Here x There 08: I’ll Be There

i'll be there

Maybe you have a ton of friends. Maybe you have one. Forget about the quantity of friends you have. Nobody cares about the number of people you’re connected with on Facebook. Start caring about the quality of people you allow into your life. As humans, a strong connection with others supports us. We rely on it.  I’ve pledged to throw out the trash and distance myself from toxic people. If I can count on you, you can count on me.

I met my best friend in the 5th grade, and although we are different in many ways and rarely see each other because of distance (ugh), she’s always been my main pal. My sister from another mister. I can count on her to be one phone call away, each one ending with “I love you.” I can go a week without communicating with her and still know she has my back, and vice versa.

When I moved to Los Angeles almost five years ago, I had anxiety about my ability to make new friends. Fortunately, I’ve met a lot of rad people. Like come on. When someone is willing to drive you to the airport in commute traffic, you know that friendship is real. Some people I know complain about those who live in this city, calling all of them fake, self-involved, etc, but I tell them they aren’t looking in the right places. I’ve found MY people here. They’re the ultimate homies who continue to amaze me with their compassion, loyalty, and complete willingness to go on adventures with me. And I’ve made it my goal to add to this list of incredible people. New friends: come one, come all!

So, hey friends and friends of the Here x There contributors,  whether we see you on the reg or only interact over social media with emoji hearts, thanks for being our pals. Check out the playlist we put together for you.


01. “I Think U Are Great” – Yellow Ostrich
02. “My Best Friend” – Weezer
03. “American Girls and French Kisses” – Beach Slang
04. “Grenade Jumper” – Fall Out Boy
05. “Everything Is Shit Except My Friendship With You” – Ball Park Music
06. “Make Real Friends” – brightener
07. “Keep On Keeping On” – Colony House
08. “Light It Up” – Eliza and the Bear
09. “Sometimes” – Raphael Saadiq
10. “VCR” – The xx
11. “I Will Be There” – Odessa
12. “Ben” – Michael Jackson
13. “Yellow” – Coldplay
14. “Even The Darkness Has Arms” – The Barr Brothers
15. “With A Little Help From My Friends” – Joe Cocker

Listen here

Contributors AlexBeccaNatalieRamonShabnam and Me

About Here x There

’15 Soundtrack: February

years and years

From Album Cover of Years & Years EP

February was hectic. I blamed Mercury in retrograde for most of the letdowns, the breakdowns, and the exhaustion, until it ended and the chaos continued through the second half of the month. February wasn’t completely tainted by bad juju though. I also had a lot of great moments. I worked the GRAMMY Awards, enjoyed Valentine’s Day with a gal pal, celebrated birthdays, reunited with friends, made new friends, and took on challenges that taught me a lot and rewarded me in the end.

This month’s ’15 Soundtrack doesn’t necessarily represent the kind of month I had, but it does include songs that helped salvage my sanity. Listen on Spotify, enjoy and share.


 “Gold” – Imagine Dragons
“Take Shelter” – Years & Years
“Smile” – Mikky Ekko
“Headphones” – Mounties
“The Tune of Letting Go” – Satellite Stories
“The Bug” – Bear Hands
“Sidekick” – Walk The Moon
“Halo” – The Pass
“Hold On” – Yellow Ostrich
“All The Time” – Bahamas
“True Affection” – Father John Misty
“All I See” – Bondax
“Sleepless” –  Flume feat. Jezzabell Doran
“This Is What It Feels Like” – Banks
“Mango Tree” – Angus & Julia Stone
“la song – demo” – Lewis Watson
“Looking Too Closely” – Fink
“Ghost” – Yellow Ostrich
“Nitesky” – Robot Koch feat. John LaMonica

What have you been listening to?

R U Mine?

don't be a coward

Modern dating is a lot like walking through a maze with a blindfold over your eyes. You’re given no direction, there are a lot of questions and you’re constantly strategizing. Through observation and experience, I’m becoming more familiar with the complexities of relationships and it still baffles me how unnecessarily complicated they can be. We’re conditioned to be (or try to be) blasé about it all. It’s a juggling act of acting cool and casual, yet interested and attached. Exhausting. I’m not programmed to be so nonchalant.

I was going to divulge a few details about my most recent tango with modern dating, but after typing and deleting words for a while, I decided it was best to be less of an open book. Long story short, it was a casual situation. One that was too hot and cold for me to handle, and it lacked a mutual understanding. I’m basically being ignored now and trying not to be too bummed about it. Nothing is enjoyable when bitter, so I’ll keep on keeping on. No point in dwelling on someone who isn’t dwelling on me.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I put together a playlist. It’s a mix as emotionally confusing as relationships.

Here x There 07: Open Road

herexthere 07


“Look at the photo above. Look at the long stretch of road with no end in sight. Look at the photo and decide how it makes you feel,” I wrote to the Here x There contributors.

I decided I wanted this month’s topic to be based on a visual I took in January. None of the contributors experienced this particular ride with me, so I challenged them to imagine they were there and asked what they would be listening to. Below are the sounds they linked to their sight.


01. “New Theory” – Washed Out
02. “The Suburbs” – Mr Little Jeans
03. “Scars” – James Bay
04. “Is There Somewhere” – Halsey
05. “Coattails” – Broods
06. “Never Try” – PUP
07. “Get Lost” – Beach Slang
08. “Berlin” – RY X
09. “It’s Okay” – Land Of Talk
10. “Wild Country”- Wake Owl
11. “Above the Clouds of Pompeii” – Bear’s Den
12. “Holocene” – Bon Iver

Listen here

AlexBeccaNatalieRamon, Shabnam and Me

About Here x There



Suggested reading music: “Drowning” by Banks

Sometimes I’m diving into the deep end and I’m drowning. Pulse quickens. Mind races. Body tenses. Mood tanks. Throughout the month, or occasionally within the same day, this drowning feeling comes in waves. Putting aside the water analogies, it’s basically a mix of uncertainty, sadness and anxiety.

I’m fairly hard on myself, depending on the situation. Always have been. But the true test is how a person comes out of a situation. I am always determined to learn from my experiences. What’s the point of bad experiences if we can’t find a silver lining? We could end up being depressives with no purpose in life but to merely exist in a stagnant state of being. When something knocks me down, you better believe I’ll find a way to come out on top.

Besides being affected by my own actions, I’m affected by those in, and even out, of my life. The people that become ghosts are the worst culprits. They’re the ones that drift away without any warning. Sometimes I get lucky, and they don’t really mean much to me. Sometimes the timing is at the cusp of me becoming attached to having them around. I overwhelm myself with “what ifs” and “whys.” Applies for any type of relationship.

The worst instance is when something is unresolved. That limbo stage makes me uneasy, no matter how “breezy” I try to act. It’s a whirlpool that I burden myself with.  I’m still learning how to let go of things that aren’t worth fussing over, and keeping my head above water is a daily goal. It’s a process.

Let It Consume You


“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.”― Martin Luther King Jr.

I still have a dream. Multiple dreams actually. And they take time to discover, understand and achieve. Patience, hard work and hope is key.

(my top in the photo is from Stheart)

’15 Soundtrack: January

January 2014 Playlist

Photo from Summer Heart’s “About A Feeling” album cover

When I fall in love with a new song or revisit an old favorite, I find myself gravitating toward it every day. It’s the first song I play in the morning, the one I keep going back to when answering emails, or the lullaby I hear when getting ready for bed. So I might start a “soundtrack series.” Think of me as an indie flick and the series is my soundtrack.

I’d like to point out one band from this month’s ’15 Soundtrack. I met the guys of Family Hahas at an acoustic night my pal hosted (hey Shab!!). Then another friend (yo Rudy!) brought the band and their new EP to my attention. Honestly, I had already heard it and was a fan of their work. So shout out to those guys. I hope to catch a show of theirs one day. The band’s track “Happy Accident” is listed in my playlist.


What’s in your soundtrack? Let’s chat in the comments.  

Vulnerability: A Necessary Challenge

This post has been sitting in my drafts since spring. Sharing today. 

I’m vulnerable when my back is turned. Hell, I’m vulnerable staring someone straight in the eyes. Being vulnerable is scary, but it’s necessary and doesn’t have to mean I’m weak. Sometimes it encourages me to be brave.

Vulnerability uncloaks the possibility of being wounded, both physically and emotionally. Who enjoys that sense of uneasiness? Not me. Despite the uncomfortable chance of being hurt and disappointed, being vulnerable can actually strengthen my belief in hope, trust, love and opportunity. It allows me to be honest.

Without accepting my own vulnerability, I wouldn’t be able to share stories, interview for a job, go to shows alone, or take chances with people. I wouldn’t make mistakes. I wouldn’t discover my likes and dislikes. I wouldn’t reach my potential.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – e.e. cummings

2014: Step Out and Up

step out and up

2014 has been the year I’ve experienced the most change. It was also the best year of my life. 2014 was for stepping out of my comfort zone voluntarily or being pushed out of it. Regardless, I was determined to step out and up. First, my four and a half year relationship ended. Then, I got my first car, decided what kind of people I wanted to surround myself with, attended at least four shows a month, kissed new boys, graduated from college, worked several amazing events and a music festival, officially moved to Los Angeles, started a new job in a new career field, and tried to be more honest with myself.

Facing new challenges, experiencing heartbreak, and deciding how to move forward is no easy task. But it is doable. 2014 was my year for progress, which I’ve vowed to make the theme for the rest of my life. Set backs are temporary. Some things that make me uneasy today won’t make me uneasy down the road. I attribute it to change, realization, acceptance, growth, and progress. No one stays the same. My hope that as I continue developing my character and my life, I will keep and add the positives and discard the negatives that aren’t contributing to my quality of life.

Here are a few lessons I learned in 2014.

Just Say It

Verbal communication can be hard for me. I use written word as a security blanket or sometimes say nothing at all. Communication is the most difficult when conflict is involved. Sometimes I’m unable to accurately express something that is bothering me. It’s all in my head, but my brain won’t let the words come out comprehensively. I have nerves and I’m typically a quiet person, depending on who I’m with, but I’ve been working on it. Instead of bottling my thoughts and letting problems fester, I’m trying to express myself honestly to those around me and to myself. Issues are solved more promptly and my anxiety lightens. I still have difficulties with this, but progress is a movement of taking one step at a time.

Be Careful Who You Make Memories With

Seriously. I saw a variation of this quote (probably on Tumblr, Pinterest, or both) and it clicked. I associate places, foods, smells, songs and movies with people I’ve shared memories with. Sometimes these memories are fantastic snapshots of happy times. Sometimes I’d rather forget them. I want to be more cautious of who I spend my time with and what I do with them. A person can sour some of my favorite things. No fun.

Say Yes More and Don’t Feel Guilty About Saying No

I am an adventurer and homebody. Depends on my mood. I said yes to more adventures in 2014 because I was determined to meet new people, experience new things and simply have more fun. As much as I’d like to be, I’m not a super spontaneous person, so I like to have at least a little notice of plans so I can get in the right mindset. I used to feel guilty when telling people “No.” I realized it’s ok if I need time by myself to recharge. I don’t need to feel guilty when turning down an invitation. I will do what I want when I want.

Buy Less Now, Save For More Later

Moving into a new apartment and trying to make it feel like a true home put my mind in Pinterest mode. I want my place to look as awesome as the ones praised on home decor blogs. But of course, I got carried away with ideas and had little money and time to spend beautifying our space. Although I’m eager to continue decorating, I have to be more patient and smart with how I’m spending my money. Living in Los Angeles isn’t cheap! So, I’m making a wish list and slowly checking things off of it. One day I’ll have my Pinterest worthy apartment.

Don’t Be An Option

Despite some instances, I have gained a lot more self-confidence in myself. I’ll say it. I’M RAD. (now tell yourself the same thing). No shame in loving and being proud of yourself. This leads me to the whole “don’t be an option.” Romantically – why keep a non-relationship when you want commitment? Platonically – why invite someone to things if they always mark “Maybe” or say nothing at all? When I choose people to be in my life, I want them to choose me too.

Keep In Contact

I’ve maintained relationships with people who are some of the best humans I’ve ever come across. I’ve also become distant with others. Not on purpose. It happens naturally sometimes and before I know it, it’s been months since I’ve spoken to or seen someone. Either way, I try to maintain connections. Showing you care doesn’t have to be extravagant. It’s as simple as a text, email, phone call, little treats, brunch, a night out/in, or blatantly saying “You are awesome. Thank you for being in my life.”

Let It Go

Some things aren’t worth fussing over. Let. It. Go. It takes time to master, but it can be done.

I hope your 2014 was as eye opening as mine. Cheers to 2015.

Top 10 Albums of 2014

top 10 albums of 2014

We are the generation of lists. We write them, we read them and we share them. Our top “insert noun here” lists define what has had the most impact on us. Although our lives are filled with excess and options, we manage to find a special place in our hearts to pick favorites.

Ramon Smikle and I became fast friends almost a year ago when our love for music united us. Since then, we’ve obsessed over fresh talent and new albums. Let us explain.

Ramon: Music is the single most important thing in my life, so it is important to me to always be seeking out what is new. It has become increasingly rare in this day and age for artists to put together full albums that flow as one body of work, as singles and song sales have begun to dominate the music industry.

A few artists this year however have made beautiful works of art that I am able to listen to from front to back, without feeling the need to skip anything. These albums have been the soundtrack to my weeks, weekends, nights out, days in, drives down the coast, and walks on the beach over the past year. It is always impossible to narrow the list down to a top 10, but I’ve done my best. Here are my selections for top 10 albums of 2014.

Jenay: Music, my first love, gives my life direction. It led me into my evolving career. It is a focal point for many of my hobbies. It fills the silence of my adventures and acts as a therapeutic escape. I spend a good amount of time craving and finding new music that makes me feel something.

The world of music has continued to transform into a factory that churns out singles and hit bangers, but personally I long for full albums with songs that were meant to exist as a conceptual collection. They’re the albums played over and over again in my car and displayed in my apartment. They represent a memory or period of my life. You could say I imagine my life as an indie flick and I’m developing the soundtrack for it. Here are the top 10 albums that define my 2014.