There’s nothing worse than an unreliable narrator.  You know, the thing where you’re merrily going along a story believing every word you’re told and then BOOM! A reality smack to the face.  Did everyone else feel like a total douche halfway through Gone Girl when you found out the wife was diabolical?  Everything you believed the first half of the book from her point of view was a false construction.  (Seriously, OMG, wasn’t that the greatest?  Who didn’t want to be that good of a revenge planner?) Didn’t read Gone Girl?  Okay, what about when Bruce Willis realizes he’s dead in The Sixth Sense? (I know, it’s a bit old, but I’m appealing to the masses.)  We happily believed he survived that gun shot wound. We didn’t even question what we saw.  Willis took us to the next scene and we just KNEW he survived.

A good main character weaves a fantastic story by tapping into your confidence or your insecurities.  The author allows you to draw your own conclusions as they lay out a well constructed path to where they hope you’ll walk.  Gone Girl plays on the idea a cheating man would kill his wife instead of leaving her.  Our cynical sides have us eating it up with two spoons, which is not hard to assume after watching news stories 24/7 with the exact situation.

In both examples, we were like “Huh?!?” or “Oh, shit!” or maybe even a “What the fuck!?”   I mean we loved Amy (Gone Girl) for being so creative, but we kinda hated ourselves for not suspecting her sooner.  Am I right?  That’s the thing with believing someone else’s perspective.  You think it’s truth because you only see the picture they draw.  You make your judgments on their perceptions.  You cheer, worry, celebrate, die a little, or get pissed based on someone else’s context.  It’s easy to believe every word that falls out of their mouth or is typed by their little fingers as absolute truth because why would they lie?

But what happens when you’re the main character?  Worse even, you find out YOU’RE the unreliable narrator?!  In these past months I’ve realized reality is pretty shaky.  There have been moments where I thought I knew something without a doubt only to be proven wrong again and again.  And unlike what you might believe, it’s not all about my insecurities this time.  While that usually is my downfall, recently I found confidence led me to false grounding.  My arrogance in thinking “I got this” and “those trusted people would never hurt me” brought me to that same “WTF?” feeling.  The result left me sad and hurt.  When I finally looked at this situation objectively, I had to admit the signs were all there.  I had become an unreliable narrator in my own life.

Snap Chat

Maybe we see ourselves though Snap Chat filters. Are you trying to say I’m not a librarian looking cheetah cub?

Does this mean the only way not to become an unreliable narrator is to never trust again, even yourself?  Of course not!  After The Sixth Sense, I paid closer attention to details in movies and didn’t assume I knew how the story would end.  Gone Girl inspired me to think how I present my perspective to influence others in how they see the world and I could apply the same rules towards the positive.

Even in my own personal examples after self-reflection, I realized I could be more attentive in relationships.  Experience what it was in the moment versus what I think will be down the line.  Recognize when things are changing and not dig my heels in because I don’t like it.  Accept paths might be growing apart gradually instead of being surprised on a sudden day when we were miles apart.

In all great stories, by the time the last page is read the main character is changed forever.  They’ve hurt, grown, and triumphed over some pretty difficult obstacles.  At some point if they were unreliable in their telling, they’ve had to face the truth and decide where they go from there.  This is where I am.  Forever affected by the story taking place and committed to making sure I grow instead of shrinking in self-pity.  Because if I know anything about story telling, we only want to root for the strong-willed who know they can do great things.  And in a deepest sense of truth, that’s who I want to be.


The Fear In Starting Over

Maybe you have or haven’t noticed, but this blog has been beyond silent for over four months.  In this time, many things have stayed the same with some concerts, a few too many crazy nights, and unlimited party fails.  However, in that same time so many things have changed.  I’ve changed.  To the core.  Regarding things I’m not ready to talk about. All leading me to one ultimate result — I’m speechless.  Literally.


What the hell am I doing with myself?

There’s a fear when you write.  You expose yourself in a way others can’t imagine.  You know that dream where you walk around naked?  The one where you run around just trying to find any kind of towel, drape, or even napkin to cover yourself up enough so everyone won’t laugh at you?  Uh yeah…that’s fucking writing.  Sure, I don’t have to share my words with everyone, but you feel just as exposed.  Your heart is in every word, for better or worse, and people will read them.  Your lovers will wonder if you aren’t happy with them.  Your friends will assume you’ve captured your recent disagreement.  And your parents will assume you thought they did a terrible job.  All while you explain it’s fiction and not about them, you secretly curse yourself for writing such amateur shit.

The problem is when you’re supposed to be a writer, you feel lost when you aren’t writing.  It’s not fun fielding the question “Are you still writing?”  Also, there’s pure joy when you think about the little details which create a unique experience.  The words ignite a passion so deep it heats your cheeks every time you even imagine your characters in heartfelt conversation.  When there’s a silence from your day to day grind, you think about what could be for the two people you left abandoned so many months ago.  And this is even before you get to the fact you have a goal.  A goal you’ve been chasing for years.  One you know you will reach before you die and the clock is ticking.

So where do you start?  How do you take a first step when you are fucking scared to death?  Well, I’ve chosen to write a blog.  With a concert trip right around the corner and encouragement from peeps who mean a whole lot to me, I needed to start somewhere. Something to help me move forward.  Like a muscle with atrophy, I gotta work this shit out.  Thinking about word choice, enjoying the bliss in a well told story, and finding the passion behind describing a soft moment where two characters lips meet to express their affection are things from which I’ve been long absent.

Image result for doubt awkward yeti

Who doesn’t love The Awkward Yeti.  He totally gets me.  Every day I read his comics like it’s my horoscope.

Really, it comes down to the moment where you have to give up your fear, that heavy self doubt, and start taking one step at a time.  Things may not be perfect in the beginning, but no one asked for it to be.  All I really need to do is put one word in front of the other and get some thoughts typed on a screen.  And here it is.  My resolve to start putting my perspective back on page and keep the experiences going.  I hope you’re glad I’m trying.  Because little by little I’m going to find the way back to myself and figure out how the Hell my story is supposed to go.



#CoMoTripn: San Francisco

Three-hundred and eighty-two miles laid before my bloodshot eyes to make it to San Francisco for Coast Modern’s final show in the Temper Trap tour.  I got lost in Valencia trying to find my nostalgic Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf mocha.  My head too clouded for simple Google Maps instructions about when to take that right turn. The clock ticked 9:30 am and there wasn’t much time to drive the stretch, get checked in to the hotel, and relax before my last pre-concert ritual.

The long drive gave me an ungodly amount of time to think about my previous days.  Playing through all the places, people, and friends I’d seen along the way.  My heart swelled with appreciation and then immediately constricted in fear.  What the Hell was I doing?  The four show spree lulled me into this false comfort there would be more time, more music, even more selfies the next time.  My usual concert game includes trying to buy the band drinks, showering them with my appreciation, and snapping a million pictures together to commemorate the night in my work cubicle shrine.  Now, here I was on the final day with no viable selfies and one last chance.  I’d left all my hopes for concert success on one final night.  And that’s a lot of fucking pressure.

I won’t even go into the fact San Francisco hates my hair.  Its foggy haze wreaks havoc on whatever look I decide to sport.  Match this with four days of hard living, no sleeping, and we can pretty much guarantee photo nightmares.  With dried sweat hair pulled up in a pony tail and caked mascara streaking under my eyes, I set the cruise control on 80ish mph and headed up I-5.

My road trip companion (my phone) kept me company throughout the hours.  I chatted with Bestie, caught up with Tragic Spinster, and scrolled through snaps/tweets/statuses.  I even caught Coast Modern’s snaps where they were making the same long drive.  I shouldn’t have been surprised after I picked up a bag of Takis for lunch that I came up on their van.  For fear they might after catch a glimpse of my horrible state, I flew by at about 90 mph.  Better safe than sorry.  (Safe clearly being drive like a bat out of Hell while you take pictures of the scenery.)


I rolled into San Francisco traffic around 4:00.  It’s always a crap shoot when you book a hotel in a city you’re not that familiar.  And with San Francisco you can pay $400 for a shithole.  Luckily, the hotel wasn’t bad.  They did make me sign several waivers about their contracted valet service so I pretty much kissed my car good-bye when they took it.

I had slight hopes I might sleep for an hour before starting the ritual, but it was a lost cause.  I found the ice machine down the hall, mixed up my last lemon drops, and started the ritual.

The San Francisco crowd was a tough one for me.  You’d think it would be easier since I met up with a lovely couple I’d met through Airborne on Twitter.  We’d been tweeting for months about the Coast Modern show and I was excited to finally meet in person.  We introduced ourselves, they saved my spot as I bought a cocktail, and even helped talk up Coast Modern to our neighbors.  It was the rest I struggled with.  All the other shows, I had no problem stirring up a group atmosphere.  People wanted to mingle.  San Fran did not have the same vibe.

I did meet a couple girls on the front barrier who were excited to hear me talk about Coast Modern.  The adorable brunette was celebrating her birthday.  I asked her to promise me she would give them a chance.  She even pinkie promised.


When the show started, I actually heard the girls around me swoon.  No, I’m not exaggerating.  And it was really nothing new from my four days following the gentlemen.  I can’t tell you how many girls came back to tell me how beautiful they are.  My new pinkie swearing friend was one of the most effected.  When Coast Modern asked everyone to close their eyes and imagine being somewhere else for The Way It Was, she took the instructions to heart, as did all the other women around.  (Her friend, not so much.)


That’s a pretty stellar photobomb, too!

Another amazing show.  Gazillion more pictures.  They’re just so fabulous.

After Coast Modern ended, I talked one of the stage crew into snagging the last set list for my trip collection.  Not nearly feeling enough of my vodka soda, I bailed from the front and hung in the dark shadows.  I encouraged Lovely Couple to stay upfront for Temper Trap and I would catch them after the show.

Exhausted, and a bit sad my trip was coming to an end, I headed to a side room for a cocktail and nachos.  With everyone else enjoying Temper Trap, I had the room pretty much to myself and the two bartenders.  And then the most amazing conversation happened as I watched Bartender #2 make my drink.

  • Bartender #1: Hey you want this?  (She holds up some sticker.)
  • Bartender #2:  What’s that?
  • Bartender #1:  An all access pass.  I’m not going to use it.
  • Bartender #2:  Nah, I don’t care about it.  Hey Susan, you want it?
  • Me: Fuck yeah, I do.
  • Bartender #2 : Don’t leave before your nachos are out.
  • Me:  Do you think I’m crazy?

My impulsiveness to snag this sticker didn’t give me much time to think it through.  But as I sat at my table waiting for my first meal of the day, I started to freak myself out.  What the Hell was I supposed to do with an All Access pass?  So I took to Snap Chat for a consensus or maybe some reassurance.


I wish I captured the overwhelming response that I was an absolute dumb ass if I didn’t use the pass.  Here’s the thing no one thinks about…I wasn’t invited by anyone who would be found backstage.  So, here I am intruding in someone else’s private space.  And clearly, I hadn’t been drinking enough.  If I were drunk or with a group of friends, it’s a no-brainer.  However, I had a Snap Chat brigade waiting for my update.

I enjoyed those delicious nachos, gave myself a pep talk to be brave, and headed to the stage.  There was a large security man sitting in front of a door, which meant that one had to be important, right?  I stopped a passing cocktail waitress and asked her how you get backstage.  (Can you feel how cool I am already?  OMG…I should’ve known at this moment things were not going to get better.)  She asked the security guy who stood less than two feet from us and he shook his head yes.  “Can this sticker get me back there?” He told me I had to wear it before he opened the door and I promptly forgot how to take the paper off a sticker.

I thought when the door closed behind me and I was on the other side, somehow life would change.  I mean, this was like a dream sequence, right?  Uh, nope.  There was a small staircase to get to the same level as the stage and and then another small one leading to a hall with a bunch more rooms I wasn’t invited into.


Yep, this is me living the dream taking a picture of a hallway and closed doors.

To calm my nerves, I told myself this was all great research.  I snuggled up at the side door and watched Temper Trap from an angle I’d never seen a show.


It was interesting, but nothing like being in the front, in the body crushing mix.  The energy from where I stood was one of an observer versus a participant.  It wasn’t nearly the rush I thought would come from wearing the elusive backstage pass.  And then it got worse.  People showed up.

For my first few minutes, I was alone in my awkward.  All of a sudden, Coast Modern was there and my uncomfortableness rocketed off the charts.  Everyone in their group looked a little confused as to what the Hell I was doing there, but no one said anything.  I pressed my shoulder even harder into the wall hoping I could disappear.  Why not leave, you ask?  Well, the area is small and they’re standing opposite to me with the staircase out behind them.  I felt like if I pushed everyone down to run out, I might draw even more attention.  Instead, I stood there, without a word spoken, and pretended like I belonged.

And for a brief few moments, I thought “this isn’t so bad after all.”  (This is what writers call foreshadowing.)  Temper Trap played their last song, the crowd roared, and they started to walk off stage.  In my direction.  With absolutely no place for me to hide. Exit still blocked. Holy shit!  And then there were about 14 people crammed in the smallest space.  Everyone chatted comfortably after touring together for weeks, except for this one stranger off to the side.  More confused looks.  No words directed towards me.  And me dying for the first person to point their finger and ask the obvious, “Who the fuck is she?”

Even though I was internally dying from embarrassment, the crowd chanting for the encore was the best thing ever.  Having been in so many audiences begging for your beloved band to return, seeing it from another angle was a unique experience.  And one I won’t share.  Because everyone needs to have their own.

When Temper Trap went back on stage, and there was a small break in the barrier between the door and me, I got the Hell out of there.  I used my pass to stand off to the side of the stage by myself behind the barrier, which was a lot more comfortable.  The final Sweet Surrender played and the tour was officially over.

The crowd funneled out into the merch area.  I looked for Lovely Couple, but they sent me the saddest thing. They had to leave early to catch public transportation.  Concert buddy fail. I did run into someone I saw at the Coast Modern show from June.  She remembered me and posed for a picture. Then the girls from the front found me.  They wanted a guide to the Coast Modern merchandise booth and I did what I love best.  I took new Coast Modern fan Birthday Girl to the present she wanted most.


She was so excited. Can you tell?

The night got closer to ending with the crowd thinning out.  My adventure slipping away to only being a memory.  One where I didn’t yet have a picture to add to my work cubicle collection.  This is where my pass really paid off.  While I’m usually one of the last in the building, it usually ends with security ushering me out the door.  (Yes, that’s true.)  That little orange sticker gave me some defense and I was able to make it last a little longer.  I got to work making sure I had Luke personality selfies, snap cuteness, and my final set list signed.


My only direction to Luke was “be your cute self” and he was.


You know, they’re champs. I ask them to sign many and they make it different every time.


I think Luke calls this pose “the flower.”


This will pretty much be my Christmas card for the next five years even though my hair is wrecked.  Damn you, San Francisco.

The night ended.  I stumbled out. Uber took me back to my hotel.  The adventure was over.  I crashed across my bed and got a solid five hours sleep before having to get up to head home.  The seven hour trek back to reality was long and somber, dreading the Post Concert Depression I knew would arrive in a couple days.  It gave me time to replay through all the amazing moments I’d experienced along the way.  Things I couldn’t have imagined months ago when I bought the tickets.

Coast Modern delivered every night with a unique experience.  They were entertaining, charming, and created a party each time they performed.  The crowds reacted differently in each city but shared the same enthusiasm.  After the shows Coast Modern continued to impress with their generosity.  They give time and appreciation to fans, which will always leave me 100% loyal.  If this blog series hasn’t yet convinced you to give them a chance, then I leave you with my last final evidence of their extreme awesomeness.  My favorite snap of all time. (And is my ring tone. Kidding, not kidding.)  All these reasons are why Coast Modern will forever be one of my favorites.


#CoMoTripn: Los Angeles

Breaking through from the Orange County line into LA county means stopping in my old hood.  While I lived in Belmont Shore for eight years, my favorite spot was Seal Beach.  It’s quaint small town feel, beautiful view from the pier, and excellent sushi restaurant made it a must visit in my travels.


I could’ve sat there all day. A major thing I miss about California.

With the sun finally out, I enjoyed soaking in the warmth and smelling the sea salt air while I walked up and down wood pier planks.  Everything looking so familiar and foreign at the same time.  I Snap Chatted the calming waves to my Oregon friends, who  were suffering through another fall storm, before heading to my favorite restaurant to have lunch by myself.


Table for 1

There wasn’t much time to visit some of my other favorite places, such as the fine paper store or the small local shop on Second Street that sells the best gardenia scented candles, due to the looming traffic I knew would be waiting for me in Los Angeles.  By early afternoon I was back on the road heading to Santa Monica to meet up with another old friend.

When I visit LA, I have a pretty sweet deal.  My friend-since-birth happens to have a kickin’ guest house he lets me crash in.  I pulled up by 2:00pm and unloaded all my gear again.  A little shaky from heavy drinking and light sleeping, we caught up on old stories, high school peer updates and such.  He gave me the low down on what I might expect for traffic and how early I would need to leave.  He even dared mention walking a mile to take a train.  WTF?  Uh, no.  Uber it was.  To make up for the hour it was going to take to get to the venue, ritual had to start early and move a bit faster to leave some time to enjoy a cocktail with my friend in his oasis backyard.


Drinking lemon drops out of a pint glass.  I’m that classy.

Uber picked me up around 5:30pm and we headed into the belly of the traffic beast.  The driver and I talked for a while until I realized I was going to have to keep up conversation for at least an hour.  That’s when I turned to my phone and started with the selfies  I think I might have asked him if that’s what everyone does in the back seat.  He reminded me I probably didn’t want to know what some people did in his backseat.  (Ewww, I’m sitting there.)


And yes, I matched my hair to my outfit.  (Not really, but people ask that all the time.)

By the time I rolled up to the venue, there was already a line snaked along the building.  Once again, I was alone.  Not even Mother/Daughter would be there for reassurance.  I stopped at the bar first thing for my double vodka soda and about died when I paid $25.00 (without tip yet) for it.  People already lined the barrier by the time I got there.  The nice thing about being alone is I just asked for them to let me in to watch Coast Modern and they did.

After meeting a lovely couple who drank this awful blue thing, our crowd continued to grow steadily.  None had heard of Coast Modern, but were happy to follow them on socials and pose for my pictures.  Finally, there was one person who came for Coast Modern.  Our section cheered like I had found my long lost CoMo fan soulmate and we found out he was a friend of Coleman’s.  Our crowd drank, joked, and had a helluva good time like we had known each other for some time.

And you know what comes next, don’t you?  The show, of course.

I danced around in the thick crowd and pretty much sealed my hair fate.  Then there was the awkward moment when the nice woman from the blue drink couple slumped over the railing.  I offered to take her to the bathroom for her boyfriend, but he declined and left her over the barrier.  This was followed up by a guy telling me I was a “before and after” picture because I looked such a mess by the end.  Uh, thanks?  And my lovely barrier neighbors secured a set list for me to make it three in my collection.  So sweet!

As promised, after Coast Modern finished, I removed myself from the front.  In the back, I ran into Twitter Guy from the night before, chatted for a while with his friend, and watched people buy merchandise.

After the show, I funneled out with the rest of the crowd and waited for Uber to take me back to my friend’s house.  Sitting across the street, I spotted a taco truck the instant my ride pulled up and it reminded me I hadn’t eaten anything since my sushi lunch twelve hours before.  If you know anything about being highly intoxicated, this is the moment where you decide if you don’t get something to eat you will die.

It was at Wilshire Boulevard when I saw an open bar and demanded my Uber driver drop me off.  He tried to protest and explained he’s supposed to take me to the programmed destination.  I relieved him of all worry and had him drop me off on the corner.  There was instant sadness when the bar told me their kitchen closed fifteen minutes before I got there.  He did point me four blocks down to a twenty-four hour Jack in the Box.

As I stumbled down the street towards the red and white beacon, I started to question my life choices that led me to wander aimlessly on LA streets at 12:30am by myself and having no idea where to find my friend’s house. Snuggled inside, I ate curly fries and egg rolls (please remember I’m very intoxicated at this point, don’t judge) and watched a homeless man sing along with this radio.  The cashier chatted with him like they were old friends and I realized I was the intruder to their nightly routine. I uploaded some Coast Modern pics to social media and messaged my sleeping friends in Oregon about what a great time the LA show was before deciding I should  head towards the residential section about a half mile away to try to find my bed.  After a couple wrong turns, and trying to find familiar looking streets, I finally came to my friend’s residence.

He’d given me a key to my cottage in the back and I couldn’t wait to try to catch some much needed sleep.  When I came up to the half wall fence surrounding his property, I realized the gate was locked.  I went into a straight up panic imagining sleeping in his front walkway.  After pacing the length of his property, I committed to hiking up my dress, angling my heeled boots, and scaling the wall.  Yep, I did.  It was only when I had two feet planted firmly on the other side in their beautiful garden did I even consider the fact my key could possibly open the gate.  (Yep, it did.)  Lucky for me that learned lesson came before I faced the full size fence to the backyard.

By the time I crawled into bed I’m pretty sure it was around 2:00am but time is lost on nights like this.  The vodka and sleep deprivation make it difficult to tell which side of the day is up and how many hours have actually passed.  I was back up at 5:00am after three hard slept hours.  I dreaded the seven hour drive to San Francisco with only nine hours sleep over the previous four days.  A Zip Fizz shooter powered me up until I could track down a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf store on the road.  I repacked my suitcase, left my friend’s key, and started the long road to Northern California.

Next up: The Conclusion – San Francisco


#CoMoTripn: Santa Ana

It poured rain from San Diego to Cypress and I wondered if I left Oregon at all.  Where was all the sunshine and warmth I remembered from living in Long Beach for eight years?  Sticking to my road trip plan of driving fast to make record times, I ended up at my friend’s home by lunch.  This may have had something to do with the fact she promised to join me at my favorite old Mexican restaurant haunt from fifteen years ago.  (OMG, it was as good as I remembered.)

We did a little shopping, got caught up on recent life events, and headed back to her house for a little more quiet time visiting before my pre-concert ritual.  While I planned to Uber to the event, she agreed to drop me off before her plans even though it would have to be a little early.  A huge score.  With no planned familiar faces at this venue, the ritual brought the needed couple of cocktails before heading to the show.  It was a little surprising to find Disneyland turn-style gating in front of the doors.


What were they expecting here?

The wait can be painful when alone.  Sometimes I start a conversation with the people next to me, but my neighbors were a “no-go” in this line.  I did see the cute mom/daughter couple at the very front dancing while Coast Modern sound-checked inside.  They waved hellos and kept company with the others who lined up hours before.

The inside of the venue was quite surprising.  Three step down layers led to the stage.  Once again, another gated barrier kept us concert-goers a few feet from the stage’s edge.  This is different from Portland’s smaller venues.  They let you right up close and photographers have to elbow it up with the rest of us.


I shimmied into a second row position right behind Mother/Daughter.  They were front and center chatting away with the people they met in line.  They saved my place as I procured a vodka soda.  After the second double, I slid right into meeting everyone around.  My favorite was a delightful pair that I found out was a mother and son. (I spent a good five minutes telling the mother it was impossible because she looked so young.)  When I went to take their picture, an amazing thing happened.  A friend I met two years ago in line for The Airborne Toxic Event photobombed the picture.


Literally the exact moment I found out my friend was able to make it!  And proof this woman did not look old enough to be that guy’s mom.

Needless to say, I flipped the fuck out.  We’d been talking for months since last reuniting at a Dreamers concert in April.  I’d been begging her to join me because she and her husband are such great fans.  They travel great lengths, appreciate the music, and even send care packages while the band tours.  (Who wouldn’t want them as fans?)  I knew they would love Coast Modern just as much as the other bands we share in common.  With them joining, the party really went into full swing.


Yep, I chat up every person.

It wasn’t long before Coast Modern took the stage and I started my picture-palooza.

The craziest part was this guy next to me who insisted on texting the entire time.  Of course I had to know what was so fucking important you would text during a concert.  It wasn’t a problem to find out because he had his text font size at a giant 144pt or something so I read his screen as he talked about the show.  He was so lost in it, he didn’t even notice when I took our picture.


Best text line is when he’s trying to describe what Coleman Trapp looks like.  Who texts this?  Take a picture!

After the show, my friends headed back to the merch table, as good fans do, and started to buy gear to support.  On my way back to the bar, the funniest thing happened.  A gentleman stopped me.

Him: “Are you Susan?”

Me: “Yeeahhh??”  (Waiting for it to register that I know him from somewhere even though I’m 800 miles from home.)

Him: “I know you from Twitter.”

Me: “Ooohhh?”

Him:  “I don’t mean for that to sound creepy.”

Funny thing, I then knew who it was.  We chatted for a bit, I tried to buy him a drink, and he introduced me to others he came with.  Once again I was reminded how incredible Twitter can be.  You meet the most amazing people.  And some people think social media is the devil. What do they know?

I took some random shots before my friends and I decided to skip Temper Trap and head to a bar to catch up.


Scored my 2nd set list on the trip!


My friend V looking adorable with Luke.


Selfie with Coleman since Twitter friends were horrified I didn’t take any on night #1.

My darling couple friends drove us to a small, dark bar and we drank the night away madly. The thing about these friends are they are hella fun and don’t even flinch about keeping up with me.  We talked bands, sent snaps, and played in a giant photo booth. This might have been when the night went a little hazy.


V and S are so good to me!

After hours catching up, they said they would take me back to my friend’s house.  When we walked in the parking lot, I confidently headed to their car and tried to get in the backseat.  Spoiler alert:  It wasn’t their car.  Worst part was the owners of the car were standing next to it and didn’t make a sound as I tried to get in.  Awkward!


I guess they were chill with me breaking into their car.


Lucky for me, S and V wrangled me back up and got me back to my place safe and sound.

I stumbled into my friend’s house sometime around 2 am, I think.  She was waiting up for me like the night owl she is.  I confirmed it was another amazing show and pulled myself up the stairs to try to get some sleep before traveling to Los Angeles the next day.

I think I clocked in another three hours of sleep before I was up and packing my bag for another round.  The eyes were a bit redder, I moved a tad slower, and I slammed two Zip Fizzes before leaving the driveway.  Only forty miles to the next show city, so many things to see on the way there, and I might have started to worry a bit if I could make it another three days.

Next up: Los Angeles.

#CoMoTripn: San Diego

For quite some time it’s been my dream vacation to follow a band around for a multi-show run.  There’s something fascinating in experiencing the same show night after night to appreciate the nuances between them.  How do the performers change bouncing from city to city?  Do the different crowds offer different vibes to what seems like a repeat performance?  How does my participation vary after seeing the same show a few times consecutively?

In October, I followed Coast Modern up California’s Interstate 5 for four shows starting in San Diego and ending in San Francisco.  My original plan was to document the trip as it happened.  What better way to get the touring feel than to bust out blogs in between shows.  Uh…here we are over a month later and I’m finally getting my shit together.  What happened you ask?  I got a taste of that touring life and it pretty much kicked my ass.  Between driving, getting settled into the new city, visiting with friends, completing the pre-concert ritual, and drinking heavily, there was little time left after enjoying the show.  Not a bad deal, right?  And after returning home, keying down, suffering through my post concert depression, and regular life duties, I’m finally ready to write about each city and my #CoMoTripn experience. (Yep, you can check out the hashtag on Twitter to see the details when I remembered to add the hashtag.)

San Diego took fourteen hours of drive time from my small Oregon town.  Don’t worry, I stopped overnight at my parents’ home in Bakersfield and had to explain twenty times why I was traveling 1800 miles for a band.  I also caught lunch with my sister in Orange County on my second day’s travel and tortured my teenage nephew with Snap Chat selfies. By the time I pulled into San Diego, I was exhausted and only had a couple hours before starting my concert ritual.  No time for sight-seeing, beach-walking, or sun-soaking.  Instead, I started my cocktail a little earlier than usual and enjoyed the calm.

Lucky for me, a lovely lady name Nerdeebirdee (who I met after battling it out on Dreamers TunesSpeak contest) agreed to meet up with me to catch her first Coast Modern show.  She picked me up, I gave her some cookies, and we headed over to the venue with a packed bakery box for Coast Modern.  As I’ve explained before, treat box delivery is not for the faint of heart.  You get to hold the ten pound box while you try to flag someone down or talk a security guard into taking it inside.  While in line, I had a minor meltdown when my electronic ticket didn’t work.  Panic took over as we were only a few minutes from doors opening.  Nerdeebirdee agreed to hold the box while I went to the box office to figure out what the hell?  (Can you feel the panic in my voice?  Lucky for me no one I know witnessed my increased hysteria and sliding my phone under the bulletproof glass to the chick to prove my ticket didn’t work.)  After a few frazzled moments, I had a ticket in hand.  When I got back in line the box was gone and we were ready for our security pat down.  Who knew San Diego was such a rough place?  I didn’t even know venues still did this.  And this rub was not shy.  Good thing they checked under my bra because who knows what I could’ve been carrying in it.  Spoiler alert: they’re boobs.  After getting all up in there, confiscating Nerdeebirdee’s Polaroid camera, we were finally able to head to the front for our barrier spot.


Another picture where I have serious scary smile face and isn’t she so cute?

While I’d made great promises about not drinking at the San Diego show, it didn’t hold up.  Although this was the least intoxicated I’ve ever seen a show, I did need a little courage juice to meet so many new people.  I was fortunate to meet some Twitter friends.  The lovely mother/daughter team, 1975mom and Darby Days, were front row with sunflowers in hand for Coast Modern.


Aren’t they so adorable?  I cropped my giant head out of this picture because it was ruining it.

I also chatted up everyone around me and helped encourage some new fans.  Here are some of the lovelies who agreed to follow the #CoMo gents on social media.

Don’t even think I would consider skipping over my gazillion show pictures.  It’s such a great time watching Coast Modern perform.  They even threw in a twist during Hollow Life where Luke and the bassist switch sides and instruments to finish the song.  When I can get a clear shot in between their constant movement, they’re stunning.  So expressive and engaged in the moment.  Complete fun to watch.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out:

After Coast Modern’s performance, I gave up my barrier spot for the die hard Temper Trap fans.  It’s a crime to have such a position if you don’t know every song.  The front should be shared with the people who adore the band the most.  So I bow out and head back to the merchandise table.  Once again, Coast Modern was gracious with their time between the sets.  They chatted with people, signed set lists, and posed for photos.  I checked back in with the ladies I met before the show.  Each told me how much they like the performance and meeting the band afterwards.  New fans committed.

After Temper Trap wrapped up, the venue had a weird line up thing to get to the merch table.  It snaked to the back wall with Temper Trap fans.  My lovely date Nerdeebirdee stuck around to get some pictures, pick up the merchandise I bought earlier in the night, and retrieve her camera.  Special shout out to Nerdeebirdee for being such a champ with my crazy all night!


My first Polaroid picture and I even made her autograph it for me.

By 12:30am, I was back in my hotel and prepping for the next day’s travel.  It took me a good two hours to calm down before falling asleep.  As usual when I go to shows, the sleep was brief.  I was back up by at 5:30am to return messages confirming for everyone the first show was as spectacular as I knew it would be.

Next Up: Santa Ana.

A Book of Love

A few years ago I was fortunate to meet the ultimate Airborne Toxic Event fan, Glen Hoos.  He reached out and introduced me to the TATE fan community I’ve grown to adore.  I assumed this was due to my hilarious blog dedicated to documenting my experiences with the band and their concerts.  In actuality, he saw a single tweet where I chomped away on Mikel cookies.  Since then, we’ve met at shows in Seattle and San Francisco, he puts up with all my shenanigans where I embarrass him by telling everyone how famous he is, and fortunately we’ve been long distance friends ever since.

There aren’t many fans who actually “do” anything with their band love.  They may rock out to the song or tell a couple friends, but that’s where their initiative stops.  It certainly doesn’t manifest in starting up a successful blog with a regular posting schedule. <Cough, cough, it’s really tough to punch these out on a regular basis.> And most definitely it doesn’t end up writing a book about your favorite band’s history.


Here we’ll take a look of the crazy fan who wrote a book about The Airborne Toxic Event.

Breaking Books:  Who is Glen…the man…the myth…the legend? Ha!

Glen Hoos:  Just a guy who’s in way over his head. Husband of one, father of fourteen. Oops, I mean, four. It just feels like fourteen sometimes. I’ve got two teenage daughters, a 12-year-old girl and a six-year-old whirling dervish of a son.

My wife and I engage in what we like to call “extreme parenting.” Our 12-year-old has Down syndrome, and has spent the past two years battling leukaemia. Our son, who we adopted four years ago, has a couple of rare genetic syndromes with big names, an intellectual disability and extreme hyperactivity. So basically, our family is an Event in and of itself.

My work life is spent raising money for the Down Syndrome Research Foundation. And on the side, I kind of like a band.


BB: How long have you been an Airborne fan and what sparked your passion for them?

GH: I discovered The Airborne Toxic Event in the summer of 2008. A friend introduced me to “Sometime Around Midnight” after we arrived too late to catch their set at Pemberton Music Festival. I was instantly hooked and bought their first album. My appreciation for them steadily grew through the releases of All I Ever Wanted and All At Once.

But the night that changed everything was June 7, 2011. That was the eve of my first Airborne concert, viewed from the front row beneath Anna’s keyboard.

It was a revelation. Four nights earlier, I had seen U2, who had been my musical obsession for 20 years. In my list of top bands, there was U2, and then everybody else was fighting for second. I thought it would always be so. But as the final notes of TATE’s set faded away, I realized that for the first time since I was 15, I had a new favorite band.

BB:  How many concerts have you attended and how many miles have you traveled? What’s the farthest you’ve gone to see them?

GH:  18 shows, and around 9,000 miles of travel from my home base near Vancouver, Canada. (Wow, that sounds like a lot when I put it in writing!) I’ve been to San Francisco twice, Reno, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle and multiple locations here in BC. The furthest I’ve traveled to see them is Red Rocks (Denver), which was a bucket list venue for me.

My furthest show would have been Los Angeles, had life not rudely interrupted. I had tickets to their big homecoming show at the Greek in 2014, but my daughter’s cancer diagnosis hit like a ton of bricks two days before the gig. Needless to say, that put frivolous things like rock shows in their proper perspective really quickly. Still, the fact that I have yet to see them on their home turf is the biggest hole in my TATE fan resume.

BB: Any weird concert traditions you would like to share?

GH:  Don’t think I don’t know why you asked this, Susan!

For the benefit of the reader, my first live Susan experience was at an Airborne show in Seattle in 2013. We already “knew” each other online, and Susan spotted me in a bar, waiting to be let into the venue. She proceeded to offer me every drink on the menu (seriously people, this woman does not take “no thank you” for an answer). I was finally forced to explain to her that I don’t drink any liquids past mid-afternoon on a show day. After spending hours lining up for the perfect spot in the front row, I can’t risk needing a bathroom break once I get in there.

Unfortunately, the older I get, the earlier I have to cut myself off.

There, Susan, now the whole world knows. Are you happy?

BB:  Uh, yeah, seriously I am.  That’s the best story ever.

BB:  When did you start This Is Nowhere and why?

GH:  The short answer is because the band inspires me, and that leads me to try to write it all down.

Beyond that, my other great musical loves, U2 and Springsteen, we’re stoked in large part by the websites atU2.com and backstreets.com, respectively. Both sites are fan-operated, and yet both have an impressive level of professionalism and quality about them I really admired.

As TATE took over first place on my playlist, I would read those sites and think, “Man, if only there was something like this for Airborne.” And then one day it occurred to me: perhaps I could be the one to create it!

Over the subsequent three years, it has grown far beyond what I had envisioned. I just found that I really loved doing it, and I added one piece at a time until it became what it is today.

BB:  Being a fan is one thing, writing a biography is another. What made you want to write a book about them?

GH:  Some times one thing just leads to another…

I recently wrote a whole post on this, so if you want the long version, check that out here. The short version is, I had an idea to write a few articles looking back on key events in the band’s history. Before I started work on any of those, fellow Airborne fan and writer Julie Stoller offered up her treasure trove of TATE articles and interviews that she’d been archiving since the earliest days of their career. Her collection of material was all-encompassing, and it spurred me to sketch out a full history of the band.

It began as a blog series, to be published one chapter at a time, every two weeks for about a year and a half. I kept to that schedule religiously, and partway through I realized that by the end of it, I’d have written a book. So that’s what it became.


BB:  What is your best TATE memory?

GH:  Through 18 shows, I’ve been utterly spoiled. There are more than I can name. But one moment will forever stand above them all.

To be very honest, I’m quite an insecure person. My paranoia can get the best of me, and at times, I’ve worried that Mikel and the band might disapprove of what I’m doing – whether it’s for being too intense of a fan, or writing something that doesn’t accurately represent them, or whatever.

Which is why the first night of the 2014 Fillmore residency meant so much to me. That night, they were to play their first record in its entirety… and that meant that, for the first time, I would see “This is Nowhere” performed live.

What went down is a bit of a blur. I remember Mikel walking over to my front row perch between he and Anna just before launching into the song, leaning down and shaking my hand. I remember him screwing up a line, glancing over at me and winking. And I remember him coming back over to shake my hand again at the end of the song, this time depositing a guitar pick in my clenched fist.

I have little recollection of the next song, “Midnight,” so stunned was I from what had just taken place. It felt like affirmation of all the time and effort I had poured into the website. He had noticed, and he appreciated it. Honestly, it meant the world.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t still wonder at times if they think I’m nuts, or worse. Maybe they’re horrified that I wrote a book about them.

But then I remember that moment at the Fillmore…

BB: Which member is dearest to your heart and why? Yes, I’m asking you to pick one.

GH:  Okay – honestly, I hate this question. Yes, because I love them all. They are all wonderful musicians and, more importantly, excellent people. But more because, for me, being a fan is more about appreciating and connecting with their work than hero worship. (And yeah, I know that the story above probably comes off as idolization, but it was really more about me just needing my insecurities settled.)

So, with that disclaimer aside and a gun to my head, I guess I’ll have to go with Mikel. At heart, I’m a lyric guy, and as much as I’m addicted to the music, it’s the words that get me every time. No matter what I’m going through in life – and I’ve had the full range of emotional experiences since getting hooked on Airborne – Mikel has a lyric for every moment. Through my daughter’s cancer ordeal, it’s been “The Thing About Dreams”: “Circumstance changes and life’s always calling your bluff. Enough is Enough.”

Plus, early on in the writing of the history of the band, I realized I was really writing Mikel’s story. Airborne is built on Mikel’s experiences and his desire to connect with people through his sharing of those experiences. Everything else in the band is ultimately in service of that objective. He succeeded in connecting with me, and that’s what it all comes down to.


BB:  If you could create any fantasy TATE experience what would it be?

GH:  Okay, so, I’m super boring. Some fans may wish to join the band on stage to play or sing or dance; I’m quite happy in front of the stage, thank you very much. Others may dream of hitting the bar with them and partying it up, but that’s not really my scene, and then they’d just find out how lame and awkward I really am (though I suspect Anna already knows).

Truthfully, my dream is pretty close to what they did for some lucky fans last year in Philly – an intimate show for about 80 people, with one fan getting to choose the setlist. The winner generously shared his prize and let other fans help choose the songs. I don’t know if I could be as cool as him. I would kill to choose the setlist.

If you want me to jazz up my fantasy a bit, let’s say the show is at one of their old school venues in LA – perhaps the Satellite, formerly Spaceland, or the Echo, where they played their first show.  And maybe I could hit up El Gran Burrito with them before the gig. I can only embarrass myself so much in the course of a taco.

BB:  What’s been the hardest part being a TATE die hard fan?

GH:  For me the hardest parts relate to running the site and writing the book, rather than just being a fan, per se. Not that I’m more important than any other fan, of course; but I think that in becoming a self-appointed TATE reporter/historian, I’ve put myself in some awkward spots and created pressures for myself that go beyond the typical fan experience.

As a fan, I just really want to be a cheerleader. But in my writing, I try hard not to come off as too much of an overgrown fan boy. Going back to atU2 and Backstreets, that’s what I always admired about them. They are fans, yes, but they also report on things objectively, and ask tough questions, and occasionally take unpopular stances on things.

In the past few years, The Airborne Toxic Event has gone through some controversial stuff. I won’t rehearse it all here (it’s in the book!). Covering those events was really difficult.

As a fan, I had my opinions. As a “reporter,” I wanted to be objective and cover all sides. As someone who wants to do right by the band, I desired to present them in a good light. As a representative of the fans to some extent, I wanted to honor the viewpoints of others, even if I didn’t share them.

It was all terribly complicated and more than a little stressful. But no one put that burden on me; I put it on myself. It’s what I signed up for, even if I didn’t know it at the time.

I eventually realized I can’t please everyone; all I can do is seek out the facts to the best of my ability, and write from the heart.

I will say, the ups and downs of the past three years have made for great story. Every good book needs some conflict!

What has made it all worth it are the relationships I’ve built with my fellow fans, and the encouragement they’ve given me along the way. So many have told me that This Is Nowhere has strengthened their love for the band. I’m genuinely proud of that, and I hope the book will have the same effect on those who read it.

Once again, Glen Hoos amazes.  I am fortunate to know him not only as G-Man Superfan (his nickname on my blog) but also as a friend.  If you would like to get your own copy of Toxic History: The Story of The Airborne Toxic Event, you can purchase the hard copy here or the ebook here.