Travelling Solo

When I said this year was going to be the year of new experiences, I was not kidding! This spring I got to have some of the most amazing new experiences I could have ever asked for. I went on a completely solo trip to a new city (actually two new cities), stayed in an Airbnb alone, and went to a concert alone! 

I’ve never travelled solo before. Sure, I’ve flown solo plenty of times even as a child, thanks to having my dad’s side of my family in another state. My solo flying always took me to a place where family was waiting on the other side, whether that was flying out to my California family or flying home to my New Mexico family. 

What’s funny is this was actually originally supposed to be a regular non-solo trip, with my husband coming along and with both of us staying with my sister and grandma in the Los Angeles area. But, with a little dumbassery on my part, it turned into a very different trip.

Cut to me, sitting in my favorite chair, innocently scrolling Instagram. I then came upon a post by the band Thursday, whom I’ve loved since I was a kid. The post announced their 20th anniversary tour, in which they’d be touring their second and third albums through a handful of Californian cities. Their third album, War All The Time, was the first album I ever heard by them, and remains my favorite to this day. One of the shows was in Los Angeles, which is within driving distance of my sister and grandmother. My mind began to whir with the possibilities, knowing that I might just be able to see them!

It turned out my husband and I could in fact afford a short trip out to California, and it worked out so perfectly! The Los Angeles show was on a Saturday, so my husband could come too, and we could stay with my family. We’d each get a mini vacation, I’d see one of my top bands (one of the few I hadn’t seen in concert yet) and we’d get to spend some quality time with my family. The day the tickets went on sale, I was practically buzzing with excitement. I sat with the webpage open a good half-hour before the tickets went on sale, ready to hit refresh and snatch up my ticket! 

In my excitement, I was very careful to buy the ticket for the War All The Time show. Don’t wanna accidentally buy the wrong show, now do I? Ticket purchased, I sat back to bask in that “I’m going to a dope concert” glow. But then, reading the information on the e-ticket, I realized something: I had, in fact, bought the wrong fucking ticket. 

I had not bought the Saturday Los Angeles show, I had bought the Thursday San Francisco show. 

Now, I wouldn’t stay with my family (a good 6 hours away from San Fran), but instead in the least expensive Airbnb we could find, which happened to be across the bay in Oakland. Now, my husband couldn’t accompany me, since I’d be going in the middle of the week and all. Instead, I would be going solo. 

I was a little nervous about going somewhere totally new by myself, but at the same time I was actually pretty excited to do something like this. I felt that experiencing the world on my own would be a good way to grow and become more confident. 

As it turned out, the whole thing didn’t feel much different than going with someone else. The only salient difference was not having an audience for the whimsical thoughts I had, no one to turn to when I saw something interesting in the shops, no one to geek out with before or after the concert. These things made it somewhat lonely, but not necessarily in a bad way. Instead, I laughed at my own jokes, looked excitedly at interesting souvenirs in Chinatown, listened to street music and ate yummy food. As for geeking at the concert, punk concert goers are an incredibly friendly and chatty bunch, and I found myself chatting and smiling and dancing with the people around me. 

What I felt most the whole time was this giddiness and contentedness. It was a little thrilling as I got on public transit by myself, doing things like buying a ticket for the BART to make my way through Oakland and across the bay to downtown San Fran the night of the concert, or finding and riding the ferry, or just taking the bus. I felt rather at peace wandering the streets of downtown Oakland my first day and downtown San Fran my second, seeing the sights and people and buildings and doing everything I wanted to, and not being upset when I didn’t have time for something. Being lost in my own thoughts, not obligated to be talking or smiling or deciding what to do next with someone else was sort of freeing. Plus, I just like wandering around big cities. 

Finding love in Downtown San Francisco

Finding love in Downtown San Francisco

Chinatown!

Chinatown!

Obligatory bathroom selfie with the shirt I’d just bought at the merch booth

Obligatory bathroom selfie with the shirt I’d just bought at the merch booth

The concert itself was a magical experience to say the least. Being surrounded by people who had also been shaped from a young age by this band and this album particularly gave the whole night an almost spiritual air, and hearing these songs that I’ve loved so much for the last decade played live just two feet from my face (cause you know I always get front row) was indescribable. I was actually very surprised that I didn’t cry once, even though I did come close. The next day, I listened to the album again, and it felt almost reverent, almost like I shouldn’t be listening to it on something like my phone after the night before. Even months later, listening to those songs makes my heart swell as I recall the concert. 

I think the thing that surprises other people the most when I mention it about this trip is that none of this was all that scary. Going to a concert alone wasn’t all that scary, especially since no one at a concert is interested in anything but the band, and honestly it feels more like being in a community of like-minded people. Staying at an Airbnb alone wasn’t all that scary, especially since I had been careful to choose someone I’d be comfortable staying with and as it turned out I hardly saw my host, and when I did she was incredibly friendly (actually, my hostess was freaking incredible and if you are in the Oakland area looking for place to stay, I highly recommend Kim’s place!). Wandering a big city alone wasn’t all that scary, especially since I know how to handle myself and to have a good eye on my belongings. 

The year of new experiences just keeps on giving, and I am so thankful for all the things I’ve gotten to do. I am so happy I went on this trip and got to experience traveling alone. I can’t wait to do something like this again. I also can’t wait to get back to San Fran and Oakland and to get to know them better after only having a couple days there.

I would definitely recommend a solo trip to anyone who can take one! 

Viva Las Vegas!

Here’s a fun fact about me no one wanted: I am not a party person. I like dancing and music and all that, but in small doses earlier in the night than 10 pm. I also don’t particularly like drinking, as having a slew of alcoholic family members often does to ya. I’m the kind of person who loves sitting around, or walking around, and talking. I know, the lady who blogs about herself likes talking in real life too?! Unbelievable. But it’s true. All this is to say, I never thought I’d like a city like Las Vegas. Man, was I wrong!

    Buckle up y’all for the next installment of: NEW EXPERIENCES!

    Let’s start with the beautiful part of this experience. My dad has been seeing this amazing woman for the last few years. She pretty much instantly became part of the family, we all loved her and her three kids, who all just happen to be the same age as my dad’s three kids. Well, this past weekend, they finally tied the knot! We are not just family now, we are OFFICIAL. Like, in the law and everything! They decided to do their wedding in Las Vegas because they like it there and knew their friends and family would have a fun weekend together. 

    Watching my dad marry the woman he loves, who has been such an amazing force in all our lives, was magical. The love was practically palpable as my dad’s family and my stepmother’s all sat in the open Nevada air, watching them make google-eyes at each other as the pastor married them. 

    After the ceremony and the official pictures, I snagged my stepmother, who looked beautiful in her “mermaid” style wedding gown, and took the obligatory wedding selfie. We shared a hug after that honestly felt like something so much more emotional and connective. I’ll be the first to tell anyone that my family life growing up was weird as fuck and not always in a good way (usually not in a good way) and I’m a little messed up because of it. But in that moment, I knew that she loved me and that I had gained so much today, too. We both left the embrace on the edge of tears. 

    The rest of the weekend, while not the same level of magical, was incredibly fun. Here’s the thing no one told me about Vegas: you don’t actually have to party like that. There’s so many other things to do. The walking and window shopping alone is so incredible and fun, and you know ya girl loves to walk and window shop! Walking the strip and Fremont street was way more fun than I had anticipated, especially surrounded by my beloved family who I don’t see often. We don’t all live near each other, you see. 

    I especially liked Fremont street, which my dad told me used to be the strip in the old days, but when the strip moved, it got outfitted to be a little different. Above the street, there is what they claim is the largest video screen, and it played graphics and music videos and ads and had me lookin’ up the whole time. We saw street performers, and not just mostly naked ones! We got to see a magician give a little street performance that turned out to be pretty mind blowing. His final trick was to take a crowd member’s $20 bill, and make it disappear. He then did a whole act about materializing a lemon out of nothing, and then…..THE TWENTY WAS IN THE LEMON. It was awesome. It was also awesome watching my little brother and stepbrothers flip out when he did the big reveal. IT WAS IN THE LEMON became the catchphrase of the night. 

    I got to bond with my sister, her boyfriend, my brother, my (official now!!) stepbrothers, my auntie, my Nana, and even got to meet other family I hadn’t met before! Oh wait, that’s even another new experience! This weekend was jam-packed with them!

    More and more new experiences, and a bigger, fuller heart. Happy April, everybody.

Oh, and here's a few pics of me in Vegas, for ya.

This was post 10 hour drive to Vegas. I was dress for comfort, ok??

This was post 10 hour drive to Vegas. I was dress for comfort, ok??

Vodka Baja Blast, anyone?

Vodka Baja Blast, anyone?

This castle was incredible!

This castle was incredible!

Starting with a Bang

Hello again, Misadventurers!

    I declared this year the Year of New Experiences, and it has not disappointed! This year has thrown at me so many experiences, positive and not, all a little outside my usual realm of existence. I am so glad for the positive, and the negative builds me into a stronger person, so I’m glad for it, too!

    The year began with celebrating the day of my birth, all of 23 years ago. The only thing I wanted for this birthday was a cake, a very particular cake. This cake: 

IMG_0431.JPG

 

    Yes, I do like blink-182, how could you tell? I’ve been annoying my husband about this cake for probably the last 3 years. Like the champ he is, he’s been listening, looking at the pictures, and generally putting up with my annoyingness (love ya, babe). Like the angel he is, he really went and ordered me the cake from the best cake maker we know, and even picked it up for me! I was beyond ecstatic to be able to have this cake, and you can bet your sweet ass I had him and my friends take as many pics as possible before eating it. I also deeply love my friends for putting up with my annoyingness. 

    The next adventures really were misadventures, as we had a month or so very centered on death. One of my beloved pet rats passed, surprisingly though not unexpectedly. He was a little hairless fella named Louie, and he was sweet as pie and as curious as the cat! Here he is sleeping in a little box in his enclosure:

IMG_7369.JPG

    I grew up with lots of pets in my own home as well as my grandmother’s and other extended family’s homes. These pets were usually cats, dogs, the occasional fish or gerbil. Many of the cats we had when I was growing up are still alive to this day. Many of the dogs have passed, and of course the smaller critters, too. But it felt so different when Louie went. The dogs in my life as a child weren’t really mine. I didn’t feed them daily or groom them or walk them. They were just…part of the family. It hurt and was sad when they died. When Louie died, it was absolutely devastating. A little creature I’d fed and watered and cleaned was laying dead in his cage. It was such a different sadness when the pet was truly mine. 

    I know it wasn’t really my fault. Hairless rats are sickly and delicate, and typically don’t live as long as their furry companions. But the guilt and pain were still real, and are still a wound to heal. This misadventure is one I dearly hope I don’t repeat anytime soon. 

    To lighten the mood a bit, here is a picture of my other rat, Tiny, poking his head out of my pocket:

IMG_0545.JPG

A couple weeks after the loss of Louie, my husband, Jordan, and I were called to his grandmother’s house. Her husband, whose name and photo I am not going to provide here, had been declining in health for well over a year. Now, it appeared he was about to succumb to the various illnesses raging within him. We went to their home to comfort his grandma and provide any help we could. Her husband held on, fighting like he had his whole life. Jordan, his mother and grandma, and myself all waited in morbid anticipation. Finally, his grandmother took the advice of his mother and left her husband’s side to take a restful bath. Jordan and I joined his mother in the bedroom where his grandpa lay. 

    Not five minutes later, he took a breath, and didn’t take another. 

    We waited, holding our own breath. Would he take a next breath? Was this it? And it was. Jordan’s mother covered him in a blanket, and the three of us left the room. When Jordan’s grandma went in a few moments later, it was clear he was gone. It was a sad moment, the loss of his life. It was a bit strange for me, I had never been close to the deceased. We’d talked some at family parties but that was it. But I felt for my grandmother-in-law, and the emotions she felt. I felt for the rest of the family that was close to him. We all sat at the table, decompressing and talking as we awaited the morgue. And it hit me: I had never been in the same room as a dead human body before that day. I had never seen anyone die. Every death happened behind closed doors when I was a child, every funeral closed casket and/or cremation. I’d never been present at that moment. This too, is a misadventure I don’t want to repeat any time soon.

    In the wake of this death Jordan and I set about aiding his grandmother in sorting through belongings and categorizing, as well as just keeping her company. She set immediately to work with putting affairs and belongings in order and organizing the funeral events. I think this busy-ness was good for her. As we helped go through old belongings, my next new misadventure hit. She asked me to catalogue all the guns her husband had owned so she could have her nephew sell them for her. I’d never seen or held a gun in real life before, and here I was holding them and taking pictures of them! It was a rather surreal experience, all of it. 

   

    Here’s a pic of my dog giving side eye to alleviate the tension of all that sadness:

IMG_8957.JPG

 

    So far the year has picked up since then, and I am grateful for that! My husband’s family are all healing and settling in after the loss, and as are we. The next adventures were actually incredibly enjoyable!

    Marvel blessed us with the masterpiece that was Black Panther this February. My husband and I, as well as my mom, my two younger siblings, his sister, and two of our friends all went out as huge ass group to the very first premiere showing! We had a ridiculous amount of fun all together and loved the movie! I saw The Shape of Water the week before and honestly those are probably my two favorite movies now. Tied with Moana of course. Here’s my get up for the premiere, gotta rock that heritage:

IMG_0695.JPG

 

    And the latest adventure was the one which honored me the most. Two of my friends (the same two from the Black Panther premiere) asked me to officiate their wedding. You heard that right. They wanted me to stand at the head of their wedding party and marry them in front of their closest friends and family. I about died! Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! 

    It’s a lot easier than you’d think to become ordained, and in all honesty I did it in two minutes like a week before the ceremony. Of course the next step was choosing what to wear, so I got to have a fun girly day out at the mall! They had decided to go with a Scottish Handfasting ceremony, and so I decided my outfit should match the traditional, nature-infused vibe my friend was going for. The end result was me getting to ascend to my true form of being: 

IMG_0997.JPG

 

    Somehow or another I didn’t fuck up the script so wonderfully prepared for me by the bride. Instead, something in my head clicked and I fell perfectly into Officiant Mode. My voice projected, loud and clear, I only stumbled over myself a few times, and I even got my eyes off the paper and made some eye contact! This is more impressive when you realize I did not memorize that script beforehand. I exited after the wedding party, as is customary, and walked to meet them in the place just out of sight of the audience. The very first thing the bride, my dear friend, said was “Oh my god, you nailed it! It was so perfect.” And I pretty much melted into my shoes. My heart felt like a balloon, I’d done it! I’d not only been a part of my friend’s wedding, but I’d helped to make it magical and what she wanted.     Once we were out and mingling and taking pictures, I had several people ask if this is what I did for a living, and the bride’s stepdad even asked if I were an actor! The answer to both is no. I’d gotten ordained just for this ceremony, and I haven’t acted a day in my life (unless you count existing day to day). Now I think I might just give one of those options a try!

 

    It’s only March, and my year has been full of excitement and sadness and happiness and loss. It’s been a smorgasbord of new experiences and life lessons. And I couldn’t be happier. 

    

    

The Year of New Experiences

    I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. I don’t have anything against them, to be sure, but I also don’t put much stock in them. They seem more like wishes than anything else. This year though, I wanted to make all my own wishes come true. My goal for now and the future is to live as true to myself as I can, and so setting a little New Year’s goal didn’t seem half-bad. 

    Of course, I had some classic New Year sentiments: let’s finally get this weight off, let’s finish writing that book, etc. But my most important goal of the year was to set my intention towards having new experiences. On New Year’s Eve, as I contemplated what a good (read: achievable) resolution, I realized the one thing I truly wanted in my life was to do new things, to step out of my comfort zone, get out of my usual bubble, and experience the world! 

    So here I am, my fellow misadventurers, declaring (three months late) that this year will be the Year of New Experiences! Go forth and experience the wild, crazy world we live in! And tune in for the misadventures I find myself on!