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Lauren Answers the Cupcakes and Cashmere Post-Quarantine Questionnaire

Live music, all things travel, and a new and improved "normal" are calling.
Sitting by the English Riviera, December 2019. International travel, I miss you! 

Sitting by the English Riviera, December 2019. International travel, I miss you! 

It’s been over a year and we’re finally able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Access to the vaccine has given us the opportunity to find a sense of normalcy in our lives again, which is something I won’t let myself take for granted. So much has changed in my life over the past year, from my relationships to daily routines and work life, and I’ve come to the realization that things won’t ever be exactly the same—and that I need to establish a new normal. It hasn’t been easy, but with the excitement of live shows and music festivals returning, the ability to travel abroad to see family again, and even just getting to take part in simple daily activities that I didn’t appreciate until they were gone, I have more to look forward to than I ever have before. Although it’ll take time and a lot of adjusting, I’m ready to dive back into the world to live my life to the fullest.

An image that embodies where you'd like to be this year? 

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I’ve missed live music. SO MUCH. Music has held a special place in my heart for as long as I can remember. My dad played keyboard in a synth-rock band back in the day and exposed me to all types of music at a young age. I owe my appreciation for '70s and '80s funk, synth, and psychedelic rock to him. I played piano for twelve years growing up, which strengthened my passion for music even more. There’s absolutely no better feeling to me than seeing one of my music idols perform live. To sing along to the music that got me through tough times, that was always there for me, and that never fails to give me full-body chills. This photo was taken during one of those moments watching Tame Impala perform at the Shaky Knees Music Festival 2019: A moment when I was fully present and in complete awe, crying tears of happiness while croaking along to every word of the song. I really can’t fully express how much I’m looking forward to the return of music festivals, but I do know that to say I’m excited would be a huuuge understatement. 

Where's the first national/international trip you'd like to take? As far as international trips go, I’m really hoping to visit my family in Accra sometime later this year or early next year. My mom’s side of the family lives there and she hasn’t been able to see them in over two years, so I would love nothing more than to be able to plan a trip with her.

What's your indoor post-pandemic fantasy? I’ve been counting down the days until I’m back in a grimy, crowded indoor music venue, gradually squeezing my way to the front of the stage to see my favorite bands and artists perform live. As much as I used to loathe being shoved and elbowed by sweaty concert-goers, nothing quite compares to the almost meditative feeling of coming together with strangers to sing our hearts out to live music.

Work and company goals for post-quarantine? Being able to see the team more frequently in person and building closer relationships with them, not on a screen!

What's one thing you "hated" pre-quarantine that you'd love to do now? Pre-quarantine, going out dancing was one of my favorite things to do with my friends on weekend nights...but, the lines to get in were easily the worst part. Instant mood ruiners. As much as I hated waiting in long lines in order to boogie, after a year, it doesn’t sound so horrible anymore.

Any quarantine habits you plan to apply to post-quarantine? Enjoying the fresh air from the comfort of my patio! Before quarantine, I didn’t make use of my outdoor space as much as I do now. Being home so much, I was finally able to take the time to invest in nice patio furniture, which now makes sitting outside so much more pleasant.

What's a skill you learned in quarantine you plan to continue post-quarantine? Starting therapy five years ago introduced me to different types of journaling and self-help books, but it wasn’t until quarantine that I really learned how to meditate. I incorporated meditation into my everyday routine which became incredibly beneficial to my mental health, and it’s still a skill that I continue to work on and strengthen.

How did you grow and change over COVID, emotionally? I genuinely feel that I grew and changed in many ways throughout the pandemic, but emotionally, it was a rollercoaster. Some days had highs, and some days had very low lows. After shifting to working from home and going through a breakup mid-quarantine, I was alone more than I had ever been before, with little to no structure to my everyday life. I went some days without even speaking a word out loud to another person. There was a time when I felt myself sinking back into a dark place that I had worked so hard to pull myself out of years prior, and instead of giving in to it, I was able to take control and fight through it. I learned how to take time for myself when I needed it through meditation, and to be more gentle with myself in general, which was the emotional growth I needed. My first tattoo, which I got as soon as parlors re-opened, signifies this experience and my overall personal growth throughout the past year.

Any big travel plans that were cancelled during quarantine? Nope! Well, I did have a trip planned to Greece with my boyfriend at the time, but with how things played out during the pandemic, that’s out of the cards lol. I’d still love to go to Greece sometime...I’m dying to visit Santorini!

Any large event you missed in 2020 or 2021 that you plan to make up for post-quarantine? So. Many. Concerts. I was supposed to see one of my favorite artists, Tame Impala, last July, but luckily his tour was rescheduled for this year and I get to see him in October! Yay! I also had plans to go to Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Music Festival (headlined by Stevie Nicks and The Strokes!!!), which I’m now going to in October as well. See you soon, Stevie!

Aside from eating indoors and seeing friends, what not-obvious indoor activity do you miss most?  Spending an afternoon walking around the aquarium. Is that weird to say? Probably. Living in Atlanta, I have easy access to the largest aquarium in the world (The Georgia Aquarium), which has over 100,000 sea creatures! I’ll admit that I tend to nerd out over anything sea-related. I’ve always loved Jaws and all shark films, and don't even get me started on Discovery Channel's 'Shark Week.' My experience taking a Marine Biology class in high school pretty much sealed the deal, and to this day is still one of my favorite classes I’ve ever taken. I was lucky enough to take a field trip to the Georgia Aquarium where we were given behind-the-scenes access to the exhibits. I even spent my New Years' Eve ringing in 2019 alongside the whale sharks and belugas at the aquarium. So all of this to say that If you need me, I’ll be sitting here dreaming of the next time I get to roam around each and every exhibit, finally ending my day peacefully lounging in the Ocean Voyager room.

Are you buying anything in anticipation of post-quarantine? A new car! I’ve had mine for years now, and think the time has now come to invest in a new car for my young adult life. I’m planning on taking lots of road trips to visit friends this year, and I don’t think my little 2004 Toyota Camry can hold on much longer. We’ve been through a lot together, and I’ll miss her!

Any concert/event plans? Ohhh yes. As you probably know by now, music festivals and concerts are some of the events I have missed the most. I’d also love to see another Broadway Musical—so far I’ve seen Chicago in New York and Kinky Boots in London. I was in a lot of plays and musicals growing up through high school, and as a former thespian, I’m ready to broaden my horizons in the Broadway world.

What is the one thing you're most excited for in 2021? Finding my new normal again. It's truly a blessing to live in a country where businesses and stores are reopening and vaccines have been readily available, but with that return to normalcy comes new challenges. It’s been a bit challenging for me to make necessary changes to my previous quarantine lifestyle. Even after a year I still haven’t fully adapted to working from home and building the structure of my day around it, while finding the time to prioritize my mental health. There are still some days that I feel anxious to leave my apartment. Not to mention the inevitable changes that came with adding a furry member to my household, my puppy Rue (I caved and got myself a quarantine puppy back in January!). I can’t lie and say that it’s been easy to balance all of my responsibilities from home. It’s definitely been a huge learning experience and period of growth, and I’m more than ready to fully adjust back to a new, and better, normal.

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