Mobile Savings App Ibotta Raises $20 Million From Netscape Founder Jim Clark & Others

Allie Kranick:

Couldn’t be prouder, more excited or happier to share this news. Hard work pays off. Love my job. If you still haven’t, download Ibotta & check out the fruits of our labor!

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Big money for small savings: the mobile couponing app Ibotta, which lets consumers save money on grocery purchases, household goods, apparel, electronics and more, has raised $20 million in Series B funding, the company is announcing today. The lead investor in the round is Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics, Netscape, and Healtheon/WedMD. He will now be joining the company’s board of directors, as a result of the new funding.

Also participating in the round was Tom Jermoluk, previously of Silicon Graphics, @Home and KPCB.

Ibotta, to remind you, began as a mobile couponing app that helped consumers save at the grocery store. Instead of “clipping coupons” digitally, the app has you engage with brands by answering a trivia question, or a single survey question, reading a fact, watching a video, or sharing on social media. For each action, you earn $0.25-$0.50, generally. After you claim your offers, you then…

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It has become apparent that I am a horrible blogger.

Cue the, “Whoops, another few months of blog abandonment” confession.

I could feel this post coming, creeping under the surface these past few weeks, but I wasn’t sure what it would culminate into. Still not sure, but it feels good to get some words flowing beneath my fingers.

What can I say about 2014 thus far?

Honestly, I felt like it began a bit of a letdown. 2013 was this grand adventure where I wasn’t sure what anything would really bring. Each day was meeting a different person, trying some new thing, not sure how all the experiences would play into the long term. I was wandering aimlessly into it all, with zero expectation or weight on any of it. I just wanted to live and be and let life mold me into whatever it wanted.

January marked my one year in Denver, bringing with it the acknowledgment of the life I had created. I had routines, I had “my people” here, I had drives to long distances across the state that required no actual directions, I had the makings of a permanent life in Denver (still do). That feeling of each morning bringing something unexpected had faded a bit. I was a little restless, very settled and it was a wee bit uncomfortable for the fearless wanderer of the past year to accept.

But now, as it is somehow already June 2nd, and I look around my room that is only my room for a few more short weeks before the next Colorado humble abode gets added to the list, and think about the fact that I have memories here of my life a year ago, I am so at peace in this life I’ve established.

Being home in St. Pete last weekend was the absolute best, and was really my first visit back where I was relaxed and felt entirely content by the end. It was ideal.

Was it hard to leave? Of course. I still have this perfect crew of people who make me feel so very loved when I go back and overwhelm my heart during the time that I spend with them. But I’m always ready to come back to Colorado, and get back into my life here, and I think that speaks wonders. This move has always been the right decision.

Mind you, it doesn’t get easier, this whole growing up thing. No one promised it ever would, so I’m not sure why I ever expect it to? There have been a handful of moments these past few months where I’ve looked back and thought to myself, “That was a grown up decision,” which shouldn’t seem so surprising at 25, but still is.

To put it bluntly, being a grown up can really suck.

There’s the relationship side of watching people change, you changing (for good and for bad), growing apart, missing people, removing people from your life, realizing you don’t really know someone anymore…it’s a hard pill to swallow. I think it’s especially difficult as you watch friends settle into their lives of marriage and kids and puppies and moves, and realizing certain people just aren’t going to be a part of your experiences, and you’re not going to be a part of theirs. And in today’s social media driven world, you’ll still know about their lives, you just won’t be an active participant; which makes it all a little more bittersweet.

Then there’s the whole wondering if you’ll ever not need your parents. With each passing day, it’s starting to look less and less likely. I also don’t understand how they ever spent the amount of money they did on my childhood (and heck, sometimes on my adulthood) without feeding me ramen and pb-and-j’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Those are my staples now, and I’m very okay with it, but I cannot even fathom the concept of having to care for another human financially, amongst other ways. I was already three when my mom was my age. Mindblowing. Luckily I have this amazing set of humans who truly care for me unconditionally and are still happy to be my parents and have me call them multiple times a day, declare my life in shambles a few times a week and help me to see them and cherish time with them every few months. Hashtag #blessed on this little paragraph, because I am. So, so blessed.

And then, all those other elements of life that come into the mix and make you feel like you really don’t know what you’re doing some days. But the older I’ve gotten, and this is bound to sound super cheesy, so my apologies; the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that none of us have it figured out. No one can predict what’s going to come next, how someone is going to act tomorrow, what decision will or won’t be made that will affect your life. It’s all out of our control, and it’s kind of wonderful, because we’re all in this thing together…like it or not.

“The worst thing you do when you think is lie — you can make up reasons that are not true for the things that you did, and what you’re trying to do as a creative person is surprise yourself — find out who you really are, and try not to lie, try to tell the truth all the time. And the only way to do this is by being very active and very emotional, and get it out of yourself — making things that you hate and things that you love, you write about these then, intensely. When it’s over, then you can think about it; then you can look, it works or it doesn’t work, something is missing here. And, if something is missing, then you go back and reemotionalize that part, so it’s all of a piece.

But thinking is to be a corrective in our life — it’s not supposed to be a center of our life. Living is supposed to be the center of our life, being is supposed to be the center — with correctives around, which hold us like the skin holds our blood and our flesh in. But our skin is not a way of life — the way of living is the blood pumping through our veins, the ability to sense and to feel and to know. And the intellect doesn’t help you very much there — you should get on with the business of living.”

- Ray Bradbury

No time to rest. I’m gonna find me a life, baby, way out West.

One year.

Cue the sentimental mushy this-was-the-best-year-of-my-life and I am so overwhelmed with how much has happened since January 7th, 2013 gush of words thanking each and every person who contributed to the memories of the past 365 days of my life.

No, but really. This time last year I was somewhere in the midwest with a packed car going pretty damn fearlessly into the unknown.

People still ask, “Why Colorado? Why Denver?” Honestly, I still have zero idea why Colorado, why Denver. I knew maybe three people before I came here, but I’ve always been one to trust my gut, and this magical mountainous terrain just felt right.

Everyone claimed it would take six months to get settled, to get in a groove, to feel comfortable…and they were right. But those first six months taught me more about myself than I could have ever expected. They forced me to be brave, to learn to appreciate a home surrounded by people who love the crap out of you (looking at you, St. Pete), to be truly independant and to solely rely on myself. To adventure. To go play in the big bad unknown world. To genuinely enjoy being alone. They made the past the six months so much sweeter, with so many wonderful people and memories that have filled up my heart and caused so many warm and fuzzy moments.

Denver is home. And I never doubted it for a second. There was never a morning where I wondered if or when I would turn around and head back to Florida. It was gonna work here, and it did, and I thank the sun and the moon and the stars every day for that blessing.

This one year anniversary falls a week or so shy of my 25th birthday, and while I’ve never been one to be too excited for birthdays*, this year feels like a bit of a celebration.

*Pretty sure this has to do with some complex from skipping a grade and being the youngest in all of my classes growing up, which inspired an irrational fear in my preteen years where I would lie and pretend to be 11, not 10; 12, not 11, and so on. Why this inspired such anxiety I’ll never know, and looking back it looks downright absurd. Hell, all of my friends will be in their 50s and I’ll still be holding court in the 40s with a strawberry daquiri and a few less wrinkles. Why did I ever think being younger was an issue?

I’ve survived a quarter of a century on this wacky earth, and I think the excitement for 25 stems from just how great this last year has been. I grabbed the reigns, took control of my life and created this amazing existence filled with so many new and eye opening experiences. Colorado has made me more comfortable in my own skin than I’ve ever felt. I now understand when things are “good for the soul” and the power that nature can have on drawing out this inner joy and happiness that’s bigger than all of us. This world is an insanely beautiful place and it’d be selfish of any of us to take any day for granted.

That got a wee bit more inspiration on the back of an incense packet than I wanted, but I meant every word, so there they shall stay.

So, 2013: Thank you for taking claim to the best year of my life thus far. You were a lovely teacher and the wisdom you bestowed has given some stellar guidance for the future. You will always be so fondly remembered.

And to my sweet Colorado: Thank you for being the best thing I never knew my life was missing.

The tunnel

I came upon “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” on TV the other night.

The book is a staple in coming-of-age adolescent literature, an exploration of the confusion of growing up and experiencing love and trying to figure it all out; why it’s still so popular years later. It was a favorite of mine as a preteen with too many emotions than she knew what to do with, and one of the only books I can vividly remember continually checking out of the library.

Watching the film I’m not sure years ago if I entirely understood the complexity of the troubles Charlie, the protagonist, experiences. It’s pretty heavy stuff. I also didn’t remember the story taking place in Pittsburgh, and looking back I wonder if that’s why the book was such a favorite, since it connected to such a major part of my life.

I wrote down multiple lines from the book in my many rereads: “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite” … “We accept the love we think we deserve” … “Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.” … “And all the books you’ve read have been read by other people. And all the songs you’ve loved have been heard by other people. And that girl that’s pretty to you is pretty to other people. And that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you are describing ‘unity.’”

Those same quotes that resonated while reading were just as poignant while watching, and the closing monologue had my full attention as the film drew to a close:

“I can see it. This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song and that drive with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment I swear, we are infinite.”

I was all in, thinking of particular drives with favorite people and certain songs playing, when in an instant: Pittsburgh was aglow on the screen.

I realized that the characters had been driving through a tunnel, and that it was my tunnel.

Whenever I return to Pittsburgh and we take the drive from the airport to Munhall and my grandma’s house, the anticipation builds the closer you get. Why? Because there is a magical moment when you exit the Fort Pitt tunnel and Pittsburgh is just there in front of you for the taking. It’s unlike anything else.

As a child it was the immensity of Three Rivers and the fountain and the skyline and the yellow bridge and all the green signs leading in all different directions. It just seemed so large and impressive, but still so familiar.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to take the moment with me on my phone but it’s always blurry and can never capture the true essence of that awe when the city just seems to instantly appear.

Watching, it was a “someone else gets that Fort Pitt tunnel feeling too” moment.

Via Google, I learned that Stephen Chobsky, the author of Perks who also adapted the screenplay and directed the film, is from Upper St. Clair. In an interview for the film, Chobsky was asked and answered the following:

All your work, like the TV series “Jericho” and the screenplay of Rent, is very location-based. But in theory, you could have filmed this movie in Toronto.
We could have. And there was some talk about New York. But I said to [the producers], “This movie has to be filmed in Pittsburgh. There are details that you can’t fake anywhere else. Of course you have the Fort Pitt Tunnel, which is unlike any other tunnel in the world. But more than that, it’s the food, it’s the people, it’s the blue-collar background. One of the best stories I have about making this movie: John Malkovich, [who was a producer onWallflower,] we always know him as this eccentric, genius actor, but he’s from a rural town in Illinois. He played football. He was a guy’s guy. And when he came to [Pittsburgh], he looked around and he said, “I get this place.” So his advice to me was, “Direct this movie like a guy from Pittsburgh. Always get the tough take.” Because he knew that, even though my story was emotional, I came from a tough place. And if I fought against the sentiment of the story, it would become a better movie. It takes a tough person to be emotional without being sentimental. Whatever tough I have, I got from this town.

It is unlike any other tunnel in the world. Is that because it’s the only tunnel to without fail have construction and traffic slowing your entrance? Is that all just there to make you itch for the other side of the tunnel that much more?

Maybe what makes the tunnel so special is just everyone and everything that it leads to, waiting there on the other side.

Perks Fort Pitt

That one song…

that never gets old.

Music has always been my go to escape artist, whether happy, heartbroken, pissed, sad, etc. Name an emotion or an event in the past 25 years and I’ve got a song that’s my emotional blanket for that very moment.

But this one song in particular, and this version of this very song, gets me no matter what I’m feeling. It’s the goodness.

So, sit back, close your eyes and tap tap tappy that volume all the way to high.

I don’t care if you love him, hate him, feel entirely indifferent:  John Mayer brings out all the feels in his “Where the Light Is” version of  “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room.”

The lyrics, the tempo, the everything.

Thanks for this one, Johnny boy.

It’s cold, let’s date!

Ah, the first evening you exit work and get slapped in the face with a cold misty wind, then half sprint the eight blocks to your car because you’re entirely underdressed and smell fireplaces burning in some warm abode nowhere near you.

Cue the annual desire for the “winter boyfriend.”

A quick Google search resulted in an Onion-style piece explaining this cultural phenomenon, mockingly on point:

“Women everywhere scramble to lock down ‘winter boyfriend’”

Burnaby, BC – Anthropologists studying human female migration patterns have noticed mass movements of women toward cafes, college campuses, and libraries in pursuit of finding a mate for the winter months – the ‘winter boyfriend.’

“The female on the hunt for the winter boyfriend will scout out the bearded, plaid-breasted, thick-frame spectacled male who is genetically predisposed to winter hibernation,” Lee added, while discretely observing female mating patterns in a local Starbucks. “She will use her mating call, “oh it’s starting to get so cold out. I’m freezing!” to signal to the male that she is seeking warmth for the winter and is willing to mate consistently to get it.”

“Once the male and female have paired off, they will begin their months-long hibernation ritual of cuddling, sharing common colds, and watching movies on Friday nights, much to the chagrin of the rest of their pack.”

“Toward the end of the season, the relationship runs its course,” Lee noted. “The female sloughs off the male cocoon, leaving him a husk of his former self, and metamorphoses into a mini-skirted, high-heeled butterfly, flying out into the Spring.”

Why does cold weather suddenly incite desires of sharing the season with someone else? Why is it that when the leaves begin their magnificent multicolor journey, this is an indicator that in a few short weeks you’ll suddenly feel the need for body heat other than your own?

Because sometimes hot chocolate, a down comforter and wool socks solo on your couch just don’t do the trick.

It doesn’t help that every male instantly becomes attractive once they have some scruff and a good sweater. Friends have referred to my “type” as homeless on more than one occasion (you’re welcome, every guy I’ve ever dated) but I like to think of it as “any gentleman with a solid showing of facial hair in temperatures creeping below 60 degrees who is wearing some oversized piece of cold weather clothing that makes him appear very huggable.”*

*There may be a few other stipulations, but this is pretty on point.

Here’s the thing though…

Do I actually want to date this aforementioned “winter boyfriend”? No.

If I were to stay indoors with another human each and every cold night the chance of me liking them past the first week of December would be slim to none. Social lives survive the winter just fine with a heavy coat and a glass of whiskey in a packed bar.

Do I want someone who thinks I’m adorable in an extra large sweatshirt and leggings, delivers me wine on nights when I’m hibernating and acts as my own personal space heater? Yes.

I don’t even need you to do the cliche light gazing tour of the town, hand holding through extravagant displays or mistletoe makeouts. You don’t have to buy me a Christmas present, escort me to any holiday work function or bake eight dozen overly iced festive cookies with me.

I solely need you to be at my beck and call to brave the elements when I’m watching some sappy seasonal chick flick (SEE: “Love Actually,” “Serendipity,” “The Holiday,” etc.) that makes me feel like this winter would somehow be 1000x better with another human by my side.

Or maybe I just need a dog.

You should date an illiterate girl.

Good writing must be shared. This is great, and I wish that I had written it. Thank you to Alex Faubel for sharing.

You should date an illiterate girl.

Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in the weary squalor of a Midwestern bar. Find her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in a film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love. Fuck her.

Let the anxious contract you’ve unwittingly written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like sushi and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale or the evenings too long. Talk about nothing of significance. Do little thinking. Let the months pass unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her decorate. Get into fights about inconsequential things like how the fucking shower curtain needs to be closed so that it doesn’t fucking collect mold. Let a year pass unnoticed. Begin to notice.

Figure that you should probably get married because you will have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take her to dinner on the forty-fifth floor at a restaurant far beyond your means. Make sure there is a beautiful view of the city. Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass of champagne with a modest ring in it. When she notices, propose to her with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do not be overly concerned if you feel your heart leap through a pane of sheet glass. For that matter, do not be overly concerned if you cannot feel it at all. If there is applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile as if you’ve never been happier. If she doesn’t, smile all the same.

Let the years pass unnoticed. Get a career, not a job. Buy a house. Have two striking children. Try to raise them well. Fail frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference. Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a mid-life crisis. Grow old. Wonder at your lack of achievement. Feel sometimes contented, but mostly vacant and ethereal. Feel, during walks, as if you might never return or as if you might blow away on the wind. Contract a terminal illness. Die, but only after you observe that the girl who didn’t read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion, that no one will write the story of your lives, and that she will die, too, with only a mild and tempered regret that nothing ever came of her capacity to love.

Do those things, god damnit, because nothing sucks worse than a girl who reads. Do it, I say, because a life in purgatory is better than a life in hell. Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent of a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, goddamnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.

Do it, because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose bitter cynicism will run on, run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm and cadence of a life well lived.

Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.

Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are storytellers. You with the Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the Woolf. You there in the library, on the platform of the metro, you in the corner of the café, you in the window of your room. You, who make my life so goddamned difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life of which I spoke at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being told. So out with you, girl who reads. Take the next southbound train and take your Hemingway with you. Or, perhaps, stay and save my life. *

Charles Warnke

alternate ending

It inspired a response piece, though I’m not quite as fond of that as I am of this gem. The closing line is the best though, if I do say so myself.

Hello, old friend.

Whoops.

It’s almost been a solid three months since I last wrote anything on here.

On September 10th I’ll have been in Denver for eight months, and the last three have been a whirlwind, in the best way.

To put it in perspective: today was my first completely solo day for the first time since May.

When I moved everyone guaranteed it would take six months for everything to “fall into place.” There hasn’t been a moment since I trekked across the country that I’ve questioned my move, so I’ve never had to give myself the, “Stay another day/week/month/etc.” pep talk, but I doubted that it would actually require half a year of time.

I was wrong.

Since June, I…

Got a job that could not possibly make me any happier, and allows me to now understand when you look forward to going to work each day. Happy to say I joined the flourishing startup community that Denver and Boulder have developed, and do not believe that I could have found a more driven or encouraging work environment with coworkers who really are the best. I am one happy gal.

Had one of my best friends move here and become not only my roommate, but my partner in crime for all things this mountainous terrain has to offer. All my previous solo dolo adventures got kicked up 100 notches with her presence. I cannot even express how grateful I am.

Started making actual money again, therefore allowing me to spend any extra cent on tickets to every musical event you could imagine in the Denver area. The music scene here will leave me eating ramen and saltines by the time September and October pass, but it’s a dream come true for someone who couldn’t plan attending a concert and missed many a heartbreaking show for the better part of two-and-a-half years. Said roommate writes for 303 magazine, and covers plenty of the shows we attend, so read her.

Realized how freaking quickly time really passes. I’ve almost been here eight months? My grandma will be 87 in October? My niece turned 14 and started high school this past week? One of my oldest and best friends will be a wife come May 2014? I can qualify as a quarter of a century old in less than six months?  This life stuff, fly-in-g by.

Learned how to utilize every last ingredient left in a cupboard and fridge and transform miscellaneous items into a tasty meal. Peppered pickle grilled cheeses on toasted hot dog buns. Rigatoni with a jalapeño-lemon-white-wine-garlic-tomato sauce, topped with greens sautéed in garlic. Uncle Ben’s Spanish Rice combined with black beans and whatever’s left in the produce drawer.  Sriracha shrimp stir fried with celery, green peppers , carrots and orzo. Yes, orzo. Expect a “How to fake that you’re a culinary chef while on a college student’s budget in your mid 20s” in bookstores Summer 2014. Or on a blog in the next month.

Let myself go with the flow and let something happen. We’ll just leave that one at that.

But, after today, I want to give first-six-months-in-Denver Allie a lifetime supply of Cabernet and baseball tickets. Though, I’ll take both of those as well, if someone is feeling generous.

When I moved here, I spent a lot of my time alone, doing things solo, meeting new people, adventuring my way through this city on my own. I had my reliable WINS crew who tended to transfer over to FINS/SINS territory, but I’ve added to them and now have a nice little network of people that I interact with on a pretty regular basis.

Today? I was a lone wanderer. I had a me day, and to be honest, at first it was uncomfortable. You don’t realize how much you start to depend on other people until you’re a day without those people. First six months was a whole lot of depending on me, myself and I, so for independent Allie it was a little unnerving to realize the dependency that’s developed.

Add in that I’ve been especially homesick this week and today was an even bigger challenge. But in a good way. I made myself uncomfortable again, and that in itself was comforting. Probably why I found my way back to this reliable pal. This blog provided an outlet, much like yoga/running/cooking/wine/etc. for me to just not think, therefore letting my thoughts go.

A little reprioritizing is never a bad thing, and I’ll incorporate writing here back into my routine. Good to see ya again.

P.S.

- That job? With Ibotta, where we’re revolutionizing mobile couponing. Download the app. It’s free, and gives you cash back. Really.

- Music and I are in a pretty serious relationship these days. So, what I’m listening to right now:

- The Rays, man. And those Pirates. Possibly solving my homesickness for the 727 and 412 in one fell swoop, otherwise known as the World Series. A gal can dream.

The Roo.

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Ahh, the sweet smell of patchouli in the morning.

The delightful combination of mid-June middle-of-a-field in Tennessee sweat emoting from desperately-in-need-of-a-shower bodies, a thin layer of dirt covering their every extremity. The smell of festival goers extracurricular activities heavy in the air, with a dash of greasy festival foods and the hint of summer storms brewing, occasionally dusting raindrops on the sun kissed shoulders of attendees. And as the soundtrack to it all, endless live music of every shape, size and genre.

Bon-na-roo.

June 13th through 16th you will find me shacking up in a tent with my soon-to-be Denver partner in crime and some other pals amidst 85,000 of our closest friends.

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I especially hope we meet her. She looks like a very good time.

I had the privilege of attending Bonnaroo from 2007-2009, working alongside my mom and an unforgettable group of people on the video production side of things at the festival. My college summers were better than most.

Best memories? Crouching sidestage to watch Regina Spektor bang out a remarkable performance on her piano, seeing Kings of Leon before I liked Kings of Leon, protecting my camera girl with all the bodily force I could muster as M.I.A. encouraged the crowd to rush the stage, mesmerized maybe 20 feet from Sting as The Police closed out their reunion tour, Jack Johnson barefoot strumming his guitar with a gin and juice, Bruce Springsteen singing “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” to a packed Saturday night crowd, Ben Harper crooning sweet raspy lullabies on a smoky stage, Vampire Weekend “before they were cool” on a Thursday in ’07 rocking out, the view from a platform on stage into the endless sea of bodies as Phish jam-banded for hours, Sigur Ros decked out in full George Washington style presidential garb playing an eerie set at 1AM, waiting hours for Kanye West to get off his high horse and drink the bottled water provided (though it wasn’t what he requested) then unintentionally watching the sun rise due to his tantrum, an unforgettable Flaming Lips show (duh)…the list goes on and on.

But one performance will always be especially memorable…

My mom loves Elvis Costello.

She’s been a fan of his for years, and he played my final year working Bonnaroo in one of the smaller, more intimate tents.

We worked the show together, and watching my mom be a fan, something I had never experienced, was really really cool.

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Jenny Lewis joined Elvis Costello for part of his performance, and as a Rilo Kiley fan, it was a delight to me. My mom and I got to be fans, completely lost in the music, side-by-side. The best.

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I always said, “One day I’ll come back here and play, not work,” as we dodged the delirious music-drunk (and drunk-drunk, too) attendees on our golf cart, navigating the grounds back to our camera compound.

Well, this year, at long last, I’m making my triumphant return to Manchester, TN.

I will brave my own body odor, and everyone else’s, for four days of living/breathing/walking/eating/sleeping/dreaming live music.

“They don’t even know what it is to be a fan. Y’know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.”

Paul McCartney, Edward Sharpe, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, Lord Huron, Trombone Shorty, Father John Misty, Passion Pit, Pretty Lights, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas and many more. We will dance under the stars and frolic in the summer sun.

Glorious.

I will watch Tom Petty, for a long-awaited very first time, close out Bonnaroo as the sun sets on Sunday evening.

I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have dreamt that better myself.

This is my year of making things happen.

So in the words of my girl Penny Lane, “It’s all happening.”