Recovering

It’s been over a month since my last entry. In that time, I’ve worked through a lot of my grief over Chester’s passing. It’s been hard at times, but having the support of my friends has helped. I’ve made art, sent cards to friends to cheer them up, and stayed connected with the Linkin Park community on Facebook. The biggest thing I did was host a Connecticut memorial for Chester at Constitution Plaza, something I have never done before. It was a small but emotional ceremony with a lot of singing, talking, and making new friends. One of the most beautiful (also semi-creepy and cathartic) moments was at the beginning of the memorial. As we began singing “One More Light”, a sudden downpour fell upon our group of eight. We scrambled to the shelter of a group of trees near the fountain, and stayed there until the storm had passed. We thought it could be a sign that we weren’t alone in our grief, because from then on the clouds lifted and it turned into a gorgeous, sunny afternoon.

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That evening, a few of my new friends and I got dinner at Tisane Euro-Asian Cafe in Hartford, one of my favorite restaurants in the West End. I have to give their staff a HUGE shoutout because they were especially kind to our group. As soon as they learned we had been at the memorial, they put Linkin Park Radio on their radio for the entire time we were at the restaurant. We spent the next hour or so talking about anything and everything, which was a great release after the memorial. Life can hit you hard, but there are people there to lift you up if you look for them.

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One More Light

This is not a typical post for Outside My Nine to Five, but it is important.

Thursday afternoon, the world found out that Chester Bennington from Linkin Park passed away from an apparent suicide. I learned about his passing through my friend, and confirmed it through two of my friends in the Linkin Park community.

I was shattered. I couldn’t stop shaking. The fact that this was real and not a hoax broke my heart.

Chester Bennington

Chester was more than just my favorite member of Linkin Park. He was an amazing singer, first and foremost. Regardless of how many times you saw Linkin Park in concert, his vocal abilities left you ranting and raving about the show for days and weeks afterward.

He had a wicked sense of humor, part wit and sarcasm and part complete goofball. There were many LPTV episodes where his antics would leave me in stitches. Back in the day, my Linkin Park friends and I would collect quotes from interviews and videos and post them on the Linkin Park Message Boards; many of the best ones were from Chester.

What I remember the most about him is his genuine caring nature. The cover photo for this entry (credit to Justin Wysong, by the way) is from my last meet and greet with Linkin Park. That day, my anxiety was at an all-time high for reasons that didn’t include the meet and greet. While I did my best to keep it under control, my anxiety won out and I began trembling right before our picture was taken. My body didn’t feel right after I regained my composure. It was almost as if I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs, and I started coughing every so often. When Chester came along to me, it only took a brief “Hello” to get me coughing again. I covered my mouth just in time, but I was mortified.

“Now you’ve done it…you’ve coughed on him. You’re going to get him sick.” I thought, not realizing what was actually going on with me.

“I’m sorry,” I apologized, barely able to meet eyes with him.

“Don’t be sorry,” he replied, bringing his arm out to take me into a hug. I was frozen.

“He really wants to give me a hug? After what I just did?”

“Sorry,” I said again. “I get nervous easy,”

“Don’t be nervous,” he assured me, pulling me into a side hug. In that moment, I relaxed. Things would be okay.

Fighting Demons

Chester’s personal demons were well-accounted for in numerous interviews. His honesty made fans, including me, feel like they weren’t alone in whatever they were going through. If he could rise above what he faced and be successful and happy, so could we.

We found out Thursday that some demons are too big.

We will never know why. We will never know what could have stopped it. No amount of speculation, interview/lyric/tweet analysis, or theorizing will bring Chester back.

Grief and the Power of Community

I’ve struggled through this past weekend. Chester’s passing compounded the stress I have been feeling for the past month in my personal life. The cycle of grief is incredibly powerful: one minute I can be focused and feeling like myself; the next crying, shaking and feeling nauseous. What I’ve discovered is that I am not alone. My friends in the Linkin Park community are feeling the same way. We lost someone who, from a distance, meant a great deal to us. When you’ve been a Linkin Park fan for as long as many of us have, it’s hard to not feel connected to them. Through their website, chat rooms, message boards, LPTV, social media, and meet and greets, we get to know a part of who they are as people. We have at least 17 years of stories, inside jokes, and adventures to fall back on. Now a part of that is gone.

The Linkin Park community has talked, cried, and celebrated Chester’s life this weekend. As the days and weeks go on, we will continue to stand together and support each other. The future is uncertain, but as long as we have each other, we know we’ll be okay.

One More Light

The penultimate track to Linkin Park’s latest release is “One More Light“. It is a song written from a point of loss. We are all feeling that right now. In many ways, Chester is that “One More Light”.

“Who cares if one more light goes out? Well, I do.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Hotline at (800)273-8255. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

 

Fourth of July Festivities

I hope everyone had a fantastic Fourth of July holiday! Mine was a mix of activity and relaxation, just the way I like it. The first part of Fourth of July involved a trip down to Madison with my chorus to sing with the Wallingford Symphony Orchestra. The WSO was holding their “July Pops” performances over the weekend, where they featured lots of patriotic music! My chorus had a short but entertaining set, and the audience was impressed with our sound. We even had a trio of little girls dancing in the aisles! Our set was later in the evening, so by the time we got back to Central Connecticut, we were famished! It was at this point a few members of my chorus and I decided to try out Lyme Grill in Avon.

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Summers at the Market

Disclosure: I provide social media assistance for the Collinsville Farmers Market. This review is my own and does not represent the thoughts or views of the vendors and board members of the Collinsville Farmers Market and/or the Canton Advocates for Responsible Expansion, Inc..

Summer is (finally!) here! After what seems like forever, the weather is now warm enough to really experience the awesome things Connecticut has to offer outdoors. One of my favorite activities is attending local farmers markets. Farmers markets give me the opportunity to support local businesses, buy fresh and local produce, and experience things I may not get to otherwise.

Fun in Collinsville

Collinsville Farmers MarketLast Sunday was the first day of the Collinsville Farmers Market’s 2017 season, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! I have been going to the Collinsville Farmers Market since 2008, and love its relaxed and fun atmosphere. The vendors are awesome too! I love looking at the flowers from Syme Family Farm and getting vegetables from Gresczyk Farms. Another vendor I like is Heirloom Kitchen, who specializes in gluten-free foods. There aren’t a lot of places that can make a great gluten-free muffin, but Heirloom Kitchen is one of them!

One of the nice things about the Collinsville Farmers Market is its location. The market is set up in the center of Collinsville, and is a stone’s throw away from local restaurants and shops. For me, every visit to the Collinsville Farmers Market begins with an iced coffee from LaSalle Market and Deli. Their restaurant is always busy, and the coffee is fantastic! Another fun store to peruse is the America the Beautiful Country Store, which is full of authentic Amish furniture and products. Coming to the Collinsville Farmers Market is a great way to spend a Sunday morning!

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Motivation

Motivation is a very fickle thing. When I’m gung-ho about doing something, I focus my energy into what I am doing and feel unstoppable. This feeling grinds to a halt when I lose my inspiration, my goals, and my confidence in writing.

Writing has been a challenge the past couple of months. I will start a blog, then be afraid that it’s not good enough. That I’m not doing my blog justice. That I will fail. On the other hand, I want so badly to share my adventures and give you all a piece of my world.

I know it’s been a while, but I am hoping this entry will drive me back into writing. How do you stay inspired when you’re struggling? Feel free to comment below!

 

Back in the Old Routine…

I like to blog about things that are new, exciting or unusual. My entries comprise of places I’ve never been or experiences I’ve never had. After the insanity that was last month, my weekends were considerably more mundane. I did have a few fun adventures though!

A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend and I went out to eat at Thai Bowl in Watertown. Thai Bowl serves authentic Thai food, including pho. The atmosphere of the restaurant is very calm and relaxing, with light green walls, ornate decorations and hardwood floors. While I enjoyed my meal (my usual pad si eow), I appreciated the environment of the restaurant the most. It was quiet and peaceful, letting my boyfriend and I have intimate conversations without worrying about time or noise. I would love to go there again!

IMG_1958Then, last Friday the two of us went to Mohegan Sun to see Bastille on their “Wild Wild World” tour. I had never seen Bastille before, but a friend of mine had said they put on a good show so I was pretty intrigued. Needless to say, they did not disappoint. Their performance was tight, and they got the kids in the crowd into a frenzy. The visuals that accompanied their performance were interesting as well. Their “Wild Wild World” album is a response to the turbulent times we are living in right now, and the videos that played during their show reflected that theme perfectly. Some videos were reminiscent of Koyaanisqatsi, others were more like 1960’s films. There was even a nod to the opening of “Vertigo”! I had an excellent time at their show, and I definitely recommend seeing them if you can.

I’m hoping that since the weather is getting warmer I will be able to go on some new adventures soon! Keep an eye on the blog to see what happens!

Running Ragged

Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks…or months) where you have done so many things that eventually your mind and body begs you to slow down and let it catch up? Well, that has been me since my last entry. So many things (both good and bad) have happened since the Women’s March on Hartford that I haven’t had the time to sit and reflect. So, here I am.

January

At the very end of January, I got to do two very exciting things. First, I got to check out a New York Islanders game at Barclays Center. This was the first time I ever visited the Barclays, and I was impressed by the grandeur of it. Some say that it’s not a great arena for watching hockey because of the smaller rink size, but it did have great sight lines! I was up in the nosebleeds for this game, and I was able to have a good view of the entire rink. I was also next to the Blue and Orange Army (a group of Islanders fans that is the hockey equivalent of the Mets 7-Line Army), which was pretty fun!

Next was my Winter Regional Weekend for chorus in Newport, RI. Our regional weekends are the Sweet Adelines version of conferences for different professions. They’re held at hotels around our region, and there are a variety of seminars we can take to help us further improve our craft. This weekend was held at the Newport Marriott, which was absolutely GORGEOUS! The hotel is decorated with a nautical theme (because what else do you do when you’re literally next to the Atlantic Ocean), but in a classy and upscale fashion. The rooms have what looked to be white sails as a headboard against the beds, and ropes around the lights as decoration. The gym was also a plus for my visit – it scales two floors, so you can fit a “full size” gym into a smaller space. I found it to be very clean and able to meet my exercizing needs. The best part about the hotel was how central it was to shopping and restaurants!

February

As far as months go, February was the craziest. Every weekend was filled with some sort of activity or obligation. I held a small Superbowl party at my house with my closest friends, which was pretty fun. A couple weeks later was my dad’s 60th birthday, so we held a surprise party for him at home. This was an exciting (yet completely nerve-wracking) event; tons of family and friends came, and we got delicious food and desserts from Hall’s Market and Cake Gypsy to satisfy the crowd. My dad was surprised and happy about the party!

One weekend, I went skiing with a friend at Mount Southington, a small ski area in Central Connecticut. I’m pretty familiar with Mount Southington as my elementary school went there for Ski Club. It wasn’t the enormous monstrosity I thought it was as a child, but it was still a ton of fun! The trails are excellent for novice skiiers; the one black diamond trail they have felt like more of a blue square to me. My friend and I took on the slopes for a few hours until the biting cold finally brought us indoors for the day.

Another weekend led to a trip to Mohegan Sun to see the band Pop Evil at the Wolf Den. The Wolf Den is an awesome venue to begin with – there is literally no bad seat in the house. The tickets to shows at the Wolf Den are free; but seating is first come first serve as a result. My friend and I took refuge at the bar behind the Wolf Den (since the line to get in was enormous), and it turned out to be the best idea we had all evening. We had a direct view of the stage, so I got to see and hear everything perfectly! Pop Evil put on a spectacular show – they were fun, engaging, and got everybody on their feet. There was even an elderly couple swing dancing to their songs! I definitely want to see them again!

Finally, last weekend led to a couple culinary adventures in Middletown. My friends and I went to Krust, which is an up-and-coming pizza bar in NoRa. The restaurant has a minimalist, hipster aesthetic which allows the visitor to focus on the delicious food. Their pizza is topped with unique ingredients (brussel sprouts, for one), which separates them from other restaurants in the area. I was fortunate to find they had gluten-free crust available for my pizza. However, on this particular night my first pizza got burnt, and the second one was undercooked. The staff were really nice to me about it, though, and I know they were making an effort to make sure I got something good to eat. I would definitely visit Krust again, particularly because of the staff experience!

The second place we went was Zero Degree Thai Ice Cream. The concept of their restaurant is cool – the ice cream is made in front of you on an antigriddle, and you get unlimited toppings on it. However, I did not feel the “flair” was worth the hour long wait. The ice cream itself wasn’t as good as I thought it would be when I got it, which was a disappointment. If you want to visit Zero Degree, make sure you do it at a day and time where it won’t be crowded. You may have a better experience than I did.

The Women’s March on Hartford

I am still processing the unbelieveable things I witnessed at the Women’s March on Hartford. People of all races, religions, nationalities, and identities stood together on the lawn of the Legislative Office Building (LOB); voicing their concerns about the future and finding solidarity in each other. It was a peaceful but powerful demonstration that left me awestruck.

Why I March

img_1817I felt compelled to march Saturday because of a cause very close to my heart: mental health and disability rights. My lived experiences have shown me that people with mental illnesses are people first, and the stigma associated with having a mental illness compounds the pain of the illness itself. The challenges people with disabilities face are incredible: the ARC finds that most people with disabilities are either unemployed or underemployed. They also face similar stigma to those with mental illnesses.

The events of this political season shocked me to my core and made me worry about what would happen to the people I’ve encountered throughout my life. As the weeks and months have gone by, it’s become increasingly more apparent that now is the time to stand up for what I believe in. Prior to Saturday the urge to be “active” (as it were) came in whispers, shrouded in anxiety. But now is not the time to be afraid.

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Happy 2017!

Happy 2017 from Outside my Nine to Five! Like most people, my holidays were filled with family, shopping and (of course) food. I was able to do a few things that were fun since my last entry, though! Here’s a quick recap of the end of 2016:

Not Just Another Holiday Show

After Simsbury Celebrates was my chorus’s annual holiday concert. As the name indicates, it wasn’t your typical holiday concert. We had trivia, “elves” running up and down the aisles handing out candy canes, an opera singer, and the most entertaining version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” I have ever witnessed in my life. Picture a church sanctuary, people sitting in the pews anticipating their turn to sing along. As their day of Christmas is called, they joyfully spring out of their seats and pantomime the animal or object given that day. As time goes on they try to outdo the other groups and show that yes, their day of Christmas was indeed the best day. My chorus was standing on the risers watching the absolute hilarity occurring in front of us; wondering “How are we going to top this next year?” Needless to say, this concert was one for the record books. Continue reading “Happy 2017!”

Succulents and Singing

Yesterday was the busiest day of my weekend. After my morning exercise class, I was off to do two things I’ve never done before: Plant Nite and the Harwinton Hometown Holiday Celebration!

Plant NitePlant Nite

Plant Nite follows the same concept as Paint Nite (it’s actually owned by the same company); take over a bar or restaurant and teach people how to create a work of gardening art! My Plant Nite took place at Bertucci’s in Bishop’s Corner, West Hartford. The event was at capacity – over 40 people attended! However, I was not as impressed with the event as I probably should have been. It was difficult to find the succulents that I wanted; I had to switch one of them with an extra that was lying around. We also had a limited selection of rocks and moss to decorate with (mainly because our table had one set of rocks and moss when we were apparently supposed to have two. We didn’t get the second set until 15 minutes later). Finally, the service at Bertucci’s was less than stellar. My friend didn’t get the lemon she requested with her tea and it took two waiters to get the dessert I was splitting with another friend. Unfortunately, I would not recommend attending a Plant Nite. Continue reading “Succulents and Singing”