[Self Discovery] The Economics of Friendship

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
– Kurt Vonnegut –

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Usually, when I delve into my ideas and reach into the cobwebbed corners of my brain for a post…I can knock it out in a day, maybe two; at the very most a week.  But this is something that’s been coming for at least two years; maybe even more.  Originally, I thought it was the festival induced nostalgia of the Springtime, or the evolution into the downtime of Fall and the family oriented nature of the Holiday Season; or, maybe it was shoving my life into a U-haul two times over, moving away from everything I’ve known and towards the person I want to be.  But, the more and more I separate myself from this feeling that’s  been in the pit of my stomach – the more I realize that no, it’s just me; it’s always been me.  Me being nostalgic and searching, me attempting to analyze the past and postulate a formulaic method of the future as I dissected the nature of love, empathy and friendship.

The human condition is one of connection; and at times it seems that we can’t help but to connect – to love, to find ourselves in another and to forge bonds outside of ourselves.  Coddled by ego and love, protected by loyalty and exponentially expounded upon by experience, our relationships are fragile beings, brought into this world each time our human vibrations intersect with one another’s. Eventually, even if we’ve branded ourselves as an independent being of light and love – those relationships become what define us and our realities, irregardless of how routine or random it might seem.  But on the other side of connection, you have the dichotomy of loss and breaking apart. Losing friends is tough, but the tragedy lies in falling apart from the living – from watching the bridges burn and looming in their flames, somberly separating after a difference of opinion, or more tumultuous – of life.

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The Give and Take of Friendship

All relationships are a game of emotional catch; with a natural give and take, a push and pull – a simple supply and demand economics of personal happiness and social responsibility. They’re like a battery, or a gas tank, or a freshly rooted flower – filling, emptying and growing in symbiosis.  But if you drain one too much, or overfill it another day – you’re putting unnecessary strain into the relationship, infusing it with a toxic nature, even if the relationship itself doesn’t seem toxic yet.

In the duality of life, friendships can only thrive when its seed is watered from both ends.  What makes someone your friend? What propels them to flutter inside your heart and fill your mind with wonder and joy? How much endured emotional pain is worth the familial pleasure of friendship? Love of any kind is an investment – familial love, fraternal love, romantic love – every time you interact, you give part of yourself away.  Time is a human construct, but there are still only so many moments in a day – how and with whom do you choose spend them?

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The Benefits of Boundaries

Friendship is malleable and free-form like an emotional rubber-band, full of flexibility and movement; but even the strongest rubber bands snap under extreme pressure. Boundaries are essential to any budding relationship and are key to building the foundation of a successful one. If you fly into a friendship blindly without thought, you could end up like Icarus and burn yourself on the sun of your relationship. The most important boundaries are the ones are those you build with yourself: what you will and won’t stand for, what personality traits you covet, what you’re willing to let slide and what you abhor. You can only give yourself away so much before there’s none of you left to hold for yourself, none of you left to care for you – and let’s be honest, if you can’t find time or energy to care for yourself, it’s a bit paradoxical to be giving it away. Conversely, when it comes to the people in your social circle – it seems anachronistic that enforcing boundaries would build a stronger bond, but by not having any boundaries you’re saying you’ll fall for everything; intelligently implementing them not only builds trust, but creates a solid foundation for your friendship to stand on.

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Know When To Let Go

Rarely does a relationship ever stay on the same trajectory it once was – which admittedly is half the fun of mutual growth; but like a mirror, once it’s been broken, it can’t be put back together in the same way. Small scale issues from broken boundaries to unspoken grievances can compound over time, eventually tilting the emotional scale in one lopsided way or the other.

The house that friendship builds is based off of mutual boundaries and a solid foundation; with walls of security and support, and open windows into your heart and soul. If built on honesty, loyalty and sincerity, it an move mountains – but if any of those core tenants are broken, the relationships trajectory is hijacked, and the aftershocks can ripple its tenants to their core. Sometimes, the strongest thing you can do is to let those people go, and let the relationship dissolve into the ephemerality of life – for both of you.


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“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

When I younger, my mom pulled me aside one day and told me: you don’t have to like everyone, and not everyone has to like you. The first time she told me, I was 8; but the second time, I was 24 – and the words had infinitely more weight. Some people are meant to be part of your world, in a mutual exchange of love, empowerment and encouragement while others serve as reminders and stepping stones; they’re the loose change at the bottom of your purse, waiting to be tossed back into the wishing well of life. If you’ve invested properly in yourself, if you are honest with yourself about what you have to offer – you’ll attract that energy back; and if you’re making a worthy investment in yourself by creating boundaries, it shows. At the end of the day, the most important friendship to reconcile is the one with yourself.


How do you choose to strengthen your bonds and create healthy boundaries in your relationships?

Let me know in the comments below!

[Wedding Wisdom] Do You While Saying ‘I Do’

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Marriage.  It’s the magical union of two twin flames, the serendipitous soul chaining of emotional counterparts, an emotive, extrasensory adventure that tugs on your heartstrings – but for most millennials, it’s just another institution to avoid.  Almost exactly three years ago, my fiance proposed to me – it wasn’t planned, there wasn’t anyone to capture it on candid camera – or even just candidly, hell – he didn’t even have a ring, but we had each other, we had the moment.  The minimalists, pragmatists, and the hopeless romantics will all echo the sentiment that those things are far more than enough. But one thing I’ve learned by simply entertaining a wedding, is that everyone’s got their something about them: traditions, advice, warnings, must-dos, and the like – so while you’re busy saying ‘I Do’, don’t forget the most important tradition of all: doing you.

Traditions, by in large, are important familial and social constructs with a bevvy of history, and from what it sounds like: wedding traditions, doubly so.  Unfortunately, every time I see the word tradition, my mind instantly jumps to the opening scene of Fiddler on the Roof and nothing that’s actually useful for my big day.   With the big day inching closer and closer, I’ve found myself reaching out to family and friends to find out what the hell one is actually supposed to do at their wedding, and what traditions people threw to the wind in lieu of making their own.  And I’ve discovered this: weddings aren’t where you’re forced to embrace past traditions, but where you can forge new rituals – with your new family.  I’m not saying don’t listen to your parents, siblings, grandparents, best friends, Starbucks barista, gas station attendant or bartender – but what I’m saying is that what they want, for their special day, should have no reflection on what you choose to do.

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Three years ago when Danny proposed to me, he had no ring, and no pomp – just serendipitous circumstance in the Canadian forest.  It was our first trip out of the country together.  After a thousand miles in the car, a sketchy border crossing and being inducted into Shamb-fam – deciding to spend forever together seemed as natural as breathing. Merely hours later, as we danced under the full moonlight with new friends – a carpenter named Bruce reached into his pocket, toying around with a string.  A twinkle flashed in his eyes as he explained he only made five, was down to his last one and was hoping it would fit me.  Giddy to be receiving anything at all, I didn’t bother asking what, instead I put out my hand like a seven year old trick-or-treating through their first Halloween. It was a ring; a wooden ring that only fit my ring finger; a wooden ring that then became my engagement ring, which got me to thinking: why are there engagement rings and wedding rings?  The answer: De Beers.

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It used to be customary to only have one ring, the wedding ring, that is – at least, until De Beers came into the picture. From the early 19th Century, De Beers has a monopolized control over the diamond mines of South Africa – creating illusions of scarcity to drive sales.  Once our Great Depression of the 1920’s and 30’s hit, De Beers believed it had a genius marketing plan to get our consumer nation back on spending track: telling us that diamonds are forever; marketing the idea of love, not a brand – not a product – but the idea. Fast forward to now, and engagement rings are a booming industry, accounting for almost 20% of total diamond sales in the US, and bringing in a whopping $7 billion annually. Roughly a quarter of all purchases at Tiffany’s + Co are derived from wedding bands and engagement rings, while almost half the sales at Sterling Jewlers’ retailers like Jared and Kay are derived from engagement rings.  Overall, engagement rings actually represent about 20% of US diamond sales. All in all, those statistics speak more to a corporate level greed and an ostentatious, ego-maniacal society than they do a forever type of love, but that’s just my opinion.

The wedding registry happens to be another  trend that I’m all too ready to put to rest.  Yes, everyone loves presents – but, weddings are about presence, not presents.  As opposed to only 35% 15 years ago, almost half of all married couples in 2017 have previously cohabitated for an average of 22 months, or almost two years. Let me put it bluntly: you can accumulate a lot of shit in two years.  What was once just “my shit” and “your shit” has now collectively become “our shit”, and “our shit” comes with a lot of redundancy, and no one needs redundant redundancy.  Though wedding dowries have been of historical cultural significance for centuries, a registry and a dowry are two horses of completely different colors.  Much like the De Beers Diamond plot of the 1920’s, up until the Great Depression there was no such thing as a wedding registry – until Macy‘s came along, and other department stores were all too eager to jump on board.

Now, how about the wedding party? Though some people elope, and many do keep it small – it also feels like some people invite everyone to the West of the Mississippi to their big day.  Obviously, the more the merrier and who doesn’t love love, but at a certain level it becomes all sorts of impersonal and not meaningful; almost like you’re getting married for show, not for yourself.  A large party, now sure – count me the fuck in; but a wedding, the bonding of two souls and binding of two lives is such an intimate idea that to me, it begets an intimate ceremony. In my seemingly biased opinion, large weddings more than force you into employing a bridal party – of elevating those closest to you, and imposing stratified levels of closeness.  On the other hand, at a small wedding – you can flip the script.  Our wedding, a destination wedding of sorts, will be small, the kind of small where I have to use small as an adjective to emphasize an adjective – but that’s just the way I like it.  One of my favorite perks to having a small ceremony, is that everyone at the wedding is part of the bridal party; everyone is a groomsman or a bridesmaid, because everyone there is equally important to us.  But, do you know the history of bridesmaids and groomsmen? Confarreatio, a form of wedding from the Ancient Romans, required 10 witnesses for the ceremony to legally binding; these witnesses evolved into the modern bridal party.  The groomsmen and bridal party were also tasked with warding off evil spirits.  Back in antiquity, the maid of honor and bridesmaids wore identical outfits to trick the spirits out of targeting the bride, while the best man was a literal wingman – warding off other potential suitors while the groom whisked away the bride-to-be.

Last, but certainly not least: the wedding dress.   Growing up, I was taught that the white in a wedding dress was a symbol of purity – but as it turns out,  because of the (a) lack of soap and (b) levels of general filth, up until the 18th century there weren’t many white wedding gowns.  In fact, the white aspect of the wedding dress is primarily associated with well to do Western culture, where many Eastern traditions actually involve a red dress in lieu of the white.  In all honesty, the white wedding dress is one of the few wedding traditions I’ll keep, though it’s definitely not for the sake of my purity.  However, what I find do find ridiculous are people that think a wedding dress is anything other than just a white dress, worn on the wedding. Some dresses range into the thousands, others into the tens of thousands…and to wear…once?  Dios mio! I would rather get a down payment on a house or a car. After spending a day at the mall struggling with the idea of a “wedding” dress, I found the perfect white dress in under ten minutes once I got out of the mindset that it had to come from a “bridal” store. So, now you might be asking – are there any other traditions that you’re keeping?  Yes, duh.  We’re getting married, exchanging vows and rings – and that’s as much of a tradition as I need.

Love isn’t just an idea, it’s an action – it’s a verb, it’s something you do.  Despite what Department Stores want you to believe, your love isn’t a commodity and your marriage doesn’t need to be monitized. Your wedding is a collection of beautiful moments rolled into one glorious day, celebrating with those you hold nearest and dearest to your heart – don’t sell yourself short, and don’t do anything you don’t want to do because fingers crossed, this is the only one you get.  So enjoy, indulge, drink champagne and get excited; say Yes, say I do but most importantly – do you. 

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Photos by Get Tiny Photography: Instagram | Facebook

[The Audiofiles] Curating The Lightning in My Bottle

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For the last decade, hell – my entire life – music has been my genesis and the community surrounding it has become my family. I’ve ebbed and flowed in and out of genres in parallel to my social groups;  from my roots in Trance and Dubstep, into a self professed Techno-file, Basshead and back to being a tried and true audiophile. I’ve watched myself grow, between the cracks and between the events, blossoming, regenerating and trying again as the flowers do every spring. For the past few years, Lightning in a Bottle has been my source of metamorphosis, the cocoon that encapsulated my former spirit – giving life to my dreams and purpose to my passions. No automatic alt text available. But it always felt as if it came with a life-sized catch.

As is natural in life, the soaring highs and the lowest lows seemed to coexist within the festival space – almost magnified under the idea of the ‘transformational’ festival experience.  The human mind, as beautifully strong as it is, is forever wired to remember and avoid pain, while seeking pleasure.  Instead of remembering my whirling wanderlust for novel and new music, a colorful cacophony of characters cascading into my life, delightful dialogues with strangers that became instant friends and the effervescent beauty of immersive art structures – my mind matriculated elsewhere.  Every time I tried to conceive of myself bouncing around on festival grounds, the first memories to flood my head are my aunt passing away last year, our laptop getting stolen from our tent the year before, and various high drama moments between security and festival goers. Where my freshman self had been so keen on forming a new festival family, while now – as a festival veteran – I felt myself retract back into my personal bubble. Yes, inherently trust is something to be earned, like the view from the top of a mountain after a hike…but that’s for the real world – here, at a festival, with a menagerie of like minded people, I wanted to leave my defenses far behind me – instead, they transformed into a chip on my shoulder. Suffice it to say, it felt like my time there had run out – and rightfully so…after all, I’ve never been in a school system with the same people for longer than 5 years at a time, so if we’re really in High School part Infinity as it always seems – this is me, graduated and looking at life anew.

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Lightning in a Bottle – in tandem with the Do LaB – has turned an impeccable idea into a full on circus show where you’re both the audience and the show.  They’ve made me cultivate and curate my own community of dreamers and do-ers, they’ve shown me how to synthesize ideas and different types of personalities, how to go with the flow and look at the world through eyes of childlike wonder and amazement, I have a new appreciation for the metaphysical aspects of life and for the natural world – and now, I’m ready to foray that into the rest of my life.  Yes, LIB is an amazing, wonderful, technicolor day dream of a weekend – and I’m thrilled that I’ve gotten to dance my way through their world, both as a participant, as a writer for The DJ list, and as a member of their esteemed PR team when they were paired with The Confluence.

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I’ve lived inside someone else’s technicolor daydream and loved (almost) every second, but it’s given me pause – a notion that maybe it’s time to curate my own dreams and dive into those. I’ve had a trifecta of angles, a million perspectives shoved into a four year span – and it’s taught me that the world is both more beautiful and more complicated than you could realize, but if you take the time to put the pieces together – the puzzle you complete will astound you.

You’ll look at the world anew, with the ability to find sincerity in small moments and life long lessons within short term friendships.  Only after uncovering yourself, the person who resonates at your core, you’ll see the truth of the people you surround yourself with. There are an infinite amount of dragons to chase, so choose to search for the bigger picture, how to leave the world better and beautiful, how to operate with openness and kindness, and receive it them in return.  Smiling at strangers isn’t just for festivals, and hugs are for everyone, there’s art everywhere and every moment is a good moment to dance. The good life we create at our festivals, the community, love and ethos we spend four days and nights cultivating are here, in every second of our every day life if we choose to engage it.

 

One doesn’t stay in their genesis forever, and within that – I feel I’ve gotten exactly what I needed to head on in my own direction.  Lightning has been my springboard, a stepping stone in the river to where I’ve become myself and I’m thrilled at the memories that I’ve made there, but now – at 32, about to be married and wanting a family, I felt inspired to start my own traditions, and cultivate the lightning in my own bottle.  For the first time since 2012, I didn’t attend Lightning – but it doesn’t mean that my soul wasn’t there, living vicariously through passionate people prancing through the dust in search of their next adventure as I searched for mine.
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[The Audiofiles] The Road to the Desert Hearts Spring Festival is Paved with House, Techno and a Whole Lot of Love

Over the last five years, Southern California’s Desert Hearts troupe has blossomed from a homegrown hub of House and Techno into a global party sensation. After taking the Fall season off this year, much to the dismay of Desert Hearts fanatics all over – Desert Hearts is proud to announce their triumphant return to the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation from March 31 to April 3, 2017.

Playing host to an intimate number of attendants, the festival is capped at 3,500 and the warm, bubbly ethos that the size of the event curates is delightfully palpable. Between the various Desert Hearts virgins and assorted Desert Hearts vets, the weekend is as much a festival as it is a family reunion…with the grooviest soundtrack on the West Coast. Musical tastemakers to grace the decks have included Tiefschwarz, DJ Harvey, Monkey Safari, Rodriguez Jr., DJ T, Claude VonStroke, Marc Houle, Olivier Giacomotto, Mark Henning, M.A.N.D.Y, alongside the usual suspects – Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Marbs and Porkchop.

The road to the Desert Hearts Spring Festival is paved with House and Techno from coast to coast as the squad heads out on their 21 tour date City Hearts Winter Tour. The mobile micro-festival vibe will takeover premiere festivals in previously unexplored markets for the burgeoning brand including Brazil’s Som & Sol Festival, Costa Rica’s Ocaso Festival, Tucson’s Gem and Jam, plus return trips to Brooklyn, Denver, Miami, Salt Lake City, its prized home turf of Los Angeles and San Diego, and many more standout shows.

Tickets for the highly anticipated and long awaited Spring 2017 Edition of Desert Hearts go on sale Tuesday, December 6th at 12 PM PST.

RSVP on Facbook and Rally Your Squad | Snag Tickets Here!

For more on the Desert Hearts squad and their upcoming roster of events, head to their social media channels –

Website | Facebook| Twitter | Soundcloud | Instagram

[Self Discovery] The Truth About Lying

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Lies.  Big or small, white or monstrous – we’ve all told them, and to believe the contrary would be – you guessed it – a lie. According to a recent study, we lie in 25% of our interactions.  Both in action and as concrete ideas, lies can build an unstable foundation in any relationship, familial, romantic, platonic – and even your relationship with yourself. And these untruths aren’t confined to our external environment, either; for every falsehood we voice out loud, there are a handful of others that we tell to ourselves. Unfortunately, the lies we tell ourselves pave the way for the way we lie to the world.

In contrast to Mark Twain, who saw them as ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’; I choose to think of them as white lies, grey lies and black lies, all sitting on a sliding scale of deception. Let’s do a thought experiment for a second. Quick as a bunny, what’s the last lie you told?  Did you tell your boss you needed more time on a project, when you’ve actually just been procrastinating?  Did you misrepresent yourself in the way you dress, catering to a specific subset of society? Did you tell your squad that you’d meet them for drinks tonight when all you plan on doing is curling up on the couch? Did you tell an artistic friend that you enjoyed their last piece of work when you were anything but interested? Did you tell yourself you didn’t want seconds when you’re still hungry? From half truths to complete falsehoods, none of them are honest – but, one could argue, they’re socially necessary.

From an early age when we couldn’t yet grasp the veracity of the truth when contrasted with the stark emptiness of a false promise, or erroneous nature of a flat out lie – we babbled, we balked, then we talked and walked.  We expressed ourselves emotionally, in our own truth, while slowly learning the truths around us.  Leaves don’t dance down from trees, they fall with the assistance of gravity; I’d rather believe the former, but the later screams accuracy.  And that’s the thing, lies always start small – innocent, lacking any semblance of personal harm or distrust.

White lies are the lies we use on a daily basis to navigate the world.  Telling the cashier that your day is going well even if it’s anything but, entertaining a lunchtime meeting with your boss when you just wanted to have your head in a book, compromising on restaurant choice because your friend’s appetite is heavily invested and you could give a shit.  Yes, you could be honest in all occasions: My day is actually shit, how long do you have to talk; Sorry, I would rather be alone than talk to you; No, I’m not interesting in eating there.  Yet, you don’t – because it’s simpler, easier, almost more necessary to give in to the dance of life.  However, each of those scenarios becomes exponentially trickier the more you you’ve seen the cashier, the longer you’ve known your boss or just how well you know your friend.

They say that improvisational comedy won’t work if you continually say ‘No’ to scenarios, and life isn’t much different. Though white lies are most certainly lies, how awkward or tense would you have made each of those situations for both parties by delving into the veracity of the situation?  In an economic sense, you understand what you’re giving and you’re complicit in what you’re getting. What transforms the white lies into the grey ones, and the damned black dishonesty, are the people you’re deceiving and the levels of duplicity you’re willing to go through.  The closer you consider the relationship, the more harm dishonesty inflicts. Conversely, the more effort you put into the lie, the more disastrous the backdraft.

Beyond being kinder and flat out honest (things I like), the truth is also easier to remember and never has to be defended – because, simply put, the truth just is. It exists whether or not we want to acknowledge it.  It’s like evolution, climate change and science – it’s there, and life becomes more valuable when you accept the truth and move forward with it in your pocket.

The economy of friendship is built from the supply and demand backbones of truth. Though we would love to believe that we are infallible and incapable of telling lies, the fact of the matter is we all bend fact to make fable from time to time. Which begs the question not of why do others lie, but why do we lie? Comfort, ease, and emotional protection top the list – the comfort, ease and protection of our own ego.

Sometimes, the truth is boring and as orators and storytellers by nature, we yearn for the truth to be more exciting.  But more often than not, the truth is a a difficult pill to swallow – let alone force feed to another soul; it becomes an alarming reason for pause, a conversation starter, relationship ender, or an anxiety induced call to internal calamity. All the while lies, time and time again, are used to smooth over any future scars before the threat of pain is on the horizon.  The problem is this – lies are akin to using a bandaid to stop a gunshot wound; it might cover the wound and provide a momentary solution, but it’s not going to stop the bleeding or the pain.  While, on the other hand, intimate trust is more like a mirror – once it’s broken, it can never be put back together quite the same again; and lies have the innate ability to dismantle relationships altogether.  This brings about a new problem – and I’ll leave it to Nietzsche to summarize: “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that I can never believe you again.

None of us wants to believe the people in their lives to be liars, or dishonest in any way.  Yet knock out one of the mosaics in the stained glass window of your relationship with a lie and you’re bound to shine light on an emotional situation.  Knock too many down, and the vibrant image has been replaced with a new vision of clarity.  How many lies does one need to tell to be removed from our inner circle and emotionally placed outside of the intimate confines of our reality?

How many lies do we need to tell ourselves before we realize that we don’t have to be what the world wants us to be? We can be unapologetically ourselves, with all of our faults and idiosyncrasies, where our true preferences are wrapped up in the fibers of your ego and expunged through every fiber of your being.  Once you’ve lived honestly with yourself, there’s no going back – being honest with the world you cultivate and curate feels like living with love in every step; once attained, it feels like the only way to live.

No matter the circumstances, next time you’re about to fib, falter, misspeak, or flat out lie – wonder what you’re lying to yourself about first, and ask yourself why.

I watched this movie called “Liar Liar” and the message was, *Don’t* lie; and that was a smart movie.

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[A Reflection] We Are All Acorns

“Just because sandcastles are ephemeral and doomed to be washed away, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t build them, for they are still beautiful and fun to build. Life itself is not very different.”

The caveat of growing older, is understanding that as cyclical as we might imagine life to be – life also comes with an expiration date.  For as superhuman as we can feel, we’re also exceptionally fragile, like a basket of fresh egg on a Spring day,a newborn baby seeing the world with fresh eyes and your great grandmother’s China that you only use for special occasions.  As much as we prance, pounce and push our way to the top of our own proverbial mountain, it’s often in disregard that the quality of our time on this wonderful planet is also quantifiable.  Life is the synthesis of years, months, weeks, hours, seconds, and fleeting moments that have the weight of the world on their shoulders; and yet, it can be taken away all too soon. The irony of maturing is recognizing that the beauty around you, as minute or magnanimous at it stands, is ephemeral.

This year especially has been an emotional rollercoaster of losses for the Entertainment community.  More often than not, what I’ve found is that while mourning comes from the best of intentions, it eventually becomes a self serving reminder of our own mortality and accomplishments – or, usually, the lack thereof.  But this weekend, the dance community was shattered by the unfortunate passing of a man known for making the most of the moment, finding beauty in breakdowns and providing an uplifting reprieve from the world we live in. 

Sunday of my first Lightning in a Bottle, my dancing feet were failing me and all I wanted to do after three days at kittens first camping festival was take a serious snooze on the lush green grass.   As we sat near the Woogie, collecting our final marbles and exchanging hearty laughs, a slow beat started moving my whole body and I couldn’t help but bop in place to the infectious intonations. Donned in pastel technicolor parasols and androgynously amazing apparel, what started as a sleepy morning manifested into a  musical menagerie and what felt like the soundtrack of my life.  Eclectic and electric, I marinated into a moment that I never wanted to leave as Pumpkin delivered feel good hit after feel good hit.

It was music that transported us across generations and genres, initiating an evolution from unique, individual snowflakes into a haphazard but uniform snowstorm of happiness. A warmth filled my body as the music cascaded from expertly mixed oldies to emotionally driven four to the floor beats, from Jackson 5 to Fleetwood Mac, into Feed Me & Crystal Fighters ‘Love is All I Got’.  It as only later once I had time to refer to the lineup that I realized that it was Pumpkin, who I’d later revere as a West Coast Festival favorite.

Pumpkin was always an artist that my crew and I vehemently looked forward to, regardless of whatever nonsensical residual feelings echoed in the background – he brought us together. Whether we were mainstage waiting for the next act or blissfully taking in the sunshowers from every direction, Pumpkin had a smile and a song for all of us. From Sea of Dreams and Shambhala, to Lightning in a Bottle and Woogie Weekend – the one common denominator was how much the community was looking forward to his set.

One of those few individuals that was more than the sum of his parts, Pumpkin was more than a man and his music, he was a movement – a love train where he was the conductor, a sunshine soaked cruise with Pumpkin proudly at the helm; Pumpkin was a pastor, preaching love, kindness, happiness and warmth at every chance he could. Pumpkin was a humanist, believing the best in the world around him and instilling the world with an effervescent heartbeat that will unequivocally live on. His passing is more than a tragedy, it’s a communal travesty – a man revered for distilling vast amounts of happiness, he will be sorely missed. Pumpkin’s musical legacy will live in pride on the dance floor even though his heartbeat is missing from the soundtrack of our lives

There’s no way around it, it’s sad….I’m sad, what’s forever missing from our community is sad….but it doesn’t have to be.  Dance with joy and hug with love, be one with the world and don’t let one second go that you don’t exclaim to yourself, the world and the people you share it with how much you love them.

 

In memorial, friends of Pumpkin have set up a GoFundMe to provide for his family in this trying time, any little bit helps – and is a small price to personally pay for the amazing legacy that he’s left.

Pumpkin’s Go Fund Me

“Initial funds will go towards memorial costs and all the rest will be put towards some sort of charity involving music and children, to be specified by Nick’s family. As time goes on it’s our hope that Nick can continue to support the charity of their choosing, as we’re sure his big heart would have wanted.”

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Sake

 Over the past few weeks, my heart has been slowly breaking. It’s been trying, difficult and frustrating to wrap my fingers around the idea that a piece of my life is missing; there’s a definitive void – not just within me, but surrounding me. Words have failed me, and at every turn I feel like I’m going to crumble to the ground, overcome by emotion and struck by reality.


Back in college, I was going through a transitionary period. Becoming a fifth year senior isn’t usually commendable but at an institution like UCSB – it also wasn’t uncommon. It was the Summer of 2007 and I had just moved out of Isla Vista to the Mesa – a wonderful area near downtown Santa Barbara, surrounded by a stunning almost 360 view of the Pacific Ocean. My best friend at the time, a wonderful, warmhearted gal with an affinity for furry friends, moved in with me and between the five housemates we had two cats – Ssleman, a beautiful grey and white cat with a warm heart and a little black kitty that hid every chance it could; and then there was Roxy, a Golden Retriever / Yellow Lab puppy with more energy than I’d ever seen. After living there for a few months and going through a few mental moments of manifest destiny, I decided it was time – time for me to get a cat. I needed something to love beyond myself, to remind me that I was worthy of love; I needed to care about something to remind myself of the circular motion of life.


Arriving at the shelter, I gallivanted into the cat room and immediately felt at home. Throughout middle school and high school, I’d volunteered at cat shelters and there’s nothing like some kitty cuddles to brighten your mood and cultivate altruism. I glanced at an 8 month old Siamese that I immediately wanted to bring home, and a litter of orange tabby kittens not more than 2 weeks old. After getting to know me a bit, the young man working this room had a visceral lightbulb moment…“There’s a cat over here that I think will be perfect for you; he’s a little trickster and a lover.”  As we walked over to the carrier, a beautiful blue-grey cat sat poised in the back of the cage. “No…” I mused “…what about the playful girl next to him?” The man smiled back “Why don’t you guys go into the play room, and if it’s not a good fit we can keep looking.”

As Maguro was plucked from his perching position and was handed to me, his front paws reached out around my neck and he looked at me like I was home.  From the moment we were in the play area, he flopped and stretched ten ways to Sunday, purring, prancing and pawing at me. Looking up with a glimmer of gratitude in my eyes, I laughed “Ok, you guys got me…I’ll take him!”

As it turned out, I couldn’t bring him home immediately – upper respiratory infections are incredibly common in shelter cats and he’d just come down with one. Instead of bringing him home, I played with his sister – Saba – and it felt like she knew I was taking her brother away. I whispered that I would take good care of him and she purred in response.

Eight years later, I can say that without a doubt – he’s actually taken care of me.  From Santa Barbara to now four different homes in Los Angeles, Sake has been my confidant, my best friend, my furry little man and the light of my life. He’s gotten me through heartbreak and deaths, losing friends and losing my mind. 

 

My little Sake bomb. Sir Saks a Lot. He was the most playful, loving creature I’ve ever known. He would wake me up by pouncing on my chest and announcing his hunger with a miniature roar, he would zoom around the apartment with gusto and cuddle-hug you like he was a person. Sake converted friends that had sworn they were solely dog people, and made cat lovers rejoice. He was the best thing that has happened to me in my 30 years of existence. And now, he’s gone.

We only noticed the symptoms a few weeks ago and it wrenches my soul to think if we could’ve saved him. The last two weekends were full of friends that I consider family, doting their love and happiness on him and he loved back in kind – curling up and lapping up attention like it was his job. But in the back of my mind, I was scared, sad and confused. It felt like just yesterday, he was running around in the Santa Barbara sunshine, lounging in the flowers and running to my car from down the street whenever I returned from campus. And now, I was feeding him by hand, cradling him like he was my child, wishing for a better tomorrow. But that better tomorrow never came.

Yesterday, Sake lost his battle against lymphoma. The last thing he ever did in his life was jump into my arms, almost in parallel to the way he came in. We held his paws, wiped his eyes and sang with him until his final curtain call. I’ve never been so conflicted and overrun with emotion; I don’t know if I’ve even ever been this uncontrollably sad. I miss my dapper little man but I know he’s in a better place, cathartically chasing mice and lapping up love in the great beyond.

Because of Sake, I know what it means to love, to care, to be a friend and just listen; I know the true meaning of life, to love and be loved. When you get home tonight, hug your pets…hug your loved ones, life is too short to be anything but blissful. RIP Sake, I only hope that I can have half the effect on the world that you did.