December 30, 2016
I don’t want to write this. I’ve been avoiding it for weeks. Actually, a lot of it was never written because I was avoiding most of it throughout the year. But, with only about 36 hours left in 2016, I guess it’s time to tackle.
While for some reason I don’t enjoy the post-Christmas end-of-the-year lists and countdowns, I’ve written a “year in review” for myself on this site three years running. Why ruin with what’s become a tradition? With so much that’s happened, there’s no shortage of items to cover.
Normally, I’d group my review by themes; travel, food, work, etc. However, this rollercoaster of a year has left me with a somewhat linear story that starts almost day one, and kind of a return to the coaster’s loading platform.
Sit tight, grab a preferred beverage if you’re coming along for the ride. Lots of ups and many downs we’ve ridden through over this year and now into 2017.
I started the new year with a new job. I was fortunate that while I had lost my job three weeks earlier, a new opportunity with a larger company (Darden Restaurants, Inc.), making a bit more money materialized the very next day after my departure. I don’t kid myself in knowing what a tremendous opportunity this was, especially since who doesn’t need a paycheck?
I also started my final semester, and last class, of my master program. Working in a similar role as a project manager, as a group of guys we would put together a marketing plan and website for a Gainesville, Fla., based company, Lumberjack Plumbing. Nate is a great client and I really wish him success. The world needs more high quality people, and he’s definitely in that group.
We found out David Bowie passed away from a battle with cancer. I remember the first song of his I heard on The Late Late Show with Conan O’Brien back in the mid-90s. Yeah, I was late to the Bowie train, but I was instantly fond of the sound, tonality, and mystery within his voice.
I won free tickets to see my favorite international DJ (I’m actually friends with him on Facebook) perform on a rooftop bar in Miami. I took a friend for a quick one-night trip down to dance the night away in MIA. So cool, and I finally got a chance to meet him in person. Robbie Rivera and his label, Juicy Music, is awesome. Check him out!
Back in 2015, I’d purchased tickets to attend Star Trek the Ultimate Voyage at the Dr. Phillips Center. I went with a buddy of mine from my last job, after attending a tap takeover for Funky Buddha brewery at a nearby pub. The show was incredible. To hear all the original music performed live and so acutely to clips from the various movies, television shows and interviews was perfect and reinforced why I loved, and continue to love, the franchise.
I started to ride the SunRail in February to get to and from work after a new co-worker who commutes even further than I do made the recommendation. In my previous job, I’d wanted to make SunRail work, but the logistics were a challenge.
I also started looking for a more permanent job. My role at Darden was as a contractor and was only defined through the end of their fiscal year, May 31, 2016. Not knowing if it would amount to anything in particular, I kept all my options open. Never bad advice, really.
Orlando City Soccer was also just starting to ramp up with a season opener in March. To build fan excitement, they hosted a free preseason open practice at the Citrus Bowl for fans. Through a series of friends, we were able to meet the team and get autographs as they exited the incredibly cold pitch. I got to meet Kaka, as well as our new keeper, Joe Bendik. My buddy, Stanton, was able to join and it definitely made an impression on both of us.
My friends and I also traveled overnight to Jacksonville to watch Orlando City take on the Jacksonville Armada. City lost, but we got to see a lot of the team play. It was also at this game we got breaking news of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death. Who knew both OCSC and sudden loss would be part of regular discourse for the rest of the year.
The first week of the month launched an interesting trajectory. It was spring break at school, my last in this program, and a much needed break. I’d also read about a new weekend-long music festival not too far from Orlando, called Okeechobee Music Festival. Some of my favorite artists, including ones I’d consider to be the soundtrack of my time in school were playing.
After much deliberation, I purchased a ticket. I was able to participate in the Purple Pride 5K run Thursday night, drive down to the music festival Friday afternoon, camp those first two nights with 20,000 other fans, leave Sunday morning for Orlando to witness the home opener of Orlando City Soccer against Real Salt Lake – from which I was able sit in the suite and meet Kaka, again – AND get back in time to the music festival for my two favorite bands right now, Mumford & Sons, and The Avett Brothers. Both of whom put on a show that I will always remember. It was incredible, … that I survived, but a weekend for the record books.
Two weeks later, we celebrated my friend’s 40th birthday with a surprise party that was extra special. She had an amazing time, and that same weekend we went to St. Augustine where we enjoyed sun, sand, surf, and one of my top favorite meals of the year at Ice Plant.
The rest of March did just that as I continued to look for a permanent job while also finishing my graduate program.
In April, I’d completed several interviews for a permanent job at Visit Orlando as their Senior Manager, Digital Marketing. Essentially, the paperwork and background check needed to pass, and sure enough, on the last business day of the month, I got my starting date of May 13. I was both nervous and excited
But that last Friday of the month was also the day of my commencement at the University of Florida for my masters program. While we didn’t win the final project, we did receive a final project grade of, “A,” and I received a final course grade of, “A,” with a final program GPA of 3.96. Sooo close to a perfect 4.0.
I worked a half day and then headed north to Gainesville. It was just before leaving I got the “A-ok” from Visit Orlando.
On the way, I got a flat tire in Ocala, with my mom and aunt needing to come to my rescue. Because of the delay, I missed an opportunity to be a video story for the program, but I did get to campus in time to pick up my cap and gown, make it to the pre-commencement party at the college, and to have a great conversation with my dean.
We lined up at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as our ceremony would be outdoors this year, given the renovations to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Twelve of us from our program made it, traveling from London, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Miami. It was the first and only time I had a chance to meet these great, intelligent, funny people face-to-face. We’d worked hard for two years, sometimes together as teams, and this was the end.
I live streamed on Facebook our entrance into the stadium. I’d never stood on the field, and the impending rain storm wouldn’t let us get too far. As soon as they got through the rain delay procedures, they enacted them. We had to flee to the “protected” area under the stadium and wait it out.
After about 30 minutes, one of my project teammates decided to return to his car and came back with four Coke bottles that had been adjusted with Maker’s Mark. The 12 of us finished all the bottles in about 15 minutes just as they announced we could return for our ceremony. With a buzz, and in no particular order, we eventually “walked.”
An overnight stay in Ocala, drive back to my Aunt’s to get my mom’s car, then heading to MINI of Orlando to pick-up my car which had been towed back to Orlando the night before, meant I barely made it in time to join my friend and her family at their work outing to Universal Studios. It was a fun night catching up with new and old friends on the recent events.
It was also a week earlier that we’d learned of the untimely death of Prince. He wasn’t the first, and wouldn’t be the last we’d lose in 2016. So much had happened and it’s only been a third of the year.
The first business day of the month, I submitted my two-weeks notice to Darden. It was a hard decision, especially after the team gave me a graduation card and gift the same day. I felt like I was slapping karma directly in the face.
I won’t go into all the details, but Darden offered to make my contract permanent. Through a series of crazy events, soul searching and lots of conversation with friends, I stuck with my decision to leave for Visit Orlando. It was back into the industry I love and a step up in the career ladder.
My last day at Darden was the day of my final decision. I wrapped things up and headed down to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex to attend the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games. It was a chance to hear amazing music from great artists, specifically Phillip Phillips, Flo-Rida, Rachel Platten, Rascal Flatts, and more. I also got to hear Prince Harry, who founded the Invictus Games, speak to the crowd of athletes, support teams, family and attendees.
During the concerts, dedications, etc., I became enamored by an athlete from the UK delegation. He had two artificial legs and was up and active behind the seated delegations. For nearly an hour, he was playing a hybrid version of soccer and volleyball with a balloon and several kids from various nationalities. It was touching to see the joy in the athlete alongside the smiles on the kids’ faces who showed no worries or cares. I won’t call it a disability as these athletes showed the world they can compete at or better than those who haven’t traveled their hard journeys. I was inspired, saddened by the circumstances of why they were even together, and added perspective that even when challenged, life will find a way to not just survive, but thrive; a theme for 2016 just taking root.
The following weekend, I’d purchased a ticket to see Florence & the Machine. She and her band had also become a part of the soundtrack of my graduate years and the show was amazing. My seats weren’t great, but the music was and I had a chance to catch-up with an old friend beforehand. So good.
Memorial Day weekend would come with some fun the week leading into it. The annual Orlando Fringe Festival was taking place and I got to see several great shows, including Flori-DUH and Animatronicans, which were both hilarious.
That Memorial Day, my friend, her family, and I went to Discovery Cove. It was a beautiful day, but luck wasn’t with me, as I slipped, fell, and while bracing myself against rockwork, dislocated my left shoulder. It would pop itself back in, after immense pain, while at Urgent Care. But, I didn’t spill my beer when I fell, and I was at work the next day, still very sore.
This is going to be rough …
The month actually started well. For the first time, I attended Gay Days at the DoubleTree with a few friends. It was a new experience and definitely not for everyone. As one of Orlando’s largest LGBTQ events, mostly for men, it was a bucket list item. The parties went late into the night, but I remained responsible given the proximity to my office (right next door).
That first weekend in June, my friend and I had scored tickets to the Copa America Centenario games being held at Camping World Stadium (formerly the Citrus Bowl). It was hot for all three games, but we got to see Brazil play, and pretty much destroy Haiti. I didn’t even know that many goals could be scored in one game.
Things were going okay at work and because of all the events of the past few weeks, I’d been out almost every night having fun with friends and living life. On Friday, June 10, I met some former colleagues from Darden at a SunRail pub crawl stop in Downtown Orlando. I’d stopped riding the train, as there wasn’t a group from my office building. It was the first time in nearly two weeks I called it an early night, having been in out late or in downtown EVERY night, and was actually home by 7:30.
I’d awake Saturday to the news of a shooting of a former Voice artist, Christina Grimmie, at the Plaza LIVE theater. The Orlando Sentinel did an amazing job recently recapping the events of that night and what led up to it. I didn’t recall her performances, but knew I had tickets to that venue to see Yacht Rock Revue with my Sail Across the Sun friend.
I made plans with another friend to go to the beach on Sunday. I did my normal chores, errands, knowing I’d be out and busy the next day. I went to bed thinking the next week would be hectic. I had NO idea.
Then it happened. The worst shooting in modern American History.
I awoke Sunday morning, June 12, hoping to catch Meet the Press only to find out that a massive shooting in Downtown Orlando at Pulse nightclub had happened hours earlier. The casualties were unknown. The city was pretty much in lockdown. Confusion reigned.
I began texting friends, acquaintances, anyone I know who may have been there the night before, as well as others to share that I was okay.
At about 10:30 a.m., Facebook activated their “I’m Safe,” feature for Orlando and the surrounding area. I was immediately alerted to “mark myself safe,” which I hesitated, then tapped on my phone, and completely lost it. I’d never been more sad, scared, confused, and devastated in my life. What the fuck had just happened to my city? The noon press conference from Mayor Buddy Dyer confirmed the worst; 50 dead (including the shooter, so 49 fallen victims), and many more hurt, badly, in the worst act of domestic terrorism since 9/11.
I was numb, but knew from past experience couching out in front of the TV was not going to help me. My friend and I kept our beach plans, which was needed. I also had work to do, communicating out to my various agencies to immediately stop all digital advertising promoting tourism to the Orlando destination. By 3 p.m. I was at the beach, advertising had stopped, my fishing line was in the water, with my friend and his dog, trying to avoid the major subject at hand. It was a beautiful day marred by the early morning events.
We’d eventually talk about what had happened after a stop for beer at one of my favorite watering holes in Sanford on our way home. I caught the evening news and nothing much had changed. The name of the shooter was unknown, the fatalities were still being processed on scene with no names released. Family members were pleading to the news for answers, desperate to know it their loved ones were lost. I wasn’t sure if I’d known anyone or not. In the coming days, I’d learn I was fortunate. Others weren’t.
What. Just. Happened?
Monday was odd. The office acted mostly as if nothing had happened. Leadership spoke as if a tragedy like this was never conceived. Having worked at a theme park, we’d thought of this, and planned for it. We were instructed to not speak to the media and to remember we represented the destination and the city in all we do.
I didn’t make it to the candle vigil this night. I knew many who did. I wanted to, but … just couldn’t. Photos from that night would immortalize our city forever. A makeshift memorial would arise in the park in front of the Dr. Phillips Center. It was a rough day.
It would take two more days before the organization could figure out the start of a plan.
Tragedy can come in threes. Just as we started reacting to the outpouring of love from around the world, all toward the people of Orlando, on Wednesday news broke of an American alligator attacking and killing a small boy at a Disney hotel, whose family was staying at the resort. Now it become a complete PR nightmare for the destination. What had been two, man-made isolated incidents 30+ miles away in the business center of Central Florida, transferred to our community’s main source of revenue, tourism, with mother nature striking the “happiest place on earth.”
Orlando was in the news, again. Badly. We worked as quickly as we could to determine a plan and next steps, but it became clear there was a lot of unknowns and leadership wanted to distance themselves from the “root cause.” We lumbered on.
Thursday, June 16 was the Yacht Rock Revue concert. The venue and band chose not to cancel. The city needed to transition, desperately, and as the first “event” since the weekend at no other place but the venue of the first incident, it was tough. Attendance to the show was low, but those of us that went sang our hearts out to smooth rock from the 70s and 80s. I needed it. We needed it.
Friday at work was a challenge. Direction was changing, dialogue was disconnected, but we got our message out. The city started planning how to heal from all the events, with two major tributes to the fallen this weekend.
On Saturday, Orlando City hosted the San Jose Quakes for the first sporting event in the City Beautiful since the Pulse Shooting. It would be one to remember. Before, during, and after the game were moments of tears, sadness, camaraderie. I’d never witnessed such love, both from my friends and the community at large. For the first time, I wore orange to a game – colors are purple and gold – but that was to turn the stadium into a living rainbow with the fans.
Before the game, donations to the OneOrlando fund were announced. The various teams of Orlando committed funding for the victims and their families. The Supports section, collectively known as, “The Wall,” waved more flags than ever, most all of them rainbow. It also announced a permanent memorial would be added to the new soccer stadium, already under construction nearby.
At the 49th minute of play, just after the start of the second half, the game … stopped. For one minute, the city with the nation mourned, together. It had never been done before. Players stopped and took a knee, the ref stopped in one spot while the crowd stood, arm-in-arm, in silence as we gazed upon 49 seats marked with rainbow balloons. We cried in silence, mourning what we all felt was our own, personal loss. Maybe it was our loss of innocence, or confidence, or trust. The game resumed and Orlando City finished with a draw, but not a loss. I’m not sure we could have taken another loss, albeit common in sports.
Sunday was to be the official vigil. It was to mark the turning point for the city. Our time for mourning, while never completely over, would need to transition to healing. I went with a friend to Lake Eola, where we stood for hours among the LGBTQ and hispanic communities. Everyone was caring, loving, helpful. We all brought candles, water, and shared with each other.
Before I met my friend, I’d visited the makeshift memorial on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center. Tears were flowing by all, as a jazz band played music to sooth the crowd. So many young, lost souls were taken from our community. It may have been the most visually impactful of anything I’d seen or witnessed. Afterward, we trekked along with thousands over to the bandshell.
While waiting for the vigil to start, we’d seen a reporting crew walking around. They weren’t badged or labeled, but having been a media escort, I spotted them instantly. I wasn’t surprised at their attendance, given the recent global media coverage. As they were walking through the packed crowd, the reporter stopped and asked if he could ask me and my friend a few questions. We obliged, and as I answered his first question I immediately recognized him from NBC national, Gabe Gutierrez. I was also answering questions as someone not entirely out, but proud of who I was and how our community had come together in the past week.
After he finished, it hit me. What just happened? I can’t explain it, but within moments I felt guilt, relief, fear, and empowerment. I looked at my watch. It was just after 7 p.m. and I knew if the interview was to be used at all, it would be for the TODAY show on Monday morning, or later that night for NBC Nightly News. I was not a spokesperson for our community, how hypocritical of me to even think I’m qualified. Friends and family would see the interview if it aired, and it would be an unintended consequence of a simple interview. Too late for any of that.
The vigil was beautiful. An estimated 40,000 people attended all around the lake, and at dusk, we filled the air with our candles. I’d taken the train into the event, and had some time to waste afterward. We stopped at one of my favorite Church Street bars for a pint of Guinness (what else) and digested the events of the past week.
While in the shower Monday morning, my phone started to explode with messages. I don’t turn on the TV in the morning, but many of my friends and former colleagues do. Sure enough, a very small portion of my interview was used in an update segment. You can see the full segment below:
I immediately called my boss, as we’d been given explicit instructions to NOT speak to any media outlet. I had spoken to NBC National as a citizen of Central Florida. I won’t go into detail, but they weren’t pleased, I didn’t appreciate the reaction I received, or the instructions I refused to follow, and I knew things would change for me soon.
Over the next few weeks, the outpouring of love led to some amazing fundraising events scheduled in the community. I attended the All Is One Concert will 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the OneOrlando Fund.
The next night was 105.1 Acoustic Summer Tour, and then a weekend trip to my home town and the Florida Keys with a brief stop in Miami to see Dashboard Confessional at the Taste of Chaos Tour.
The Keys trip had been planned for about six weeks, and it was nice seeing my home town, catching up with a great friend from high school, and driving the beautiful Overseas Highway down to Key West. New memories were created that weekend. I also got to see the Miami Marlins play the Chicago Cubs. I obviously didn’t know it at the time, but I was able to see Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez play. He and a few of his friends would die in a terrible boat accident later in the year, with his funeral coinciding within a day of the loss of dear family friend; both in Miami. I’ll get to that.
The last day of the month, a friend of a friend connected me with a ticket to see Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen live at the Dr. Phillips Center. It was another charity event for the OneOrlando fund. It’s a two-man show with booze and lots of laughs. We had amazing tickets and only about 30 feet from Mayor Dyer, who received a standing ovation when he entered. The first question asked during the show’s Q&A was from a friend, Colleen Burns. She asked if Andy would date a mutual friend and a former colleague of mine. We all laughed, perhaps too hard.
June exited as loudly as it entered. I didn’t think anything like the previous 30 days was even possible.
A recovery month, or so I thought.
On my drive down to the Keys, I’d made the decision to accept an offer to return to Darden. The paperwork, both departing Visit Orlando and returning to DRI, would be completed by the end of the month.
The week of July Fourth was again busy. I’d attended Red, Hot & Boom in Altamonte Springs, and celebrated the Fourth with friends in Sanford. It was hard to celebrate, but we managed.
That following weekend, I sat scrolling through my Facebook feed and suddenly read about the tragic loss of Colleen Burns, a former colleague and Central Florida juggernaut in the social media world, who I’d seen not two weeks earlier at the AC2 show. Her loss hurt. She was around my age, lived life to its fullest, and died in freak accident out west. She was immediately memorialized by international dance music DJ, Kaskade. They had a professional, symbiotic relationship that all artists should strive for within their fan community.
It was the next day I resigned.
Two weeks later, just as I was transitioning back to my old job, I was able to celebrate the wedding of my good friend from soccer. She and her husband were beautiful and everything was amazing.
Returning to Darden was a good decision. I fell back into some projects I’d left, while picking up a few new ones. Thankfully, August wasn’t as crazy as the previous two months.
Before I’d left Visit Orlando, I’d planned a few trips in the coming months; four adventures to be exact. The first was a long weekend to Chicago. I flew up to see the Chicago Cubs at home play their rival, the St. Louis Cardinals (Cubs lost). I also took in The Book of Mormon, and saw Orlando City take on the Chicago Fire, which ended in a draw.
The summer olympics were a fun distraction to life, although Ryan Lochte’s behavior wasn’t becoming of a Gator graduate.
Those of us local Dolphins fans were able to purchase tickets to their preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. The stadium in Miami was under final renovations to add a roof, which gave us Central Florida Fins fans a chance to see a “local” game. Before the start of the game, the team announced a donation of $100K to the OneOrlando fund, which by now had surpassed $20 million.
I knew it would be a busy month before the first came around.
Labor Day weekend brought about two amazing meals at The Capital Grille with friends. I highly recommend Generous Pour and Magical Dining, if you’re in the Orlando area.
I also took in my only UF football game this season, against the University of Kentucky. It was fun returning as a Lifetime Alumni and triple graduate. The Gators won, as they do against UK.
Two weeks later I’d take a trip to Atlanta to attend a Music Festival. Flights were cheap, timing was great, and this was my first of what I called, “three in 30” with three fun trips in 30 days. Music Midtown was everything it needed to be, and more. It continued to show how much I appreciate music in my life, maybe now more than ever.
The very next weekend, I flew to Washington, D.C. on my second of “three in 30,” initially planning just to see Orlando City play D.C. United and to take in the general sites of our nation’s capital. I was pleasantly surprised to learn I would be able to attend the dedication ceremony of the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. Admittedly, I’m still journaling this weekend, but my photos speak somewhat to my adventure.
Before I’d left for my trip to Atlanta, I’d learned that a beloved family friend who lived locally had entered the hospital after falling from likely a sever stroke. Fr. John was like a true father figure to me, and while we knew this day would come at some point, the timing was challenging.
I made several visits to see him, but it was my last day in D.C. that he passed away. I returned home with plans to attend two funerals; one in Clermont and the other down in Miami the first weekend of October. While a somber trip south (and my third road trip to Miami this year), we were able to connect with friends from the Keys I hadn’t seen in years. A late lunch brought us all together for laughs, love, shared memories, and happiness. It was needed.
However, while I attended his funeral vigil, his first and second funerals, and saw him lowered into the ground, I’m not sure his loss has really hit me. Maybe it’s because in our faith, he will always be a part of our life and we’ll see each other again.
On our drive back north, we started chatting about the likelihood of a hurricane hitting Central Florida. There was a disturbance in the Atlantic that posed a decent threat to Florida. Sure enough, as the week progressed, a powerful Hurricane Matthew started roaring towards the coast, just as I was preparing to be out of town for 10 days on my third trip, this time to Scotland to visit friends.
Thankfully, the storm grazed the coast, but not before our governor kept telling everyone, “you are going to die.” That is not a paraphrase of his repeated news briefings, but an actual quote.
The storm hit us early Friday morning, I lost power while trying to work from home. I went to Disney on Saturday to see Plain White T’s perform at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Then Sunday, I awoke, still no power, went to morning heated yoga, got home, ate breakfast finished packing as power was restored, cleaned myself and my house, and headed to the airport to fly to Scotland.
I’m also still working on my journal entries for the trip, but photos are posted and with any time this weekend, I’ll have the adventures documented in writing. Suffice it to say, the trip was incredible. I can’t honestly thank the guys enough for their Scottish hospitality, but hopefully I’ll be able to extend back when they visit in 2017.
The rest of the month was relatively quiet, with Halloween happening on a Monday meant a relatively quiet weekend, which was needed after the past few months.
I did early vote on Halloween, and little did we know …
We’d start the month with the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in more than 100 years. I’m proud to call myself a Cubs fan, who attended both a home and away game. The city of Chicago needed a big win, especially with all the negative attention from the recent crime wave.
The first weekend of November, a group of friends and I went camping. It was great weather out at Tomoka State Park, and we were able to have two nights with a bonfire, a couple hours of canoeing, a few games of cornhole and bocce ball, and good food and drink.
That next week was the national election for our president. I cringed as the results came in. Donald Trump is now our next president and the following four years may play out like a Real Housewives of the White House saga.
Initial indications are fractured as to what we, as Americans, can expect. A year from now, I’ll write about how his first 100 days progressed, hopefully. Who knows, maybe I’ll be writing those words from inside a different border?
I attended my first, and rescheduled, Orlando Pride event after Hurricane Matthew had postponed the event. The parade lasted for more than several hours and my friends and I enjoyed the spirit of the event, especially the tributes to those we lost in June. The event coincided on the five month anniversary of the Pulse shooting.
Thanksgiving was at home this year, and after making 14 menu items from scratch, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever made. It didn’t make my top five list this year, but only because I make a great Thanksgiving meal every year.
I was thankful for a lot, mostly that I’ve somehow survived given everything that’s happened.
The last month of this year required a big send off. Without realizing it, I’d go to five different concert events, and manage to squeeze in a fourth trip to Miami.
I attended the Next Big Thing music festival in Tampa with my friend. The music was great, as was the weather. I got to hear several more bands from my college soundtrack, while finding a few new ones to follow. Four days later I attend the All I Want for Christmas show which featured several artists I love (Colbie Caillat, Rachel Platten) and grew up with, eh hem, Goo Goo Dolls.
That following weekend, I squeezed in that trip to Miami to see the Dolphins beat the Arizona Cardinals in a last second game winning field goal. The renovated stadium is awesome with a roof that kept me dry from the rain, and huge HD screens in each corner. The beer selection inside was good, too.
The next weekend I was back-to-back again at the House of Blues Orlando for the Electric Bounce House 2 featuring The Chainsmokers, Daya (third time I’d hear her this year), Cash Cash, and Tove Lo on Saturday. Then Sunday I saw Matisyahu perform which was a great way to end this year of music.
The following Christmas weekend, I’d finish loading all my pictures from my old website and officially launch this redesigned site, of which I’m proud to use the education I completed earlier in the year.
We’d lose a few more legends in the last few days of the year, including George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and her mother Debbie Reynolds the very next day. Just, wow.
It has been a year of ups and downs. The roller coaster metaphor has never been more appropriate to describe the last 12 months. Huge highs and big dips with multiple loops and inversions along the ride. As I’ve taken stock with much above, I’ve realized my highs were high, delightful, memorable and filled with friends and loved ones. The lows, while low, could have been much worse. It’s hard to hate the entire year, but the heavy lows have stuck with many of us, and rightfully so.
It comes as a surprise that I’m not the only one who feels this year just needs closure. I have no idea if this trajectory will continue into 2017, if things will get better, or maybe worse. Let’s just hope, pray, and love that things will be better and we can continue to find the joys in life that bring us together.
Happy New Year!
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