Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sonar Weekend (Barcelona)

Over three years have passed since I last was living in Europe, and during the three years that I was back home in the States before this year's return, there were a couple things that I had put on my "Want To" list that stayed there. The things on that list range from countries/cities I want explore, traditional/cultural events I want to attend, experiences I want to have, and of course, festivals. Sonar Festival in Barcelona was one of the events I'd stuck on my "In This Life" list, but I most likely doubted that I'd end up going to it, or at least so soon. But I am more than stoked to be here and report that this month I went, I saw, I did, I raged, and I lived, Sonar!
Maya Jane Coles wrecking the tables and our eardrums..with goodness, pure goodness <3

When I first decided I wanted to go to Sonar, I was still in the height of my rave days. I was a kandi kid to the max. Romping around in my 7" rave boots, kandi up to my armpits, and fake eye lashes that would have a drag queen jealous, that was me. So when I realized I was back in Spain and had the chance to go, I knew right away it was one of the summer must's, but didn't really think about the changes I've undergone since I initially decided I wanted to go, (I am no longer a drag queen), and began making the plans. I contacted a couple friends I made while temporarily 'living' in a hostel in London last time I was abroad, and we decided, ok, great, Sonar is it, our grand reunion! (One of them lives in Barcelona, so it was an easy, obvious choice.) The plan was set, but I think I somehow doubted it was all going to happen, so I never booked or bought anything.

I got into conversation with my friend in Barce a couple weeks before, and then realized that, "Oh, sheet, this is actually happening, and it's happening in two weeks!" Then the week before I was supposed to be in Barcelona, I still didn't have my flights booked, tickets purchased, or anything planned, even though I knew I was going. I considered backing out of the plan, because August is going to be a pretty pricey month for me, and I am in a great state of "needing to save" right now, but I also knew I didn't want to back out less than a week before I was supposed to arrive. And oh my goodness gracious, holy smokes am I ever glad I didn't back out!

I went into Sonar weekend thinking, "Ok, it's going to be super ravey, probably not so worth it, but, hey, I'll go with an open mind and see what happens. It's a new experience, it's something I've wanted to go to for years, and it's a good chance to reconnect with someone." Seriously, even if I hadn't entered the weekend with an open mind, it would have been blown by the whole experience of the weekend. Sonar weekend was EPIC!

I landed in Barcelona about 21h on Friday night, took the train into the city, met up with my friend, walked to his friend's place, put down my backpack, was handed a shot, and just like that we were out the door. The second we got there I picked up on a vibe different than just that of any old EDM event, and was glad, but also really surprised to be at a mostly-EDM event and not see a bunch of kids running around in neon bras, panties, vans, fluffies, and kandi. This added a nice bit of a cultural experience to it all as well, since although it wasn't the first music and arts festival I've been to in Europe so far, on this scale and this level of international attendance and recognition, it was. We got in surprisingly quickly, and then it began!

Sonar by Night takes place in an old airplane hanger, so there was loads of space at each stage and area. They had a few different stages set up, and at one point, I felt like I was back at the Shrine walking through HARD Haunted Mansion in 2008. One of the most ingenious things I saw were the people walking around with kegerator backpacks so you could buy a beer without having to leave the dance floor! (This works over here, because the drinking age is lower. It couldn't work in the States unless it was a 21-and-up event, but let's face it, there's always the random 12-year old e-tards who manage to make it in. Shame.) And one of the highlights for me was actually watching all the people slamming around on the bumper cars that were set up. As well as being able to see Maya Jane Coles (FINALLY saw her spin a full set!), Paco Osuna, and Richie Hawtin B2B2B (ENTER!)..WOW. And I've gotta say, I was actually more impressed with MJC & Paco's sets than Richie's. Of course his was good, and maybe it's because he was on from about 5-7am and I was really freaking tired by the end of it, but I was definitely the most impressed with Maya. (Whoop whoop, hands in the air for rockin' female djs!)

My mentality that night was one of that like it used to be in my early rave days before I became a burnt-out, old-raver-hipster-fogie. I was full of the love and the light, and was just enjoying everyone and everything around me. It made me realize that I was going too hard, too often, for too long before, and I'd lost my love for the events and the whole purpose, aside from the music. To be at a new event, for the first time, and the first event of that sort for a long time, made it special. It returned the love to my heart that had turned into a self-appointed veteran status. I now really appreciate spacing out events and not going to one or two every single month. It makes them more special for me when they aren't a standard life event.

That loving feeling I had on Friday night carried me all the way through into Sonar by Day on Saturday. We didn't make it to too much of the day portion, since we pretty much slept all of the day away, but the portion we did catch was pretty stellar. The whole festival, day and night, had a nice blend of music styles -- live bands and deejays. And Sonar by Day had a massive room set up with different booths (Chico students think, "Wrectacular," but smaller), all for different forms of interactive, digital media.

I seriously considered just credit carding the ticket to Sonar by Night that night so I could meet up with a friend from Cali who I haven't seen in ages, have the experience again, and catch the awesome line-up they had for the night, but didn't end up doing so. And considering how early I passed out that night, it's a good thing. It ended up working in my favor too, because Sunday was actually one of the most mind-blowing days/nights of my life to date (that I can think of).

There's a part of Barcelona that is more ancient and has become a destination that you go to for one of two reasons: 1. You're a tourist and you need to see this old part of town, or 2. You're a festival go-er who is going to El Rowtown to attend one of the craziest festivals you'll probably ever witness. So clearly we went for the first reason...

The entire day started out as a mystery for me really. My friend, his friends, all his roommates, and all of their friends visiting already had tickets to this event, but I did not. So we went, assuming I could get a ticket at the door, even though online they said there were no more, and got there to find out that, crap, no tickets. The wheels in my mind started to turn, and I was thinking, ok, I can just go back and hang out, wander around Barcelona, there's definitely worse places I could be left alone to pass the time. But, I also tend to err on the side of optimism and "make it happen," so before I hitched it in a cab back to my friend's place for a nap, I decided, "Ok, this is it, my moment. It's time to take control and make it happen. I'm going to walk this entire line and ask every single person here if they have an extra ticket, and someone will." The line was absolutely massive, so I knew that someone in it would have at least one ticket that I could buy.

So I started to walk, feeling a little nervous about my Spanish skills and having to ask every single person I saw if they had tickets, and then I saw a group of people, and decided to make them my first mark. I asked if they had an extra ticket, and what do you know, they did! (SCOREEEE!!!) I bought the ticket right away, dance-ran to my friend and our group to show them, and then went back to wait in line with my new BFFs. (I had to enter with them because you have to show the card on which the ticket is purchased in order to get in.)

I ended up getting my face painted while we were waiting, and bonding with the group of people who had delivered me my day's salvation. They were a great group of people, and remembering correctly, I think most of the conversation I had with the guy who sold me the ticket was about "Two and a Half Men." LOL. Cheers to being from California!

It goes without saying that I would have never known what I was missing out on if I didn't get into El RowShow that day, but, I think my soul would have cried just the same.

I've been to some crazy events in my life, but this one was absolute madness. For some of you, when I say, "imagine the Wavehouse in SD, but bigger, combined with The Do Lab at Coachella, but add some foam, and also throw in a touch of the SF LoveFest before it became LovEvolution, and throw in some more extra-crazy costumes and inflatable things, and then think of the scene in "Across the Universe" where they're at the rally, and the scene where they've taken their acid trip all the way to that weird circus, and there are those giant sculpture-looking things that people control with poles, and the other weird artsy, statue, trippy things, and then put it on to some wicked electro and house music, but place it all inside the walls of an ancient city, where people are raging face, with a Frankenstein, some massive Chinese dragons, people on stilts with water guns connected to backpacks, a few clotheslines that actually are strung up of clothes, someone in a chicken costume, and hot babes in minimal bikinis," you'll get it. Do you get it? Does anyone? .... =/

Just in case you don't get the picture, here are some...

Just looking at these photos takes me back to such a happy place and time. And now that I've likely convinced all of you to head on out to Barcelona for Sonar Weekend next year, I'm going to go and daydream about it some more myself. :)

Enjoy this life you've got, folks, it's your only one! Live it large, and make that shit count!

Blessings, Love & Light <3

Thursday, June 20, 2013

From Nine-to-Five, to Never More Alive!

I'm sure I'm not the only one who goes back through and looks at all their old Instagram pictures every once in a great while (right?), so I will continue with this post completely unashamed (as I tend to in most situations)...

Today I decided to take a peek back at the photos that I've shared on Instagram, and it took me on a ride through the last year and a half of my life. Which has been pretty freaking epic. In the last year and a half, just about exactly, now that I think about it, I have:

Graduated from college 
Got a job in & moved to LA to start work at a 6-week job, that transitioned into a seven month job
Decided to move to Spain
Moved home for what should have been one month, but turned into three (thank you visa)
Moved to Sevilla and started teaching English

And now, most recently, moved to Mallorca as an au pair for two months
Also having taken place during that time have been countless concerts, festivals, raves, events, weekend trips, travels, new friends, old friends, love found and then left, family time, food time, and so much more!
When 2012 started, I had a good feeling about it. Maybe because it started at SnowGlobe, where only good things happen and the best years are begun, but I just knew that 2012 was going to be my year. I had just finished school, which meant that there were bound to be some big things coming my way, but I couldn't have begun to foresee what the coming year (now year and a half) would bring. 

The theme of my IG account started out like any other; just my life. And then it picked up momentum as a place where I would post influential images, quotes, sayings, and government-type blasts to inspire people and get them thinking. The entire time though, the theme that flowed was one of happiness, love, and doing things that scare you -- taking big chances, not staying sedentary, exploring, living large, and getting out into the world. Some of the images I posted leading into my decision to move back to Spain made it pretty clear that I had to make the big move, or I would be neglecting all the advice and words I'd been passing around. Such as:
The inspiration and positivity themes remain, but one major thing has changed since I first started sharing my life through photos with the world. I got an IG account within a couple months of my move to LA (when they opened it up to Android), so it's a pretty good way for me to track the moves I've been making the last year. And let me tell you something, I was on that nine-to-five (six in the case of Disney/ABC workers) grind so harddd. Of course I was enjoying my life and loving the moments in it, but when I look back at my pictures, I see a schedule that I never wanted to have, and never will again. 

To wake up at 4:30am to go and work out, then get ready for work, have my morning espresso, make breakfast, leave everyday at the same time, park in the same place, go through the same doors, to the same cube, then open the emails, check them, respond, start the work, soak in the television programming, anxiously await lunch, take lunch, back to work, more emails, flittering around, waste time, do this, do that, count down the minutes till 18h, go to my car, leave work, sit in traffic again, get home, make dinner, craft, do whatever, watch nature programming, then go to bed knowing the next day would more-or-less be the same... O_o OHMYGOSH. I'm tired and bored just from writing all of that! For real. Wow. I can't believe I survived doing that (not always with the waking up to work out..more often no than yes really, haha) for seven months!
The fact that a cup of espresso in the mornings made me excited is good, it's nice to enjoy the little things in life, but the fact that it was "my new morning," I'm not so fond of. Also, the fact that reading who was nominated for the Emmy's in Variety while drinking a beer was a great start to a weekend, kinda makes me want to gag. Of course the setting couldn't be more amazing, but for me, I'm pretty anti-Hollywood, so to have been in "so deep," really makes my skin curl. (And yes I realize that I was in a remarkably blessed position, I knew it while I was in it and never took it for granted or forgot to say thanks. But, it was also a position that we as humans don't really belong in, and it was in an industry that has been slowly polluting humanity since it started. Sorry, no offense, Ent.) (Also not giving any of the credit due to my dinomate who was there by my side almost every day and night in LA. Without you, I would have probably gone insane and been one depressed lady. I love you forever and always, my beautiful, twin soul!)

And now that I am sitting here in the 2-year old's bedroom that is mine for now, with a view of sailboats and yachts [if I crane my head a bit] out the window, and the ocean on all sides of me, I am blown away that I once was an espresso-in-the-morning-before-I-head-to-work gal. All of that really seems like a lifetime ago, like a life I don't really know. 

Don't get me wrong, I was loving life, that's all I can really do, but, I'd be lying if I said that everyday at work I didn't think about returning to Spain and getting back into the world to travel and learn. I miss my friends, I miss my family, I miss my chilly pad with my dinomate just living in love all the time, and I was about to cry looking back at all the times that I had in LA, but I am so much more open now than I have been in a long time. And I feel so much more connected to the world, even if I've left all the familiar behind. 

We are children of the earth. We are not meant for one corner, one land, one territory or nationality. We are EARTHLINGS, meant to roam free, where we want, like the birds and the animals. So why have we become so accepting of a life that keeps us chained to the same desk for years on end with just the hope to move to the corner office getting us through the next day? Mala, mala ("bad, bad"), and certainly not for me.

I respect the life everyone has chosen, it is their own beautiful path, but I also urge everyone to break out of the mold and do something a bit drastic with their time here on earth. We've only got one shot at this life, and when I die, I want that to be one of the most epic, adventure-filled flicks I've ever seen! ;)

I hope the breeze kisses you all sweetly as you go about your days, and that you consider what is something you can do, in your given situation at this time, that is a bit off-beat! There is ALWAYS a way to spice up your life, it doesn't take money, wits, or connections to do it. Just being open to all that is around you, and learning to trust the world a little bit more.
 Blessings, Love, Gratitude, & Light

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

WOMAD Festival in Caceres

Earlier in May I was presented with a chance to go to Caceres, Spain, and attend WOMAD Festival with my roommates. I had never heard anything about Caceres or WOMAD, but figured, hey, I love seeing new places and music festivals, and I especially love when those music festivals are free, so why not? A few weeks have passed since the time of the festival, but I am finally here to report that I am so glad I went! It was quite the experience, and one I look forward to repeating!

Caceres itself is a charming place, full of history and interesting, medieval, Renaissance buildings to see. The landscape is beautiful, as it's surrounded by greenery and land. And the people that I encountered while I was there were lovely too. It worked out nicely that I took a bus to Caceres on Saturday morning and was able to explore the town and walk around a bit before the festival activities commenced later that afternoon.

I saw many of the things that one might see when they go to Caceres as a tourist, but probably the highlight for me was seeing the Plaza Mayor during the day, and then seeing it again during the festival that night.

It's a massive plaza, and when I saw it during the day, it was very much alive. People were eating at the restaurants that surround its edges, drinking on the well-known massive stairway that leads down into it, and enjoying the sun and life itself. I thought, "Oh, what a perfect place to have a festival. It's so big, there's plenty of space for all the people, and this will just be great, so much room to dance!" So having stuck this thought in my mind, I was in total shock when we arrived to the festival that night and could barely walk through it!

The festival was crawling with people, so many people, I couldn't believe I was in the same place. The plaza suddenly seemed too small, and I was wondering where all that room I'd seen earlier might have gone. It was quite a sight! WOMAD, which stands for the World of Music, Arts, and Dance, has been taking place in Caceres for the last 22 years, and has developed a reputation for being an awesome, international, free festival. Started by Peter Gabriel (of Genesis), Thomas Brooman, and Bob Hooton, WOMAD has become synonymous for good music in a great setting. They bring a deeply international lineup, and keep the workshops and sounds pumping for many hours.

The festival had two stages that alternated having people perform each hour or so. The main stage was in the Plaza Mayor, and the smaller stage was in another plaza near the Plaza Mayor, Plaza San Jorge. My roommates had been the night before, so they weren't too keen on spending much time at the Plaza Mayor, and we spent our time bouncing around from the area that you pass through from one stage to the next, and the smaller stage.

This stage was set with a nice-sized church at the back of it, which provided a perfect space for more people to fill, and man, was the area full! The festival was great, but I do think that it's size has outgrown the space they have for it. It would be better suited if it was held in a larger area, so people can access it and move around more. We got to a "there's no turning back" point, and once we were planted and in the stage area, we weren't going to move, or leave. I got a bit claustrophobic at times, and had to return my attention to the splendor of musical performance before me in order to not be bothered by the walkway my body had become (but hey, this is expected at festivals now-a-days anyways). We only actually saw two performances while we were there, but they were so memorable that I've been passing out the artists' names to everyone I can since we got back.

The church at the back-end of the stage in Plaza San Jorge. 

Before going, I did a bit of reading and research on WOMAD, and one of the things I read was that the plazas would be so full, people would be climbing up on windows in order to see the stages. Even knowing this ahead of time, I was still surprised to see people climbing the heights and sitting on the iron works of the windows. Although, if I wasn't such a whimp with heights, I would have done the same, as it provided the best seat in the house!

The first artist we saw was Julian Maeso of Spain. His musical style hits on many levels, and if you're at all interested in blues, rock, folk, country, soul, and Bob Dylan, you'll be sure to enjoy Julian Maeso. His sounds are quite unique coming from a Spanish recording artist, but they sure are lovely. I kept finding myself with my eyes closed, swaying back-and-forth, with only the most beautiful kinds of thoughts filling my head. He and his band put on an amazing show, and were sure to keep the energy up. There were slamming guitar and drum solos, as well as those moments that make you drift off to a land full of puffy clouds and rainbows. Julian himself is quite impressive, as he can play a variety of instruments, and all of them well. 

The next group that we saw hail from Australia and go by the name the Barons of Tang. This group is the product of the squatter scene in Melbourne, and it only took a moment for me to become entranced by their sound. It is a gnarly combination of rockabilly, gypsy, metal, tango, and instrumental goodness, and will leave you feeling exhausted, but oh so happy. I couldn't believe the energy level, random shouts, screams, barks, howls, and/or chants that were blasting at me from the stage when they were on, let alone the rapid shifts and switches from a more mellow, soft sound, to BAM, we have hit punk station and we're going hard! I can still feel my jaw drop to the ground when I think about how the drummer was just smashing it out the entire time, or the surprise I felt when she then stepped up to the mic and let out a beautiful voice. I kept waiting for them to slow down, tire out, and let up, but it did not the whole time they played. They were really something else. No matter your music taste, you've gotta respect their skills and what they're doing!

Overall, WOMAD was a great experience, and one I intend to have again next year. The overcrowded-ness of it cannot keep me away, which makes it easy to understand why so many people go, in spite of this less-than-enjoyable fact. The city was quite alive that weekend, with workshops, markets, drum circles, and performances, and that kind of aliveness is something I think we all seek in life.

If you're ever in Andalucia in May, be sure to check out Caceres (if you're ever in Andalucia in general, I recommend taking the trip out for a day/night) for WOMAD Festival!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Next Adventure: The Au Pair Life, Palma de Mallorca

Once again, I have completely failed at keeping the blog up-to-date, but I am here in this moment, and in this moment, I am feeling so overjoyed and full of love!

I moved about six hours ago to Palma de Mallorca to au pair for a Spanish family here, and have jumped right into the lives of one amazing family! There are three little girls, two, five, and seven years old, and then the parents. The dad captains a boat, so he's gone most of the summer and we have yet to meet, but the mom is really fantastic. They've never had an au pair, I've never been an au pair, and we're figuring it out together!

They met me at the airport with the cutest sign that the two older girls had made, and they warmed up to me pretty quickly. I've been really surprised how short a time it's taken for them to adjust to me and initiate me into their lives as a jungle gym item, but I'm glad. I'm much more keen on skipping over the warming-up phase and just getting right into it. After all, I'm living in their house.

I was really surprised when we were flying into the airport to see how big Mallorca really is. I think that in my mind, an island is generally a small place, and I didn't consider that some are not-so-small. From the plane I could see a mountain range, and then lots of landscapes where there are villages and towns. Then there is Palma, the city, with a population of about 400,000 (there's seven or eight hundred thousand people that live on the island), which is where we're located. But, seeing the mountain range, and knowing that on all sides of me in any direction if I go far enough it equals ocean, made me squirm in my seat and praise the good Lord above. I am SO excited for this experience!

Where I'm living is pretty ideal as well, even considering it's not at the bottom of the mountains in a village. It's at the end of the walk that runs along the marina, ocean, and all the stuff I assume people come to Mallorca to see. So, overall, God's got my back..again. (Or better, like always. Like He always does with each of us, so long as we just let Him!:) I'm really looking forward to going out and adventuring around the island over the next couple months. There are loads of hikes that I can do, so I'm going to try and fit in one each weekend. We're going on a "hike" tomorrow with the girls, and the friends and parents of one of them, so that will be great!

I can already tell that I'm going to have my hands full with these ones, as their moods can shift from happy to crying in an instant, and they've got a lot of energy. But, I also have a lot of energy, and love to play, so I think we'll fend just fine! And I'll figure out how to handle the emotional break downs as the time passes. They're the cutest little girls, and I've already fallen in love with them, and learned some lessons. Such as...

There is no such thing as personal space with children. People that know me, know that I generally always have my purple Bassnectar Klean Kanteen with me everywhere that I go, and this place is no exception. Except that after I brought it into the living room and it got passed around by the girls to drink water, I might change my pace with that one. Haha. And, I forgot what it's like to be a little girl, where every single thing that it pretty and fun, you play with, take, wear, and assume is part yours. And considering how much jewelry I always wear, these kids are having a good time. I think that probably was the initial ice breaker for them..all the stuff I wear. But, for sure, seeing a five-year old rock the sh out of my heart-shaped shades was icing on the cake for me.
The 7-year old wearing half of my outfit from today. haha <3

And, I have now learned what the two-year old signal for, "I have to pee so badly, and I waited until the very last possible moment that I could to tell you/go, so now, I'm clutching my crotch while I dribble, and now we must RUN to make it, before it goes on the floor" is. A lesson I will only have to learn once before I know what to do. (Done and done.)

Lastly, if it can be climbed on, it will be, including your person, so it's best to not wear jewelry or things that you might not want to see break. (Thank goodness I thought about this ahead of time, and brought all my sunglasses with me, knowing there are a couple pair I'm willing to sacrifice.)

Before I came, it all seemed too good to be true. My interactions with the mom were great, she was super nice and accommodating, and I was really thinking of how I would escape the "Taken" situation I was surely entering. So when I saw that it really was one really nice mom and three really adorable little girls waiting for me, I was thanking God like He'd just prevented me from getting hit by a bus Mean Girls style. I feel so, so blessed, grateful, and happy, and cannot wait to continue this adventure! Expect to see a lot of heart-melting photos of little ones over the next couple months, because clearly, I'm already obsessed. ^_^

Many blessings to you all!

- Love & Light -