Not really sponsored by Spotify
Most of this year was in the "Surviving Not Thriving" mentality, but the pandemic also allowed for more time alone, it was like pressing pause and I needed that reset. There is a lot I'm grateful for in this weird year and I'm looking forward to take this time to reflect. ~come along for the ride
As I begin writing this, it's Christmas Eve Eve and I'm listening to my final playlist of the year - "Struggling a bit" taken mostly from my faves in my Spotify Wrapped (Year In Review) along with some new favorites. Music was something that I've enjoyed and such an important piece of me since attending my first two concerts at 13. Since moving to LA, I have been attending a lot less shows and even listening less. Working at Live Nation gave me the spark I needed. Ones to Watch led me to discovering and supporting great rising artists - two being Duckwrth and Ambar Lucid. The latest song added this playlist is Flower Girl by Rallye - a french band with 25K listeners. I am obsessed with Spotify because sometimes Discover Weekly gets it really right.
I started 2020 on a high note. It felt like an exciting (not so much) and special year (that it was). I was also excited to be 24 (I'm now looking forward more to being 25 ha). Starting the New Year with my sister and boyfriend, my two best friends, was such a special moment.
Following a great visit, my cousin Isabella from Brazil came to LA from studying in San Diego for a long weekend. I love guests, even though I get anxious and feel the need to show them every part of LA (which is impossible, just choose your favorite spots). Well, one of my favorite spots that will probably continue to stay is Disneyland. In the moment I thought visiting the parks three times in the first 6 weeks of the year was excessive.
Throughout Jan/Feb I was listening mostly to the music for the 2 shows I attended. The first was a Christmas gift from Conor. I was pretty shocked when I first opened tickets to see Earthgang because I hadn't ever listened to them, but it was such an amazing show (as seen by Earthgang being one of my top artists this year). Currently on rotation is Tequila ft. T-Pain, ever since we bought tequila for election week, a great decision. We also went to a smaller show through We Found New Music with Grant Owens to see Prinze George and discovered one of our new favorites, Grady. His catalog is great and Garden is constantly stuck in my head.
On my weekends, I made it to archery practice every weekend - I finally found a rhythm and was about ready to buy my own gear (rip that didn't happen, but I've started looking into it again). I also made the best decision by traveling twice in Feb. One weekend I was in Austin Tx, for two of my high school best friends' birthdays. We all have stayed in touch over the years and this felt like the best way to catch up. Biggest takeaway: Austin food truck culture really should be everywhere - especially LA. That weekend we watched a lot of music videos - I'll be honest the only music videos I've seen in the past year have primarily been Chloe x Halle ones (they're just so good). I finally listened to more Latin artists that weekend including Rosalia and J Balvin. The following weekend I was in New York for my mom's Christmas gift - a family trip to a Broadway show. We chose Lion King and followed it with a big Italian dinner. My parents even drove me to the airport for my flight back to LA <3.
I cherish these moments with family and friends early in the year because I have stayed in LA for the 10 months since then. In 2019 I traveled back to the East Coast 5 times, so this was really different. We went from cheering my roommate on the sidelines of the LA Marathon with hundreds of others to 4 days later coming home from work with no expectation of going back. At first it was exciting - I figured this may last for a few months (5 max). It also felt kind of like "snow day" energy.
We ironically started "Matcha Meditation Mondays" (shoutout to Dollface for the inspo) which turned into a continued obsession with Yoga with Adrienne and matcha. I didn't mind working remotely, and one thing I most looked forward to was being able to listen to music while working. It was difficult in the office because I felt like any time I put headphones in I either needed to ask my manager a question or I was being asked a question. I started listening to old favorites like Catfish and The Bottlemen and started looking at new artists like The Anxiety.
Then in early April I was notified that I would be furloughed from my job (for who knows how long). It was a tough blow initially, but turned out really okay. I took a week to rest and then tried to tackle my "pandemic productivity" list. It had shows, movies, recipes, and more that I wanted to try, starting with making french macarons. I made lemon raspberry ones - the shape was off but they tasted great. It was weird to not have any obligations, so I started studying for the GMAT. I didn't know how long furlough would last and getting my MBA in 5 years seemed reasonable. It helped to have something to focus on for a few hours in the day. I also took a Science of Wellbeing course on Coursera which I've written about, but also helped start some habits I've kept, like journaling. I kept up with listening to new music, discovering artists like Zolita, mxmtoon, cavetown and chloe moriondo.
In June I celebrated my 24th birthday waking up to breakfast delivered thanks to Conor and my sister. I honestly don't remember much else, probably since every day at home has felt similar. By the last week of June I was back at work. I was excited to go back, but a little sad since the routines and new learnings I just established were already coming to an end. I was listening to more of the same, but the highlight was really Conor's e-boy stage - listening to a lot of Billie Eilish, Alec Benjamin and Conan Gray.
By August I had stopped studying for the GMAT, focusing again more on my work and mental health. We ventured to the beach for the first of two times and I nostalgically started listening to The Maine. But the real two music highlights were JohnnySwim and Duckwrth. JohnnySwim started their live YouTube/Instagram series "Live from the Backyard" where they performed with their close team from their house in Burbank featuring virtual guests like Chip and Joanna Gaines and Anthony Ramos. I hadn't listened to the group for a number of years and was truly impressed by the production value of this free event. Probably the biggest music highlight of my year was on August 21, 2020 - Duckwrth's launch of his new album SuperGood. I was already obsessed with him...and then this album with a new sound but jazz/funk/pop influences blew my mind. We made it a Friday night ritual to listen to the album. It is so good I'm linking it.
I honestly don't remember much about September besides that it became the breaking point for my mental health. Like most - hitting 6 months at home was tough. The best part of my days were when I was working on things for the Latinx employee resource group I'm a part of at Disney. I spent a lot of late nights getting content and creative ready for Hispanic/Latinx heritage month. I have a whole other post to dissect my new identification and passion for my community. It is such a rewarding experience to be part of amazing and supportive group. I feel like my dedication is self-fueled and the rest of the board is there to support my growth, while trying to be a force to bring more diverse voices to entertainment. We created a playlist with members to celebrate and it was such a special project for me. I added Mar de Llanto by Ambar Lucid, Magalenha by Sergio Mendes and Brisa by Silva.
We ended up booking a trip to Yosemite in October to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. It is crazy to feel like I met my "person" at the age of 19, but it has been such an incredible 5 years growing alongside Conor. Also, I always say college feels like it counts as one year because we were kids. Yosemite was beautiful, and even though we went on the off-season (no waterfall) we haven't stopped talking about this fall. So many great memories from rom the long drives trying to spot bears to the hikes & views to the Airbnb's hot tub, jamming to Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard and discovering charcuterie boards are not that fancy and really fast dinner option.
Halloween is always one of my favorite holidays. It always sneaks up on me and I scramble to make a costume a week before, but it is all part of the tradition every year. Though not into horror, I love Halloween movies. We watched Hocus Pocus (Laura's first time watching), Beetlejuice (may have fallen asleep, but purchased it because it's a year-round gem), Practical Magic (a nostalgic favorite that my mom used to love growing up and we had the soundtrack). Watching Practical Magic led me to listen to the soundtrack non-stop and possibly cry a few times over missing my mom. Tearing up even as I write about it because I can't wait until I get to hug her again. Have to link it.
November was full of new hikes, but low points. Election season was mixed with a new job role rejection and missing family. It ultimately led me to starting therapy, something that has 10000% made my December better. Really blessed to have started this journey for myself and excited to see how I grow in new ways. A big highlight was spending Thanksgiving with my brother and sister in-law. It was so nice to see familiar faces and other people again haha. As much as Zoom and the 3 times we saw friends in person throughout the summer, this was so homey. We cooked a lot of good food, I was introduced to making sandwiches at home, drank a lot of good wine, and my brother DJed - sharing some random toons like a Lorde song I hadn't heard before and the iconic found-myself-singing along Me Gustas Tu (Me gustas tú) by Manu Chao.
December started off tough, cancelling our flights and making the decision to stay in LA for the holidays. This reality had not crossed my mind all year and as sad as it was, we really made the best of it. I filled the apartment with 5 new plants for Conor's birthday and got tickets to visit The Huntington, an amazing garden nearby that we hadn't visited yet. We got a membership immediately afterwards since we didn't see the entire place in one day. I am so looking forward to going back in the coming weekends.
This past week has been difficult, but it has also been fun to relax and hang out with Conor. We've been cooking great meals and I baked an apple cobbler for Christmas and a dulce de leche cheesecake for New Years - first time making cheesecake so I wasn't expecting much, but it is perfect. Christmas was difficult, but New Years Eve was really fun. We ended the year listening to a playlist we made throughout the week. It has some quarantine favorites, like Wait A Minute by Willow along with some new pop listens like Dua Lipa and Doja Cat.
Mini photo dump
This year has shown me how great of a support system I have and reminded me of who I am and what's important. Thankful for the memories, but looking forward more to the next year. My biggest goal is to be more intentional everyday. Looking forward to the new music to be discovered as well!