Goodbye, Midnight Baby

In my last blog, I talked a lot about my mom’s cats and how much I’ve grown to love them. I talked about how I was worried about the day they wouldn’t be here and how they reminded me so much of my mom, especially Emme.

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Ten days after that blog was posted, I had to put Emme to sleep. Its as if I subconsciously KNEW this horrible event was coming. She had a foreign object in her tummy that caused her poor little body to shut down. She began getting sick on a Saturday and I found her the following Wednesday morning laying with her head in her water bowl. She had already made up her mind it was time to go. I took her to the vet and after hearing Dr. Novak say “I think your baby girl is trying to pass”, I knew it had to be done. I held Emme as she left, kissing her sweet head over and over, telling her that she had changed my opinion on cats. I loved her so, so much but it was time for her to be with our mom again.

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My heart was and still is broken. I took the day after off work and literally cried all day. I cried for Emme and my mom but also, I cried for Layla, my other cat who has lost both her mom & sister in a 4 month span. She meows as she wanders around, looking under tables, chairs and behind the plants for Emme. She doesn’t understand and is absolutely in mourning. I try to hold her and love on her as much as she will allow. I need her to know that she is safe and with people who love her so, so much.

The picture on the right is one I took  after I had woken up on my couch to discover I was being used as a bed. Straight cat butt all up in my face… but I absolutely loved it! Layla is waaaaaay more skittish than Emme ever was and to have her trusting & loving on me makes me feel special. She is so tiny (and fluffy!) at barely 5 pounds, making me want to protect her even more. If I could carry her with me everywhere, I would. I understand this whole “cat person” thing now but I will never understand how some can’t

The house is a lot more quite without Emme. I miss our conversations and her dove-like “cooing” noises. I miss her Buddha belly and her sitting like a fattie after eating too much. I miss her emerald eyes and seeing her peek out at me from behind the plants. I really never thought I would love & miss a kitty cat as much as I miss her.

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This is the last picture I took of my midnight baby, days before she passed. I’m so happy she held on long enough for me to cradle her as she went to be with our mom. I feel so fortunate to have been there with her the same way I was there for mom’s passing. The vet took such sweet care of her afterward and included these paw prints of honor along with her ashes. I’m thinking of turning one of those prints into another tattoo soon. I’ll be finishing my mom’s tribute piece at the end of month and I simply can’t wait.

 

Heureux, mais Triste.

This past week was a rough one. In short: I’m happy, but sad. :): And the weird combination of the two had me anxiously spinning all week, leaving me feeling emotionally and physically drained.

img_5692I found myself very irritable and pissy with nearly everything annoying me even more than I already was. It would begin as soon as I had to face traffic driving to work each morning and was pretty persistent throughout the day.  At first, I attributed it to PMSing but after looking at the calendar, I realized that wicked beast wasn’t due for another couple of weeks so I couldn’t blame Mother Nature. I cried nearly every day. The kind of cries that make it hard to catch your breath while you’re drooling & snotting all over yourself. Even an episode of Grey’s Anatomy had me nearly curled in a ball, full of all kinds of emotions. I don’t cry like that often but it had been building up in my chest and finally began to erupt a little bit more & more each day. One time happened on my lunch break while another time happened on the drive home from work. On Wednesday night, I opened a photo album on my phone and came across the photo of my mom on her birthday while in the hospital this year. Her smiling, happy yet tired face beaming at me made my heart ache in an entirely new way.

And I lost it. I began to sob on my couch  and I ended up crawling to my bedroom, where I laid on the floor with my dog, Tammy Faye Barker for almost a half hour. It was a cry I needed to have.

I think the shock of everything that happened with my mom has finally started to wear off. I took on a lot in a short period of time and I think my mind is unwinding some of that heartache. Because man oh man, there is a lot of it. With the holidays coming up, there are many events that I’m super excited for, including one that happened just yesterday: Pre-Thanksgiving with many of my close friends to celebrate years of friendships. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many people and have all kinds of delicious food. There were so many hugs and so much laughter that it was nearly impossible to not smile the entire time.

But that sadness is ever present…a constant reminder that my mom is gone. It follows me around like a shadow and is with me wherever I go. I’m sad about a lot of things but it’s the small ones like the fact that I can no longer share with my mom the cupcakes I always bake this time of year. I’m so saddened that I will start Christmas shopping very soon and there is one less person on my list to buy for: the person who used to be at the very top.

To say it sucks is SUCH an understatement but those two words really do sum it all up.

I physically feel the sadness. Its heaviness, its darkness; the dull ache, the fatigue. I’m having to push a bit harder each day to not stay in the bed and get lost in my millions of thoughts. My main thoughts have, of course, been about my mom and how much I miss her; how much my world has changed. But I’ve also been thinking about the silly two cats I acquired since her passing and how much I’ve grown to love them. They are one of the best reminders of my mom and I’m so happy to have them roaming around my house. They are both so loving but show it completely different ways and bring two fun & very individual personalities to the house.

image-1They went to the vet last week, along with Tammy Faye and all 3 of them checked out beautifully. Healthy and happy with the vet asking me if Tammy Faye was REALLY 14. I honestly can’t believe it myself. She is such a ball of energy and pure sunshine that I fall in love with her over & over again on a daily basis. Having these 3 animals around makes it hard for me to ever want to leave my house and wanting to hurry home to them when I’m out. I adore them THAT much. Tammy loves to stalk Layla and watch her every move.

Layla has become more trusting of me and snuggles a lot more, which makes me feel a bit privileged. Emme is the stereotypical curious cat. If she hears a door open ANYWHERE in the house, she comes running to hopefully investigate a new space. She loves getting lost in my bedroom closet, hiding under chairs, in plants and is even more talkative than before (plus she snores a LOT). She greets me every morning when I wake up, either telling me “Good morning” or “Feed me”, I’m not sure which. Either way, I look forward to our morning chats each day and gazing into those magical emerald eyes of hers.
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This week, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the day that they won’t be here. The day when those reminders of my mom won’t be curled up at my feet. The day that I won’t have conversations with Emme and Layla’s paw won’t appear out of nowhere as I’m eating, trying to help herself to whatever I’m having. And don’t even get me started on losing Tammy Faye. I’ve had her since I was 18 years old. We’ve grown up together. The fact that I’m setting myself up for so much heartache is SUCH a terrifying thought. I already feel so physically heartbroken over losing my mom and I know losing those wonderful little animals is going to be crushing. I’ve seen a lot of people lose their best friends this past year and I am simply not looking forward it. And for whatever reason, I have been thinking about that a lot lately. Pretty cheery, huh? I must be a glutton for punishment..

 

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I have yet to know the love of having a child of my own and I indeed hope to know that magic sooner than later. But caring for another living creature that loves you in return is a pretty incredible relationship. How two totally different walks of life can bond in ways that bring pure happiness is such a beautiful thing. I hope its something that I have for as many days as I’m here on Earth. It’s one of my favorite parts about waking up in the morning: knowing I have another day to spend time loving on the fury creatures that live with me. I feel very fortunate to have them in my life and even though the inevitable is set to happen, I will treasure every second of having them here. I hope I bring them at least a fragment of the happiness they bring me.

However, I’m looking forward to the upcoming week. It’s a 3-day work week followed by Thanksgiving, the Gilmore Girls revival on Friday and then a quick trip to the Outer Banks on Saturday that is sure to be super special. It’s another trip dedicated to my mom, that I’m sure will have tons of photos & words to explain its story. Until then, I leave you with this:Today, as we continue a week devoted to tending trust around sensual growth, ...  kristinnoelle.com:

 

 

 

The Monster

“Oh darkness, I want to sing your song forever…”

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Continuously topping himself, new music from William Control never disappoints. Pouring his digital heart out with his Neuromantic boys in tow, William is once again bringing the music scene something different & original, wrapped up in blood-tinged synthesizers and savage beats.

The hook “Oh I’m ready, oh I’m ready to hurt again” is sure to get your heart racing before launching into lyrics both seductive and unsettling. Terry Matlin’s black & white videography brings the grey world of William Control to life, the chaos and macabre enticing us to come just a little bit closer. With the breakdown highlighted through red filters that I hope is brought to the stage performance, this is surely William’s most artistic video to date.

“The Monster” is our first taste of the new album, “Revelations”. Split into 4 different EPs: Pale, Black, Red and White, the Pale EP will be dropping mid-October and I’m already counting down the days. Put this one on repeat and dance my friends!!

 

 

 

Thirty Days

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It’s been 30 days since my mom passed away. An entire month has gone by.

I’ve checked my phone dozens of times, making sure I don’t have any missed calls from her. I’ve gone on walks and thought about calling her just to say hello or tell her what new show just got announced.

But then I remember.
And my heart sinks.

I listen to the voicemail’s of hers I have saved on my phone and as painful as it is, I find myself smiling. I’m able to hear her laugh or roll my eyes at one of her lame jokes. The sound of her voice is comforting and helps my heart to not hurt as bad.

It’s been 30 days and it feels like it all happened a lifetime ago. It doesn’t feel like I watched my mother leave this world 720 hours ago. It feels so much longer.

Yet, I still can barely wrap my head around the fact. Its hard to believe that she’s not here anymore.  My mind plays those last few days on repeat. I remember all of it. I remember how awful it was…and how sad I am that my mom went through what she did.

As I continue living & breathing, because my mom was cremated, I can take her with me and let her do the travelling she always wished she could do. I plan to spread her ashes in places she loved and places I know she WOULD have loved. Whenever I go out of the country, any time I go to a beach and I’m sure, at some point, something will happen after a concert…whenever the time feels right.

Today, I went to one of my favorite places: the Raleigh Little Theatre  Rose Garden. My mom loved flowers and I had hoped to take her to this place. When I think about it, I had hoped to do a lot of things… but unfortunately, our time ran out. I sprinkled the most minute amount of ashes amongst the soil so she could become a part of the garden itself. With the sun shining down and gorgeous butterflies fluttering about, it felt like she was there with me. I wish she physically was…

…I would love to have one more hug from my momma bear.

I’ve been a technical “adult” since I was 21. I’ve lived on my own, had a job, been in relationships and all the other “adult” things you do. But I can honestly say, I’ve never felt like a true adult until the passing of my mother. The person I have always had in my corner is gone. I am, for real, all on my own now. Yes, I have love and friends and family. But I am motherless. I am 100% an adult for real now… this is what my mom had been preparing me for all along. Making sure that I would be OK when she was no longer here for me to fall back on. Well Mom, I’m OK but I still wish like hell that you were here. I’ve never missed someone so much…

In my previous post “These Past Two Months: My Mother’s Legacy“, I mentioned one of the “gifts” my mom received while in the hospital on her birthday. I thought of a photo of it today would be most appropriate. The nurses staff at Duke not only sang to her but made her the most precious hat out of a bedpan (new & unused, thank you!), gauze, tape and cut-up gowns. As odd as it sounds, it was so sweet and made my mom feel so special. It was her favorite thing that she received on her last birthday, if you can believe that! I still have it and will keep it always.

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These Past Two Months: My Mother’s Legacy

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The whirlwind I have been going through these past two months has begun to settle but has yet to stop impacting me on a mental & emotional level. It has been 8 days now since my mother has passed away. Since my mother has died.

My mother has died.

I’ve said it out loud several times and now I’m writing it. And it still doesn’t feel real. I’m not sure if it ever will.

As I sit here listening to Tori Amos’ “Little Earthquakes” album, I can’t help but reminisce on my angsty adolescence and how silly my mom and I were. We definitely had some weird, not-so-good times but there were just too many times that were SO great and SO fun and SO magical… that those weird, not-so-good times were nearly erased. Letting go of years of pent-up teen angst is such an emotional stress reliever…I highly recommend it. It’s unfortunate that it usually takes such a BIG situation like this one for us to fully let go of the “crap” that’s weighing us down and finally be at ease.

Yesterday, I realized that I had chronicled these last few weeks with my mom via Facebook statuses. I put them in order and read through everything. Regardless of the negative aspects I feel towards social media (that’s a whole other blog post), I’m thankful I was able to keep a record of the events that occurred & my thoughts during this incredibly difficult time. It definitely helped me cope and will always help me to remember (and treasure) the time I spent with my bestest friend ever, who I am missing enormously.

There are 9 posts altogether, complete with photos and links to music that have been a huge shoulder for me to cry on…
momma_beatI shared my Mother’s Day post along with the first update when the sickness really began to take it’s full effect in June of this year:

May 8, 2016: (This photo was taken the day my mom found out she was pregnant with lil’ ol me. I love how happy she looks and the fact that her earrings match her romper. To say that I adore this woman is an understatement. She gave me my love of rock & roll and instilled in me that everyone has feelings. She raised me the best that she could and I thank her for that. She’s been my best pal for the past 32 years; through thick & thin. I love her and thank my lucky stars that I have a mom who loves me as much as she does.)

June 21, 2016: My mom has been in the hospital since Thursday afternoon. Her liver has pretty much stopped functioning, leaving her beyond exhausted with no energy or appetite. Today she may be moved to a rehabilitation center in hopes to start working on building her strength but its all still up in the air. For any one out there who believes in karma and good vibes, send a little of those vibes towards my mom. She could use some loving energy.

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I shared an old photo of me as a little girl for a Flashback Friday post at the beginning of July:

July 1, 2016: Flashback Friday to wearing Chuck Taylor’s at 3 years old… thanks mom for making me the coolest kid in daycare! Going through old photos, its so easy to see how much my mom (and grandmother) loved me. I may have grown up in a bad neighborhood but I indeed had a happy childhood. My birthday parties were so fun and Christmas was always magical. I was spoiled with gifts for sure but the love I received on a daily basis made the greatest impact. I have never and will never doubt that I am a loved gal with a crazy, caring mom who is indeed one-of-a-kind.

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A ramble that needed to fall from my head:

July 5, 2016: “I can’t go back to yesterday – I was a different person then.” My energy has been lagging a bit lately and my emotions have been all over the place. Dealing with a sick parent is not easy. There are so many conflicting emotions that pull me in all different directions. The melancholy of my mental state comes and goes and my spirit is quite heavyhearted. When I look in the mirror, instead of seeing the woman I’ve become, I see the little girl that resides within. I’m scared about a lot of things but at the same time, I’ve discovered new strengths in myself that I didn’t know I embodied. It’s easy to get lost in thoughts of the past and comparing the what-ifs and the if-onlys. But each day, it gets a little easier to unwrap the fear & the darkness, replacing them with love & light.

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A Throwback Thursday post:

July 7, 2016: My mom was the same age as I am now in this photo. She came home yesterday from the Rehabilitation Center she’s been in for the past two weeks (after her one week hospital stay). She was happy to see her cats again and be back in comfortable & familiar surroundings. Thank you to everyone who has written to me, talked with me, texted me and sent good vibes toward my mom & me. We’ll continue taking things a day at a time and hope for more good times than bad. Sending out mucho love to you Momma… keep fightin’!!
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My update near the end of July, when the seriousness of the situation began to really sink in:

July 25, 2016: 

LIFE UPDATE
My mom went back into the hospital on Saturday. She’s at the main Duke hospital, which is where the liver specialists are at. She is so weak and jaundiced, with her confusion getting worse. She is so, so sick and the meds she needs to take to keep the toxins out of her body keeps her feeling nauseous, making her not want to take her meds. I understand it but at the same time, if the rolls were reversed and this were me, she would beg me to take the meds. It’s so hard to see the woman who brought me into this world in this condition. I’m just glad I can be there for her and remind her how much I love her. The exhaustion I’m feeling is heavy and the weight of the situation is constantly running around in my head. I may be strong but there are times when that strength isn’t enough… please keep sending good vibes toward my mommy.
Simonne Jones “Gravity” (acoustic)


I knew I had a little bit of time left to do a last few great things for my mom. I wanted her to have an incredible birthday, especially if it was going to be her last. So I posted an invite that turned out better than I could have ever imagined:

July 26, 2016:
 My mom’s birthday is on *Thursday*. She’s still at Duke Hospital on the fourth floor (under Debbie Garner). If anyone has a little extra time to spare, visitors would be MUCH appreciated on that day between 12-6. My mom could use a lot of love right now and it would mean the world to my aunt and I. Even if you don’t know my mom personally, saying hello and offering a smile on her birthday would be a really wonderful gift. She’s sitting up and talking, still cracking jokes and being my silly mom… she’s just tired. If you would feel more comfortable with me there, know I plan to be at the hospital the majority of the day. 🙂 Please message me if you would like her room number… thanks for reading this. momma.jpg

The next to last update was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write:

August 2, 2016:
LIFE UPDATE
This is the hardest thing I have ever experienced and has been so exhaustingly awful to watch my mom get so sick, so fast. The hospice nurse today, who has been doing this for over 10 years, said she feels like mom has days to a week. Knowing that I will soon be on this Earth without her is the worst pain I think I will ever know…and I still can’t believe its coming so soon. She just had her 63rd birthday this past Thursday, July 28th. She went into hospice care at her sister’s house the following day. Luckily, she had a lot of visitors on her birthday (thank you again to each and every one of you; my mom’s heart was truly touched), received so many flowers and cards. Even the nursing staff came in her room to sing Happy Birthday and made her a hat out of a bedpan and gowns. As weird as it sounds, it was the cutest & sweetest gift…my mom had an amazing birthday. She said it was one of the best she’s ever had (and being stuck in a hospital at the time, that’s saying a lot). The nurses staff said they hadn’t seen that many flowers in one patients’ room before. Being able to do that for her and to be able to say my goodbyes to her has made me feel so fortunate. I’m able to remind her of my love for her and reminisce on all of our amazing stories and to just be there for her.. its agonizing but at the same time, I feel so so fortunate. That’s all I can really say.

Today, I inked my arms with the handwriting of my mom and my grandmother Sarah, who passed away in 2007. One of the last cards I ever received from my grandmother, she signed with an “I love you”, which is now on my right forearm. A few days ago, while my mom could still write, I had her write down “I love you” as best as she could. I had the artist throw in a music note so I always have that love for (and from) my mom and our love for music closest to my heart, on my left forearm. To say they are my most precious tattoos is an understatement…I love them so, so much.

family_tats(Mom; Grandmother)

Until I had to write this one…

August 9, 2016: On Friday, August 5… my mother passed away from liver disease. She went into hospice care the previous Friday…and I was with her everyday. She received so many flowers and had many visitors, including childhood friends she had lost touch with over the years. They came to remind her of their love and express all the things they needed to say. I know how thankful they all are and am so glad they were able to visit. My mom loved all of you very, very much. Her weakness turned to restlessness on Wednesday, August 3. My aunt, Cheryl (my mom’s sister) and I began administering her medication to keep her agitation and pain at bay. She was still able to talk but only short sentences. At nearly 5am, after giving her a dose a medication and swabbing her mouth with wet cotton swabs, I told her how much I loved her. And she whispered “I love you, too”. Those were my mother’s last words to me and to say that I am one fortunate individual doesn’t even begin to describe my gratitude to this crazy universe we live in.

Back in June, when my mom was in rehab and she was nowhere near as sick as she became, she asked me what sign I would want when she was no longer here. Of course, I requested a hummingbird and she said she knew that’s what I would want. I haven’t seen hummingbirds at my house this entire year. On Saturday, August 6, the day after my mom passed away, I looked out my patio window and there was a hummingbird at the door, who then quickly flew away. My heart was beyond happy. No one saw it but me. Later on in the day when I was napping, my sister and Jacob were outside talking.. and a hummingbird flew up to both of them. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

It’s amazing how therapeutic music can be in times like this. When I first heard this song a couple of years ago, it stopped me in my tracks and broke my heart. The exquisite expression of grief in this song was so moving and beautiful, marking it as one of the greatest songs ever written (yes, it’s THAT good). I never quite imagined that I would live the subject matter and experience that kind of anguish personally. I thank Nothing More for this song… it is everything right now. To everyone that has reached out, sent cards and flowers, visited or simply just kept my family in your thoughts, thank you so, so much. Words can never express my eternal gratitude but you all helped and are still helping me get through this…❤ “God Went North”


I waited a full week before I made another post. There was so much to be done and so much to take in (and continue taking in). But that Friday was a really hard day for me…

August 12, 2016: It’s been a week. In seven hours, it will be exactly one week since my mom took her last breath. I am still numb and incredibly, incredibly sad. The word ‘sad’ seems so small for a feeling this big. There is a piece of me that’s missing and my heart is broken. However, at the same time, I am so incredibly happy and so at peace that it almost seems too good to be true. I still feel ridiculously fortunate to have had these last two months with my mom, as painful as they were, I was with her the whole entire way… all the way until the very end. I feel beyond privileged to have been there in her final moments… that my wonderful momma bear was finally at peace.

This photo is the last one I took of my mom. It was in between visitors on her birthday, after she had just received a bouquet of sunflowers from a dear friend. My mom was absolutely elated on her birthday; she was genuinely happy and felt very, very loved. I think it’s easy to see in the expression on her face.

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Again, music has played a huge part in my support system (as well as all of the incredible people in my life). There are a handful of songs that I’ve been playing over & over that have been helping me cope. Maria of In This Moment wrote “You Always Believed” for her mother, with lyrics that seem to be pulled straight from my head & heart. This song will hold a special place in my heart for eternity now…it’s exactly how I feel towards my momma bear, always & forever.

I think back on the years we shared
All the times you stood be me
All the pain you wiped away
All the things you ever said
I think back how you carried me
And you never once have doubted me
And you were my
My hero through it all

I thank you for the moments of your life
And never giving up on me

And you held me through it all
And you never let me fall
And you let me fly away
And you always believed

I think back how you overcame
All the times you could have slipped
The way you fought the winds of change
All the times your wings were clipped
You taught me how to reach the stars
You taught me how to heal my scars
And you were my
My hero through it all

I thank you for the moments of your life
And never giving up on me

And you held me through it all
And you never let me fall
And you let me fly away
And you always believed in me…

August 13, 2016: I received her urns in the mail yesterday and they are everything I could have asked for. My mom was the biggest book worm I’ve ever known. Ask ANYONE who knew her what her biggest vice was and they will tell you books! During her time in the hospital and up until her final hours, my mom had a throw blanket of mine with her to keep her warm. It was so soft and covered with multi-colored owls. She loved it so much… so I combined two of those loves into one. 🙂
momma_urnAnd then of course, I absolutely had to have a hummingbird. This photo does it no justice: it is such a beautiful & sparkly memorial piece.

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I know my mom would approve of them both because they are just so perfect. I simply wish I could show her. But I know, somehow…

…she sees them. 🙂

 

The Invitation Movie Review

IF YOU HAVE NETFLIX, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND GO SPEND THE NEXT HOUR AND 40 MINUTES WATCHING “THE INVITATION”.

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Karyn Kusama’s “The Invitation”, is one of the most suspenseful horror thriller’s (may not be for the faint of heart) I’ve since 2008’s “The Strangers”. With suspense built in ways that will make you physically tense in anticipation while feeling impossibly nervous, this movie will have you on the edge of your seat wondering what the %#^& is going on?!

Because trust me. You will think that.
What the %#^& is going on?!
But you will find yourself genuinely caring about what’s actually going down and why.

I don’t want to tell too much about the plot of the movie. Its best to go into this one knowing its simply about a dinner party.

That’s it.
That’s all you need to know.
At one point, my jaw muscles were so tense, I had to pause the movie and relax a bit. True story.

The cinematography includes dark rich colors, shadows and lots of fun, ingenious camera tricks that makes for beautiful eye candy. My favorites being the slow camera zoom as a story is told by one of the characters in the house and a lovely face-to-face father/son shot. About half-way through the movie, there is a crazily stunning infinity mirror shot of the main character Will, that may actually reflect the way you’re feeling at this part of the movie.

And we must talk about the main character Will and how ridiculously good looking he is. For any woman (and man, for that matter) out there who is a fan of Tom Hardy, you are in for a pleasant surprise. This man looks like if all of the times Tom Hardy has EVER been hot met the super scruffy, dirty, man hulk, hairy Tom Hardy and they had a lovechild, Logan Marshall-Green would be their spawn. This man is the epitome of the perfect Tom Hardy, if there was such a thing because let’s face it, Tom Hardy himself is ridiculously HOT.

But that’s beside the point. Tom Hardy is NOT in “The Invitation” but a lovechild spawn of him is.

There are times in this movie when homeboy Will (or Hottie Hardy) should have left after things were said. I found myself audibly telling him so by yelling at my TV screen. But I reckon if he left, this movie would not exist so therefore he stayed, which made for a most excellent movie. I truly believed everything about everyone but also that nothing was it seemed. The character chemistry was fantastic from Will’s suspicion to Eden’s sadness to Kira’s defeat, with scenes where the tension was so thick that I found myself forgetting to breathe.Theodore Shapiro’s music throughout is intensely alluring, gracefully building the suspense and heightening the overall mood to allow the audience to truly get caught up in what the %#^& is going on?!

Several scenes were so powerfully sad that they almost made me forget that this was a horror thriller but then something would quickly remind me of just that and I would become nervous all over again. The acting was SO well done and the backstory was told beautifully between flashbacks that easily intensified the entire theme of the movie: grief and how people deal with it.

“I’ve been waiting to die ever since the moment it happened”.
Bravo for this line and the delivery of it.

Grief is an overwhelming feeling that everyone deals with differently. Some days are easy to get through and other days are full of the most exhausting anguish there is. But knowing that we all go through our own share of heartache and sadness helps to make it a little easier to realize we’re not going through it alone. Small, teeny tiny underlying message of the movie but absolutely not the main focus.

What I’m trying to say is “The Invitation” is SUCH an amazing emotional roller-coaster that will keep you guessing until the very end. Fantastically paced with a payoff that you’ll be thinking about well after the movie has finished, do yourself a favor and watch it as soon as you can.

I’ve watched it four times since my first viewing.
And I’m probably going to go watch it again.
Excuse me.

Introducing : Simonne Jones

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Music is in my DNA, encoding the structure of my development, growth and has even at times, contributed to my functioning as a human being. I’ve always believed that music is the one vital component that we, as human beings, have to connect with one another on levels that know no judgment, have no rules and can create a spiritual unity that is as close to religion as you can get without having to choose a denomination. We live in a world full of so much beauty, that is so vast and full of opportunities yet we know all too well, how easy it is to get caught up in the negative space that dwells within the infiniteness of our nature. Countless times, I’ve found myself resorting to music when I needed guidance, finding inspiration through the words and stories of those who have been where I have or where I long to go, relishing in their insight and consolation.  I’ve stumbled upon a lot of my music collection by accident, usually thumbing through Rolling Stone or combing through pages of new artists online and devouring discographies of Rock Gods past. With the help of one of my favorite Youtube channels SoulPancake, finding Simonne Jones was no different.

(FYI: SoulPancake is the brainchild of actor Rainn Wilson and his 2 friends, Joshua Hamnick & Devon Gundry, launched in 2009. Its purpose is to open + challenge your mind to “big think” topics such as spirituality, arts and philosophy. It also aims to inspire + make you friggin’ happy with a HUGE variety of video “shows” including my favorites Kid President, The Science of Love and My Last Days.  Now continue on to my video encounter… )

With dark hair flowing from under a large-brimmed black hat, a simple black dress, detailed only with studs embellishing her shoulders, she held onto her guitar with a calm confidence that drew me in before she even started singing. Outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), she stares into the camera with a seemingly fearless assurance as she begins her song “Make Love to You”, an empowering song about desiring nothing but a physical connection.  Starting with a simple acoustic guitar riff, she takes her time as she wanders between a light installation toward Wilshire Boulevard, breezing through honey sweet vocals + candid lyrics. Moving to the catchy beat she creates by hitting the guitar against her palm in between riffs, it’s clearly visible she’s enjoying herself and makes the multi-tasking look quite easy, which I can assure you, is not. She would later be interviewed, speaking behind inquisitive smiles with a unique poise, explaining her curiosity to explore our infinite universe as well as her belief that music has the power to change the world. Yes, I liked this girl. (See the video here…)

Resembling an offspring that Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet forgot they had, Jones spent her teen years modeling before taking her life in a completely different direction. With an intense love for science and medicine, she studied biochemistry, devoting her studies to the HIV field, graduating with honors in Biomedical Research, as well as in Visual Arts from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Co-authoring a research paper on detecting different structures within HIV, she has been published in Science magazine and as a humanitarian, has travelled to Ghana, where she researched an adolescent HIV/AIDS program she created to raise awareness about the disease. Jones passions did not only reside in the science world but flowed over to the arts side as well, where she expressed herself through painting + visual arts before succumbing to the one passion that drove her just a bit harder than the rest.

Learning to play piano by ear, teaching herself how to read music and play guitar, Jones decided to focus on her music career, relocating from Los Angeles to Berlin. Much like one of her heroes, Leonardo Da Vinci, Simonne believes art and science are very closely related, having both problem solving + experimenting in common. Combining her passions into one outlet, she creates not only an entirely different electro-acoustic sound but a new form of expression, where she constructs the atmosphere + builds the mood. To add a new element to her art, she began building her own guitars and mini drum trigger pads, which connect to her laptop, allowing her to trigger any sound she wants. This is how Jones is able to build her own songs live, by tapping the pad coordinated with her laptop; she records each sound live, programming it right before your eyes to transform into music. It’s pretty cool to watch and something I do hope to see live one day.

Staying in full command over her art form, she also takes on the role as the producer of her music, allowing no intrusion into the creative process. Her songwriting approach is simplistic yet strong, with themes of youth + freedom, love + not-just-sex and an overall wonder, expressing a hunger for life that is quite invigorating. Also bringing a unique, raw sexuality that isn’t over-the-top thrown in your face but subtlety shown between whimsical melodies and a dash of rock and roll, Jones really is the whole package: intelligent, unusually relatable, mysterious, stunning and yes, even a little weird but really, who isn’t?

Her outlook on life is more than refreshing, emphasizing that questioning is more important than answering, that the universe is limitless and that we, as human beings, have the potential to surpass even our own dreams. Accomplishing more in her short 27 years on Earth than most do in a lifetime, Simonne Jones is currently recording and based in Berlin. Recently gaining acceptance into the Red Bull Music Academy and being recognized as a songwriter-activist by Rolling Stone Magazine and the New York Times, I am beyond eager to see what this amazing woman, who lives + breathes music, has in store for the world that she is in fact… changing.simonne