coachella 2019 – weekend one (vip)

for those of you who have been following along for a bit, you might remember my post about all things coachella, what my favorite acts have been over the years and what to do to prepare.   well, if you follow me on instagram, you know that i went to coachella weekend one this year and it.  was.  everything.




first, i have to give a shout out to my girl, hillary.



this was my first year going to coachella where i was not in charge of renting the house, organizing travel, doing grocery shopping, etc.  it was strange to relinquish control but i knew if there was anyone that i could trust, it was my fellow type-a aquarian.  when i walked in and saw this charcuterie spread while being handed a glass of prosecco, i knew i was in the right place.




there were all of these cute touches that let me know our weekend was off to a great start even with it only being thursday.  one of our housemates (jackie) got us all custom cups which were perfect for to-go drinks or time spent in the pool/hot tub.




thursday night, we kept it low-key (getting turnt in pajamas) and did a family dinner in.  naturally, i had to bake my mac and cheese.  there were some first timers and it went over well.    the next morning, we did a family style breakfast with another beautiful platter prepared by hillary before heading out to the festival.




something we did differently this year was get a vip parking pass.  instead of using a driver and having to walk forever through dust and gravel to get to a driver or a lyft/uber situation, we drove my suv.  it worked out perfectly because preston (my infiniti suv – yes, i name my cars) seats eight people and there were eight of us in the house.  this was an absolute game changer and if you go to coachella and do vip tickets for the weekend, this is well worth it.  the pass is $150 for the weekend which is more than what our group would spend in one day during previous years.  now, let’s get to the music, food and fashion.



on friday, we started off in one of the tents to see walker and royce.  it was the perfect set to get our energy going for the weekend.





after that, my girl roni and i were on the hunt for something to eat since it was well after 4pm and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast.




we found our way over to sweetfin for a super fresh and tasty poke bowl + tacos 1986 for ultra authentic, made to order street tacos.  for sweetfin, i would highly recommend the salmon or the spicy tuna (i just asked them to hold the ginger).  at tacos 1986, the carne asada and al pastor did not disappoint.




*both of these are located to the left of the main stage in vip


with it being a warm day, we pitstopped at one of the cupcake tents for a glass of sparkling rosé with a fresh strawberry lemonade fruit pop.  there were multiple wines and fresh fruit pops to choose from but on a sunny day, nothing compares to rosé.



*the velvet dad hat is from forever 21, the denim shirt and romper are both from asos and my little purple marc jacobs crossbody (my go to festival bag) is from nordstrom.  i love a romper at a festival because you aren’t impacted by wind, you can dance and sit on the ground without flashing anyone and you don’t have to worry about chaffing if you have juicy thighs like me


we reunited with the group to take a quick group shot before catching the second half of kacey musgraves.  she really had this way of connecting with the crowd and her voice was angelic.



both roni and dre recommended the group go together to see gorgon city.  i enjoyed it because even though it had an edm feel, their vocals were out of this world.  it really softened it (which i greatly appreciated).


roni and i stayed at that stage to see ella mai.  if the only song you’ve heard of hers is boo’d up, trust me, you are missing out.  whether you are madly in love, experiencing heartbreak, rebuilding your confidence or totally aware of your self-worth, she has a song for you.



from there, we made our way over to the main stage because our next three acts would be there – the 1975, janelle monáe and childish gambino.  i listen to the 1975 a ton at work so seeing them live was surreal.  janelle monáe completely embodied black girl magic – her performance was soulful and exhilarating.  i am always impressed by how well she uses her platform to bring awareness to marginalized communities whether it be people of color or members of the lgbtq community.  not only does she have pipes, but she has the biggest brain and heart packed in this tiny package.  childish gambino is someone i have followed since undergrad – first, in his comedic endeavors and later, musically.  between his hit show ‘atlanta’ and his provocative music that truly has a message, it was cool to see those elements combined on stage.  he truly does not give a fuck about what people think and had decided to do his set his way.  he even told people that if they were looking for something cool to put on instagram, they should probably go to a different stage.  i respect that.




*pictured with dre, lauren and hilly – their energy is unreal



i truly don’t know what i would do without this girl


on saturday, i was completely blown away by every single act we saw.  sabrina claudio was our first act at main stage – so sensual and melodic.  next was bazzi – he was super catchy and high energy + he brought out ty dolla $ign which was the perfect thing to really pump up the crowd.  let me say this – the rest of saturday was completely nostalgic.


next, we went to the heineken tent to see the roots.   you guys – i was not ready.


first of all, i listen to you got me with the roots and erykah badu every single day so being able to see them live and then see them perform that song live nearly took me out.  you forget how many songs they are affiliated with or just how talented they are.  their cover of sweet child of mine gave me goosebumps.  they were totally engaged with the crowd and being that i was close enough to see the beads of sweat on their foreheads, it was truly the experience of a lifetime.  diplo happened to be sitting right in front of us enjoying the set and was super friendly with people in the audience as well.


we skipped over to main stage to see weezer.  1 – they still have it.  when they sang say it ain’t so and the sweater song, i lost it.  2 – they brought out tears for fears and did a duet of everybody wants to rule the world.  3 – they brought out tlc to do a duet of no scrubs.  what did i do to even deserve this greatness?  i have no idea.


we stayed at this stage to see tame impala.  so i discovered tame impala during my first coachella in 2015 and my friend jason and i have been hooked ever since.  i felt like a proud mama bear seeing them go from being one of the openers versus being the headliner of the night,  not only have they sounded flawless during every live performance i have seen them in, but the light show and array of colors just creates a totally different experience than anything else i have ever seen.


the group reunited at the end of the night for major lazer and danced until the very last second of their performance.  you would think that we would be exhausted by that point but ending with such an exciting set really just left me with a ton of energy.  we had to continue the party back at the house with music, cocktails and hot tubbing.




two of my favorite souls – it is an added bonus that we create a human oreo



the squad


so we get to the festival and it was the hottest day by far.  before we could even get inside, i thought dying of heat stroke might occur.  luckily, dre took care of me and had me chugging ice water in the shade as though my life depended on it.  i literally call him dad now.  he took care of the group, maneuvered us through crowds and would do checkins to be sure we were each accounted for.  every coachella group needs a dre.  i love that kid.


we started off with pusha t.  people sleep on pusha but i have been riding with him since clipse dropped grindin’ with pharrell back in the early 2000s.  i saw him at treasure island in oakland back in october and couldn’t resist seeing him again.  it definitely was the right move.  we stayed at main stage to see bad bunny and i was impressed – i now get the hype.


my friend stephanie put me on lizzo last year so in january when the lineup was released and i saw she was on it, i made it my mission to see her.  roni hadn’t heard of her but was down.  when i tell you that she stole the fucking show, believe it!  she exudes confidence, is unapologetic and is the perfect representation of a big black girl who is killing the game.  i was able to link up with two friends from scu at this set and it made me ridiculously happy.   by the way, lizzo’s album dropped today and the only thing above it on iTunes is beyonce – let that shit sink in.


we reconnected with the group for yg and he did a beautiful tribute to nipsey.  the way the sky looked at that moment is how i envision heaven looking.




i don’t think people realized how impacted he was by nipsey’s death until yg opened up about being so submerged in grief that he had been in bed until 4pm pretty much daily since his passing.  i honestly believe that he felt he owed it to nipsey and his fans to do coachella.  this was the most high energy set of the day.  it was not just because of his guests (tyga, 2chainz and big sean), it is because he has hit after hit after hit.  everything from toot it and boot it to fuck donald trump to big bank, the crowd went wild.  it is also insane to see so many gang affiliated people from different sets put their differences aside for the sake of good music.  made me wish my little brother was with me.  yg is one of his top three favorite rappers of all time.  if he is ever in your area, make it your mission to go to his show.


i sat in the rose garden with auntie reyna and sipped rosé while listening to sofi tukker – an act that was not even on my radar but is now on multiple playlists of mine.  that is one of the things i love about coachella – discovering new music.


i caught a couple of khalid’s songs in passing while heading over to see h.e.r.  i saw h.e.r. last year when she came out for her song with daniel caesar and proceeded to do a song solo.  since then, i was hooked.  not only did she sing the song that put her on the map, best part, but she did this amazing fusion of that song that led into nothing even matters (by lauryn hill and d’angelo) – it sent chills down my spine.




for the finale, we went to the main stage to catch ariana grande.  she opened with god is a woman which was flawless.  we were taken aback in the best way when *nsync came out – i have always loved jc chasez (i think he is the most underrated boy band member of all time – fight me) so my childhood dreams were fulfilled.  the rest of ariana’s set wasn’t really thrilling us, even her bringing out nicki minaj.  i couldn’t tell if there were audio issues or what but our group decided to leave.  just as we were exiting vip,  i heard the beat to mo’ money, mo’ problems drop and had a little regret about leaving early because i am such a diddy fan.  luckily, i could still hear him on the walk to the parking lot.


all in all, it was an amazing weekend with even more amazing people.  i am already excited for next year.  presale tickets go on sale in june – don’t forget to get yours.


if you went weekend one, who was your favorite act?  if you are going this weekend, who are you most excited to see?



k. tap





thought of the week: don’t start a war within yourself

2019 has been quite the whirlwind.  one of the themes has definitely been stepping outside of my comfort zone.  whether it is in the form of creative expression like i get to regularly do with this blog or in the form of a difficult conversation (followed by intense boundary setting) with a loved one, this year has been full of conflict.


while the bulk of my close friends and family members who knew i was going to start writing publicly were supportive of my blog, there were a couple people who just couldn’t seem to get on board.  it was almost as though their own lack of satisfaction with their lives was hindering them from being able to be happy or supportive of me.  while i hate to admit it, for a moment, i considered not starting to blog at the beginning of this year.  then, when i sat back and truly pondered why, i realized  it because i was trying to avoid a potential conflict with someone close to me.  i was avoiding conflict no matter the cost.


no family is perfect and mine is no exception.  i talked about an incident with a family member back on my birthday in my post about my moves being misunderstood by people not meant to be on my journey.  initially, it was rough cutting off someone who has been in my life for as long as i could remember but i also knew it was necessary.  i knew i could no longer be involved with someone for the sake of not creating conflict within my family.  i had done it for years and i had reached a breaking point.  the second half of february and march felt incredibly long.  sometimes, especially at the beginning, it was hard to even get moving in the morning.  but as time went on, it became obvious that those feelings were not my own – they were feelings i was carrying for others.  i decided to move on with my life because that was (and is) what i deserved.  at the end of march, that same family member and i sat down, had an intense discussion and really unearthed some baggage.  there was accountability taken for many hurtful actions and the realization that therapy might be necessary for the kind of work that needs to be done.  i have never felt more at peace leaving a difficult dialogue.


both scenarios made me think about this quote:




“if you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war within yourself.” -louise thompson


for years, i had avoided conflict in small or big ways.  but here’s the thing – the only person who was suffering was me.  i sometimes felt like i was going crazy.  that is just not something i am willing to do anymore.  my inner peace is invaluable.  yours is, too.


what conflicts have/are you avoiding to keep the peace?  has it been worth it?



k. tap

great maple

when i moved to south pasadena in december of 2017, i remember being excited to explore the surrounding neighhborhood.  from driving down some of my favorite tree lined streets to exploring new bars in highland park (one of my neighboring cities) to trying new restaurants in pasadena (that were not there before i moved to the bay back in 2007) – there was so much to unearth.


my mom and i have a standing weekly dinner date on tuesdays – sometimes we cook and other times we dine out, but fall through spring, it always ends with wheel or fortune and this is us.  on a week where it was her turn to handle dinner, she asked if i had made it over to great maple yet and i had never heard of the restaurant.


the one closest to me is the pasadena location but there are four total, spread out across southern california.  perhaps it is because there aren’t a trillion locations but i feel completely taken care of during every dining experience.  whether it is for brunch, dinner or happy hour, i absolutely love my time spent there.


my friend roni has been in town from philly for the since the beginning of the month to enjoy la while working remotely before coachella.  because my mom and roni wanted to spend some time together, great maple seemed like the perfect fit since it is not something she could access in her hometown.


last tuesday, we went for dinner and it did not disappoint. we started with cocktails because clearly, priorities.




the drink above is called rosé all day but since we ordered it by the pitcher (a couple of times), it is called the rosé  parade.  it is melon vodka based with rose, aperol and watermelon juice.  they top it with a sour belt which is both adorable and delicious.  the pitcher serves four full servings so naturally, two were needed.


while we were deciding what to order for our main meal, we split the baked bacon mac and cheese.  it arrived piping hot, gooey and every single bite was decadent.




for my main course, i had the signature prime rib dip with both truffle fries and a side caesar with avocado (to start).  the caesar salad is unique because it has shaved brussel sprouts which really gives the salad great dimension and changes up the texture.  the dressing is light and does not overpower the salad.  it was divine.  the prime rib dip sandwich was tender, juicy and flavor packed.  the horseradish aioli and crispy fried onion strings really set the sandwich off.  as for the fries, potatoes are my favorite carb and anything that involves truffle and parmesan was pretty much made for me.




now, because i knew that we had to order dessert (and i say had to because when you see what we ordered, you will understand that this was not negotiable), i took half of the sandwich home and had it for lunch the following day.  i had to save a little room for the grand finale…




these famous maple bacon doughnuts that are lightly coated in powdered sugar are made fresh to order and are that perfect combination of sweet and salty.  one order comes with three doughnuts which was perfect for my mom, roni and i.  i typically eat red meat one to two days per week but no matter what i have had earlier in the week, i feel it would be sacrilegious to go to great maple without having one of these maple bacon doughnuts.  once you have one, you will feel the same.


because i love a place where i can make a reservation, great maple has become one of my go to spots.  lock in your reservation (and collect those points) through opentable.


if you have been, tell me what you have ordered!  if you have any questions, just ask – i have been here enough times where i have covered most of the menu.



k. tap





thought of the week: goodness is about character

being that i have only ever attended religiously affiliated schools and now work at one (whether baptist, episcopalian, catholic or jesuit), the concept of morality is one that comes up often.


a question i have been getting frequently from many of my teens while in session is about by own view on religion and whether or not i would define myself as a religious.  while i do not consider myself to be religious, i often answer that i believe in the goodness of a person.  that is what truly matters to me.  more than what higher power someone believes in, i am interested in who they are at their core.


a few weeks ago, i was scrolling through the gram and stumbled across this quote:




goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like.  more than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.  -dennis prager


while i had never articulated it this well myself, this definition about the goodness of character is exactly what i had been referring to.


after going through a graduate program for counseling psychology, something that was incredibly evident was the importance of protecting my mental and emotional health at all costs.  one of the ways i have done this is by surrounding myself with truly good people who embody qualities such as integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, etc.  in being around people with these qualities, it strengthens these qualities i already possess.


i want to be around people who treat other people with all of these things in mind.


i choose to be around people who prioritize these things.


with me kicking off my fifth coachella weekend, i realized that every single person i am traveling with embodies this goodness.  i am feeling incredibly grateful.


are you surrounding yourself with truly good people?



k. tap

the subtle art of not giving a f*ck

last year, we had selected a series of books ahead of time for my short-lived book club.  one of the ones that stood out both because of the bold title and because it was a new york times best seller was…




the subtle art of not giving a f*ck – a counterintuitive approach to living a good life by mark manson


this book was amazing to read.  it made me laugh, it made me feel understood and it made me reevaluate what i dedicate my energy to.


while it is important to give a fuck about something, it is not only impossible, but unnecessary to give a fuck about absolutely everything.  there was this short paragraph within the first few pages that set the tone for the entire book for me: and while there’s nothing wrong with good business, the problem is that giving too many fucks is bad for your mental health.  it causes you to become overly attached to the superficial and fake, to dedicate your life to chasing a mirage of happiness and satisfaction.  the key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.


what would my world be like if i only gave a fuck about what was true and important?


here is what it looks like: being able to dedicate time, energy and love to those (things and people) that are truly deserving/worthwhile.  this also means not later apologizing for being able to prioritize the things that matter, which, by the way, includes yourself.


i placed a post it on that page at some point last year.  and while i may have just finished the book last weekend in mexico, it is not a point that i ever forgot about.  when i picked the book back up, there were so many other pieces that stood out to me.


as a society, we are taught to measure how we feel about ourselves based on each accomplishment.  and there is a certain benchmark for each accomplishment.  but what if you are moving at a different pace?  what if the typical accomplishments are not ones that matter to you?  as i continued reading, i stumbled upon this idea: the true measurement of self-worth is not how a person feels about their positive experiences, but rather how she feels about her negative experiences.


so many of those benchmarks that i was using to measure myself happened once every 3-5 years.  what about everything else?  what about my ability to persevere and be resilient through the most difficult of times?  how was that not being taken into consideration when i evaluated myself? if i was able to overcome relationships and situations that could have knocked me out, what does that say about me?  arguably, it says more about me than being able to simply sail through the best of times.


the last piece i want to leave you with is his piece on love and intimate relationships: the truth is, there are healthy forms of love and unhealthy forms of love.  unhealthy love is based on two people trying to escape their problems through their emotions for each other — in other words, they are using each other as an escape.  healthy love is based on two people acknowledging and addressing their own problems with each other’s support.


when i tell you that i thought back to every relationship or situationship i have been in to try and figure out which category it fell into, i was shook.  how had i normalized countless types of unhealthy forms of love?  when all you know is one thing, it becomes the norm no matter its impact on your emotional or mental health.  even as a therapist, this was eyeopening.


mark manson is completely raw, authentic and unapologetic.  he owns all of his shit – both the good and the bad.  that is what made this book exponentially more relatable.  i would highly recommend it to anyone, especially someone who is looking to elevate themselves (which truly requires leaping outside of their comfort zone).