Tag Archives: photography

Good Grieves 

I first met Benjamin “Grieves” Laub, at the SoundSet 2014 after party. We talked about music & life. I told him that I’m a flight attendant & blogger, and he expressed how much he’d like to share some stories with me. He gave me his contact information & asked me to follow up. I sent an email almost immediately, but never received a response. So, when I noticed him standing next to me at the Rhymesayers 20 celebration, I had to seize the moment. 

He greeted me very politely, after speaking with Photographer, Beth Saravo, who was standing beside me. I was also very polite with my greeting, & after introductions, I reminded him that we’d met before and I wanted to hear his in-flight experiences. 

I thought he was as going to ask me to email him again, but he didn’t. He took a deep breath and went into storytelling mode – something we all know this West Coast MC is very good at. 

  

Photo by Beth Saravo

  
He started with a flight to Denver, CO, a city I’ve come to love. He didn’t disclose which airline he was flying on, but he did disclose the shameless details. A female flight attendant wanted to go above and beyond customer service standards, when she offered (or insisted that he let her give him) a ride home… a little “extra” was definitely insinuated. I can only imagine… 

Another incident he recalls was a recent flight. The destination wasn’t disclosed, but his neighboring passenger was someone he’d never forget. 

“Throughout the flight this guy was complaining about how impatient everyone was. He kept saying how everyone was in such a rush. I just let it slide & didn’t say anything. Then, after landing,  (when the seatbelt sign is turned off), you know how everyone stands up?  People behind him were already in the aisle and he got all mad and yelled, ‘Oh yeah, like it’d kill ya to wait, huh?’

I didn’t say it, but I was like, “Um, You’re the only impatient one here.” ” 

I was impressed by his ability to spot someone who was clearly deflecting. Not everyone can do that & put their frustration aside, in those kind of situations. But, that wasn’t even the most impressive story. 

One time, upon landing, Grieves was sitting next to a young woman who wasn’t feeling well. She seemed very nervous & looked like she was about to be sick. His suspicions came to fruition when the lady began vomitting… In his direction!  He was sitting in the window seat, the woman in the middle, with someone to her left, in the aisle seat. Grieves was the unlucky victim of her aim.  

My first, and instant reaction, was ‘Oh f%^*#!’ But, when I looked at her, she said, “I’m so sorry. I’m pregnant. This happens.”

It was I one of those total human moments and I couldn’t be mad. I looked at her, wearing a thin top, covered in vomit & I took off my button down shirt,  to let her use it to cover herself and get off the plane. She was already so embarrassed, I didn’t want her to feel worse.”

I was so moved by how cool Grieves was in such an uncomfortable position. I see and work with passengers all the time. Not everyone is this calm & collected. Bravo, Ben! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
Grieves also admitted to me that he only uses social media to talk about good airline experiences. He likes to keep his rants private. We discussed the “power of the corporate letter,” and he promised to write something about the next flight attendant he encounters who goes above and beyond. Maybe my colleagues will catch him on their flights! 

As we approach a busy week with holiday flyers, I hope everyone keeps this post in mind.  Be like Ben, ya’ll! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
I’d like to thank Benjamin Laub, for sharing these stories with me and for making my night so special. You’re a good guy, Grieves. I hope to catch you in the friendly skies soon. Cheers!  

For up-to-date information, head to GrievesMusic.com and Rhymesayers.com/Grieves 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
*Special thanks to the amazing Beth Saravo, for collaborating with me on this post & providing her masterpieces.  I look forward to working with you again! 
Check out more of Beth’s photos on BethSaravo.com

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Just Like Music – Soundset 2015

Well, leave it to music to get me writing again…

This past weekend I got to experience my favorite music festival for the second time.  SoundSet is the largest hip-hop festival in the nation.  When I was personally invited to return to the sold out event, I was elated.  I had invites from some of my flight attendant friends to go on some pretty amazing trips over Memorial Day Weekend, but honestly, when it comes to SoundSet, (like the song says) “there’s no place I’d rather be…”

It’s Sunday morning, May 24th, 2015, and I’m waking up, in recovery mode from the SoundSet pre-party at First Avenue the night before.  The oh-so wonderful Ashanti, welcomed me to Minneapolis like he’d done before, with drinks, live music and great people.  Despite the hangover, my adrenaline is rushing.  I am so excited because today is Soundset Sunday… my favorite day of the year! 

I know the weather’s going to be wet and probably a little chilly compared to what it was like last year,  but nothing can keep the smile from my face and the excitement out of my heart for what’s about to happen today.  The entire time I’m getting ready I’m singing and dancing.  I’m looking forward to this amazing lineup

  
 

My buddy, Brandon, who I met last year, is like my personal chauffeur for the day.  We arrive at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, MN, a little before noon – just in time to catch the opening acts.  Last year I slept in a little and missed the early birds, so this year I want to take full advantage of the entire day.  I instantly realize that I am a little under dressed (and unprepared) for the weather, so I head over to the Rhymesayers merchandise tent to cop me one of those sick waterproof windbreakers.  I run into Alicia and Harold, who I met last year, and I know today is going to be filled with reunions and familiar faces.  

 

Riding around in style with Harold, the meet & greet king.

 
As I’m walking the grounds, peeping out each of the stages, different tents,  the skate ramp, the car show & the graffiti wall,  I notice that Peri Duo has a free charging station set up.  I’ll definitely be back.  But, for now, it’s time to head back to the main stage to catch deM atlaS.  Although I’ve met him personally, this is the first time I got to see him perform, and man, can this guy move a crowd! He’s so free on stage and his energy is huge. 

  
  
  

 

It was such an honor meeting one of my all time favorite photographers, @VanStyles. This guy is an artist. We chatted about how his mom used to work in the friendly skies, too… & I got a sneak peek at one of his upcoming projects. Be sure to check out some of his stunning shots from @Soundset on Instagram!

 
Next on my list – and on the lineup -was Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic and DJ Abilities.  These guys were so much fun to watch and I absolutely love Aesop’s voice. 

  
I walk the grounds once again to charge my phone and take a break from the main stage.  On my way, I hit the Fifth Element tent and I get to enjoy G.L.A.M. and Sean Anonymous

  
Both artists were new to me & both of them had my full attention.  Dessa took the main stage as I played in the crowd & left my phone to charge.  I got to visit with the guys from Peri & catch up with Clint, who I met at Camp Flog Gnaw

I caught a piece of Clockwork Indigo’s set from the side stage & decided I needed a little break.  I head backstage for some water & a delicious Glam Doll donut.  I know there’s a big line up still ahead & it’s going to be a busy day. 

I get my phone in time to catch Dilated Peoples.  As most of you already know, these guys are some of my all-time favorites… 

  
  
Soundset has this amazing concept for their main stage – the East Stage and the West Stage.  The stages are connected, standing side-by-side, facing the same crowd.  Each performance is alternated between the two stages, leaving no down time between acts.  Genius! 

I have now discovered the middle section between the two stages.  This is where the crew is hard at work, making sure that the stage is set & sound quality is up to par for every artist.  

   
 

  

I don’t know it yet, but my itinerary & plan to see certain artists on other stages is about to go out the window… I’m standing next to the host, Sway Calloway, and we start making friendly conversation.  

  
YelaWolf is performing “Pop the Trunk,” with a full band, and the bass has me in a trance.  I’m seduced by the vibrations and I can’t take my eyes off of him or his white pointy cowboy boots.  

 When the song ends, Sway’s voice comes from over my shoulder, bringing me back to reality with my exact thoughts, “That was hard!”  I told him he read my mind; we definitely shared a moment.

After Yelawolf’s crazy set – which included him tossing a barstool off the stage for people to crowd surf on,  and chucking his microphone into the audience – I can hear Logic testing the mic. I’m pumped.  When he rushes the stage, I see 30,000 people go crazy. 

  

Logic announces that this is his first music festival ever, and it seems that he’s just as excited as everyone else to be there. It was such a good vibe when he was on stage. Girls were up on shoulders, screaming, declaring their love & practically pulling their hair out from all the excitement.  It was so beautiful to watch.  These fans go hard. 

At this point, even I’m drenched from the rain.  I rush for a quick hot drink before Ludacris takes over.  

   

It’s Evidence (behind) the scene…

I rush back to my spot between the two main stages, sipping my green tea.  Sway turns to me and says, “What’s up with the tea, tho?”  And ladies & gentlemen, I shared my tea with Sway!  This is when I’m certain that I’m not going to make it to any of the other tents for the rest of the day. I had found my home for day, backstage, between the East and West main stages, near the soundboards, here at SoundSet… 

The way Yelawolf had me in a trance, Ludacris had me absolutely mesmerized.  The moment I heard Blueberry Yum Yum, I lost myself.  I was standng in the rain, dancing & reciting every lyric. It was so nostalgic for me.  I flashed back to when I first purchased that CD, listening to it with my ex in Los Angeles, in his beat up Honda Civic – and now, I was standing backstage, watching Ludacris perform it up close and personal.  It was insane! 

  
The show went on, as did the rain, and Big Sean didn’t let technical difficulties stand in the way of his performance

  

  
Hometown heroes, Atmosphere, never fail to impress. They always have so much fun on stage and they always bring a sense of unity.   

 Slug reminds everyone that we all look a mess, after a day out in the rain, and he asks everyone to join hands.  I’m in awe… 

Watching Atmosphere move the crowd with @SarahDope and @VanStyles . Photo by @corydewaldphotography

And then, my phone dies… 

Now it’s time for Ice Cube to take the stage.  I’m excited!  I turn to Sway and say, “Oh man, my phone died.”  To which Sway replies, “Oh darn.  Now I guess you’re going to just have to watch it with your own eyes & enjoy it the way it was meant to be.”  Ha! Touché, Mr. Calloway, touché. 

It’s surreal.  I have this pretty exclusive view and I’m dancing & rapping lyrics with Sway.  Talk about “Today was good day!” 😉 

I’m surrounded by a pretty elite crowd and at one point, I remember turning to Rhymesayers Co-founder, Siddiq, to hug him, to thank him & to tell him that I love him & this festival. 

 

@SiddiqRSE. Excuse the blur. Photo by Sway, before my phone died…

 
Ice Cube’s set was full of nostalgic moments for me.  Growing up in California, N.W.A. was definitely one of my first introductions to hip hop.  I was remembering some of my cousins (Vero & Victor, you already know), my dad (his Lowrider days and the famous green Impala), & my sister (the Up In Smoke Tour). I remembered dancing to Bop Gun on repeat in my room as a kid… & it was as if pieces of entire life, my family, and friends were all there with me in that moment.  It was beautiful. 

After all that excitement, my special spot on stage got shut down as J.Cole prepared to close the show.  I played in the crowd for a bit, before nightfall.  I wanted to feel all that energy up close & personal.  I applaud each and every one of those soaking wet fans

I dance around all the people as I make my way to the side stage just in time for J.Cole’s  final few songs.  He’s so charismatic and funny.  The rain still hasn’t let up, the sun’s gone down and everyone is still having a blast.  

When it’s time to say good night, I stick around for a bit, to wait for Brandon.  I didn’t see him much throughout the day, and because of this, my GoPro stayed in the car. Oh well.  Here’s to living in the moment, Sway! 

We close the night at the after party at First Avenue with more amazing performances and wonderful people.  This is when you can sense the team’s relief and everyone is celebrating a job well done. 

 
   

Bravo to the hardworking crew.  Bravo to alll the performers.  Bravo to all those die-hard fans in the audience who stood out there in the rain.  Bravo to Rhymesayers Entertainment for another epic SoundSet

*Special thanks to everyone at Rhymesayers for teaching me all about “Minnesota Nice,” and for always making me feel like part of the family.  This was such an amazing experience.  I love hip hop, I love all of you and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year! 

  
Catch SoundSet 2016 on Sunday, May 29th, at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. 

Here’s some more fun SoundSet coverage (and amazing photos) from a couple cool guys that I got to hang with… Andres Tardio – MTV News and Van StylesThe Hundreds.  Also,  shout out the the social media queen and super star, Sarah Dope, for all her amazing work. 

For all the latest news, download the SoundSet app here.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope this post left a good song in your heart! 

  

Back Where It All Began

My first blog post was about my first trip to Amsterdam, which was a total dream come true. I wrote about my revelation of wanting to share my journey with the world, hence “Starting Starting At 30.” A year later, I found myself back where it all began…
No place (other than San Diego) has ever made me feel like Amsterdam. I’ll share it with you the same way I share it with everyone else:
After landing at Schipol Airport, my friends & I rode the train into the city. I’ll never forget that moment when I stepped out into the streets for the very first time. I looked around at all the bikes, the buildings & the people, and my soul whispered to me…
“Ceci.” It called.
“Yes, soul?” I asked.
“We’re home.” It said.
“I know.” I replied.
And just like that, I experienced love at first sight.
After that description, I guess it’s no wonder why my friends & family are all intrigued… since my initial encounter last year, I began planning this vacation with two of my sisters, Monica & Angie, my bestie, An (Haute Pink Pretty), my brother-in-law, Chris, & my bestie-in-law, also Chris (Superman Dyer). The five of them are very influential people in my life. Sharing my flight benefits is my way of finally doing something great for them!
The flight from Philadelphia was great. We bribed the gate agents with chocolates to be seated together and we bought an entire pizza for the crew. Feeding flight attendants will only result great service. Take notes, people! 😉
Once we got all our luggage together, we shared a taxi into the city. We parted ways for a bit to check in to our neighboring hotels to get ready for the day… I’ll spare you the details and jump into the fun stuff.
We started our first day walking around Leidseplein Square, popping into random spots for drinks & quick bites.

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IMG_9392Though I love the city, I must admit, the food in Amsterdam doesn’t really excite me. I prefer hitting grocery stores, like Marqt & snacking on local greens, cheeses & fresh bread.
We eventually made our way to the famous I Amsterdam letters, where we took turns posing & snapping shots.

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It was a beautiful (cold, but clear & sunny) day out, so, we spent time just walking around the city. We admired the adorable architecture, the beautiful bridges, the charismatic canals and, of course, the lovely locals.

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We attempted to familiarize ourselves with the layout of the land to make a game plan for the next day’s activities. We ended our night running for cover from the rain in the Red Light District. We were all exhausted & ready to turn in when the weather took a turn for the wet…

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Day two started with a hunt for a beautiful sunrise.

IMG_9273 An and Chris wanted to capture the beauty of this colorful act on film & I wanted to see them at work!

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My younger sister, Angie, joined us. We thought walking toward the I Amsterdam letters would be a great way to start. Because it was early, we figured it wouldn’t be so crowded. We stopped at the Rijks Museum for a few fun shots before taking full advantage of the lonely letters & capturing moments around the park.

Amsterdam Winter Street Style*Above photo by Chris Dyer, courtesy of HautePinkPretty.com

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Soon, it was time to meet with my sister, Monica & her boyfriend, Chris, to check out the Van Gogh Museum. Photos were not allowed inside the museum… So, if you’re ever in Amsterdam, please go see the amazing pieces for yourself.
We quickly made a plan for the rest of the day that included a canal tour by boat & the Heineken Experience. The boat ride was amazing. The weather cooperated & we got to take in the beauty of my favorite city.

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The Heineken tour was so much fun. We played games, learned about the entire beer-making process, took some fun pictures in front of green screens & of course, we drank lots of beer!

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We all split up for a few hours and regrouped in the Red Light District. We met at a favorite local lounge of mine, where learned about sugar water & local grape candies (inside joke). Then, we walked the trademark territory & took in the “scenery” before saying goodnight.
We knew we’d have to say “doei” to A’dam in the afternoon… We had a train to Paris to catch and we all wanted to take advantage of our morning, so we needed a good night’s sleep.
This visit was a wonderful reminder of why I love this city so much…

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I hope you enjoyed this post. Stay tuned for more posts about my vacation that include Paris, Dubai & Abu Dhabi!

*Special thanks to Angie Salcedo, Monica Salcedo, Christopher Thompson, Chris Dyer & An Dyer for assistance with photos.

Read more details about our trip here and here, on An’s fashion blog, HautePinkPretty.com.

One Day in England

Working the flight to London was such a delight. I experienced working International Envoy for the first time ever (aka first-class, where we really do serve warm nuts & offer hot towels). I was really excited & maybe just a little nervous.
The crew was great, so helpful, so supportive & very encouraging. To top it off, my passengers were all fantastic. A few of them just wanted to sleep & the ones I did get to provide service to were so pleasant & friendly. It really was a great flight.
When we arrived in London, we rode a shuttle to our hotel. I sat up front. I just wanted to soak in all the sights. London is such a beautiful city. We were expecting rain, but it was clear & beautiful, and actually a bit warmer than the weather in Philly.

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When we arrived to the hotel, most of the crew wanted to rest. I couldn’t blame them. We left Philadelphia a little before 10:00pm EST, and arrived to our hotel around 6:00am EST (11:00am local time). I, however, was set on making my day really count. This was my first time in London & I couldn’t miss a minute of daylight.
It’s been a life-long dream of mine to see the 7 wonders of the world. I’ve always loved stars, astronomy & astrology, so, naturally, Stonehenge has been at the top of the list. I’ve done some previous research. I know that it’s less than a 2 hour trip.
I head to my cozy room, drop my bags, change & head straight to the concierge desk. The young man at the desk is very helpful & is quick to get my tour booked. He says that tours usually must be booked a day in advance, but he’s checking to see what he can do. He notices that there’s a mid-day tour that leaves at 12:30pm. It’s 11:33am. He moves swiftly through the transaction, pulls out a map, and gives me walking directions to the Underground (metro) station.
When I arrive at my stop, I take a lovely walk to the Coach (bus) Station where I board for this journey with a large group of other tourists. We’re on our way to Stonehenge! I can’t even believe this is really happening!

Some shots from my walk…
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The drive is beautiful & informative. Many of the houses cottages we’re passing remind me of The Secret Garden. They’re all so gorgeous. There’s so much to see…every structure, every bridge, every street. We’re passing a cemetery & I catch an airplane coming in for landing…it’s a powerful moment for me. I feel at peace, at one with The Universe…

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As we approach Stonhenge, we also approach a storm. It’s quite chilly and when we exit the bus, the wind is so strong that it breaks my umbrella. The thing just snaps inside out, it’s beyond repair.
The walk to the monument is a bit of a struggle with no defense from the wind & pouring rain. It’s so cold that I’m hiding my face with my coat. Then, I look up & I can see it…Stonehenge is right there, straight ahead of me!
I make my way over & take a deep breath. I tell myself that I’m not going to let a little bit of water and cold air take anything away from this moment. It suddenly isn’t so cold and it’s almost as if the rain & wind have stopped…

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Our designated hour & half fly by…it’s time to go. We head back to the bus, back on the road to London. I’m excited to get out & explore a little more.
I see a Starbucks up ahead & because I’m soaked & freezing, I pop in for some green tea (my favorite) & some wifi access…I’m excited to post a pic & share my Stonehenge moment with my loved ones.
The barista, Imtiaj, is very helpful. I’m asking questions about where I should venture next & he’s looking up directions for me to different areas. Then, I remember something else that was on my London to-do list…the famous Abbey Road!
After drinking my tea, touching up my make up & standing under the hot-air hand-dryers in the restroom for a bit, I muster up the courage to face the weather again. The sun has already set & the streets are lit by the darling street lamps. I hop back on the underground & start my 40 minute trip to the famous crosswalk & studios.

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When I arrive at my stop, the rain has become quite violent. I ask for directions & the gentleman assisting me discourages me to take on the challenge against this “wretched rain.” I’m a little nervous.
I’m standing at the doors of the station, contemplating giving up & heading back to my hotel…it’s really cold & I’m still pretty drenched. The wind is whipping my hair & I rush to the restroom to warm up under the dryers again. This routine goes on for almost an hour…back & forth from the doors, to the dryers, second-guessing my attempt to experience a part of Beatles history…
I suddenly remind myself of the empowering attitude from earlier…Am I really going to let a little bit of water & cold air stop me? Ha! Nope.
I step out from the haven of the station, and, no kidding, the rain seems to lighten up. I jog part of the way there, stopping at any covering I can find.
When I get to my destination, I’m moved & overcome with joy…I’m seriously standing at the famous crosswalk of Abbey Road!
I walk across, singing “With Love, From Me to You…” (My favorite Beatles song) in my head & I make my way to the studios to sign the famous wall.
There are musicians in the doorway, leaving a session…I’m imagining what magic might have just taken place.
After I sign the wall, I look around for someone to snap a shot of me in the street.

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It’s been about an hour, and the first had 3 strangers have taken a better picture of their finger than they did of me. It’s dark & raining, so, I don’t blame them. Then, I see a woman, luggage in hand…& even though I feel bad asking, I approach her for photography assistance. She’s a little irritated by my request at first, but she’s very understanding. We stand in the rain, run back & forth a few times as traffic passes by, maneuvers around & honks at us…& as soon as there’s a break, we rush back for what she says will be her final attempt. I agree. She snaps it…& my phone dies! I hope it’s a good one…

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Boom! 😉 Edited by Jo Roth

After retrieving my phone & thanking my last photographer profusely, I’m ready to go back to my hotel for a warm bath. I was smart & packed food for the day, so, at least I’m well nourished. I’m satisfied from my trail mix, assorted fruit, cheeses, and pasta salad.
During my ride to the hotel, I notice the announcement for one of the stops… “Greenwich Park, this stop for Buckingham Palace.” I pop up out of my seat & rush out the metro doors. I mean, I’m on a roll…might as well make the most of my time here.
I walk through the beautiful park, and soon, I’m standing in front of the palace! When I look back the opposite way, in the distance, beyond the trees, I spot the famous Ferris wheel. I’m so grateful in this moment…for my life, for this amazing career & for all these wonderful experiences… and now I’m ready to say goodnight to London.
I head back to my room, take a hot shower & hop in bead. I’m beat & I know I have a busy work day (8 hour flight) ahead of me.

Until next time…

Thank you all for enduring this long post. I really hope you enjoyed it!

Cheers!