By Jessica Marin, 17, Culver City HS
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Jessica went to five museums this summer, and they were all free!

I had plans to make money this summer. I was going to get a job at a clothing store or a restaurant because I thought it would be fun to work around a lot of people. I wanted to make money for clothes shopping and going out with friends.

The first week of July my friend and I went job hunting. We walked around Westwood and the Westside Pavilion mall all day only to hear “We’re not hiring but we’re always accepting applications” or “You have to be 18 years old.” Still, I picked up about seven applications because I wanted a job, but I didn’t put in too much effort. One application asked for the days and hours I’d be available to work. I’d be available every day, but I didn’t want to write that because I was scared that if I got hired, I wouldn’t have time to go out with friends. I didn’t turn in any applications because I didn’t think I’d get hired.

The next week I stayed home and watched movies and TV. I was discouraged. What’s going to happen with my summer? Is it going to be like this the whole two months? I thought, I might as well do something productive and get out of the house. So I started volunteering at my old preschool three days a week, doing arts and crafts with the kids, reading to them and playing with them.

I had a lot of fun with the kids. One of them, Dylan, made me a book where I was a princess and I had a prince named Sergio. They said the funniest things too. Once, one of the youngest kids, Diego, was helping me water the plants when he started complaining that his back was “killing him.” I looked at him and started laughing. A 3-year-old complaining about his back! I told him that he was too young for backaches. Sometimes when I left, the kids yelled “We love you” or “We miss you.” It made me feel like I was doing something good.

When I wasn’t volunteering I’d go out with my friends. I was tight on money so I looked for cheap or free activities. My friends and I went to the Getty museum where we took a free guided tour of the “Paris: Life & Luxury” exhibit. It was about the French upper classes during the 18th century. The clothing of that time was so sophisticated and detailed. I learned that women back then had a designated time to get ready called a “toilette.” During the toilette they took up to four hours to get ready. They would put on petticoats, which are like skirts that go under dresses to make them look fuller, and corsets, which were tightened to accentuate their waists. I thought it was crazy. I couldn’t imagine living in that time period. I take 20 minutes to get ready in the morning. I’d rather have those four hours to do something else.

I discovered a cool band

Jessica and her friend Mitzhy biked along the Ballona Creek to Marina Del Rey almost every week. Photo by Mithzy's sister Arely Hernandez, 12, Culver City MS

My friend Mithzy and I also went to the Hammer Museum near UCLA for a free concert to see the indie bands Grouplove and Milo Greene. I was excited because I hadn’t been to a concert in three years. Standing and swaying to the music for two hours was tiring but at the end of the night I was a fan of Grouplove. Now when I’m at home I listen to their songs on YouTube.

Not having a job during the summer gave me time to be more active. Mithzy and I tried to bike to the beach once a week. We would ride our bikes along the Ballona Creek and go to the marina and sit on the rocks for two hours. We would watch people and the crabs. I thought it was cute when the tiny crabs would fight for food among the rocks.

I found out that a café near my house had yoga sessions every Wednesday morning. It was free and my mom said it would be good for controlling my “temper.” I was scared to do yoga the first time. I imagined myself getting all tied up and worse I imagined accidentally farting in the middle of a pose. Luckily nothing like this happened and I realized I loved yoga. Yoga made me feel calm. When my friend and I came out of the café the bus passed by and didn’t stop for us. Instead of yelling like I normally would, I didn’t give it a second thought. I knew that there would be another bus soon. I’m going to continue doing yoga.

One week my tutor took me to exercise boot camp. It was free for the first week. The class was from 6 to 7 a.m. The second day I was dying through the whole thing. We had to do these horrible things that I hated called burpees. You drop to the floor and extend your legs out and then pull them back in and jump up again. Those killed me. When I got home I collapsed on my bed and slept for three hours. The next day I couldn’t even get out of bed. I never went back.

This summer was great. I had fun on a budget. I was able to do a little bit of everything and I didn’t have to worry about being on time for a job. I’m a senior now so this was my last summer as a “kid.” Next summer I’ll have to work to make money to cover my college expenses. I’m happy that I was unemployed because my summer was carefree.