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.  

 

I Love La La Land

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If you’ve noticed anything about me, I have a thing for classic films, vintage everything and am a sucker for a good story. I saw La La Land with very little prior knowledge except Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were the  stars and folks who I really trusted had fallen in love for it.

The film follows Mia and Seb through their meeting and relationship, while working on following their dreams in LA and what that means as time passes and they are in their late 20’s. I totally relate to the dream following vibe and did I mention that it’s (somewhat) a musical?

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Emma and Ryan dance, they sing, they are naturals and I have simply just eaten it up. The colors are all gorgeous, pops of primaries in the wardrobe. I want most of the clothes that Emma’s character wears, especially that yellow dress above- and let me just say I predict so many yellow dresses to be in this spring and summer.

I’m also so in love with the music from the film. The opening number of “Another Day of Sun” is one of the catchiest songs around and John Legend’s character, Keith’s, number that makes it into the film is something I wish there was a whole record based around. The dancing is super on point and I was genuinely impressed with how well these actors did their numbers.

There’s so much that I love about this film, as you can tell. I’ve seen it twice in one weekend and am hopeful to revisit it again this weekend, too. I’ve barely seen any movies in the past few years, so that might show how much I enjoyed this film.

Obviously, La La Land is my aesthetic for 2017.

It’s Christmas Time!

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Whew, life sure has been busy! Between work, fun events, friends coming to town and Christmasy things, I’ve been a busy lady.

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We’ve taken photos in front of so many Christmas trees, worked out schedules sharing one car (including way early morning work drop offs) and planned out so much fun the next few weeks.

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I hope you guys are having a fantastic holiday season and are remembering to stop and have some fun, not be super stressed out!

xoxo

Jenny

Small Biz Saturday: Holiday Crazy

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Recently, it’s felt like the balance of life is more teetering and tottering than the amazing burger I’m about to devour in this photo (from Screen Door Cafe, by the way. Amazing food!). Obviously with the main job, the social media work, keeping this blog going and all the other aspects of life, things can get pretty scattered and crazy, but it seems this year it’s especially crazy lately with the holiday season.

I’ve jumped headfirst into the Christmas season, having my tree up since November 1 (I was so over Halloween). Things have sped up at work for Loss and I’ve had extra stuff going on at mine, not to mention making sure stuff is all set for my social media posts before they are scheduled to post as we rocked along the month of November into December.

I don’t say all this to complain but just say- Whew! I love the holidays, but workwise, I’m ready to enjoy this time and then really dive in hardcore come January.  That’s not to say I don’t want to work hard- I definitely do and will and currently am.

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But here’s to family and love and those people who make your heart happiest to be around. Take the time to enjoy them and slow down this season. Figure out how to expedite things and get that work done in as little time as possible- maybe listen to some Christmas jams while doing so to help stay in the spirit.  And yes, I post this mostly to remind myself how things need to be done.

xoxo

Jenny

Hero Mode: an Ode to Her Universe

Life can get crazy and times can be hard, but it’s always nice to find comfort in things that are around day to day.

Recently life has found a way to throw a lot at us with car issues, the end of the semester for Loss, the craziness of the oncoming holidays and weird work schedules, but I decided some self care was needed to stay (somewhat) sane. So it’s been yummy hot chocolate drinks and episodes of Gilmore Girls to help take my mind off some things.  I’ve also been lucky to have some rad stuff going on, such as a friend from out of town coming through and meeting up with her one afternoon.

So how does Her Universe fit into this? The Hero Mode shirt from their Kohl’s work out collection from this past fall has helped with this self care and has added some confidence to my days. I’ve worn it a few times this week and it’s helped me to realize that I can be someone as awesome as Black Widow and power through and be the Hero for us.  It’s helped me keep my head up and try and be as positive as I can.

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So, here I am, staying Hero Mode and getting through everyday the best I can. And that’s totally good. Nothing going on is so serious that it can’t be handled. And I feel so much better knowing and remembering that.

Thanks for the confidence boost, Ashley Eckstein & all the Her Universe team!

OTR Interview Makes It Better

After thinking more about the recent election, I wondered how things were going to be handled with the post-election news.  As I wrote about before, the Trump election was a shocker for me but I decided I needed to be positive in order to live a life that I can atleast enjoy day to day.

I listened to the SkyPlex master mind, Joshua Wallack, spend a very insightful 2 hours with Ken from the Orlando Tourism Report and he made so much sense.  In the interview, Joshua says that he dealt with the fact that Trump won and then moved on to the next step. Being the owner of the Mangos night club in Miami and Orlando, Ken inquired what, if anything, the President-Elect would mean for the people Joshua employees and the way they do business.  Joshua made one of the best statements I’ve heard since the election. He stated that it didn’t matter who is president, they are going to keep doing what they’re doing.

These two statements really hit home with me. After the first hour, I felt better. Joshua knew what to say and how to say it. I felt almost as if he had talked to his children and reassured them in a similar way that he did in this interview.  Even not being a child, I sincerely appreciated what he had to say and it’s one of the things making life better than my initial response to the election results.

You can check out the interview through the OTR site or on any podcast app.

 

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