Back to the Velvet Underground

I had to walk away, because I owed it to myself to see myself grow into my fullest potential.

At a fancy wine-and-dine dinner my friend treated me to one night, a lady celebrating her anniversary with her husband next to us asked me what I do.

“Ah, I had a feeling,” she said. “There’s this good energy about you. You have this lasting beauty. You don’t see that a lot.”

I smiled. That was the sweetest observation anyone could have ever made without even knowing me, I thought. I expressed my gratitude and said thank you.

My friend turned to me and said, “What, you haven’t heard that before?!”

In the past 18 months (and 3 moves) since my move to LA, I’ve had to grow tremendously: I’ve interacted with so many different people, seen myself reflected in others while facing the truth of myself in others, and also come to understand myself better when it comes to my habits, behaviors and energy.

From the pilot who was ready to tie me down upon first meeting me, to the old friend whose comfort was just too familiar to me, to the gentleman who showed and reminded me I deserve the best and only the best, and to the dear friend who reminded me so much of home, family, and that I’d probably make the best girlfriend (haha), I’ve learned one thing…

I owe it to myself to show up for myself.

In many things, I’ve realized I haven’t been able to fully show up. Perhaps there are things still holding me back or things I need to deal with and figure out for myself, first. And one thing I’ve realized is my tremendous need to get real with myself.

If I want to cultivate and live a life where I am wholly and totally in my element — killing it with a work routine set, workout habits set in stone, a cozy home to return to and time given to my passions where I’m creating the content I want to create, and surrounded by the people I truly vibe with and see myself in — then I’ve got to truly believe it, believe the universe will deliver that to me, and believe in myself, first and foremost!

But my life feels so erratic (and maybe I’ve created that reality for myself because I feel that’s what I need right now). I’ve found myself wandering the streets of Alhambra, Pasadena and the lovely 626 in the sunny, grassy park surrounded by school kids and families for months, with my lone self just trying to find my place and purpose in it all (without any family or my dearest friends, ha!).

I’m not trying to make you pity me, but it’s true. As I’m turning 26 and soon to lose my health insurance (lol), I just want to be able to support myself. It’s pretty simple (#dentistrachel?), and perhaps my bright-eyed naiveté hasn’t quite learned how to (I’m making quite the funny story of some privileged girl figuring it out and beating herself up at the same time, haha).

For a wanderer like me, I’ve seemed to get by quite okay. I’ve learned your environment is your biggest asset (or downfall), and as a friend described to me, people are drawn to me and I’m one hell of a networker; but, with all the networking and fun I find myself a part of, I’ve got to get the good habits in. When the opportunity comes to shine, am I even ready to show up if I can’t even show up for myself?

Emma: I’m not good at this stuff.
Adam: At what? Talking?
Emma: Yeah, talking. Communicating. Relationship stuff. If we were in a relationship I would become a weird scary version of myself. My throat starts constricting. The walls start throbbing. It’s like a peanut allergy, like an emotional peanut allergy. (No Strings Attached)

This year, my intentions have completely shifted and it almost feels as if I’m starting from the ground-up. I’ve mentioned numerous times my desire to move away from media to embrace the stories I was always perhaps too scared of sharing myself (that, or I’m lazy as hell to focus).

I owe it to that little girl inside of me who always saw the light, felt so much, observed so much, had her head in the clouds and always felt she had something to say.

Sometimes it’s okay to begin again, and again, and again, until something feels right. I’ve got to do the inner work, first, and get those good habits in. And I’m happy to keep blooming.

As my friend Dojo told me last winter, you cannot fuel everything else — your creative pursuits, relationships, passions — if you don’t have a solid foundation set for yourself. As he’s found in his patients:

A faulty foundation leads to faulty work, and I’ve got to be easy on myself if I cannot produce the work I want if I haven’t got my foundation quite right.

The beginning of the year is always a little slow, and I’ve relished in the easiness with more nights at home, shamelessly binging on my love for oldies with Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Bill Withers and Vice City-era soundtracks. I Netflixed, watched Reality Bites, crushed on Ryan Gosling with The Place Beyond The Pines and delved into my old loves that have reminded me of who I’ve always been, and had countless wine nights, park wanderings and time with my guitar.

But, when I’m doing that each and every single day, it all starts to feel a little pointless. “What am I doing with myself?” I exhaustively say. And as Rapuzel would say, it’s time to “find myself a new dream.”

A few highlights of the month:

  • That first real Saturday/weekend of the new year that began with an endless camera hunt, jamming to Pearl Jam on my InstaStories, to a Bay Area beloved Boba Guys grand opening in Historic Filipinotown, to an art gallery opening and simultaneous Clifton’s Republic hang with some of my favorite people and Fil-Am Creative (FAC) friends who I’m so grateful to have found a home and friendship in and with since my move to LA.
  • To your peace for the entire past year, you lovely Almansor Park track and green grass. You’ve lifted my sun bum and endless love for the outdoors and running so much.
  • To spending an afternoon with my high school bestie Andrew and finally meeting his long-time girlfriend, which I loved (and who I am apparently his only friend he’s ever introduced. Ilysm Andrew!).
  • To that Sunday “Young Legends Night” industry showcase for hip-hop trailblazers, thanks to my Guitar Center homie Ian, where I did not know I was also in the presence of Usher and Ne-Yo (!!), which ended up being such a fun and long unexpected night of real good R&B that I haven’t witnessed enough of.
  • To rainy emo weeks and spending that Thursday out of my cave with my pseudo-uncle AJ and Alex at UCLA for the debut of a fellow Fil-Am filmmaker’s webseries, the “LA Metro Project.” It’s nice to be in the company of these two dudes who have been my greatest confidantes in LA to chill, eat, and enjoy real good company and conversation.
  • To that next night returning to Orange County to finally see the beloved Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye live, whose poem “If I should have a daughter…” stole my young heart years ago. (“But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar: it can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.” – B.)
  • To that fancy dinner with Alex, to reuniting with all my Fil-Am friends for my first real show of the year for Ruby Ibarra’s Circa 91 album, one year later, with a full live band and room full of so much love and spirit that took my dear friend “to church.” That night ended up going until 3am with a spontaneous KBBQ run with Ruby and the crew, which was a reminder reminder to know how much I’ve a family in this crew.
  • To that next afternoon recording an impromptu live jam session in Historic Filipinotown with FAC friends, to somehow being a part of a new webseries, to then enjoying an unexpected night out in WeHo with Angela and friends (no #lolarachel), to knocking out and spending that Monday wandering in Koreatown and feeling like a normal person.
  • To that spontaneous Warriors vs. Lakers game (!!) that Monday night, thanks to Alex’s work hookup and seeing an all-star lineup for the Warriors win. Never would I have dreamed or thought I’d be able to see a game, or my Warriors, and that was so much fun. I’m so so so grateful that Alex strives for me to not have a worry in the world and happily joins and covers me for these. I do not take it lightly.
  • To a few days of rest, a catchup with my forever “sixth roommate” Daniel who consistently encouraged my “homeless hippie” wandering, to then spending the next three consecutive days at music nerd heaven, NAMM. I had the most heartwarming moments not spending a dime for food or parking the entire weekend at NAMM, thanks to industry friends who were able to comp me free parking, enjoy good conversation and insight with music professionals, enjoy some good post-NAMM food and drinks, to that first night where the parking attendant “let me go” and I found my car after miraculously leaving it overnight. I closed off three tiring days at NAMM, unexpectedly running into with my good friend Andrew K. and company, as I lost my voice, had a “sexy Emma Stone” voice, and sang “56709” along to an 80s Japanese discotheque tune (lol). It was a fun, heartwarming, smiley weekend for sure, as reuniting and connecting with music heads makes you feel in your element. Above all, running into Brandon Bae of Rozzi again, and Yvette Young for a quick hello was so sweet (said it was nice to see a familiar face and that, “I love seeing your guitar playing,” saying it’s “beautiful” was just about as heartwarming as ever from a talent as her). ❤
  • To closing that weekend off running social media for the first Secret Dinner Club LA that Monday night with foodie queen Mary Grant and FAC friends. It was nice to record some behind-the-scenes footage and enjoy a kamayan-style dinner with this second-family I’ve found. Who knows what will come of it, but hey — just goes to show — maybe I should get a job in social media already (haha).

As naively optimistic as I am, I’m no stranger to the cruelties of life and ways of the world. But when life gets a little overwhelming, I tend to want to run away to my beautiful little fantasy-land I’ve created for myself — my “safe place,” home and haven. As long as my dreams are in the sky, that’s where I will want to live (!!), and more often than not, I’ve had to get real with the fact I cannot live in this place forever (haha doh).

Music drives the soundtrack of my life. I tend to live my life as if I’m in my own movie (or I’d like to think so, lol), and when I’m surrounded by other creatives in other media, I find that those musical hearts seem to excite me the most. How much I geek out over musical instruments in general is really embarrassing but telling, all the same. And as I’ve leaned more and connected more with those kind of people in the past few months — and felt that much more in my element — that’s a sign.

I’ve had a couple plans and bucketlist goals I’ve set for myself this year (and in the coming years). I won’t share them quite yet, but I know small steps and little actions everyday will speak for themselves.

I had a bit of a breakthrough the other night, thinking of what the past decade of chasing the music, stories and people who made the music I love, has taught me.

I think we only try to make sense of other people because we’re really just trying to make sense of ourselves.

I’ve learned that living on wishful thinking is fun, but if I’m being honest, I just want to feel a sense of safety and security in my life — to have that feeling of peace I have when I’m home. Transitions are hard and adulting is weird, and I’ve been living on sheer luck, frugality and chance to get by for a while. I’m ready for a change (and God forbid, will I stay put in one place for awhile to really build that change, ha?).

Whatever the case, one thing’s for sure: I’ll always go where the music flows.

Rapunzel: I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: Well, that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream. (Tangled)

With love and honesty,


View my past video blogs below:
Coming Up Roses 12/2018
In My Feels 11/2018
Through Thick And Thin 10/2018
The Last Hurrah 9/2018
Breaking Down to Break Through 9/2018
You Get What You Give 8/2018
Summer Daze 8/2018
Back To You and Hometown Takeaways 7/2018
Young, Reckless and Loving It 6/2018
In A New Light 5/2018
Wandering 5/2018
You Give Me That Wicked Love 4/2018
Rediscovered 3/2018
Twentyfive 3/9/2018
Forever On The Road 2/2018
Beginnings 1/2018
One Sky, Six Months 12/2017
Looking For You, Five Months In 11/2017
Quarter Month Crisis 10/2017
Third Month’s the Charm 9/2017
I Adjusted Month Two 8/2017 
I Survived One Month 7/2017
One Week Out 6/2017


6 responses to “Back to the Velvet Underground

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