Remembering Pulse, 3 years later

Uncategorized

Today has been difficult to say the least.

As I logged onto facebook this morning, and I knew that I would see al the reminders of what happened, reminders of 49 lives taken too soon. I won’t ever forget laying in bed next to my wife (then fiance) getting up at 5am to both of our phones buzzing uncontrollably. “Where are you?? Are you okay?!” At 5am, I woke up confused – what had happened? “There’s been a shooting” – Sam told me – “No that was yesterday.. Christina Grimmie was shot” I said, reliving the events of the previous day. “No, at Pulse – There was a shooting last night at Pulse”.

Not another shooting..

I worked at our other gay club for about a year and knew the majority of the bartenders who would swap back and forth between clubs depending on what night it was.

At 5am my heart sunk. I’m okay, but what about all of my friends and my Orlando community and all the people I have come to call my family? Of course, the guilt and anger came followed by panic over the people we couldn’t get ahold of by noon. Sam’s cousin was out all night for a friends birthday and Pulse was on the normal list of stops for a party. They decided last minute not to go. A friend of mine was trapped in the dressing room while he huddled with strangers and barricaded the doorway to try to keep out the sounds of gunshots. Another few friends were bartenders who escaped while bullets flew over their heads. Another friend was hit in the leg. My friend Ray was the DJ that night. While working the light booth at Southern Nights, I got to know him as a DJ, a father, and a nice guy. I got to know his son as well. Ray saved so many people that night by turning off the music and helping people escape. Several of the victims were students at Valencia and UCF, and a few worked at Universal and Disney, all strong communities that were shattered in a single night, the latin community, most of all.

I can’t help but to feel so overwhelmed with emotions.

Today my friend Danielle was out in the community touching up the paint on one of our many Pulse tribute murals and I sat at work helpless and full of so many feelings.

Sam and I went to the memorials and stood in the rain several times after it happened. We visited pulse while the bullet holes were still visible on the sides of the building where so many lost their lives and suddenly I felt so heavy and helpless. We got pulse tattoos as a reminder (as if we needed it) permanently on our bodies. We cried, not due to pain, but due to immense gratitude that we were all able to be together when so many had that option taken away.

So many people have been affected by Pulse. Our entire gay community was targeted and we lost brothers and sisters and friends. Even if we didn’t know anyone personally, it felt like a personal attack on our family. We have all been to Pulse and to Southern. They are our safe havens and our home away from home. A place where we could go to have a good time and not feel threatened when we hold hands with our partners in public. It is here where we feel most at peace and the most accepted, when we are surrounded by the family we chose, and the friends who we can openly and honestly be ourselves around. We’ve grown up with people from this community and we are here for each other now more than ever, no matter our differences.

I want you to know, whoever you are reading this, that you are not alone in your feelings. Your emotions are valid. It’s okay to feel today. I think a lot of us are still healing and that’s okay. I felt like I needed to share a part of my story today because I can’t seem to hold back my tears anymore. I’ve never seen a community come together like this before and Orlando will forever hold a piece of my heart.

6.12.16

Orlando United Assistance Center offers support and resources specifically for those impacted by the Pulse tragedy.
Call 407-500-HOPE
Orlando United Day about Pulse events happening in the community as well as additional resources and information.

Our quick trip to Birmingham, Alabama!

Bands and Concerts, Traveling

This year, we are attempting to take fewer vacations.
(insert huge eye roll here) If you know us, you know that this is next to impossible for us. We love anyyyyy excuse for an adventure. 

 

We need to save money, and we can’t do that if we keep traveling for concerts. HOWEVER, we bought Mumford & Son’s tickets back in November for their concert in March. So obviously we couldn’t NOT do that, which meant a trip to Birmingham for the weekend. It’s only an 8.5-hour drive for us, so… why not? Birmingham is one of our favorite cities!

We drove up on a Friday afternoon and made a pitstop in Valdosta, GA to surprise my little sister and her family. She had noooo clue we were coming, so it felt great to just spend a few hours with her. I painted my niece’s nails (and my niece painted Steph’s nails, which she proudly wore to the concert), played with her makeup and turned her into Harley Quinn, and had a tea party in her hot pink room. Then, I watched my nephew kick some Spider-Man video game ass. It was a great halfway-ish break! 

IMG_1855 (2)

Our one full day in Birmingham we spent exploring. We started our day out at Urban Standard which is the BEST coffee/breakfast place that we found when we were there the first time a few years back (for a City and Colour concert). Steph still raves about their Balsamic jam to this day. (she’s a balsamic JUNKIE, to say the least). This time all Steph wanted was Avocado toast, and I got a coffee gravy biscuits and gravy. IT WAS TO DIE FOR!! I got a chai tea latte and Steph got a soy latte with vanilla – honestly, everything they make is incredible so you can’t lose. (And the presentation of their drinks are so perfect!!!)

IMG_1893 (2)

We decided to spend the day exploring and seeing things we hadn’t seen the last time we were here. We went to check out a vintage Vinyl store, Seasick Records and next door there was a really neat antique mall called Urban Suburban. After wandering up and down every booth I scored 2 old fashioned makeup train cases that I have been obsessed with for years for just $10! (Steph’s mom has a blue one and I’ve needed one ever since I first saw it!)

 

We left the vintage mall and headed to this video game coffee shop called Saturn! We walked in and Steph was in heaven. There was a rocket hanging from the ceiling and all of the space gear decorating the whole place. Steph ordered an Iced latte and I ordered a  Kombucha because they told me that it didn’t taste like vinegar, and that is the ONE thing I despise about Kombucha. I fell in love and then found out that I cannot get said Kombucha in Orlando since it’s locally made and apparently Florida has something against good kombucha. (sorry to all of you Kombucha lovers, but I am NOT one of them). We sat down to play old school Mario Kart on their Nintendo 64. And Steph, of course, kicked my ass. (I wasn’t sour about it in the leasssst- insert eye roll here-) 


When we were leaving, we were going past the Sloss Furnaces, which we had read about before. Apparently, they are super haunted and a creepy place to be after the sun goes down. We had decided prior to this that we would NOT be stopping there.. but after seeing them up close (and it being the middle of the day), we decided what the “hell, why not!?” and we were sooooo glad that we decided to stop. Despite feeling lotsssss of cold chills and quite a few eerie heavy feelings, they were sooo gorgeous! They were full of all the history that we both love so much. They started operating in 1882 if that tells you anything at all. In typical “us” fashion, we turned it into a photo session and had a ton of fun. Not to mention ended up with some awesome photos!

While we were at Sloss, someone suggested a place where they serve edible cookie dough like ice cream called Cookie Dough Magic and Obviously, we had to check that out. We tried a ladyfinger cookie dough, birthday cake, and chocolate chip. Seriously, it was sinful and we probably should have been rolled out of there!

IMG_2101 (2)

By this time, we were EXHAUSTED! And still had a concert that we had to stay awake all night for! We went back to the hotel and laid around for an hour or so. Luckily the venue was literally attached to the hotel. All we had to do was go down an elevator and walk down a hallway and TA-DA! And on our way to the concert, Steph was handed a Mumford & Son’s Delta Tour t-shirt! Scoooore!! We finally got to our ALMOST nose bleed seats and the concert started! They were INCREDIBLE. Mumford & Son’s are breathtaking Live. For their Encore performance, they brought out this husband and wife duo who blew us all away the second they opened their mouths! If you haven’t heard of The War and Treaty, YOU NEED TO LOOK THEM UP RIGHT NOW!!!

We had a GREAT weekend! Stopped at my sister’s again for an awesome dinner. I taught her how to roast asparagus! It’s the little things. By the time we got home, it was around midnight Sunday. And unfortunately, we had to get back to reality Monday morning. Totes worth it though!! 

Here are some gems from the Mumford and Sons concert:

IMG_2129 (2)

IMG_2126 (2)

 

Get to know us! 20 questions AMA.

Bands and Concerts, Married Life, Traveling Gypsies

I decided to do something a little different for a blog post before I return to school next week. Here’s a little “get to know us” 20(ish) questions. Let me know if you like these and I’ll try to do another one in the next few months!

If you could change only one thing in your life, what would that be and why?

SAM: Honestly, there isn’t a thing I would change about my life. I have been so fortunate and I have everything I could ever need, want or think to ask for. If you asked me what I would have done differently, my answer would be that I would have traveled through other countries and experienced more of what the world has to offer.. But I’m not dead yet, so now I get to do those things with my wife and hopefully future children.

STEPH: I would have taken way more advantage of learning new things and reading more. I think because everything is so much more accessible with the internet and knowledge is everywhere, it’s so much easier. My life is pretty great though, now and I’m legit learning rocket science, so I guess I would have just started it sooner.

In a regular day, what do you find yourself thinking about the most?

SAM: Currently, Babies. A year ago, our wedding. A year from now, Either still babies or Our move to Washington State.

STEPH: Food. Our future house somewhere in the mountains. Our future. How I need to drink more water.

Who is your favorite artist that you’ve seen perform live?

SAM: That is suuuuuch a toss up.. Either Dermot Kennedy for his raw talent and the emotion that he evokes from everyone in the room, or City and Colour for the incredible performance and undeniable talent that Dallas Green has.

STEPH: City and Colour in Birmingham, Alabama at Iron City Music hall. But also The Band Camino. I’ve seen both twice and they’re both absolutely incredible.

What things in your life bring you the greatest pleasure?

SAM: Coming home to my beautiful wife and our Zoo of a house. We are so blessed to have such a stable home and a great love that can conquer anything.

STEPH: I love coming home and being able to hang with my wife and the dogs and watching a movie or catching up on our TV shows after a long day of work. Weekends with her are the best.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment in your life?

SAM: I’m still working on that.

STEPH: So far, going back to school. I’m at the very beginning of that journey, but I think starting anything is the hardest part.

In what settings are you the happiest / eager / most comfortable?

SAM: Any Concert or getaway with my Wife.

STEPH: In my house or hanging out in the backyard (when it’s less than 80 degrees).

What things do you look forward to each day?

SAM: Crawling into bed with the love of my life every night. Just the fact that I am blessed enough to have her to snuggle up to is enough for me.

STEPH: Coming home to hugs and kissed from my wife and our dogs.

What would be my ideal romantic date?

SAM: Whisk me away to anywhere.

STEPH: I love adventure. Any sort of trip to anywhere would be amazing. We are road trip professionals.

What do you appreciate most in your partner?

SAM: The way she views the world through her rose-colored glasses. I fought it for the LONGEST time. But there is something to be admired about her sheer blind faith in the world and the goodness it contains. Her heart is something so pure and I am incredibly lucky to hold such a huge piece of it.

STEPH: Her realness. Whether she’s telling you something hard to hear or is pulling my head out of the clouds and back to reality. Her confidence is something I admire as well. The way she demands with her presence is out of this world. I can’t wait to see her in mom mode.

In what situations do you feel most afraid or insecure?

SAM: Dinosaurs and scary movies. That’s about it. I can take on anything the world throws my way otherwise.

STEPH: I’m not good at being in situations I can’t control, mostly with money or adulting. In an emergency, I’m the person you want by your side, lol. For whatever reason, I’m super calm cool and collected.

What would you like to do outdoors that you have not done before?

SAM: I can’t wait to hike up an actual mountain!!!

STEPH: Being able to explore the wilderness. You can only go so far in Florida on flat land and highways before hitting the beach.

What country would you like to visit that you haven’t visited yet?

SAM: See bucketlist…. I’ll send a picture. Lol

STEPH: Pretty much all of Scandinavia. Denmark, Iceland, and all of Europe. I’ve only ever been in the US.

What family member did you most admire when you were a child?

SAM: My Grandpa was my ENTIRE world.

STEPH: My aunt Barbara. She’s my mom’s little sister and was always the cool aunt who I ran to when I needed absolutely anything.

What are your favorite things to spend money on?

SAM: Ohhhhh crap…. I mean, I don’t likeeeeee the amount of money they cost… but the things I buy the most often are makeup and clothes!

STEPH: I HATE spending money. I can talk myself out of buying anything.. Movies and books are my downfalls.

Who are you most envious of?

SAM: Honestly, no one. There have been moments where I wished that I had what someone else had.. but at the end of it, everything in my life made me who I am today. I wouldn’t change that for anything… … I TAKE THAT BACK!!! I’m envious of morning people!!! I wishhhhhhh I was the type of person who could get up with the Sun.. but I wasn’t blessed with that gene.

STEPH: I’m envious of people who are debt free and are somehow so good with their money that they can travel all the time. I wish I could be a travel blogger. They’re living the life.

If you had endless amounts of money, what’s the first thing you’d do?

SAM: Buy a farm on an Island in Washington…

STEPH: Build a house and pay off my debt.

If you had to live in the world of any book or movie, what would it be?

SAM: ….this is an impossible question…. Every book series that I love is full of sooo much drama and insane crazy, that I can’t say that I would love to live in it…. But the paper magician is the coooolest concept. So if I HAD to choose one, that’d be it.

STEPH: I’d say Star Wars, but they’re legit in pretty much constant battle and there’s a pretty good chance your planet could get blown up, so I’m going to go with Harry Potter.

What’s the last book you read?

SAM: The immortal circus series!!!!!! Sooooooo good!!!

STEPH: I’m in the middle of 3 right now. The last one I finished was Fallen – I take that back. I still haven’t finished that. It was the Paper Magician.

If you could do anything that wasn’t your current job, what would it be?

SAM: Either be a History professor or own and run a successful record label.

STEPH: I’d work for Spacex or Nasa.

What is your least favorite food?

SAM: Greek!!!!

STEPH: Olives. Or any of the weird cheeses like feta and blue cheese. And pickles.

 

Here’s Sam’s Bucket List. Is she forgetting anywhere? Have recommendations? We’d love to hear from you!

unnamed

 

Turning 30 and reflecting on my 20’s.

Uncategorized

I turn 30 tomorrow.

original_by-your-age-30th-birthday-card

Ten years ago I was a sophomore in college wondering what my life would become and what sort of person I would end up being. I remember sitting on the edge of my extra long dorm room bed. I was totally alone for the first time in my life. My 20’s were a time when I truly and honestly lived and experienced every moment of each day. Granted, I slept through many a class and made some not-so-awesome decisions, but overall, my 20’s defined me as a person, as they tend to do for most people, I’m guessing.

When I was in High School, I was taught that the predetermined course for a woman like myself was to graduate, attend college, meet the man of my dreams, get married, have babies, and become a teacher or one of 3 other professions that would allow me to take care of the kids while also providing supplemental income to my husband. (To clarify, it’s okay if you did this – it just wasn’t for me..)

SIDE NOTE: Every year on my birthday from 16 until about 20, a princess movie was released on or near my birthday. Last night Sam and I were watching Princess Diaries 2 on the couch and the soundtrack gave me all the feels. The early 2000’s were so strange and mystifying, but also a time when we din’t have to make life-altering decisions yet. Do yourself a favor and enjoy this throwback.
https://open.spotify.com/user/tylfawpsf7pl5mrtrqc69vwme/playlist/7jX2AeIRoabbtSftFTDYXz?si=N_RKn22FR0mD7a0j3vyr1Q

By 22 I had all but forgotten my “path of life”. I was in film school making movies that reflected my childhood and how it had affected my life. At this point in my life, I had recently “come out” and was re-inventing who I was as a person and not as someone who’s life was predestined. I had choices now and I was going to take advantage of them. During your 20’s, you discover that most of your bad choices pertain to individuals you date and the fact that you didn’t break up with them sooner, but that point is moot.

At 26, I was on my own again and trying to keep my head above water. I met my future wife when I was 26. It was such a different experience than the other people I had dated. It felt so adult. There was no drama. I was so proud to have chosen such a rich, genuine soul that I connected with. I asked her to marry me less than a month in. I knew she was the one, but we waited a few years until I asked her for real, though.

The last 4 years of my 20’s were the most life-changing, I think. I learned a lot in my lower 20’s that I could now apply to my upper 20’s in an attempt to “adult”. I’ve made many huge decisions that would affect the rest of my life. November 2016 I asked my wife to marry me. November 2017 we were married. In the last year, I’ve made the decision to go back to school, have ACED my first semester back to college, and now we’re talking about expanding our family.

Who knows what my life would look like if I had decided to follow that predetermined path. I’m doing things a little untraditionally, but I’m doing what works for me and for my family. I’m not expecting to have everything in my life sorted out by tomorrow or have a sudden realization that I’m adult now. I’m not expecting much to change other than I’ll be another year older. I can honestly say that I’m proud of the person I’ve become and I have a solid foundation and a solid support system. I’m ready for 30. Let’s turn the page on my 20’s and get this party started!