Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014bound

Ah, 2013. I think my life has changed more in this past year than it has in the past 25 years.

My trip home for Christmas was much needed after my first full week in the middle school. I seem to be building pretty good rapport with most of the kids. Hopefully, I'll be able to accomplish everything necessary during the last half of the school year, starting next week. The company is expecting me to do just as much as the other counselors do in a full school year. I know it's impossible, and I need to accept that, but hopefully my perfectionist tendencies will push me to excel instead of crippling me with anxiety over it :)

This was a very difficult but good Christmas vacation. I am just so glad I was able to spend time with my family. I woke up on Christmas Eve and went downstairs to help my dad with the gravy, when we got a phone call that my aunt had a fatal heart attack. It was completely unexpected. I have been through so many of these phone calls (unfortunately), but it never gets any easier. And this time, all I could think about was how I was supposed to see her the next day for Christmas Day dinner, and that I wish I didn't move so far away from my family. I know I shouldn't think like that, but when this kind of thing happens, I do. What if I wasn't able to make it back to NJ for Christmas? I would have been completely useless in Florida. Unable to attend the funeral. Unable to help my mom. That's what was really bothering me. I want to be there for my family. If I was in Florida at the time, I wouldn't have been able to do anything to help the situation.

I don't regret moving at all. I know I need to live my life and do what makes me happy. I'm just really glad I was with my family when it happened.

So, it was a sad day. I was supposed to go to Eric's family's Christmas Eve dinner for the first time, but I couldn't bring myself to leave my parents. It was a lose-lose situation, really. I knew I would feel awful no matter what I did. My dad and Uncle Al let my cousin and I cook some of the food though, so I was kept busy! We drank wine and only had one slight mishap, so I'm pretty sure we have that shit covered for years to come. And of course it's impossible not to smile and laugh with that crew. I don't think I've ever been more grateful for my crazy Italian family than I was that day.

Besides that, (and me being practically bedridden on Christmas Day due to the worst cold I've ever had in my ENTIRE life, and the funeral, and missing my gathering with the Minties that night), my trip was amazing. Highlights: Dave and Sunny's holiday party/six-pack exchange/delicious food extravaganza, Eric and I making history by placing in both the creative AND traditional categories in Eric's family's gingerbread house decorating competition, seeing Astra and Brandon and meeting baby Bashlyn, partying it up at Speak's house, and just spending time with people in general. Everyone was so generous to us this Christmas. I can't even put in to words how grateful I am. Oh, and the food. Biggest highlight of the trip, obviously...

I definitely would not be where I am today without the support of my family and friends. I know everyone says that, but I literally would not be in Florida, and I would not be the same person. I've changed so much in a year. I've tried really hard to forge a career path for myself, I ran a half-marathon, and I got engaged to a really great guy who loves me for who I am in the moment and continues to love me as I evolve.

And Eric and I both turned our lives upside down practically overnight by moving to Florida. And we're loving it.

So, 2013 has been a whirlwind of good and bad and unpredictable times. I have no clue what 2014 is going to throw at me, but, for once in my life, I'm completely okay with that.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Disney and Christmas Magicalness

Good morning. My throat feels like a million bees flew into it and stung it. It's that time of year again: my semi-annual sickness has arrived! This happens to me about twice a year. Once in December and once in May. I just thought it might stop, living in Florida. Because Florida is magical and warm and nothing bad could possibly happen to me in Florida.

Anyway, so much has been going on. Last weekend was pretty much the best. We went to Eric's company holiday party on Friday night. It was on a yacht, which was pretty surreal for us seeing as it's December and all... So we had fun talking to people and envying all the giant mansions along the water that were decorated for Christmas, palm trees and all.

On Sunday, we woke up super early and trekked up to MAGIC KINGDOM! Our first trip to Disney since high school senior trip, and our first time there together. We met up with Aunt Jen and Uncle Adam and the kids. We rode pretty much every ride. The new Little Mermaid ride? Awesome. Go on it. I decided I'm going to live in Ariel's castle.

Disney is seriously a magical place. It's just a bunch of theme parks, but it manages to feel like you are in a completely different world. This was my first time there as an adult (not a grown up), and it still felt as exciting as it did when I was younger. The only difference was that part of the excitement came from seeing the kids get excited about it. It's like Christmas magic. Like how it feels magical when you are young, because you believe in Santa. Then, you find out Santa "isn't real", but you still think Christmas is fun because you get to keep the magic going for the younger kids who do believe in Santa (plus you still get presents). And THEN, YOU get to BE Santa, or help other people start that magic for their kids. And it still feels magical on Christmas morning, because everyone is all excited and happy and a;slkdjgas; yeah. Basically, Disney is like Christmas, and going there with family and little kids makes it feel even more special. That's what I'm trying to say.

Here are some random pictures!
Cinderella's Castle
Merry Christmas!
On Dumbo
Ariel's Castle a.k.a. My House
MY GINGERBREAD SUNDAE
Christmas Castle
Happy at the Castle Lighting :)
Unfortunately, going to work the day after going to Disney sucks 13908539457 times more than a regular Monday sucks. This was a very anxiety-provoking week for me, because it was my first week in the school. It has been extremely overwhelming, but all of the administration has been very kind, supportive, and helpful. The kids are a handful, but most of them seem to be warming up to me. It helps that I'm young, so I don't seem like a threatening authority figure. They tell me I look nice and pretty :) Haha. I just hope that I can figure out how to work out the timing of finding classes to teach and putting groups together during only electives, no core classes. It is a very strict school, because they need to keep the kids out of trouble and get their grades up.

Overall, the week went well. And now I have one week left before winter break, which consists of school, a staff meeting, and three holiday luncheons. Next Friday will be here before I know it, and then I will be on a plane to NJ for the holidays! Hopefully, I'll be feeling better by then. If not, you'll all get to hear me in my usual state of December voicelessness :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Okay, this is just going to be a quick little post.

First of all, I just finished my first week of work at the new job. It's been a lot of reading policy manuals. My eyes burn. My brain is fried. I'm overwhelmed and anxious about all the things I need to figure out and accomplish, but I can already tell I made the right decision in coming here. Everyone has been kind and helpful, including my supervisor, which makes all the difference when you work in a field that is stressful no matter where you work or what job you have.

I also shadowed a couple of the other counselors, which has helped me a lot. I really enjoyed the school I was at today. Then again, it was a good school, and I will be in a not-so-good area, to put it nicely, so we'll see how it goes. But you're going to deal with some of the same kinds of issues with any kids in middle school. Which are: the fact that they are dramatic middle schoolers and EVERYTHING is terrible and the end of the world and OMG Johnny said blah blah about me to blah blah and I can't go into the cafeteria to eat lunch with them it's soooo embarrassing I can never go there again! And also my mom took my iPad away and I HATE HER so I'm going to DIE!!!!

... All I have to say is I do not miss being in middle school. At. All.

And I want to laugh at them and their drama, but then I remember how terrible it all seemed to me when I was 12-14 years old, and I feel a million times more empathetic. Because really, think back to when you were in middle school. I don't wish middle school on anybody. And we all looked awkward as hell, which is just the icing on the terrible dramatic cake.

TL;DR I am looking forward to working with dramatic middle schoolers, because it will be funny to me but I can make a real difference to them.

The end.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

TIS THE SEASON...

Happy December! I am writing to you all snuggled up in a fuzzy blanket on my couch. It's 70 degrees outside, and we have the windows open to let some air in, so it's a little chilly in here... brrrr...

Just kidding. I've never felt more comfortable in December than I do right now. Not trying to rub it in your northern faces. My mind is just completely boggled that it feels like New Jersey's early September weather, and it's the Christmas season. I am completely thrown off by the entire thing. It feels like time stopped for me when I moved down here in September, and it kept going for the rest of you. I'm not complaining by any means. It is just very, very strange and doesn't feel like the holiday season at ALL.

For example, I was sitting in my car on my break at work a few days ago, windows rolled down, listening to Christmas music, bright blue sky and palm trees around me. And then, the radio station said, "Tis the season for shorts, sandals, and Christmas stockings! Sunny 107.9, your South Florida Christmas music station!"...

REALLY, FLORIDA?! REALLY?!?!?!

One thing I will say is they try very hard to make it feel Christmas-y here. Some of the lights I've seen are incredible. There is a section of town that has several entrances with pillars and walls, and every entrance is lit up with amazing lights and glitter. Plus, walking into Kristin's house is like walking in to my mom's house at Christmas time.

Christmas explosion.

Christmas EVERYWHERE.

She likes to start decorating for Christmas WAY early, which I normally do not advocate. However, I realized when I walked in on Thanksgiving that I was actually grateful for the Christmas explosion, because it made me feel like it really was the holiday season.

Her house looks like it is a Pottery Barn display, by the way. And she has cinnamon candles going during the winter, so it even smells like Christmas. LOOK:



See? That is a sample of Christmas time in Florida.

P.S. That is not a real fire. People in Florida don't light fires. Let's not be silly...

Anyway, Eric and I went over there for Thanksgiving, which was so much fun. Thank god we weren't left sitting home alone. Both Kristin's and Ben's families came over, there was a TON of delicious food, and everyone had a good time. It was sad and weird being away from our families on a big holiday, but it was actually pretty cool to join in someone else's tradition.

I even made my own cranberry sauce to contribute ;) IT WASN'T BAD. I swear.

Cranberry sauce in the morning
Carving the turkey
Table that looks straight out of a Pottery Barn catalogue. Seriously.
Green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, maple and brown sugar carrots, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes (with marshmallows! My favorite), and stuffing
Thanksgiving with my adopted Florida family! Minus Eric, the talented photographer :P
So you see, there are pros and cons to living here. On the plus side, I don't think I will ever be uncomfortably cold. Although the other night and morning it was 45 degrees... but that still isn't chill-you-to-the-bone cold. That's just LEATHER JACKET WEATHER! On the other hand, the cold is part of what makes it feel like the holidays. When the seasons change, it feels like time is moving and new things are coming. You associate different temperatures and scenery with different feelings and events, like how I associate falling leaves and leather jackets with magic and Halloween, or how I associate the cold and the smell of fireplaces burning with Christmas. It just feels plain wrong to be picking pumpkins and looking at Christmas lights STILL wearing the same t-shirts I was wearing in July. I'm supposed to be freezing my ass off when I do these things.

But, you know, this is one of the main reasons I was excited to live here. Warmth year-round. I'm happy to get out of bed every day, even on the worst days. I think I will find that I am able to feel the Christmas spirit here, even if it is 70 degrees outside. I just need to go Christmas CRAZY with decorations and Christmas music all the time. And I will just have to accept that "tis the season for shorts, sandals, and Christmas stockings"... :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

I'll Be Home for Christmas

GUESS WHO'S OFFICIALLY COMING HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS?!?!?!?

I've been stressing so hard over this. My life is just all a;slkjgad;slg;lsd right now, and I have no clue what will happen ever, so I've been trying really hard to go with the flow. But I need to come home for Christmas. NEED. I need to see family, see Christmas lights in the cold, help my dad prepare the shrimp, and, most importantly... help EAT the shrimp. And help drink the adult beverages. It's a very important job I have on Christmas Eve...

This upcoming Wednesday is my last day of work at my current place of employment. Today was my last day in the West Palm office. I had to say goodbye to my coworkers there, which was sad. I wouldn't have survived the past couple months without them. I'll be in the Stuart office tomorrow and Wednesday, running my last groups with my caseload up there. I hate saying goodbye to clients. Hate it. The ladies in my women's group are really upset that I'm leaving, and it makes me feel so guilty and sad. But, among other things, this place would not let me go home for Christmas, even without pay. I was going to have to work until 8PM on Christmas Eve. That is obviously not why I resigned, but do you know how upsetting that would have been for me?

My new job is much more flexible!

I'm going to start as a substance abuse counselor in a middle school here. That means school holidays off, including summer vacation. I will be able to get a part-time job in the summer to make some extra money and hopefully pursue something else I am passionate about on the side. Maybe get a job at M.A.C. or Sephora :) Plus, lots of time to visit family and friends and do last-minute wedding planning.

I think it's funny that I continue to gravitate toward working with children, even thought I keep insisting I would rather work with adults. Working with kids is a different kind of stress. You need to be patient, and you need the strength and assertiveness to work with their parents as well. That is the most difficult part. But when you actually help a kid learn to cope with something horrible, or steer them back on the right path away from substance use, or even just give them a reason to look forward to school every day, or give them the courage to go back home... that kind of reward is something I haven't found in any other aspect of this field.

That might sound selfish, but let's all be honest here. Yes, I wanted to get involved in this field because it's interesting, I'm good at it, and I feel like my background gives me a lot to offer as a counselor. However, you are all lying if you say you got involved in a helping profession solely for the purpose of helping others. You like to help others because it makes YOU feel good to make other people feel better. It's nice to know you're making a difference, sometimes a CRUCIAL difference, in someone's life.

Okay, I'm done my somewhat-controversial mini-tangent.

WE'LL BE HOME:
Friday, December 20th, at 10:00PM until Sunday, December 29th, at 4:00PM. Gotta catch the 6:00PM flight.

That gives us a good deal of time to see everyone! So if you're around and have some free time during the busy holiday week, please let us know.

Or you can just stop by my house after dinner on Christmas Eve and join me for my annual shot of Strega. Or 5.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

First Trip Home and Other Assorted Goodness

I don't even know how to start this post, so I'll just throw a life summary at you, and then you can choose whether or not you'd like to continue reading:

I quit my job without having another job lined up, I went back to NJ for the first time in over 2 months, I came back and might have a new job now. BOOM.

Basically, I decided it was best for my own physical and mental health to peace out of my current place of employment. I am going to miss the clients and my coworkers so, so much, but I know this was the right decision for me. It just happened to be a very risky, terrifying one to make, seeing as Eric and I just moved in to a new apartment and need to pay bills... But I'm not going to be able to pay any bills if I have a breakdown. A lot of times, people in the counseling field forget to put themselves first, because we are so worried about taking care of other people. It was time for me to remember that I need to be the best I can be if I want to give my clients the best care possible. I explained this to my employer, and he was very understanding and supportive.

So, goodbye steady employment with benefits and good pay and supervision hours. Hello not having a clue where my life is going. My last day is Thanksgiving Eve.

I hopped on a plane with Eric that night to head home for the holiday weekend. My dad picked us up at the airport and brought us back to my parents' fall-festive house, where Eric's parents were waiting with my mom (and a crap load of cheesesteaks and pizza and snacks... score). It was the best feeling ever to get out of the car and smell the fall air and see the changing leaves and pumpkins on the porch. My house is the best in the fall. My mom left all the Halloween decorations up for me:




I guess it was nice to see family, too ;)

The weekend was a blur. We tried to see as many people as possible while we were home. We spent time with our families on Saturday. I went shopping and got my hair done with my mom.

Then we went to Dave and Sunny's wedding on Saturday night, which was amazing! It was so interesting to see Scottish and Indian culture combined. The groomsmen wore kilts and the bridesmaids wore saris. Plus, it was literary-themed, so all of the tables were named after Game of Thrones houses, and bookmarks were the favor. It was beautiful and unique and perfect. And I got to see a ton of MelUFriends!


Sunday we spent time with Eric's family in the morning, and went to Landmark for the Eagles game in the afternoon, where we probably got a little too into celebrating the fact that the Eagles were winning and we were in a bar filled with friends and locals wearing Eagles colors. I just can't bring myself to turn down $2 jagermeister shots after touchdowns. What can I say, I haven't changed too much...


We went back to my house after that for a giant family gathering, where I became a slightly intoxicated, emotional mess. Sorry guys, but I really was just so happy to be with everyone again. I couldn't stop thinking about leaving the next day and how much I miss everyone. Especially the kids. And Aunt Sean's chocolate chip cookies...

ANYWAY. I stopped by the Robins' Nest house on Sunday to see the girls and my old supervisor and coworkers. That job had some of the toughest hours I've ever worked, and it was difficult to get a new program started, but I can definitely say that it was one of the best working environments. I was actually EXCITED to "go to work" on my last day home. I really do miss everyone there.

Linny and I had a little Starbucks/Barnes & Noble sister time after that, where she bought me my first pumpkin spice latte, which I actually enjoyed, thankyouverymuch. And then, we did the most important thing on my entire trip home... Got pretzels. 10 for me and Eric, 10 for Kristin and Ben. She might have murdered me if I didn't bring them back. BUT I DID. So all is right with the world.



Of course I hadn't packed anything yet (gotta stay on top of my procrastinating game), so when I got home, I really needed to pack for the flight that afternoon. So we did a little fall scenery photoshoot instead, obviously.






Now, here is the crazy part. I pack all my shit up, and I'm sitting there about to cry, dreading going to work the next day, dreading leaving my family and friends, and dreading not knowing what is coming next in my life. I felt like I was back at square one, only with bills to pay now. So my dad is about to load the suitcases into the car and drive us to the airport, and I get a phone call.

I am basically the biggest introvert ever. I know I appear bubbly and outgoing and talkative, but it takes a LOT of energy for me to be that way. That being said, I screened the call from the unknown number, because it is terrifying for me to not be prepared for a phone conversation. I need to be able to read body language. Anyway, I listened to the voicemail when it came through, and lo and behold, it was a prospective employer calling to talk to me!

Needless to say, I called back immediately, risked us being late to the airport, and set up an interview for the next day at 9AM... the morning after flying back to Florida and not going to bed until 1AM... I do what I gotta do. It ended up going well. Everyone there seems very friendly. I would be a substance abuse counselor in a school, which means school holidays off, including summer vacation. The pay is not nearly as good as what I am making now, but I've definitely learned that money is not everything. If I can pay the bills and still save some, I am more than willing to cut out unnecessary expenses, like clothes and alcohol.

But maybe still buy SOME clothes and alcohol...

You get the gist. I could get a summer job as well during the off months. Even if I don't get this new position, I think it is way too much of a coincidence that things just keep magically working out for me. I know some of the decisions I have been making are risky, but the whole point of moving was so Eric and I could pursue HAPPINESS. So that is what we have been doing, risky decisions and all, and it has been working out for us somehow, some way.

It is obviously important to be prepared for the future, save money, and have a job, but it is nonsense to hold yourself to incredibly high standards that you know are jeopardizing your well-being. I would love a job in the counseling field, but I am willing to work at Starbucks, Publix, as a nanny, I don't care. Happiness is the main goal here, and I think American society as a whole has this idea that you are a failure if you aren't making six figures while working at a job that kills you.

You know what? I don't care. I want to be happy. If I'm happy bagging groceries with a Masters degree and I can still survive and pay my bills, leave me alone. There is nothing wrong with that. I am tired of being overly cautious and anxious and scared to do things that make me happy. Life is too short for that nonsense.

Monday, November 4, 2013

We do this cause we care, not for the thrill

Alright guys, here is my toned-down, internet-appropriate vent sesh that I have been wanting to unleash for weeks:

When I moved down here, I was a super hobo for two weeks. For two whole weeks of my life, I sat on my ass with Mango and Lex and applied for jobs. Applying for jobs was my full-time job, and I hated it. I felt discouraged, dependent, and, worst of all, like a moocher. I hated the fact that I was living in my friend's house, unable to contribute anything. Incase you don't know me very well, you should know that I am the type of person that absolutely hates feeling like I can not survive on my own. I don't want to rely on anybody but myself. Not my friends, not my parents, and definitely not a guy.

Besides that, I just really missed working. I felt useless. I missed talking to people and hearing their crazy stories. I missed using my brain. So when I got a job offer at a clinic after only two weeks of moving to a completely new state with no connections in the field, I was pretty damn proud of myself. I also was pretty damn sure that I needed to take this job if I ever wanted to get anywhere in Florida. I had a weird feeling after the interview, if you recall, but the job offered good money for having only a Masters degree (how sad is it that I need to say ONLY a Masters...), and it was doing exactly what I wanted to do.

Fast forward 6 weeks. I'm dry heaving more days than not, living off three hours of sleep a night, and my hair is starting to fall out. This job is the most anxiety-provoking thing I have ever encountered in my entire life. I'm not saying it's a bad place. I love what I actually do. What I'm saying is that some people can handle certain things about this job, and some people can't. I'm the kind of person that can't, I guess.

So I went to put my two weeks notice in today. I walked up there feeling like the biggest quitter in the entire world. I don't like to give up on things. But you have to realize, I'm not the kind of person that would quit without good reason, and I really need to stop beating myself up for wanting to do so. It's okay to not take shit from life sometimes. Life doesn't have to be a struggle all the time. Why make things harder for yourself when you know you can be happier? That's why we moved here, isn't it? Wasn't I telling Eric the exact same thing when he was debating taking the risk of quitting?

When I told my boss that I was putting in my resignation, I explained that I was very overwhelmed, and I didn't want it to be affecting my work. Clients deserve better than that. He went on a big spiel about how my work has been great, I'm learning so quickly, everyone here respects my work, and he's willing to work with me if I need to work part-time or only do certain things.

Now, I believe him when he says these things, not because I think I'm good at what I do (even though I am ;)) but because he's the kind of guy that has no problem firing people... yeah. So if I wasn't doing a good job, he would have just let me go. He said so... Besides that, I didn't even know stepping down to part-time was an option.

So now I need to let him know what I'm doing by the end of the week. I'm glad he's willing to work with me, and I think working part-time and finally going back to school in January for the rest of my credits for licensure would be ideal. I would still be making decent money. I'm just not sure working less days will solve the problems that are causing my hair to fall out, but I think it's worth a shot.....

Right?

Moral of the story is: Apparently I like to torture myself.

The other moral of the story is that I know I made the right decision in moving, because I am able to enjoy all other aspects of my life. I'm even able to enjoy the good things about my job and feel accomplished at the end of each day. I am able to stop the negative from overflowing into the positive. I was never able to do this before. I attribute a lot of it to the weather. It's November 4th and it's 78 degrees at 9PM. It's sunny, it's warm, and when I step out on my lunch break (if I have time to take it), I feel better just by letting the sun soak in to my skin. Instant high. It feels like chugging a bottle of Mountain Dew.

I miss the seasons, I miss my family and friends up north more than you guys know, but I am meant to live in the Sunshine State. I can see the changing leaves when I visit home... which I'm doing THIS WEEKEND! Stop by Landmark on Sunday to watch the Eagles game with Eric and me if you want to say hello :D

... whew. It felt good to get that out. If you're still reading this, mad props to you.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

WHERE AM I

Disclaimer: I am still not a grown-up no matter what you read in this blog post.

It's 7:00AM and I've been awake for an hour. I'd rather have extra daylight in the evening than an extra hour to party one Saturday night per year. You know you're old when...

Anyway, I woke up crazy disoriented this morning because I had no clue where I was. Today, my friends, I woke up in my first home with a boy! Ew. Another "you know you're old when..." moment. I've lived away from home so many times, but it has never affected me the way this is affecting me. It has never been permanent before. I always knew I'd end up back on Upton with my parents, in my green room with all my stuffed animals. Today, I woke up with the feeling that this is the rest of my life. I only have 3 stuffed animals shoved on a closet shelf, and my walls are white, and I have no food and no kitchen table yet to eat my non-existant food.

I know I can always go home if I need to, but I'm out on my own for real now. I need to make this place in Florida with Eric my home. I can't go 2 years without decorating the walls like I did in Baltimore... unless I want to live in a maddeningly blank white box for a year or two... but that isn't really an option this time. It's not like I can escape it, even on weekends.

The past two months have felt like a vacation. But today, I think it's starting to hit me that this is real life. THIS IS MY NEW HOME. In Florida. A thousand miles away from the northeast. With Eric.

We have a kitchen, living room, extra living area for our music equipment, a guest room, an office room, a bedroom, and two full bathrooms. It's a pretty big place, and it's nowhere near fully furnished yet, so it feels empty. But SOON, we will be getting guest room furniture and a desk for the office and a TV. And a kitchen table. We really need a kitchen table...










So, there are the parts of it that actually have furniture so far! All of that stuff was shoved into Kristin and Ben's back room. Literally piled to the ceiling. I have no clue how she does it, but Kristin is the most expert packer-inner I have ever seen in my entire life. Seeing her pack stuff is like watching a real-life game of tetris. Incredible, really. And the guys are master unpackers. It took less than an hour to get the furniture up to the third floor and in to our place! It took longer to install the ceiling fans and light fixtures than to bring in the belongings... what a pain in the ass. Thank god for Kristin and Ben and their family.

I am very happy to be here, and it's exciting to have a place with Eric. I just wish our family and friends could be here to see it. I can't wait to decorate. Eric's designer eye will come in handy for that :)

Besides that, not much has been going on. Kristin is just pregnant, that's all. HA! Gotcha! Finally, I can tell people. It's been eating away at me. Living with a pregnant best friend has made me think about a lot. First, it has made me think about how grateful I am that Kristin and Ben let Eric and I live at their house for their first trimester. I don't think I could ever thank them enough. I have some really amazing friends.

Second, it made me realize how much it must suck to have to hide being pregnant from people before you are ready to tell the world. You can only come up with so many excuses for why you're not drinking, why you're tired, why you feel sick all the time. It sucks.

Third, it has kind of pulled a little bit on my heartstrings when I think about her having a kid. Shock! I have never wanted kids of my own, but I've always liked being around other people's kids. I think I'm developing a soft spot for the little monsters. I can't wait to babysit and help out and buy little girl things, i.e. her first pair of Chuck Taylors ;) Ugh, what a ball of mush I am turning in to. Despicable... :P

Alright. My stomach is yelling at me. I am going to eat breakfast. I think I have cereal... I think I have enough milk in the fridge for a bowl of cereal... Hah. I'm sure my parents would be proud of my survival skills!

Until next time. Which might be very soon if more big news happens. Which it might. Just sayin'...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Long Time No Talk and My Mom is the Best

Aloha from the South. It's been awhile. I swear I'm not terrible at blogging. I've wanted to write so many times, but I just felt like I shouldn't. Pardon my French, but there is a lot of shit going down. I'm the kind of person that NEEDS to write when shit is going down. Unfortunately, whatever you put on the interwebz stays on the interwebz, and therefore I have once again isolated myself into oblivion like I always do when shit is going down.

One day I shall spill the beans. But for now, here is the best surprise package ever. Here is what was inside...
"Dear Lauren, Here is your very own Haunted House for you to start your own Witchey Town!"

My mom sent me autumn dishtowels, my own Haunted House with flickering tea lights to make my own Halloween village like she makes at home, a black cat, a bobble turkey, and CANDY! Salt water taffy, chocolate covered pretzels from Jagielky's!, cream mints, Twizzlers, candy corn m&ms, and KitKats.

It was like Christmas opening that box. You don't understand. Halloween is the best holiday. IT'S MAGIC.

I hope one day my mom will come down here to spend Halloween with me again and make me chili and see my Halloween village.

That is all for now. I am happy and loving it here despite the current stress, which says a lot. Eric is happy, I'm happy. The only thing that would make it better is if I could teleport everyone from up north to Florida :)

We move in to our new place next weekend, so there will be a BIG update shortly following!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Florida Life

So. I have written a lot about work and apartment searching and getting settled down here, but I haven't written much about what I've been doing in my free time. Which I don't have much of. But still, I haven't been doing grown-up responsible things ALL the time...

It's pretty crazy being less than 10 minutes from the beach and being able to go there whenever we want. For example, Eric and I went to the beach on Saturday for the entire day with a cooler full of drinks. We also went for a walk on the beach at sunset with Kristin and Ben one night. Most beautiful thing ever. Kristin said it's a good time to find shark teeth. And right now, they have a ton of sea turtle nests marked off all along the beach. Ben said you can see them hatch and make their way to the ocean if you go to the beach at night!

We've played a lot of games, which makes me feel right at home of course :) I learned a card game called Shanghai, and we introduced people here to Cards Against Humanity. Love seeing people's reactions to those cards hahahahha. AND CLUE!

We have gone out to eat... kind of a lot. I've been doing a good job expanding my eating horizons. I had grouper in a bag one time. FISH! Can you believe it? Picky Lauren who only ate chicken fingers, grilled cheese, and buttered noodles until she was 20 years old is now eating all sorts of seafood! We went to the Melting Pot with Kristin and Ben one night, which I was skeptical about, but it was the best. food. ever. Especially the dessert. We've also been to breakfast places, which satisfies my longing for diner french toast and pancakes.

AND there is a bar here that shows EVERY football game, so we can watch the Eagles every weekend! I can only hope they show hockey, because Flyers games have been hard to find on TV...

Basically, living in this environment has been everything I've ever wanted. Even when it rains, I'm happy. I'm never cold. This morning on the radio, they were saying how it's ONLY going up to the mid-80s today and getting ALL THE WAY DOWN to the low 70s at night... hahahahahah.

The only thing that sucks is that it feels like fall is nonexistant. I know we only get about 4 weeks of good fall weather before it changes over to freezing cold in NJ, but I do miss that transitional period of crisp air. You know when the air smells like leaves, and it just feels electric? I don't know. Maybe I'm weird. I feel like fall is fun and magical. You can't tell me you don't feel the magic in the air when you go outside on Halloween. You're lying if you say you don't feel it.

Anyway, I'm having a hard time getting that feeling here. I have seen some Halloween decorations, but there are no haystacks or cornstalks or real pumpkins sitting outside all day. The pumpkins will rot if you leave them out in the heat! I haven't had an apple cider donut or even seen apple cider in the supermarket yet. But if this is the one sacrifice I need to make in exchange for the rest of the goodness, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to cope. I've been eating a lot of candy corn, so I think I'm good ;)

Now that I am adjusting more to life here, I am going to get back on the wedding-planning wagon again!

Before I go, here is a surprise Bath & Body Works package that I got tonight from Eric's mom! Fall scents, to help our new home really feel like home :D

 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Big News

Well. I definitely have a job, and I survived my first week of work! It might be the most hectic job I've ever had, and that's saying a lot after the places I've worked. I've loved them all, but this is a really stressful area of expertise to begin with, so you're bound to work in a chaotic environment. Especially in the substance abuse field. My coworkers are so nice and helpful and have been doing their best to help me catch on quickly. My boss is an incredibly smart man, who is incredibly hard on all of the counselors. He definitely knows this field inside out, and I will learn a ton by working here. I just need to develop a bit of thicker skin and use the criticism to improve my work. What doesn't kill me makes me badass, right? ;)

In pretty much ALL of our spare time, Eric and I have been busy looking for furniture and places to live. Kristin has introduced me to the wonderful world of Craigslist! I always thought it was shady, and it can be, but it can also be awesome for getting nice things on a budget. All the rich people here get rid of barely-used furniture for really good prices. Eric and I got an entire queen bed set, including bed frame, headboard, mattress (it's practically new and not gross, I promise), end tables, and dresser with mirror, for $850. And it's GOOD stuff. Real wood. The kid we bought it from is only a few years older than us and happens to work in the same building as Eric and Ben! Small world. We picked up a practically new microfiber couch and love seat combo today for only $200 from this nice family who just moved from Texas and wanted new furniture for their new house. Score. Craigslist is my new best friend. We're also lucky that Kristin and Ben have some good friends who let us have their old coffee table and end tables.

You may be wondering where we are putting all of this shiz. Right now, it is being stored in a spare room in here.

BUT.....

WE GOT AN APARTMENT WE GOT AN APARTMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOBO NO HOBO FOR REAL!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHH!

Eric was told last week that he would have a full-time position after his internship ends in November (mad props to him for taking such a huge risk and succeeding in getting a job that makes him happy :) ), so we started to crack down on looking for a place to live ASAP. I saw a nice place online and called the contact number. It was a really nice realtor lady who asked me all about my situation, budget, the area I'm looking to live in, etc. That place wasn't available anymore, but she emailed me about 30 minutes later with a compilation of places she thought we might like.

We met with her yesterday to look at the places, and we were TORN between them. The one was a nice 2 bed 2 bath with a patio. The other was seriously only $30 more a month and it was a 3 bed 2 bath with a small extra living area space. We ended up going with the bigger one. Bedroom, guest room, and office/guest room. And room for our instruments and music equipment! I'm going to miss the patio, but it's only 5 miles to the beach. Plus, there's a super nice pool, a gym, community herb garden, playground, and beautiful lakes on the property. It isn't in Jupiter, but it's right on the outskirts by the entrance to 95, so it cuts 10 minutes off our work commute.

We went to her office immediately after viewing them and filled out the paperwork. She's drawing up a lease for us, which we'll sign in a few days. We can move in November 1st :)

This is all happening way faster than I thought it would. I really hope nothing falls through. It all seems too good to be true. I'm starting to feel a little homesick. Sorry I moved and kinda fell off the face of the earth, but I hope I'll have more time now to catch up with all of you. I want to see my family and friends so badly. Maybe you can all come visit for a housewarming party in November? :P I'm finally starting to feel settled, and I wish I could talk in person about it to everyone. Just hang out and catch up.

I feel like I'm doing such grown up things when I'M TOTALLY NOT A GROWN UP. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

SURPRISE PACKAGE!

SURPRISE SECOND POST THIS WEEK BECAUSE I GOT A SURPRISE PACKAGE TODAY!

FROM LAUREN ANN!

FILLED WITH GOODIES THAT I NEED TO SHOW OFF!

I will tell you a little bit about Lauren Ann. First of all, she is only called Lauren Ann because we moved in across the street from each other when we were 4 years old and became best friends, and it got a little confusing to everyone to have two little Laurens running around. So she became Lauren Ann, and I became Lauren D. Don't know why I got stuck with the last initial, but it's cool.

We've been friends since then. We grew up in good ol' TWP together and stayed friends through college. We even lived together in Bmore for a couple years after college and struggled with a mice infestation together. It was gross. They were even in our rooms. Ew. We tried to lure them into traps with peanut butter. I'm going to go off on a tangent if I keep thinking about this, so I'll get to the point. A lot happens over the course of 21 years, but we have stayed friends. We might go awhile without talking or seeing each other, but we will always be family. Lauren Squared!

So here are the thoughtful things she sent me:

"A little beachy <3 for your Florida home!"
"For the Florida sun!"
"Even though you'll be in a bikini on the beach on Halloween, you can rock these festive socks!"
"Because Halloween is your favorite!"

1. SPF 50 is most definitely necessary in the Florida sun.
2. You can bet your ass I'll be rocking those socks in my bikini on Halloween, even in the Florida sun.

But here is the gift of all gifts...
"Because a cheesesteak just doesn't ship well, here's another yummy Philly snack!"

AWWWW YEAHHHHH!

Oh, I also have a six pack of Mysterium from DuClaw Brewery that Lauren gave to me as a going away present waiting for me in the fridge in Jersey for when I come home next :)

Thanks for everything, Laur! I'll take you to Disney when you visit as repayment for your kindness ;)


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hobo No Hobo!

I am not on vacation. This is real life, and I got a real job! At least I think I do.

I had an interview on Friday, and I wasn't sure how well it was going at the time. The dude really seemed like he was skeptical of my abilities. That tends to happen when you are a small, nicely-dressed and made-up white girl applying for a job in an urban substance abuse rehabilitation center. But at the end of the interview, he said I have a job there as long as my background checks and references clear.

Seeing as I haven't killed or otherwise harmed anyone ever, I think I'll be good ;)

I start my training in two days, on Friday, while my paperwork is being processed! I will be a substance abuse counselor, working with dual-diagnoses clients. For all you non-psych people out there, that means clients who have addictions and other mental illness diagnoses, like depression/anxiety/schizophrenia/etc. They also offer supervision for licensure. This is exactly what I want to be doing.

One of my favorite quotes, by Andy Warhol:
Some people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say 'So what.'
That's one of my favorite things to say. 'So what.'
'My mother didn't love me.' So what.
'My husband won't ball me.' So what.
'I'm a success but I'm still alone.' So what.
I don't know how I made it through all the years before I learned that trick. It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget.
"So what" has been my life motto lately. I wasn't going to write about this job until I was absolutely positive and had a written offer in my possession, but I want to talk about it now. I want to put myself out there, even though I'm anxious that I'll suck at this, that I'll fail, that they'll tell me last-second that they aren't hiring me for whatever reason.

I'm anxious about a lot of nonsense, but that's okay. I have come a very, very long way from the person I used to be. If, for some reason, things fall through, so what? So what if I wrote about getting a job, and then I don't. I am proud of myself for stepping so far outside of my comfort zone. Raise your hand if you actually thought I would leave NJ and move to Florida with no set plan for what comes next. Anyone? I didn't think so. But here I am, taking each day as it comes, and I love it. I'm homesick for my family and friends and the events I'm missing out on (i.e. Megan and Tom's wedding this Friday :( Have fun guys!). But I love it here. I love the palm trees, the heat and humidity, being a 5 minute drive from the beach, going out on the boat, the fresh seafood, being able to actually SEE Kristin every day instead of once every 3 years, and I even love it here when it rains.

This is what happens when you push yourself to take risks. You go on life adventures and learn to convert your anxiety into adrenaline and excitement at the unknown :)

Next step: find a place to live and some furniture. Because even though I'm kind of not a poor bum hobo anymore, I'm still a hobo taking up space in my friends' house, and I do not like being a useless hobo!






Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Spread the Love

I'm sitting here, trying to get back to the job-searching-settling-in grind, but it's thunderstorming and dark and dreary and there are two sleepy puppies on my bed. So I have a special post for you, because today is a special day, and also because I hate storms and need to get my mind off of it. I moved to the wrong state for someone who hates storms, right? Hah.

12 years ago today, the importance of not taking people for granted was made very aware to me. I was sitting in Mrs. Benninger's 8th grade reading class doing partner work with Lauren Ann, when my usually very composed guidance counselor came in looking all frazzled. My mom was waiting in the guidance office, where they both told me that planes had crashed into the World Trade Center buildings in NYC. My mom didn't want me to be worried if I remembered that my uncle worked there. She said he was out of the building the last she had heard.

They really tried to downplay the situation for my sake. But as the school day went on, announcements were made about terrorist attacks. The teachers were told to keep the TVs off. Some teachers updated us on the news when they got back from their lunch breaks. The towers were collapsing, people were stuck in the city, and I had no clue what was going on.

Long story short, I spent the day freaking out, wondering where my uncle was and if he had made it out. When I got home, I finally saw the news. Seeing pictures of the towers haunt me to this day. I hate it. Seeing people jump out, people running from the scene as the buildings were coming down, the flood of people walking across the bridges to get out of the city. My uncle ended up being one of those people. I remember standing on my sidewalk with people, talking about how eerie the lack of air traffic noise was. We live right next to Philly, so we always hear and see the planes coming in and out. My uncle got to our house as we were standing out there. He worked on one of the top floors of the first building, but he had gone down to a lower floor to get a muffin... Most random thing ever. Was it fate? God's will? Pure coincidence? I don't know what you believe in, but... a muffin. Yes.

Every year I tell people this story, because it's important. Whenever I say goodbye to people, I always keep in mind that it could be the last time I see them. People tell me I'm morbid when I say this, and maybe I am, but ever since 9/11, that is how I think. You never know when you are going to lose someone. So even if you're one of those people who thinks 9/11 is a government conspiracy, take a minute to let the people you love know how you feel.

This week is also Suicide Prevention Week. Let this day and this week be a reminder to you to do your part to make the world a better place. Just one smile or kind word can completely turn someone's day around, so do your part and spread the love to EVERYONE, even those you don't know.  :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

One Week Down

HELLO! I am writing from Florida, wooooo! I have officially been here for one week today. It hasn't been a particularly interesting week, but I've been trying to get my life together.

I could barely sleep after writing my last blog post. I was really anxious to the point of getting sick in the morning. I couldn't stop thinking about how I will probably never be able to call that house MY house ever again. I kept getting upset about leaving my family and my cats (and the food in Jersey...). I also couldn't stop worrying about what I had packed, if it was too much, if I forgot something, etc. On top of all that, I hate flying. I'm one of those people that always thinks about the plane crashing.

Anyway, that did not make for a very comforting night or morning. I ended up taking a ton of crap out of my bags in the morning because I was scared they would be over 50 lbs. I said bye to my room and my piano and my bad cats, and then we were off. Linny gave me a muffin from her bakery for breakfast, which was delish. We had to drag my huge bags all over the effing airport because my flight was leaving from international but I had to check in at domestic. Then I encountered the biggest security line I had ever seen at an airport. I said bye to my family, which made us all cry a lot. Then I got in line, but they moved me to another line farther away, so I didn't get to turn around and wave bye to them one last time as I was going through. It was better that way though, so I didn't cry even more.

Fast forward to the flight. We sat on the tarmac for a long time, and the pilot finally told us there were 30 flights ahead of us waiting to take off. Then he said they stopped all southbound flights. I was almost positive my flight would be cancelled, but they let us go through eventually. I was only delayed a little over an hour, and only landed 10 minutes late after a very bumpy ride.

It was the best thing in the world to see Eric and Kristin and Ben waiting for me. Kristin was holding a piece of paper that said "DiGiuseppe, Jersey Girl Florida Girl" hahaha loser. I was so happy I wanted to cry when I hugged them.

The first words out of my mouth when we left the airport were "Holy fuck it's hot..." I'm not gonna lie. It was really, really hot and humid. And that is how it's been every day since. And I love it :)

We went to the beach after I dropped my bags off.

Beach!


Happy

<3 !
Then Kristin helped me unpack and organize all my stuff. Thank god I got that out of the way. Unpacking is the worst. Then we went to P.F. Chang's to celebrate :)

The rest of my time here has been spent chillin. I get up and run in the morning most of the time (it is HOT), and apply for jobs the rest of the day. I didn't have a car all last week, so I was stuck at home staring at the computer screen. I'm getting really frustrated, because I've applied to SO. MANY. JOBS. and have not had an interview yet. I know it'll happen eventually, but I want it now.
I sit on the porch and apply apply apply
I did finally get a car on Friday night. Kristin and I had gone to a few dealerships on Thursday to scout them out, and the next night we brought Eric and Ben with us. I know they all loved spending their Friday night helping me buy a car... but I would've been freaking out without them there. Yay for good friends! I was able to get $1000 off the price of the car! My haggling skills are improving ;)
Florida car!
Saturday was busy. Eric and I went to the bank in the morning so I could change my address on my accounts and get a check for the car, which we then had to take all the way to the dealership. Everyone at the bank was so nice, congratulating me on the car and my move to Florida, asking how I like it here. That's the response we get everywhere we go, like in the supermarket when we show the cashier our ID for alcohol (you can buy beer and wine there!). I've really never encountered so many nice strangers.

I helped Kristin weed the flowerbeds that afternoon, and then kinda watched while Ben and Eric made pumpkin beer. And yesterday we went to the beach again.
Eric looking like a tourist making drippy castles... Some lady walked by and gave him the most judgey look hahah
Beautiful
I think I'm transitioning really well so far. I do need to get used to a few things, like the nice strangers... haha. And lizards EVERYWHERE! They dart out in front of me while I'm running. There are a lot of snakes, too. Ben tried to kill one on the porch yesterday, but it got away. I miss my family, but Skype makes it easier for me. I'm a little jealous that I'm not experiencing this "fall weather" you are all talking about up north... but I don't think I'm jealous enough to want to go back just yet ;) I'm loving the weather and the scenery here. Eric and I were talking in the car the other day about how weird it is that we are driving around in Florida, looking at palm trees. It's a big change, and it still feels kind of like a dream to us. We're really grateful that Kristin and Ben have been so welcoming and helpful. I don't think we'd be able to cope with moving away from Jersey without friends. But Eric really likes his job here so far, and I think we can be really happy here :)