June as a festival whirlwind

That started in Tennessee and ended in Vermont. Now, weeks later, everything rushes back to me as it simultaneously fades away.

Where did I go? What did I do? Who did I meet? What happened?

The basic answers flash in my mind, but the other ones take more digging. Looking back on traveling is like that. Certain moments shine so vividly, when you think about them, it’s like you’re reliving them all around you. But others inevitably dissolve. At the end, it feels like everything happened so fast; it’s like it never happened at all. At the same time everything was so incredibly real, raw, present. I guess it’s a mixture of both. When I look back, I just can’t believe that it’s already over (over in one sense of the word, anyway).

Isn’t life like that most of the time? Sometimes you have these in-your-face real moments where you’ve never felt more alive, where you’re just yourself. You’re reaching out for all those colors around you, and you’re actually catching them. And you go with it. Other days I just seem to fall into the spaces between the second hand tick. The in-your-face alive moments are the ones I remember. The ones I strive for.

We left for Tennessee the first weekend of June. Four of us stuffed into an old Subaru. We drove roads that paralleled the highways. We made frequent stops to let the car cool. We spent hours in Virginia lounging roadside and riverside.

When we arrived at Clean Vibes’ headquarters to work the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, emotions of all types flooded me. I was so grateful to be out of the car; I was overjoyed to be reunited with friends. Mainly, it was happiness. Clean Vibes employees live all over the country. The only time we’re all in the same place is Bonnaroo. I hadn’t seen many Clean Vibers since last summer. Tears broke in my eyes as I hugged old friends.

Clean Vibers are a special breed of people. How many people you know would pickup trash as a job? Would pickup schwilly, nasty bags of poop, god only knows whats and thousands of cigarette butts? No matter the weather conditions: streaming sunshine, pouring rain.

When I explain my job to other people they give me a strange look at first. “I’m pretty much a garbage lady at music festivals,” isn’t something you hear everyday. Clean Vibers are some of the most open-minded people I’ve ever met. Adventurers. Risk takers. Road Less Traveleders. Beautiful in every sense of the word. People with different backgrounds and hometowns coming together to make the world a better place, one cigarette butt off the ground at a time. Part of the reason I pickup trash is because of the amazing people I work with.

Where we camp

The Main Stage

Radiate Positivity: one of Bonnaroo’s themes

The whole gang-she-bang

We camp at Bonnaroo until all of the garbage is picked up and the 700-acre farm is more spotless than it was before the festival started. The cleanup can take a couple weeks. We live together, work together, eat in catering together, shower in stalls beside each other, party together, play together. Forget alone time and personal space. Needless to say you become a family fairly quickly.

This year at Bonnaroo I worked at the Clean Vibes Trading Post.

Here I am working the Trading Post for Clean Vibes

The Trading Post is a recycling based initiative program that promotes sustainability by encouraging festival-goers to recycle. We set-up a booth in Planetroo that’s pretty much a recycling arcade. Festival-goers bring us their recycling and in return they win prizes such as synergy clothing, platypus water bottles, concert tickets and many more. I loved spreading the word about Clean Vibes and encouraging people to help keep the scene clean. For more information about the Trading Post check out their website here.

Because I was tired most days after work, I didn’t see that much music at Bonnaroo. I saw bits and pieces of Soja, Rubblebucket, Feist, Ludacris, Dawes, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Phish. I loved walking around by myself, but I also loved being with a crew of Clean Vibers and dancing our butts off. My favorite part of Bonnaroo was the day after Bonnaroo at the staff party. There’s a DJ, karaoke, free booze, free food, the most crawfish you’ve ever seen and lots and lots of dancing.

Crawfish forever

After working three days of post-show cleanup we said goodbye to Tennesee and drove 13 straight hours overnight to Atlantic City, NJ, to work the next show, Phish. Phish played a three night run at Bader Field. Most of our crew worked the 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift.

Phish fans are some of the most respectful fans I’ve ever encountered. So many people came up to us to ask what we were doing, to thank us, and to throw away their garbage. So many fans were extremely grateful and appreciative of our efforts. Who doesn’t like feeling appreciated? Thank you Phish fans. I appreciate you and your appreciation.

Last summer when I worked my first Phish festival, Superbowl, I learned that Phish is much more than a band. I started to understand what they were all about and why thousands of people devote their lives to following Phish around. Phish is the community of people it brings together. Phish is the feeling and energy the fans create. Phish is being kind to strangers and accepting everyone. Phish is unifying. Phish is letting your freak flag fly.

Saturday morning after finishing work at 5 a.m. a bunch of us, the now dubbed ‘Breakfast Club,’ decided to explore AC. We visited one of our friends at a penthouse suite at the Chelsea Hotel; we frolicked on the roof of the Chelsea Hotel; we may or may not have gotten kicked out of some casinos and a bar, but we had an absolute blast.

Things can get a little blurry around 7 a.m.

The Breakfast Club

A few hours later we woke up, started work at 4 p.m. and worked until there was no more trash on the ground. Going into the shift we were presented with the ambiguous time of ‘no more trash on the ground.’ Well, that ended up being until noon on Monday. We worked a 2o hour shift from 4 p.m. on Sunday until noon on Monday. By the time the sun comes up, you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. By that point I was delusional off of lack of sleep and all night work. But we all stuck it out and made it through together. Luckily we had each other for encouragement, silliness and love.

One morning before work my lovely lady friend and fellow Clean Viber, Angel happened to be outside talking on the phone at the same time I was. When she hung up she ran over to me and exclaimed, “I have a dream come true offer for you.” She offered me her Artist Hospitality position at the yoga and music festival Wanderlust in Vermont the following weekend. How could I refuse? Seize opportunities. After Phish I went home for a few days and then ventured to Vermont to be swept away in a land of yogis and more good vibes.

Part of the program

At Wanderlust I worked as an assistant to the head of artist hospitality. Our job was to cater to all of the artists’ needs. We food shopped for them, set up the green room, shuttled them to and from stages, filled coolers and did pretty much whatever they needed. By artists I mean Ziggy Marley, Ani DiFranco and Beats Antique. They were the headliners of the festival.

I was so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful festival in such a beautiful part of the world. The festival took place in the Green Mountains at Stratton Mountain Resort.

My ‘office’

I love everything about Vermont and I loved everything about Wanderlust.

A whole program filled with active activities!

Everyday (from Thursday to Sunday) there were guided hikes, multiple yoga classes, live music, lectures and more.

A description of the fest from their website, “Wanderlust is a one-of-a-kind festival bringing together the world’s leading yoga teachers, top musical acts and DJs, renowned speakers, top chefs and winemakers, and much, much more — all in a setting of breathtaking natural beauty. We’re talking about fun in the sun and dancing under the stars. Hiking on peaceful trails and gettin’ your down dog on at the top of the mountain. Sipping poolside cocktails with your friends, and then enjoying a tasty farm-to-table dinner with views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Early morning meditations and all-night chakra spinning musical performances – it’s an all-out ecstatic celebration in the most awe-inspiring locations in the world.”

I was pretty much in Heaven. It’s not too late to experience Wanderlust either! The fest is traveling to different parts of America and Canada. Wander to their website for more information.

I took a class called, “Unleash Your Inner Goddess” with Jennilee Toner. It was the best class I ever took out of any type of anything I’ve ever taken. After the class I felt invigorated, spiritually charged, empowered, connected, strong, loved, happy, refreshed, closer to the Universe, and ecstatic about life, love and the endless possibilities of this beautiful world we live in. It was just what I needed. I highly recommend this class to each and every person. Definitely check out Jennilee’s website and biography. She is such an inspiring person. If you’re ever in the Ballston Spa area in NY check out her studio.

As I finish typing this blog, I’m sitting on the floor of my childhood room gazing out the window at the tops of trees and bottoms of clouds. I’m thinking about those four questions I started the blog off with:

Where did I go? What did I do? Who did I meet? What happened?

Music festivals open up my eyes. After them I realize that I didn’t just go to festivals, but I escaped to a glimpse of what life can be when people strip away their insecurities, fears and doubts. When people join together in dancing, in stretching, in love. When people spend time outside, when people embrace their surroundings. I danced. I played. I loved. I woke up from the doldrums of everyday life. Life happened and it’s just going to keep happening. I’m going to strive to bring pieces of festival happiness into my everyday life and strive to constantly be alert and aware.

Namaste with love and light,

Bonnaroo: Volunteering with Clean Vibes

Where did everybody go?

On Monday when everyone was packing up and leaving the Bonnaroo community, we moved our campsite to the camping area for Clean Vibes volunteers. After re-setting up our campsite, we walked around for about 20 minutes to look for a shower. Every time we came to a shower and our hopes rose, they died instantly as we tried to turn the showers on. All of the showers were shut off.

While looking for showers we also looked around the fields. Ground scores. Think of all the things people bring to a festival. Now think of all those things left behind. You name it, it was left behind. We saw full campsites equipped with tents, chairs, couches, coolers, clothes. I honestly felt like it was the end of the world and we were the last human beings on Earth, just taking whatever we could to survive. We found at least three 30 packs of beer and four coolers so we were set for the night/rest of the week. I found a spray bottle/mister/portable fan and was happy.

After walking another 15 minutes back to camp, unshowered and sweating, we laid at our campsite and just baked in the sun. Without shade. All weekend I was fine, but my body was starting to feel every burn, ache and sun ray. After lying around for a while, I ventured back out to find a shower. I ended up sneaking into the medical tents showers and showering for at least 20 minutes. The water wasn’t too cold, but I didn’t even care.

That night I met a lot of really cool people, hung out, listened to music and played soccer.

The next day we were woken up at 7 a.m. to free breakfast courtesy of Clean Vibes. And boy did it feel good to eat a real meal. I was extremely grateful for every bite of my eggs, sausage, homefries and yogurt. And coffee. After an experience like Bonnaroo, a few days of eating whatever you can whenever you can, a homecooked meal is the best thing that can fall into your hands. You really lean how to appreciate things, even after a couple days. That’s another thing I love about music festivals- they open my eyes to things I don’t even think about missing.

We were all set scheduled to work on the purple team. We were excited to clean the fields and find more ground scores while working. Instead, we were sent to a giant pile of recycled bottles and trash. For eight hours we had to dig through the trash, sort through recyclables, cardboard and compost.

As bags would come in to the yard we would tear them open and sort through, leaving the recyclables behind and taking the compost away, but mainly just tearing open bags.

Shade under the truck, feeling like the Box Car Kids

The sun was shining all day and our only hope for shade was hiding under a dumptruck/leaning on a dumpster. We got an hour break for lunch with free delicious sandwiches, cookies, fruit, chips and water.

Once we got back to work, the clouds overhead started enclosing the sky above us. A girl asked our boss, “Can we still work in this?” He responded with, “Yea we’re fine.” Not even five minutes later, the thunder roared and the rain came down, “Seek shelter” our boss screamed. Everyone ran in every direction. We started running back into Centeroo and ended up seeking shelter in the back of a tractor-trailer. It was such a relief for rain to fall after five sweltering days in a row. The rain also cut two hours out of our day work day.

Blurb from my journal after Day 1:

“As we were digging through the trash this morning and sorting through recycle, compost and trash, I started seriously thinking about trash. What is trash? What makes the cut for the definition of trash? Who’s to say what’s trash and what’s not? Who’s to say what’s anything really? Life is all about perspective. How you see, view, feel, taste, smell, touch, experience things.

The only thing I was certain about was compost. So I pretty much stuck to that. A playground of trash. A sea of recyclables. A sea of trash, of plastic. Where does all the trash in the world go? The recyclables? How exactly does compost work? Recycling? I want to learn a step by step process.

I haven’t stopped sweating since I got here. Haven’t sweated for so much, so long, so consistently ever in my life.

It was a really humbling experience to go through the trash today- knee-deep and sometimes waist deep in huge piles of it. For the most part I did a good job of sucking in my breath and holding my nose so the sour-smell wouldn’t infiltrate my nostrils.

I’ve never been outside for so long in my life. I’ve been living outside for almost a week. That in itself has been a mind-altering experience.

“When outside every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of mind, from breathless noon to the grimmest midnight…To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.” -Emerson

 In certain ways I feel like I’ve lived here all along. It’s been so cool, so amazing to see the Earth at every hour of the day. At times it’s as if I’ve lost touch with reality, but then again, what is reality?”

A closer view of the 'trash'

After completing the second days 8-hour shift, I felt extremely good about everything. I was so happy to be able to help make the Earth beautiful again and to realize the impact we all made by volunteering. It was a very rewarding experience.

So would I volunteer with Clean Vibes again? Most likely.

The advantages:

-Meeting really cool people

-Making the Earth beautiful again

-Having a huge impact on the environment

-Finding sweet ground scores (Team Purple found the best ones out of everyone 😉 )

-Free meals

-Pretty much a free admission to the festival


-Working in the unforgiving southern sun

-Performing physical labor including bending and stooping

-Performing physical labor in the unforgiving southern sun

If you’re interested in volunteering with Clean Vibes, head to their website and fill out an application.

We did it!

Bonnaroo: Highlights Days 3 and 4

All of our headdresses came out to play

 –Saturday: The day of the most beautiful harmonies. Great day to be a music fan. 

Brandi Carlile. We knew it was going to be a great day when this was the first song we heard: 

(The video isn’t the best quality but once you hear the song, you’ll understand.)

-Then we let the music take us and came across The Sonic Stage: a small, intimate setting. Big Sam’s Funky Nation got all soulful and we all got down, way, way down. We set up our blanket and danced all over the grass. They turned ‘When the Saints Go Marching In,’ into ‘Oh when the saints, win the Superbowl’ And I felt like they just won the Superbowl that day. 

Mumford and Sons. Again, the harmonizing took us up, up and away. As they sang, ‘Rain down, rain down on me,’ during ‘Thistle and Weeds’ the skies listened and the rain fell. The universe was working in full force that weekend. Sophia Bush and her boyfriend, another One Tree Hill cast member, also walked right past our blanket during this set. 

Stumbling upon the Ford music tent and seeing Dawes play an intimate, acoustic performance. The band was sitting on stage and there were probably only 30 other people in the room. 

Our Savior

 –The Magic Mushroom. This was a highlight of the whole weekend. This thing literally saved our lives. 

 -Tennessee Sunsets: My new favorite time of day. Just as the sun was setting, it spewed out pinks, oranges, blues; a glow like no other. 

Seeing Stevie Wonder (Even if I only caught the very end of his set, it was still awesome to see a legend) 

Jay-Z. Similar to his performance at Coachella (check out what I had to say here) but he’s still my main man.

After Jay-Z we caught the end of Thievery Corporation’s set. They called all the ladies up on stage to dance. I ran to the front, climbed over the bar, danced in the section before the stage, tried to climb on to the main stage, but got pulled off by a security guard before I made it. Still loved it though. 

The community. Again, this was a highlight of the whole weekend. I had a blast with the group of friends I went with, and enjoyed getting to know our neighbors. Because of the tight quarters, everyone is basically forced to cozy up with their neighbors, which is a definite good thing. We met some really cool people. And everyone was willing to share and help out whenever they could.

Us and two of our neighbors

My wonderful friends

John Butler Trio at the Sonic Stage. 

John Butler Trio

 As they sang, ‘Good Excuse’ I fell in love with the lyrics, ‘Go take a step outside, see what’s shaking in the real world.’ They jammed for at least 10 minutes in the middle of this song. All around it was just a good-feeling, happy, sun-shining set. 

-Our Gift Exchange. All five of us brought gifts to give each other during the weekend. On Sunday when we were just jamming and hanging out before DMB, we passed our gifts in a circle like hot potato and eventually yelled stop.  




Dave Matthews Band 

Lanterns took over the sky during DMB's set

A great finish to an incredible weekend. 10, 15, 20 minute jams spread out over a few songs. Dave’s scatting, and free-styling throughout songs, the non-stop dancing and grooving and feeling-good. In the middle of ‘Jimi Thing’ Dave started saying, “All the sexy mother fuckers shaking that ass, shaking that ass, shaking that ass.” My friends and I just looked at each other in disbelief: “Is this really happening!?” As he kept repeating those lines, we kept shaking our asses.

Bonnaroo: Highlights Days 1 and 2

Settling into our new home. We had two tents, (one for sleeping, one for storage) a blanket area for lounging, and a kitchen/dining room/shade area under the canopy. 

Our campsite

Shade Area

Relaxing After Our 6-Hour Wait

 -Starting the weekend off with Neon Indian. Great group to get us ready for the dancetastic weekend. (This was not a highlight but a sidenote: During their set a guy right next to me started closing his eyes and bopping his head-but not in a groovy way- he passed out. After his friends caught him he looked up and said, “I’m fine. I’m fine.” Then they left the crowd.) 

Two words: Silent Disco! We stumbled upon this magical tent after leaving Blitzen Trapper. When you walk into the small tent you’re handed a pair of headphones. A first glance inside provides a swamp of sweaty bodies moving and shaking all over the place to what appears to be no sound. But then, aha, the golden ticket: the headphones you’re holding in your hands. Take another look around the tent and you’ll see a DJ set against the side wall. Place your headphones over your ears and voila! You’re sucked in. You fell down the Rabbit Hole, got pulled into a vortex, and it’s the best thing that’s happened. You’re free to dance however you want to whatever rhythm you want as everyone around you does the same. Take your headphones off and the world around you seems like a lie, a fallacy. Put em back on and everything’s right again. Everyone’s smiling, laughing. People are dancing alone, dancing with strangers. Needless to say we spent a lot of time in this place. 

-Jamming at our campsite. Everyday we busted out the guitars, tambourines, shakers, and whatever else we could conjure up. On Friday we had a nice, smooth jam session to ‘Wagon Wheel’ by Old Crow Medicine Show. Later our neighbors thanked us for playing that song and told us that on their car ride down, their friend Mike said, “All I want this weekend is to have a jam session to Wagon Wheel.” Mike missed it, but we sang it plenty more times for him to hear. The universe was spreading the same ‘Wagon Wheel’ thought in everyone’s minds. Mumford and Sons played a cover of it on Saturday. It was officially the song of the weekend. 

Ed Sharpe and the Mag Zeros

-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Seeing one of their performances is more than just watching, it’s being apart of it. They’ve been one of my favorite bands for a while now and every chance to see them live sends me shivers all over. We swiveled to the third row behind the bar and ended up on the bar for some songs. 

JadeWhile they forget their lyrics and were disorganized, I surrendered to their spirits, to their overwhelming energy on stage. They’re constantly laughing and prancing around stage. Alex Ebert, the frontman, shook so ferociously at times it looked like he was having a seizure. My favorite was their last song: Om Nashi Me. 

When we all re-entered Centeroo at night without a plan we ran, galloped, jumped, danced and swirled to the first tent that music pulled us to: Eclectic Method at the Rave Stage. 

-Caught the very end of Michael Franti and Spearhead’s set. Guided by Franti’s voice we ran to the stage to see his last song, the song I wanted to hear most, ‘Say Hey, I Love You’. My friend Siserra and I danced like wild woman to those last three minutes. 

Flaming Lips. This band is a must-must-must-see for anybody. For about 45 minutes they performed their own songs and then they performed Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ During their performance the sky rained confetti and huge multi-colored balloons. When they sang, ‘I can be a frog,’ we all became different animals with every line. Thanks to Wayne Coyne’s suggestions and guidance, I gave peace to the world and all my love to the universe. The whole crowd also sang Happy Birthday to a band member. One of favorite songs: ‘Do You Realize??’ The whole set was the magical mystery kind. I went on an acid trip without any acid. 

-Lying down by the Ferris wheel at night. The lights constantly went from blue to yellow to red to purple to orgasmic flashes of every color. Brittany’s new friend gave us 3-D glasses. I could have watched the Ferris wheel for hours with those things on. While we were distracted by the Ferris wheel, Alex Ebert from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros walked right by us with a girl on his arm. Brittany leapt up, ran after him and hugged him. We still couldn’t believe we saw him just casually wandering around.

Bonnaroo: Getting there

Strapped for cash and humbled by my experience with WET, I decided to volunteer at Bonnaroo. To my dismay and horror all the WET applications were filled up when I looked (they re-opened about a week later). So I looked at other volunteer options. And let me tell ya, I thought I was a pretty decent google-searcher, but searching for volunteer companies at music festivals showed me otherwise.

Luckily my friend told me about Clean Vibes,  a company dedicated to waste management. I signed up, anxiously waited 72 hours to hear back, and shortly after I was all set to work Post Shift Clean-up. My friend Brittany did the same, and we were ready to go.

One problem solved, onto the next.

We were car-less. Luckily my Dad is the man/the nicest guy in the world and let us use his car for the trip. My lovely little Saturn wouldn’t have lasted that long a drive.

Britt made this sign for our car ride!

We made it to Chattanooga, TN in about 14 hours. That night we stayed with a friend of a friend’s (now a friend of ours 🙂 ) We were exhausted from the drive, but still didn’t get to sleep until pretty late. We stayed up executing our plan to ensure a good camping spot. We all set our alarms for around 7 a.m. to try to beat the Bonnaroo traffic. Some camping spots are an hour walk to Centeroo, the main area of the festival, and we didn’t want to get stuck with one due to poor planning. (Turns out planning doesn’t even matter in regards to camping spots at Bonnaroo. Most of it is sheer luck.)

“Check your cars to make sure no one broke in,” We woke up hours late to our host, Beth, saying. Someone broke into her boyfriend’s car. Frazzled and suddenly alert we checked our cars and found out they were safe. It was time to depart.

Us with the whole city of Chattanooga behind us

After about 40 minutes of cruising down Route 24 we saw a huge trail of cars stopped on the shoulder. According to our handy-dandy GPS directions we were still a couple miles from the exit but this appeared to be the line. So we tried to cut in. Not a good idea. Out of nowhere a state trooper on a motorcycle appeared at our car window, screaming, “Are you trying to cut in line?”

-Me, replying meekly and weakly, “No.”

-Crazy testosterone-pumping-in-every-body part-man inches from my face, “GET OUTTA HERE! DO YOU WANT A TICKET!”

Bonnaroo Traffic use Shoulder

We quickly ditched that idea and tried to find a spot elsewhere. Luckily enough some cars let all three cars in our party in together. And it was miles from that scary, power-driven man. Two bad starts to the day, but the excitement and anticipation built up nonetheless.

We had about five miles, probably less to our exit. We waited in shoulder traffic for six hours.