Thursday, September 27, 2012

Constellations Amid the Cosmic Dust

I often feel like some of my best days at Starbucks are the ones I get to work with Matt. Lately our busy lives don't seem to intersect as much as they used to. I had been through an exhausting summer and working mostly morning shifts. Matt was usually working nights and struggling to keep up with his classes. Sometimes we pass each other like two comets in the sky. After a few weeks we decided to meet up for lunch. Once we finished catching up we found ourselves on a spontaneous trip to the Orlando Science Center.

I had been to the Science Center a few weeks earlier and I had been fascinated with the dinosaurs and wildlife exhibits. This was Matt's first visit and he was much more drawn to the hands on displays. Since I had gotten my fix on a previous trip I decided to explore with him. I felt like I got to see a completely different side of the museum as we turned into inquisitive children.

As we walked past this screen we noticed that it picked up our images. As we moved closer to the monitor a floor keyboard lit up on the bottom of the screen. We were able to use our feet to play an invisible piano.

We came across an electronic harp which used lasers instead of strings. Matt, who actually plays the harp, wasted no time in figuring out all of its different settings. 

This metallic disk was engraved with Morse Code. When spun the laser would read the message by beeping.

Matt learning about all of the body functions through this interactive model. 

This table was set up to illustrate the importance of making a building that could withstand an earthquake. Once your structure was in place you could hit a button that would make the table shake. 

Our structure was not sound. 

Matt braving the 78 mile per hour winds of a hurricane. 

This was a table made to show how the eye of a storm is formed by using a gel-like substance. As I spun the table the outer edges swirled rapidly while the interior moved slower and became a perfect circle. The most interesting movement happened when I abruptly stopped the table to spin it in the opposite direction. The swirls became erratic and bunched up as they adjusted to the change in momentum. 

At first I thought the glare was going to make it impossible to get a good shot of this mesmerizing table. However, the glare actually made the shot more intriguing. Suddenly it wasn't just the eye of a storm I was looking at. My perspective broadened and the spots of light became stars and planets in a chaotic and beautiful universe. Constellations amid the cosmic dust. 

After our trip to the Science Center I surprised Matt with a collection of photographs and videos I had taken of him during the first two years of our friendship. Most of them were from silly little outings or just us simply hanging around. Many were from seemingly uneventful days, but combined they become the beacons of a friendship that still surprises me. 

We sat and went through all the photos and laughed. Matt hadn't seen most of them before this day. Memories from the past two years came flooding back. An even though we have only known each other for a short while these images are proof of time well spent. 

Each photo may not amount to much individually but together they begin to number like the stars. Looking back they tell our story the way night sky tells the history of the Earth. These scattered moments become the constellations amid the cosmic dust of our friendship - always chaotic and always beautiful. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The View From Above

We were looking for a spectacular venue to host DRIP's Prison Party Fundraiser. We ended up getting the best view the city had to offer. Gregg Pollack, founder of Envy Labs - a web development shop - has an office on the 20th floor of the Plaza Tower in downtown Orlando. He was generous enough to let us rent the space adjacent to his offices. The view was simply breathtaking.

Jessie admiring the cityscape next to Gregg's inspirational ping pong table. 

Josh, one of our volunteers, enjoying the vista while making a phone call. 

Serafina, a local belly dancer, performing at our fundraiser. 

And finally, as the night came to a close, we were treated to the lovely sight of a glittering golden city wrapped under a purple sky. 

To learn more about Envy Labs please visit their website at:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Smyrna Beach

My aunt and uncle rented a beach house in New Smyrna for a week. I was lucky enough to have some time to spend with them.

This is photo of the majestic swirling of clouds that marked the first night's sunset. 

Being that my family is from the west coast of Florida I usually get to enjoy sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. Since I was on the east coast I wanted to take the opportunity to see the sun rise over the Atlantic. I set my alarm for 6am the following morning. Once I was awake I decided to go to the roof top patio. I was able to catch this beautiful moment. 

A jagged row of clouds hover just above the ocean. The first bits of pale sunlight creep up slowly. The slight bit of warmth reaches to gently touch the moon while Venus hangs farther above. 

Once I made it down to the beach access I was concerned that all the clouds would make it difficult for me to watch the sunrise. Instead, the clouds seemed to lovingly form the shape of a heart around the neon sun. 

After the sun rose I walked down to the beach to dip my toes in the ocean. When I looked back I saw that my feet had made a perfect track across the sand. 

Later that day we were on our way into town to do some shopping. Out of no where my uncle slammed the breaks on his truck and made a u-turn. My cousin jumped out of the car to rescue a baby Gopher Tortoise that was stranded in the middle of the road. I will still never understand how my uncle was able to see such a tiny little thing while driving such a large truck. 

The bottom of her shell was flat so I could tell she was a female. From her  pebbly shell, to her wrinkly neck, all the way to her scaly feet, her body was an intricate display of texture.

I love the way she nestled perfectly into my hand. 

Later on in the day we brought her back to the beach house before we released her back into the brush. As the cool evening air came in over the ocean I placed her on my lap so she could make use of my body heat. 

The blazing peach and electric blues of the second nights sunset. 

The light house of New Smyrna - lit up with city against the cool night sky.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Flames of Fall

Not long ago I was at Lake Lily for a reception. It was September, but the Florida weather still pressed the heat of summer upon us. Children were playing while their parents mindfully watched. There was even a mother duck leading her fluffy brood to the best patches of shade.

After a while I made it to my car to find this on my wind shield.

Two yellow leaves of fall separated from their tree but landed together on my car.

Only a few trees change color with the seasons in Florida. This spectacular transition is better illustrated in more northern climates. However, these two leaves are the first to break season.

With only a few speckles of green they ignite with yellow and a touch of red. Even their very shape makes it appear as though they flicker with heat in mid air. Set apart from the rich greens of the woods that hold on tightly to summer.

Fall always felt like freedom to me. I love the way the breeze kisses my cheeks. I can not wait to be reunited again.