Au Pairing in Italy: Diary #5: Florence + Matera

A couple weekends ago I went to Florence. I stayed with my host dad's sister and her family and it was lovely. Her 21 month her old son is the cutest chipmunk i've gotten to play with, and the bright energy in the house was calming and invigorating at the same time. I walked over 25 miles all weekend, ate gelato twice, and tried to avoid too many American study abroad students. I also got the chance to see the family who hosted me there 5 years ago when I was one of those American study abroad students. We ate dinner and talked about Iran, politics, and the passing of time.

Here are photos from the weekend:

Today I took a little day trip to Matera this morning. 

Here are photos:

Au Pairing in Italy : Dear Diary #4: Winter Break

This is an old post I forgot to post, circa January 6th 2018.

Winter break is over. The past two weeks have been wonderful and exhausting. Various family came into town, lots of cute little cousins were around, a lot of hide and seek was played, a LOT of food was eaten.

A big southern italian family is just as you'd imagine: loud, vibrant, warm, welcoming, festive, and lovers of food. Christmas day we had 30 family members over at our apartment, during which the babies and I performed our Xmas songs we'd be practicing. Over the next week we spent every day with the cousins who were in town. New Year's Eve was spent with family friends, standing on their balcony overlooking the city and all the (hella DIY af) fireworks people were shooting around town. I had a stupid cold, but the night was quaint with card games and time spent around the table and I probably won't forget NYE 2018.

Once the new year hit, my cold got worse and I've been laying low with the fam all week, which I will take wholeheartedly. I have 4 weeks left and I'm like 5 weeks in. I'm halfway through and I'm living a lot. Hopefully I can learn to just live when I get back home to LA too.

Anyway. here are some pics:



around town in ALTAMURA, ITALY


Around Altamura

Au Pairing in Italy: Dear Diary #3

I don't have many photos for you this week. Sorry I was busy living life.


This week things took a little turn. I was motivated to get into my groove again. I hit the internet and started searching for local musicians, and found an indie label. I messaged them on facebook, and one of the artists part of the collective messaged me back saying he'd love to be my friend! (I'm paraphrasing obviously lol) So Friday he drove to my town where we met for a coffee (remember: "coffee" here means "an espresso shot"), talked about music, our lives, and the possibility of booking me some shows in the next couple months. Before I knew I had a show booked with him this coming Tuesday in the nearby big city of Bari! so Tuesday night I will play this show, then spend the night there to then explore the town before I take a train back to Altamura.

This week I also hit up to find local friends in Bari in the hopes of visiting soon. On Bari's CS page though I found a group of CSers and Erasmus students, all piked into a Whatsapp group that you could join if you followed the link. Before I knew it, I was in this Whatsapp group with 75 other people, italians and foreigners alike. Instantly people were welcoming me, telling me if I ever need a play to stay they've got me, and most importantly though, they invited me to their Christmas party on Friday. So like you do, I decided to take the one hour train into Bari where I had never been before Friday night and go to this party where I would know no one. The universe has my back these days, because everything went so well.

I loved meeting people from all parts of Europe and north Africa, I loved socializing in Italian, and all of this with one thing in common: in that moment in time, we were all living in Italy, open minded and seeking friendship.  I remembered I'm actually pretty good at making friends, Im actually comfortable in my shoes, in the clothes I chose to wear, in who I am and the things I do. 

What have I been worrying about?

I've realized I might not have a routine here, but instead will be compiling these micro experiences in the hopes of living more presently. What I want to do with my future, where I see myself in 5 years, what are my goals with my projects... none of that really matter in the end of all this. I just want to spend time gathering good people, making art, learning how to surf, and taking in whatever life hits me with. the rest, I'll figure out later. 

Au Pairing in Italy: Dear Diary #2

It's day the end of day 11. The past week I went to yoga, went to a girls night dinner with my host mom, played a solo show in a basement, and continued to see what my life here is like. 

Sundays are meant for spending time with family. Today we went for a walk on the Corso (the main road in the center. The city has 70,000 inhabitants, and everyone knows everyone. While we were strolling up and down, we ran into about 5-10 people the family knew in the hour we were out. We strolled, grabbed a coffee (read: shot of espresso), went to the cheese shop to buy some for lunch, and headed home. Strolling on the corso and running into friends is simply something that doesn't happen in LA, but it also doesn't happen in larger cities I've been to like Florence (where I lived for a semester Fall 2012) and Rome ( that I've visited a few times now). Socializing is a big part of life down here in the South of Italy. As busy as the people are, as fast as the hustle can be for a small city, they take their time.They take their time eating lunch and dinner, they take time to spend it with family and friends. Breakfast is a quick espresso and maybe a cookie or two. Besides that, life is meant to be LIVED.

Luisa not happy I'm taking her photo lol

Luisa not happy I'm taking her photo lol

the Twins Michele and Raffaele talking about me behind me back or scheming their next scheme lol

the Twins Michele and Raffaele talking about me behind me back or scheming their next scheme lol

IMG_1267 copy.jpg

photos above: I was taking photos at the cheese shop when the cashier noticed and decided to break out a  bottle of wine and take a photo with me. I enjoyed his sense of humor.

Tonight we put up the Christmas tree which was doses of fun. Listening to American Christmas music, putting up the plastic tree, hanging ornaments. I'm happy I'm here to experience these moments with this family. I'm happy I decided to do this, I'm happy with whatever this experience ends up being. I'm not going to worry so much about what I feel like I NEED to be doing. Nothing NEEDS to be done. That's all in my head. All I need to do is take every moment as it comes, and give every moment every single bit of energy I have. 

Who knows what the universe has got for me this week!

Ciao ciao.  ci sentiamo presto. 

Au Pairing in Italy: Dear Diary #1

Caro diario,

come stai? Io sto benissimo! Allora marca il fino del mio quarto giorno ad Altamura.

How are you? I'm great!  Right now marks the end of my fourth day in Altamura.

It's ONLY been four days and it's been quite the adventure so far. I'm an au pair to a family of three kids: two six year old twin boys and an eight year old girl. The family is jam-packed busy with a robust social life, kids' activities and the parents' own business ventures. 

In the past 4 days, I've had lunch with both sets of grandparents, attended a 2 year old's bday dinner, a 100 year old's bday lunch (that I will blog about later because the lunch took 8 hours...), and built a relationship with this family that's nuts to think about.  We found each other on in august and began video chatting a few weeks later, so over the past few months we had already begun building this relationship and the hype of my arrival. By the time I arrived, the kids and I were instant BFF's.


I got pretty damn lucky. This family didn't want  an au pair to nanny their kids per se. They didn't want someone to look after their kids on date nights or pick them up from school. They wanted a fifth member of the family that would become the kids' older sister, the parents' friend. So far they've been so ridiculously great at helping me create my own life outside of the home. 

-on Friday they bought the house an acoustic guitar so I can write and practice while I'm here. Naturally, the kids have been obsessed with it so I've been attempting to teach them some tempo (ie letting them have fun on the guitar in a somewhat formatted way lol)

-My host dad's brother owns a photo studio and is a yogi, so Monday I'll be going into the studio to see what photo work I can do with him there, then going to his yoga class with his wife on Tuesday. 

- Monday I will meet a local organization that hosts various events for foreign students

- Thursday I might be playing a house show thanks to a new friend I met through the family

I'm only here for two months, but 2 months is a GRAND amount of time to be totally immersed in a life. 99% of the words that have come out of my mouth have been Italian. 99% of the words I've heard have been in Italian. I can only imagine where my language will be in 2 months when I leave. 

the kids hard at work on the left, the kids wrestling on my bed on the right. 

Something great I've noticed: These kids don't spend a SPECK of time in front of screens. they don't own ipads. They watch TV for 10 minutes a day. The rest of time is spent playing, drawing, playing tennis, taking dance classes, doing homework... 

The view from my room on the left, my bedroom on the right.

Below are a series of photos I took around the city's 800 year old historic center.  When walking around the 70,000 person city with the family, we run into someone they know every 10 or so minutes. It's a pretty crazy occurrence I need to get used to. 

I Hate Leaving

In 2015 I wrote this song before I left LA for 3 months:

I'm leaving Iran tomorrow morning. I was here 2 weeks. This will be my 27th o 28th time here. You'd think after 27 or 28 times it gets easier saying goodbye, but it doesn't matter how many times I've done it, it wouldn't have mattered if I'd stayed longer. It's always hard. It's never going to get easier.

In the past 18 months since the last time I was here, we lost 4 family members that hit everyone really hard, people got engaged, people had kids, people got sick, people started buying fidget spinners.

A lot has happened. A lot has changed. Things will be keep changing.

Damnit, leaving sucks. 

Culture Confused Sometime in the 80's

I started speaking english when I turned 3.

I started preschool with only the ABC's and reruns of the Little Mermaid under my belt, which weren't enough to get me by even "What's your name?". Until that day, I'd spent my first three years speaking Farsi at home, learning what English I could from Disney Classics, roller skating in dresses and playing with my baby brother. Preschool was the first American culture shock in my book.

photos from the 80's, taken by my dad and mom

photos from the 80's, taken by my dad and mom

My parents immigrated to Los Angeles separately in their early teens (my dad at 15 in 1977, my mom at 14 1981) without much English under their belts ether. My mom didn't have it so bad. She'd spent 5th Grade in LA for a year, 6th and 7th at an English school in Iran before moving on to boarding school in Switzerland (long story) for 8th and finally back to LA for high school. Her english wasn't all that bad, and she'd even started becoming fluent in French in her one year in Geneva. 

My dad though had a rougher time. Sent to LA alone to live with his older brother, my dad had to go through 9th grade a second time as an ESL student since his English wasn't ready yet. 15 years old, 90 pounds, straight off the plane from Iran, with nothing more than "Hello, how are you?" in his English vocabulary. Yikes.

Fast forward some years, and my parents are dating, in their 20's, and have a solid group of Iranian friends who'd immigrated to LA around the time too. Some had gone back to Iran (my mom was going every summer), some had never gone back since they'd left. This new circle of 20 something year old Iranians living in LA's South Bay had to create their own new culture, something in between the lives their parents had lived and what their American counterparts were living.  Stuck somewhere between the culture they knew and the new place they found themselves in,  my parents and their friends had to wing it. 

Let's fast forward some more. It's June 23 1992. I'm born in San Pedro as my family's first generation born in America (well, technically, my dad's brother had my cousin a year before but hey, who's being technical?). My parents start my life by speaking to me in Farsi, feeding me lentil rice and eggplant stew, and taking me to Tehran every year once I turned 3 months old. Regardless though, we lived in West LA. We had a TV. We shopped at Ralph's. I was watching Disney Classic movies, singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, roller skating at the park while my mom watched in her shorts and tank top.  Soon I started preschool, then off to the Lyçée Francais de L.A. where I would spend my Elementary, Middle and High School years in a European bubble.

Somewhere along the way, from the moment my parents arrived, to this precise moment where I'm typing this, the Iranian culture that my parents knew for the first part of their lives ebbed and transformed into something new, a little confused, a little refreshed, a little something of its own.

I can't tell you what it's like being a local in Tehran. I can't tell you what it's like being a tourist either. All I can tell you is I am who I am thanks to 13 years at a French Immersion school, 19 summers in Tehran,  the lady bugs I collected in our backyard, the lemonade stands we had on our vacant Westwood street, and whatever life my parents and circle  of friends had  created for themselves and us. I like going to Iran as often as I can to see my family 2, 3 maybe 4 times if I'm lucky, before I have to say 'goodbye until next time' for the billionth time. It won't ever not be this way, and that's life, man.  

My Mother Taught Me Well: Summers in Tehran

I used to live for summers in Tehran.

Ever since I was 3 months old, my mom started taking me and my younger brother to Iran with her. Other than my parents, a few family members in LA and some around the rest of the world, the vast majority of our large family was and still is living in Iran. 

The 3 of us would go for 6-8 weeks at a time, sometimes (but rarely) joined by my dad.  Around April I would start asking my mom if she had our flights yet, and if so, when were we leaving. Not that it mattered, mind you. At age 9 I had no real schedule other than First Day of School and Last Day of School but that didn't stop me from counting down the days! I would open my suitcase to begin packing one week before, making sure to bring a handful of swimsuits and 12 books to read for my school's summer reading competition.

I went every summer until I was 19, and every summer had the same sort of bliss to it. I wish I could show you my grandparent's summer house we'd spent a week at, only 20 minutes outside Tehran but with views overlooking mountains and rivers. It had 5 rooms, each with multiple beds, so it felt like what I would imagine summer camp was like: waking up and having breakfast with 10 people, all getting ready for the pool, heading downstairs, and spending the day outside. There's nothing like eating a hot sandwich and drinking an Orange Fanta while half your body was chilling in the water, let me tell you.

 I wish I could show you my dad's family's orchard where we made day trips to pick sour cherries and picnic with the watermelon and feta cheese we had bought at the local market. We had a couple bigger parties happen there too, weddings and birthday parties and such, until eventually we decided to sell the place a few years ago.

Every other night there would be a party at some other relative's house where the adults would sit around the living room drinking 8 cups of black tea, eating fruit and dried nuts,  while us kids would play cards in the den and hide and go seek in the backyard. After dinner the music would come on and we'd all get up to dance the persian way into the night, way past our normal bedtimes.  My mother's parent's house, where we normally stay, has a pool so it became ritual to have the cousins over for pizza and a pool party, nice and casual, ending just before dinnertime.

There's so much I wish I could show you now. It was bright, lively, communal and warm. Late nights out at restaurants, eating ice cream walking through parks, roaming from one family's house to the other, wasting our summer days away with the purpose of spending time with family.


I'm 25 and I've been to Iran 27 or 28 times in my life and I'm extremely grateful for being able to say that. Until I was 18, I went to a French immersion school K-12 where most everyone around was either a child of an immigrant or an immigrant themselves. It was rather common for us to be abroad during our summer holidays. Whether it was France, Greece, Indie or Iran, we all went back to where our families were from, traveling through other international places along the way. It wasn't until I got to college that I started realizing how lucky I was. I remember meeting someone who had never left the United States, and I was mind blown. I couldn't fathom what that meant to have family in America for 7 or 8 generations back, what it meant to have never stepped foot beyond American borders. I guess I'm lucky to be a second-generation immigrant, and even luckier that we're able to go back and visit my parent's homeland every year.


So here I am in Tehran, sitting at my grandparent's house as I type this, sitting here for the 27th or 28th time. I wish I could show you what my childhood summers were like.

As we've gotten older, cousins have started getting married, generations have started to ebb and flow, and my times in Tehran have started to change. But I guess my mother taught me well. I don't have summer breaks anymore, but I can't just stop going back. It's become part of the way I spend my time: mostly where I am (be that LA or elsewhere), sometimes/whenever I can in Iran. I don't have 6 weeks to spare anymore, and honestly even if I did I have too many ambitions to pause life for that long, but I've told myself to at least try to go whenever I can, for however long that may be.

Maybe one day I'll go and turn those tiny DVR tapes into DVD's and make a proper short film out of it. Maybe I'll write a book. For now, all I can show you is Tehran today, summer 2017, which in my opinion, is still worth something more than what you might have seen of it until now. 

Follow along for more on the go videos and such on my instagram @shabferdowsi.

Cheers to 8 months of self-employment

 I start a part-time job tomorrow . That about wraps up exactly 8 months of unemployment, and it was interesting to say the least.

This was not the plan.

I quit my last job end of April, thinking I would move eastside by June, at which point I would hope to begin a new dayjob wherever I found a place to live. One weird situation led to me living at home for 3 more months, until I finally moved to Lincoln Heights in August.

I'll spare the details, but I learned more and did more in the past 8 months than I did all of college. Attempting to live a freelance life without intending to quickly proved itself both fulfilling and stressful. One month I had 3 photography/video gigs and was working every single day, the next I was sitting in my bedroom searching for Craigslist jobs for days on end, the next I was on tour with a band, the next I made a enough money to cover rent in one single weekend.

There was no pattern to teach me how to plan for what might come next, or how I would learn to budget myself when I had no idea what the next month would look like, especially right now when I don't have the clientele that will actually allow me to go full time freelance. That said, I learned a few very crucial points:

Work hard, be kind, put yourself out there.

You know that saying, build it and they will come? Or something like that? Well I learned that if you post a Facebook status asking for work, work will come! Basically, the more I was throwing it into the universe that I was looking for gigs, the harder I was emailing and putting my portfolio in front of people's eyes, the more work I was getting. It's not easy, it's not simple. Work hard, and people might notice. Put yourself out there, and people will see you. Be kind, or else none of the aforementioned will matter.

Over the past 8 months I realized I haven't been creating my own art enough. I realized I could do whatever I wanted to do, learn any new skill I wanted to, be anyone I wanted to be, as long as I just did it. Wanna start a band? gather your friends, make music with them, and hey look! you have a band now. Wanna make buttons for bands? buy a button maker, tell bands you make buttons, and hey look! you have a button making business now.

Anything is possible if you work hard and be kind to others, in my humble opinion.

I'm not creative enough: 2016 musings.

In 2015 I realized I’m not as creative as I want to be, so in 2016 I decided to change that. Beating Lights was not enough, neither was my photography. So over the course of this year I started making visual projections for band’s shows,I hopped on board Women Fuck Shit Up Fest as their in house art director (fancy term for graphic designer at the moment), I started booking tours for bands, I bought a button maker and started pressing buttons, and I gave my own music  some time and started my own band. 

“Stick  to what you’re good at”, is a piece of advice I received many times over the course of the summer. I understand where they’re coming from, I do.I see their business-minded souls wanting to put Beating Lights onto a sheet of paper and plugged into a business plan. At the beginning of the year, I thought that’s what I wanted. I thought I needed to turn BL into a business. People kept (and keep) asking how I make money off Beating Lights, and I felt like I needed an answer. But alas, 12 months later and now that I can look at this year in its entirety, I have found some (not all) of those answers. I don’t do what I do in the hopes of paying rent off this; I do it because I love it, because I have so much stupid fun working with artists and making friends and throwing parties. Call me crazy, but what if i just love doing all of this and giving it all my energy… just because I love doing it? What if this is just the kind of person I am? You and I can operate differently and that’s the best part of humanity! 
Stick to what you’re good at? That might work for a business plan, and we need business plans I guess sometimes I think. But that’s not what I’m creating here. I simply love creating things out of thin air and throwing paint onto walls and mixing colors until I get the ones I’ve never seen before. If I make some money in the process? Well that’s going to go straight back into my creativity for now. How about, find the things you love doing… and keep doing them?

I’ve found a lot of new creativities this year that I love doing. I love doing them all, and I’ll keep doing them all. I’m not doing them all %100 of the time, of course not Yesterday I went over to a friend’s house where he taught me about guitar pedals and amps. In that moment I was giving 100% to Blushh. Later I met another friend for coffee where we talked about booking tours and promoting shows; i was giving 100% to Beating Lights. Then finally I ended my day running a projector with the visuals I had created for a band's show. In that moment, I was Shab the person who makes art for bands.
So you see? I don’t think it’s hard to do different things. There always must be a creative balance, but the amount of creativity can grow to infinity. 
I think I want to start writing poems and monologues next, is that ok?


something nostalgic + some pics from europe '15

I've spent the past 2 Thanksgivings in St. Andrews, Scotland with my friend Nathalie (re: high school bff who is now in her fourth year of Uni there). Maybe that's why the past few weeks I've been thinking a lot about the friends I made and left in Europe, why I've been wondering when I'll be back in the EU next, and how insane the past 1 year has been. 

Last October when I flew to Ireland on my Working Holiday Visa, I could have stayed for a year. I wanted to, originally. I wanted to stay for a year, and find a way to never move back to America. Alas one thing led to another and my life took a 180 degree turn when I decided I should stay in LA and keep pursuing the things I was, with the people I was building a little community with. 

So instead of staying in Ireland for 1 year, I decided to spend the last 3 months of 2015 traveling through Europe to places I had friends and family, to eventually end my year in Iran before coming back to LA on January 1st 2016. 

Let's flashforward to today: 2016 has been all kinds of ridiculous and thrilling, and mostly fulfilling and eye-opening. Beating Lights isn't just something I'm doing post-grad while I figure out what I'm actually going to do with my life. I'm convinced that the confidence I've gained the past year not only in just the things I do but who I am stemmed from those 3 months away, where I was floating through places and people, forced to be as comfortable as I could be. While traveling alone, discomfort is almost a nuisance, so the only way to feel as grounded as possible, is to just BE comfortable. 

I wonder every day now if I'm going to live in LA forever.. I really hope not. I still think it's too hot here, and I wish there were more trees. But, those are dreams for the future. Right now, I'm hyperthankful for what my life has become, the people who fill it, the creativity that surrounds it, the tiny moments in between that hold it together.  I don't really believe in Forever right now, so I'm taking everything a day at a time (a project at a time? a show at a time? a song at a time?)

Cheers to whatever comes next <3.

In my fit of nostalgia, I edited some unedited photos from my travels last year:

Clifden, Ireland

Glasgow, UK

St Andrews, UK

Paris, France

Rome, Italy

Florence, Italy

Friendship Rules: musings on friendship, duh.

Friendship rules.  Friendship is comfortable, supportive, trusting; it sends you texts for no reason, it gives without asking for anything in return, it gives you high fives from 3000 miles away and gives you hugs without precaution. It gives you a ride even if it's out of the way, it gives you hand written letters expressing how much it loves being in your life and having you in theirs. Friendship inspires you, motivates you, encourages you to the best you you can be, to do you even if ti's not what others are doing. Friendship is your basketball team that helps you get the ball down the court to take the shots in your life you wouldn't be ale to take without them.

Here's the thing. I don't have many old friends. I keep in touch with 3 friends from high school. One lives in Scotland, one in San Francisco, and another lives here in LA but works a full time job and runs in different social circles as I do. College? You'd think I'd have made "friends of a lifetime", the way people advertise it.  But I was different in college, flowing through circles and scenes and organizations, never really finding a group to call my own. So sure, I think I keep in touch with 5 friends from college who I don't really ever see anymore. I graduated in 2014, and it was only after I finished school forever that I was finally able to stop going with everyone else's flow.

2015 was the year of friendship. 95% of my best friends, favorite collaborators and closest acquaintances right now came into my life or solidified their place in my life in 2015. That's insane, I'd say.I'm so jealous of people who have had some of their friends for over 10 years. "My best friend since we were 9" is not anything close to what I am able to say about someone. 

Nevertheless, I'm in love with friendship. 2015 was the year my dreams took a whole 180˙ on themselves, brought me way wayyyy down, but then finally, built me back up. While I was abroad the last 3 months of 2015, something happened subconsciously where the time away gave everything a heightened level of importance when I came back. When I came back, everything and everyone was 10x more valuable in their place in my life.  Their place in my life is so much more important to me than my life could be someplace else.

The photo above was taken at the Beating Lights relaunch party on January 30th. Pictured  are the boys of Kid Cadaver, Coyote, my bff Jenay Ross of Hours Lost, my buds Touch Vinyl and We Found New Music, and my creative savior Nicole Ellsworth. 

I'm excited to have the friends that I do, and I'm really excited to make more. :)

Guards down, goals achieved: reflections on my 3 months abroad and other things.

Today marks 4 weeks back in Los Angeles after spending 3 months abroad. It's been a whirlwind, these four weeks. From the day I landed when I released the new Beating Lights website, I've been sprinting faster than I was before I left. Adrenaline racing, heart beating, passion still intact.

I've been emailing and plotting the next few months, booking photo shoots, going to shows, hanging out with friends, going to work, and I haven't had much of a chance to get on here and reflect out loud in writing on the internet about those 3 months I was away. Everything feels so normal being back that it's almost easy to forget I went 90 whole days without seeing my friends, taking the bus to Echo Park every other day or sleeping in my bed. 

But every day, I'm still thinking about it all. Thinking about who I was before I left, the experiences I had, the emotions I felt when I was there, and what it's like now being back. I've become really good at analyzing life in real time, and as my days go by I'm very aware of the things I am saying or feeling now that I wasn't before. It's  a weird feeling, because I'm back exactly where I was before, same bus stops, same shotgun seats, same job, same friends, same email address, but everything feels different now.

Everything feels brand new. My friendships feel stronger, more heated somehow, I'm more inspired in my photography, I'm invigorated with new intentions for Beating Lights, and most importantly though, I feel new. I left hoping to figure out how to break down my guards, put myself out there and shrug away the walls that were holding certain parts of me back: the parts that told me I wasn't good enough, or pretty enough, I didn't know enough about music, I didn't have enough friends who cared, I wasn't great at anything, I was just alright.  So while I was away, I forced myself to be that person I wanted to be, and I think it was that simple. I decided I didn't want to feel those feelings anymore, so I found a way to keep moving forward and upward, until here I am today where I don't feel those guards anymore.

It's all easier too when traveling, because you literally are moving on and through cities and people with every day. You can't cling on and wallow on the past. Every second spent on feeling down about what's been said or done is another second of your current moment wasted. The only thing I can do is cherish the past for what it was (or realize it wasn't anything at all) and keep moving forward.

So that's why I feel better now. The time away made me all that much fonder and more  in love with what I do and the friends I'm doing it all with, and in the process I found the time to realize I quite like myself too, if I may say so myself. So all that fuzzy nonsense that was brining me down, holding me back, and making me want to puke every now and then, it's all a waste of my time. I'd rather re-focus my energy on the good stuff. And in refocusing, remember that most often Ive got nothing to lose except time, so  even if I'm not sure, even if I have no clue what to do or how to do it, I'm going to go for it. If I do something wrong, someone can let me know. :)


Guards down, Eyes peeled:: Put Yourself Out There

Put yourself out there.
I’d been hearing this for months. They kept saying it like I was supposed to obviously get what it means. Like somehow those four words were supposed to solve all my problems. So I kept nodding, pretending I was on the same page, knowing I wasn't, and totally underestimating how mind-blowing these words could actually be.

See I consider myself a pretty outgoing person. I run a music blog, I’m always out at shows, I’m always putting on shows; meeting people, socializing and creating connections are what my adrenaline runs on. So, aren’t I putting myself out there in the world already?  What am I doing wrong?

Put yourself out there. It's the best advice I've gotten this year. 
Something’s clicked in the past month (…after repeating it over and over in my head, talking about it over and over with friends, pondering on it over and over on bus rides) and I’ve realized just how wrong I was.
It was never about what I was doing wrong, it was about what I wasn’t doing. 

Putting yourself out there is like saying ‘ Hey World, here’s my heart. Take it or leave it.” So naturally it’s hard, because what if the world decides to leave it?  What if you decide to be vulnerable and put your heart on the table only to be rejected? You know, I’m pretty sure you’ll survive. The alternative? Keeping yourself locked in behind whatever walls you’ve built. It’s safer, it’s easier, much more comfortable for sure, but isn’t it getting lonely in there?  Wishing you could be out there, doing all these things and being all these people…

Sure, I’ve been putting Beating Lights and my other creative works out there, and they’ve been doing so well for themselves.. But there's still so much missing. I feel like I can do more, feel more, connect more, be more, if I just stop overthinking it, and start seeking it. 

It’s not easy, and I’m still working on it.  But taking on the day with this new angle is so much more of an exciting life to be living. I bought a pair of drum sticks because I’ve been wanting to learn for years, I’ve started performing at open mics in front of more people than I’m used to, I’m trying new things and taking in anything that I stumble on for the simple sake of letting more life in. Because why not? 

Guards down, eyes peeled.
Anything can happen, and I’m going to let it. 

At least that’s the plan. Keep you posted.


Dear 23, it's OK.

Hey Shab, you know what? I know you feel a lot of feelings,I know you care a lot. Too much sometimes. And I know because of that, when things or people don't go the way you want them too, your heart crawls into your throat, your gut hides away in some corner, or you just feel like throwing your laptop off the roof and onto someone's head.

The thing is, sometimes, most of the time, it's really OK. It's ok if the bus is late, it's ok if your friends didn't come to your show, it's ok if you don't get the job or an interview or a reply to an application, it's ok if you stay home tonight, it's ok if you start losing touch, it's ok if you weren't invited, and it's really fucking OK if he doesn't like you back (note to self: figure out how to figure out that last one...)

Because news flash? Life is still moving dude!! I know because of the many, many feelings you're feeling, you want to sit and wallow about it, wonder what you could've done differently, what you should do to fix it now, or whatever other shit is going through your head. LISTEN KID: Lift yourself out of that aimless feeling of disappointment/despair/worry/sadness/etc and realize that your heart doesn't need to feel this way, this shitty. 

You're surrounding yourself with inspiring people, you're doing what you love, you're making real friends, and I think people are starting to listen to what you're saying. 

You missed a shot, but whether it was a three-pointer or a layup, shake it off, and get your head back in the game. Something will happen eventually as long as you keep keeping on, keep doing, keep moving. 


Life's too short for 'maybe'.

My good friend Jenay Ross owns a clothing line, Hours Lost, and today the brand relaunched a new web store and t-shirt that reads, Life's too short for 'maybe',

This is all very exciting for a few reasons:

1.I shot the lookbook a few weeks ago ( with the help of  a couple cool cats/musicians/pseudo-models) and got some of my favorite photos  from it.

2.I love seeing friends pursue passion projects

3. I strongly believe in the message.

Life's too short for 'Maybe'

I sometimes wonder if I should be more aloof, more 'chill', when it comes to making plans. Am I being too enthusiastic? Am i being too forward in trying to make this coffee date happen the day after tomorrow? Should I cool it?

But then I decide I'm more than fine being really excited, because the deal is, I'm so done being passive. 

If I want to get to know you, we will grab coffee this week, and if not this week, then the next. I'm going to make sure it happens, because life's too short to wonder what great conversations we could  be having, what friendships we could be growing, what real connections we might be missing, what time we're losing by saying 'maybe'. 

When I was 18 and  a freshman in college, I spent a lot of time (read: too much time) sitting in my dorm room waiting for something to happen. When things didn't, obviously, I decided to make it happen myself,  bought a cheap lens, shot some friends, then some musicians, then I started a music blog, and now I'm here (well, that's the long-story short).

Maybe, Someday, Sometime. Forget that limbo, y'all. 

"Be passionate. Invest yourself. Be present"- Hours Lost


For my fist 18 months as an amateur photographer, I didn't charge a dime. I didn't feel like my skills and level of quality were at a place yet where it would be worth the money. I  was simply shooting to get better, build a portfolio and meet people. 

Once I started charging clients, I became a quite an advocate for photographers getting paid. Because after all, this is our job and we've got bills to pay too. From then on the question was always there, and became even more of a matter to think about once I graduated:  How do you make money and sustain yourself with the art you're making?  It was a question all musicians friends were asking themselves and trying to solve as well. 

But I came  to a point where I was getting booked for shoots in the few months after graudtaion, and after turning down some opportunities to shoot for free, I began realizing how pointless that was: why should I give up an opportunity  to make art with other people just because it wouldn't help me pay rent? It didn't help that people kept asking if I was getting paid for my shoots...

Then I spent 3 weeks in Scotland and Ireland, andI think I've realized the problem here: 

We're making art, making music, shooting, creating, for the love of it. We're not making it with the intent of selling it later, we're not thinking about how we're going to put it on iTunes before we even record the song. We're not thinking about selling our watercolor postcards, paying our bills, and so on and so forth before we even sit down and dip our brush in the paint. We're making it because we love it.

NOW. If we're making money WITH our art, then that's  a different story  (make it's a commision-ed work, maybe someone hired your skills out, maybe you're employed for said skils). I think it's the intention I'm talking about. 

Anyway, I sincerely hope you're not making your art with the intention of paying rent. 

Real Talk: I'm trying to move out.

I'm trying to move out. Out of LA,and really out of the country, specifically to Scotland or Ireland. 

This isn't news, every blog post here will have a little bit about my desire to leave this urban sprawl. But now I've realized that there are some really good reasons why I don't want to be here, other than the sprawl and lack of trees, and since this realization, motivation to do anything here has decreased immensely. I really don't want to spend an hour an a bus to get across down, to then spend another hour getting back, at the least. I don't be want surrounded by Hollywood and always sunny weather. And most importantly, I don't want to be a part of the music scene here. The scene is the industry, and there is no community. 

The DIY music culture in LA exists, sure, but it's so small that if I were to try to expand, I'm positive I'd hit a dead end,simply because the whole community-based art-making isn't a natural concept here. Make it big on your own or go home. 

Why can't we make art together, for the love of making it? Why can't artists support each other, andWhy should I charge independent musicians for content creation? Why can't I give all the money we make at shows to the musicians? Success is subjective, and what I loved so so much about the scene that I was able to witness a tad bit in Scotland and Ireland is the desire to grow horizontally, and spread music to another person in a more direct manner: smaller shows, realer connections, more meaningful relationships. Artists band together and release music compilations. Some record labels are not for profit. all in an attempt to create really good art together. 

So I'm trying to leave, and so far I'm not. It's been a stupid 4 weeks because nothing has happened, I didn't meet any new people, didn't learn any life-changing things, yet time passed and I didn't progress.

I'm not quitting though. If anything I'll buy a one way ticket to Edinburgh and hope for the best.


LOL. jokes on me. 

2014: the good stuff.

In 8 hours the year will be over.

This time last year I made a few resolutions:

1. survive my last semester at USC

2. graduate.

3, Move to Ireland. 

Clearly, I didn't move to Ireland, or anywhere for that matter except back into my childhood home. A lot of things that I was hoping would happen, didn't. But yet, 2014 could not have rocked any harder. In an effort to get in the spirit (aka make these weird vibes I'm feeling right now vanish), let's look at 2014:

-In January I hosted my first ever acoustic show at a local coffee shop by USC, realizing how much I love doing that sort of thing (and consequently hosting 2 more that spring)

-In February I booked a few shows for a couple friends and their band (realizing that I really had no idea what I was doing but that I could easily learn)

-In March I spent spring break in a national park on an island up north in Washington State with about 20 other students, hiking every day, hugging trees, making some of the most wonderful connections/friendships.

-In April I went to Coachella for the first time (realizing it was just like too mainstream for me you know?totes)

-In May I graduated from USC

-In June I turned 22 and felt no different afterwards

-In July, musicians started requesting shoots for Beating Lights (as opposed to me reaching out first)

-In August we had a mini family reunion in Vancouver where I met my newest baby cousin and reunited with an old friend after 2 years

-In September, I hosted my first ever backyard show, where I had 4 artists play, and about 50 friends and friends of friends come watch, hang, drink wine and be cool.

-September-October: Beating Lights was growing fast within and around the USC community to a point where I was shooting 2-3 musicians a weekend

-In November I went on tour with Drew Tabor up the West Coast and back.

-In December I spent 3 weeks in Scotland and Ireland, where I met, shot and hung out with over a handful of incredibly talented and ridiculously friendly artists (realizing 1. how wonderful and exciting real conversations with like-minded people can be and 2. there are a few really good reasons why I shouldn't be in Los Angeles).

Tomorrow is the first day of 2015. 

It's crazy how much can happen in a year, but it's even crazier how much you can learn and grow. Just in the past 6 months since graduation, I've made truly great new friends whom I didn't even know existed when we were attending the same college. I also had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and now I (kinda sorta) do. 

I also know I'm not staying in Los Angeles. As much as this is home,as much as this is where everyone I know is, I don't feel like I or Beating Lights belong here (maybe I'll write another post on that later). 

So now, I'm going to work harder to find a way out. Whatever it may be, because no matter where I move, what I do and what random full-time job I get, Beating Lights is the umbrella hanging over my life, encompassing everything I believe in, symbolizing the people I what to work with and the side of the music scene I want to be a part of, and I can bring it with me wherever I go. 

Until then though, I'm not going anywhere. So let's continue being friends ok? and being REAL friends. Let's get to know each other, create and collaborate together, talk about real things ( as opposed to fake things, you know?), invite me to your shows, come to mine, vent to me about your problems (trust me, I know all about #buslyfe #unemployedlyfe  #artistlyfe #livingathomwithparentslyfe and that #schoolsucks), so we don't waste a single second. 

Cheers to it all, and thanks for being a part of such a ridiculous year. <3

See you next year,

Don't ever change.


ps: no New Year's Resolutions this time because nothing ever goes according to plan anyway. What happens, happens.