On Saturday, I was celebrating Pride with my beloved LGBTQ community. From the moment I attended my first Pride celebration over ten years ago, I was awash with the feelings of genuine love, acceptance, and beauty I found there. For someone who spent a lifetime never knowing where I belonged, it was overwhelming to be in a place that felt so completely like home. Whenever and wherever I am with my community, I am at peace.

That peace was shattered on Sunday, when I awoke to the horrific news of a shooting at a gay club in Orlando. That evening, my partner and I attended a vigil to be surrounded by friends, family, and the community.

A day later, I am still reeling.

I wanted to take a moment out from my usual range of topics here to express my sorrow, and to remember that we all come from so many walks of life, religions, cultures, experiences, and identities. Our differences are what make life a richer and more beautiful experience. For up to date information, Equality Florida will keep you informed. If you would like to make a contribution, blood donations are very much needed (if you live in Florida, you can find out more at and there is also an official GoFundMe page set up by Equality Florida.

★ Making it a point to live.

In light of the recent news out of Newtown, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be alive. My department had a holiday party last Saturday, and I brought my camera along for the occasion. I uploaded the photos to my computer today, and looking at them made me realize something: I love the people I work with, and I love that an excuse for a group dinner was filled with so much life. Even in those moments, I didn't realize how much fun everyone was having. It took me removing myself for a bit and looking at life through the lens of a camera to really make it clear to me.

Plates, wine glasses, strings of lights, silverware. All served as the backdrop for a scene now just a memory. It was my first time wielding my camera in front of a group of people, and my first time using it to really capture moments in time. The graininess of the shots bother me less than I imagined they would; I like the way it reminds me of what it felt like to be there. I like how the colors of clothes are changed by the soft lighting. I like seeing pictures of people laughing, or thinking, or clearly lost in thought or in conversation. I like these things more than simple smiles into the camera, because nothing was paused for the sake of a snapshot.

I see these moments and I cherish them. I think of the children whose lives were taken from them, and it takes my breath away. My heart goes out to all those touched by this tragedy.

★ On Not Expecting the Unexpected

12:00pm. Lunch is over, and the rest of the day looms ahead. It's a busy day. Hours have passed quickly so far. New duties present themselves. New challenges. New hurdles. It feels good. 1:00pm. Writing. So much to say. Find some words. Put them together. Attempt to make sense of them. Move along.

1:15pm. The fun part of the day. Always makes you smile. Never fails. But this time. Eyes are closed. Breathing is labored. It's the end of the line. You knew it was coming. You just didn't know that it would pack such a hard punch when it did.

11:30pm. Still reeling. You realize something. One hour per day. Times five days per week. Times four weeks. Twenty precious hours. You got to know someone in their darkest moments. You found light in those moments. You were a part of something. You will never be the same.

11:35pm. There's more to say. Sometimes you do things. And you focus on those things. And you forget that in very small ways, unexpected ways, you make a difference. And knowing that is incredibly touching. And if you're lucky, it makes you cry.

I've never felt so honored, and yet so profoundly sad, in all my life.