All posts by jlbnerdy

So much to talk about: everyday life, Disney, travel, food, design, and even more.

Where to Find Me: Diskingdom.com

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As if being on a Disney podcast wasn’t enough, I’ve found another place to spread my Disnerdery across the internet!

Recently, I started writing a weekly column for Diskingdom entitled Vacation Kingdom Know-How.  Each week I’m looking at a way to save time or money (or both) and hopefully make your Walt Disney world vacation a little bit better.

So far, there’s been an introduction post and this week’s post on planning apps and I’ve got some ideas for the next few that are exciting. The posts go up on Sunday, so keep an eye out or follow along on Twitter and Facebook for updates when there’s new content.

Also, if you’ve got any ideas for a column or hints for saving time and money at Disney, feel free to pass along your ideas- I promise I’ll give credit where credit is due! More than one brain is better than just mine!

I’ll close out with quick props- thanks to Jessica for coming up for the name and to Roger for running Diskingdom and letting me write! One day maybe I’ll be as impressive as Derek Burgan and his Saturday 6…Nah..not possible.

-Jenny

Katy Perry Inspiration

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Katy Perry at the HRC Gala

Things have started making sense lately.  Issues and concepts I have had difficulty with in the past have started clicking and my world view is truly becoming my own (I think it has to do with the return of Saturn I previously wrote about). In the process of this growth, I have been pointed the direction of pop singer Katy Perry- hear me out on this one.

I mentioned in my March Tunes post about non stop listening to “Chained the Rhythm”, thanks to randomly hearing it when visiting the Parliament House in Orlando. After multiple listens to the song (and I mean literally on repeat), I went ahead and added Ms. Perry to my list of people I follow on twitter. A day later, she posted video of her speech at the Human Rights Campaign Gala.  I watched it and cried. She had the answer I was looking for- you have to step out of what you were raised in.

In her speech, Katy speaks about being raised in an uber conservative household and even performing Christian music. She shared how she broke out of that mindset, “Most of my unconscious adolescence, I prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps. But then in the middle of it all, in a twist of events, I found my gift and my gift introduced me to people outside of my bubble. My bubble started to burst.”  

Throughout my life, the idea of LGBT issues had been seen as a no-no in my church background.  When I went to college, I had a few friends who were in the community and I spent quite a bit of time with. Even though I loved these people and didn’t see them as different from myself, there was always an issue inside of me when it was brought up at church. My viewpoint was “Hey, I’m not going to condemn you and tell you you’re going to Hell, don’t worry. I may not completely get what you’re doing, but it’s on you”.  Basically, I was, in church terms, lukewarm.

As I have gotten older, completed college, grad school and progressed onward in life, I had the same kind of feelings towards the LGBT community. I agreed that they should be able to marry when it came up and I definitely had some opinions that were more progressive than a lot of the folks I knew, but it was never really on the forefront of my mind and I never spoke up. Then Pulse happened.

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I have written about how much that tragedy in Orlando affected me and how I  was compelled to visit the memorial.  I mention in the post covering my visit, I woke up June 12, 2016 scared that my very good friend had been at the club that night. I was grateful that he had not been there.  Loss and I laid in bed and read the terrifying reports via twitter and other outlets before getting ready for church that morning.  We were both upset at the number of lives lost and I couldn’t imagine being there, waiting and waiting, to see if your loved ones and friends made it out safely.

I wore my bright scarf to church that morning, mainly because I didn’t own anything with a rainbow on it.  We sat in the back row and listened to the announcements and prayer requests. The church service was eventually over and not one person had as much as mentioned the Pulse events in a thought, prayer or anything. A week or two before, a policeman had been shot and killed somewhere way far off in the country and we had prayed three times about it. Three.

When I went to Pulse, I wore the same scarf I wore in memory of those people the morning after. It was one of the most important things I did on my trip to Florida.

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Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this art at P-House?

When visiting Orlando, I saw so much of the LGBT community, saw the way people are so accepting and saw the celebratory nature of the community. The last night of my trip we went to the Parliament House and I had the most fun of my entire vacation. Everyone was super accepting, loving and inclusive. I was told I was beautiful more than once, complimented on my dress, danced with, hugged, smiled at- I was welcome and had an amazing time. I was with a group of people who were enjoying being themselves, taking a second to not take life too seriously and spreading happiness.

In her speech, Katy Perry talked about the inclusiveness she found in the gay community, saying they “were the most free, strong, kind and inclusive people I have ever met. They stimulated my mind and they filled my heart with joy and they freaking danced all the while doing it. These people are actually magic, and they are magic because they are living their truth.”

That night my bubble truly, officially burst and I was surrounded by magic. I can’t wait to return to and live in a city that is filled with so much magic and love and hope.

Saying these words outloud makes me so happy but also scares me some.  I am working on not caring what others think as much, but I know some people who I love may be put off by these words due to their religious beliefs. All I truly want to share is compassion, empathy, love and hope.  You have shown me much of this in my life and I want to truly spread this legacy- all the way around. I am ready to be an ally for all people and spread the love that is in my heart. Thank you. I hope to make you all proud.

As Katy says in the song,

“So comfortable, we’re living
in a bubble, bubble
So comfortable, we cannot
see the trouble, trouble

So put your rose-colored glasses on
And party on”

Rocking it: The Tiki Dress

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When the weather gets warm, I get to rocking dresses. And they’re all I want to wear all summer.  There’s nothing better than just throwing on a dress and heading out the door- and I’m thrilled to have found my new fave.

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Rocking the dress at Parliament House- notice the Gaga on the wall! #love

I call this green dress the tiki dress and it was a super random Forever 21 find (can’t even find it on their website) for only $8 (regular price, not on sale!!!) and I picked it up before heading on my Orlando trip.

I’ve thrown it on a few times since returning with a sweater or some sort of cover up since it’s not 80 degrees in Chattanooga- yet.

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Big thanks to Staci for taking photos and finding good trees to stand by… like ones with crazy holes in them!

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Don’t worry, there wasn’t anything in there…

Do you guys have any go to outfits that you can just throw on and go?

xoxo

Jenny

Saturn’s Return…what?

 

saturn_malmercassini_5mRecently, things have started shifting in life. Things are becoming clearer and I’m figuring out where I need to be, both mentally and spatially. I eventually had a moment where I had to stop and just say “what is happening?”.

In order to chill, I was working through season 7 of “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix.  At this juncture, the series does a time skip and cuts ahead a few years.  With this jump, it turns out April is 29 and questioning what she really wants to do in her life- she wants to follow her dream but is struggling to figure out what it is. She is discussing this with Donna, who says that she’s at the point that Saturn is returning and that’s why she is seeking change.

I paused the show and quickly did a google search; Donna was right…according to Wikipedia

Western astrologers believe that, as Saturn “returns” to the degree in its orbit occupied at the time of birth, a person crosses over a major threshold and enters the next stage of life. With the first Saturn return, a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood.

Welp, that explains it.  I also researched further (ok, continued googling some more) and it further broke down the return to Saturn into each astrological sign.  Even though I don’t normally read a whole bunch into this, it pointed out that as a Cancer, this time would be about self confidence and- well, hello.

I have spent so much time lately asking people’s opinions on things and looking for approval from others. I have also been stepping out of my comfort zone more so than normal and working on not asking for others’ thoughts as well- it’s a give and take that’s going on day to day right now. I’m okay with that. Having said that, if I tend to ask your thoughts a lot on things, just know that you are a trusted person and I’m working on chilling it out a bit. When I’m a little more situated in what I’m doing and where exactly I’m going, it will slow down, I promise.

There’s just something about being on the edge of something, on the precipice of what is ahead.  I am so excited about what the next year or so is going to bring- a new home, new friends, what feels like a whole new life.  I’m working on following my dream, just like April was seeking to do on Parks and Rec. It’s time… time jump off the deep end because I know I’ll be able to swim.

Revelry Room for Live Tunes

 

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Loss and I don’t go to shows very often, unless it’s a big special outing. This past weekend, after a week solid of working and coming home to do the same thing the next morning, I was ready to get out of the house.   After dinner Saturday, I suggested we head out and do something- anything to get out of the house.  A little perusing later, I found Abbey Road Live was playing Revelry Room that night and some friends were even going to be there.

Loss is a huge Beatles fan and I fall into a fan category as well, plus it was at the venue I’d yet to check out in town, so we decided to venture out.
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The band was great, playing Abbey Road in its entirety, then a second set of random Beatles songs (including “Rhiannon” for the heck of it) and they were spot on. I’ve seen the Rolling Stones and I knew that I’d never see the Beatles in this lifetime, but I am totally ok with settling with having seen Abbey Road Live.

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The bar in Revelry room…and that lighting! 

I spent some of the night in the front row but couldn’t quite hang the whole time (am I getting old? Ugh.) but I did take the opportunity to explore the venue a little bit more and take in the details. After seeing the vibe of big sister venue, Track 29, I didn’t expect to be blown away by the Revelry Room and Hush Lounge (the first part of the room you walk in to) but I was. I know it’s got to be hard to make a room feel cozy that will hold thousands of people, such as at T29, but the Chattanooga Choo Choo crew found their niche and interior designer for the smaller rooms.

 

I loved the warm, welcoming feel with the wood, gold and cushy couches and banquets in the Hush lounge. They flowed well with the Palm Springs style ladies room just outside the hall and the more modern feel of the Revelry Room.  Whoever did their design, they can come help me out if they’d like to comp it all…

Overall, the sound was great, the venue was gorgeous and I dug the vibe and loved seeing a small show in a non-divey venue. I’ll for sure be back to the Revelry Room and may just swing by Hush Lounge for a sweet hang sometime when I’m near the Choo Choo as well. You’ve made a fan of me!

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I was happy to find a nice, comfy couch to finish the show sitting on!

March Tunes

Growing up, music was my constant. I started going to concerts sporadically in high school at an all ages local venue and graduated to going to concerts sometimes 3 nights a week in college- now I wonder how I ever stayed up that late.

 

The types of tunes and my appetite for them hits in waves and I’ve recently hit a moment where I’m really digging on some records.  For the longest, I was listening to a whole bunch of Disney parks background loops and music. Sometimes I’d just be in a mood for straight up nothing playing. Sometimes it’s some funky stuff. Sometimes I just want to listen to the greatest pop songs around. It varies by the day & my mood.  I have recently purchased a few songs and records off of Itunes and wanted to give a quick rundown here and share why I’m loving them so much….

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  1. Katy Perry- “Chained to the Rhythm” (single): I can’t even. I don’t know why I love this so much, but I have been listening to it non stop. When I was visiting Florida, we spent time at the Parliament House and this song stuck out to me as we were hanging out in the top 40 room. I also loved her performance of it at this year’s Grammy awards. I have a tendency to not always like the most popular stuff, so it’d make sense her lesser known single would be what I gravitate to. Loss gives props to “the first two seconds” where there’s a vaporwave vibe. No matter the genre, I’m chained to this song being on repeat.

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      2) The XX- “I See You”: I listened to the XX’s first album on loop in college but my musical world changed and I didn’t really have a college station to listen to when I moved back to Chattanooga, so I missed out some.  This February the XX dropped this album and some of the tracks are staples on OTR when they play some tunes at the top of the hour. I love that you can tell exactly who the XX is when you hear the song.  On the same Katy Perry finding trip, we spent some time just hanging out, listening to this record (perhaps on repeat) and I was hooked. Granted, it made me have a little bit of an emo moment and we had to turn it off, but still.  I couldn’t get enough of it and committed to buying it off itunes, which is saying a lot about how much I dig something.

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3) Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda “Love Make the World Go Round” (single): After my experience visiting the Pulse memorial and delving more into the simple but profound speech from Lin-Manuel sharing the ultimate truth that “Love is love is love is love…”, I was brought to this song. Once again, it’s a tune I’d heard a few times before but I finally dove into and paid the $1.29 for it.  I’m so glad that I did- the title is a sentiment that I strive to keep in head daily and it’s just an awesome song. I love that it was also created as a link to the Latino community, released 2 weeks or so after the event at Pulse that affected the community so much.  Did I mention it’s catchy as all get out and will get in your head forever and you’ll be ok with it staying there? Yeah, you’ve been warned, now get ready to dance.

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4) Moana the film soundtrack and score: I’ve been feeling this record since seeing the song.  While the song was great and I loved the story, I think I love the soundtrack even more.  Of course, there’s the Lin-Manuel connection again (I just love him, I can’t help it).  Lin worked on most of the songs and can even be heard on the track “We Know the Way” that is used in the film. I also love being able to pick up his style in the Maui song that borders on a rap, “You’re Welcome”.  Besides having some awesome fingerprints on the songs, the lyrics are fantastic.  “How Far I’ll Go” is, in my opinion, much better than the stupid huge “Let it Go” from Frozen two years back.  If you don’t believe me, watch the performance that Auli’i Cravalho gave on the Oscars. Homegirl is 16 and belted a song like that, live, and killed. The track makes me emotional. It’s great. Plus the score is great to fold laundry to, in case you were wondering.

 

So that’s just a few things I’ve been listening to lately…I’m not looking to get as crazy & dive in as hardcore as I did in college, but I’m pretty proud of my newer finds I’ve listed here. Is there anything you love that I should make sure not to miss out on?

Where to Find Me: OTR

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I’ve got a face for radio

When I planned my visit to Orlando, the first thing I knew I wanted to do was be a guest on the Orlando Tourism Report. Turns out if you’re crashing on the couch of the host, it helps you get on the air, so that Friday I got the opportunity to add my two cents to the topics covered. Of course, I was so tired and hungry by the last 30 minutes of the show, all I could think and talk about was going to lunch afterwards. Now in my defense, the show is on from 10 AM- noon and having slept just a few hours the night before and not having eaten, I couldn’t help but focus on our impending lunch at The Coop!

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They eventually fed me

Regardless, I had an awesome time getting to chat with the guys on air and can’t wait to weasel my way into being a guest again sometime (hint, hint…promise I won’t talk about being hungry…).  I’ve written about the show before  and think they have some of the best coverage of the Orlando tourism world.  After listening to so many Disney-specific podcasts, it’s really cool to listen to a show that covers it all and dives into what I find to be super interesting content.  For example, on this show that I was on, Ken (with MUCH help from Ed) breaks some news on the Nintendo land that is going in to Universal.

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Ken pondering aloud “What is the name of this peach colored princess?” when discussing Nintendo

You can check out the episode through their site or the OTR Itunes/etc. I have to say though, I think the best part of OTR is the adventures afterward. The crew has lunch together most Fridays after the show and often times checks out some aspect of the local tourist industry (I love that the boys actually get out and see and do things instead of just reading about them on the internet).  When I was there, we took a very detailed walking tour of Winter Park and ended the afternoon (thankfully for the blisters I got on my feet) with a boat tour of the lakes around the area. We saw Carrot Top’s house- I was a happy girl.

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We were on a boat!

Easy Travel Wardrobe

Traveling with one (or two) bags turned out to be harder than I expected. After some shopping, editing and pinterest perusing, my 4 night trip down to Orlando created a wardrobe of mix and match pieces.

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Green Capsule Wardrobe

Pieces I mixed all weekend:

L to R, Top: Dark blue skinny leggings, cutout yoga pants, black linen shorts, my “tiki” dress

L to R, Bottom: Ryan Adams t shirt, Dark green tank top, black sleeveless shirt, white oversized tshirt, green lacy tshirt, green crop top, gray cardigan

I somehow didn’t take many photos of the outfits but I learned how to mix and match on the fly and realized that I needed perhaps one more top and to leave the skinnies at home (it was hot!). I also threw in a comfy dress that can be worn as a dress or to sleep in, and it worked for both.  I kept the shoes to a minimum too by packing only a pair of Vans sneakers that I bought specifically to be nice but comfy for the trip.

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This is the outfit I wore for the flight down, opting for the Ryan Adams shirt (I mean, it has a cat on it!), gray cardi and the black linen shorts.  I also packed a large Marimekko print sarong/scarf and it was great to wrap up in when I got chilly and also was perfect for when I got a little chilly at the airport waiting to travel down.

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Being the diva on the OTR radio show
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Having fun in the green lace top at Mangos

Overall, I felt pretty awesome about packing all my clothes in a smallish backpack and making them work for the entire weekend. Have you every packed using this method? How did it work for you? Any tips?

Thanks for reading!

 

Taking First Flight

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Shocking as it may sound, at the age of 29.5, I recently took my first flight.  Yes, it took almost 30 years to step on a plane and ascend into the air.

I was traveling from Chattanooga to Orlando solo and only had a few days to spend on my long weekend trip, so driving was out of the question, plus who wants to waste two whole days of a short vacay?

The flight out was on Allegiant and, despite an extra 2.5 hours at the Chattanooga airport (yay for outlets & free wifi!), it wasn’t bad at all. I’d watched some videos on youtube on the process and I was admittedly more nervous about going through security than getting on the bird.

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One of the best parts of the delay in leaving meant we were flying after dark. For my first adventure, this wound up being awesome. Instead of being freaked out over seeing the clouds and ground, I was distracted from being scared by paying attention to the lights and watching as we flew over each city.

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Take off wasn’t too bad and I went into it expecting what it felt like: just like riding a roller coaster going up. The best part of going from Tennessee to Florida is the time…a little over an hour later and I was finally meeting up with my friends. It was the ultimate distance saver. I also have to say that I’m already hopeful for my next set of travel dates down to Orlando to spend more time with these awesome people and check out what I can only describe as where I feel I belong. Not too shabby for a little trek that was an hour and change from home, right?

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A Visit to Pulse, March 2017

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I woke up June 12, 2016 and was scared. After a quick scan through my social media, I found out about the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.  The first thing that came to mind was a good friend and if he had been present that night. I knew he went out to some of the clubs in town and I hadn’t heard him mention it directly, but it was a possibility.

Thankfully, I sent a message and heard back pretty quickly- he was ok, but 49 fellow LGBTQ+ community members and supporters were not ok. This hit me hard.  The terrorist attack in Chattanooga in 2015 happened (one of the locations) 3 miles or less from my front door, the attacker lived in my in law’s neighborhood, but Pulse hurt so so so much more. I was close with someone who could have very easily been there- I found out later he only went Wednesdays. I am so thankful for this.

This month, I finally made my pilgrimage. I planned a visit to my friend and get shown the lay of the Orlando land- honestly I knew way too much about new building permits and roads that I’d never seen, so it was time to finally make it happen. On the top of my list was visiting Pulse and paying my respects to all of those taken too soon.

The trip finally came around and Orlando won my heart. Head over heels won my heart. Part of that is the community that I felt. On a Friday night, we planned to visit Pulse. As we drove through downtown, we went past the hospital and my friend pointed out the ER that people were taken to. My stomach was in knots. We drove a few more blocks to an area I’d seen on the news, that is until I couldn’t handle it anymore and had to turn the tv off the year before. We parked the car and as we walked towards the club’s parking lot, I told him “I might need a hug in about three minutes”.  He simply responded that we both would.

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As we walked up to the fenced in building, I was surprised that I didn’t cry. There was no one else around at that point but there were candles burning, freshly lit. People had left many mementos of remembrance and sorrow and love and celebration. All along the fence were pieces of art that had been created specifically for this place. Visitors had written all along these and left messages of hope.

One of the things that sticks out so much to me is the speech that Lin-Manuel Miranda gave at the Tony Awards in 2015, which happened to occur on the same evening as the early morning attack. Lin gave an eloquent speech with the memorable sentiment of “Love is Love is Love is Love is Love”. I remember watching this speech as he gave it live on tv, tears streaming down my face.

On the top of one of the tarps, my friend pointed out where it had been written in large letters: “Love is Love is Love”.

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I had painted a pride flag and carried it 500+ miles to find where I it felt it belonged. I placed it on top of a podium that had pictures of the fallen on the base and their names listed on the top. It was hard to read but their faces did enough talking.  My friend came over and pointed out where the door in was and where the bathrooms where that people hid out in. I knew I was really there but I didn’t feel like I was really there, just on the other side of that fence.

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My friend hadn’t been even past the club since before the attack. I felt bad dragging him out there, but in hindsight, I am so glad that he was who I went to this place with. We hugged and held hands. I tried to somehow squeeze some sort of relief to him through hugs, but I’m not sure how well it worked. I do know that I was a lucky person to be able to support of a friend I care so deeply about in a moment that was harder than I will even ever know.

As we walked around, I took a few photos of the things people had left to honor those beautiful people that we lost. I couldn’t bring myself to take a photo of the club’s sign, though. I had seen it so many times on TV and photos and refused to take yet another image of it. I felt like if I took a photo, I was simply a tourist and seeing it simply because I was in Orlando. That would have bothered me more than anything else.

After about 20 minutes, a handful of people showed up (a Friday around 10 pm, mind you) and we decided it was time to move along. I made sure to tell my friend multiple times thank you for taking me to this place and for helping me go through the emotions I had, even from so far away.

It took some time to reflect on our visit, but I realized the next night, sitting by myself, looking at a lake at a Disney World hotel, what it left me with. Seeing the candles lit, people coming by to pay their respects and all of the words of encouragement and hope that had been left, it was about LOVE. Love and Hope.

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We live in a world where bad things happen and people ban together sometimes afterwards. The feeling and everything I saw in Orlando is one of unity. One of the things my friend told me that night was how much the city totally came together when this terrifying act occurred. There were insanely huge crowds at the city wide memorial at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center to celebrate these lives last June. I saw the photos. I didn’t start to get the monstrosity of the size of things until I was riding through the area. I will never ever know the full monstrosity of these events, but I look forward to joining the Orlando community, being an ally, showing loving and doing whatever I can to make it a better place. I have felt if from afar, I’ve seen it felt by someone who is part of it and I hope to never forget what happened but remember and celebrate these lives and all of those they touched.