Sunrise over Oregon Eclipse Festival

October 5, 2017By Focal NomadBLOG, COVERAGE, SUNRISE SERIES

The music whistled above the soft bass as I watched the flies bounce above the lake perfectly in synch. The ducks had just taken their morning bath are now diving back in. I’m looking around me and all I can think about is how I wish I had risked my camera to the dust a lot sooner.

“Don’t loose your sense of wonder,” a voice said to me, here, a few nights ago.

Deep breath, try,
Writing something, by
Breath, lie about
Your job, your relationship
Status, your income…
I found myself
Puffing myself out like
A duck this weekend.
Who was I trying to
Impress, anyways?

There’s a lot of work to be done. If there’s anything this place has taught me: the craftsmanship, the music, the acting, the dedication to performance, to parenting, to yours and mines LSD trips… It took all of us to create this experience. It dawned on me here at dawn, that all I ever wanted is in the friends I tackle to the ground when I see them. The synchronicities and full circles shared from strangers turned friends. Festival magic is us.

I want to wake up to myself, get to my practice am grateful that I wasn’t distracted. It gets cold at night – but then the sun comes I’m grateful for my choices to stay awake. To say no to beautiful bodies that could risk my seeing a sunrise. The beautiful choice to spend all night in a tea lounge – learning about the subtleties of the varied leaves and the ritual of its steeping. Making “just-friends” with every addition to come to our table even when the candles were blown out. The choice to go back to a spot that I said I would and expand. The choice to be okay with the unknown ahead.

The choice to say fuck you to management and my job so they never kidnap me full time. The choice to be here, to not burn, to not know why I had to, and then the sky going dark and just knowing I had to – and why hasn’t my camera been out longer? What have I been resisting all this time?

She calls to me – Art
And I am hers, I choose these
Sunrises over any impassioned love
For this Earth is my home.
It’s only for that I should
take some time out of my
mornings to honor her majesty,
Her forgiveness
And her magic.

 

Love Comes in the Derpiest Dogs

July 1, 2017By Focal NomadBLOG, COVERAGE

Since our friendship began last fall, my friend Tyler has been raging about Corgi Beach Day. “They’re just so derpy!” Tyler would say of the awkwardly adorable pups. Makes sense this made him so excited, since Tyler’s niche in photography is capturing derp faces at cosplay conventions. I’ll admit I’m more of a cat-person, but the idea of a bunch of stubby-legged, fox-like seemingly smiling dogs, like, hundreds of them, prancing along a Californian shore, was kind of an irresistible notion for me.

If you’ve been paying any attention to the content of my blog, you’d gather that I was going through a bit of a rough patch – an understatement. So Corgi Beach Day at Huntington Beach couldn’t have come at a better time.

We drove down at 8am, which to me was an incredible feat for a Saturday morning. How many people could there possibly be at this hour? Turns out, quite a few; over 1,000 Corgis alone attended, not to mention their owners and friends. We whipped out our cameras and set to capture these pooches as they engaged in water play, posing in doggy photo booths, and meeting their famous TV counterparts. Not to mention, the contests: costume contests (both tiki-themed and anything goes), a bacon-flavored-bubble eating contest, a limbo contest and a talent show.

The owners of these dogs were so dedicated to their attire and training that it almost seemed cultish. But – the kind of cult where, if I were to have a dog, I’d definitely want to join. Furthermore, these dogs just seemed fucking HAPPY. I envied them: sitting there in their cool goggle-shades, every human fawning on them like royalty, many of them with way more instagram followers than me, and just rolling with it.

Trying to understand happiness these days and where it comes from, I set out to understand these pups by asking the folks who would know best, their owners, what they thought their best friends were thinking in the Corgi Beach Day experience, and here’s what they said:

Winston the White Corgi (4 yrs)

“He’s probably thinking that everybody’s here to see him play fetch. Oh he loves an audience. He does – oh yeah. So even when we walk around on the street, like any other day, he just kinds of looks up at people thinking, oh they’re gonna come talk to me. He’s used to all the attention and he’s usually a good sport. He’s a big ham. We call him our little diva, he just loves an audience, so anytime anyone comes over he needs to find a ball to show off his fetching skills. So he probably thinks all of these people are here to throw his ball. I think he also thinks he’s probably the best one. He has a healthy amount of confidence. Winston was born in Ariozona, we found him through a breeder, it just so happened they had one male available, so that’s how we got him. But we didn’t get him knowing he was going to be white. He turned white. We thought he was going to be the red and white color that a lot of the corgis are and then over time he grew lighter and lighter and then people just started calling him ‘white corgi’ and it just stuck.”

Tina from New York City
IG: @winstonthewhitecorgi FB: Winston the White Corgi

Goji the Corgi (3 months)

“He’s just excited for the attention. He’s loving it. He’s loving it. He’s having the best time of his life. Then he’s gonna sleep really well in a couple of hours. This is his second time [to the beach]. He loves to play with dogs. That’s his thing he loves it. He’s got freckles and one blue eye.”
Ani from Hermosa Beach
IG: @gojithecorgi

Zooey the Corgi (4 yrs)

Savanna: He got her from the Hudson River Mall. She’s ecstatic right now I think. She loves all the attention. Everybody just comments on her, wants to see her. She carries a toy in her mouth all seconds of the day, she has to have her toys all the time. Her little piggy toy [is her favorite.]

Chuckie: She’s been going to the Corgi Beach day for three years now. She didn’t go to the parade. [Sherry] made the costume and then [Savanna] made the shirts.

Sherry: She’s spoiled-rotten and has over 115 stuffed animals.

Chuckie: She sleeps on the bed with us, and we built stairs for her to go up and then she just learned how to go up the stairs backwards and we put it up on her instagram.

Savanna, Chuckie and Sherry from Redlands
IG: @zooeythecorgi

Cona and River

“They are friends. We had Cona first and her other friend passed away. And actually we didn’t know if she would be able to get along with somebody because she’s very much an alpha female but they’ve assimilated very well. He has a very passive personality and so he defers to her. So she’s really accepted him and that was more than we could ask for. This is their first [Corgi Beach Day.] They’re thinking please do not leave us here. I think [they’re a little shy.] They’re like, this is fine, as long as we can keep you in eye contact at all times. We get a lot of attention. She’ll roll over, and he, because I think he’s still getting used to people, he’s a little bit more resistant. Her [signature move] is to roll over for a belly rub and his is when I go out and try to water the plants, he flies through the air and he tries to bite the water. I think that he was interested in [the ocean.]”
Lisa and Gary from Boulder City, NV

Waffles (3 yrs) and Biscuit (5 yrs)

“We flew them here and this is their first Corgi Beach Day and we are very excited to be here. They came from Virginia, we got Biscuit with an AKC breeder, and Biscuits sister is Waffles’ mother and the niece. So they’re sort of related. They come here to California quite frequently, that’s where we’re originally from, so they come here, but less than ten times at the beach, so this is just a different world to them I think and they’re just overwhelmed. I think they’re loving the attention, like I’ve never seen them smile so hard and so long. They do pose with a couple of other Corgi’s out in Virginia out in the DC area all the time. We do have a Corgi meetup for Washington DC called the March of Corgis. So we do that, they’re one of the five Corgis I found in that group there. Waffles is the drama queen she likes to start trouble with everybody. She likes to really show her dominance. She’s Miss sassy. She likes the attention to be for her. Biscuit is very, very passive, she’s just more, ‘I’m here,’ you know. Biscuit can do a ‘sit-pretty’ and she can also roll over. We learned that when she was a puppy by herself. It took maybe a week or so. Waffles loves food more than anything. You show her food she’ll do anything for you, pretty much. [Her favorite thing to do is] beg. My husband and I are both foodies and I’m a chef. So naturally, it was just the names and we love brunch, so… These [goggles] are Doggles; you can find them on Amazon. They’re UV-protective so it protects their eyes. Especially being out here in the sun.”
Mahm from Washington D.C.
IG: @biscuitandwafflesthecorgis

To see the entire album of insanely adorable photos from Corgi Beach Day go here!

Your Comprehensive Desert Hearts Packing List!

March 30, 2017By Focal NomadBLOG, COVERAGE
Desert Hearts Fall 2015
Desert Hearts Fall 2015

It was around 2am at Symbiosis, I was not sober and it was time to make a pee break. As usual for a festival by this time, the portos had run out of toilet paper. That didn’t matter to me, because I was a prepared festie! I always carry on my trusty utility belt a small packet of tissues and hand sanitizer for this very reason. I came out and someone spotted my tissues and asked for one. So I gave it to them, then next thing I knew everyone was coming up to me one-by-one to take from my tissue packet, and as I handed out my very last one I shouted “FESTIVAL 101 GUYS! Always carry tissues and hand sanitizer!” So with Desert Hearts coming up, I felt it necessary to give you guys my comprehensive packing list can really apply to any festival for seasons to come.

Desert Hearts Fall 2015
Desert Hearts Fall 2015

Tent Times

First thing you want to think about when heading to a campout festival is where you’re going to decompress and change costumes! And maybe sleep. Maybe.
For this you’ll need the following:

  • Tent: Honestly any 4-person tent will do if it’s just you. That’s enough space to house all of your stuff and sleep. If you’re going with a partner you’ll just have to cuddle extra close. A wool blanket is great to cover the bottom of the tent to keep heat in, and any extra blankets on top of both sleeping bags always help when you want to bring one outside.
  • Tarp: You’ll need one for the ground and an extra for on top in case it rains. Having an additional shade structure over the top of your tent is definitely a plus especially if the festival doesn’t have much tree coverage. This will help you sleep in longer when the rays from the sun poke through.
  • Sleep Aids: Ear plugs, face mask and melatonin. I like to get the emergency packets that have melatonin in them – get your electrolytes and a healthy sleep inducer.
  • Bed: Two, preferably, one for the bottom layer and one for the top. At least one pillow, an air mattress, foam topper, or I use a self-inflating camping pad; not as cozy as an air mattress, but way easier to set up and no need to worry about it deflating.
  • Lighting/Decor: Solar-powered lights to decorate your tent with, so you can find your way in the dark back to your tent. Lantern for the inside so you can see what you’re changing into when it gets cold and dark. Decorations for your tent such as fake flowers or a tapestry to make finding your tent for yourself and your friends easier.
  • Toiletries: You’ll want to bring what you would have at home with you such as toothbrush/toothpaste, lotion, face wash, makeup remover and sunscreen. To lighten the load and streamline your bathing, I suggest dry shampoo, Dr. Bronners (will be the only soap you need if you make this investment), baby wipes (ESSENTIAL – it’s very likely you won’t be able to shower more than once during the weekend) and a microfiber towel (dries super quick).
Desert Hearts Fall 2015

On Your Belt, Utility Belt that Is

A belt is the most common thing that first-time festies don’t really think about – like what would we need to carry around with us all the time? Well, it’s more of a thing where, having some of these essential items on you at all times will make your experience much, much easier and therefore more enjoyable. Let’s go over different belt options first:

  • Army/Navy: Probably the cheapest option, and what’s nice is they are customizable! Not exactly the most fashionable, but what you want is durability and usability. You’ll end up getting a canvas belt as your base and then you’ll have any number of pockets to choose from. Small ones perfect for your iPhone, larger ones perfect for moleskin, and even one that fits a 2L canteen! I have a silver cup that actually fits around the canteen so I don’t need an extra cup for when I find myself offered a drink.
  • Etsy: There are countless utility belts available on etsy. Canvas, leather, teal, earth tones… I like the belts with snaps as opposed to zippers because they’re less likely to break on you. Also canvas isn’t as affected by the sun as leather is so it’s less likely to burn you when it gets hot out.
  • Podbelt: For those with a little more cash to burn, I highly recommend the Podbelt. It’s fully felxible for your needs and each item is durable and will last you for years of festing to come. Designed specifically with the most dedicated of burners in mind this belt offers retractable lighter holders, canteen holders and varying sizes of pouches – and all on sexy black leather material.
  • For the little pockets: Butt container – that’s right MOOP (matter out of place) means cigarette butts too! An empty mint container or even an old pill bottle works great for this. Chapstick – preferably one with SPF 20 or higher and eye drops!
  • For the Portos: As suggested by the beginning of this article, a little packet of tissues and hand sanitizer! Your ass will thank you.
  • Phone: Although you may not have cell reception, having your phone on you is great for the other things you can do with it, like capturing memories and writing down quick notes and exchanging contact info. If you’re not the photo taking type, I recommend a small moleskin and pen. I actually prefer this because then I have a little diary of everyone I’ve met from that event by the end of it.
  • Little Gifts: The purpose of gifting at a festival is really to bring about the spirit of contribution. If we all bring more than what we need for ourselves, there will always be a bounty. What’s really nice about this is that after you meet someone you get to seal that connection with a token of esteem that they can take home with them, in addition to the wonderful memory. This can really be anything, so long as it isn’t very “moopy.” I like to give away an essential oil blend I made a big batch of, or flourite. My first burn I put a drop of lavender essential oil on epsom salts and wrapped it up into a bunch of little pouches which I gave to people to soak their feet with at the end of the week. I’ve received countless theme camp necklaces, friendship bracelets, kandi, crystals, granola bars and probably my favorite gift was from this girl Erin whom I met Tuesday night of my first burn. I couldn’t find my pack of American Spirits for the life of me and she decided that her gift would be to bring extra everything, in case someone forgot something. So, she had an extra full pack of cigs to give me!
  • Cup on a Carabiner: Why? Desert Hearts has a few camps from Burning Man that pop up at the back of the dance floor with open bars serving up booze, tea and other things. But you’ve gotta bring your own cup to partake so as to reduce moop. Most transformational festivals have an environment like this where there might be a bag of wine being passed around, or someone invites you into their camp for some champagne… So be prepared and bring your own cup, and it’s easier if it’s just hanging off your belt!
  • Water Container: Something to carry at least 2L of water in! You’ll go through it fast and water is the will prevent a visit to the medic tent. It’s easy to forget to hydrate so make sure it’s accessible on a 2L canteen on your belt or get a hydration pack. To amp up the hydration add Emergency to your water. This will add electrolytes and prevent you from getting sick in an environment where it’s really easy to spread germs.
  • Other Essentials: Sunglasses, headlamp, bandana!
Desert Hearts Fall 2015

Camping Extras

  • Camping Stove: I used this one at the burn and I LOVED IT. It uses denatured alcohol which is much cleaner than alternative fuels.
  • Kitchenware: Reusable plate, fork, knife
  • Washing: Kitchen towels and a washing basin
  • Waste Management: Trash/recycling bags, bucket for grey water: because pack it in, pack it out, bitches!
  • Cash Money: ATMs are harder to find and the fees are HEFTY. Think about how much you’ll need for 3 days of food, gifts and other things for extra-curricular activities.
Desert Hearts Fall 2015

Recommended Eats/Drinks

Basically anything that is vacuum-packed or dried is your best friend because the less you have to worry about getting ice everyday, the more fun you’re bound to have. There are plenty of delicious food vendors at Desert Hearts, but if you want to save some money and snack in between, or even perhaps after some vendors are closed. So here’s what I recommend:

  • Vacuum-packed meals, jerky, rice cakes, seaweed snacks
  • Hard-boiled eggs (these lasted me 4 days at Burning Man and I only had to buy ice once), cuties, cliff bars, hummus & carrots
  • Bread, PB&J: basically, if you’re a filmmaker, think of anything that you like to see at the crafty table
  • Oreos, gummy bears, dried fruit
  • Instant iced coffee. Hack: Get those instant iced coffee packets from starbucks, put it in your water bottle in the morning, shake it up and boom! Decent coffee.
  • Coconut water, red gatorade. A gentleman helping me at B&H Photo and Video could tell I was hungover when trying to get something fixed, and insisted that I needed to drink 2 red gatorades. I had to make sure it was the red one. I did this and it has been my hangover cure ever since. Why red? No idea.
  • Boxed wine: take the bag out, smack it and pass it! Champagne, because essentially festivals are all celebrations. Whiskey – for those brisk nights.
Desert Hearts Fall 2015

On Your BOD

  • Warm-ass jacket, leggings, long johns. Layers, motherfucker: it’s going to be 36 degrees farenheit at night for this Desert Hearts
  • Gloves, spirit hood: fuzzy AND fashionable! Hack: remember your favorite childhood jewelry store Claire’s? THEY HAVE MOCK SPIRITHOODS FOR LESS THAN $20, as well as fluffies, flower head pieces, and cute caribeener wallets. Basically Claire’s is just grew up with us.
  • Tights, leg warmers, garter belts, thigh highs, harem pants, wings, onesies, funky hats, nothing – whatever the fuck you want
  • LEDs!!! It’s dark out at night and you want people to see you, right? EL Wire is the way to go.
  • Jewelry, makeup, glitter, sequins
  • Keep in mind the porta potties when deciding on your costume selection.
Desert Hearts Fall 2015

For Fun/Contribution

  • Flow toys, tarot cards, crystals, camera gear, gifts
  • A good attitude
  • Most important, come prepared to contribute, discuss boundaries, meeting places, be responsible for yourself and care about each other!
Desert Hearts Fall 2015

That about sums it up! Anything to add? Comment below!