Seven Days in Sydney | #MaddietakesAUS Part 1

It's Thursday the 4th of February and I'm on the train from Sydney to Penrith. In Australia.

I've dreamed of visiting Australia since middle school and have been planning this trip since last August, so this entire week has been spent pinching myself with each new experience - in awe and disbelief that this is actually happening. It's crazy to think that today marks the end of my first week on the continent - equal parts saddening as to how fast it's going, and exhilarating to realize how much I've done in such a short amount of time.

Since we touched down at Syndey Intl. Airport last Thursday, the excitement and adventure has been non-stop. I was swimming in the ocean within two hours of stepping off my plane, and my first morning I woke up in an apartment literally steps off Bondi Beach. The weekend was spent in the scenic Blue Mountains, and my week has been spent venturing through the various nooks and neighborhoods of Sydney.

I've seen more of this city in seven days than I thought I could see in two weeks, and have spent every minute surrounded by friendly faces both old and new. I've seen the most beautiful colored ocean water, explored national parks, taken rainwater showers, and drank on the steps of Sydney's Opera House. The city is vast but still feels small and comfortable - it's certainly not the intimidating metropolis I expected. The people are friendly and welcoming without question or reason. The views are scenic, the landscapes majestic, the food delicious, and the weather is summer at its finest. 

this was two hours after i got off my flight. Incredible.

The word "rejuvenation" feels pretty fitting right now. It's meant to describe a process of making something younger, fresher, and more "lively" - this trip certainly has been that. Learning to let go and be okay with not checking emails all day long, not dying for cell service or social media interaction, not worrying about anything other than myself in the moment has been hard. It's scary to let go, but man is it beautiful when you do. This freedom I feel to simply live in the moment is a freedom I've not felt in quite some time. It feels like learning to live again. I'm not just working, and not just "functioning in society", but actually living. I'm making time for genuine conversation, spending time reading and growing knowledge, I'm asking questions I might otherwise neglect, and taking time to be present in the moment instead of living through captured memories.

As if this journey needed any more connection to the "Everything In Transit" album, the only words to be rolling through my head all week long are the words to my favorite Jacks Mannequin song from that era, a simple chorus of the words "it's good to be alive".


Check out a few more of my favorite shots thus far below: 

Everything In Transit

It’s a 90º Saturday morning at the end of September and I’m sitting in a Starbucks inside Sky Harbor International Airport with Laurel. There are few things that could feel more “regular” to me than her and I boarding another plane, heading home from another one of our musical escapades across the country. But this time as we fly home from Arizona, things feel different. 

I’ve been traveling or working or doing something every weekend for the past 10 weeks straight. From the middle of July onwards, my life has been a roller coaster of events, adventures, and life changes, but this trip to Tempe marks the end of my seemingly endless schedule.

This weekend has been something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Making a trip to see my favorite band in their hometown is something I’ve only ever done once before, so having the opportunity to go see Jimmy Eat World with such a powerhouse lineup (Brand New, Hozier, Manchester Orchestra, Thrice, Spoon) to accompany them? That was something I couldn’t say no to. It just so happens that this weekend, my favorite young band of recent years, Twenty One Pilots, will make their debut at Red Rocks. This will be their third headlining show in Denver in just three years, and Laurel and I have now watched them grow from playing the 600-capactiy Bluebird into the 10,000 seat majesty of Red Rocks.

As much as this weekend epitomizes the ultimate summer finale, it also signals the end of one chapter of life for me. Between flights and festivals, the roommates and I said “goodbye” to our beloved home of the past two years in August, and I moved into my own apartment for the very first time. Just before that, I had to replace my first car (which i’d just paid off in November) due to hail damage, and started working my first full-time “big kid” job in June. To say this has been a season change would be an understatement; it feels like my entire identity has been turned upside down, making me question something new as each day passes. This weekend will be full of fun, but as the sun sets on Sunday night, summer will officially end in my mind’s eye. Although it brings this exhausting season of change to an end, it also begins a new season of uncertainty as this transition period comes to an end. I must admit I'm been nervous about what will come next.

Last Tuesday evening, I got home from running errands to find a package waiting at my front door. It was the beautiful re-release of Jack’s Mannequin’s Everything in Transit, one of my all time faves. Sitting on the floor of my apartment, reading the newly penned forward from Andrew McMahon, it donned on me how fitting it was to be celebrating this record during this particular week. 

Everything in Transit is more than just a record title. It’s not named for a song or a lyric, but rather it’s a statement; a over-arching theme for that point in Andrew’s life. Nothing was the same for him, everything was in flux, and he wrote through the heartbreak and confusion of his early twenties with honesty and wisdom that I don’t think even he fully understood back then. His choice to take the time to reflect so deeply on his personal struggles in the moment is what makes this record so important to me and so many others, even after all this time. Really, how else do you sucker people into spending $50 for a vinyl copy of a CD they’ve already owned for 10 years? 

Currently, i’m going through my own time of “transit”. I am the same age, conquering all of those same struggles, worries, and life changes that Andrew was dealing with when he wrote this album. As much as I’ve felt alone and confused, receiving this package was the huge eye opener that I needed. It’s so fitting that as this record turns 10, I’ve now hit that same part of life, and can relate to these lyrics like never before - a beautiful reminder that everyone has (or is) going through this same struggle. I may not be a prolific songwriter like Mr. McMahon, but I’m going to do my best to really get back in the swing of blogging, because whether it’s just for my own personal reflection, or for whoever you all are lurking in the ether of the interwebs, it’s important to share that same reminder I got on Tuesday evening: we are not alone. The human condition is a shared one, and there aren’t 3 billion people on this planet for no reason. We’re meant to share in these experiences together. To share joy, to share fear, to share struggle, to share life. It’s been a tough few months, but now as I head into what I hope will be a slightly calmer fall, I'm working on taking deep breaths, and remembering my favorite lyrics from this period in Andrew’s career: 

“it’s good to be alive”. 

Livin' La Vida WARPED: Update #2 (Southwest and SoCal)

Howdy friends! Today i write you from a train car zipping down the Californian coast. This is hands down one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced, and I am elated to be taking in the views. This past week since our last day off has been long and crazy, and our two days off have been much needed.

my view from the New Mexico Warped stop after the insane Sandstorm was done.

This week we completed what is generally the hottest dates of the entire tour. From Amarillo, we played in New Mexico, Arizona, Las Vegas, and then headed west to complete half of our California dates (Pomona, San Francisco, and Ventura). New Mexico is usually not too bad, but this year we changed venues and played Albuquerque for the first time. Aside from the GIGANTIC hill we all had to push our gear up and down all day, the venue seemed nice enough. The layout is very similar to that of Fiddler’s Green in Denver, and all of the merch tents were set up atop the lawn area of the amphitheater. I was super excited about my great view until right around 2:00pm, when a huge dust storm blew into the venue for about 30 minutes. I’ve never actually been caught in a dust storm before, it was impressively strong. At least ten merch tents “bit the dust” and were completely destroyed by the 40+mph winds hitting us - luckily mine was NOT among them! It took bungee cords, stakes, zip ties, and my entire body weight, but despite me being all alone holding down the fort, and the band being smack in the middle of their set, we all managed to fair alright through the weather. 

tour bus land Pomona

me, the Air Dubai boys, and the My Body Sings crew in Pomona - DENVER REPRESENT! 

The rest of the week was hot, but not even half as hot as it was the last time we did Warped Tour. Both Vegas and Arizona barely broke 100 degrees, a HUGE improvement from last tour’s record breaking heat of 130 degrees in Phoenix. As soon as we got to Pomona, I knew that the worst was behind us for the most part, and was elated to be in California. Pomona and Ventura’s are two of my favorites on the entire tour due to their settings. Pomona’s show is in the old Pomona Fairplex, which is filled with very classic “California-in-the-50’s” style buildings with pastel colors and huge neon lights, complimented by perfect rows of palm trees. I love wandering around and just soaking it in, letting my mind wander and imagine being there during it’s prime. Pomona Warped was a little extra special thanks to some Denver visitors. Denver band (and good friends) My Body Sings Electric was out touring California, and happened to be in the Pomona area that same day! It was amazing to have so many folks from Denver's music scene together in a different state, it made me proud to see that we are all getting out here and really "doing it". My other favorite spot, Ventura, needs no explanation. The Ventura fairgrounds are literally directly across the street from the beach! You wake up, walk off the bus, and the water is just right there. I took some time right after breakfast to go sit by the water and watch about half the tour surf the morning breaks. It was a beautiful moment to just be able to sit back and soak it all in. I am so very thankful to be spending my summer surrounded by these beautiful sights, and with such lovely friends at my side. 

the only crappy photo I could get of  Linkin Park thanks to how insane security got during their set. 

These past two days off I spent in both LA and San Diego. I caught a ride down with my manager and mentor JJ to Los Angeles and spent Monday eating at my favorite bakery (Porto’s) and catching dinner with my family. Today, i’m riding the train down (again, this is AMAZING!) back to San Diego to meet up with the rest of my crew. Hopefully I can enjoy some downtime at the pool, catch up on email, and hopefully get to go see “How To Train Your Dragon 2” (The Mazzaferri’s and I are very excited to see this). It feels great to have a few days to feel “human” and just enjoy some downtime. I’m excited for the rest of the tour, but leaving California is always bittersweet. I’ll check in again soon as I can, but for now, adios!

xoxo - M