updates

year30, updates, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Days 6 & 7

Santa Fe to Lubbock, TX

Last moments in Santa Fe

Day 6, Thursday
Still had a pretty sucky time connecting to the Internet, but I wasn't going to give up on you just yet, Surface Pro 3. I believe in you! Since our Airbnb rental's "high speed Internet connection" wasn't living up to its promise, I decided to walk downtown to work from Starbucks - J decided to come with so we could have Subways for lunch [1]. And whaddayaknow, I've got working Wi-Fi! YES!!!

Starbucks had a crazy promo that I desperately wanted to win. I had two chances today and I won neither. Better luck next time!

IMG_0380.JPG

Had to work from the shared bench. I pulled out a power strip from my bag - an idea I got from a blog entitled, "How To Prepare For Comic-Con" that suggested to bring one with you since there aren't a lot of outlets at the convention center...quickest way to make friends, too! - that immediately amused the people I had to share my space with. One of them was a 20-something girl who probably spent no less than two hours talking to multiple people on the phone, disputing some sort of medical claim (Note: I need to work on my eavesdropping skills if I want to get in the live-tweeting-or-blogging business). It sounded super stressful - she left the coffee house without resolution.

Nothing else of note happened during my stay there - got a lot of work done, thank goodness. J picked me up for dinner and we went to a quaint little restaurant called Tune-Up Cafe.

Decided to sit at the bar and start off with some local beers. While waiting for our orders, a man approached the bartender, claiming to be a movie location scout asking permission to shoot some photos. J and I exchanged glances, and the bartender had the "it happens" expression on his face. Apparently Santa Fe is a popular destination for shooting films.

Food and drink

  • Lunch: [1] J really wanted fajitas again, but it had been cold and rainy, so the fajita man wasn't at his usual station. So we shared a foot-long honey oat, black forest ham, lettuce, onion, tomato with vinegar and oil. I'm starting to love Subway!
  • Dinner: Jason - chicken enchiladas, Jam - shrimp and halibut pasta

Watched some Property Brothers before bed. Man, I will really miss having HGTV.

Day 7, Friday
Last day in Santa Fe! Didn't get to go to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, but we caught up with the fajita man so that was awesome! Got to try green chile stew, which was perfect for a chilly mid-day. Ate at the park.

We both worked for a few hours at Starbucks; still didn't win the damn contest. Random thought: There are so many homeless folks in Santa Fe...how are they managing the cold? J thinks they are only stopping over on their way to somewhere warmer. And besides, there are homeless people almost everywhere.

Food and drink

  • Lunch: Jason - beef fajitas, Jam - green chile stew

Green chile stew, at the park. #vsco #VSCOcam #lunch #santafe

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

  • Dinner: Went to a restaurant called Whole Hog Cafe (which I thought was an AWESOME name!) and got the 1/2 slab with high expectations.  

Verdict: Underwhelmed. Coleslaw was only so-so (Best is still from Bray Butcher Block & Bistro at San Pedro Square Market in San Jose) and the sauces weren't that great, except for the #3. I'm really looking forward to the barbecue in Texas and St. Louis.

En route to San Antonio, TX

We hit the road at 6 PM Mountain Time, decided to stop in Lubbock at midnight Central Time (San Antonio is 10 hours away). This was our view for 5 hours or so:

It was so boring that we had to up our podcast/playlist game just to stay awake. We listened to episode 10 of Serial and had a heated discussion about Adnan's lawyer's incompetence. It's funny how the recordings shared through this podcast made these lawyers sound so bad at their jobs, they're not at all like the polished actors who play lawyers on television. Anyway, despite the fact that this episode had cast a bad light on the defense, there was no doubt about it now, what this show is trying to say: there definitely wasn't enough evidence to put Adnan in jail. </end-of-rant>

After Serial, we listened to J's old iPod whose tracks I won't list, apart from this one Chemical Brothers track that awakened both of us in the middle of bumfuck Texas, where NOTHING was going on (I didn't even realize that we already crossed over to Texas):

Accommodations for the night

Motel 6. No comment, just here to sleep.

year30, updates, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 5

More on Santa Fe

Morning

Waking up toasty next to the gas heater definitely has its perks, but it only takes about 5 minutes for me to feel the overall chill of Santa Fe's morning air...it probably was a bad idea to sleep in shorts with no socks. Must get a few more pairs of cute knee-high socks at Walmart/Target [1].

As I shower using scalding hot water, I am reminded of my days in Manila, taking baths by tabo using cool water. The idea of doing that here makes my insides quiver. I turn the heat up even more. Winter, here we come!

Oh, and for some reason, my morning migraine is a lot more intense here. Like, I didn't wake up because the sun hit my face or because J's alarm woke me up. I woke up because my skull felt like it was being sat on by three sumo wrestlers. J says I need to drink more water while we're here as high altitude makes you feel dehydrated quicker.

By the way, this is what our Airbnb rental looks like in the morning.

My complicated relationship with Windows laptops

I recently got a new laptop during Black Friday. It's sleek, shiny, sexy, and it bends in all sorts of ways. Take a look:

yoga 2 pro.jpg

Coming from a netbook, this is pretty much a dream. For a few hours, I enjoyed doing my work on it until we had to leave for The Grand Move. Then everything just went to the shitter.

It turns out, this fancy piece of machine is notorious for having horrible Wi-Fi problems, as in it won't ever connect to the Internet. It will give you access for a few minutes, but just when you start becoming happy that things are going your way, it drops off again. I run every troubleshooting app. I follow every tutorial I could find. Even J's computer wizardry falls short. Frustration city!

Finally, we decide to return my merchandise to Best Buy and switch brands all together. This is what we ended up getting just this evening:

I am pretty disappointed that I won't get a second try with the Yoga 2 Pro, but J explains that its Wi-Fi hardware is crappy - even the demo they have at Best Buy has a hard time connecting to the Internet.

Anyway, this is my second attempt at acquiring a better work machine. I am hopeful that this works out. I've always been a Windows gal, so I am especially rooting for the Surface Pro 3 to suit my needs without conking out [2]. Since most of our trip will actually be us working, I will probably have more updates to share in the days to come.

Pueblos everywhere!

This architectural style is something I am very fond of, which is why I was very excited about the prospect of visiting Santa Fe. The rounded and smooth corners, the earth tones, all of it just convey relaxation to me. For lunch, J and I decide to walk downtown to find a place to eat quickly, and on the way we see some cool pueblo style buildings and take photos of our favorites (click 'em - they blow up in size).

Food and drink

  • Lunch: Fajitas on the street. I had beef, J had chicken. Both were awesome. J asks, "What's the difference between a taco and a fajita?" I don't know, but I would eat both.
  • Dinner: Santa Fe Bite Restaurant, Jason - Street tacos, Jam - Green chile [3] cheese burger

[1] I don't online shop as much as I used to, but when I do, it's usually for stupid things like socks or $5 shirts.
[2] Don't get me wrong, I won't mind owning a Mac, but I don't want or need it right now.
[3] Green chile is a must for every visit to Santa Fe, apparently.

year30, updates, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 4

Flagstaff to Santa Fe, NM

Duration of trip: 5-6 hours

Playlist

J claims that he doesn't read my updates because of my uber-detailed listing of the songs we listen to. "Nobody cares about each and every track you play!" Music buff and wannabe DJ in me died, you guys. So instead of listing it manually here, I'm just going to embed the playlists I saved off of Spotify for our trip. Yep, I actually signed up for Spotify Premium so we could listen to songs offline/without Internet connectivity.

For this particular leg, we turned to this comedy compilation we begun listening to a few days ago, beginning with Robin Williams (may he rest in peace). People of note on this list that we ended up liking a lot are Wyatt Cenac and Maria Bamford. Skipped the non-spoken word tracks and Tig Notaro ("Too much cancer talk!" - Jason).

Food and drink

  • Snacks: Lay's Oven Baked barbecue potato chips, fresh persimmons courtesy of Tita Virgie (so good!)
    Dinner: Taco Bell, Jason - 5 tacos (1 of them originally mine), Jam - Crunch wrap supreme

Welcome to New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment

 Not my photo, filched from  here . We were going way too fast for me to be able to take my own, and it was already dark out.

Not my photo, filched from here. We were going way too fast for me to be able to take my own, and it was already dark out.

Not exactly sure why this is New Mexico's slogan. For the remainder of our time on the road to get to our Airbnb in Santa Fe, we saw nothing but flat lands and desert. Where are the unicorns and fairies? Must investigate further.

(Not too shabby) accommodations

Downtown Magical, Cozy Cottage in Santa Fe

House in Santa Fe, United States. This comfortable, stand alone cottage is equipped with everything you need to make your Santa Fe vacation fabulous! The property is conveniently located within a private compound and has parking for one vehicle directly in front of the unit. Once... View all listings in Santa Fe

More tomorrow!

year30, updates, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 3

Flagstaff to Grand Canyon

This update will be a short one since we've decided to spend one more night in Flagstaff so we can catch up on our remote jobs for the day. Yes, our life on the road accounts for employment! What, did you think we were slummin' it for the entire month? :-P

Playlist (here or YouTube, for those you can't find)

  • Carrie Underwood - Two Black Cadillacs
  • U2 - Beautiful Day
  • Jason Mraz - Long Drive [1]
  • Christina Perri - Burning Gold
  • Dishwalla - Counting Blue Cars
  • The Cranberries - Dreams
  • Deep Purple - Smoke On The Water
  • Chumbawamba - Tubthumping
  • The Wallflowers - One Headlight
  • Incubus - Drive
  • Donna Lewis - I Love You Always Forever
  • Jackson Browne - Running On Empty
  • Counting Crows - Mr. Jones
  • Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
  • The Postal Service - Such Great Heights [2]
  • Fun. - We Are Young
  • Florence + The Machine - Dog Days Are Over
  • The Who - Baba O'Riley

Temp outside the car en route to Grand Canyon: 14-18 F (shiiiiiit)

Miscellanoues information and thoughts
[1] Whaddayaknow, the first Mraz song I've played during this trip, three days in. THE RESTRAINT! 
[2] If you have to pick one, TPS version or Iron and Wine version?

In the spirit of keeping it short, here are some pictures! Grand Canyon, officially crossed off my bucket list. :)

Food and drink

  • Lunch: Jason - hotdog from Dog Haus, Jam - black forest ham 6-inch from Subway
  • Dinner: THIS 

Kicking off our barbecue tour the right way! #VSCOcam #vsco #bbq #barbecue #foodporn #dinner

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

Just in case it wasn't obvious, ribs are my kryptonite.

I am the walrus.

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

travel, updates, year30

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 2

Carson to Flagstaff, AZ

Taken on the State Line Arizona - California On I-40

Playlist (if it's not on here, check YouTube)

  • Seal - Crazy
  • Talking Heads - Road To Nowhere
  • Rusted Root - Send Me On My Way
  • U2 - Sweetest Thing
  • Dave Matthews Band - Ants Marching [1]
  • Ace Of Base - The Sign [2]
  • Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity [3]
  • Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way
  • Coldplay - Don't Panic
  • Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life [4]
  • Eminem - Lose Yourself [5]
  • Mazzy Star - Fade Into You
  • MGMT - Electric Feel
  • PM Dawn - Set Adrift On Memory Bliss
  • Some Temple Pilots - Interstate Love Song
  • Gnarls Barkley - Crazy [6]
  • Blind Melon - No Rain
  • Sheryl Crow - Everyday Is A Winding Road
  • Violent Femmes - Blister In The Sun
  • War - Low Rider
  • The B-52's - Roam
  • Live - Selling The Drama
  • Semisonic - Closing Time
  • The Rembrandts - I'll Be There For You
  • Smash Mouth - Walkin' On The Sun
  • Whitesnake - Here I Go Again
  • Sufjan Steven - For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti
  • Cee Lo Green - Fuck You
  • Johnny Cash - Jackson
  • The Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
  • New Radicals - You Get What You Give
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
  • Modest Mouse - Float On
  • Amii Stewart - Friends
  • Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way
  • Stevie Nicks - Edge Of Seventeen
  • Tracy Chapman - Fast Car
  • Soul Asylum - Runaway Train
  • Steve Winwood - Higher Love

Food and drink

  • Lunch: Denny's, Jason - Southwest turkey sandwich, Jam - eggs in a basket with bacon and hashbrowns
  • Dinner: gyros and beer

Comedians we listened to

  • Aziz Ansari [7]
  • Dane Cook
  • John Mulaney
  • Jerry Seinfeld
  • Bill Burr [8]
  • Louis C.K.
  • Daniel Tosh [9]
  • Mitch Hedberg
  • Demetri Martin
  • Anthony Jesselnik
  • Jim Gaffigan

Miscellaneous information and thoughts
[1] Obviously my favorite DMB track, probably of all time.
[2] I consider this one of our "theme songs" (do we still call 'em that? sorry for the cringe-fest) because when I first told him I loved this song, he said he had the CD and actually played it in his car during one of his long road trips. + cool points, obvs.
[3] Belting this out while speeding down the highway that will lead us out of California has its benefits.
[4] One of my ultimate fave bands in the 90s! Made me remember a hilarious podcast J and I listened to a few weeks ago, about some guy who thought he was friends with 3EB lead singer Stephan Jenkins. Give it a listen:

[5] I need to re-memorize my Eminem raps..you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo!
[6] Do we still abhor Cee Lo Green for the rape thing?
[7][8][9] LOVE THEM. I really need to watch more stand-up, preferably live.

Other things

Experienced a 4.7 earthquake! It was CRAZY. We thought it was just a train coming through because it's pretty common to hear 'em coming in Flagstaff, but the whole room rumbled like hell. This is probably the first time I've ever felt an earthquake of this magnitude.

Flagstaff is pretty cool. Still has an out-of-nowhere feel to it, but it's not so bad.

updates, year30, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 1

Pleasanton to Carson, CA

Playlist (I encourage you to listen to any of these tracks on YouTube or our Spotify playlist)

  • Beck - Loser
  • Cake - The Distance [1]
  • AC/DC - It's A Long Way To The Top [2]
  • Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood [3]
  • David Gray - Sail Away
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Road Trippin'
  • Lionel Richie - Easy
  • Alice Cooper - School's Out
  • AC/DC - Back In Black
  • Of Monsters And Men - Mountain Sound
  • Wilson Pickett - Mustang Sally
  • John Mellencamp - Jack & Diane
  • Bruce Hornsby - That's Just The Way It Is
  • Dolly Parton - Jolene
  • Tom Petty - Free Falling [4]
  • Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World
  • Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Home
  • Kansas - Carry On Wayward Son
  • Billy Joel - Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
  • Elton John - Tiny Dancer
  • Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Dave Matthews Band - Ants Marching
  • Eagles - Take It Easy
  • Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer
  • Van Morrison - Into The Mystic
  • The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony

Food and drink

  • Lunch: McDonald's Jam - jalepeño double, Jason - Bic Mac
  • Dinner: Jam - Turkey kare-kare with shrimp paste (yaaay!), Jason - beef
  • Champagne bottle count: 4 before passing out in the afternoon, at least 6 more during dinner till 2 AM (family had more after we left) [5] [6] [7]

Miscellaneous information and thoughts:
[1] When J and I first started dating online, I asked him what song he sung in the shower (as in, what song do you know so well you know every lick and ad lib), and this was his answer.
[2] AC/DC is one of my most favorite bands ever. Sucks that their songs aren't on Spotify.
[3] J had one of this band's concerts on DVD, which I always thought was pretty neat.
[4] J has not seen Jerry Maguire, so even though I wanted to re-enact the iconic scene of Tom Cruise singing this in the car, he wouldn't have gotten it.
[5] We are DEFINITELY not as young as we thought we were.
[6] Naps are essential in a thirty-something's life.
[7] Yes, we are thirty.

To my family in Carson, thanks for seeing us off!

updates, year30, travel

The Grand Move: Consolidated updates of our last days in San Jose

The following are status updates posted on Facebook and Instagram regarding our big move to the east coast, after being in the Bay Area for three years. I figured I really should be a better website owner and actually fill mine with content.

November 20, 2014 at 6:00 PM (Thursday)

November 22, 2014 at 11:40 PM (Saturday)

  • Dinner, courtesy of random pantry contents: ground beef, white and black beans, kernel corn, coconut milk and curry, all mixed together. (Edible)
  • Boxes of clothes: Jason - 1, Jam - 5
  • Semi-argument over my excessive amount of shoes = 1
  • Number of steps: Jam - 5834 (indoor, boxing of shit), Jason - 16,400 (outdoor, carrying boxed shit to pod)

November 23, 2014 at 6:00 PM (Sunday)

Three years in a box. #vsco #VSCOcam

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

November 25, 2014 at 4:28 PM (Tuesday)

Attention, America! You have one more Asian driver to make fun of. ✊

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

November 26, 2014 at 10:07 AM (Wednesday)

The Grand Move, An Update: Today, we said goodbye to our junker, Jenny (to be said in your best Forrest Gump voice).

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

November 27, 2014 at 8:28 PM (Thursday)

Instant Thanksgiving for two, Safeway style. #thanksgiving #holiday

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

November 28, 2014 at 5:48 PM (Friday)

  • Time to completely empty the apartment, donate to Goodwill, and load the Jeep: 8.5 hours
  • Status: Sardine Can on Wheels (see pic)
  • Grumpiness level: fluctuating between 50-95%, but both on the fast decline since we're fuckin' done!
  • Hunger level: 100% for both
  • Time it took to wave goodbye to apartment: 5 seconds
lastdayinsanjose.jpg

Sayonara, San Jose! It's been real.

year30, writing, updates

Back to writing

It's been more than a year since I've written anything for any publication other than my own (which really isn't a publication per se, but whatever...more on that soon), but I'm happy to report that I'm back to what I love doing...writing about tech and the Internet!

 Clicking the screenshot will lead you to my new author page, where my work will be accessible.

Clicking the screenshot will lead you to my new author page, where my work will be accessible.

I've only written one piece so far, but I am hopeful that there will be more to come, so stay tuned!

updates, year30

The Week of Infinite YESes

It started when my friends and I found out that Jason Mraz – our idol and one of our most favorite human beings on the planet – would be performing at the Today Show as part of the Toyota Concert Series, a good two months (maybe even more, I can't recall) before the actual performance date (July 18). Having that information on hand, my friends and I immediately went into full gear and proceeded to construct a weekend trip out of it: Camp out near 30 Rock to see Jason and the Janes perform a few songs on Friday, maybe see a show on the weekend. Incidentally, there was a Sara Bareilles concert at the Madison Square Garden that Saturday, so the Jens and I impulsively bought three tickets, not even sure if we'd even make it.

The weeks that followed this half-assed decision to go to NY for Mraz is a bit of a blur, a stressful time of wondering when the new tour would begin, and where; how much it would cost to go to multiple shows, and whether I'd have the money for such an endeavor (let's not forget my perennial on-the-hunt-for-my-next-writing-gig status that has been ongoing since the beginning of this year). I personally already made the conscious decision to go because I knew I had a scheduled trip back home to the Philippines in August and if there was a time to see Mraz before that, it would have to be July, arguably my favorite month of the year.

Fast forward to the second week of June. I pretty much made up my mind that I was going and booked a flight to NY. I was psyched to watch him perform at the Today Show and was perfectly okay about having that as the only time I would get to see him – the Sara Bareilles concert was a good enough reason to go ahead with the plan. Hell, visiting my friend Jen C. was a good enough reason to go with the plan!

jasonmraztodayshowfanpass.jpg

There's something about booking a flight that makes things a little bit more decided, more final, because after I did that, everything else I did related to the trip had 100 percent pure intention. I joined the Today Show lottery for fan passes that gave us early entry into the concert area – I won a pair of passes a week after submitting my entry. I joined an Omaze campaign that would allow me plus friend to hang out with Mraz backstage and fly me to NY for free – didn't win that, but I was going to do both things anyway (fly to NY, hang out with Mraz), by hook or by crook. I scoured Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere else for any contest I could join that would allow me to see Mraz and the Janes perform, while promoting their new album. Somewhere along the way, two more of my friends (Jen H. and her sister Shannon) decided they'd go to NY as well, and we all crazily banked on the unknown, hoping to win what we could, but not letting that stop us from having a good time.

Monday
We anxiously awaited for the results of the SiriusXM Presents Coffeehouse Live with Jason Mraz! contest we had joined the week before – they were picking people randomly by email to attend a private show. I already had a flight booked for NY that would arrive Wednesday night, but if any of us won, I would have to book an earlier flight because the SiriusXM private show was on Wednesday night. This had to happen.

Nope. It doesn't seem like it's gonna happen. That's OK. We'll try to line up early for chance tickets into the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (where Jason and the Janes were scheduled to be his musical guests for the Thursday taping), see him on the Today Show on Friday, see Bareilles on Saturday, and have a great time.

Tuesday
A phone call woke me up at around 6 in the morning. It was SiriusXM. I won tickets to the SiriusXM show, which meant I had to wake the hell up and rebook my flight.

jasonmrazsiriusxmemail.jpg

All I can say is, thank goodness for Southwest's Wanna Get Away flights – I was able to book a new flight scheduled to leave that same morning, for less miles! But shit, that meant I had 45 minutes to pack! I hauled ass, explained the situation to my loving and incredibly understanding husband (bless his heart), packed for a week, called Jen C. to tell her the good news (she's my plus one, after all) and left for the airport.

While getting on the plane, I got another phone call...from Jen C. SHE WON TICKETS TOO! This was awesome news because now all four of us get to attend the gig. It's all good.

The flight was uneventful until I landed at La Guardia at 11:55 at night, where I was told that they lost my luggage, along with the luggage of a whole lot of people who boarded at my layover (Chicago Midway). While in line to get some answers, Jen C. and her cousin Emma found me and stood in line with me. A few hours later, I was told that some of the luggage have been mistakenly unloaded at my layover and has now arrived with a later flight. It was around 2 in the morning when we got to leave the airport. Whatever, I AM HERE!

Wednesday
Despite not having enough sleep, I got up pretty early, stoked for the Week of Yes to get started. Jen C.'s lovely mom said hello and invited me to have breakfast with her and her husband (Jen was at work). We went to a nearby IHOP and got to know each other for a good 25-30 minutes before my phone blew up with The Big New York/Mraz Announcement.

Jason and the Janes are doing a 6-show run in all of the five boroughs! And they will be selling a limited number of what is called a "golden ticket", which is basically a package of tickets to all shows. Due to the gravity of this announcement, we of course had to cut breakfast short and get the hell back home so that Jen's mom and I could get online and try to get tickets (Jen, your parents support of y/our obsession is AMAZING. I love them so much!). After a couple of hours, we were able to secure the necessary orders. Jen came back from work – relieved at our progress – and we left to for the city.

While on the train, we scoured the Web for any other opportunity to see Jason perform in private gigs. We found a couple of radio stations giving away free tickets to the iHeartRadio show happening on Friday night and wrote them our most heartfelt (and most desperate) pleas.

As soon as we got to Penn Station, we got the idea to walk to our hotel which looked pretty close on Google Maps but was actually farther than we both expected. We got to the hotel so late that we literally just checked in, dropped our bags in the hotel, and stepped right out for fear of missing the SiriusXM show slated for 6pm.

We got into a cab at 5:30, which was a futile attempt at trying to get there faster because WE. WERE. NOT. MOVING. Five minutes before 6, we decided to book it and ran what felt like a hundred blocks until we made it to the venue. It's a good thing our friends Jen H. and Shannon (our plus ones, since Jen C. and I were the ones who won the contest) got there on time to save us seats.

The show was awesome. It was done in a more intimate and more solemn approach compared to his usually energetic and on-your-feet shows, but I found myself loving it regardless. It allowed me to really listen and do more than just mouth the lyrics (PRO TIP: If you love Mraz as much as I do and know all of the words, learn to lip sync and sing along without sound...we came to hear him, after all. ;-P)...I even teared up over A World With You, which basically is my love story with the J-Man, Mraz-ified.

Thursday
We made a mental note to line up for Jimmy Fallon an hour earlier (6 AM) than our intended plan (7 AM, which was two hours before what the Web says is when the NBC intern will show up to give away passes), only to find out that people started lining up an hour earlier than that (5 AM, what the hell). After three hours (that felt like three years), we got tickets for a queue at 1:30 PM, when we'd need to check in again to even be eligible for standby passes.

 We may look like shit, but we're ready for anything!

We may look like shit, but we're ready for anything!

Rather than go sightseeing, we decided to hang around 30 Rock to check the exits, because that's what professional groupie-stalkers do. We were in the middle of discussing the what-if scenario of running into Jason when he suddenly came into view, coming out of the elevators. <CREEP ALERT> We immediately walk towards him to say hi. He looked mildly surprised (maybe even secretly terrified) to see us and asked us what brought us to New York. We all got high fives and a sudden jolt of energy we needed to get through the day with little to no sleep.

While waiting around the NBC Experience Store for the queue to start, we got offered to see Seth Meyers practice his monologue. The late-night talk show lover in me wanted to say yes, but we knew we were there for a mission: To See Jason Mraz. So we said no.

We made the right call of pretending to be first in line and just waltzed our way up the queue, line order or not, at the off-chance that they decide to honor the new order. They didn't. Instead, we were asked to sign our names on the check list they had and was asked to come back at 3:45 PM on the dot. More hanging around 30 Rock ensued, and during this time I wondered, why are they doing this to us, why are they making us go through this torturous process? To whittle down the line to only the ones desperate to get in, silly. Oh, right. That's us.

By 3:45 PM on the dot, people started milling around the meet-up area, some of them we recognized from earlier today and have already commiserated with. We knew we were all in the same boat – are we going to be let in? Unfortunately, only the first 25 queuers were allowed to stay. We were numbers 22-25.

HOLY SHIT.

We sat in line for a good two hours, shifting between hopeful and depressed that we wasted the entire day lining up and not being able to get in. I also regretted not saying yes to seeing Seth Meyers.

Five minutes before show time, they let in a couple more people from our line and stopped six people before us. SIX. WHAT THE HELL.

We went to Applebee's for drinks and a bit of food, because we've been on zombie mode the entire day. We rationalized not getting into Fallon: We did get to see Jason earlier today and got high fives...it's not a complete heartbreak, right? What-EVER.

After re-grouping, we decided to go back to 30 Rock to say hey to the Janes. They came out after the show, yay! Mona remembered me as that gal from San Jose and couldn't believe that I was in New York for them. I got to talk to Becky about the whole awesomeness of the tour – like her, I couldn't believe this was all happening to us (I say us because I feel like I am part of all this success, as an avid fan of the band). I said hi to Chaska and told her about our whole ordeal and not getting into Fallon, and she felt bad for us. Mai was busy with loved ones so I didn't get to talk to her, but that's OK...she knew we were there for them.

 With our favorite sitar player, Becky

With our favorite sitar player, Becky

Sometime during the day, Shannon received an email from iHeartRadio saying she won a pair of tickets to the iHeartRadio Mraz show the next day. Jen C. and I made plans to stand outside the theater and beg to be let in with our friends, because we're huge Mraz fans.

Jen C. and I ended our night by having dinner with Jane and Ian, two die-hard fans like us that we met through the ever-growing, ever-friendly Mraz-lovin' community.

jamjenian.jpg

Friday
The Today Show Concert Day! After all that we've been through so far this week, we made another mental note to arrive two hours before our intended plan, so instead of 5 AM, we went at 3 AM. There were 15 people in front of us.

 Good morning!

Good morning!

I quickly made friends with the last guy in line, Tim, and introduced him to the rest of the group. Christine – a MrazWomen member I have yet to meet in real life – arrived..YAY!!! We bonded over Mraz, makeup, and Dunkin Donuts when some drunk hobo approached us in line and asked us who we were there to see. When I said Jason Mraz, he asked what my favorite song was from his newest album and I said Everywhere. He proceeded to wow me (really, us) by singing every word. Naturally we all sang along.

That encounter made me so happy that I didn't hesitate in inviting him (his name was Rudy, and he wasn't a hobo) and his friend (Joel?) into our already growing group since we had spare fan passes. #SPREADYES

Speaking of passes, it was around this time that our new friend Tim informed me that he won the iHeartRadio contest too, and he may even have won it twice, which would mean he had three spare tickets! Jen C. and I were covered, YAYYYYY! Can this day get any better?

Yes, it could. Tim's friend and plus one for the Today Show finally arrived, and she happened to be Courtney, another member of MrazWomen I have yet to meet in person. We were both floored by the chance encounter and immediately hugged it out. What a small and big world this whole Mraz-loving community is!

The Today Show performance was awesome. We got to hear them play so many times, both for sound check and for the actual taping for the show. We were there for so long that Courtney threatened to pee in a bottle right in the crowd (it was impossible to get out of the crowd and go back to where you were). Thankfully, we were able to make her realize the gravity of the situation (YOU WILL PEE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION AND THE WHOLE WORLD WILL SEE YOUR TWAT). With the potential crisis averted, the whole situation was just magical to me: Seeing Mraz and the Janes, being in the company of great friends, and meeting new people! The next time you are in line for something, I recommend talking to the person next to you in line (provided that the person has a welcoming presence, of course).

After the show, we tried to look out for Mraz coming out, but he had already left through another exit. We, did, however, get to say a quick hey to Mona and Becky. I made sure Becky knew about Rudy, who says she was his favorite Jane. She thought that was wild. Oh, and it was around this time that I got an email saying I won the iHeartRadio contest (!!!!).

That's officially 3 Things (get it?) I won that's Mraz-related for this week alone. Call me a lucky golden Buddha and rub my belly, everybody!

We made plans to meet up with Tim at the iHeartRadio venue at noon to give us time to recover from the super-early day we all had. We went back to the hotel, freshened up, and skedaddled to the venue because really, how can anyone take their time when they've got another private show to get to?

For once, we made the right calculation...we were first in line!!! Also, no one seemed to be crazy enough to line up seven hours before the show, under the blazing sun. Those seven hours kind of blurred together – I just know it got a thousand times better somewhere in the middle, when this happened:

(In Starbucks, charging phones, taking naps)

Christine: You girls are lucky you've met him a bunch of times already. I haven't even yet.
Jam: IT WILL HAPPEN. I will make it happen for you, I promise.

(The Jens go into the venue to do their "rounds", Christine and I go back out to the line to take our shift with Tim, who has not left the line AT ALL)

(Jam and Tim were talking about something random when Jam saw a flash of flannel)

Jam: HOLY SHIT TIM DON'T TURN AROUND RIGHT AWAY BUT I THINK JASON IS COMING THIS WAY.

(Jam yelled at Shannon who was on her way to the garbage can nearby to get rid of stuff. She already saw Jason and was walking casually back to us.)

Jam: HI JASON! Would you mind if my friends and I said hello to you real quick?
Jason: Sure! (Told his people to wait a second because THIS NEEDED TO HAPPEN)

(Shannon texted Jen H. TO GET THE HELL BACK ASAP. They probably ran.)

It was an amazing encounter. Jason was without his usual security detail and he seemed more relaxed and game to talk to us. Apparently, he just came from a nap in the park across the street (meanwhile we were like, WHAAAAAT). He told us he saw our wonderful signs during the Today Show and actually liked some of the pictures taken of them on Instagram (Note: THAT WAS MY INSTAGRAM PHOTO). We asked him if he was getting sick of seeing us everywhere, and of course he said no. Christine mentioned never meeting him before because she doesn't live in California, and Jason gestured toward us and said, "I don't think they do, either!" Tim showed him his bracelets and Jason recognized them. We made sure he knew our names, because we knew our faces were starting to look familiar, with the number of shows we've attended this year alone. He signed some things, took some photos, and went on his way.

I immediately looked at Christine with my WTFJUSTHAPPENED face and yelled, "CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I TOLD YOU IT WOULD HAPPEN!" At this point, Golden Buddha status was definitely achieved.

But wait  – there's more. An hour before showtime, the iHeartRadio people came out with a surprise: The first fifteen people in line would get meet and greet passes!!! Rudy, whom we texted earlier to come meet us because we had spare passes, arrived just in time to be let in for another Mraz encounter.

Upon approaching him for our professional meet and greet photo, I told Jason, "Man, can you believe it? It's us again!" He gave me a grin and said, "I know! I can't believe you guys got in!" He also joked that the VIP section was unfortunately full, so there won't be any space for us. I gave him my best gasp. It was awesome, we're pretty much best friends already.

Being front row to another private Mraz and Janes gig was just the perfect way to end the grueling week. My favorite moment was when Jason realized they were ahead of schedule and actually had time for another song. Our group all shouted Everywhere because at that point, it was the group's anthem, and they acquiesced (acquiestered, according to Jen C.). It was magical (I cannot use this word enough).

After the show, we were able to see Jason exit backstage and quickly say thank you for the awesomeness that was that night. Back at front, caught up with Chaska and Mona and they chatted with us at length (Chaska found out I was the girl in purple shorts in that Everywhere fan video she liked and went bananas, Mona just said hey and wassup to her fellow San Ho) . Those girls, they rock.

Saturday
Jen C., her cousin Emma, and I went back into the city to see Sara Bareilles (who is super duper awesome to see live!!!) at Madison Square Garden. We had a feeling we'd see Jason and the Janes there since they were friends with Sara and all. We did!

 #SpreadYES

But to control our creep tendencies, instead of going whole hog fan on the situation, we just waltzed down to the floor section, evaded security (this makes it sound a lot worse than what really happened...no one stopped us, really), and got a few feet close to Jason and Mona (safe stalker distance). I caught Mona's eye and Jen and I both waved at her and showed her the hashtag on my arm. She immediately punched Jason on the arm so he'd go look. He looked and gave us a namaste bow.

To recap:

Won a bunch of contests. Met and bonded with a ton of cool people. Had a lot of laughs.  Heard a lot of great music (Sara included!). DEFINITELY a week worth remembering.

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updates, year30

So...this is 30.

Otherwise known (at least, to me) as the beginning of my No Excuses Decade, the time in my life when absolutely everything of consequence happens. Get a job that I love, one that will hopefully keep me writing long-term. Finally re-take that written exam I failed the first time so I can get my learner's permit and start driving again. Apply for U.S. citizenship (next year). Visit Europe. Run a marathon. Buy a home. Pop out some babies. (More goals to follow, I’m sure.)

I’m getting ahead of myself though—it’s only Day 1. I really shouldn’t overload my brain with all these unnecessary stress triggers, especially on my friggin’ birthday.

So how is it going, you ask? Let me tell you.

The day before the ‘Big 3-0’

Realization #1: 30 year-old me is not as excited about celebrating my birthday as, say, 25 year-old me. 

 Jam, age 30

Jam, age 30

A few days ago, I came up with a Top 5 list of things I kind of wanted to do to give my 20s a proper send-off:

•    Skydive
•    Surf
•    Hot air balloon ride
•    Watch that Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show
•    Ride a big-ass rollercoaster

Thing is, in order for these 5 things to even happen, I needed to plan them out weeks in advance. By the time I decided that hey, maybe I should do something special for the Big 3-0, it was already too late to set things in motion.

Confession #1: A small part of me was hoping J would do all the planning/surprising for my birthday, but of course I was forgetting that it can be hard for him sometimes, being married to a Filipina woman who occasionally turned the passive-aggressive behavior way up and had unrealistic expectations of epic mind-reading abilities.

Since my birthday fell on a Monday when normal people like J had work, we decided to celebrate the day before (which is technically the actual day of my birth anyway, if we’re taking time zone technicalities into serious consideration). Like any decent human being, J asked me what I wanted to do so we could make it happen, and I seriously had no clue.

Confession #2: That was a lie. What I really wanted to do was eat. And that, we did. After doing our P90X exercises for the day*, we got on the road and proceeded to partake in the following, which are some of my favorite food items:

  • Bon Chon fried chicken – because it’s friggin’ delicious and it’s been a while since we’ve both eaten there.
  • Mamon from Red Ribbon – I got butter, J got mocha. He insisted that I never made him eat mamon before, so naturally he assumed it was a disgusting dessert (I have never met a dessert I did not like, thank goodness). He ended up liking it (but he downplayed it, of course).
  • Taro milk tea from Quickly – I got my usual order (Large, with double servings of large tapioca and one serving of lychee jelly), but from a different branch. Note to self: Don’t get Quickly if it’s not from the downtown San Jose branch…unless you don’t mind your order being taken by an Asian woman so perennially pissed off, she might as well be sucking on a lemon.

The culminating activity was supposed to be dinner at Boiling Crab – which is my favorite restaurant in the vicinity of South San Jose – but we decided to take a quick nap after driving around and trying to fill up the day with out-of-our-routine activities (like go to the mall and be super stressed and terribly disappointed) and by the time we got to the restaurant at 8pm, there was a 2-hour-and-a-half wait list. The restaurant closed at 10pm, so obviously, having a 50-50 chance to even get offered a table and having to rush through dinner wasn't going to be worth it. 

I was terribly disappointed…I WANTED CRAB GODDAMMIT! J knew it, too. So he said we’d make it my birthday week (I married the best-est guy, I swear) and do Boiling Crab sometime this week. We ended up getting Vietnamese pho takeout instead before heading back home to watch The Princess Bride (a birthday tradition).

 Not too shabby. The secret to more&nbsp; pho:&nbsp; TAKE OUT

Not too shabby. The secret to more pho: TAKE OUT

In short, the day ended on a high note!

The actual ‘Big 3-0’

It was almost exactly like every other Monday I’ve experienced in the past. I woke up all Popeye-like, with one eye open first before committing to opening the other, greeted by a strong urge to pee and an even stronger urge to go back to sleep. I checked my phone, cleared all notifications, replied to messages people left me on various platforms, and fired up my sleeping laptop in order to fully connect to the people on the interwebs. I got some iced coffee running through my veins to wake my inner self up.

The only difference is the barrage of birthday greetings on my Facebook Timeline – from the speedy and generic hbd’s-no-punctuation-marks-or-emoticons courtesy of my acquaintances to well-thought-out wishes from my besties, complete with a photo highlighting my goofy face – and the push I felt in my gut that compelled me to add a little bit of oomph to my routine today, because it IS my birthday, after all.

For a non-driving, funemployed, homebody such as myself, “a little bit of oomph” meant leaving the house by foot. After I finished my re-watch of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I got dressed, walked to the light rail, and made my way to the mall closest to me (two train stops and an additional 15-minute walk away). When I got to the mall, the big question hit me:

Now what?

I guess I could celebrate by buying myself something nice. Nope. Every store I went into that had something I liked made me internally comment, “Pshh…I could totally buy this (or something like it, but better) cheaper online!”

Confession #3: I sort of have an online shopping problem. Hi, my name is Jam and I am a bargain addict. Even though I already have everything I want and need, I have a hard time resisting a good online sale.

Now what?

Maybe watch a movie by myself? Most of the movies on the mall’s lineup were ones that I wanted to see with J, so I skipped those. The ones left were Tammy and The Fault In Our Stars: one had a low Rotten Tomatoes rating and featured Melissa McCarthy in a hot mess (not in the mood for that), one was a cancer romance (definitely not in the mood for that).

Now what?

After five more minutes of walking around, I was done giving the mall a chance – am I turning into a grumpy hermit? – I bought a bag of Twizzlers Bites and went home.

 They are pretty amazing, to be honest.

They are pretty amazing, to be honest.

And now, here we are. The day isn’t over yet and I’m sure it can only get better at this point, so let me end my first entry of what hopefully becomes a regular blogging habit with a list.

The ‘Big 3-0’ list of realizations

  • See #1 above.
  • I love naps, and it’s totally OK. That doesn't make me a useless bum. That makes me human.
  • A messy bun is a perfectly acceptable hairstyle for a 30 year-old woman. It’s not a big deal.
  • These two quotes (thanks, Ate Rizzo!):
  • With the previous quotes in mind, I have the best husband/partner/best friend in the universe right beside me, so I don’t really need a birthday gift. Well, it’s not really a realization. It’s more like an actual fact.

This is 30. What’s next is just a series of awesomeness.

 Now, if only the water weren't so goddamn cold...

Now, if only the water weren't so goddamn cold...

UPDATE:

J just came home, armed with these:

 Real men know their girl's favorite flowers.

Real men know their girl's favorite flowers.

  ♥

For the record, I would just like to re-iterate....just how much I love you, J-Man. <3

*Yes, we have begun yet another attempt at finishing a fitness program. More on that in another blog post, soon.

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