Thursday, 25 September 2014

I found myself in the fire-burned hills, in the land of a billion lights.

As I type this I am in the car driving around Chicago. I thought I was done blogging about this trip, but evidently my brain had other plans as it refuses to be silent.

Please note that I am passenger in said car, not a crazy person who blogs and drives.
I can't even begin to describe just how incredible the last two weeks have been. There are so many moments that didn't make it on the blog but that all add up to make this the  greatest fortnight of my existence. It feels like everyday something incredible happened, whether it was hiking in the Hollywood Hills, having an incredible time at a Mars show or unexpectedly ending up on The Ellen Show to watch Mars perform Do Or Die. (Seriously though, how did that happen?? What is this life??)

I have never been a person who likes the city (I currently live in a rainforest by the ocean), but I have to say, I fell hopelessly in love with LA. Every day when I woke up and looked outside my hotel room window, I felt excited. Like something amazing was about to happen. And every day, it did.

I've been trying to clearly define exactly what I love about LA, to paint a clear picture in my mind, but all my reasons are blurring together like watercolours running down the page. I'm going to try though, more for myself than for you, but I'll share it with you anyway because it will make me articulate my thoughts clearly.

Or, at least, it will make me try harder.

As soon as I got off the plane in LA, I felt a certain kind of magic in the air. It was palpable. Electric. So real that I felt like I could reach out and touch it. Of course a great deal of that would have been my own excitement to be there and to have not been blown up on the way (an actual fear I had), but there was something beyond that, too. Something more.

I think the thing that makes LA so special -- the thing that I could feel from the second I stepped off the plane -- is the fact that it is THE city people go to when they are trying to wrestle their dreams into reality. The energy there is one of creativity, hope, and desperation, and it shows. The streets are lined with artists, impressionists, people selling handmade crafts and people who have lost it all in pursuit of their dreams. It's like nothing I have ever encountered before.

Then there's the Mars of it all. I can't even begin to tell you what it feels like to go and visit iconic places from Mars' history and their present. Hiking up to the place where Kings and Queens and City Of Angels were filmed, going to the Santa Monica pier and watching the sunset behind the ferris wheel, visiting Ennis House and other Artifact locations...This is going to sound blasphemous as hell, but it was almost like going on a pilgrimage. Like going on an amazing journey and discovering all the places and events that inspired the greatest album ever written, and that continues to inspire the band that means the entire world to me. Walking through the streets of Hollywood and hiking up the hills all I could think was, "I found myself in the fire burned hills, in the land of a billion lights." I can see why so many people fall in love with the City of Angels, because I did too. Hard.

There will always be moments and places that stand out to me as favourites, but I honestly can't tell you a single bad experience I had. I simply didn't have one. All the people were super friendly and helpful, all the places we went were simply amazing and I really did have the best two weeks of my entire life. I'll never forget my first glimpse of the Hollywood sign, my first hike up into the Hollywood Hills, or the first time Bec, Jess and I threw pushami over the precipice. I'll never forget visiting The Roxbury Cafè and meeting Tomo's parents and his brother Filip. I'll also never forget how Filip stole my phone and held it ransom, but that's another (hilarious) story. I'll never forget how Tomo's dad gave us the best inspirational pep talk I've ever had, which left us all feeling like anything is possible. Like if we work hard enough, we can make the impossible possible. Not to mention that I had the best damn veggie burger of my LIFE at that café.

I'll never forget hanging with Dai both in Irvine and in Vegas, or how lovely Reni was to us at every single show. We had a very lovely goodbye in Vegas, which even included her telling other people to back off while she spoke with us. That was special. So special. I miss Reni and Dai so much already. I miss everyone. Bec, Jess, Jared, Shannon, Tomo, Filip...I miss them all.

This trip was initially about Mars, but it became about so much more. Even if you take out the Mars moments (don't though because I love them), this was still the best trip I've ever had. I'm already making plans to go back sooner rather than later because the city made such an impression on me. I'm even looking at joining a teacher exchange program so I can stay for a couple of months next time. I could just be drunk on Mars, though. In fact I'm one hundred percent positive there is a good ol' sprinkling of Mars magic responsible for my feelings about LA, but I'm also one hundred percent positive that that's not the only reason I love the city. It's everything -- The Mars, the Jared, the Shannon, the Tomo, the hikes, the sunsets, the people, the memories, the WHOLE FOODS, the dreams, the faith, the hope, the desperation. The belief that if you go there and work hard your dreams will come true, and the knowledge that it has worked for countless people before you. The feeling of being in the right place at the right time and the faith that everything is as it should be.

Jared once asked what the City Of Angels meant to me, to all of us, and at the time I didn't really have an answer. Now I do. The City Of Angels represents hope. It represents faith and it represents dreams. It is the manifestation of the place in our minds where we dream of becoming who we've always wanted to be. It's a place you go to get lost and a place you go to be found. It's a boulevard of hope and dreams. The streets made of desire.

Really, when it comes down to it, I can sum up my feelings about Los Angeles in three words: I am home.

I love this city.

I really do.

The land of a billion lights.

We were the Kings and Queens of promise.

In defence of our dreams.

My Triad alert on The Ellen Show.

"Selfie time!! That's hilarious." :3


TITLE LYRICS: "City of Angels" by Mars.

For more posts about my adventures in The City Of Angels, click HERE.

Bonus: Here's me on Ellen. See if you can find me. This was completely unexpected, random, amazing, and only made possible by a beautiful soul who gave me a ticket even though she didn't even know me. Thank you, @lifegonewild. Thank you so much.

Monday, 22 September 2014

One day, maybe we'll meet again.


Honestly, I almost don't want to blog about this show because somehow it feels like my grand Mars adventure isn't officially finished until I do. Right now I'm in the car with Bec, Jess and my mum, headed back to LA. We were supposed to stay in Vegas one more night, but no to that. I need to be in LA. That's where I belong.

We arrived in Vegas yesterday morning after having roughly 2 hours of sleep. We'd planned to have a nap before the show, but I was far too wired. I was feeling antsy about not being at the Artifact screening which was happening just a few minutes away, and Artifact tweeting about what was being said was NOT helping. I tried to relax but I couldn't, so by the time Jess and Bec were ready to go exploring, I was ready to burst out of my skin.
Our first mission was to find a secret pizza place Dai had told us about when we met her in Irvine. It took some hunting, but we did it! I ordered a cheeseless vegetarian pizza (effectively making it vegan), much to the dismay of the guy serving me. It's funny -- I've ordered cheeseless pizza a few times in LA and no one's even blinked about it. I do it in Vegas and it's like I've sprouted a second AND third head. Even the people behind me were appalled! Ha.

We had our pizza (which was delicious, by the way. Thanks, Dai!) and decided to just hang around until check in time. We left the pizza place and I got out my phone to thank Dai for the suggestion, when Jess elbowed me in the ribs. "It's Jared!" she whispered. I laughed, thinking it was a joke, but when I looked up, there he was. When I think of all the times we wanted to spot a random wild Leto, it seems so ridiculous now that it's actually happened. I don't know what we thought we'd do if we saw him, but I can tell you what we did do...We freaked out. A lot. We froze indecisively and just watched him for a moment and saw that Shannon was in the store that had Jared walked into. We briefly toyed with the idea of going to say hello, but decided that they were just out as normal guys (as opposed to out at a screening or event), so we turned and went downstairs to calm down and compose ourselves.

We sat on some couches until eventually we stopped hyperventilating. Then, just as my heart rate had returned to normal, who should walk towards us but bloody Jared Leto. Haha. I elbowed Bec and all the blood drained from her face as she elbowed Jess. I quickly looked away from him as I didn't want him to think we were deliberately following him (we weren't, honest!) He clearly didn't want to be spoken to or stopped (not that we would have done it) so we didn't react to him at all. Externally, of course. I'm sure internally we were all having the mother of all meltdowns. I know I was! After we were sure he was gone we laughed about how scary that was and felt pretty proud of ourselves for keeping our cool and not trying to shove a phone in his face for a picture like some people may have. We decided it was dangerous to stay there in case he came back, and headed up to the Meet and Greet check in instead.

Now I expected Vegas to be a big show, but I hadn't expected it to be THAT packed. The Meet and Greet was the biggest one out of all the shows I did for this tour. It was so bad that we barely even fit in the room. Even Jared said he was surprised at how big it was when he arrived. It was only him and Tomo, though, as Jared said Shannon was feeling sick.
Now I have to say, this Meet and Greet may have been the best EVER. It was damn freaking funny that I am laughing just remembering it! There was a TV there, so Jared kept getting distracted by the football game and commenting on what was happening. I could hardly breathe I was laughing so hard. He kept taking about what a weird game it was -- "Guys wearing tiny shorts and singlets and chasing each other, pushing each other, grabbing each other and patting each other on the butt when they do something right" -- and how he doesn't watch or care for any sports at all. He also kept making fun of one player in particular (don't ask me who because as if I know) and because from the back he had long hair and tattoos ("Hey is that me??") but in reality he was, "an ugly son of a bitch! He gives the ombrè a bad name!" It was so hysterically funny that I can't even find the words to explain it. He was on fire.

He was also completely adorable with three little girls who had come to the Meet and Greet. He called one of them to sit next to him, and was playing around with her all night. He was touching her ears and her hair, cracked an egg on her head (the game, not a real egg) and kept talking to her in this really sweet voice. It was perfect. Completely perfect.

There were so many great moments in the Meet and Greet that I don't even know where to begin. He took off his shirt at one point (the flannel I mean) and made it into a strip tease. Someone threw him a dollar and he caught it and said, "I think I've earned it!" She laughed and said it was a down payment, and he said, "Honey, once I get the dollar I know I've got the whole purse." I lost it and I'm losing it again just writing that. God I love him!

Someone asked how they choose which songs to cover, and he said that they are asked to cover pop songs so they try to make it something unexpected. He then started singing Bad Romance but stopped short of "I want you open-mouthed and on your knees" because there were children in the room! 

He was distracted by the ads for Chippendale strippers and said that he couldn't understand why he wasn't asked to do Magic Mike Two. Good Lord it was hilarious. He was like, "If they wanted to sell tickets to that show, why didn't they ask me?? I mean I don't want to say...But I just gotta say, you know what I'm sayin'?" He said that Matthew McCon wasn't doing it because you probably can't go from winning the Oscar to Magic Mike 2, but that, "I could fill that banana hammock, you know what I'm saying??" OH MY GOD JARED, STOP IT. Someone had a pornographic picture of him taken by @itsrosemary at a previous show, and she held it up to prove his point. He lost it laughing and joking about how dirty we all are and Rosemary yelled out, "That's my picture!" He was giggling like a child talking about how perverted she is for taking that pic. Purely for descriptive purposes...This is the picture in question. For science. For science.

(Picture taken by @itsrosemary and posted with permission.
Bless her little heart :3 )

He then acted out this little skit about how taking dirty pictures of him was Rosemary's life work and how after she took the picture she would throw her camera away because her work was done and she'd said what she needed to say. Then he paused and added, "Next time...Video!" I feel I'm not adequately describing just how hilarious it was, but trust me, I can't even type this without losing it!

Someone asked about what he thought the U2 release, and he once again asked us what we thought. He asked us if we thought DJs and Rock and Roll were dead, and said that he felt Rock and Roll was dying. He asked the little girl what she listened to, which was just too precious for words. The way he spoke to her...Gorgeous. Just beautiful. Everyone cheered when she said she didn't like One Direction, and everyone was shocked when she said she didn't know who U2 were. Jared laughed and said that was okay, as long as she knows who Thirty Seconds To Mars are!

J talked about how weird Vegas is (agree. I hated it) and said it was very dry and hot. He kept saying it was a dry heat, and made sure the AIW staff gave everyone a bottle of water. So sweet. He spoke about the weird looking hills and Tomo said, "You want to run up those, don't you!" and he laughed and said he doesn't want to move at all because he's feeling lazy.

Someone asked if he'd ever considered partnering his merch with a charity, and he said that they did that with the Haiti book, which is still available. He also said that they do a lot behind the scenes that we don't even know about, and then encouraged us to buy the Haiti book to help people in need.

He then asked us about merch and asked what we liked and what we were waiting on. He did a couple survey type questions, then asked us what we want to see in store. There were some great suggestions such as socks, dog accessories an bringing back some tees that have been sold out. He asked about the Mars shoes and a girl said that hers were stolen, so he said, "As they should be! Those are cool shoes!!" He was in such goofy mood. She said something I couldn't hear -- probably about being disappointed -- and he said, "I'm sorry about that, but that's what you get for leaving them around! Those shoes are hot shit! Somebody out there is looking goooooooooood!" Damn I wish we could record Meet and Greets because this one was just perfect. He also talked about why they make such limited amounts of merch at a time, saying that they learnt their lesson with some merch they just couldn't sell. He mentioned a yellow From Yesterday shirt with a fish on it, and said that when that sold out they had a party.

Someone yelled out that they should make merch with a triad made out of rhinestones, and Tomo laughed and said that's a home bedazzled job. Jared switched into his "I am unicorn" persona and the entire room lost the plot. He was pretending to host an arts and crafts lesson with glitter and feathers and rhinestones, but he did the whole thing with his eyes closed because he only opens his eyes to make a POINT. I can't even begin to describe just how funny it was. I will be laughing for years.

People continued to shout out ideas and suggestions and he had Reni write them down until it started to get too out of control. He ended it by thanking us for coming and wishing us a great show. Then it was time for the signing. Now a lot of people say things like this happen to them when really they don't, and maybe I'm one of those people, but I swear this is what happened. Bec was in front of me, and when she put her poster in front of him he looked up at her and smiled. Really, really smiled. It was beautiful. I was next and he looked straight in my eyes and smiled, then held my gaze as he signed my poster, and continued to smile at me as he signed my mum's poster. He didn't even look at her or her poster, haha. I had to turn away to keep walking so I didn't get in trouble for holding up the line, but oh my God. I will never forget that smile. Ever. Ever ever ever. He's smiled at me before, but nothing like that. That was the first time I felt seen by him, you know? Like he really saw me. I'm so glad my mum saw it because I would have thought I made it up if she didn't. That smile was the highlight of the ENTIRE trip, and yes I'm including his reaction to the poster and going up on stage. Nothing can compare to it. Nothing.

I walked away (although I wanted to run, skip, sing and dance) and rejoined the line for the pictures. He smiled at me again when it was my turn to take a picture and told me to "Get in here!" between Tomo and him. He then looked down at me and said, "This is my favourite shirt, the clouds and the triad." I don't know what I said in reply because I was smiling too hard to really form basic syllables, but I think I said, "Aww, thank you" which doesn't even make sense. Haha. I thanked him after the picture and he patted me gently twice on the back. I have never ever walked away from a Meet and Greet so happy in my life. That even includes Perth, and we all remember what happened there!

We went outside and bought some merch...Including the CD for the signing. Shut up and don't judge me, haha. We went and stood on the barrier, but it got crowded and horrible very quickly so we left and went to the back of the venue. The venue was super weird so it was hard to find a good place to stand, and we ended up in a weird little alcove on the side of the stage. It turned out to be an amazing place to stand because not only was it relatively free of drunken fools, Dai came and hung out with us for most of the show. It was amazing! Dai is just so wonderful and she is so one of us. Fangirling, asking "Oh God, what is he wearing? What is he doing?", singing along, jumping and touching the sky and just generally having an amazing time. Watching the show with her made it truly special and the perfect way to end the tour. I actually really miss her already. She's a beautiful person.

The show was cut short because of the weather, but it was amazing. I'll never forget Jared watching himself on the big screen and talking to himself ("Hi, Jared! I missed you! Looking good!"), or the acoustic set in which he played From Yesterday, Attack, Witness and The Kill. It was so fitting that it rained during Closer To The Edge because it was as if the Heavens themselves opened up and sobbed with us that the tour was over. Only Mars could make it rain in the desert in the middle of a drought. It was truly magical.

After the show we went to get our CDs signed and say our final goodbyes. Shannon wasn't there, but I said goodbye and thank you to Tomo as he signed my CD, and he said, "Thank you for coming." When Jared signed my CD I said, "Thank you for an amazing tour," and he looked up at me, smiled big and said, "Nooooooo thank YOU." I will hold onto that until the next time I see them. Who knows when that will be. Soon, I hope. Even a little bit of a Jared soon. I can wait. It's worth the wait.

One day, maybe we'll meet again.


Jess, me, Dai and Bec.
Excuse my face. Lol

Darkness falls
And here comes the rain

Jared's guitars.

Tour of a lifetime.

TITLE LYRICS: "Closer To The Edge" by Mars

For more posts about my adventures in The City Of Angels, click HERE.

Bright lights. Big city. She dreams of love.

Concord :)

The Meet and Greet in Concord was outside in a patch of the greenest grass I have ever seen. It was pretty funny, really,  because the hills around were completely dry and looked like carpet. There was a barely a tree in sight. It was like being in an oasis.

Before the guys arrived, there was another free merch trivia game. I didn't play because I was too nervous (seriously, when will that stop? Oh that's right. Never.) but it was nice to listen to the questions and answer them in my head.

After what felt like forever and no time at all simultaneously, the guys arrived on a golf cart type-thing. You could immediately tell that they were in great spirits as they were laughing and joking around as they walked up to the table. They said hello to us and talked a little about the show and the tour in general, and said that it's been one of the best they've ever done.

Shannon sat down on the end of the signing table, then Jared sat down on the other end. Immediately the table started to sink because that green green grass was incredibly wet and squishy. Jared jumped off before he fell off, but Shannon laughed and said he was fine up there. He said it was like the Titanic and it would be going down but he'd still be holding on saying, "I'm good up here!" And he acted out holding on with one leg in the air. Haha. Jared got back on and sat on it for a minute but it basically collapsed so he laughed and sat on the chair instead. Shan said, "I'm still good!" but then his side collapsed and he fell off, haha. He was laughing and staying, "I wasn't good! I wasn't good!" and sat down behind the table too.

Jared said in a very loud voice, "I like your hat, Shannon!" and Shannon thought he was talking about the hat a girl in front of him was wearing, so he said, "I like that hat, too!" Jared laughed and said, "No I mean YOUR hat. What does it say?" and Tomo read it out. It said 'Los Angeles, CA. Black Fuel Trading Co., Established 2014.' Tomo asked, "but what does that mean?" in a really forced and funny way, and Shannon started telling us about HIS COFFEE COMPANY!!! He said that it's been a long time coming, but it's nearly here. He said it would be up and running soon, but not a Jared soon, but it could turn into a Jared soon if things happened, and Jared did his really adorable hair flick and flipped him off. It was such a brother moment. I loved it. Shannon asked some questions about who drinks coffee and what they drink etc, but he wasn't asking the 'right' questions I guess because Jared kept rewording them, haha. Hi, Bart! *waves* 

Shannon said that merch would be available soon and it would include things like hats, mugs, lunchboxes and t-shirts. He seemed very excited about it all. I can't wait for it to open! Jared kept whispering things behind his hand to Tomo, and from where we were standing, we could read his lips for most of it, haha. He's such a child. I love it. Someone asked if there would be a coffee VyRT, and Shannon said that there are things in the works.

After the coffee talk, it was time for questions. As always, I can't guarantee I will remember everything or that my memory can be trusted, but I will do my best!

Someone asked them about their favourite music teachers, as she is a music teacher and wanted to know how their teachers influenced them. Shannon answered first and said he was self taught and plays by ear. He said his inspirations and influences were the records that his mom had, such as Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell and The Cure. Tomo said he was originally classically trained, but had similar influences as Shannon. Jared asked who else had a question and she said, "but you didn't answer," and he said, "Don't push your luck. You already got two." Tomo laughed and said, "Two out of three ain't bad!"

Somebody asked an Artifact question about getting a fair deal now that everyone wants 360 deals. Jared said you can't get one without power, but he'd never sign one. He said they'll probably kickstarter their next record and then use a record company to distribute it when it comes time to do that. He said that Linkin Park had to give some of the Hollywood Bowl VyRT money to the record company, and told us about a meeting he'd had that day which just emphasized how despicable record companies are. He asked again about what we think about the U2 release, which was funny because Shannon hadn't realized that was how it got into his cloud. He'd thought he'd bought it already and just forgotten. Haha. Jared said that soon no one will buy music at all, we'll just lease it and stream it when we want to. He spoke about the effects of piracy and said that there's nothing else in the world that you could work for years on and then have people either steal it or buy it for a dollar or less. Although I would push back on that, Jared, and say that books are rapidly heading that way too. It's very easy to download the Kindle version of a book for less, and so many books on Kindle are 99c or less.

Somebody asked question about the old school weekly transmission, and Jared asked who knew what that was. Very few people raised their hands, and he said, "That's why we stopped doing it. It wasn't appreciated." He also said websites are dead and asked what we go to the Mars website for. Someone yelled out "Crowd shots!" and Jared said, "Oh yeah, crowd shots," but someone thought he said crotch shots and the entire room just lost it. The girl yelled out, "That's all over the internet! Your crotch shot!" and Jared was so confused and asked what she was talking about. Tomo said, "I know exactly what you're talking about, you perverts!" He was laughing so hard and eventually whispered it to J and Shannon. Jared mouthed "What the fuck?!" behind his hand and lost it laughing. It was epic. Shannon asked if there were any crotch shots of Tomo and Tomo said no, because he doesn't regularly grab his crotch on stage, but he can if we want. Jared composed himself enough to say he doesn't know anything about that, and Tomo laughed so Jared started poking him under the table. It was so funny. I wish I could have filmed it to share it with you all!

After more laughter and general silliness, Jared said it's time for the signing. I had some pictures of me and J to be signed, which Shannon said were really cute and Jared said were hilarious and awesome. He smiled at me as he signed them, which as you know, is pretty much the best thing that could ever happen to a person.

When it was picture time I asked Jared for a hug, and he smiled and opened his arms to me. I don't know -- nor do I want to know -- what my face was doing while his arms were wrapped around me, but I'd like to live in that moment forever please, Universe. Thx.

There was another really sweet moment during the pictures when a guy who had his back covered in Mars tattoos wanted to take a picture with shirt off. Jared said, "Yes, let's take two -- one facing the camera and one of your back." All three of them were very proud and honored by the guy's tattoos, and all three signed his back so he could get their signatures tattooed. It was beautiful.

We watched the last few people get their pictures taken, then it was time to go inside the venue. We decided to hang back in the pit because we'd had so much fun in Chula Vista, so we went inside and sat down.  While we were waiting for Mars to start I spotted Emma (an AIW rep -- Not Emma Ludbrook) handing out Mars flags, so I ran over and asked her if I could have one. She gave me one, which was just pure concentrated AWESOMENESS. I found a relatively empty place to spin my flag like a pro, and waited for the show to begin. When Up In The Air started Ander came and asked Bec and Jess if they wanted to do the balloons again, so they left to go backstage. I went a little crazy with the flag all night (I'm still sore today!) but it was so totally worth it. I always have a freaking amazing night when I'm with Thirty Seconds To Mars, but somehow, this was even better.

The stand out moment for me was when Jared ran out into the crowd for Kings and Queens. He spotted a man in a wheelchair, and went and sang right next to him, holding him and getting right down beside him. He even whispered something in his ear (it would have been amazing, no doubt) and kissed him on the head after the song. It was so moving and beautiful and I am going to cry just thinking about it. I love this band. I love them love them love them.

At the end of the show, as they were getting ready to sing Closer To The Edge, Jared starting picking people to come on stage. My heart was pounding because the night before he'd invited everyone with a flag to come on stage. Just when I was starting to lose hope, he said the magic words and I bolted, haha. I was so scared to miss it! As I clawed my way through the crowd people were trying to take the flag from me, but I held on tight and made it to the gates. I clambered onstage and moved to the back (I don't need to be on YouTube, thank you very much!) and just went as crazy as I've ever been. I can't even describe to you how incredible it is to be on stage with them. At one point on stage Reni caught my eye and she waved at me and smiled so big. It made the night even better. I love Reni. She makes these experiences so amazing. Jared danced like a crazy fool (God I love him!) and then, all much too soon, it was over. Shannon threw his drumsticks into the crowd and then we were led off the stage by the Adventures staff. I went and found Bec, Jess and my mum, and together we went to return the flag.

When we got to the Adventures tent, Reni was there. She asked us if we were doing the post show Meet and Greet, and we said no. But somehow...She worked her magic on us and we ended up following her backstage with about 15-20 other people who were also doing it. We hung out in the actual backstage area (which was so awesome!) with Tomo popping in and out to chat with us. It was incredible and intimate. Jared and Shannon came in after maybe 15-20 minutes, and just hung out for a while. It was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

After maybe 20-30 minutes, Jared said they would sign some stuff and let us all get to bed. We'd all been given a copy of the setlist for the night, which J joked was the Failing Xerox Machine Limited Edition setlist because it was pink and purple. We left the small room and went into one that was slightly bigger, and they signed everyone's setlist. They were careful to look everyone in the eyes and thank them, which just makes me love them even more. Seriously though. Is there a limit??

After that, we lined up to get another picture with them. Jared was smiling at me as I walked up to him (he was so smiley in general that night) so I decided to rest my head against him again. I've now seen the picture, and I have to say, I freaking love it. He is smiling and I am smiling and asdfghjkl I just love it :3

After everyone had their pictures, the guys came to say good night. They thanked us all for coming and said they hoped to see us in Vegas. A man stopped Jared as he walked past, and said something to him. I'm not sure what he said, but I think he must have been a solider because Jared thanked him, hugged him, and told him to stay safe. It was beautiful.
We lingered in the room a little longer until it was time to go. It was much more relaxed than a regular Meet and Greet, which made it feel even more special. As we walked out we saw Jared in the garden. He looked really happy. Relaxed. Perfect. I will remember that moment forever. We headed home (and missed Linkin Park entirely, whoopsie), and checked into the hotel to sleep for two minutes before we had to wake up and catch our flight to Vegas...
Vegas. The last show of the tour and the last show in my Mars countdown. It can't be over. I don't want it to be over.



On stage!!!

Signed setlist.

TITLE LYRICS: "Bright Lights" by Mars.

For more posts about my adventures in The City Of Angels, click HERE.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

My life. Insane. Nothing I would change.

Chula Vista.
What a show.
What a day.
What a life.

By now I'm sure the majority of you know the story of the Meet and Greet, but I'm going to share it again anyway! I just like reliving it, okay?

After the Hollywood Bowl show, I had a few moments to talk to Reni. Given that the rules about the signings had changed so much, I wanted to ask about getting something special signed. As most of you know, earlier this year I made two books full of love letters from the Echelon around the world, and gave it them the guys the first time I met them. Their reaction -- Jared's reaction -- pretty much made my entire life. You can read about it here. Most of you know again that Jared loved the triad design on the front cover of volume two, and he said he should put it on a t-shirt. And then he did. Which means something I created is available to buy from the official Mars Store.

Just go on without me.

Anyway. The new signing rules stipulate that signing t-shirts and textiles is out of the question, so I decided to make a poster about the shirt. I included a picture of the signed books, a tweet about the new merch by the Mars Store, my conversation with Jared and a picture of me wearing the shirt. I wasn't sure if they would sign it, but I brought it just in case. At the HB show I asked Reni about it. She immediately remembered the books and said, yes, of course that's fine. My heart kind of dropped a little because I hadn't expected that. I was so scared that they were going to say no that when I checked in for Chula Vista the next day, I showed her the poster just to be sure. She reassured me that it was okay.

Once again we sat down the back for the Meet and Greet. Jared and the VyRT crew were back to being happy and goofy after the Hollywood Bowl heartache (I could see that on Twitter and on VyRT Violet), which made me feel so happy. I had been scared to ask for something special if he was still...How he was after the VyRT. Jared was running late, so to pass the time Reni held a trivia game with free merch as the prizes. We (Bec, Jess my mum and I) decided to sit down and wait because it was too hot to do much of anything.

After about twenty minutes or so, a helicopter arrived. We knew Jared would be arriving in a helicopter given that he had been in LA all day, but it was still pretty freaking awesome to see it happen! When he came into the room (which was outside), he was all smiles and looked so much happier. I just wanted to hug him, but what else is new?

He laughed about arriving by helicopter and being a typical rock star. He talked about how funny it is to fly above the traffic and be like, "fuck youuuuuuu" to all the cars below. Shannon and Tomo came in and he told them he'd arrived by helicopter, and they all laughed. Jared then pointed out his HOLY GUACAMOLE shirt and said it was National Guacamole Day, so he wore the shirt to celebrate. He said he knows it's not considered "cool" to wear your own merch, but he doesn't care because he loves what he makes. My heart. As always. Someone said something about guacamole day which I couldn't hear, but he said that it IS National Guacamole day and that she was making it sound like he was doing something bad.

He spoke about how freaking hot it was, and showed off his new kimono-moomoo-type-thing. He said that he stayed late in LA to work on some VyRT things, and then quickly changed the subject by asking where we were from and then for questions.

He picked someone by name, and the person behind her started asking a question. He stopped and said, "Did I say you, Jeanette? Or did I say Rosa-Marie?" He was so sassy oh God,  haha. She must have apologized and said she was confused, because he said he didn't know how she would get confused when he clearly said Rosa-Marie. He smiled at her then and said it's okay, and Rosa-Marie asked her question. I can't remember what it was at this point. Haha.

Somebody asked a question about what they listen to on the road again, and their answer was the same as last time.

Someone else asked about what their buses looked like and if they have their own bunks, and Jared said he thinks they've earned it after all this time. Tomo explained a little about what the buses looked like, and the girl kept asking what seemed to be if the crew buses and the band buses were the same (I couldn't hear her, only their answers) Tomo asked, "What do you care where we sleep??" and Jared said that they have good buses for both the band and the crew because they work hard and spend a lot of time on the bus. The girl asked another question about the buses and Tomo said that they are basically just the bunks, bathrooms and kitchen. Next question! Haha.

There was a question about Artifact and how to conduct a great interview, and both Jared and Shannon said it's important to listen. Jared said the best thing you can do is just show up and talk to the person about what's going on in that moment, and then respond to what they say. Don't even ask a specific question about rituals or band names -- just listen and be in the moment. I feel that is a valuable lesson in life in general.

Someone asked what they would play if they were standing in front of their instruments, and not necessarily Mars. Jared really liked that question. Shannon said, "Mars! I would play Mars or make up something weird." Tomo said, "I play the same thing every time, and it's in Artifact." [He said that in the commentary edition of Artifact, too] Jared said, "I would play End Of All Days because it's my favourite song to play right now. It's like a conversation. Do you guys like that song?" There were a few "woos" but not enough for J so he got all sassy and said, "Oh, nobody likes that song?? Fine, I'll never play it again!!" He then giggled said, "I know ya'll love it. It's the heat that's sucking away your enthusiasm!" He said he wasn't going to move at all on stage because it was too hot. Said he'd go easy on us and get us to just put out fingers in the air. He then proceeded to act out a mosh pit using just his fingers. God love him!

Someone asked why they never play old songs like From Yesterday, and Jared said that it was circa 2007. "Taste of Chaos baby, 2007!!" He laughed and said that while he does love the song and has a powerful emotional connection with it, it's so hard to find time to practice old songs when you have so many new ones. He also said that when they do play old songs, the reaction from the crowd is a lot more muted than it is for the newer songs. He said that a lot of the new songs are better than the old songs, so their focus is on the new songs.

After a little more goofiness and dancing around (they were in such brilliant moods!) it was time for the signing. I was super nervous about my poster, but took it up anyway. Ander (an AIW rep) tried to stop me, but I told him I'd cleared it with Reni and he said, "Okay, I trust you."

My heart was beating wildly but what else is new, and then it was my turn at the table. I've posted this all over Twitter and Instagram, but let's all take a moment to relive it, okay??

Shannon and Tomo were up first and they signed it together. Shannon looked at the poster then up at me and said, "Look at that cute face! You're so adorable, I love it! Thanks, [Name-y]!" Now on Twitter and Instagram I haven't used my real name, but for the purposes of understanding how cute this was, I'll tell you now: My name is Steph. My nametag said Steph. And Shannon called me Stephy :3 I normally HATE that, but good grief that was awesome. Haha. Now forget that you know that and never call me that on social media, haha.

I giggled and thanked him.

Tomo just smiled at me and then slid the poster over to Jared. Before Jared even looked at the poster, he looked up at my t-shirt and said, "Holy shit!! Where'd you get that shirt??"

I said, "From the Mars Store!"

He said, "I've never seen it before!!"

I said, "Don't you remember it? It's from these!" and pointed to the cover of The Mars Project: Volume Two (a picture of it was on the poster I made.)

He looked down at the poster and smiled, then said, "No I mean I've never seen it before in person. This is the first time. It looks amazing. I love it!!"

I giggled and said, "Thank you! I love it. It's my favourite shirt."

By this time I'd been standing there for at least a minute, which is a long ass time in the signing line!! Normally you get maybe 3 seconds in front of them. He stared at the shirt, presumably reading it. He stared for a really long time, like maybe 47 years. I shifted nervously on my feet and glanced at Reni. She grinned at me.

Eventually Jared said, "That's great. But this is much better." He looked down at the poster and circled my design with his finger. He looked up and said, "Right?" and gave me a scrunchy nose smile and  chuckled a little. I swear to you my heart stopped beating.

He stared at the shirt some more, for maybe another 30 seconds. By this time I had been there for maybe 3 minutes. The line was held up behind me. I really should have thanked him but my brain wasn't working.

Finally he said, "That's fucking amazing. Thank you." He signed the poster right near my original design and smiled big as he handed me back my poster. I said, "Thank you so much!" and took it back, walking away in a total daze like...What the hell just happened? Haha.

Then it was time for the pictures. I asked them to all point at my shirt, and Shan said, "Sure, yes! Of course!" and grabbed me and pulled me towards him, but I was facing Jared (you'll see what I mean in the picture.) I made a triad covering my face so that I didn't have to blur my face out when I posted it on Twitter and Instagram, haha. After the picture SOMEONE patted me gently on the waist twice, but I actually have no idea if it was Jared or Shannon. Initially I thought Shannon, then I thought Jared, then I though Shannon, and now I've given up. It was a Leto, that's all I know! That was a nice change from the little push they give you to get you to move along after the picture.

We collected our things and made our way over to the entry. At this point I feel I am starting to repeat myself with my descriptions of the shows, so let's go through the highlights instead: Standing on the barrier. A shirtless, sweaty wild Leto running straight past us, twice. The view we had for End Of All Days. The balloons. Confetti. Bright Lights. Everything. Just everything.

At this point, I feel Jared said it the best:
My life
Nothing I would change <3

We are the Kings.
We are the Queens.

So this :3

"But this is much better, right?"

TITLE LYRICS: "Crossed The Line" (Unreleased) by Mars

For more posts about my adventures in The City Of Angels, click HERE.

It's the moment of truth and the moment to lie...

Sacramento :3

It was a long and exhausting road trip to Sacramento from LA, but we made it without any problems. Unless you count the amount of times I wanted to kill Jess for being AN EVIL MASOCHISTIC HUMAN. SERIOUSLY, JESS. WHY. For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter or Instagram, she was hitting me right in the Feels the entire way. I'm talking that BBC version of Kings and Queens, Stronger, interviews, bloody Stranger In A Strange Land...It was bad. But it hurt so good. We stayed the night and woke up bright and early for the show.

We arrived at the venue and checked in for the Meet and Greet. I'm going to be honest here and say that these days are all starting to blur together, so forgive me if I get things wrong. It's been a long (and incredible) week and too many amazing things have been happening!
Jared started off by asking a lot of questions about coffee. Who drinks it, who uses instant and who uses beans, would people use instant if it was really good. Shannon stayed very quiet during this, but I think it's pretty safe to say he has a coffee brand coming out. Especially when you factor in all those visits Jared had to that coffee company this year, when he doesn't even drink coffee! He drinks soy milk, which he was doing while surveying us. Haha.

Jared looked around the crowd as he always does, and pointed out some homemade (but professionally printed) [ECHELON] t-shirts. He told the girls wearing them that he loved them, and asked who made them. They had the definition of Echelon on the front and a triad and the glyphs on the back. I'm not sure what the definition said, but J really loved it. He told them he was going to make the shirts for the Mars Store, and I'm pretty sure he had Reni take a picture of them so he could.

He also pointed out a little girl from the crowd and told her to come out the front. He said he saw her when he was out riding her bike and invited her and her mum out to the show. He said that they had beautiful long hair, and called the mum out the front too. The girl was so nervous and happy. It was beautiful. He said that the mum was cutting her hair soon because her husband died, so she was going to put in "The magic of Mars" then cut it off and bury it with the ashes of her husband. J thought that was really beautiful. He thanked them for coming and told them that it was going to be alright, and gave the girl a little cuddle. He then told her to give Shannon a hug "because he needs it," and to give "Uncle Tomo" a hug too. The girl told Shannon he was the best drummer in the world, which he repeated and said thank you. It was really a beautiful thing to witness. They are so sweet and wonderful.

There was a question about whether or not there would be any Into The Wild screenings. Shannon said something amazing would happen with that, and Jared said yes, definitely. Jared talked about the scenes where he was so sick and said he nearly cried watching them. He said that he was coughing all the time and could hardly even breathe. It was really heartbreaking to even hear him speak about it, so I don't know how any of us are going to cope with watching it. I want to cry just thinking about it. He said that even he didn't realize just how sick he was, and somebody laughed. Both Jared and Tomo told her off. It's not funny.

Somebody asked about why they sometimes wear gloves during the signings, and Jared said they've only done it 6 or 7 times in their whole career. He said it's just to keep him and everyone else healthy, and was done at a time when he was sick. He said it's not because some of us have cooties -- and Shannon called out "but some of you do!!" -- it's just for safety and health. Jared talked about the guy in another band who went on a rant criticizing them for it, and said that he basically shot off his mouth about something he knew nothing about, and was clearly a moron. He didn't bother addressing it at the time because the guy was just an idiot.

Someone asked about blood ball and Jared said maybe in Vegas, and asked who was going to the Vegas shows. He said we'd better get our asses there because it's a Thirty Seconds To Mars show, baby! He spoke directly to Shannon about it how funny that would be to just show up to the iHeartRadio show afterwards covered in blood and take over social media (iHeartRadio is on at the same time as their show) He said they wouldn't even need to stay long, just take some pics, maybe with Taylor Swift in the middle, and that would be all anyone spoke about. He was all giggly while talking about it, which is just the best thing in the world to witness.

Jared then asked us who was going to iheart. I don't think anyone raised their hands. He asked who liked Taylor Swift and someone said they like Mars, and Jared said, "You can like us both." He said he met Taylor and she was really sweet.

Jared said there was time for one more question, and told Shannon to pick it. For the record, they went on to answer at least five more, haha. Love it when they just want to hang with us :)

Someone asked Shannon about releasing a blooper real, and he said they'd never thought of it but it was a good idea. Jared said it's already on Youtube: 'Funny Moments' He had a really sweet smile when he said it. I'm so glad they know about those and about how happy they make us! Tomo also smiled and said, "Yeah, you guys do it for us!"

Someone said hello from Gabby, the little girl in Closer To The Edge. Jared didn't seem to know who that was at first, but asked how she was doing. He said it would be interesting to do a documentary 10 years later with the same people. He said it would be like "7up".

The next question was someone saying hello from someone in Iraq or something, and Shannon said it's time for the signing. I had my The Making Of LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS book ready to be signed. When it was my turn Shannon said, "Thanks, [name]!" and Tomo said, "Thanks for supporting." Jared said, "Thanks, [my mum's name]!" to my mum and "Hi, [name]!" to me. Let me just tell you that hearing Jared Leto say hello to you by name in that tone of voice with that look on his face is pretty much greatest thing on the planet. Just ask Bec and Jess, who got a "Hello, Bec!" and a "Jesssssss" from Jared. It was pretty much all we spoke about that night, haha. It's important to note that the way he said, "Jesssss" was the way he said, "Zedddddd" that time Zedd joined them on VyRT. Can you imagine?? I mean my Lord. How Jess managed to walk out of there and not collapse into a puddle is beyond me.

When it was picture time, my mum went first. She did some kind of weird running man thing (seriously, I have no idea what she was doing but it was hilarious!) and nearly tripped. Shannon caught her and bent down to her level (she's very short) and said, "Are you ready, [name]? Are you ready???" and then laughed as they took the picture. Jess was next, and when she walked up to them, she said Jared and Shannon were whispering something about peaches. She said, "What are you Letos whispering about?" They kept whispering then Shannon said, "Hey I like your tattoo!" Next it was my turn, and I asked for silly faces. I have no idea what any of them did. I only know I stuck out my tongue and leant my head against Jared's chest. Finally it was Bec's turn, but I didn't see what she did because I had already started to walk away.

We watched them take the rest of the pictures and then waved goodbye to them as they left. We went and found a place to wait until the show began, where the highlights included...
Ander asking us to do the balloons for This Is War. That was an incredible experience and a half! For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, during the song This Is War, they release huge balloons into the crowd. We were able to wait backstage with the crew so we could help them throw the balloons into the crowd. It was amazing, and pretty funny because one of the crew member was getting annoyed because we were all watching Jared, and the crew member wanted us to watch him so we knew when to release the balloons. Haha. Please. As if we don't know.

Bright lights. Again. This time Jared remembered all the words, and he looked pretty pleased with himself! Haha.

Jared running into the crowd for Kings and Queens and singing to the girls who made the shirts he liked. Then singing the remainder of the song to a man in a wheelchair. He is such a sweetheart. I adore him. Can you tell?

Jared bringing the little girl who's father died onstage for Closer To The Edge and singing to her. Honestly if people still question his motives and talk shit about him at this point, I have no idea what they are seeing because he is just a wonderful human being. Just wonderful.

We did the balloons!!!!

All we need is faith.

Shomo love in Bright Lights <3

Tehe :3

TITLE LYRICS: "This Is War" by Mars

For more posts about my adventures in The City Of Angels, click HERE.