Hi everyone! Wanted to share something cool that Danny & I did today!
I’m sure most of you have heard of a little band called Metallica, right? They’re one of Danny’s favorite bands, so when I heard about this opportunity I knew we had to join in!
Metallica has a charity foundation called “All Within My Hands“. Today was the first ever “National Day of Service” for AWMH and they helped Metallica fans across the country team up with different volunteer opportunities in their community.
We went out to Commerce and volunteered with the Los Angeles National Food Bank and helped create food boxes that will be given out to local senior citizens!
Below are some pictures of us at the event – we were on cardboard clean up duty! We had so much fun, got a good work out in, and earned some getting into heaven points – you know crazy Metal fans need as much help as they can get 😉
This was a really special event for us to be part of, not only because we got to do it together & because of the Metallica connection, but as many of you might know, Danny works for a non-profit organization & I hope you can tell from some of my previous posts that volunteer work is very important to me. Now that I’m out of school for the summer I hope to find more time to volunteer for causes I’m passionate about. If any of you know of any opportunities, please let me know!
On another note, thank you to everyone that participated in my Barks of Love research! I got an A in the class & it’s all thanks to you! Well, I might have had something to do with it, hehe, anywho! Enjoy the pictures! Happy Wednesday!
Hey everyone!! I know it’s been a hot minute…I think of you all often & how I can engage with you (Follow my Social Media @MissAl_Leigh for more active engagement!) on a more regular basis & my current game plan is…to not have as much of a game plan. I’m going to try to relax & see what comes naturally. My first thought is that means more Blogs/Vlogs that are just me talking to you, story time!
Today’s Story Time is something I also discussed last year, click here to read that post! I am proud to say that I was again invited to speak at Macy’s at the Brea Mall regarding a promotion they have with Got Your Six.Today is the last day of the promo so if you’re a Macy’s fan or want to support this group effort, make your way to a store ASAP, give $3 & get a 25% Discount Pass – 100% of the profits will go towards benefitting the groups I’m talking about today & more! I was specifically speaking on behalf of a non profit I’ve volunteered for – TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
My purpose for going to Macy’s is not really to discuss the promotion or the Charities in great detail. That information is given to the employees & easily accessible online – if you’re interested, please click the links above! My purpose is to tell my story & put a face to a name so that when they’re trying to encourage Guests to spend the $3 they can use me as a talking point or a frame of reference in their mind like, “Hmm, if someone “like her” could benefit, maybe this Guest will have a connection as well”. I am not the typical “military charity beneficiary”, after what I’ve been through most people are surprised I still volunteer at all, but that’s the type of person I want to be. I don’t want my demons to stop me from being a source of learning, growth, & positivity. I will admit, these presentations are extremely stressful, writing this post is hugely challenging, especially because of the fear that the co-star of my story or his family will see this. Unfortunately for him, I will no longer be silenced.
About 6 years ago (Wow! Time flies.) I met a guy & we fell head over heels. Sounds great except that, even with all the demons I’d danced with, I’d never seen anything like his dance card. He was/is a Veteran, a Reservist in the Marine Corps, and had semi-recently come back from a tour in Iraq where he was on the front, serving our country as a “Grunt”. He had seen and done things that I will never understand & I thank him for that. I quickly became invested in “the cause”, doing research & becoming well versed on PTSD/TBI, Veteran’s rights/causes, & volunteering.
A wonderful relationship quickly became sour and eventually dangerous due to a combination of being too young/immature, moving too fast, and his refusal to seek help for PTSD. There are, of course, many versions to this story, but I think that sentence sums it up best. I stayed for 2 years, through a cycle of abuse & apologies. The hilarious part – HE LEFT ME. It was the best thing that ever happened to me but I felt like I had died. I felt like HE had died. This was not just giving up a guy, this was my LIFE. We had lived together, we knew each other’s families, we were “engaged to be engaged”, we had PLANS. I knew in my head that being with someone with that much rage was only going to end badly for me, but my heart kept telling me, “Be strong, stand by him. He’s going to get help & everything will go back to normal”.
It was extremely difficult for me to move on, especially because I felt so passionate about Veteran’s causes but now had no outlet. I tried to continue volunteering but every face looked like his, every voice sounded like him, it was too much. By chance, I stumbled upon TAPS, a group for SURVIVORS. They focus on those left behind when someone in the military passes away. I appreciated that their outreach included even the most seemingly removed people, random classmates, civilian co workers, GIRLFRIENDS – not just immediate family & fellow Vets. Additionally, the death could happen in any way, car accident, cancer, etc, not just war-related, so I felt like I had some “room to talk” based on the deaths I had been exposed to in my family. I have enjoyed volunteering with them ever since as often as I can because I feel I can identify with their volunteers & the recipients of their cause.
That is roughly the story I shared at Macy’s last Thursday morning in the hopes that it would make people think. Hopefully it makes you think & encourages you to get involved in whatever causes you’re passionate about. On another note, if you’re at all curious, I HAVE moved on & have been dating an AMAZING guy for almost a year, our anniversary is July 9th! He was my friend through the whole above mentioned ordeal & I’m grateful that the dark road I once walked down led me to the place I’m at now.
Thank you for reading, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment or write me an email about anything I’ve discussed here – don’t be shy, I certainly was not!
Today’s post is at least 3 months overdue – sorry! I’ve been having some technical issues with iMovie that’s causing delays on my Vlogs so stay posted as there’s a lot to come!
This vlog is a little disjointed as you’re seeing what was meant to be part of an ongoing series about shenanigans to get into in Arizona because I was living there & attempting to get into shenanigans – followed immediately by footage of me moving back home.
If you’re confused about when I lived in Arizona, don’t worry – you’re not alone! I was going to film a big announcement & create several videos discussing the move, however, circumstances changed quickly & creating an ongoing series seemed pointless.
Long story short, I moved to Arizona in December 2015 for a new job in an attempt to expand my Resume, broaden my horizons by living in a new state, & live closer to several friends/family members, including my godchildren. Unfortunately, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer very shortly after that & I moved back to NorCal in July 2016 to help my family & spend time with her.
Please enjoy this small snippet of my time in Arizona featuring Danny from Savage Squad, click here to see their channel! Please FOLLOW MissAl-Leigh.com to stay updated with future shenanigans, SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel for more vlogs, SHARE, LIKE, & COMMMENT! Thank you 🙂
Today’s Music Monday is a little different because it’s not JUST focused on music. This week’s MM will include some clips from my very first Warped Tour (!!!! Read below for a quick recap) but also has some footage from a mini vacation I took with my family! Again, this video features Danny from Savage Squad – if you like drinking & shenanigans, please go check out his channel – here.
It would mean a lot to me if y’all showed your support by SUBSCRIBING to my YouTube channel & this blog – thank you so much!
A few thoughts on Warped Tour…
For those that don’t know, Warped Tour is a huge multi artist concert for the pop/punk genre. It’s like Stagecoach, Coachella, etc. For the last 10 years I’ve wanted to go but never have. As a teen I never went even though some of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE bands were going to be performing because it was “expensive” & I was insecure about fitting in with the crowd. I’ve talked about this anxiety in previous Music Monday posts.
Now that I’m older I care way less what other people think so I decided this was the year I went! My decision was also motivated by the fact that one of my favorite bands, Yellowcard, would be performing & they recently announced the band is retiring. I, of course, am devastated, so I needed to make an effort to see them ASAP.
I went into this experience essentially blind. I knew there would be a ton of “kids”, the food/drinks would be expensive, there would be drugs, & it would be blazing hot. All of that turned out to be true, the biggest surprise for me was the set times. I didn’t realize each band only got 30 minutes. Upon further reflection, of course this makes sense because how else would they get all those bands to play in one day? While there were other bands I was excited about, Reel Big Fish, New Found Glory, Sum 41, etc, I was really there for Yellowcard. They were amazing, as they always are live, & I’m really glad I got the chance to experience their last show at Warped Tour.
Bottom line, would I ever go to another Warped Tour? Probably not unless it was a similiar situation & one of my all time favorite bands was playing. 30 minute set times isn’t really enough for me to want to deal with all those sweaty drugged out kids & get a sunburn. Haha, I guess I’m officially old.
I hope you liked this vlog! Please keep sharing my posts & vlogs with your friends! Until next time… 🙂
Today’s Music Monday is going to be a quick recap of Harry Potter in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
HB occasionally puts on these Special Concerts where they show a movie & have a orchestra play the score live. Previously, they showed “The Little Mermaid” & I’m sad to have missed that because they had celebrities come out & sing the songs. The score for Harry Potter is all instrumental, so I knew that wasn’t going to happen, but I was still excited for another amazing Harry Potter themed adventure! Click the video below for a super quick vlog of the Event & keep reading for my thoughts overall…
The Venue –
I’d only been to the Hollywood Bowl once before for a “Behind the Scenes Tour” when I did the Disney College Program. I remembered there was a LOT of walking & I’d heard Event parking is a complete train wreck. They “stack” the cars so you end up boxed in on all sides, which is insanely inconvenient if you’re ready to leave but no one around you has left yet. On the advice of a friend we purchased off site parking, but couldn’t find the lot. We ended up just driving to the Event & paying again for on site parking. While I was deeply unhappy from a financial standpoint, because we had arrived late the only parking was right in front, not boxed in, & the chances of people arriving later than us seemed pretty slim – woo hoo! We strolled right into the venue but finding our seats was another story…we should have called ahead to find out the options for those with disabilities. We had nosebleed seats & even with the escalators, it was quite a struggle. The venue is extremely dark, which obviously makes sense because they want people to see the movie, but made walking/climbing stairs with no railings quite precarious. When we finally found our seats, we discovered we were in the middle of the narrow row & no one would get up to let us by! While this was rude, the bigger issue was that there was no space for us anyway! We let an attendant know, they conferred with their supervisor, & next thing you know we’re sitting in box seats way down in front! Amazing! Big thanks to the staff that made that happen, it definitely made our experience better! Next time, we will be purchasing more expensive but closer seats – it’s way worth it! Also, arriving late for parking worked in our favor as no one arrived after us, so we weren’t boxed in. We were on the freeway in about 15 minutes!
The People –
I was disappointed by the negative response from the people in the row we were supposed to sit in. However, I guess I should be thanking them because they helped us get better seats! As I mentioned, super happy with the staff of HB! I wish we had thought to get the names of the staff that helped us because I would have written a “thank you letter” to compliment them personally. Beyond that initial negative experience, the crowd was…unified. That’s the only way I can explain it. Whenever something special happens for Harry Potter, there’s always this feeling of, dare I say, magic in the air. I think that’s because a majority of the crowd are real true fans. They’re willing to wait for hours to buy a new book, see a movie, spend the day in a theme park, etc, these types of Events aren’t for casual fans. They bring out the die hards, people in cosplay or themed outfits (I was wearing a Hufflepuff shirt!), people that know all the words to the movies & cheer when Harry catches his first Snitch or boo when Wormtail appears because they know what role he’ll play later. It’s truly, again, magical, to sit in a crowd of people & know that you’re all part of something. In a world that sometimes feels like it’s falling apart, it’s nice to know you can turn to your fandom.
The Performance –
I had no idea what to expect from a Harry Potter Concert! I had read a few articles leading up to the Event & mostly they talked about how difficult the performance was going to be in regards to pulling the soundtrack from the film but keeping all the audio. I did find the music overwhelmed the audio at certain times, but I realized I had to restructure the way I was thinking about the Event. Somehow, I wanted the music to just quietly frame the movie, but be really awesome & powerful! There’s no way to accomplish that. The point of this Event was to focus on the beauty of the music & how it added to the film. Once I kind of let the film take a back seat & focused on the music, it WAS really awesome & powerful. I noticed certain nuances I’d never noticed before when I’d watched the film & focused only on the dialogue. This is definitely an Event for music lovers. You must love the sound, the feeling, the epic-ness! of live orchestral music. Obviously these musicians are extremely talented & I was thrilled to see the Conductor wearing a Hufflepuff tie & pin!
The Final Verdict –
People always say to arrive early for parking, but we found that arriving later worked WAY better & will most likely do so again. As I said, there may be other options that we were unaware of, but based on what I saw, this Venue is not very “disabled friendly”. I will need to investigate other options for the future & definitely feel it’s worth it to pay for more expensive seats closer to the front. Overall, an extremely enjoyable & unique experience that brought together a lot of people & helped strengthen their love of Harry Potter. What could be better?! I hope Hollywood Bowl continues to put on these Special Events, especially if they continue with the rest of the Harry Potter series & Disney films.
Have you ever been to this Venue or seen a Movie/Concert like this? Please let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading 🙂
Looking for something to do this weekend?! Today’s post, a mix of a Collaboration, Event Recap, & Movie Review, will definitely provide an awesome idea!
On Monday, I was offered the chance to get a sneak peek of “Central Intelligence” – a new movie starring Dwayne Johnson & Kevin Hart that comes out THIS FRIDAY, June 17th! Thank you FabulousArizona.com for this awesome opportunity! The Event was a lot of fun, way more than just a basic Movie viewing. Radio stations Power 98.3 & 101.9 were there giving away a ton of free branded merchandise, as you’ll see below, & playing some great music. I was genuinely surprised no one started a dance party, especially when they started playing “The Wobble”! I posted a video of the theater filling up on my Twitter, go check it out & Follow me: @MissAl_Leigh. Keep scrolling to watch the trailer for “Central Intelligence” & read my Review – I’ll try to keep SPOILERS to a minimum!
I got the last one! It says “Saving the world takes a little Hart & a big Johnson”
As you can see from the trailer, the basic plot is that Hart’s character, Calvin, & Johnson’s character, Robby are high school classmates with very different social standing. Calvin is Prom King & basically Captain of every sport, voted Most Likely to Succeed & dating the prettiest girl in school. Robby is an overweight goofball that’s a social outcast, an easy target for bullies. Flash forward 20 years & Calvin definitely doesn’t have the amazing successful life he imagined. He married his high school sweetheart & now works as an accountant. The day before their 20 year High School Reunion, Calvin is reunited with Robby – now Bob Stone. Bob Stone is, of course, in way better shape, but the same lovable, if a tad bit annoying, goofball – & he’s also a human weapon employed by the CIA. Bob involves Calvin in his latest mission which twists & turns until Calvin has no idea who to trust! Underneath the huge muscles, is Bob still that misfit from High School, who now needs his help to save the world? Or is he really a dirty CIA Agent hell bent on killing whoever gets in his way? Calvin & Bob must overcome many obstacles on the road to clearing their names in this Action Comedy that has a really sweet message about friendship & learning to love who you are.
Usually I split my Movie Reviews into Likes & Dislikes, but there wasn’t anything I DISLIKED about “Central Intelligence”. I just didn’t really connect with it enough or find it hilarious enough to give it an A rating. It’s definitely funny & there were quite a few moments that had the whole audience laughing out loud. However, if you’re not a fan of Kevin Hart, you most likely won’t enjoy this film. He’s a “big” actor, but I have the same sense of humor/style of comedic acting, so I guess I’m biased! The writing is clever, pay close attention for a few lines that reference other characters the cast has played. For example, a line about Bob looking like Hercules – a character Johnson has played. Also, there are some awesome cameos for fans of “Breaking Bad”, “Arrested Development”, & “Bridesmaids”. This film was relatively tame in terms of language & violence which I was kind of surprised by. Plot wise, the details of the CIA storyline hardly matter. The real story is the developing friendship & character growth that occurs between Calvin & Bob. The end is predictable & slightly cheesy, but was nice to see in a mostly male cast action/comedy/buddy film. Character-wise, I liked that Calvin is honestly a good guy. I appreciate that he wasn’t some bad boy jock getting his comeuppance by becoming a paper pusher. I think more people can sympathize with a nice character that had a bright future ahead of him – & just turned out to be average. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I think many of us can identify with having big dreams, only to wake up to a reality that’s much different. All in all, I would definitely recommend this film for anyone looking for a movie that’s fun but also has a lot of heart – no pun intended!
For a chance to win a Sneak Peek of your own for an upcoming film & to check out all sorts of cool restaurants, local spots, spas, donut shops, etc, in Arizona, please Follow Fabulous Arizona on their website, Instagram, & Twitter!
While you’re at it, please Follow me here on MissAl-Leigh.com, Instagram, & Twitter! Let me know if you plan on going to see “Central Intelligence” or once you’ve seen it, Comment below what you thought! What other movies are you planning on seeing this summer?! Thanks for reading 🙂
Today’s Music Monday once again features my favorite band, The Rocket Summer!
I’ll be covering Concert Reviews of the 3 “Zoetic Tour” shows I saw (Phoenix, Santa Ana, San Francisco) after the L.A. performance mentioned in a previous Music Monday. These will be done in more of a summary format, quick descriptions of the night as a whole rather than breaking everything down because with 3 Concerts to review, I’m going to struggle to keep this short!
Please keep reading to see which venue I liked best & watch the video for clips of the performances! Please Subscribe, Follow, Like, Share, & Comment on this post & the YouTube video!
1. Phoenix – May 10th – The Rebel Lounge
Parking is shenanigans here. The venue lot is SUPER small, so a majority of guests parked in the surrounding neighborhood. Luckily, there was plenty of parking, however there are NO street lights. I was thankful others arrived at the same time so I had people to walk in with for creeper safety reasons, but I did trip on the sidewalk about 3 times because I couldn’t see anything.
I really enjoyed the opening act, The Foxies. They were by far my favorite openers. Lead singer Julia Lauren is gorgeous & has this Gwen Stefani/Kesha/Lady Gaga kinda look/sound going on that is engaging to watch & enjoyable to listen to.
Bryce was amazing as always. He has a great sense of playfulness & connection with the crowd. He changed the lyrics to “FL, CA” to reference Arizona, something he usually does at shows when his songs reference specific states, & the crowd went wild to have that local touch. Being from California, I was a little bitter to have my home state get the boot, but I knew that seeing him in CA later would make me feel better!
The crowd at this show was not my favorite, but not the worst I’ve experienced. One group in particular was over the top distracting. At one point they were singing other TRS songs OVER Bryce talking – rude! The loudest girl had a beautiful voice so at least she sounded pleasant. I spoke with her after to compliment her voice & she was really sweet, but part of me still wanted to chastise her, because I’m 25 going on 86, haha!
2. Santa Ana – May 12th – The Observatory/Constellation Room
Just two days after seeing TRS in Arizona, I managed to find my way to a whole different state to see another show! The CR was my least favorite venue of the tour. It was $10 to park but the lot was full so you had to park several blocks away. I’m glad I had someone with me so I didn’t have to walk alone in the dark. The CR is a small room INSIDE The Observatory & there were two concerts going on with very distinct crowds & it was quite an interesting sight to see these two types of fans mix. My Chucks, no makeup, & jeans fit right in with my fellow TRS Family, but looked quite slovenly next to the full hair/make up, bandage dress wearing girls at the rap show! Security was INTENSE, they patted me down more than I’ve ever been, even at the airport.
We missed the opening act, arriving just in time to scoot to the front & wait a few minutes. Again, awesome performance from Bryce & the band. Although, he seemed to have some trouble engaging, but I blame that on the crowd. He kept trying to get us to clap along – we started clapping 20!! times, yes, I kept track. It was too much, almost awkward.
In addition to not loving the venue, I didn’t love this crowd. There were a handful of extremely intoxicated girls behind me that kept stumbling into me, yelling at Bryce to take his clothes off, & spilling their drinks on me to the point that I left the venue smelling like Jaeger. After one girl elbowed me in the head, she draped herself on my shoulder, slurred an apology, & began petting my hair – no thanks! One bright spot was getting to meet a couple my mom had met at the LA show. They were wonderful & have been TRS fans as long as I have & we had a lot in common. Those are the types of people I love to meet at shows, they’re the real TRS Family.
3. San Francisco – May 19th – Bottom of the Hill
Back to where it all started last November, good old San Francisco, at Bottom of the Hill. This is a great venue. I’m not sure if I feel that way because I’ve been there before so now I have some sense of familiarity, because they have amazing food, or because it’s in my hometown, kind of.
SF was easily the best show overall, again, maybe I’m feeling some sort of hometown pride, or maybe because it was the last show of the tour, but it was just epic. The crowd was awesome & supportive, not overly aggressive about what songs Bryce should play & I think that allowed him to feel more comfortable & perform differently. He played “Get Over It” from the newly released “Zoetic” album & I was excited to hear it live as it’s one of my favorites. He also jumped into the crowd more than he did at the other shows I attended which is always so much fun.
I think I mentioned this in my LA Review, but I only wanted to wait for him after the SF show because that was the first place we met so it was the perfect bookend to this tour. I had carefully thought out what I was going to say – no embarrassing quoting his own lyrics to him this time! Unfortunately I ended up having only a super small window of time & didn’t get to say hardly anything I wanted or ask any of the questions I had! Bleh. It’s okay, lesson learned! The short moment was really special, he remembered me from November, what I was wearing, where I had come from that day, & saw me in the crowd in LA. He also told me I had great hair, which I’m still way too excited about, haha! In the selfies we took, which you can see at the end of the YouTube video, he’s holding our hair together in a comparison of greatness!
One additional thing I want to mention a bit more depth, as I touched on it briefly in Phoenix & Santa Ana – my annoyance with the crowd. I had an amazing time at each & every one of these shows – mostly thanks to Bryce & the music. However, a disappointing common theme I found among the crowd was, what I felt to be, a general lack of respect. A majority of the obnoxious guests seemed to be first time TRS show attendees, but people need to shape up. I don’t mind screaming for requests, especially when he asks, but when he’s playing the opening to a song & you’re yelling “NO NOT THIS, PLAY ‘TV FAMILY’, ‘TV FAMILY’ BRYCE!!!!!”, you are being rude & inconsiderate not only to him, but to fans that WANT to hear the song. It’s not all about you. This isn’t a private show. You probably think I’m being a grumpy old lady, but as I’ve mentioned, these are relatively small, intimate venues so it’s super distracting to be dealing with these chicks riding the Hot Mess Express when you’re there to focus on the music & have this spiritual experience – which is what TRS shows are for me. Also, I think it’s completely classless to yell at anyone, but especially a married man whose wife is in the same room, to take his clothes off & “Show Me Everything You’ve Got” – an innuendo based on one of his song titles.
Overall, seeing 4 shows total of the “Zoetic Tour” was quite an interesting experience. I naively thought going to 4 shows was going to make me special in some way, but I talked to at least a handful of people that had gone to the same shows as me plus others. Someone even traveled from Brazil to see him in SF – that’s dedication! I’m sure it’s obvious, but I highly recommend listening to The Rocket Summer & going to the concerts.
Huge thanks to the entire crew & band for a magical tour – shout out to Tyler for giving me a set list in SF! Teddy for putting up with my shenanigans via Instagram, you owe me a selfie, haha! & Tara, for approaching me & remembering me from the November show, it makes me feel so special to know that I made even a small impact on someone that’s made an impact on me as well. Please hire me 🙂
Of course, thank you to Bryce. Thank you for this music & the experience of these shows. As I mentioned, your music is a spiritual experience for me, & you probably find that somewhat blasphemous, but don’t worry. I know you’re not perfect or God like, that’s what’s important. You have bad days & things make you mad & you want to change, yourself, other people, the world, but you also find the beauty in things. If I was ever as talented as you, I would want to make this music, I would want to spread the same message & give people the same hope you’ve given me, all of us in the TRS Family. I have struggled the last few years, & especially the last 6 months. TRS music has always been my go to for inspiration, for cheering up, or to get out some angst. The last few months of having these shows to look forward to has kept me going & given me things to look forward to because I know that for one night, I will be in a room filled with people that look to your music for whatever reason & we all have that connection. Like you say, even when you’re alone, you’re not alone. Oh crap, I did end up quoting his lyrics to him 😉
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for TRS & in turn, for myself. I think of how different my life was when he released the album previous to “Zoetic” & I’m excited to see how things will change when the next album is released. Maybe I’ll make it to 5 shows next time! What do you think? Have you ever followed your favorite band/musician on tour? What other music should I be listening to? Please let me know in the comments & don’t forget to Subscribe/Like/Share!
How would you like the opportunity to donate to some really amazing Military Charities AND get 25% off this weekend at Macy’s!? Interested? Keep reading…
Right now Macy’s is partnering with a Military Charity called “Got Your Six“. I have spoken about this group in a previous post, but briefly, GY6 is a group that works with Military Non Profits (like TAPS) & the Media/Entertainment Industry to work towards bridging the military-civilian divide & portraying our military in a more positive, realistic manner. Their partnership with Macy’s will 100% support TAPS & other military groups through a promotion going on this week! If you donate $3, Macy’s will give you a 25% discount pass to use this weekend, May 13th-15th! 3 days of discounts for only $3 plus the satisfaction of helping a worthy cause!
I was honored to be given the opportunity to go to my local Macy’s & speak on behalf of TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Again, this is a group I have blogged about & volunteered with before, but I will give a brief explanation. TAPS was founded about 20 years ago by a woman named Bonnie Carroll after her husband, Brigadier General Tom Carroll, was tragically killed in an aviation accident along with 7 other soldiers. She has since received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her efforts with TAPS. What I love about TAPS is they provide support to anyone that knew the Military member that has passed away, no matter their connection with them or how they passed away. I appreciate that TAPS recognizes that grief hits all of us differently & it doesn’t matter how close you are to the person. Sometimes just knowing that someone you used to see on a daily basis is gone, can really shake you & you deserve to have your feelings heard & your heart healed. My “mission” at Macy’s was to connect with employees, tell them a bit about GY6, TAPS, & how I connected to the group. By giving them this information, we hoped that when the time came for them to encourage Guests to donate, they would remember me & my story, & know that people in their neighborhood care about this, so maybe their Guest does too.
Here’s a bit of my story, as I’m sure you can tell, this post is basically what I said at Macy’s.
I became involved with TAPS somewhat because of my romantic relationship with someone in the Military. Seeing his struggles with PTSD & re-integrating into civilian life made me want to become involved with an organization that could help him and those like him, so I started volunteering with the Wounded Warrior Project. I was more than willing to help him fight his demons, but the relationship eventually became dangerous. After our breakup I was filled with an intense rage & grief. It was like he had died, & in a way he has, because the man I loved is gone. The person that remains is a stranger filled with hate & disrespect. If you watched Vlog #2, just by chance, I discovered TAPS. It appealed to me because it was easy for me to identify with survivors not only because of this painful breakup, but because I have been through the grieving process with the loss of my dad when I was a child, & the more recent loss of both my grandparents on my mom’s side.
Volunteering with TAPS is extremely rewarding. After my Macy’s talk, a woman thanked me for being there & said, “People just don’t understand, especially people your age. My husband was in Vietnam & he still struggles with PTSD. At first you think it’s just part of their personality, just how they are…” & I said, “Then you realize, they’ve seen & done things that have made them this way.” “Yes”, she said, “You’re exactly right. I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through, & I’m so sorry your ex, someone so young, will probably struggle the rest of his life.” My ex wouldn’t want her to feel sorry for him, but I think he’s missing the point. Someone out there, a complete stranger, wishes for him to have a full, beautiful life, void of hardships & ugliness. I wish the same thing for him & all of us, so it’s comforting to find similar values in people. In moments where I think darkness will win, I remember people like the woman I spoke to today, I will remember there are others like me that want to help. Not everyone lets the demons win. I want to be someone that lets light in, & volunteering with groups like the WWP, GY6, & TAPS, among others, allows me the chance to do just that.
I’m hoping this Event Recap will help spread the word of this wonderful opportunity. Even if you don’t/can’t donate, hopefully this information will encourage you become involved in these groups somehow, or any Volunteer work you find valuable!
For today’s Music Monday I’m going to be talking about my favorite band, The Rocket Summer. I previously discussed TRS in November when I went to the “Returning West” Tour at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, click here to read that blog post. On April 12th, I went to the “Zoetic” Tour at The Troubadour in Los Angeles – the following post will partially be a Concert Review of that experience with some video footage.
I’m also going to review “Zoetic”, the new Album. As I’ve never done an Album Review before, I’m not exactly sure how to format it. For my first attempt I’m going to write a basic summary of my thoughts because I don’t want this post to be TOO long with the Concert Review attached as well. Writing could get too lengthy, in the future I may do this all via video, but we’ll see. Let me know what you would prefer in the comments below!!
After reading the reviews, if you’re interested in purchasing any of the songs/albums, they’re all available for free on Spotify or of course, you can buy the album on Itunes or through The Rocket Summer website. I highly recommend buying through the website because they have a bunch of really unique deals, for example, I got an actual CD – autographed! – & a digital download for about $15/$20.
UPDATE 5/2/16: After many more listens & getting these lyrics stuck in my head, I’m updating my Album Review to 4 stars. Bryce’s passion for music & the subjects he sings about are hard to deny & infectious. Perhaps there’s something to be said rating-wise about an album that takes a few listens to connect to, but I’m sticking with 4 stars. I’m still saying I don’t necessarily connect with ALL of these songs lyrically, but the music is just SO good. Give “Emergency Landings”, “Sharks”, & “White Fireworks” a listen or two or five or 50 RIGHT NOW!
Album Review – 11 songs, overall – 3 out of 5 stars
I think I’m too biased. I fell in love with The Rocket Summer as an alternative pop semi-Jesus loving kind of sound & lyrics. “Zoetic” is DIFFERENT. I’m happy for Bryce, that he’s getting the chance to expand his horizons & follow his heart – as happy as you can be for someone you don’t know, haha!
I enjoyed the album from a musical perspective. Bryce tapped into ALL his talents in terms of the music arrangement, vocal range, & style. “Zoetic” definitely has an edge to it, a harsher, angrier style that fans haven’t seen before, & I appreciate it. It’s always nice to see your favorite artist grow & show different sides of themselves. I’ll be adding most of these songs to my Gym Playlist, a place TRS songs don’t usually go.
Unfortunately I feel like so much work into the music that the lyrics were an after thought. Some of the songs are super repetitive which I’m used to hearing with pop songs on the radio, but is not usually Bryce’s style.
Overall I enjoyed this album because as always you can tell Bryce is super passionate & he puts so much effort into his work. I have to give him props for that even if I wasn’t able to connect with the lyrics this time around. In my perfect world, a future album will include lyrics in the style of previous album “Do You Feel” with music in the style of “Zoetic”.
Favorite Tracks: “Cold War”, “Same Air”, “Get Over It”, “FL, CA”
The Venue – I’d never been to The Troubadour in Los Angeles before, but was pleased with the venue. Parking was convenient, $12-$15 for Valet, & the area seemed safe. There’s two rooms, the first is super small off the left & has the bathrooms, a bar, & the merch table. That area was super squishy crowded, but the main room was pretty spacious – or maybe there just weren’t that many people there. There were seats available on an upper level & another bar in the main room. The drinks were fairly expensive though, $9 for a Jack & Coke. It might look like a dive, but don’t forget you’re in LA. One cool new (to me) thing about this show was that they were selling Giving Keys that said Zoetic on them. Giving Keys is a charity that employs those transitioning out of homelessness to stamp empowering words on keys. The idea is that you’re supposed to buy a key with a word that means something to you, wear it until you feel like you’ve accomplished a related goal, then pass the key on to someone who needs the empowerment from that word. I’ve wanted a Giving Key ever since I first heard about the company, actually I talk about them in Vlog #2!, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to buy one.
The People – As I said in my previous TRS Concert Review, the crowd at these shows are pretty respectful, mostly women or couples. There was an overly enthusiastic guy standing right next to me that was kind of weirding me out, but he wasn’t being aggressive so eh, to each their own! One thing that surprised me was the amount of children! I’ve seen teenagers before, I’ve been a teenager at a TRS show (!!), but these were kids younger than 10. It seemed like a weird parenting decision to allow kids out late at night in such a loud setting, but what do I know about raising kids!?
The Performance – The music was harsher than I’ve ever heard, but that’s the nature of “Zoetic”. It seemed like there were a few technical issues, a couple times the music sounded off & Bryce looked off stage at the tech & looked sort of irritated/frustrated. There was definitely one problem where his guitar wasn’t sounding right or something & he looked for the tech – & nobody came. He kept looking around & was holding out the guitar while trying to continue singing, but no one came. Bryce did his best to stay professional & ultimately it was kind of funny, a moment that showed a real human side to the show, but was probably stressful for him. As you’ll see in the video, Bryce brought a Fan on stage to play Cello during “Never Knew” – a VIP experience he’s offering on his website. I couldn’t hear one note of the Cello, I felt bad. My mom was sitting in the upstairs seating & said she heard it & it was great, so I’m not sure if there was a sound issue, or maybe that just wasn’t the best venue to use a Cello..?
Final Verdict: Obviously amazing, awesome, magical! I didn’t wait for Bryce to come out after the show because I’d been at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (!!!!) all day + had to drive back to Orange County, so I was ready to get going. I have plans to see him THREE more times, PHX Rebel Lounge, SNA Constellation Room/Observatory, & SF Bottom of the Hill. I will probably wait for him in SF because that’s the first place I met him & that’s the last stop on the “Zoetic” Tour, so it’ll be a nice bookend. Of course, if you like TRS I definitely recommend seeing him live. There’s not a lot of time left, but click here to see if he’s playing near you!
What do you think? For those of you that hadn’t heard of TRS before, did I make you a fan!? If you’re going to any of the shows I’ll be at, let me know in the comments below – I’d love to meet up! Please remember to SUBSCRIBE/LIKE/COMMENT/SHARE to my YouTube & this blog, thanks for reading 🙂
Try This! is going to be a little bit…unique today! Usually Try This! will be more of a Haul/Product Review piece, but today I’m going to be reviewing my experience getting a tattoo at Mainland Ink with my best friend Katie.
Disclaimer: Getting a tattoo is a HIGHLY!!!!! personal choice that requires thought & planning. I am in NO WAY saying that you should run out & get a tattoo at Mainland Ink or anywhere else. I am simply sharing my experience & the thought process behind our piece. If you have any questions/comments/concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comments below! Also below, check out a quick video of Katie & me in the tattoo process!
I’ve known Katie since high school where we caused much mayhem & mischief together as cheerleaders. Being on the same team, we obviously knew each other & were close, but my Junior year we were co-Captains of our team & the rest is Best Friend/Soul Sister history!
The tattoo is, from left to right, the Alchemical symbol for Air (Gemini is an Air sign), the Gemini symbol, & the Deathly Hallows from Harry Potter. Another best friend, Marcela, pointed out an alternative interpretation that Katie & I are equally happy with – it could be all Harry Potter related with the symbols standing for the Sorting Hat, the Time Turner, & the Deathly Hallows.
Katie has a few tattoos already, whereas I’m a novice to the game. I have one other tattoo which I’ve kept under wraps because it’s not finished yet. We had been talking for a bit about getting something matching but never seriously pursued the idea because I didn’t have any tattoos yet. However, after I got my first tattoo the idea of doing something together became way more real so we started planning. We’ve always bonded over the fact that we’re both Gemini, her birthday is June 1st & mine is the 7th. We also are both huge Harry Potter nerds. The piece is special because it appeals to us individually yet also references interests we share.
I’ve wanted a Gemini tattoo since I was in high school because I’ve always felt it was so spot on in describing my personality. Also, my dad had his sign tattooed on him, & in a weird turn of events, the tattoo artist was named David (my dad’s name) & we got the tattoo on the anniversary of my dad’s passing so it all felt very…spiritual & a way for me to connect with him.
We decided to place the tattoo on our foot for practical & “meaning” reasons.
Practical – We’re aware that tattoos in the workplace are still not totally welcome so we wanted to make sure it was something we could semi-easily hide. My other tattoo is on my side, so I couldn’t watch it being completed. Being able to watch was quite a different experience! The pain is about the same, at worst it’s like a sharp pinch. One weird thing that happened was when the needle hit a certain…nerve/muscle/tendon…? my foot would twitch. I was holding my leg down because I was afraid the motion would ruin the lines, but it turned out basically perfect. There are a couple minuscule wiggles but they are SO hard to notice, you literally have to be nose to foot. David asked if I wanted him to go over the lines again, but I said no because its hardly noticeable & we were both concerned that more touch ups would run the risk of more twitching & henceforth more wiggles.
“Meaning” – Being a Gemini, our connection to HP, & our connection to each other are what makes us who we are, it’s our roots. Placing the piece on our foot symbolized that roots/ground idea.
About Mainland Ink
Positives: The shop was clean, comfortable, has a great rating on Yelp, & they were able to work us into the schedule, even staying late two nights in a row. Everyone we talked to (Ozzy, David, & another guy but I didn’t get his name – sorry!) was really nice & willing to work on the design & placement with no attitude. They treated us with equal amounts of respect even though I’m a newbie & Katie has more tattoo experience. This is important to me because my first tattoo artist seemed annoyed by my questions or when I wanted to adjust the placement/stencil. I felt like she wanted me to just do what she wanted because I didn’t have any tattoos & she did. I’m still allowed to have an opinion about what goes on my body! This was not the case at MI & it was greatly appreciated. The shop minimum was on par with what I expected.
Negatives: Communication was a little weird. I emailed our design & inquired about pricing/availability. No answer. Later that night I called & we ended up stopping by. We were told Ozzy would call the next day to set up a firm appointment time, but by late afternoon we hadn’t heard anything. I called the shop & Ozzy said he was planning on calling when he had a bigger chunk of time between clients. I understand he’s busy but we were starting to stress & wonder if they even wanted our business. At the shop we’re eventually told David will be doing our tattoos – what?! Who?! He didn’t have any examples of his work to show which made me extremely nervous. Thankfully we had a pretty simple design because if we had been doing anything more complicated I wouldn’t have let him tattoo me.
Should YOU Try This!? – In regards to a tattoo in general – Maybe
In regards to Mainland Ink – If you’re looking for a Tattoo Parlor, yeah!
Like I said, tattoos are not for everyone & should be very carefully considered. I shouldn’t have to say this but THEY. ARE. FOREVER. I don’t advise getting a matching tattoo with anyone unless your relationship has stood the test of time & the piece means something to you individually as well as in regards to your friendship. Katie & I have been friends for over 10 years & had a really honest talk about the idea of doing a matching piece. Coincidentally, or maybe not too much of a coincidence considering we’re best friends & think alike, we both want another Harry Potter tattoo using the same quote & a mermaid themed tattoo, so someday we’ll have a couple similar pieces anyway. We figured we’d get the ball rolling with one that was an exact match 🙂
Mainland Ink was great! Other than the communication issues, everything was awesome & I would recommend this shop. I’m beyond obsessed with my tattoo, I can’t stop looking at it, & am so excited to show it off!
Do you have any tattoos? If so, tell me about them or send me a pic in the comments below! If you don’t have any tattoos, do you plan on getting one someday? I’ve wanted a tattoo since I was 15 & didn’t get one until I was 25. If you need a shoulder to cry on about your waiting struggle or someone to talk to about future plans – I’m all ears because I’ve been there too & I love hearing what people have planned! Remember to hit that FOLLOW button to stay updated on all the posts here. Thanks for reading & watching 🙂