Every part of my body hurts.

It’s been a really, really long few weeks.

I’ve essentially packed up and thoroughly cleaned 1.5 living places and moved into another one. Exciting, but backbreaking.

On top of that, I really did start reading up on AND training for my AT hike later this year, first with a combo of walking 1 mile and running 2.5 at least 5 days a week, and more recently by walking 1 mile and running just over 3 (still at least 5 days a week). On top of that I’ve added 200 crunches and 50 pushups to my daily routine, and yes, my abs feel weird and my legs have already gone from hurting to actually feeling kind of okay. Previously I wasn’t running quite that much so the sudden jump in activity definitely took some getting used to 😉 Thankfully I should have my rowing machine set up soon, as well, and I can’t wait to start using it again – not having it around the past five months has definitely made me feel, well, kind of lazy.

Appalachian Trail guides

Now if only this whole moving thing could get wrapped up so that I can really focus on the important things… (I’d say I was kidding, but I’m kind of…not.)

In terms of money, I’m still trying to raise enough via my GoFundMe for the backpack and several other essentials that I need. The backpack alone is about $200, so hey, if you’re feeling generous, please consider donating – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: every penny helps!

Thankfully, I found a couple things while moving – including a really awesome sleeping bag! – and received a couple of necessary items for Christmas (a great pair of socks and the trekking poles that I wanted), so between those, the donations I received (which allowed me to purchase my camp sandals and hiking boots), and my evolving training schedule, I’m making little bunny hops toward my goal.

Appalachian Trail sleeping bag

Appalachian Trail trekking poles socks

Appalachian Trail camp sandals hiking boots

People keep asking me if I’m sure about this, or still set on doing it – the answer is a resounding YES. Don’t get me wrong, I’m scared as hell, but I also know me, and once I announce that I’m doing something I pretty much never back out of that commitment. Does this always turn out well for me? Noooot necessarily. But this time I can’t imagine that I haven’t made the right choice, in deciding to take on this challenge 🙂

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

 

I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell (and I want to get better)

Appalachian Trail GoFundMe ageeksaga

For many years I’ve dreamed of attempting a long backpacking trip, and as luck would have it, I have the chance to do a 20-ish-day hike of a section of the Appalachian trail starting May 1st, 2017. My minimum goal is 200 miles, although I hope to hit 275 miles (the Long Trail in New England being 273, I would love to hike at least as far as that trail is long, even though I will be doing most of my hike in Virginia).

To be honest, I’ve never considered a GoFundMe campaign for myself before, but as it turns out, if I want to take this next step in my life – to make this attempt to better myself both physically and mentally, to experience something amazing that will fuel my writing for some time to come – I need money to make it happen. Sadly, as an independently contracted writer and entrepreneuer, money is one thing I don’t have much of right now.

So I am asking for the absolute minimum amount of money I will need to purchase necessary gear to hike. I already started a wishlist on Amazon (which I am constantly editing) and sadly even in the timespan of a week many of the items I wanted have already been marked unavailable. So while I will be saving up my pennies for the next several months, I really do need to purchase the gear I need to train myself for a long-distance trip like this sooner rather than later…hence this campaign.

What can you expect if you donate to my campaign? Well, at the end of it I will be writing a Thank You entry on my blog and listing anyone who is okay with it by name/nickname. I will also be using my blog to review the items I purchase, detail my training for the hike, and then to write about it when I return. My hope is to even gather enough experience to write a book/ebook about my trip.

The thing is though, this isn’t just about realizing a dream. Not that long ago (within the past couple of years) I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have since done everything from self-medicating to taking up to four prescription medications at a time to therapy…and I continue to do a lot of the above. So while this trip will surely be an adventure, and while it will definitely give me a lot to write about (which is exciting)…I’m also undertaking it for my mental health. I want to “get clean”, so to speak – to spend 20-ish days with nothing more than the food and water that’s necessary to keep me going. And yes, that will be part of what I write about, as well.

I honestly can’t express how grateful I will be for every penny that is donated to this campaign, and I’m also more than willing to take suggestions on what I can do for those of you who donate. You want me to take a picture of something specifically for you? Sure! Prefer a postcard or mailed thank you card during/after my hike? I will do everything in my power to make it happen! Because to be honest…I likely won’t be able to make this hike at all without this campaign. That said, if you would prefer to donate something you know I can use directly, or outright purchase an item off my wishlist to send to me, I’m more than happy with that as well! Shoot me an email if you’d prefer either of those options 🙂

Thank you in advance and with all my love,
Tara

A Wonderful Day of Food & Wine at EPCOT

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I am so lucky to have the friends that I do. Last weekend I got to visit EPCOT, which was cool in and of itself because it’s Food & Wine Festival time right now…but even more exciting was the fact that I got to see my friend Melissa run one of the official Food & Wine cooking demos!

We started the day at Disney Springs – it was only a brief stop, but I got to visit the Star Wars and Marvel stores. The former had so many awesome things for sale that I can’t wait to go back if I ever have money to spend (ha) – the latter seemed a bit thrown-together, but man, I do want that Avengers Dooney & Bourke purse that they had on display! (Oh, and this set of BB-8 Mickey Ears is an eventual necessity. Yes, the shirt and purse are already mine.)

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

From there we went to EPCOT, and wow was it crowded. I blame this on it being the second to last weekend of Food & Wine and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend. Thankfully we still got to ride the new Soarin’ (I didn’t even know it was changed to Soarin’ over the world – or if I did, I’d forgotten about it), *and* wander back and forth through the World Showcase, sampling food and drink. (A lot of drink.)

But of course the highlight of the day was seeing Melissa’s presentation! She made vegetarian ‘chicken’ pot pie with cheddar drop biscuits. Sadly they ran out of the pot pie portion of the meal before they got around to our table, but we did get a whole ton of biscuits and extra wine, both of which were delicious 😉

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Sorry not sorry for the picture dump – I’m just really proud of Melissa! She was on the College Program when I was a Restaurant Guest Service Manager for Sunset Ranch Market at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and she was one of the best CP students we had. She returned to school, got her degree, held leadership positions at restaurants outside of Disney and Orlando, and then returned to WDW and rocketed up to where she is now. She’s a hard worker who deserves everything that comes her way. (Oh, and her husband Adrian, who also worked for me at SRM, is pretty great, too!)

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

After the demonstration, we wandered a bit more, got more drinks, and even eventually went on Test Track. Food-wise, I tried the Greek cake (which was not as good as the fried goat cheese with honey and pistachios, sadly) as well as the Escargots Croissant (again not as good as the single-bite escargot pastries they used to have). Thankfully the pierogies from the Poland installment were still the same!

Oh, and I’d forgotten that they let you “build” your own car for Test Track now, and that you compete against the others in your group. Brian and I with our car “CHEVROLET MECHANICORE TANK OF DOOM” went up against Melissa and Adrian’s “Lisa Frank DOMINANT” and Andrew and Merrilynn’s “Clifford the Big Red Car”. Every single one of our vehicles looked ridiculous (though I think the others looked way crazier than MECHANICORE, but no matter how balanced they tried to make their cars, it turns out that power is what really wins in the end, and we dosed MECHANICORE with a lot of that. (Oh, how sadly appropriate that is right now…power is what really wins in the end. Ugh.)

Walt Disney World EPCOT Test Track

Anyway, I hadn’t been to Disney since this past January and it was a welcome Sunday getaway from the “real world”…that being a shitty Walking Dead episode and a shockingly horrid presidential election.

But hey, “Forward always. Always forward.” Until the next adventure, I remain, your pansexual SJW female entrepreneur buddy,

Tara Lynne

Throwback Thursday: Emotional Wellness with Alpha Sigma Tau

So back in college I was in a sorority – Alpha Sigma Tau (trust me, if you’re surprised to hear this, you’re not the only one who has been). Was it the most amazing experience of my life? Well, to be honest, no – at least not in terms of the people. But I really enjoyed being Recruitment Chair and Social Chair and the work those positions involved, and from time to time it has provided me with some networking opportunities post-college.

All that said, I was contacted last year about the possibility of being featured in the Fall 2015 edition of The Anchor, our sorority magazine. This issue focused on the “six dimensions of wellness“, and I was lucky enough to be chosen to represent emotional wellness. In this respect, emotional wellness is defined as having “a positive attitude, high self-esteem, a strong sense of self, and the ability to recognize and share a wide range of feelings with others in a constructive way”.

The thing is, I don’t always fit that description, but apparently a fellow alum thought highly enough of me to suggest me for this feature, and after speaking with my interviewer and reading her article, I’m really happy that I was able to participate. So for today’s Throwback Thursday, here is the full article that was published last year 🙂

Throwback Thursday Alpha Sigma Tau

Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

I think it’s about time that I announce that I’m giving in and voting for Hillary, despite the fact that I’m not even voting in a swing state, but one that is solid red.

Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton

I don’t want to vote for her – I was a solid Bernie Sanders supporter and hated how this year’s primaries turned out, and even when Bernie told us we should vote for Hillary, I still couldn’t bring myself to make that decision. I don’t like her. I don’t like many of her policies. She is on the worst end of the career politician spectrum. I do not doubt that she will screw up quite a bit when she’s in office.

But I would rather have four years of Hillary than four years of Donald Trump. The man is a menace. We’d be lucky if he didn’t cause World War III. At best we would have to face four years of him demeaning literally anyone who isn’t a white male.

And hey, remember the election in 2000? If you are too young, let me [very briefly] explain what happened: There were so many issues with certain states ::cough cough FLORIDA:: that Bush only squeaked by in winning the election BY ELECTORAL VOTE.

I honestly can’t vote third party right now because if I do and that means that Donald Trump SOMEHOW, some way, eeks out a popular vote or electoral college vote “win”, then I would be one of the people who caused that, and I would seriously dislike myself for having done so.

Hillary is horrible, but she’s not the worst. And there are plenty of exaggerations and lies being spread about her, and people trying to make her sound worse than she actually is, while we have physical evidence of Donald Trump ACTUALLY BEING THE WORST.

Please, I’d just rather you not vote at all (or, if you just REALLY have to, vote for a third party candidate) than vote for Trump. Look into your heart and ask what you stand for, because if it’s anything like what Donald Trump is, then honestly I’m not sure if I care to have you in my life.

Who I am in Three Fictional Characters (Sort of)

So this “which three fictional characters represent you” meme has been going around for…oh, I don’t know, over a week now? I’ve participated on Facebook but also thought it would be fun to share my answers here! I had some thoughts as to who I was most like, fictional character wise, but I also asked my friends what they thought…

 

Now, my first reaction was Cersei Lannister and Starbuck, but I couldn’t come up with a third character. Then I realized that I was only including Cersei because I identify with minor parts of her character…and because I cosplay her a lot. Thankfully, my friends’ suggestions helped a lot, and even though I didn’t choose all of them, I wanted to share some of the comments:

My initial idea was ‘can we just squish Pearl and Cersei Lannister into one character? Cerarl? Persei?’ – Brian W

Part Lightning from Final Fantasy 13…mixed with some Rikku from Final fantasy 10 for the [light-heartedness] and kindness. – “Aussie” Scott

A Geek Saga 3 fictional characters

I do wish I knew more about Star Trek because my good friend “Admin Angel” from The Geekiary – said, “You are the Doctor McCoy to my Kirk. You help me keep my ship running and include plenty of sass along the way.” I mean, I know enough to get it, but I think I’d fully appreciate it if I knew more about Star Trek and these characters 😉

I also thought I was more Garnet than Pearl. Yes I’ve grown to love Pearl a lot more in recent seasons of SU and certainly see some of myself in her – or some of her in myself, but at least one person agreed that I was more like Garnet. I will never argue with that. Garnet —>>>

However, my Hufflelove settled at least that argument with specifying that I’m Ruby, which I definitely agree with…

A Geek Saga 3 fictional characters

…and although I totally understand why he included Cersei and Penguin from Polar Bear’s Cafe, I still had to think about things (and get a few more suggestions) before deciding on my final three. Another cosplay buddy of mine suggested Lagertha from Vikings and Andrea from the Walking Dead *comics*. Lagertha because, in his words, I am “strong, able to overcome people that betray her trust, and love/loyalty for her family and friends”; Andrea because she “has dealt with loss and is still putting one foot in front of the other” 🙂

A Geek Saga 3 fictional characters

So in the end, my friends all kind of played a part in who I eventually chose…which makes me feel better about how realistic these choices are, at least. Those being Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica), Ruby (Steven Universe), Lagertha (Vikings), and my own addition – an honorable mention to Eowyn (Lord of the Rings):

A Geek Saga 3 fictional characters

Now, we also had a discussion going in the Ice & Fire Con Facebook group about what three ASOIAF characters we would be. While I think I was Sansa once upon a time, and have probably been Cersei now and again as well, in this case the “honors” went to Oberyn Martell (because I am a Martell but too temperamental to be Doran), Daenerys (which is a bit of a “sigh, do I have to” for me, but I know it’s true), and Asha Greyjoy (Queensmoot FTW).

A Geek Saga ASOIAF 3 fictional characters

All images (c) the ASOIAF Wiki – http://awoiaf.westeros.org

Who were your three fictional characters? Did you have any honorable mentions? Did you ask friends to help you identify them?

Don’t Talk to a Woman Wearing Headphones

Woman with Headphones

Wow, I’m so not sorry that Dan Bacon used to be hopeless with women. I’m not sorry for picking apart his article about “How to Talk to a Woman Who is Wearing Headphones“. I am sorry [not sorry?] for any woman who has fallen for his bullshit.

Listen, if there’s some sort of emergency, I get it, make me take my headphones off. But other than that? The article insisting that there is a way to get a girl wearing headphones to talk to you is obnoxious.

I don’t care why a girl has headphones on. I don’t care if she’s walking, or jogging, or riding public transportation. No matter what, don’t force her to interact with you. And that’s what this article is about – forcing a woman who is doing her own thing to interact with you. So in regards to talking to a woman who is wearing headphones…

  1. Don’t stand in front of her. That’s threatening.
  2. Smiling is fine, but her smiling back doesn’t mean that she owes you anything.
  3. Don’t wave your hand at her like she’s less than a person for not paying attention to you.
  4. Don’t order her to take off her headphones. Oh sure, you can act like it’s a request, but it’s not. Just don’t do it.
  5. You won’t have to “acknowledge the awkwardness” if you don’t cause it.

Compliments and confidence don’t mean anything if you’ve ripped a woman out of her safe zone. Again, whether she’s walking, jogging, using public transportation, or something else, you’re bothering her. Leave her alone. Don’t assume that she will be “flattered by your compliment and impressed by your confidence”. Most likely she wants you to leave her alone. If she didn’t she probably wouldn’t be wearing headphones in the first place.

And hey, if she doesn’t want to be left alone? Teasing her by saying that you have somewhere to go, after interrupting her in the first place, is probably the worst idea ever.

As for the “mistakes” guys make when approaching a woman with headphones?

  1. Approaching in a nervous manner should be the way you approach, because any decent guy will recognize that they are very likely bothering the woman.
  2. ALLOWING HER TO IGNORE YOU IS A MISTAKE? That isn’t a MISTAKE, that is her RIGHT. Whether she’s wearing headphones or not. I can’t even imagine how anyone could rectify this.
  3. ALLOWING HER to take control of the interaction??? “No matter how confident or challenging a woman might behave, she still dreams of meeting a guy who is more confident than her.” I’m not speaking for every woman who exists, but I am speaking for a lot of them – we don’t want someone more CONFIDENT than we are. We want someone who is our EQUAL. This isn’t the 1950s. Or before. Get over yourselves.
  4. Oh wait, you shouldn’t stick to polite conversation? I mean hey, yeah, I agree that you shouldn’t ask too many personal questions and all, but you wouldn’t really be in this position if you hadn’t BOTHERED THE GIRL WEARING HEADPHONES IN THE FIRST PLACE!
  5. Flirt with people who [don’t] want to be flirted with. Again, perhaps not all girls who are wearing headphones want to be left alone…but honestly, the fact that you are assuming these woman are okay with being bothered in the first place is a problem in and of itself. Attempting to flirt with them is just beyond.

As for the idea that “Most women are open to being approached”?

While many women don’t usually go around approaching men, there are many different reasons for this, and none of them are anyone’s business but their own. I’m not saying don’t ever approach a woman, but approaching a woman wearing HEADPHONES? And following the steps listed in this article? Disgusting. Never assume that “Most single women wait and hope to be approached by a guy so that they actually have a chance to meet a confident alpha male.”

We are our own people, and for fuck’s sake, if we’re wearing headphones, don’t push it.

 

Blog Transfer: “Kissing death and losing my breath…”

A Geek Saga SDCC 2016

Taking back San Diego Comic-Con v2.0

It’s going to be very rare that I transfer something to this blog from my previous one, but in light of the two-year anniversary of when I finally checked myself into the hospital to get the help I needed, I wanted to make the following post as visible as possible.

 

You see, it’s been two years. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and what is loosely known as “inherent anxiety”. I won’t get into the specifics of my diagnoses, but let’s just say that while the hospital didn’t help much back in 2014, some of the patients I met there did. I’ll also admit that after that questionable hospital experience, I was more open with my therapist and psychiatrist than I’d ever been before, which led to a faster diagnosis and the beginnings of a path to treatment.

 

I still struggle. I still have days when I just want to lay in bed and cry. I still go out and end up having to rush home because my anxiety about being in public and around strangers overwhelms me. But I’ve gotten the help I needed. I’ve found some medications that work for me. I’ve cut toxic people out of my life. And I’m going out of my way to read as much as possible, to watch all of the amazing TV shows that have been suggested to me, to write, and to just generally focus on the things I love, like planning conventions or even just wandering around hitting Pokestops, catching Pokemon, and hatching Poke…eggs.

 

My life isn’t perfect, but it is better. Still, I can’t ignore when I hit my lowest point. I don’t think any of us should. Therefore, here is my original blog entry from August 12th, 2014. Word for word.

 

So much has happened in the past couple of months, but it’s only now, hearing that a beloved celebrity took his own life, that I am finally going to admit the truth.

Just over a year ago I posted an entry about my struggles with depression, though looking back now I wonder how I did so in an almost lighthearted way. I suppose because at the time, I assumed that what I was feeling would be fleeting.

Only it’s been a year and three months since I wrote that entry, and instead, it’s gotten steadily worse.

I wish that I could pinpoint some actual beginning to what’s been going on with me, but the fact is that I’ve struggled with depression time and time again for as long as I can remember. Sure, it manifested itself differently when I was in middle school versus when I was in high school, and again it wasn’t the same in college as it was before that. And this more recent bout – which has been the longest one I’ve experienced by far – is different still.

In fact, I went back to try and find a picture of myself from a time when I remember I was truly happy – consistently, too, not just because I was on vacation or something – and I had to go all the way back to January 2012.

And I still had to choose a picture from when I was on vacation.

I’m not going to say that I’ve never had a happy moment since then – I’ve had plenty of them. It’s just that the prevailing emotions have been that specific cocktail of anxiety, fear, anger, and sadness that make up my personal version of depression – which I suppose has always been there, like in those Abilify commercials…but until recently, I was able to cope with it. Usually. For the most part.

A lot has happened in the past two years. Some of it involves others – things that happened, things they did – whose personal information I won’t divulge, but most of it involves me, of course. There have been things I can’t control, like my health; things I possibly could have controlled, like the illness and death of my beloved cat Lilo, gone too soon from this world; and things that I did control, like some terrible decisions that I made. The latter are mostly due to the way I was feeling, but I refuse to use that as an ‘excuse’. I made my bed, now I have to lie in it, and all that.

In the beginning it was a combination of having my hours cut at work (thus resulting in a fairly significant difference in my salary), along with the fact that about that time I started singing with a band and having an amazing time (TOO amazing, really), only to have that swept out from under me mere months after it began. I think the problem is that I never really FACED the way I felt about those things, not really, and so as time went on all the negativity just festered, even long after I was working 40 hours a week again and realized that the band had been more trouble than it was worth.

And then suddenly it was one thing after another – the ceiling falling in at my house in the spring of 2013, and the subsequent repairs and renovations that followed – and took far longer than they were supposed to (to be completely honest, they’re still not totally finished). Spending a huge portion of last fall traveling for what were essentially volunteer jobs – covering conventions, mostly, which I loved…but which cost a lot of money and kept me away from home and my pets. Sure, it was all very fun, even glamorous at times, but it wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle – as I learned to my detriment.

My health was the next thing to take a turn. I found a lump in my neck, and now, not quite nine months later, there are three in my neck and two in my pelvic area. All lymph nodes. At the moment they appear ‘safe’, but it was only after about 5 months of testing and ultrasounds and check-ups that the doctor would tell me as much – and I just have to hope that they don’t get bigger.

We found a lost cat on the verge of death in April. She only lived for another week, though we worked hard to save her.

Two weeks after that, Lilo passed away – suddenly, and almost violently.

And all that time, I was just keeping myself busy. Distracting myself with work and writing and conventions. Never really sleeping or eating properly. No real vacations, and days where I spent at least fifteen of my eighteen-ish waking hours on a computer.

Looking back now, I’m surprised I didn’t have a breakdown months ago.

It became second nature to hide the way I felt; if anything I was overcompensating for my depression.

It took the betrayal of a friend – the likes of which I hadn’t experienced in a good five years – to force me to rock bottom. But that was just the catalyst for the illness that has always been there to mix just right with everything that’s gone wrong in the past two years and then, for lack of a better word, ‘explode’. (Or maybe in this case I should be saying ‘implode’…)

Before I crashed, though, I’d been socially isolating myself – not just from a few people, but from everyone, including my closest friends and family. I lost nearly 30 pounds in about seven months, which may not sound like a lot, but is when you’re built like I am. I was tired all of the time, stressed all of the time, and irritated for most of it, as well. I stopped enjoying any and everything I’d once loved.

Speaking of love, the outpouring of support that I received when I told a handful of close friends that I was going to the hospital to get assessed for a mental health program was amazing. It hurts me that for so long, I avoided these people who care about me. Simple things like someone changing their profile picture to one of me and them the day they knew I was going to the hospital are what I remind myself of when I inevitably have those moments, hours, days, when all I want to do is lay in bed and cry.

I found some solace in understanding family and friends. In running with my dogs. In riding my bike downtown to read and write and ruminate in our beautiful park. In driving up to the mountains and losing myself in a long hike in the summer heat.

One night, when I was at my worst, I made myself get up off the floor – literally, I was laying on the floor – and write the names of those I love – and who I know love me back – on my little chalkboard. I wrote names until the wave broke, and then I laid down and slept better than I had in weeks. Months, even.

I’m getting help now, but I can’t pretend that any of this is easy; I can’t pretend that I don’t read these articles about Robin Williams and am at turns saddened and repulsed by them (depending on the ‘spin’ the writers put on them).

I’m getting help now, but there are still days when only the biggest things (like some children dropping a stray dog off at my house) can pull me out of bed.

I’m getting help now, but there are still times when it seems like a chore to remind myself to breathe, when simply leaving the house brings on a panic attack.

The one thing I wish is that it hadn’t taken me this long to face my illness. I was lucky to have the right person to talk to at the right time, but if I hadn’t, I would have made my way over to the hospital and checked myself in. I’ve seen and experienced firsthand what suicide does to a loved one’s family and friends; the fact that I was still thinking those thoughts scared me into action.

Please, please, if you reach your low point – whatever that is – or maybe even when you realize you’re careening towards it…call someone. Friend, family, hotline. Or go to the nearest hospital. I would never claim to know exactly how anyone else feels, but allow yourself to at least hope, if not know, that the depression is feeding you lies, and that help is available in one form or another.

If you aren’t struggling, please just be patient with those who are. Don’t forget the old adage that says something along the lines of, ‘be kind to everyone you meet, because you never know what they’re battling’.

Frozen Ever After: The New Waitstrom

Frozen Ever After

Image (c) Disney https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/epcot/frozen-ever-after/

The new Frozen ride opened in the Norway pavilion at EPCOT recently, and today I was seeing Facebook posts featuring pictures of wait times up to 300 minutes.

Three. Hundred. Minutes. That’s FIVE HOURS. These people are in a park that is essentially open from 9 AM to 9 PM (if you ignore the Magic Hours days), and they are waiting nearly half that time to go on this ride.

My friends and I used to joke around, calling Maelstrom – the original Norway pavilion ride – “Waitstrom”.  But this was back when thirty minutes was the average wait, and an hour or more was one of those “This isn’t worth it, let’s go to China” decision makers.

But waiting thirty minutes or less for Maelstrom? Hey, it wasn’t an amazing ride, but it was fun. It wasn’t the best representation of the Norwegian people and their culture, but it was so EPCOT. They could have updated Maelstrom as it was, could have made it more palatable, but instead they replaced it with “Frozen Ever After”, which would be a great attraction for Magic Kingdom, but in EPCOT – particularly in the World Showcase – just reeks of bad taste.

Half-assed as it was, Maelstrom was still a story of Norway and the Norwegian people. Now that pavilion has succumbed to Disney’s Frozen cash cow, and Frozen is a fairy tale set in a non-existent place. On top of that, the fairy tale upon which Frozen is based – The Snow Queen – is a Danish fairy tale…and while Denmark is part of Scandinavia, it is not Norway, and on top of that, isn’t even much like Norway.

Will Disney be changing the pavilion to truly represent Scandinavia in general? I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I for one would be surprised if they did. It certainly wouldn’t make sense for the World Showcase’s general theme – even the U.K. pavilion is decidedly British.

I suppose the problem is that as a former cast member, I understand changes but don’t care for ones that lessen the value of the things I love best about Walt Disney World (for instance, don’t even get me started about the dining plan and how it has lessened the food quality all over property). I get the desire for a Frozen-themed ride – I even get the need for one – but I don’t care for the execution.

And on top of that, I personally wouldn’t wait 300 minutes to ride Maelstrom with Frozen characters…and that’s exactly what this is.

I have to talk about the Pulse Orlando Atrocity

stand with orlando

Photo Courtesy of http://www.scoopnest.com/user/dreynders/742026024574156800

No, I’ve never been to Pulse in Orlando. I moved away from the Orlando area nearly a decade ago, and when I visit, I rarely have time to visit downtown at all.

But I’ve heard good things about Pulse, and if I was back in Orlando and had a chance to go, I would. Not only because it sounded fun, but because, being part of the LGBTQ+ community myself, I would have been a person who would have likely called Pulse a safe haven of sorts.pulse orlando

There, I’ve said it. Not that I’ve ever really hidden the fact that I am not straight…it’s just not something I often state in a public forum. Not for any bad reason, not because I’m trying to hide it, but rather because it’s a part of me, it’s who I am, and I don’t think I should have to constantly explain that. I believe that my general opinions (which I’m not shy about sharing) and even at times my writing show who I am well enough.

But right now, this is different. I woke up yesterday morning and the first thing I saw was a post from a friend in Orlando, someone who frequented Pulse, telling everyone he was okay. I saw that many of my friends had already used the safety check-in feature on Facebook, and seriously, I have never been happier that that feature exists, even if I don’t like that it has to exist in the first place.

Unfortunately, as yesterday wore on, it was impossible to ignore the articles, the cries for help from those who wanted to find missing friends or family members. Especially when one of those missing people is a friend of a friend. Not someone I’ve ever met, but a beautiful young woman who went to Pulse Saturday night and was confirmed dead early this morning. My heart goes out to those who know her, as it does to everyone who is missing or mourning a loved one after this truly horrific event.

pulse orlandoLet me get this straight: I don’t care what the killer’s motives were. I don’t care whose name he is working under or apparently working under or whatever the newest news about that is. I care that this was a terrorist attack no matter WHO he was, and one that specifically targeted Orlando’s LGBTQ+ community. As an acquaintance of mine said, “These people are my people, and we are dying.” And then another person got pulled over on his way to the LA Pride parade with a car full of weapons. So that person got caught, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that he existed, and it doesn’t make up for the fact that the terrorist in Orlando made it through our “gun control” system despite having been under FBI surveillance not once but twice, and it doesn’t make up for the fact that any citizen of this country is allowed to purchase a FUCKING ASSAULT RIFLE.

And it doesn’t make up for the fact that over a hundred people were killed or injured when that man burst into Pulse nightclub and committed an act so full of hate that it literally makes me sick to my stomach.

I wish I was in Orlando. I wish I could do more RIGHT NOW. I wish I didn’t have to make these wishes, because tragedies like this should not still be happening. Wake the fuck up, America. A large portion of your population was just directly attacked for who they are, whether they are LGBTQ+ or those who support their LGBTQ+ friends or family.

In the end, I don’t feel like anything I write about this will never be enough.

I’m a writer, and yet I somehow can’t find the right words to express how I feel about this tragedy.

My thoughts and prayers are with anyone who was directly or indirectly harmed by these events.

pulse orlando