Confession: I’m 20 years old. I have Bieber Fever, again. And I’m not quite sure it went away to begin with.

On November 19, I took off of classes early and drove 150 miles to Houston, where I would be reunited with the Biebs. In honor of his forth studio album released on November 13, Justin Bieber returned to the Toyota Center to steal the hearts of every audience member with a raw, truthful, and exclusive evening with Justin Bieber. He shared the true meaning of Purpose and his faith that carried him through the darkest times, answered some questions from the audience, then gave the audience a private concert, even performing oldies such as Hold Tight and Boyfriend. The evening finished with a 45-minute dance film, a compilation of the short films he released for every one of his tracks on Purpose.

To say I became a bigger fan of Justin Bieber after this performance would be an understatement. You can’t deny that he has talent (oh, that falsetto) and his lyrics story-tell the experiences he’s been through in his 21 years of life. I could write about the evening forever, but I decided to take you there first hand. Come with me as I take you to experience Purpose: The Movement at An Evening With Justin Bieber.

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz

500 words on the quantitative perplexities of life as a twenty year old.


I sometimes feel like we, as human kind, do things just because it follows the pattern. As a college student, that includes waking up, throwing on a t-shirt and some leggings, and hoping I make it to class on time given the fact that I spent 2 extra minutes fixing up an iced coffee in the kitchen. There’s construction on Guadalupe and with the time spent detouring around the rubble, I add on another couple of minutes to my ETA.  It feels like every last action is a calculation in a long derivative where I somewhere forgot what the value was that I’ve been solving for.

September and October are the most bustling of months in the business school. I’ve spent more time courting an internship than I have with my friends. My Tuesday/Thursday classes align in that they have exams on the same days, just an hour apart. As I take my first major-selective courses, I reflect more on the future I’ve planned out for myself. In fact, every last hour is assigned a title, my planner becoming more of my right hand than what it simply is.

And there it is again, human-nature. While I’m so occupied, I feel frustrated at why I haven’t had any time to myself. And as I’m typing this, I reflect on how cynical I’ve become at the blessings that have planted themselves in my life. It’s hard to admit. How have I mislabeled all these opportunities as a burden? I’ve made them out to be a part of my routine and standard “next step” that I’ve dictated myself to follow.

As I sit here, I’m listening to beautiful piano ballads and the slight flicker of a wooden wicked candle replace the ambient noise in my room. I’m taking notes off my Chapter 11 PowerPoint, on slide twelve out of forty-eight. I realize how I’ve been viewing my business on a task by task basis, finishing one thing for the sake of it and moving on to the next– constantly looking forward. I’ve spent the latter part of the last two months focusing on the future, too negligent to see what’s in front of me.

All the people I encounter, the “tasks” placed before me, and what may seem like obstacles at the time are exactly the opposite. They’re all part of a bigger picture, all pieces of a puzzle that I’m solving for in life. There’s no pre-written ending, for the ending is defined by the workings of the puzzle, the journey of figuring out what belongs in the right spot and which pieces don’t belong at all.

As you go on with your day, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Don’t go chasing a diamond as big as the ritz because it appears as though everyone else is doing it. Realize that your path is exactly yours and realize the value and purpose of all that you’re working towards. In time, your exquisite ritz, will follow.

Austin Fall 2015 Bucket List

“Ask me how many times I come to Texas, I say Austin.”
-Abel Tesfaye, the Weeknd


To my beloved readers… I have not forgotten you; I have just been elsewhere. Where? The UT student activity center, the business school atrium, Starbucks, my Finance class, office hours, an Ansolo concert, Dallas to visit a friend, the original Starbucks in Seattle, a couple of airports, a few interviews, Starbucks, and most recently, the Austin City Limits Music Festival. You could say that things went 0-100 real quick, which is why I hadn’t been able to write a new post for Green Tea, No Splenda.

Well, let’s cut to the chase. It’s no longer summer. It’s fall. The horrendous Texas heat isn’t that present anymore. I’m a summer girl, but let me tell you this– there’s something about the chilly (but not too cold) weather and the crisp, low-humidity nights that makes me fall for fall. Maybe it’s the scent of the Sweater Weather candles at Bath & Body Works, the spicy smell of Starbucks drinks, or the hoards of pumpkins outside of supermarkets. There’s something about that week before October that flips a switch in my brain and makes me want to dive head-first into fall-time activities.

It’s my third year at the best university in the world in one of the greatest cities on this planet, so I’ve created a checklist of some fall activities I plan on doing this season in Austin.for

  1. Go to Austin City Limits. – I can already mark this one off of my list. With headliners such as Drake, the Weeknd, and Disclosure, this ACL was one for the books. If you’ve never been to ACL, fear not because it happens every year in early October for two weekends. To experience the festival to it’s potential, invest in a 3-day pass, an over the shoulder CamelBak, and a good pair of sunglasses. This year I was lucky enough to spot Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) and Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) of Supernatural and even snagged a picture with Jensen!

    ACL 2015
    Festival tip: wear something breathable that you’ll be comfortable in. While the temperature is cooling, you’re still going to get hot from all the body heat around you.
  2. Visit a pumpkin patch and pick my own pumpkin. – Austinites, you’re in luck because we’re near a couple of great pumpkin patches.Opt out of going to the grocery store and buying a pumpkin and go pick one from a pumpkin patch! My recommendations if you’re in Austin? Barton Hills Farm (open weekends through November 8), Sweet Berry Farms (open daily through November 7), and the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm Pumpkin Festival on October 10, 11, 17, and 18.
  3. Have a movie night with Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown and kettle corn. – This one doesn’t even require an explanation. Get a couple of friends together and make the popcorn. It’s not officially fall until you’ve indulged in these classics.

    Let’s be honest, who didn’t have a little crush on heartthrob Max Dennison?
  4. Bake pumpkin bread. – I recently went to Trader Joe’s and picked up their signature Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix. I like this one because it’s a fall favorite and it has just a subtle flavor of pumpkin with the zest of nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s seasonal—so be sure to grab it while it’s still in stock!
  5. Carve pumpkins in front of the UT Tower. – I did this my freshman year of college with one exception. It was pouring rain so we improvised and carved the massive pumpkins outside of the FAC. To avoid the mess, be prepared when you carve! Bring a carving knife, some extra plastic bags, gloves to scoop the innards of the pumpkin, and a Sharpie to draw out your design before you carve.
  6. Go to a haunted house. – I’m from Houston, so it’s second nature to go to Phobia Haunted Houses in October. While I haven’t been to a haunted house in Austin before, I plan on going to House of Torment this season. Blood and gore doesn’t scare me—it’s when things pop out and surprise me that all hell breaks loose.
  7. Tailgate and go to a UT football game. – This doesn’t even require a description. There’s nothing like the air around Darrell K Royal on game-day. From the hours before the game, through the entirety of the fourth quarter, win-or-lose, there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on about a Longhorn football game. If you’re a University of Texas at Austin student, alumni, or fan– you must go to a football game in your lifetime.

    Photo courtesy of Fox Sports.
    Photo courtesy of Fox Sports.
  8. Go to a drive-in theater and watch a scary movie. – I’m a sucker for classic TV series like Leave it to Beaver – where drive in-theaters were a commonality—so my senior year of high school, I went to a drive-in with some friends and had such a memorable experience. Drive in theaters make the perfect date spot too, so cozy up and drive to the Blue Starlite Drive In for Halloween classics like the Twilight Zone, Beetle Juice, Ghost Busters, Scream, and more.
  9. Navigate a corn maze. Barton Hills Farms not only has the perfect pumpkin patch, but they also have an intricate 5-acre corn maze! If you’re not wanting to go out to Bastrop, Sweet Berry Farms in Marble Falls also has a 4-acre corn maze in the shape of the state of Texas. What’s unique about this maze is that as you travel through the pathways, you’ll find signs representing various destinations in Texas.
  10. Go stargazing with a cozy blanket and some hot-drinks. – Year round, this is one of my favorite activities. Head over to South Lawn and watch the stars with some soft-tunes and hot tea. Want an experience away from the city lights? Head down to Eagle Eye Observatory or the McDonald Observatory for their weekend Star Party’s.

    Who wouldn’t want to stare at the stars with Leonardo DiCaprio? Just a thought.
  11. Roast s’mores. – I’m a college student who lives in an apartment, and for lack of an actual fire pit, making s’mores is limited to my stovetop. For those of you who can’t start your own fire, head over to Halcyon on W 4th Street for a lively, lounge atmosphere and a cute s’mores dessert.
  12. Volunteer at a food bank. – It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new season that we often forget what’s most important: giving back to the community. Something that lies at the core of my interests is volunteering, and what better way to show your community that you care than volunteering for a couple of hours at the local Austin food bank. If everyone in our community could sacrifice just a few hours out of their month to volunteer, so many more people in our community can feel the joy we feel in the new season. I’ll be heading to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas this month, and if you can’t make it out, you can still make a difference by donating online.
  13. Hike the Greenbelt. – I absolutely adore Austin for its various nature trails, and now that it’s fall, the leaves are changing colors and the pathways are changing in scenery. While you’re out feeling Austin through nature, check out the Pennybacker Bridge for a beautiful view (and incline) alongside the lake. Don’t make the mistake I made– be sure to go on the cliff on the right side of the bride (going northbound) for the awesome views.

    I made the incline twice wear booties (with heels!), so to make your climb easier, come prepared with tennis shoes.
    I made the incline twice wearing booties (with heels!), so to make your climb easier, come prepared with tennis shoes.
  14. Make homemade apple cider. – I’ve yet to try this one out, but I found this neat, easy to make recipe online that I’m going to give a try! Maybe I’ll even make a vlog out of it (remember when I taught you how to cut a pineapple?).

for (1) Makes 6-8 servings. Recipe courtesy of Food.com.
Ingredients: 8-10 apples. ½ cup of sugar (or skip this step and add Stevia at the end). 4 tablespoons of cinnamon. 4 tablespoons of allspice.
Directions: Cut the apples into quarters and pour them in a pot with boiling water (just enough to cover the top of the apples). Add sugar then wrap the cinnamon and allspice in a cloth and set it in the pot. Allow the cider to boil for one hour on high, leaving the pot uncovered. After the hour passes, put the stove on low and allow the cider to set and simmer for two hours, leaving the pot covered. When the two hours pass, turn off the heat and allow the cider to cool. By this time, you’ll notice your apples are soft and mushy. Remove the spice cloth from the water and mash your apples. Once the cider is cool, run the cider through a strainer to remove the apple-pulp. The cider will last for up to a week and a half if refrigerated properly. Enjoy!


I couldn’t let the fall season go by without a post of this nature, and I hope all of my readers get a chance to indulge in these fall bucket list activities! I’m so fortunate to live in one of the greatest cities on the planet and to have the city as my playground. Think I missed something? Let me know in the comments below.

11 Things People Growing Up With Persian Parents Can Relate To

Iran, Shiraz,
Photo of the Masjed-e Nasir-al-Mulk, also known as the Pink Mosque, in Shiraz, Iran. Photo courtesy of Flickr user mayhlen.

I’ve called the U.S. my home for the twenty years that I’ve been alive. Growing up a first generation Persian-American has had its hurdles, for example not knowing which box to select for ethnicity (and opting for “other”)  on the SAT form, but it’s something I’m most proud of.

Let me give you a brief history lesson, in 550 BC, Cyrus the Great set across to establish the largest empire of its day, claiming lands spanning from Egypt in the west, Turkey in the north, all throughout Mesopotamia and the Indus River in the east. The empire was characterized by economic growth, religious tolerance, rich tapestries, copious amounts of gold and jewels, royal architecture at Persepolis, and overall prosperity. All of this is just the backbone of what makes me proud to be Persian, but there’s so much more within the culture that makes me who I am today.

My parents made certain that I learned first hand the history of Iran and the Persian Empire, taking me back to the mainland often in the summer– whether it be to family beach houses and villas on the countryside or high-rises in the bustling city of Tehran. And when I’d return home to Texas, I’d experience the culture all again, first hand by my Persian parents. I grew up asking for hot tea instead of soda, craving gaz (Pistachio and rosewater nougat) and lavashak (fruit leathers) instead of candy, and making sure not to spill anything on the multiple Persian rugs in my house.

After much thought as to what I should make my next blog post, I thought to write about the things that I relate to most having grown up in the United States with two extremely Persian, Persian parents. For this reason, I learned Farsi before I learned English and spent five minutes before class trying to explain to my teachers how to correctly pronounce my name (yes, I know it’s foreign). As I’m looking back as a twenty year old, I realize that it’s the little things that make me happiest, so without further adieu, I present the 11 things people growing up with Persian parents can relate to.


1) This song was undoubtedly on your iPod throughout your childhood.

Push play and keep reading. Here come the #mems.

2) Your school lunches were the sh/t.

In elementary school, while my best friend would pack a simple sandwich and some Oreos for lunch, I would worry that the smell of my chicken kabob, from sham (dinner) last night, would leak through my lunchbox and invade the classroom. But don’t mind that, my lunch would always be delicious. My fesen-joon will make your turkey pastrami on rye seem like dog food.

3) In addition to normal school, you went to Persian Sunday school.

For all of your friends, Sunday’s consisted of waking up later than usual, watching cartoons all morning, and lounging around. Unlike them, your school week began on Sunday’s when you’d wake up early and your parents would drive you to Persian school to teach you how to read and write in Farsi. It gets even better, my dad signed me up for karate lessons immediately after Sunday school and my mom signed me up for violin lessons #WellRoundedAF.

4) You appreciate the comedic genius that is Maz Jobrani.Maz Jobrani

No words needed. I saw him twice on tour and own several of his comedy tour DVD’s— no man does stand up like Maziar. Thanks to him, my 2009-2011 Instagram bio read “I’m Persian, like the cat, meow!” 

5) The Implied Eh ™

Here’s an preliminary example of universal Persian logic: there’s an implied “eh” before every word. Up to a certain point in time I blamed it on my parents’ accent, after all, learning English after speaking Farsi their entire life must have been a challenge. I’ve now learned to accept that the “eh” before certain words, particularly those beginning with “S”, is eh-nevitable.

6) Summer vacation meant visiting the family in Iran, or California.

For those of us with Persian passports, every June meant traveling to Iran to visit family. There’s nothing more beautiful than Iran in the tabestoon (summer). And it’s more than likely that you have a cousin, aunt, uncle, or grandparents in California. In fact, did you know that Los Angeles (Tehran-geles) is Iran’s second capital?

Tehran skyline at sunrise, featuring the Milad Tower. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Afshin Rattansi.
Tehran at sunrise, featuring the Milad Tower. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Afshin Rattansi.

7) Your parents yelled to the receiver during long distance phone calls with family back in Iran.

Again, there’s some sort of Persian logic that says ‘thou must talk louder than usual on the phone during long distance phone calls.’ Several hundred Pars calling cards later, no matter how many times my parents have called back home, they never fail to shout into the receiver and make me nearly kar (deaf).

8) “Gooshi (hold on to the line), Golbou wants to talk to you.”

I’m sitting in my room when I hear my mom rushing down the hallway with the phone in her hand, indicating that it’s my turn to talk on the phone. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my family back in Iran and I would do anything for them, but I never asked to talk on the line with Ameh (Aunt) Firouzeh. Who even is Ameh Firouzeh?

9) With friends, going to your house meant that there would always be food.

I would dismiss this next statement by saying it only happened in elementary school, but it still goes on today during when I have friends over during summer vacation (I’m a third year university student). Your friends love coming over to hang out because your parents would serve them so much food. Are you thirsty? Are you hungry? Do you want some fruit? Are you comfortable?

10) You are the master of tarof (how do I even translate this?)

I grew up watching my parents do this, and I can say I learned from the best. Tarof is a Persian custom of denying your will to please your counterpart. The best example of this is at Persian mehmoonies (parties). The host will offer you more food even after you’ve eaten a full plate of Sabzi-polo, Tahchin, and salad Shirazi, and in order to not be rude and please the host, you will accept another full plate of food and will be forced to eat it. By not denying the request to eat more food, you’re tarofing and as a result, pleasing the host of the party and making them feel good about how much you love their cooking.

11) You can switch between Persian and English like a boss.

Growing up with Persian parents meant speaking Farsi at home and English with friends. Now, switching between Persian and English, and even mixing them together—speaking Farglish—is so rahat (easy). There’s a sweet satisfaction I get when I speak in Persian to communicate privately when I’m out and about with my parents or khahar (sister).

Persepolis, Iran
Relief of lion battling bull at Persepolis. Photo courtesy of Flickr user indigoprime.

The Persian culture is so flush and full of things I have yet to learn, but my favorite thing is sharing it with my friends– and with that, comes a little language barrier. In hopes to clarify some every Persian sayings and phrases, I wrote about the 13 things Persians say that don’t make sense in translation. I hope to you enjoyed reading this post as I hope to write more of its kind in the future!

As Told by the Gen Y Socialite

A commentary and open letter on the prevalence and shaming of social media, and why it’s a timepiece of our culture. 

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.28.02 PM

It’s only human nature to see something, whether it’s a commonality or a rarity, and form an opinion about it. In fact, I’m doing it right now. From those opinions, discussions are held and actions are taken, resulting in a reaction that can be either positive or negative. This cycle can be found in all that we entangle ourselves within our daily lives.

Surely you have an opinion on the driver who makes a snappy turn without using the turn signal. And same goes for the woman wearing a full face of makeup at the gym. And the twenty-something year old that uses one too many hashtags on Instagram. It’s only natural to have the inner dialogue that decides what’s—for example—weird, excessive, or even really impressive, sometimes creating a sort of envy towards that person. It’s exactly what it seems, the doings of human nature.

This morning I decided to do a little research on the hotel I’m staying at during my stay in Cabo San Lucas. The reviews were typical for an Oceanside hotel: infinity pool, friendly staff, fantastic guacamole, Instagram is blocked, beautiful—hold on. I skimmed the last sentence again to make sure I hadn’t misread it, my other thoughts suspended as a greater concern took focus. I quickly looked down the list of reviews to see if anyone else mentioned those three words. Being unable to find anything on the subject, I closed Safari and looked on to source itself—Instagram.

I immediately found several geotags of the resort and asked an Instagram user if the social media platform is blocked in the state. Putting me at ease, the kind stranger commented back, clarifying that the platform is not blocked, rather the Internet lags a little. How easily I was able to verify something through the use of a social media platform that’s used for sharing pictures and short video clips. I felt so relieved upon discovering the truth and quickly shared the knowledge with my travel companions. As they had jokingly mocked me for being so concerned about the subject—having no access to Instagram while on a restorative vacation in Mexico—I came across a question that hovered in my mind: why is caring about social media so bad? I pondered the thought, reflecting on my position among my peers who both use and neglect social media platforms. Specifically I zeroed in on my peers that use the motley of platforms, yet criticize others for caring so much about it—others like myself.

Untitled-2

I have absolutely no problem revealing that I have a substantial presence on several social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine, and less actively, the anonymous forum that’s popular among undergrads, known as Yik Yak. Every morning, before going about my day, I check Facebook for news, updates from friends and family, and stories from around the world. Then I’ll check my Instagram account, my personal favorite social media platform where I follow friends, family, and numerous travel accounts, including one of my favorites, calypsostarcharters—the Instagram account of an Australian based company that specializes in Great White Shark cage diving charters (a lifelong dream of mine!). Throughout the day, I keep in touch with friends across the U.S. and Europe by sending a significant number of snaps back and forth via Snapchat (consequently draining my iPhone 5 battery, the only downside). And if I have some down time to spare, I’ll occasionally scroll through Vine for six-second videos from aspiring comedians, musicians, and actors. Sure, that’s a lot of interaction with the Internet for one day, but that’s the culture I’m growing up in.

The Generation Y culture where word of mouth echoes a million times faster through the world in 140 character messages, current events and developments are shared by Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal on my news feed, and snapshots of a mural painted on a street corner in a busy city are double-tapped by strangers worldwide. We are in the vanguard of change, a technological era where physical means are replaced with digital pixels, promoting efficiency and accuracy. For example, just last week I had the opportunity to work with Microsoft at their headquarters in Washington. The core of their developments spurred from brilliant minds dedicated to innovation, taking leaps to tighten the bridge between the physical and digital world. What’s being created there will impact our generation, the generation where this interaction between smart-technology is inevitable. To disregard the interaction would be to take a leave from the culture, passing up on the many opportunities created and shared by this intelligence era.

What came to my realization this morning was that while we live in an era defined by the advancements in technology, more than often we’re labeled and shamed for our involvement with that very technology. More specifically, and for the purposes of my article—we’re shamed for the use of social media platforms. I’m going to lay it out plain and easy: social media shaming exists. Though you may not own up to it, it’s likely that you’ve ridiculed someone for taking too many selfies, using too many hashtags, posting too many statuses, publicizing daily activities, or having a Snapchat story that exceeds 100 seconds. Like I mentioned before, it’s human nature that formulates these opinions of others, but it’s malicious when these opinions are shared with others for the purpose of hurting someone’s feelings, however intentional or non-intentional it may be. But what’s the purpose of it all? Rather, what’s the purpose of social media shaming? Social media is created for the very purpose of sharing and communicating with others. While some people find happiness in documenting their day through Facebook statuses or Tweets, others will take to Instagram to post a picture of their adventures.

Untitled-2

I for one am guilty of posting more than one Instagram photo in a day, also known as double-posting, though I would never apologize for it. Yes, I’ve had Snapchat stories that exceed 100 seconds, though do I regret it? Of course not. That’s fine if you tap-through my story, though chances are if it made it to my story it was something worthwhile. And that’s fine if you scroll past my Instagram post without thinking twice about it, I use my Instagram account like a digital photoboard and diary of my life, and heck, when I’m old and grey-haired, I’m going to love myself for it. But what’s not fine is social media shaming, it’s not fine in any way you can think of it. Here’s my question to the public: if you’re that bothered by someone’s constant involvement with technology, why don’t you separate yourself from it and unfollow or defriend them? Life isn’t worth wasting by being unhappy, even more so, being unhappy at the hand of others. I urge you to distance yourself from social media shaming and focus on what makes you happy, simply put—do you.

The constant development in our society is a pillar in our culture, the Generation Y culture, greatly demonstrated by the rise in social media platforms. Think of social media platforms like a sleek and advanced digital camera. In the past, cameras were bulky and more mechanical, though as time progressed and information grew, cameras became smaller, more abundant, and equipped with more capabilities. Social media is the digital camera of our culture, a tool that takes a snapshot of what it’s like to be involved in our society.

In two weeks I’ll be laying on the beach in Mexico, taking in the sun rays and admiring the beautiful color scheme of the Sea of Cortez and natural magnificence of El Arco. You can bet that I’ll Snapchat a video of the tides swooshing in, and Facebook and Instagram some pictures of the beautiful landscape, not to mention a selfie with my travel companions. I’ll admit, I love social media and I love sharing what makes me happy with others. I mean, isn’t that the purpose of it all?

look upinto the stars.

There is nothing on earth quite like a music festival: the sense of community, the hedonistic atmosphere, and of course, the music. Over the past two years, I’ve seen two Coachellas, one Austin City Limits, and this weekend will mark my third Free Press Summer Fest. Each festival has taught me certain lessons on how to make the most of my festival experience, lessons that I hope will help any first-timer or seasoned veteran have the time of their lives.

  1. Wear What Makes You Happy and Comfortable.

While festivals can be great showcases for your personal style, you have to keep in mind that you will be wearing these clothes all day in the heat/cold/rain/etc. Knowing that you’ll look good is one thing, but knowing that you’ll be comfortable is something else. By all means, dress up for the occasion: wear a flower crown with pride; adorn yourself with a bear coat a la Workaholics; hell, show up in as minimal clothes necessary, if that’s your game. Just remember, no one will judge if you’re wearing a comfortable t-shirt and shorts. Wear what makes you happy and comfortable.

  1. Download the App.

If the festival you’re going to has an app, use it. Most of these apps have features that will give you the performance schedule, maps of the venue, and send you notifications of any pertinent information. You can also compile a list of the artists you want to see and receive notifications so that you’re always where you want to be, when you want to be there. Download the app.

  1. Stay at Shows Until the End.

Ok, I know that this can be probably the hardest tip, especially when there are so many great artists on the lineup; but trust me, it’s the most rewarding. Each show is a performance, one that should be watched from start to finish. While it’s not always possible to see the start of a show, it is within your power to stick it through to the end. Imagine showing up to a movie late, walking in front of a bunch of people to get to your spot, then not knowing what the film is about. Not only does it throw you off, but it disturbs the illusion of the performance for others as well. Then you have to go through it all again when you leave before the show is done. That is no fun for anyone. If you stay to the end, you might see the artist’s big song or surprise guest or any one of the numerous things that can happen at a festival performance. Plus, at the end of the day, you’ll thank yourself for sticking at shows for a while and not running around the festival grounds like a chicken with its head cut off. Stay at shows until the end.

  1. Scheduling Conflicts: Listen to your Gut.

Unfortunately, there will probably come a time where two artists that you want to see have been booked for the same time. It sucks. It really does. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that your gut will always tell you the proper course of action in these trying times. After seeing one of my favorite bands perform at Coachella, I was confronted with the difficult choice of seeing either Tyler, the Creator or Jack White. I’d been a fan of both artists for years, and I had no idea what to do. I walked over to Tyler because his stage was the closer of the two. After a couple songs went by, I felt this nagging voice in my head saying, “Jack, go to Jack. JAAAACKKKK, GO TO JAAACKKK!!!” Upon realizing that I was not hearing a hallucination, but rather, my gut, I obliged. What ensued was one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen. The next day, I read online that Jack White’s performance at Coachella would be one of his last performances before a multi-year hiatus from touring. I spoke to a girl named Rayne earlier in the day who told me that at festivals, everything will happen as it should. She couldn’t be more correct. Listen to your gut.

  1. Stay With Friends, or Make New Ones.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the festival experience is the sense of community that permeates the air. Seeing the artists you love with the people you love makes the festival so much more memorable. If your friends are aching to see an artist that you don’t really know, go with them anyways. Not only could you discover an artist that you’ll love for years to come, but also your friends will remember that selflessness and be more likely to do the same for you. There might be times, however, when you’ll find yourself at a show alone. No worries, either enjoy the solitary time, or talk to those around you at the show so you have people to sing with. Breaking out of your comfort zone will help you meet so many new and interesting people; people who want to experience the community atmosphere just as much as you do. Stay with friends, or make new ones.

  1. Put Your Phone Down!!!

I must address the elephant in the room by saying, yes, I did write the first draft of this article while on my phone during Florence + The Machine at Coachella. We must accept our mistakes, and learn from them. Regardless, what makes a festival truly incredible is being to enjoy it in the moment with the people around you. Sure, take the occasional picture or video, but let them serve as reminders of the memory and not BE the memory itself. When you spend the entire concert recording, you are experiencing it as an outside observer, not as the participant you are. Social media can wait. Worlds will not crumble if you wait to post after the day is through. Enjoy the privilege of being where you are. Put your phone down.

  1. Be Safe.

Now I’m not one to tell you what activities to partake in,  but please be careful in what you do. Getting drunk or high to a dangerous degree will not only jeopardize your day, but could seriously harm your well-being. It is of utmost importance that you know what you’re putting into your body, and that you know your limits. Also, there are water stations all over the festival, so you have no excuse to not stay hydrated. Oh, and wear sunscreen. Trust me. Be safe.

  1. Embrace your emotions.

There are fewer feelings like looking out into the crowd and seeing tens of thousands of people gathered with the sole intention of hearing live music. At times, it can be overwhelming, but in the most beautiful way. Look into the eyes of your friends, and tell them that you’re happy to experience this moment with them. Sing along to your favorite songs and dance, baby, dance. Embrace your emotions.

guest writer (1)

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Jack M. Keller

Jack was born and raised in Houston, TX. He is a big fan of comedy, cooking, and music festivals (obviously). At the moment, he is exploring his future with bright things to come.

10 Austin Things You Must Do This Spring

How incredible is it that every year the world starts again? Etching the previous years history in its core and growing a new beginning on the surface.

The frost begins to melt and streams ebb with life. It’s that time of year where you trade your pants for shorts, ditch the parka at home, and slip out of winter boots for more liberating sandals: Springtime. Where your skin was once cracked against the harsh winter months, it begins to soften as the skies do the same, losing their grey tint for a happier and more refreshing baby blue. Spring is my second favorite season, right after summer, as the world sheds its winter coat in exchange for brighter colors, warmer temperatures, and greener foliage.

Rather than being defined by a specific calendar date, the coming of spring can be recognized by the many biological indicators. The sweet scent of new earth, new soil that gives for greener grass and healthier flora. The barren trees sprout leaves of bright green and blossom with delicate flowers of different colors. Everything is different. It’s all brand new. Even the air smells different: it smells of clarity and renewal.

Persians celebrate Nowruz (“New day”), the Persian New Year, which always occurs on he first day of spring in harmony with the rebirth of nature all around us. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is celebrated in India and in countries with Hindu populations. Christians celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus and the end of Lent. Passover, the eight-day holiday, reflects on the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. In all richness of cultures, human kind celebrates in unity the annual gift of revival that springtime brings to earth. Austin thrives in the Spring because of its never ending list of things to do and affinity for outdoor activities. This past December I presented you with the 7 Austin Things You Must Do This Winter. By popular request, I present to you not only seven, but 10 of the top springtime activities you must do to maximize every hour of the beautiful Austin spring season. Enjoy!

  1. Photos in the Bluebonnets – it’s hard to miss the Texas state flower during the Spring, as fields around Austin begin blossoming with the slightly lavender colored flower. Don’t miss a picturesque opportunity by forgetting to stop alongside MoPac or at a bluebonnet field for the perfect Kodak moment. My recommendation? Walk the trails at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and find yourself captivated by the sea of blue on a self guided tour at your own leisure.

    Bluebonnets along MoPac overlooking Downtown Austin. Photo courtesy of Jay Janner.
  2. Zipline over Lake Travis – you don’t need to travel to the Amazon to experience fast speeds overlooking beautiful wildlife. The weather’s clear which allows for the perfect conditions to take a leap and hang 250-2,800 feet across 1/2 mile of views of the breathtaking Austin hill country. Get a group of your closest friends and head out to Austin’s Lake Travis Zipline Adventures for an action packed day over the lake.
  3. Barton Springs Pool – you dreamt of it during the winter, but now it’s warming up and the best time (other than summer) to hang out in one of the “crown jewels” of Austin. Immerse yourself in one of Austin’s most loved attractions and take a dip in this spring fed, three acre long, man-made swimming pool. The pool stays between 68 and 78 degrees year round and is open from 5am to 10pm daily (except for Thursdays), making it the ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of the quickly-growing city.

    Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine.
    Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine.
  4. Stargazing – since before I moved to Austin I’ve always wanted to go stargazing (bonus: while listening to Coldplay). Being from Houston, the city lights make it almost impossible to catch a glimpse of the beautiful constellations that blanket our skies every night. Whether it’s in your own backyard, in front of the Capitol, or on UT Austin’s very own South Lawn, pack a blanket, a late night picnic, and some speakers and lay out to breathe in the night air and the beautiful stars. Don’t miss out on the Austin Astronomical Society’s public Star Party on April 25th at the Eagle Eye Observatory just outside of Austin. (Note: someone go to this with me!)
  5. Pecan Street Festival (May 2 & May 3) – head out to the 6th Street Historic District, formerly recognized as Pecan Street, for one of the largest and longest running arts and music festivals that the nation has to offer. Presented by the Pecan Street Association, the annual two-day celebration attracts local and national artists, musical acts, quirky food vendors, all while supporting nonprofit groups and charities within Austin. I’ve never been myself, but I definitely plan on visiting the festival for a nice stroll and scout out some cool pieces made from Austin’s greatest artisans.
  6. Kayaking on the lake – one of my personal favorite Austin activities, head out to any Austin lake for a tranquil kayaking or paddle boarding experience. I’ve kayaked twice before on Lady Bird Lake and have yet to fall in the water, though I would recommend bringing extra plastic bags to safe-guard your iPhone when capturing photos of the beautiful views of the lake and Downtown Austin. My recommendation would be to visit Congress Avenue Kayaks or the Rowing Dock for the ultimate Austin kayaking experience.

    I took this photo while kayaking on Lady Bird Lake earlier this March. Downtown was setting up for SXSW but the lake still offered tranquility and allowed me a place to clear my mind.
    I took this photo while kayaking on Lady Bird Lake earlier this March. Downtown was setting up for SXSW but the lake still offered tranquility and allowed me a place to clear my mind.
  7. Drive-In Theater – located right in the middle of the city, channel your inner 1950s and reserve a spot at the Blue Starlite drive-in theater. An American favorite, drive-in theaters bring the comfort of a movie theater straight to the privacy and comfort of your car, complete with an outdoor movie screen and concessions stand. The Blue Starlite theater hosts many genres of films, including indie films and drive in classics. Whether it’s with your friends or for a date, don’t miss the Blue Starlite first annual Fantasy Fest film series which runs from April 1 – May 16!
  8. Farmers Market – support local Austin fruit and veggie farmers by heading out to one of the many farmers markets. Avoid the standardization of factory requirements and prepare your food with grass-fed, pasture-raised beef or chicken and organic produce. The Sustainable Food Center hosts a weekly, year round market on Saturdays from 9 am to 1pm at Republic Square Park off of 4th Street and Guadalupe. Or visit another Austin favorite, the Barton Creek Farmers Market which has two locations, off of MoPac/Loop 360 and on South Lamar.
  9. Eeyore’s Birthday Party (April 25) – you know how they say Keep Austin Weird? Well, here’s just that– but for a good cause too! Every year since 1963, the Austin community gets together at Pease Park to raise funds for local nonprofit organizations. Expect to find live music, Austin food vendors, colorful dancers in colorful costumes, and large drum circles. The Austin tradition stems back to UT Austin students recreating A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh story in which Eeyore’s friends plan a magical surprise party for his birthday. The festival is now sponsored by the Friends of the Forest Foundation and distributes all funds raised to local Austin charities.
  10. Strawberry picking – if you’re up for a scenic drive to the Sweet Berry Farms, indulge yourself in the peace that comes with picking your own fresh strawberries. As the temperature warms up, strawberry season kicks off in early March alongside the blackberry and peach harvest in mid May. The farms are open Monday through Saturday, excluding Wednesdays.

Springtime in Austin is full of rebirth and renewal as everyone is ready to let go of the cold and yearning to spend any opportunity in the sun. Whether it’s hiking at the Greenbelt, spending time on the lake, or having a picnic on the Capitol lawn, Austinites know the value of the Spring’s cooling breezes and warmer temperatures that come before the Texas summer heat. Whatever you end up doing, be sure to spend it outdoors and with your best friends for the ultimate Austin springtime experience! I truly hope this list gave you some ideas for fun in the sun, and hey– maybe I’ll even see you outside! Golbou Shariatmadar (1)