People are People

By day, I teach two year olds. Friday marked the last day of school.  As I was packing up my classroom, I was thinking about the other jobs I have held.  I haven’t always spent my days singing Wheels on the Bus and helping children learn to play nicely with others.  In my past life, I worked at The Spa at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, and currently moonlight as a consultant at a local PR company. In both of these situations, I have had the opportunity to meet professional athletes, politicians, and people I consider celebrities.  I have learned from these encounters that celebrities are real people.  I am very grateful for that fact as I have had my fair share of “open mouth insert foot moments.”

I worked at The Spa on and off for 11 years, and wore many hats.  I was a receptionist, locker room attendant, served mimosas and wine spritzers, trained new employees, and worked as group coordinator when large groups came into The Spa.  I moved up to the management team, and was the Front Desk Manager. One Sunday, I was the only manager in the building, and answered the phone at the front desk.  Here’s the phone conversation:

Me: Spa Ponte Vedra, this is Jenny, how may I help you?

Client: Do you have any openings for a shampoo and blow dry?

Me: I’m sorry, we are fully booked.  May I add your name to the wait list?

Client: Yes, please.

Me: Last name?

Client: Bush

Me: First name?

Client: Barbara

Me: As in George Bush?

Client: That’s right!

Me: I will call you as soon as there is an opening.

Needless to say, Former First Lady Barbara Bush came into The Spa that afternoon for her hair appointment. Secret Service came in prior to her appointment so that I could be vetted.  I felt funny charging her for her service, but company policy stated we treat VIPs the same way you would treat anyone else.  Asking for a photograph or an autograph was definitely out of the question. She was so gracious and very nice.

I am no longer on the payroll, but would highly recommend vacationing at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.  Relaxation, privacy, fine dining, and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean are guaranteed.  On a side note, I also worked at The Gym on property.  Again, front desk, I handed out towels.  I was a trainer for a few days at the gym.   I trained employees on the new computer booking system.

pvic

image via taxslayerbowl.com

My most recent embarrassing moment occurred at a Silent Auction fundraiser at the school where I currently teach.  Have you ever played the telephone game as a child?  The following events remind me of playing that game.

One of my parents donated a four course meal to the auction.  I knew that he was from New York, and that he was a celebrity chef.  The piece of information I was missing was the name of the celebrity.  While I was volunteering at the event, the chef and his wife came over to say hello, and thank me for everything I was doing for their child.  Here is a snippet of that conversation.

Me:  You’re welcome! Thank you for donating to the auction! Oh!  Next week, I want to ask you about New York.  I have my flight, but wanted to ask you about where to stay, etc…

Him:  What are you going to do while you are there?

Me: I’m going to the NYC Tartan Day Parade. (My last name is McAfee, they didn’t question why I was going.)

At this point, they start talking to me about Matt Lauer.  In my head, I’m thinking, they must really like Matt Lauer.

Both: We can hook you up with Matt Lauer.  You can walk down the parade route with

Matt.

Me: I don’t care about Matt Lauer.  If you really want to hook me up with someone…

(Insert conversation about Sam Heughan, Outlander, and Starz)

I finish my shift selling gift cards, and finally have a chance to look at all the auction items.  Sipping a glass of wine, I discover the item donated by the parent.  The description of the meal included a wonderful bio describing him as Matt Lauer’s former personal chef.

Fast forward to the end of the evening, I am behind the check-out table.  My favorite parents come to say good night.

Me: I owe you an apology.  I am so sorry!  I would love to meet Matt Lauer!

Both: Start laughing

My co-teacher still giggles about my conversation.  PR gal tuned fangirl fail.  The sweet Mom and Dad were genuinely interested in my New York trip.

IMG_6112 (2)

IMG_6040 (2)

After I told them about my adventure, they shook their heads, and joked, “My child is in your class.” Not to worry, I have my Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.  I’m certified by the state of Florida to mold young minds.  Stay tuned for more news about this talented chef.  He is opening a restaurant in Neptune Beach, FL this summer.

Those awkward slip ups aren’t the norm for me.  I have actually been described as “most professional”.  I’m able to do PR work during events and shows when school is not in session.  I’ve never been to a Comic-Con or any Con, but I have worked as a “celebrity handler”.  The Home and Patio Show and the Southern Women’s Show come to the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville in the spring and in the fall, and feature a celebrity guest.  In between their scheduled speaking times, they go off stage and into a different room.  This is where I came into the picture.  If they needed anything, I made sure they had whatever they needed.  Whether it was a bottle of water, lunch, a picture taken, or a Sharpie, I made it happen.  I researched plane tickets taking into account when some needed to fly “first class because I have long legs, and need more leg room.”  Easy enough.  I respected their privacy, and took my cues from them.  I’ve met John Gidding, Peter Walsh, Angelo Surmelis, Matt Muenster, and Joey Fatone.  All were incredibly nice, very talented, and unique.  Some wanted to talk to me and others working with the show, and some wanted to quietly read a book in between their scheduled speaking times.  I admit to fangirling a little bit about Joey Fatone.

IMG_6828 (2)

IMG_6833 (2)

One of them even took me and my children into the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios with him and his VIP guide.  He was presenting at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.  Have you seen the VIP guides on Disney property? In Florida, they wear a plaid vest.  The children and I had so much fun!  My nine year old daughter now thinks that every time we go to Disney we will have a VIP guide.

vip

Image via smallworldvacations.com

Epcot flower and garden

Image via cdn.wdwmagic.com

In addition to the Home and Patio Show and Southern Women’s Show, I’ve been involved with Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus, Disney on Ice, and the Monster Truck Show.  In Birmingham, Alabama, I met James Spann.  He’s a weatherman, and a celebrity in his own right.  He was doing live shots from the rink at Disney on Ice, and children were lined up to get his autograph as well as those of the Disney princesses.

IMG_5332 (2)

I was thrilled to get an “elphie” with this beautiful girl.  She is enjoying her retirement with all of her elephant friends in sunny Florida.

Jacksonville, Florida is home to the Jacksonville Jaguars football team.  I met players and their wives while working at The Spa.  Some of the children of the players go the school where I teach.  Jacksonville also hosted the Super Bowl in 2005, and there were several parties and functions.  I worked at one of the parties, one of those “your dress code is a black suit” kind of parties if you were doing PR.  Senator John McCain was speaking at the sit down dinner.  I was his celebrity handler.  He was very dignified.  I also met former head coach Jack Del Rio that evening as well.

To quote “Us Magazine”, “Stars are just like us”.  They make their own hair appointments, enjoy a nice dinner, relax and read a good book, and drop their kids off at school.  Even though I now spend my days in the classroom, to this day, I still carry a Sharpie in my purse.  Maybe in my next blog I will share the story about the time I was on live morning television dressed as a queen inspired by Disney’s Frozen and accidentally flashed Jacksonville viewers.  The camera man told me there were three or four minutes until the bump shot.

elsa (2)

Thank you so much for reading!

Jenny Mc

inspiredbyoutlander@gmail.com

Jenny Mc @jennymcinspired – Twitter

Jennifer McAfee – Facebook

 

 

Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate!

We look forward to the arrival of spring at our house because it means two things; Spring Break and Disney On Ice skates into Jacksonville.  I was very fortunate to attend the “school show” of Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! on Friday.  I found this description of the show on the Disney On Ice web site, www.disneyonice.com. It’s one colossal party on ice, with all your favorite Disney friends at Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! Presented by YoKids Organic Yogurt. Join Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald and Goofy as they celebrate a Very Merry Unbirthday Party with Alice and the Mad Hatter; a Royal Valentine’s Day Ball with your favorite Disney Princesses, including Cinderella, Ariel, Belle and Tiana; a Hawaiian luau with Lilo & Stitch; a whole new world with Jasmine and Aladdin; a winter wonderland with Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear; a Halloween haunt with the Disney villains and more in a magical medley of holidays, celebrations and festivities from around the globe. Come join the celebration you’ve been waiting for when Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! skates into your hometown!

Let's Celebrate

Photo via http://www.disneyonice.com

Both my son and daughter really enjoyed the show which featured over 50 characters. I loved seeing my daughter excitedly point out her favorite characters to her aunt as they glided on the ice. winterwonderland

Photo via Feld Entertainment

At the end of the show, we watched a special Behind the Scenes presentation which was tailored specifically for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I was just as interested as my children. I have grown up watching the Disney On Ice Shows.  The production value of the shows is phenomenal.  Some of the skaters returned to the ice to demonstrate more of their skills, and give the children a peek into the set up of the show, the costume department, sound department, and the electrical department.  As a teacher and Girl Scout Troop leader, I would definitely recommend the “school show”.  The field trip groups were very well-organized. 2015-04-10 12.29.30 (2)

Fun Facts:

15 stage hands set up the arena 1 and 1/2 days prior to the first show

10,000 LED lights are used during the show

120 giant Clay Paky lights are set up around the ice

45 loads of laundry are washed by the costume department

36 skaters in this show from nine countries speaking 12 languages

37 countries are toured

I was curious to see if Scotland was one of those countries, and the answer is yes.  Click on http://www.disney.co.uk/disney-on-ice/landingpage/ to find tour dates and information. Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! will be at the Jacksonville Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, Sunday, April 12th.  There is a 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. show.  For more information, go to http://disneyonice.com/ticket-info/Lets-Celebrate!/49.

image001

Thank you so much for reading!

Jenny Mc

inspiredbyoutlander@gmail.com

@OutlanderI – Twitter

Jenny Mc – Facebook

I’m Dreaming of a Plaid Christmas

Merry Christmas dear readers!  You already know I am a fanatic about Outlander, but I am also a Disney fanatic.  A Christmas tradition for my family is to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  We haven’t missed a year in twelve years.  Living in Florida makes it an easy trip.  We stay in one of the resorts on property, and spend two nights.  The event is a hard ticket event, meaning you pay extra for admission to the party.  We have learned over the years that although the party officially starts at 7:00 p.m., they will let you into the park with your ticket at 4:00 p.m.  The party ends at midnight so if you go in at 4:00, you still have eight hours in the Magic Kingdom.  We think of the party ticket as a “park ticket” for the day of the party.  My favorite part of the night is Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade.  Characters from the movie Frozen made an appearance this year.  There are still tickets for the party available for the 18th of December.

IMG_3117 (2) IMG_3126 (2) IMG_3130

PhotoPass_Visiting_Epcot_7124069825 (1)

Me and Goofy

For our second day at Walt Disney World, we pick another park to enjoy.  This year, when my husband asked the kids what park they wanted to visit, they said, “I don’t know.”  I responded, “I want to go to Epcot.”  This Disney Park features a World Showcase which houses pavilions from 11 different countries; the United Kingdom is one destination.  I have never been to the United Kingdom, but while I wish for an adventure across the pond, I happily took in my experience at the World Showcase.  We didn’t eat in the UK pavilion this trip, but I have visited the Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room, and listened to the Pub musician on previous visits.  There is also the Yorkshire County Fish Shop available as a more casual option. “British Revolution” was performing while we shopped.  At the “Crown and Crest” shop, they will frame your family’s crest and history.  My husband purchased one for his Dad several years ago.  In the past, I have also seen Scottish tartans and ties.  I didn’t see any this time, but I spotted shirts, beer steins, and mugs.

IMG_3084

The kids saw characters from Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh and Friends, and Peter Pan.  As we walked through the United Kingdom, I asked my husband, “Where are the bagpipe players?”

M: I’ve never seen anybody playing bagpipes at the World Showcase.

Me: They used to stand in between the Canada Pavilion and the UK Pavilion.

M: Did you want to come to Epcot just to see men in kilts playing bagpipes?

Me: Well, that wasn’t the only reason.

I asked some of the cast members if they knew of any entertainers that played bagpipes, and they didn’t know of any either.  The cast members that work in the World Showcase at Epcot are from the country they represent.  The very nice people I spoke with weren’t from Scotland.  I enjoyed listening to some lovely English accents though.

At this point, I am starting to question my sanity.  Is my Outlander Withdrawal so severe that I am imagining Scottish Highlanders playing bagpipes at Epcot?

That night, I Googled “Epcot World Showcase Bagpipes”.  I didn’t tell my husband “I told you so”, but there have been bagpipe players at the World Showcase from 1983-2014.  In my research, I found a fun blog, http://www.yesterland.com. Werner Weiss is the curator of Yesterland.  The blog compares photos from 1983 to photos in the same pavilion in 2011.  I learned so much from reading his blog.  For example, in 1983, the group was called the Calendonian Bagpipe Trio.  The piper and singer Jamie Holton founded Off Kilter in 1997, and has performed at the Canada pavilion since 1990.  The photos below were taken by Werner Weiss, and originally appeared in his blog December 9, 2011.

wsthennow3_kilts1983ww

wsthennow3_kilts2011ww

This made me wonder why the group performed in the Canada Pavilion.  Weiss answered my question in his blog, “When immigrants from Scotland settled in the country of Canada, they brought their culture—including kilts and bagpipes—with them. Canada at Epcot has had musicians with kilts and bagpipes since the park opened.”

Off Kilter’s last performance at the World Showcase was September 27, 2014.  I have lived in Florida since Epcot opened, and seen performances by the Calendonian Bagpipe Trio and Off Kilter.  I will definitely miss hearing the bagpipes as I walk around the World Showcase.  The band’s website is www.offkilter.net.  I also found an Off Kilter board on Pinterest, and am actually listening to Off Kilter as I type, very motivational.

A new musical group, the Scottish Musical Trio, a Celtic musical act, will be performing at the United Kingdom pavilion in the future.  I read an article in the Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/attractions/theme-park-rangers-blog/os-disney-ends-epcot-acts-off-kilter-20140828-post.html, with details.

We now have 16 weeks until Outlander returns on Starz.  Thank you for following this blog, and my Twitter account as I attempt to think of ways to pass the time until April 4, 2015!  Honestly, I was hoping to see men in kilts playing bagpipes at Epcot.  While I was disappointed, I did see some sights at Disney that reminded me of Scotland.

IMG_3145

IMG_3149 (2)

This edition of Outlander Inspired took me longer to write.  I found myself absorbed by the blogs and web sites I was reading to research.  Here is a list of the ones I referenced:

http://www.wdwforgrownups.com/articles/kilter-rocked-celtic-music-epcot

http://www.yesterland.com/wsthennow3.html

http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/guides/epcot/epws-uk.htm

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/magic-kingdom/mickeys-very-merry-christmas-party/

I was also sucked in by Pinterest; I found the Off Kilter board which led me to these fun pictures.

donald

mickey

Minnie

bagpipe_thumper_by_amycrane-d3b3vtx

Batmankilt

outlanderchristmaslist

Gaelichappynewyear

The above pic I found on Pinterest, and realized that it is via outlandishobservations.blogspot.com.  This is Gaelic for Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Thanks Outlandish Observations!

Thank you again for reading!  I look forward to hearing from you!

J Mc

inspiredbyoutlander@gmail.com

@OutlanderI