaucho and am now a proud angelino; its taken some time, but I effing love└A.

[Self Discovery] The Serenity of the Sea

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 “My life is like a stroll upon the beach, as near to the ocean’s edge as I can go”
— 
Henry David Thoreau —

Summer in SD

Ever just feel the need to get away? Not to necessarily escape from life, but to take a midweek vacation from all the humdrum stress of your vocation and whatever else might be plaguing or mentally exhausting you.  Lately, there’s been this large itch to jump in the car and not be home – maybe it’s the incredible heat waves we’ve been having in Los Angeles proper, maybe it’s the fact I’ve formally lived in Los Angeles for a decade now; irregardless, lately I’ve had this distant itch that I’ve needed to scratch from sandier locations.

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I work from home and have been working from home for the last five or so years.  It’s a wonderful life, but at the same time – it can make for some stir crazy mornings and cabin fever-esque afternoons.  Thankfully, for the last few weeks, I’ve been blessed enough to tag along while my dad goes on a few work trips down to gorgeous and sunny San Diego, and every now and again I’ve also been jumping in the car with Danny and working from anywhere that cell phone service exists along the Southern California coast.  From Santa Monica, to Long Beach, San Pedro down to Orange County and San Diego – the California Coastline down here has a bevvy of beautiful beaches, ripe and ready for adventures.

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With seventeen miles of coastline and nearly 5000 acres of land, San Diego boasts an incredible amount of beaches per capita, each with their own unique charm, from Ocean Beach to Encinatas and back to Moonlight Beach – you simply can’t go wrong as you bounce from one sandy piece of heaven to the next.  Yes, of course beaches will be crowded – have you met Summer in SoCal?! – so be sure to head there with plenty of time to spare and plenty of sun and sand to be had.

Travel up the coast a bit and you’ll hit the beautiful beaches of Orange County and Newport, including the stunning 1000 Steps Beach.  But I’ll be honest, the only version of the OC I like is the show – and it’s primarily because I can put it on mute. Anyhow, just a hop, skip and a jump up and you’ll reach shores of San Pedro and Angels Gate Park, where notorious scenes from my all time favorite movie were played out in the 90’s.  Can you name the movie? I won’t give it away!  Nestled between two coastlines in a sprawling green park that overlooks the coast, you’ll find the fabled ‘Koren Friendship Bell‘ in all of its vibrant glory and impeccable hand crafted detail.

Los Angeles itself is known as much for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood as it is the menagerie of beaches against its coast.  Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, Point Dume – you simply can’t go wrong.  Now, it’s definitely a personal decision, but Danny and I typically off for the off the beaten path locations with less people – the more of a tourist trap it is, the less peace, quiet and space you’ll have, you know – if you’re into that sort of thing.

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“Don’t underestimate the healing power of these three things:
music, the ocean, and the stars.” 

Hypnotically beautiful with brooding turbulence underneath, the Ocean water mimics the human condition: meeting new highs and pulsing lows, bringing rocky baggage ashore and washing herself clean of the past, pulling new ideas back undertow and ingraining them in her personality. Summer in SD

It’s as if the waters have found themselves in the midst of mindful meditation that you can’t help but immulate: with this wave – I’m breathing in, with this wave – I’m breathing out.

 

No matter the mood or emotion I bring to the water’s edge with me, it’s always washed away and I’m left feeling rooted, as the soles of my feet and tips of my toes edge their way in and around millions of grains of sand that each have thousands of years of stories to tell.  Twisting my head to and fro to see as far as the eyes can see, I’m inexplicably drawn to the cascading of blues that measure where the sky and sea are drawn together in an almost hand painted gradient.  It’s here, that I shed my snakeskin of the past to the salt and air and become again.

Where do you go when your soul needs to refresh?

 

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[Tech Talk] Moment: Take Your Life Back, One Minute at a Time

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Being born in the crux of the 1980’s – December of 1984, to be precise – places me in the precarious position where I remember life before the internet, but have all the benefits of life in the post-technological boom era. I’ve seen televisions get slimmer and longer, watched as phones lost their umbilical cords, observed the evolution of VHS as it forayed into Super VHS, Laser Disks, and then eventually to DVD, Ultra HD, Blu Ray and now 4K; my Sony walkman was upgraded to a disc player, then an mp3 player, an iPod and now I can basically play music from my refrigerator.  And then, last but most certainly not least: the cell phone.  What was at one point an electronic brick that had the basic operations of a fancy calculator, has eventually evolved into an electronic ‘blob’ that’s acquired all the functions of literally anything else you could keep in your office or wallet besides your ID card, like calendars, notepads, a Rolodex, books, your credit cards, maps, DSLR cameras, video games, movies, foreign language dictionaries….the list could go on and on.

When the intellectual power of the world can fit in the palm of your hand, it sounds almost anachronistic to think that there’s a phone application out there whose only goal is to get you off your phone, and back into the moment – but thankfully, there is – and let me tell you, it works.  But let’s take a step back for a second and understand what leads to people being stuck on their phones.

For the most part, your cell phone is like the fridge: you open your cell phone in the morning because your brain is hungry for information, and your phone puts it at the ends of your fingertips.  Drowsy from strange dreams and famished for facts, you eagerly ingest anything your phone gives you – only it’s the fast food of information, not a lot of substance, and definitely not filling.  So, every hour or so, you open it – hoping there’s new food there, forgetting it’s the same fridge you ate from earlier – same shit, new timestamp. Untitled

Not to throw myself under the digital bus, but out of all my friends – I’d say I’m the most addicted to my phone.  I’m sure it’s somewhere in my genes, but my parents and grandparents have been large influences in the terms of technological revolution, so I’m not surprised that I had an affliction for information, and a hearty addiction to my phone. My personal irony, is I first found out about moment through a friend’s

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Instagram story, where they’d posted screen shots of how much time they used to spend on their phone versus how much time they spend after using the application; I was sold, immediately.

Moment, created by Kevin Holesh, is a saucy little minx; silently and invisibly running in the back of your phone, unless you ask for alerts, that is..  You feed it screen shots of your application use, and it lets you know how you’re fairing by cataloging your total use, including use by specific applications.

After observing myself for a few days, I decided to enlist in the free 7 day boot camp, Bored & Brilliant, which is a great introduction into getting off your phone and back to reality; shortly after I bit the bullet and got the Pro version, and did the 14 day boot camp. I’ll be honest, I’m actually on my second iteration of it because I really need the practice of leaving my phone alone.  The boot camps walk you through 21 essential tasks that will curb your enthusiasm for your digital reality and replace it with tangible moments, from not taking your phone into the bathroom, to cleaning up your home screen to remove all social apps, turning off your notifications and actually calling the people you love.  Through the app, I have small reminders on my phone to let me know, in 20 minute intervals, how long I’ve spent and I’m a huge fan of their ‘No Screen Time’ alarm: I set mine for 7-9pm at night, and it literally annoys me into putting my phone face down with a loud reminder every time I engage it.

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When I started using the application, I was on my phone up to three hours a day – now, it’s rare if I break an hour.  Plus, over the last three weeks, I’ve gone to sleep earlier, woken up without anxiety, spent more time with my cats, finished more books, had more fun conversations with friends, shared my time with my husband and have been overall immensely happier than before.  I’ve not only recommended the application to all my friends, but I’ve gone as far as downloading it on both my dad and Danny’s phones.

To download Moment for the iPhone yourself – head here! For you Android users, cue the sad violins but there isn’t currently an application for you – good news though: there’s a signup to get notified the second it’s available on multiple platforms.  For more on the applications genesis, and how it can help you take your life back – head to their website.

What do you do to curb your cell phone addiction and what tips do you have for others wishing to do the same?

 

[Reading is Sexy] Altered Carbon: A Show Finally As Good As The Books

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There’s an old adage that admittedly most of the younger generation knows only variations of; I grew up with my parents informing me that I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but it quickly became “Don’t judge a song by it’s cover” and “Don’t judge a movie by the TV show (/ Video Game / Etc)”.  But, per usual, I digress.  Over the last year, there’s been an explosion of amazing Science Fiction shows entering our sphere of entertainment – from dystopian movies like Elysium, Interstellar and The Arrival to television shows spanning from Black Mirror, Dark Matter, the latest Star Trek: Discovery, Dark, The Expanse and Incorporated (ps. Kudos to Netflix and SciFy for their creative and mind bending content!).   Until now, I hadn’t much found one as enthralling in both story line and technological potentially as Netflix’s Altered Carbon, and the second I found out it stemmed from a novel series by Richard K Morgan – I had to see how they measured up to each other.

Set in the 2500s, in a world that’s evolved out of our current San Francisco, Digital Human Freight is currency and your memories are stored in a cortical stack from birth; though your body has an end date – your soul no longer does.  Takeshi Kovacs is a man of many hats, and sleeves – Quellest, Envoy and now Detective, he’s been brought back from the ether to solve a murder…or, has he?  Over the course of ten high-octane, vividly lit episodes, we dive into Kovac’s past, present and potential futures.   Thanks to Netflix’s formatting, we sped through the series in a weekend, injecting ourselves over and over with Altered Carbon’s universe and potentialities.  It’s a slippery slope for me to fall digital head over digital heels with a concept, because I will do my best to uncover anything and everything about it; loopholes, cut chapters, the unnatural evolution of characters.  Low and behold, I discovered that Altered Carbon (like most good things that just came about this year), is a remake.

Originally a trilogy of novels, the Takeshi Kovac’s series – consisting of Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Woken Furies – is even more apocalyptic, militaristic, sexualized and dystopian than even the series would have one imagine.  I’ve never once believed that Netflix held back on a show, but the raw carnal nature of Kovac and Miriam’s relationship was heavier in the book, as were the guts, gore and good stuff that I thought they would have surely capitalized on for television; not that I minded though, I love when books and shows truly can deviate.  Now, the first half of the book was spot on – however, slowly but surely the show begins to deviate and take liberties of its own.

I have to say: both the novels and the show become worthwhile, altered, story lines – but each remain equally compelling for their own reasons.   Not surprisingly, the critical acclaim the show has received almost matches the book., which earned the prestigious Phillip K Dick award back in 2003 when it was penned.  Now that I’ve migrated to the second novel in the series, Broken Angels, and have the third to look forward to (Woken Furies), I can’t help but think of how the show could surpass or manipulate the books to become it’s own universe all together.  For as much as I love the adaptation to television and the presence of more of a female protagonist in Ortega, I very much prefer the novels, with their raw grit and truer dystopian lone wolf feel to Kovacs.

To learn more on the series, show and author – head to the links below; I promise you: this is a ride you will not want to end.  To those of you that both read the series and watched the show, what did you think of the nuanced differences and what did you prefer?

Richard K Morgan: Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Read the Books: Altered Carbon | Broken Angels | Woken Furies

Watch the Show.

 

[Traveling Tales] A Weekend Jaunt to Santa Barbara

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“Jobs fill your pockets, but adventures fill your soul.”

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For as vast and varied as Los Angeles is with its multitude of museums, live music on damn near every corner and a menagerie of personalities, there are just some times that you need the elixir of another town, to be able to drink in the libations and life of a new location. Southern California, with its little bit of everything, is an adventurers wet dream with ample amounts of snow, surf and everything in between.  Travel a few hours south of Los Angeles, and you’ll end up in Mexico – go East and you can jaunt out to Joshua Tree or Palm Springs, West will take you to the Pacific Coast and adventure just a little up the 101 and you’ll hit one of my favorite places ever: Santa Barbara.  I should premise this by saying I’m incredibly biased, I spent five lovely years in Santa Barbara pursuing my college degree and each inch of that town is crawling in marvelous memories – but admittedly, it’s been far longer than that since I’ve been back. So, the other weekend when Danny was itching to get out of town, I knew exactly where we needed to go.  After booking a great hotel through CheapTickets at the last second Friday afternoon, on Saturday we were off, off and away on a whirlwind landmark and culinary tour of my old stomping grounds.

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After a leisurely drive up the coast, our first stop on Saturday was the new(ish) Santa Barbara Public Market.  apparently it’s been around for a few years, but it’s definitely new to me since the last time I visited town! Originally, I had planned to stop by the Big Eye Raw Bar started by my college friends’ husband (ps. it looks delicious), but the tacos from Corazon Cocina looked so heavenly that it would have been a sin to pass them up.  UntitledA few laughs and micheladas from The Garden later, and we were off, off and away to stroll State Street in search of The French Press. From what I’ve been told, its one of the best coffee shops in America – and damn, they were so right; I loved it a latte – pun very intended.   Taking the long way back to the car, we stumbled into the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, something I didn’t even know existed – let alone in Santa Barbara, but very worth getting sidetracked by.   Boasting a wide array of original documents and technological advancements, we took a serene stroll through eye opening artifacts and inventions before checking into our hotel, which truly felt like more of an oasis than I would have ever known from the photos.

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Walking in, we were met with an unexpected blend of blooming flowers, lush ponds, as coy fish, ducks and geese unfolded in front of us.  The scene only got better as the sunset began her magic.  Oh, and it wasn’t just ducks – there were ducklings hanging out on lillypads and it was literally the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.  I may or may not have spent half an hour chasing them around with crumbs to get the perfect photos, and of course make a few furry friends along the way.

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When dinnertime came about, we had only one decision to make: Mexican or Fish-centric.  Santa Barbara is exceptional when it comes to both, boasting some of the best authentic Mexican food at La Super Rica, a small hole in the wall family business that has the best meats, as well as the uni that’s imported the world over.   Stretching from Isla Vista into downtown, hitting the coastline, is Santa Barbara’s main squeeze: State Street.  The closer you get to the ocean, the more populated everything is – and rightfully so when you can take a romantic walk on the beach after a hearty meal and the further you get from the water, the less packed you’ll find your haunts.  Deciding to get fishy with it, we ventured over to Edomasa and chowed down on some exceptional late night sushi.

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On Sunday afternoon, we gallivanted down the length of State Street and onto Sterns Wharf for some views and a kickass meal of the freshest of sea food before we hit the road back to Los Angeles. The oldest working pier in California, Sterns Wharf boasts plenty of shops and sightseeing right over the ocean; it’s magnificent.  Formerly a buying station for local fish in the 80s, the Santa Barbara Shellfish Corporation sits at the very end of the pier and has been cooking up a storm for the last two decades with literally the best seafood you could catch – and they do!  We chowed down on fresh oysters, dungeness crab cocktail, rock crab, uni shooters and this kitten had her first cioppino.  Full of crab legs, shrimp, scallops, clams, and mussels – it was a dish I wouldn’t have ordered for myself, and I’m so glad Danny insisted we try it – delicious!  I would have taken photos of the food, but I confess I was too busy eating it all.

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Coming back down the coast, we stopped in Summerland to take in the fresh sea air just one last time before heading back into Los Angeles and reflect on a weekend well spent.  If you ever have a weekend to spend in Santa Barbara, here’s some of my must visit places in no particular order:

Sushi, Upper State St: Edamasa
Sushi, Lower State St: Arigato
Mexican Food: La Super Rica
Seafood: Santa Barbara Shellfish Co, Enterprise Fish Co
Views: Santa Barbara City College, UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
Coffee: The French Press
Smoothies: Blenders
Beach: Butterfly Beach
Dancing: Eos

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[Tech Talk] Dive Into DSLR Photography

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You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”

― Alan W. Watts

Serenity in the Sequoias

Being a photographer is a bit like if you give a mouse a cookie:  if you give a photographer a point a shoot, they’ll want a dSLR; give them a dSLR and they’ll want a prime lens; give them a prime lens and they’ll want a wide angle and a zoom lens; then they’ll want studio lights, a professional flash…and well, you get it – it becomes an addition of the best sort.

From as long ago as I can remember, my step-mother would always have a camera attached to her hip. She captured poignant moments of an awkward childhood, from gleefully following my dad and I on our beach adventures or feeding ducks, and capturing birthday parties and basketball games; as I grew older, I found myself in awe of her keen eye – finding the simple beauty in nature, exploring minimal architecture, capturing the first bloom of a rose, or creating a mood with striking black and white imagery.   At least once a month, the three of us would wander down to Stanford Shopping Center for an afternoon outing to the now defunct One Time Photo, enjoying some sorbet from the ice cream shop next door while we patiently waited for the film to develop.  Wandering back through the photo store, I let my fingers unknowingly explore film from different ISOs as the printer that took up almost two-thirds of the store whirred with excitement. Then, I started stock piling disposable cameras – with a quick flick of the wrist, and the wind up flash, they became my quick introduction to pre-digital photography.

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Finally, when I was in high school, through a combination of technological advances and parents caving to their teenage daughter: I was given my first digital camera.  Within the photo world, there’s an ever present debate between the merits of Canon versus Nikon, with both the Sony Alpha and Panasonic Lumix lines not far behind.  But in my family, there wasn’t ever a choice – we’re a Canon + Mac family, through and through; so it began: first with a Canon Powershot, and then a Digital Elph.  Fast forward to now, and the technology for your cell phone’s camera has caught up to the most basic point and shoots, and your most basic iPhone or Android has the rudimentary functions of a camera. How-the hell-ever, in a sense you’re still dependent on your technology to do most of the heavy lifting.  Enter the DSLR.  I had my first real introduction to them in college – when I worked in retail to make some extra cash, some of my coworkers were attending the Brooks School for Photography.  I eagerly lapped up every iota of information I could as I sat in through product shoots and photoshoots; truth be told I moved to Los Angeles because of my love of modeling but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve learned how much I prefer being behind the camera, versus in front of it.

 

As I forayed my way into the Music Industry five years ago – I realized cell phones and point and shoots simply can’t capture the depth and detail the way the professional cameras can; not to mention, with DSLRs – you can go from capturing a moment to creating a moment.  Leaving your camera in Auto relegates each camera function to its internal camera, meaning that even though you’re pressing the shutter to capture the photo – it’s actually the camera’s AI that determined the richness of color, depth of field and focus.  Conversely, in Manual, when each camera function now relies on the user’s aptitude and emotion in the moment, twenty photographers could take the same photo and each produce a very different image.  I’ll admit that for the longest time, the DSLR scared me – it was intimidating, clunky, with what seemed like way too many buttons but after almost four years of watching Danny make magic with the 6D, I’ve finally mustered up the courage to carry it around for the day and get a few pictures that I’m happy with.

Back in the Spring two years ago while we gallivanted through Sequoia – there was something in the air that was so inspiring, it lured my creative nature out of hiding and brought it out to play.   It was frustrating trying to understand settings on the fly, adjusting for almost each image to get it the way my mind’s eye saw it, but as is the thing with life: you can’t get better at the things you don’t try.  Every once and a while for the next months after, I’d pick up the camera, fire a few images I was unhappy with and politely place it back where I’d found it – until I found the right resources, books and mentors to help me get my bearings.  In the time Danny and I have been together, he’s gone from a self taught amateur to a contributor for Getty Images; it’s beyond impressive. What he always tells me is that everyone – every single one of us – sees the world through their own unique prism, and it’s only through the exploration of your own creativity that you can convey those images to everyone else.

Getty VillaRegardless of whether you’re surrounded by gear heads, mentors or photographers, the best thing you can do is get some real hands on experience while stocking up on excellent resources.  I started on Canon 6D for Dummies, which was a great introduction to all things DSLR from the bottom up: lenses, features, menus, camera set up and some more intermediate functions like HRD and Multiple Exposure images, setting up the WiFi and adjusting the White Balance manually.   Even though making your way through the manual page by page might seem like a bore – after reading through Canon for Dummies, it also felt absolutely necessary to learn the core tools of the trade.  Next time you pick up a camera, do yourself a favor and just play around with the settings, comparing images to fully understand what each button can do.Related image

Next up, I migrated to the more  advanced Canon 6D: From Snapshots to Great Shots, which was more of a top down approach to the settings based on epic images, along with some informative asides on F-Stops, ISO and Shutter Speed while diving into each function of the camera; and let me tell you: this is the most important thing to understand.  The Shutter Speed is the length of time that your lens is open to absorb light,while the aperture – or F-Stop, controls the depth of field that the camera focuses on.  Finally, the ISO controls the cameras sensitivity to light and the ways the camera processes detail. I just got my paws on The Photographer’s Playbook  which has a menagerie of photography exercises for anyone, amateur to professional. Here’s the thing – you can read books til the cows come home, sit in on photo shoots as the second shooter or an assistant, or pull up Youtube tutorials to walk you through the basics but the best experience will always be true experience.   If you’ve been itching to pick up a camera, just do it – you’ll be surprised to find your mind working in new and creative ways to capture a moment, and trust me – you’ll be just as hooked as I am.  For anyone looking to jump in – Best Buy has amazing Open Box deals, as does Amazon, while F Stoppers has a great online repository of resources.

If you’re in the market to take your photography to the next level, F Stoppers is a wonderful online resource as well. Not to mention,

Photo bugs – what are some of your favorite pieces of gear? Let me know in the comments below!

[LA Life] Hunting for Art at Hauser + Wirth

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When I first moved to Los Angeles in my twenties, I met a lot of thirty-somethings to forty-anythings who dolled out their various bits and pieces of wisdom, whether I wanted them or not it seemed.  From life hacks to party tricks, inspirational pep-talks, moving monologues and transformational wisdom – I began to understand that all the learning I did while I was in college was child’s play compared to what the real world was actively teaching me.

Don’t drink the tap water; make sure a friend has a spare key; find a rent controlled apartment; art is everywhere; you don’t have to be happy to smile; sleep later, have fun now; kindness goes a long way; things get better the older you are. 

Some lessons were more like sprints, easier to digest and put into motion immediately, while others felt like a marathon where I was taught lessons over an extended period of time after many an experience. As I gracefully bowed out of my twenties and into my thirties, I felt the wheels inside me churning – I was evolving and surely wasn’t that same girl that moved Koreatown so bright eyed and ponytailed in the Summer of 2018.  As I’ve said before, you never stop having growing pains – it’s simply at some point they become psychological, emotional and mental growth over the physical; and that’s precisely where I’m at today.

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One of the many things that’s gotten better the older I’ve been, is my perspective on art, or at least my willingness to be curiously critical of it.  Immersive art, contained art, art in frames, urban street art in the wild – whatever the form, wherever it is: I will find it, and I will let it consume me.

Recently, I’ve taken a bit of an obsession in visiting all of the museums and art galleries around Los Angeles.  So far, I’ve crossed off quite a few – with the grounds of the Getty Villa and Getty topping my favorite architecture, the Natural History Museum piquing the nerd interest inside and while the LACMA and The Broad offer fantastic contemporary art.  I still need to get to the Annenberg Space for Photography in Culver City and Neon Museum in Glendale, but for the most part – I’ve been able to cross quite a few off my list; meaning it’s time to hit the art galleries!  Just the other month I ventured to an art opening at the Gabba Gallery but just last month I hit the mecca, the motherload, and my new favorite haunt: Hauser and Wirth’s Downtown Gallery.

Taking over the space of an old flour mill in the heart of DTLA’s arts district is latest iteration of Zurich’s acclaimed Hauser + Wirth Gallery. The gallery curators themselves have a bevvy of locations under their belt, including London, New York, Hong Kong and Gstaa.  The Los Angeles edition opened their doors in March of 2016 in a sprawling urban that spans over 100,000 square feet between their multiple indoor facilities and large open air spaces.  A one of a kind experience with no other facilities quite like it in America, Hauser + Wirth is made up of an open air atrium with outdoor sculptures, an education lab, a research area, a mind bending bookstore, a wonderful planting garden complete with beautiful chickens, and last but certainly not least, Manuela – an impeccable modern American restaurant.  Of the exhibits open at the time, we wandered our way through various nooks and crannies, eventually we ended up at Mike Kelley’s ‘Kandors‘ and took the time to slowly saunter through his keen retrospective of both the world and psyche of Superman.

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Currently, LA’s H + W is under construction as new exhibits are being assembled, but have no fear – they’ll be reopening on February 17th with fantastic new fine art and believe you me – I’ll be back, and in numbers.  With their fantastic restaurant comes one of the best bars I’ve been to in Los Angeles less 71 Above, boasting adorable ambiance like you’ve been swept away into some provincial European town – or at the very least can forget that you’re in the midst of the hustle and bustle of downtown. Plus, H + W offers plenty of pause for party – including their open air courtyard, classes on classes like their latest on Scent Making

For more on the Los Angeles Edition of the Hauser + Wirth Galleries, head to their website and socials; or if you’re in the Southern California area, simply pay them a visit in the heart of DTLA.

Hauser + Wirth Website | Hauser + Wirth Los Angeles Website

 Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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[Adulting 101] Tax Season 2018

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Seasons here in Los Angeles are an undependable and drastically different monster than anywhere else, Summer can last half the year, while Winter might only last a few days; but the good news is that Tax Season typically comes pretty standard.  Now that we’re almost a month through the new year and you’re working on removing the last one from your lexicon, your finances can finally do the same now as the IRS has begun to accept tax returns for 2017.  Last year, I dolled out the 411 on all things tax season – but this year there are some updates, some new tips and tricks as well as the latest changes to the new tax codes that have rolled out for the year. As the world turns and as your personal world turns, so does your financial world – children, new employment, marriage, and legislation can put a world of change onto your tax returns. With a few life adjustments under my sleeves and a whole lot of personal growth, I have ample new information to share.

Before we dive down the rabbit hole, let’s back up for a second.  Every time we get near April I tend to ask myself why the hell we even pay taxes anyways – but there are ample reasons that it’s a necessity.  At the most basic level, a government and a governed society can only work properly if everyone is participating – money is one of those forms of participation, as are things like voting, working with your local city council and so on.  Social and community functions like hospitals, national parks, schools, roads and the salaries of certain city employees and officials are derived directly from the taxes we pay – whether the money comes directly out of your paycheck, as with a W-2, or as an annual residual if you’re an independent contractor and go by 1099.

Documents on Documents.

Last week, many business and companies began to roll out both their electronic and paper versions of your W2 or 1099, depending on your type of employment. In addition, fiscal firms have also sent out a 1099-DIV form with instructions on investments.  The easiest way to keep yourself organized is either an analog filing cabinet, or a secure digital folder.  As soon as you have the basics, you can begin the filing process – and if you acquire more documents after you’ve filed, never fear: there’s a very simple process to amend your Tax Return, however that must be mailed in.

2018 tax brackets

Filing

When I was a kid, my parents would assist with my taxes – and by kid, I mean 20 year old. Now that I’m old enough to figure out my own way, I defer to e-filing Intuit’s Turbo Tax, but H&R Block also offers a comparable service if you’re looking into other options. For those of you that need a lot of itemizations, deductions and or exemptions – your best bet is turning to a tax professional.  With the advent of the internet they don’t necessarily need to be local, however you will want someone that understands the state laws for where you lived in 2017.

 

Fast Facts

A few tax basics for your lexicon: a dependent is a person that you’re not married to that fiscally depends on you, and only you. Most adults, whether single or married, only claim 1 – but more on that later. Depending on your gross income for the past year and the federal assistance received for health insurance or social security, you might not need to file taxes at all.

Married with Taxes

Now, this to me was – and still slightly is – the tricky part. Just hitched last August, this is the first time I’ll be able to file my taxes as a married lady and I had a lot of questions, but rightfully so.  When you’re married, there are two ways of filing – you can file ‘Married and Jointly’ or ‘Married and Separately’.

So let’s break this down.  Filing ‘Married and Separately’ is exactly how it sounds, you submit your spouses name and social security number along with yours but the only taxes you will file are your own. On the other hand, filing ‘Married and Jointly’ combines your gross income as a couple into one umbrella group, if you notice in the chart above – the income intervals for ‘M & J’ are double the intervals of ‘M & S’, and coming with that is also a fairly nice tax break.  When does each one make sense? Now, that’s the trick – and each year, it could be different depending on types of employment and each partner’s salary.  For us cats over here, I computed both – the Married and Separately as well as Married and Jointly, and compared the results to myself before I believed what I read – but now I can indeed verify: filing Married and Separately makes the most sense for partners that make nearly the same amount within the same tax bracket, while Married and Jointly seems to be the most beneficial when there is an exponential disparity in income.

Filing Deadline

Officially kicking off Tax Season yesterday, you can file your taxes any time you’d like between now and the April 17th (yes, 17th) deadline.  I’ve discovered a little trick, where the sooner you submit your tax return the sooner you can reap the sweet rewards. Last year, it only took a week and a half for both my state and federal return to be processed, so I like sending mine out as soon as possible.  But in case I made a mistake I can file amended 1040-X anytime over the next three years. And yes, Tax Day is technically on April 15th, but that’s also a Sunday – with the observed ‘Emancipation Day’ holiday falling in Washington DC on the Monday, making it a federal holiday, thus the deadline is now Tuesday, April 17th.

IRS | IRS E-File

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