My 24th Birthday/South by Southwest 2015

March 14th, also known as Pi Day, is the day of my birth. I share this marvelous birthday day with the great Albert Einstein, which would explain my extremely high intelligence level 😉

I started my birthday with a very unique experience, an hour float in a sensory deprivation tank followed by an hour massage. For those of you unaware of what a sensory deprivation tank is, it’s basically a giant enclosed bath tub about ten feet long, six feet wide, and eight feet tall which is filled with about a foot of water with Epson salt (so you can float).

I stepped in and sealed the door behind me, an illuminating green glow partnered with soft music filled the tank. I pressed wax earplugs into my ears, to prevent salt water from getting in, gently laid back onto the warm water, and began to float.

After a few minutes the music faded out and the light dimmed until eventually I was in complete darkness and silence. Sensory deprivation.

Next came the tricky part, turning off my mind. I feel like I speak for most people when I say that this seems next to impossible to do. Go ahead, try it. Close your eyes and try to clear your mind of everything for five minutes. That means no staring at your phone of checking your email. Just simply being present.

It’s much harder than you think.

I remember my very first thought of being in the tank was, how the hell am I going to lay here for an hour?! Sixty minutes felt like an eternity when you’re doing absolutely nothing.

For the first ten minutes (or at least my perception of what I thought was ten minutes since I had no clock in the tank) my mind was racing in all sorts of directions, as it normally does, and I found it hard to maintain a grasp on it.

Eventually, after maybe a half hour I began to gain complete control of my thoughts. Each time my mind would drift away I could pull it back with an inhalation and then release; returning my mind to neutral.

My mind and thoughts became clear and the one thought that remained constant in my mind was, “this life will be the most amazing thing that I will ever experience.” I felt as if my mind had fully sunk into my soul and the universe was trying to tell me something. It was trying to tell me not to worry about anything because this life will be amazing.

Before I knew it the tank began to illuminate again and the music returned.

I exited the tank, showered in my private shower, put on my robe then walked across the hall to my massage.

Commuting by bicycle everyday this massage was very long overdue. Just the right amount of pressure released all the toxins from my body and loosened my muscles for all the cycling ahead of me.

I left the building with a clear mind and a cleansed soul. Completely ready to take on my 24th year of life.


South by Southwest – No badge, No Wristband, NO PROBLEM

Just like last year my birthday just so happened to land during South by Southwest (SXSW). Which is a giant music/film/interactive festival that takes over the entire city. Over 200,000 people flock to Austin from all over the world to see bands, watch movies, and try to find the next hottest app or gadget. A badge or wristband would cost you anywhere from a few hundred bucks to fifteen hundred bucks which would get you pretty much unlimited access to everything (it’s all pretty much a rip-off).

Interactive week had just kicked off and I set out downtown to do some exploring and photography.

Walking randomly through the city I turned a corner and nearly bumped into my friend, Danny, who was also wandering around.

Neither one of us had a badge or wristband but we were both confident that wouldn’t stop us from getting into any events. We strolled up to some bar having a corporate event and were immediately stopped by a doorman checking ID’s.

“Did you guys RSVP?” he asked as he glanced over my license.

“Yeah.” I said and walked through. Well shit, that was easy. I thought to myself as I walked up the stairs into the bar. I was next greeted by an unfortunate surprise, another table for checking in. I told myself to just act confident and I would get through.

“Hello, welcome. Name please?” The girl greeted me from behind the counter.

“Yes, Daniel LaFata.” There was a pause as she scrolled through her iPad trying to find my name.

“Uh, I’m sorry, I can’t find you on here.”

“Well I got an e-mail confirming my RSVP.” I sternly stated.

She then glanced down at my camera, “wait, are you press?” She asked.

“Yeah.” Sure, why not. I thought to myself.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” She then reached under the table and began digging through a box. Shit. She’s probably looking for another list to check. “Here you go.” She handed me a black badge that said “Media” on the front.

I turned around and pointed at Danny, “he’s with me.” And she handed him a media badge as well.

“Well that was easy!” I said once we got through security.

Throughout the rest of the day we took this same approach which got us into several corporate events.  And the great thing about corporate venues is that everything is FREE. Free food, free drinks, and free music. What more can you ask for?!


Kid Cudi

Later on that day I went to see Kid Cudi with Erica. We had VIP passes because she was on the host committee for the concert. Which is a good thing because if it wasn’t for that then I probably never would have seen him. The event was free but you had to RSVP online. 30,000 people registered for the event; the venue only holds about 2,200 people. The only way to get in is if you started waiting in line around 10 a.m.! Doors didn’t open until 7 p.m. and Kid Cudi didn’t go on until 10 so basically if you wanted to see this guy perform you would have to burn an entire day waiting around for 12 freaking hours! Personally, I don’t think anyone is worth waiting 12 hours to see.

Being part of VIP I got to roll in about ten minutes before the show started with any worry of a long line to hold me back. When I got into the VIP section, once again, the world opened up to me. Free drinks (even though I don’t drink it was still pretty cool) and free food! The event was catered by Stubbs barbecue, so, as expected, the food was amazing!

The show, to say the least, was pretty incredible. I’m not really that big of a fan of Kid Cudi so I find it hard to put my heart into writing about him but to say the very least it did make a perfect end to an incredible birthday.

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