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[Traveling Fangirl] Road to End Vacuum Part 2

31 Jul

New York City, here I come!!!

After 17 hours, I finally made it to New York City! I arrived about 3 weeks before End Vacuum at the other side of America. I still didn’t know at that time how I was going to bring myself from East to West coast but I thought I already managed to travel 9,000 miles from my hometown, figuring out how to cross a country would be a piece of a cake. Or so I thought.

I got too excited in exploring New Jersey and New York that I got a bit side-tracked and procrastinated on buying my plane ticket to LA.  Funny how a few days before buying my plane ticket, I was sort of thinking twice if I should push the trip through.  Crazy hormonal imbalance! haha! But seriously, for a brief moment I felt that it was too much. I was already privileged to see the sights and have this vacation, do I really need to travel another 3,000 miles more to follow my fangirl heart?!  The inner struggle didn’t last long. Haha! Who I was kidding? When did my practical self won over my fangirl self? Never.

August 21, 2008. I was off to LA. I didn’t have enough money to buy a direct flight to LA so I had to settle for a flight with one-stop over in Minneapolis. Stopovers never really bother me. The biggest mistake was not checking the plane I’d be riding to from Newark to Minneapolis. To my surprise, it turned out to be a 50-seater aircraft.

*breathe in, breathe out*

I really thought I’d be in a 200-seater airbus. Then I’d transfer to a 747 once we get to Minneapolis, but no. I am not a nervous flyer but if there’s one thing I really dislike, it’s riding a small aircraft. I believe in kung oras mo, oras mo na. If it’s your time to die, even if you are in a military jet or even staying comfortably at your house, you will die.

But still, small aircraft makes me nervous and I want all my trips to as enjoyable as possible. But I had no choice, I already handed my boarding pass to the ground steward.

One hour. I only had to endure it for 60 minutes, I said to myself. Calm down Aissa, people ride 50-seater planes everyday around the world.

LA bound… Incubus mode all day, all night

When the pilot announced that we were on our final descent to LAX, my heart flew to the moon and back. Incubus, I finally arrived at your hometown.

I’d be staying with my relatives in Anaheim which was an hour away from the venue. I didn’t want to be an inconvenience to anybody so I tried to find a way to go to UCLA by myself. Commuting in LA though was not that easy compared to New York. Luckily, my cousin offered to give my a ride. I’d be meeting Kat, fellow Filipina fangirl slash Incubus soul mate, on the venue. I went there quite early so I’d have ample time to explore the place. I met a few Incubus fans from all parts of the globe and everybody has their own Incubus stories to tell. In their company, my adventure going there sounded a little less crazy. Only fellow fans can truly understand how happy I was to be a part of this event.

At Royce Hall, UCLA

When Kat arrived, I was close to tears. Seriously, another Incubus dream is about to come true. Before the concert started, Mr. Steve Rennie himself went on stage to thank the fans and even mentioned where they came from. Kat and I couldn’t hide our delight when Renman mentioned the Philippines and we realized that we travelled the farthest among all the fans there. Kami na ang pinaka-nageffort!!

The concert itself was one hell of an experience! Mr. Einziger, you are a genius indeed. We even wore 3D glasses to enjoy the visual effects. In Mikey’s words, “It’s an insomnia-induced orchestral anxiety-attack! The concert began with a lecture from Brian Cox, a world renowned scientist and BBC correspondent, about particle physics. Basically about Large Hadron Collider at CERN. If you’ve read Dan Brown’s novel Angels and Demons, you might have an idea about it.

After the concert, we immediately stood up to go to the party hall but I was distracted by a pretty, young lady walking in our direction. “Is that Anne Hathaway?!”, I asked myself. When she was at arm’s length, I was able to confirm that she’s Anne Hathaway indeed. I wouldn’t hide the fact that I get giddy over the fact that I saw a Hollywood celebrity in the flesh. That close, for free. Even if I was never really a fan of hers.

Kat and I went to the party hall and you could say that both of us had a minor heart attack by the time we stepped in. Same party with our favorite rock stars, their close friends, their families, their celebrity buddies…….

*breathe in, breathe out*

We tried our very best to be calm and cool about it, but deep inside  we were hyperventilating. We had a pact that we’re going to sedate ourselves to blend in. The first one I saw was Chris Kilmore, he was talking to some people and we didn’t want to appear as too eager fans so we waited til he was alone. “Hi Kilmore!”, I said. He said hi as well and before we could even even introduce ourselves, he smiled at us and gave us a hug!!! We then told him that we came all the way from the Philippines just to see the show. “Wow. That’s cool, that’s great.”, he said.

With Incubus’ DJ Chris Kilmore

We saw Ben Kenney after that but he was with his girlfriend and we didn’t want to intrude so we just let them be.

There was a lot of people talking to Mikey, he was the star of the show anyway. We waited for the perfect time to approach so we could talk to him.

“Hi Mikey! I’m Aissa. I’m from Incubus street team Philippines. I flew 11,000 miles to see this show and it was worth it. You’re really great”, I said without pausing nor breathing.

“Wow, thank you. I really appreciate it. Thanks”, he said. He hugged me and then I asked to have a photo taken with him.

I loved how sincerely thankful he was for getting support from fans all over the world. It makes everything worth it.

I almost gave up my hope to see Brandon but the universe was with us at that time and the party didn’t end without a glimpse of him. We spotted him, but he was with his girlfriend Baelyn. As much as we’d like to talk to him, we just let him be. We were the sedated version of ourselves anyway, so we acted as if being in the same room as Brandon Boyd didn’t have a blissful effect on us.

We also had the chance to meet Steve Rennie. The coolest band manager in the planet. We gave him the same introduction.

“There’s a hospital across UCLA, I’m gonna have you girls checked because you girls are crazy”, he said. He was obviously amused after hearing how far we’ve come.

Well, flying 11,000 miles to see a 45-minutes show can be classified as crazy but then, in fandom world, it was the normal thing to do.

He even added “That’s why I tell the guys that they are lucky. They have the best fans in the world”.

I couldn’t agree more.

Kat and I with the BEST manager in the planet, Steve Rennie.

When we were about to leave, we saw other fans entering the backstage which was meant for the band and their families only. We didn’t try to do so because we’re completely satisfied with our encounter. We didn’t want to invade their privacy as well.

We were on an all time high after all that. Another priceless moment with my favorite rock band which not too long ago, I only watched on screen.

Fangirling takes me places, makes the impossible possible. I came such a long way for this experience and every time I think about it, I am so glad I did. ^_^

With Incubus’ genius guitarist, Mike Einziger

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[Traveling Fangirl] Road to End Vacuum Part 1

15 Jul

Off to the US

I have fangirl blood running through my veins. And when I get hooked on a certain fandom, I tend to go nuts. Perfect example would be my eternal love for American rock band, Incubus.

Anyone close to me knows how much I LOVE Incubus. I practically breathe their music. In 2008, I went to another continent just to see them.

Feel free to tell me how crazy I was.

Three months after I finally met and watched Incubus for the very first time during Light Grenades World Tour in Manila, I received a newsletter from the band that their guitarist, Mike Einziger, would be having a once in a lifetime show called End Vacuum at Royce Hall in California, USA. The management would be conducting a contest and up for grabs is a pair of ticket with after party pass. One winner would be selected from each country and state in the US.

Of course, my initial reaction was “I want to join this contest!!” Who wouldn’t? AFTER PARTY PASS at stake! But yeah, too unrealistic. It was more than 10,000 miles from where I live, I didn’t have enough money nor visa to support that fangirl craving.

The idea of letting that chance slip away didn’t sit well with me. So after bursting all these thoughts that it was a crazy idea, I applied for a US VISA.

Everybody knows how hard it is to get a US VISA. At that time I was 24, my savings weren’t big enough, the stamps on my passport weren’t that many. As a traveler, I did have plans to apply for a US visa but I was holding it off until I have a better shot at really getting one. But that was the beauty of being a fangirl, you get extra guts to do things you initially thought were impossible.

So I paid 5,000 pesos in BPI, filled out the application form, asked my brother who was working at a travel agency to schedule my interview and gathered all the  requirements needed.

I made my entry for the video contest and submitted it a few hours before the deadline. I just have this positive feeling that I could make it all happen.

The day of the interview came. I went to the US embassy in Manila after my shift. I got no sleep and Godzilla sized butterflies were flying in my stomach. I didn’t want to get my hopes up but at the back of my mind I was really really hoping I’d get approved to the point that I could see myself in tears if the consul said to my face, “I’m sorry but I have to deny your application” To pacify myself, I just thought that if I did get denied, I’d just wait for another world tour and watch them at least 5 times in all cities in Asia that don’t require visa.

After the crucial waiting game that lasted for almost 2 hours, my turn came. I tried to appear as calm and non-chalant as I stood in front of the consul.

Consul: How long have you been with Ingram Micro?
Me: 3 years.
Consul: Your office building is the same with the US embassy call center.
Me: Yeah. and it’s actually located at the same floor.
Consul: So what’s your purpose for visiting the United states?
Me: Vacation. And to watch a concert in LA.

He examined my application form and passport, then typed something in the computer while I try  not to pass out.  I was clutching on my documents real hard, anticipating for the consul’s signal to pass it to him so he can check my COE or savings account. After a few seconds, he looked at me and  smiled, “Ok. Enjoy your vacation to the US”.

*insert squeal*

That was it?!! No tear-inducing interrogation, no belittling about how I dared apply for a US visa when I only got Php46,000 on my account which was not even sufficient to buy a RT plane ticket.

Pure blisssssssssssss!

He gave me a piece of paper which contains direction on how to pay the courier that will deliver my passport plastered with my newly acquired US VISA! Oh yeaaahhhh!

After 3 days, I received the packet from the embassy and got another surprise. I was granted a 10-year multiple entry visa! Again, *squeal*

Thank you Lord for this blessing. Thank you dear saints of impossible wishes.  Thank you universe for conspiring to make this dream come true.

So the next blessing came in form of an e-mail from Ren management. I won the contest! I’ll be representing all Incubus fans in the Philippines. I’d see them in their hometown and I’d get to party with them!!!

Breathe Aissa. Breathe.

You know this very cliche saying that if something is meant to be, everything will just fall  into place?

Everything, literally, fell into place. At the back of my mind, I was getting paranoid. So many good things were happening, this couldn’t be real. Somebody please wake me up!

But I wasn’t dreaming. I was wide awake…. living my fangirl dream.

July 27,2008. 1 month and 12 days after I received that newsletter, I found myself at NAIA, bound to USA…

Insane? I know…