Escape to Trader Sam’s

Escape to Trader Sam’s

Saturday August 5th

All week I had been seeing posts for the “Who’s its and Whats it’s” pop-up shop at the Anaheim Gardenwalk. I love supporting “small shops” that make their own Disney merch so I was really excited to go check it out.

I’ve been to the Gardenwalk several times, usually to eat dinner at P.F. Chang’s. We did exactly that first and foremost. I was hungry from doing that dreaded Saturday cleaning. P.F. Chang’s was delicious as usual. While their I asked Adam if he’d be down to go to Trader Sam’s/Downtown Disney to kill some more time, he said sure.

After dinner we made a beeline to the pop-up shop which was only a few doors down from P.F. Chang’s. They had SO MANY cute things. Unfortunately for me a lot of people went the opening day (Friday the 4th) and snagged most of the stuff in my size. 😦 It was probably all for the best because I would have spent WAY too much money in there!

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I did manage to snag this cute Little Mermaid Shirt


We walked around a bit more…

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Then it was off to Downtown Disney!

We made a another beeline for Trader Sam’s at the Disneyland Hotel. If you have never been there, YOU MUST. It’s probably my favorite bar, ever! The atmosphere is a Disney-infused Jungle Cruise themed Tiki Bar and the drinks are amazing!

 

Trader Sam’s is always jampacked with people, especially on a Saturday. We were trying to find a place to stand near the bar when I felt a tap on my hand. I turned around and this young couple asked if we wanted to sit at their table with them. I jumped at the chance for a seat!

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Trader Sam’s is covered in fun decor

They actually turned out to be super nice. The guy was originally from Cali but they were both located in Orlando now and both worked for the theme parks. (He worked for Universal and she worked for Disney.) They were major Disney fans like Adam and I so we had a blast trading “insider” tips to the parks. They really helped point us to some “can’t miss” places at Walt Disney World and I was so grateful! WDW is VERY overwhelming when you’re trying to plan and you’ve never been before. 

I should have really got their full names or at least added them on a social media site. Too many drinks and too much fun and I wasn’t thinking straight. I hope, somehow, we run into them when we go to WDW.

After 3 drinks we threw in the towel at Sam’s (mostly because we were getting close to our free parking limit..) and walked around Downtown Disney. Amazingly I managed to only buy one thing!

Adam went to use the restroom and I gingerly wandered into Marceline’s Confectionary. (a place with so much delicious stuff I try to avoid it at all cost). But my drinks had me in a, “treat yo self” mode so off i went. 

I ended up getting a s’mores on a stick which is funny because today is National S’mores Day! I just celebrated a few days early. 😉 After I devoured the chocolatey-marshmallowy goodness we headed back to my place. 

 

This week they announced changes to the Downtown Disney parking. Though we rarely go to Downtown Disney and not eat at a sit-down place, so it won’t affect us too much. I think it’s pretty easy to spend $20 there but it still sucks that it’s not “free” anymore. Glad we got to take advantage of the free parking one last time!

Michelle Branch at the El Rey

Michelle Branch at the El Rey

As I’ve mentioned I’m a huge music fan. One of my favorite hobbies is seeing my favorite artists live. I touched upon that in my post, “My thoughts on Manchester”. Music means A LOT to me.

Michelle Branch at the El Rey 7/25/17

Michelle was probably the first artist I was ever completely obsessed with. I know she wasn’t the first singer-songwriter but she was the first one that really caught my attention. I’d never seen a female, my own age, write their own songs, sing and play guitar.

I remember being in high school and wanting to buy a guitar SO BAD after Michelle came on the scene. But I never did, not until over 10 years later. She was also the first artist I ever saw live. I remember I was just in awe of her. I saw her at the House of Blues on Sunset when she was touring for “Hotel Paper”. Everything about that experience was a novelty. “I’m going to HOLLYWOOD to a CLUB to SEE my favorite artist!!! Wow!” This was long before the smart phone, so the memory just lives in my brain.

When I saw her at the EL Rey in Los Angeles she was still super talented, amazing and had me in awe. I was such a different person when I last saw her on so many levels. I couldn’t have even imagined all the twist and turns I’d be in for in life. So the juxtapositon of those two versions of myself (old and current) was really eye opening for me.

In my own musical pursuits I have been trying to get back to the mental space of my youth (i.e. grade school). Before all the major hurts and doubts that gave me my, “art scars”. But the strange thing is that seeing her live REMINDED me why I fell in love with all of it in the first place. WHY I wanted to do it so bad so long ago. The clarity in that got really lost and muddled in adulthood. But seeing her again transported me back to my young 20-something self and it all became a little clearer.

Seeing her took me back into that same place I was at the House of Blues. It was like I remembered the primary reason why I wanted to create. I love how she can express her innermost feelings through song. That’s what I love about music as a whole. But this was the first person I saw, that I really admired, do it live and I think that’s why it was so powerful for me, then and now. As I wrote on Instagram it was a complete, “Simba, remember who you are..” moment. Except the voice was telling me, “Remember….!”

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I’ve never truly pursued music because of fear. My anxieties are endless but my desire to express this part of me is endless as well. My inclination to follow this path doesn’t go away.  It’s been with me as long as I can remember and no matter how much I try to ignore it, it persists. Maybe this reminder will finally help me get my ass in gear.

It calls me….

It calls me….

Have you ever been able to do something but had the inability to show others you could in fact do that something?  So much so that you actually start doubting you can really do it? “No”? “Yes”? “What the hell are you talking about”?

I’ve mentioned before how I have two voices in my head that constantly battle each other. One says, “We got this!” the other says, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?! STOP IT!” Guess who always wins. But when I’m alone, the loud voice shuts up and I sing freely.

I grew up on Disney songs, my first CD was The Little Mermaid soundtrack, then Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Pocahontas..you get the picture. And I practiced singing them non-stop. No one ever said I was good though. i thought I sounded alright… but no one ever said it. Then bullies, adolescence fast forward and my singing became this thing I only did in my car, an empty house or a hotel room shower.

I’ve taken vocal lessons slightly over a year now. And I’ve tried to learn several different songs with varying degrees of sort of success. I could never walk in there and “strut my stuff”. I started to believe I lacked stuff TO strut.

Do you know HOW MANY TIMES I told myself, “I’m going to ask to sing, “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. Literally I’d think about this all week, be driving to class and freak the fuck out and not say a word about it. The thing is I could sing “A Whole New World” damn good even as a kid when the movie came out. Once my ex best friend accused me of lip-syncing when I completely wasn’t (I was 10…). Out of all the Disney songs I love that one and Mulan’s, “Reflection” (movie version) are probably the ones I do best.

But I never had the balls to step into class and attempt these songs. Because HELLO these are Disney songs. That’s not just singing Taylor Swift that SINGING. If I couldn’t even do a Taylor song what business did I have walking in there attempting a Disney song? BTW, this is my internal monologue you are now viewing. Brutal huh?

I hadn’t seen Moana because when it came out I had JUST started my new job and Adam was in Europe and I was too stressed out to do anything. I am obsessed with the water I knew I would instantly love it, I don’t know why I avoided it so long.

A week before I saw the movie (Which was about 2 weeks ago), so 3 weeks ago, something made me listen to the title track, “How far I’ll go”. I had heard clips of it but never actually listened. I was OBSESSED instantly. It hit me like, “Part of your world” had hit me so so many years ago. I listened to it over and over and sang it over and over. Literally that day I first heard it I sang it the entire way home. And I thought I was doing a pretty good job. But of course my brain would not allow for such thoughts to stay in my head long. “You sound good because no one can hear you, you suck”.

I saw the movie the new week, instantly obsessed again. The story just hit me like those old school Disney movies had. (TLM, BATB…). Shortly after I ended up alone in my house. A big struggle for me has been stage fright and letting people hear me. Even videoing myself is super hard for me. I get nervous even with THAT. But I kept trying to get comfortable with it. I took one that sounded ok..and sent it to my BF Adam, the only person I really trust with this…somewhat. lol

Then I did something insane, insane to me, I posted that video on instagram. It wasn’t my best, but it was almost like I had to face that fear. Of letting people hear me and NOT being perfect. Just letting myself heard, period. That was my only goal with it. The world did not end, I did not fall apart. And even though 2 weeks later my knee-jerk reaction is to “Delete that!” I wont let myself based on principal. If I can’t show this side of myself I will never be happy.

So as I said, countless, endless, pretty much every time I went to class I thought about trying one of those Disney classics…and backed down. But yesterday I decided I was going to try it. Well not a classic but, “How far I’ll go”. My regular teacher isn’t there but her sub is super nice too. I even printed out the words. The funny thing is the first thing my teacher told me when I walked in, “Maybe we should work on two songs, do another one too.” Oh universe, you are HILARIOUS. So I suggested, “How far I’ll go” and busted out the lyrics I already had printed out.

Then I did it, I was nervous as hell and wasn’t my best, but I wasn’t my worst either. I navigated that song way better then any other song I had attempted in the last year. So we kept working on different elements and I tried it again and again. The final time she was genuinely surprised and said I had done so well. That I had all of the notes I just had to work on my projection. But that I did awesome and that I ,”Kept surprising her”.

Do you know how long I have waited for someone to tell me I really could do this? That it wasn’t so made up thing I could only do in my head. No, I really can sing that song and I can probably sing all the other ones well too. But just that moment of validation, unaided validation. I cried on the way home. I have waited over 20 years for that moment. For someone to say, “You CAN do this.” Honestly, words can’t even describe it.

“One day I’ll know
How far I’ll go”

Vocal Lessons: A year later

I realized today that I have been taking my vocal lessons slightly over a year now. It’s been an interesting year and has forced me to really look at what stops me in life.

I love to sing, I truly do. It makes me so happy. I just love music in general, music heals me or comforts me. And I’ve always wanted to sing. I’ve already written about my internal battle with that though.

I’m actually still finding my voice, in all ways. I’m still breaking free. It’s been tiny baby steps though, teeny tiny ones. Before I took lessons I thought just walking into them was going to be enough for me to “unleash” and suddenly I was going to be so confident. But the opposite happened, it was HARDER for me to sing in my lessons, because I was in front of someone else.

I’ve wanted to quit MANY times. Especially after my last teacher left me. But my new one has taught me so much, and I feel like my 3 short months with her have yielded a lot of results. But the teachers that came before her each had their hand in teaching me several things too.

I’ve learned what a complex instrument the voice is. I’ve also learned that singing is a very mental thing. In the end my mind is hindering me most, even still. I can belt a song in my car but put me in class and it squeaks out. It’s not because I can’t sing, but just because my brain is freaking out and not letting me. Bridging that gap between fear and ability is HARD for me. But I am laying down those boards one at a time, inching along.

I thought I’d be across the water by now. I thought I’d have at least shared my singing with someone. But no, I sing a tiny bit in front of Adam but that is even very rare. I still don’t practice in my house because I’m shy for my dad to hear.

I don’t practice, another huge problem. I really need to. For abilities sake but mostly for confidences sake. The more you feel like, “Yeah. I GOT THIS” the better you will perform. AT ANYTHING in life. Singing is no different.

Today I did something I hadn’t done in awhile. I picked up my guitar. I started just trying to learn Selena Gomez’s song, “Bad Liar” because it seemed like it’d be super easy to play, (it is!) but then a part of me is like, “You need to be working on a “Million Reasons” Malinda….” so I pulled out the chords I had printed and started to try to play it and sing. (My dad wasn’t here, btw) Then I just felt like practicing singing only.

So I sang it and recorded myself, then did something out of the ordinary. I listened to myself. Then I did it again. I got so emotional the second time through it I almost started crying in the middle of the song. Because I was just singing my heart out, the way I used to when I was 8 when I’d sing along to “The Little Mermaid” or any other disney or Madonna song.

I sang a lot of songs, I sang non-stop. But I never got the one thing I was looking for, approval. Someone to say “You sing pretty good” or “Maybe she should take lessons” no one ever pushed that part of me. I think it was because I was SO shy and SO introverted they probably didn’t connect the dots that I loved singing and performing more then anything.  I don’t know what it is. But my brain always just told me it was cause I wasn’t good at it…and then as I got older and got bullied it was as if I got confirmation of that fact.

And now I have Olivia Thai, winner of Thai Idol and also former contestant on American Idol telling me that’s NOT the case, that I have a gift I need to share…and I don’t believe her. I want to, I want to SO BAD. But my negativity drowns it out and says, “Bitch, you can’t sing.” The battle I am fighting is mental, it’s not ability based.

I think that’s why that moment made me so emotional. Because I hit the chorus in a “Million Reasons” with full force. Usually between the verse and the chorus I will stop, because she goes into the high notes and sings with so much power. I get scared and falter. But Oliva told me to the practice getting through the song, no stops, even if I mess up to keep going. And I smashed the chorus I could just feel it, it was like my real voice came out. And then I started almost crying. Crying and singing don’t mix well. lol

I have moved forward in this year and forward is all I can ask for. I’m excited to know with more confidence and more practice where I will be in another year.  Will I be posting a video for everyone to hear? I hope so.

My problem with self discipline

This week I was determined to A. go the the gym 3x (M,W,F) and B. actually SING at my voice lesson. Ever since I got sick my classes have sucked, I don’t know if it’s my throat or my brain…but my last few lessons were really bad imo.

Sunday night I didn’t sleep good. I work at an NPR station and we are having a pledge drive this week, which is when I’m at my busiest! So I went to work tired, worked my ass off and STILL went to the gym.

Sounds great until you hear that I went to this YUMMY hot dog place in Pasadena called Dog Haus for lunch with my co-worker/buddy Crystal. I ate so BAD but it was so good. So with my workout I’d be lucky if I broke even. :/ #fail

Tuesday was another bad eating day with my BF but I did go to class and sang much better then the previous weeks. So that was a half-win.

Wednesday I had FULL intention of going to the gym. My work is in-between my bf’s and the gym. I park near the gym and take the Metro 10min to work because parking in Pasadena is HORRIBLE. So, when we go places my bf usually picks me up from work. ANYWAY, so he picks me up from work, drops me off at my car, we drive to the gym I get out of my car and pop open my trunk….no gym clothes.

The bag is still sitting on the floor of my room. I completely forgot the grab them in the morning. #fail We had dinner and I went home and did some pilates but it was not the cardio I wanted to do.

I’m really bad when it comes to eating healthy, working out AND practicing my guitar/voice. I get so lazy after work or when I get home. And eating, oh lordy (haha #comeyday..), I eat terrible. I love everything bad for me. WINGS and MARGARITAS especially. Take me to BWW and give me both and I’m in heaven.

But I really want to get back into shape, for a couple reasons. 1. I have a 5k & 10k in September at Disneyland. 2. I BOOKED A DISNEY WORLD VACATION FOR MY BIRTHDAY! Sorry for the bold, all caps, but I’m beyond excited to go. It’s my FIRST time EVER! And I’m going the day before my birthday!!! I’m going to Disney world for the first time on my birthday guys?! How amazing is that?

Oh and I forgot shopping! I’m a Disney-holic/t-shirt holic so now trying to save money for Disney World and not spend money for the trip to Disney world (like shirts and ears..) is another thing I must discipline myself on.

Telling myself “No” and not saying, “Fuck it” are really hard. But I’m trying guys, this also falls in with my last post about becoming the person I want to be. Getting in shape, working on my music and spending money on things that really matter to me (instead of random crap) are all things I need to be doing to be that person…but they’re hard! *whiney voice*

I’d love to end this post with a wisdom filled nugget but meh. I’m just here trying to do my best. Trying to walk a little more towards my goals so when I take those few steps back it doesn’t feel so bad.

Are you good at self discipline? Have you become better at it as time goes on? Tips? Tricks? They’re Always welcome.

Thoughts on everything currently swirling around in my brain

I apologize in advance because this post has no clear cut direction. I have lots of things running through my mind after my voice lesson Thursday, watching Wonder Woman yesterday and watching the livestream of the One Love Manchester benefit concert today.

I am a person who is truly split in two. I feel like two very different people live inside my brain. I watch Gal Gadot portray Wonder Woman and I know that person lives inside of me…the fierce warrior and then there is this other person, a terrified little girl that is afraid to be heard, to be seen. And they are constantly at odds with each other. Most times when I really want to be be brave, the little girl shows up. Terrified, shaking in a corner wanting nothing more then to keep hiding. Go where it’s safe. Maybe there is 3 actually. Because I feel torn in-between them.

I want to cuddle the little girl and scream at her all the same, “WHY CAN’T YOU BE BRAVE?! WHY CAN’T YOU LET SHIT GO?” But obviously that doesn’t help, because the words still wont come out as they should and I don’t shine as I should.

I am an introvert, and I got the message pretty young that I wasn’t supposed to be that way. I got a lot of messages and I built my foundation on a lot of things that weren’t true. So now here I am, a full fledged independent minded adult still believing what I learned decades ago…and still buying into it.

I am the shy introvert but I am a performer too. I want to express so much yet I want to hide. I have tried so hard to make these two sides work together somehow. There is no compromise because the pull of each is so strong. How do I reconcile the past of who I was with the person I want to become in life?

I’ve built too much and come too far with these conflicting houses. There’s a whole city on top of faulty, rocky ground. There is no denying that there is beauty to be found amongst that city. My life has had amazing moments but they seem to be always overshadowed by the bullshit.

There will be no reconciliation of past and present. I’ve tried so hard and its impossible. So I must rebuild.

We need to all start together at the same place and build together, with a love for both of my halves and be reborn like the Phoenix. But leaving behind the bullshit and only taking the best and the good to build with and taking the bad in stride. A new foundation a new city a new me. A person that accepts myself despite everything. I can’t change the past I can simply forgive myself for it and create a better future.

It all sounds good. But we all know change is NOT that easy. Very few people can wake up and become a different person.  But to be honest, I’ve never worked that hard at radical self acceptance. Or my music and my other passions. There’s so much risk in pouring your heart into something isn’t there? Because there is always the possibility of falling flat on your face despite all your best efforts.

My dealings with romantic relationships, however, have always gotten my full attention. Every ounce of me went into situations that were not beneficial or even good for me. For so, so long.

That’s a major difference with my current relationship. He does not deplete me, or take and never give, or require me to worry and wonder and fear. Our bad days are so minimal and small. It’s healthy and happy. I attribute this not only because I’m with a wonderful person but because I have done SO MUCH work to get to where I am today.  But why then do I still let past things bug me? Things that don’t even matter anymore?

I want to walk into my future and I want to become the best versions of every facet of myself. The scared little girl and the warrior both have a place at the table but they need to work together instead of constantly fighting each other.

I don’t know how I’m going to do this. But I am. Because I’m tired of being afraid to be whoever I’m supposed to be.

It’s more then just a concert: My thoughts on Manchester

I just returned from a vacation in New Orleans but writing about that just doesn’t feel right at the moment. Since the tragedy in Manchester happened it hasn’t left my mind.

I love going to concerts, so much so I’d probably list it as a hobby. I love music and there is NOTHING like seeing it performed live. It’s not even just about being in close proximity to the artists, or admiring their talent. Music is expression and going to a concert is the ultimate expression of joy and solidarity.

Once when I saw Beyonce at the Rose Bowl I posted on facebook that it felt like I was going to church. You’re in a building with people filled with pure joy and excitement . No one is worrying about how they are going to be perceived. I dance my ass off and sing my heart out, smile, cry, the songs COME TO LIFE.

Music in itself ALREADY has an element of life and spirit to me. Songs and albums speak my soul, good or bad, they give me an outlet to express everything. Music is EVERYTHING to me. So a concert is the ultimate expression of it. And guess what? You’re with 100’s or 10,000+ people that feel THE EXACT way you do. They’re there to be in a place where you all share this commonality…the joy of the artists, the music and all the life it brings.

EVERY concert I have ever attended has been one of the happiest moments of my life for this exact reason. And it’s why I keep going back, why I go alone to them most times. Because nothing is going to stop me from experiencing that oneness. I never feel more like I belong then in those moments. I am with people that understand just HOW much this means to me, and its a gift.

Which is why I find what happened extra horrifying. A moment of peace and pure joy completely shattered and destroyed and turned into something so ugly I can’t even comprehend it. The media focuses on the teen girls and young people in the place and yes that does make up the majority of her audiences. But I assure you, there were all kinds of people there who were just as happy and joyous to be there. People like me, parents, boys, men…the joy is infectious.

I saw Ariana when she was here last month. My boyfriend happened to go with me to that show. But do you know every other concert I’ve been to in the last 5 or so years has been ALONE. I’ve seen Taylor 3x, Ariana 1x and Beyonce all alone. I’m supposed to see Katy Perry in October…alone. And I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t scared. Scared of what could have happened, or what could happen. Worried that my moment of peace has been forever shattered along with many other fans out there.

My heart breaks for everyone that had to experience that night and everyone that didn’t make it. I can’t even begin to imagine. It makes me want to help, but I feel helpless and it makes me scared.

But isn’t that the point? To terrorize us into changing who we are and abandon what we love out of fear? They discount the human spirit, they underestimate US. It may not be immediate but they can’t stop our joy and our freedom of expression.

“Be Alright”

Midnight shadows
When finding love is a battle
But daylight is so close
So don’t you worry ’bout a thing

We’re gonna be alright [3x]

Baby, don’t you know
All them tears gon’ come and go
Baby, you just gotta make up your mind
That every little thing is gonna be alright
Baby, don’t you know
All them tears gon’ come and go
Baby, you just gotta make up your mind
We decide it

We’re gonna be alright [3x]

In slow motion
Can’t seem to get where we’re going
But the hard times are golden
Cause they all lead to better days

We’re gonna be alright [3x]

– Ariana Grande