Posted in LGBTQA, writing

THEY WERE HERE (12/06/17)

On December 6th, we were able to stop again on our way back to South Carolina to pay respects at Pulse in Orlando, the sight of the now second biggest massacre in American history. Since June 12th, 2016. We’ve already had something top it.

What a sickening thought.

I believe my first trip to Pulse was late last year or early this year, and it was just as painful to witness and behold. There is no preparation for what you will feel when you pull into that lot and imagine what happened there, the senseless carnage and the cruelty.

The surrounding community has most definitely not forgotten these beautiful souls – even the Wendy’s across the street, where we changed clothes before the long ride home, had encouraging signs stressing the need for acceptance and equality posted behind the counter, and a framed print listing the names of the lives lost that night. From the window of the Wendy’s, you could have a burger and stare at the memorial. The sad thought turns my stomach. The crosswalk in front of the club had been painted rainbow, and ONE ORLANDO signs hang boldly for all to see.

It makes me so profoundly happy to see that this place is being taken care of. A live Christmas tree is up now, with jugs of water placed nearby, encouraging those who stop by to tend to it. And they do. People protect this place.

A sign, attached to the official Pulse sign, which is new as of my last visit, states that it will eventually be a permanent memorial and museum. Not a single soul is unrepresented or forgotten. I am so grateful for the people who are tirelessly tending to this precious place, who are keeping hate away from it. Who plant flowers in multicolors and share smiles and urge us, the shocked and horrified passersby, to walk away from this painful place feeling inspired to be kind, understanding, and above all things, tolerant.

I’ve included photos below the cut, with a trigger warning because of the obvious reference to LGBTQ+ violence and slaughter. As I’ve said before – I do this not out of voyeurism. I want people who are not able to visit Pulse, whether for travel reasons or perhaps just an emotional unreadiness, to know that these people have not and will not ever be forgotten. I’ll never stop visiting them and praying for them.

I was not a Pulse attendee. Orlando is not my true home. But I identify as a pansexual woman who spent many nights at my own personal Pulse with my many LGBTQ+ friends, feeling safe and free to be ourselves in a designated “safe space”. In many ways, that innocence is lost – there is no such thing as a safe space anymore. But all we can do is promise to remember, and to do our absolute best to prevent it from happening again.

There will always be a Pulse, as long as we promise to never forget. And I never will.

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Posted in adventuring, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, PHOTOGRAPHY, relationships, travel, Tyler, wanderlust

RIVERFRONT PARK

Tyler & I always like to try to find little adventures to go on, whether we are in his neck of the woods (Columbia, SC), or mine (Greenville, SC). This past week, it was my turn to visit Columbia, and we decided to have a mini-adventure at Riverfront Park.

Nestled near downtown Columbia, Riverfront Park is actually a really beautiful and scenic area that feels completely removed from city life. It is perfect if you want to get active, sightsee, or do both. Their website boasts that they have 167 acres of land to enjoy, and there is definitely a lot of space to spread out and do yo thang. We passed all walks of life on our journey through the park, from runners to dog walkers to businesspeople enjoying a nice place to take a break outdoors. I’m not particularly an outdoors kinda gal myself, but I appreciate that the park has done a wonderful job at making the walking trails lively, accessible, and easy to navigate. I also loved that they had mile markers set up throughout the park, so you knew how far you had gone, if you liked to keep track of that type of thing. Oh, and doggie water fountains. That was actually my favorite part. Team Riverfront Park, friends of dogs everywhere!

Here are some pictures from our afternoon for you to enjoy. We found an old schoolhouse, the abandoned pump house that previously powered the nearby dam, and the most beautiful patch of Black-eyed Susan’s growing happily in the sun. It was a lovely day, and when Columbia decides to not be as oppressively hot and horrifying outdoors, I’d love to go back.

Processed with VSCO with k2 preset

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Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, MAKEUP/BEAUTY, PHOTOGRAPHY, POP CULTURE, travel

EPCOT (01/27/17)

I always have to ask myself if EPCOT or the Magic Kingdom is my favorite park, and it’s such a fine line that it really depends on the day. But dayum, do I love EPCOT.

This was a first for us – EPCOT was hosting its first International Festival of the Arts, and I absolutely had to get down there to see what they had to offer. Also, I will use anything as an excuse to get to Disney World. Enjoy some photos from around the world and of some truly beautiful art, aka my selfies. JK. Sort of.

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Posted in travel

A GIFT TO HER FAMILY AND THE WORLD

Not much to say here – what can you say, really?

20 years ago last December, on Christmas Day, the nation was forever changed by the violent death of this little girl. She  was America’s Daughter – we all wanted justice for her, had never seen anything like her!  In a time before Toddlers & Tiaras, her eerily overpainted face and overly wise eyes unsettled us all. Who could do this? The American people craved answers.

Was it an intruder? Her parents? Her brother? A fan? We still don’t know, and probably never will. This child’s short lived life is arguably one of the most famous true crime stories in American history.

A body is just that – a body. A shell. Knowing that and feeling that are two different things, however. Death hag and true crime fan that I am, we pitstopped on the way to Atlanta to St. James Episcopal cemetery in Marietta, GA yesterday to pay our respects to the late JonBenét Ramsey. Her name evokes such an image – I think the majority of us have memories attached to her. The only thing I can say is that being there … it felt surreal. I wish I had a better word, but that’s it. It felt bigger than I could understand.

JonBenét rests in a peaceful corner of a quiet cemetery in a town that passes her by without a second glance – it seems almost laughable, considering her un-lived years have been rocked by near-constant controversy and scandal. With her half sister, Beth, and her mother, Patsy, nearby, she is Just Another Little Girl. Gone too soon. You could hardly believe you were standing over the shell of one of the most horrifying moments in the history of our nation, and truly, of time. It seemed almost inappropriately quaint, but maybe that’s the point. I don’t know. None of us do, do we?

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, FUNERAL SERVICE, MENTAL HEALTH, PHOTOGRAPHY, writing

#FIREDUP2k16

So, I was fired from the funeral home.

Again.

One day shy of the one year anniversary of the first time I was fired.

Ahhhh, life. You never, ever, ever fail to keep me on my toes.

I missed class yesterday morning, which never happens. I set my alarm for the wrong time, I mixed up my days, totally goofed – but this meant that I could go into work early, and I was really excited to go into work. I miss work, I hate that school takes me away from work and that I don’t get to be as present as I want to be, as involved as I long to be. I didn’t text Tom and tell him that I was sneaking in a few hours early because I wanted to surprise him. Yesterday was the first day that felt like fall to me, the leaves are starting to change, the air was nice and cool, the sun was bright. I felt fine, I remember thinking that – I feel fine today.  I walked into the funeral home with a vial of shaved citrine in my hand (said to bring success in ones career) and an Elvis magnet, stoked to add them to the rest of the oddities collected on my desk.

I made it as far as the doorway. I didn’t even get to put my bag down.

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