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My Bucket List Trip is here!

Denver, Colorado.

The chances are likely, that as you’re reading this, I’m on my way to, or have already arrived at my Bucket List Trip destination: Denver, Colorado.

But why Denver for a Bucket List Trip? I’ll explain.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to take a trip to a city I’ve never been to and see a concert. So, when a band or a musician I like goes on tour, I always look at the entire list of the cities they’re visiting to see what might work for a possible Bucket List Trip.

Several years ago, I booked a Bucket List Trip with my best friend to Las Vegas to see John Mayer. I bought our concert tickets and was ready for the trip of a lifetime.

And then John Mayer had to have surgery on his vocal chords, and he cancelled his tour. I refused to believe it until I checked my email and saw the refund from the ticket company. My friend and I still went to Vegas, and we had a blast, but it didn’t end up being one off my Bucket List.

As many of you know, I’ve been going through it (what I would consider Hell) since September, when my dad had brain surgery to remove a mass. He passed away in February, shortly after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

I am still very much in pain, and sometimes it feels worse than it did the day he died.

In November, after my dad’s surgery and diagnosis, I saw on Twitter that R&B artist Khalid was going on a new leg of his tour. I’d wanted to see him so badly, but the tickets were always so expensive.

I looked at the stops on his tour, and yes, he was coming to Austin, but he was also performing at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre – a place I have ALWAYS wanted to see a concert. If you’re not familiar with Red Rocks, it’s the only natural acoustically perfect concert venue in the world. Basically, it’s at the bottom of a canyon, and the pictures look insane.

The tickets for the show went on sale just a few weeks after I saw the tour list, and I vowed to get myself a ticket. So, on a Saturday morning between dance classes, I locked myself in a dressing room at the studio and purchased a ticket for the show at Red Rocks.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre; photo from Denver.org.

At the time, I had no idea I’d be grieving, no idea that I would so desperately need a vacation, but alas, here we are, and I’m so thankful I’ve planned this trip for myself!

But I’ve been waitin’ all year to get the hell up outta here
and throw away my fears.
– Khalid

I started listening to Khalid about a year ago. I heard his single, “Location” on the radio during my commute to work and I liked it so much, I wrote it down in my phone.

Months later, I took a trip to Indianapolis to see friends, family, and a guy I liked. Well, one of my friends refused to see me, my family lied to me, and the guy turned out to be an asshole with a house straight out of an episode of “Hoarders” (and recently confessed to my best friend that he actually liked her all along). 

I couldn’t get out of Indiana fast enough. When I got to the airport, I decided to download “Location” and I had it on repeat for a few days. Slowly, I started buying other songs off his album, “American Teen”, and before I knew it, I was listening to the entire album on a loop.

In September, when I flew to Chattanooga to see my dad before his surgery, I was listening to his album to comfort me while I was hysterically crying in the airport:

I cried for my entire Lyft ride to the airport, through security, and once I got to my gate, I found a corner and cried. I cried so hard that someone from TSA came to talk to me to see if I could calm down.

The truth is, how could I be any semblance of okay after what had just happened? In just four days, I’d received the news about my dad AND all of this drama that comes along with my dad’s side of the family had come crashing into my face.

I felt alone; I feel like I don’t have anyone rooting for me; and I was scared shitless that I’d never hear from my dad again. I knew one thing for a fact: I wouldn’t be getting updates from his partner anymore.

Two things stopped me from crying for my six hours of travel home: my trusty Khalid album, and the Dallas Cowboys’ burger kiosk at gate A21 in the DFW airport. It’s the second time I’ve eaten there, both times I was upset, and both times I’ve abandoned my vegan lifestyle to get the Cowboy Blues burger and it is so worth it.

It’s cheesy, but music has always comforted me, and it’s something my dad and I had in common. He loved all sorts of music, and my very first concert was with my parents, seeing one of my dad’s favorite bands, Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs.

So yes, I’m AMPED to see Khalid, and I’m as equally excited to see Red Rocks… I will probably cry over stimulation overload and I’m okay with that.

The thing about Red Rocks is that there’s always a 99% chance of rain given its location and natural setup. Part of planning for this trip meant reading lots of guides and other blogs from people who’ve been to Red Rocks before. From that, I learned what kind of shoes to wear, and what to pack: an empty water bottle, warm clothes, and a rain poncho.

The concert is rain or shine, and many times it does rain, and the concert keeps going. But sometimes, they cancel it. And I will be damned if this turns into another John Mayer/Vegas/Non-Bucket List trip!

I’ve kept this trip very close to my heart – I’ve only told a few people – because, well, this trip is for me. I’m traveling alone, as I often do, and I’m experiencing this on my own. So many people I know have been to Denver already and I wanted to keep things new to me – sometimes it puts a damper on things when people share their experience with a place before you even get there.

Ever since my dad’s passing, I’ve been very aware of my own mortality. I’ve always felt some sense of pressure to live life, and do things, and don’t regret a moment… but that feeling is very amplified as of late.

I’m also very aware of people around me and what they’re doing with their life: whether it’s planning and taking trips, or building a business, or having a family… I’m just here, and I feel like I’m being left behind. So, this trip is coming at a perfect time – a time when I feel like I need to just get out there and live, and do something I have only dreamt of doing.

I wanted to plan my own activities and make this trip a complete getaway. So, aside from the concert, I do have a list of restaurants and breweries that I want to indulge in, and I’ve got a few sightseeing things on my list. I also treated myself to a fabulous hotel right in Downtown Denver. I’m looking forward to a true adventure.

For the sake of being present, I’m keeping the social media documentation to a minimum. I plan on posting a few Instagram pictures (@OrangeJulius7), but will be staying off other channels.

I’ll tell you all about it when I get the chance.

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Hangout Fest is here!

Hangout, here we come!

Hangout, here we come!

TODAY is the first day of the BEST weekend ever: Hangout Fest. So, here I am in Orange Beach, ready to get this party started!

This is my third year at Hangout, and every year, there’s so many things I look forward to: sipping vodka tonics in the white sand, consuming endless amounts of fried food, wearing my swimsuit and body glitter for three whole days, and of course, an eclectic lineup of live music, right on the shore.

In years prior, I’ve gotten to see Outkast, Jack Johnson, Major Lazor, Skrillex, Zac Brown Band, Paramore, Dawes, The Black Keys, The Killers, Wiz Khalifa, Childish Gambino, Foo Fighters, Umphrey’s McGee, Jack U, Beck, and Tove Lo, among many others. This year, here’s who I’m looking forward to seeing:

Walk the Moon – This is not a band I would seek to see otherwise, but they’re from Cincinnati and I wouldn’t mind dancing on the beach to some “Shut Up and Dance” after a day of boozing.

Alabama Shakes – Now, this is surely going to rock the freaking beach! I love seeing bands like this live, because they are likely to go off course & put on a great show.

The Chainsmokers – Unfortunately, The Chainsmokers are scheduled to perform at the same time as The Weeknd, and I’ve made my choice. I was really looking forward to seeing a few of their songs live, and I’m still holding out hope that perhaps the schedule will change. They are most known for the “Selfie Song”, but have recently put out a few goodies, including “Roses” and “Don’t Let Me Down”.

The Weeknd – I’m not a huge fan here, but this is probably the person I’m most looking forward to seeing. There’s a lot of mystery behind this guy, and I want to see what he brings to the stage. Will it be chill, or will he melt faces? I’m hoping for the latter, and I’m excited to get my groove on with this show.

Panic At The Disco – So, it’s totally going to feel like 2005 again and I’m really looking forward to it. I have no clue if they’ve put out any new music since then, but I’m hoping to hear this song:

Calvin Harris – I’m not huge on Calvin Harris, but this is where Hangout Fest turns to magic. Every year, there’s an artist that I’m kind of “meh” on, and then they do a bang out job. And I’m giving Calvin Harris that chance; even if he is with Taylor Swift.

Fetty Wap – WHO doesn’t want to see Fetty Wap?! This is going to be a fun little midday show!

Lenny Kravitz – Hells yes, y’all. I cannot wait to see this man on stage. This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but “It Ain’t Over ‘Till It’s Over” was popular when I was a kid and I’ve always loved that song. I know he’s had a ton of hit songs since then, but I would d-i-e if he played it.

Ellie Goulding – I’m not only excited to dance and sing along to this girl’s songs, but I’m equally as excited to see what she’ll be wearing for the show.

Florence & The Machine – I am certain this lady is going to rock the house; she’s closing out the entire weekend, so I think this will be a good time. I’ve always heard awesome things about her live shows,  so I’m really looking forward to it!

And that’s my weekend, in a nutshell. Feel free to live vicariously through me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 – otherwise, I’ll see you right back here on Monday!

Dreaming of (becoming) Britney.

The Queen.

The Queen.

A few weeks ago, a coworker headed to Vegas for the weekend to see Britney Spears at Planet Hollywood. I was SO jealous…and couldn’t wait to hear all about it come Monday.

Since Britney debuted with “Baby One More Time,” I’ve been a huge fan. When she took over MTV in her school girl uniform, I was in high school, and on the dance team — I wanted nothing more than to dance like her.

I went as her for Halloween, I attempted to get my hair cut like hers, I was inspired by her fashion sense, and I even did 500 sit ups every day, because… well, that’s what she did. And you can’t argue with her body; she looks fantastic!

I think all Britney fans can agree, that we’ll forgive her for that whole Kevin Federline f*ck up, and we kind of get the meltdown thing. Shit happens.

What’s important is that now she’s completely back, and living large in Vegas. My coworker’s trip got me thinking — how awesome does Britney have it?

For an artist like her, meaning one who had a ton of hits but isn’t producing new material currently, she’s got a pretty awesome setup. She’s got a contract in Vegas, puts on a one-hour show nearly every night, lives in the Planet Hollywood hotel, and gets a fat paycheck.

I was reading an article a few months ago about her workout regimen (on top of her regular performances), and she mentioned that she loves eating sushi regularly — which I’m sure is delivered right to her hotel door from Koi.

So freaking jealous.

On top of all this awesomeness, let’s face facts, Britney Spears could date any guy she wanted. And that is most certainly a power I want to have. I realize that’s an incredibly superficial wish and there’s probably a few guys out there that aren’t interested in her… or are there?

Now that her contract is extended, I’ve got more of a chance to get to Vegas and see her show (I saw her a few times in concert when I was in high school), but I’m sure it’s nothing quite like the Vegas show.

Anyone been to the show? I’d love to hear the details!

Where There’s Smoke…

Oh, hiiiiii.

Oh, hiiiiii.

There’s something sexy about a man in uniform. I’m not a huge fan of cops, but I’ll take a soldier or a sailor any day.

Uniforms are hot, but I think it’s more about a man putting his life on the line for the community, or the country, that really turns me on.

As a result, you can imagine my surprise and delight when a firefighter walked into the shoe store where I work last week.

“Hey, you look just like Emma Stone,” he said. “Actually, you’re much prettier than her.”

Now this was just getting embarrassing.

Of course, I didn’t know he was a firefighter right away. But he was very attractive.

He started asking me what there was to do around town. Given that I’m usually selling shoes or hunkered over my computer at home, I’m probably the wrong person to ask.

But I gave him a few suggestions, all of which included live music and drinks.

He said he was in town from Austin, for a firefighter’s convention. His name was Robert.

“Firefighters go to conventions?” I asked.

He acted as if that was something I should already know, and suggested I call him when I got off work.

He gave me his card. I told him it was nice to meet him.

For the remainder of my shift, I wondered if I should actually call or text Robert.

After all, he was hot, a firefighter, seemed nice, and was only in town for a few days (read: no strings attached).

A fling could be good for me, I thought.

The next day, I was back at work, organizing a jewelry rack, when I saw Robert had returned. He was chatting it up with my gorgeous, blonde manager.

“What’s there to do around here?” he asked her.

My jaw dropped, and she quickly told him she had a boyfriend.

Robert turned, saw me watching the entire exchange, and merely said, “Oh, hey Holly.”

I gave a half-smile.

Seriously?

There are days when I leave my apartment feeling on-point; feeling like I’m looking pretty cute. But I know I can’t compare to someone with a model body or the makeup and hair of Kim Kardashian.

I do my own hair and makeup, I try to stay slim, and I wear jeans and graphic tees. The day Robert came in, I was wearing a shirt that said, “Coffee Saves Lives,” a personal belief.

My friends always say, “But you’re the kind of girl someone actually wants to be with.”

And just when I feel okay, a guy like Robert shatters my small collection of confidence.

I get it. He was in town for a weekend and was looking for some fun. I can’t blame the guy.

But at the very least, have some decency to hit on ladies that work in different stores. There’s a whole mall to explore, dude!

If I hadn’t seen him hitting on my coworker, I wouldn’t have thought anything about us having a fling. I probably would’ve taken a shot of vodka and decided Robert was a saint.

But that’s not what happened, and in some form, Robert did me a favor.

When he left the store, I told my manager what happened.

“Oh no, girl,” she said. “He was a loser.”

We both laughed and that was that.

But don’t worry, I haven’t given up on firefighters, or any man in uniform for that matter.

I’m just hoping I can meet my firefighter in the movie-kind of way. My apartment complex has a restaurant attached, so the building’s smoke alarm goes off on the regular.

Maybe I’ll finally get rescued.