Thursday, December 3, 2015

Back to the Grind

Ugh, I never write anymore.

I am lazy.

Actually, no, I am not lazy. I am honestly just so busy that I forget to take time to myself to process my thoughts and feelings. Instead, when I have spare time, I prefer to lay on the floor and give Nym some pets, or watch Youtube videos, or... that's really it. I don't even read anymore, but I really should. How sad.

What has been going on? Let's see.

Halloween came and went. I meant to post pictures of my decorations, but I was unmotivated to do so, obviously. They looked good though, and the house smelled like a pumpkin wonderland. Our costumes ended up being pretty incredible. Kristin and Ben were Wendy Darling and Captain Hook, Chloe was Tinkerbell, Eric was Peter Pan's shadow (aka Dark Link if you ask him...), and I was Peter Pan of course. I figured if there was ever a time to be Pan, it was now, when I have a red pixie cut. I sewed the hats, which looked pretty good for my first time ever sewing anything in my life.

My parents came to visit last week for Thanksgiving. It was the first time they ever came to spend a holiday with me in Florida, and it was the best. We went to Kristin's and celebrated with her family. My mom was super pumped to finally get to see Kristin's mom again and watch Chloe run around like a maniac. I know it was different for them, but I think my parents enjoyed not having to host a holiday or worry about cooking a ton of food (although I did convince my mom to bake her pumpkin pie, which was delicious). I never take for granted the fact that I have friends who are like family down here.

Also, my dad's birthday was the day after Thanksgiving, and it ended up being the coolest day. Eric and I took them to Green Cay Nature Center, which is a wetlands preserve. We like to go there and see all the Florida creatures, and I thought it would be a good place to take my parents to show them the beauty of Florida and convince them to move here. Wait, who said that? Who is trying to manipulate them to move here? Not I.... Anyway, I am pleased to report that a GIANT GATOR swam straight at us and stopped right in front of us while stalking out some ducks. Like five feet away from us for real. Mom and Dad thought it was the coolest thing, AND IT WAS. It was the coolest nature-y thing I've seen in Florida.

Besides that, we ate a ton of good food and drank a lot, as usual. We saw all the Christmas lights around town, which were beautiful. Eric and I also put up our Christmas decorations while my parents sat there and laughed at our struggle to decorate the tree. Thanks, parents!

All in all, it was a great trip, and I cried a lot when they left. Eric took me to get Starbucks and see the Sandi Tree being built in downtown West Palm to cheer me up. Yes, there is a giant sand sculpture Christmas tree sitting smack in the middle of a field right at the end of Clematis Street. Right in front of the water. It is ridiculous. It looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. It made me laugh, but also made me sad, because this is not Christmas. By "this," I mean Sandi Trees and gators and 90-degree weather and lit-up palm trees. This doesn't feel festive at all. Eric and I are not coming home for Christmas again this year, and it is depressing. But as my dad reminded me, what "Christmas" is to us is coldness and gray skies and bare trees and gloom, because we were raised in it. It's not actually festive to experience that stuff. It's just nostalgic. It's actually pretty miserable. So we should start associating sunshine and warmth and palm trees and happiness with Christmas, because that's better than freezing your ass off anyway (sounds like he wants to move here, right?). TRUTH. Thanks, Dad!

When I haven't been traveling or hosting visitors, I have been working. The nannying gig is still working out great. In fact, it is so great that my work family wants me to stay until June now! I know some people still don't understand why I left a career I had planned for my entire life to do this, and maybe you never will. All I can say is: happiness. This was supposed to be a short-term, part-time gig that got me through a rough patch until I could find a counseling job that didn't make me so stressed my hair falls out. But in the process, I found something I LOVE doing.

Sure, I loved counseling people. But did I love all the paperwork? The unethical management? Hearing sad stories every day? No, I hated it. Am I just not strong enough to handle it? I guess you could look at it like that. But I don't view my sensitivity as a weakness. I think my sensitive nature is one of the best parts, if not the best part, about me. I never want to harden my heart. I don't want to have to make jokes about serious issues just to keep myself from breaking down. I don't want to come home every day and tell Eric my day was terrible and depressing. I know sometimes I did a lot of good and saved someone's life. Those were amazing moments in dark days. Now, even though I still have bad things happen, it is just bad moments in amazing days.

So, we will see what happens when June rolls around. This was never supposed to be a forever thing, and I am sure it will end at some point. But I am grateful that I have been able to do it for nine months and get to continue doing it for now, because I love those kids, and I feel like part of the family at this point. I am looking in to getting a doula certification, so we'll see where that takes me...

If you don't know what a doula is, look it up. Then, take a minute to process your shock that I, of all people, am interested in doing that. Then, come back and leave an "I told you so" comment, because let's be honest: you all knew I would eventually stop being terrified of babies. I still think newborns look like aliens though. Sorry...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Friday the 13th: Paris, Je t'aime

While I was at The Melting Pot gorging myself on fondue and feeling pretty damn great about it, people were getting massacred in Paris.

I didn't find this out until midnight, because I was making an effort to get off my damn phone, be present in the moment, and Celebrate Life with the people who mean the most to me.

If anywhere knows a thing about celebrating life, it's France. Paris is THE city of my life motto. They should've all been drinking wine and listening to music and eating delicious cheese and chocolate in peace, because that's what Paris is all about.

Instead, we live in a world where people try to destroy those who live freely and fully.

I don't really have the words to express how sad the attacks in France make me feel. I imagine some people there are feeling what I felt during the 9/11 attacks: terror, fear, confusion, sadness, anger, helplessness. I hate that people are feeling that way. And I imagine there are many people around the world who are feeling scared to travel now, scared to get on planes and trains, scared to visit the incredibly beautiful cities and landmarks this world has to offer. I am kind of afraid.

BUT

The #PorteOuverte hashtag, people lined up to donate blood, and messages of support from around the world prove that no one can hold back those who live life with a sense of love, peace, happiness, and harmony. Paris is the embodiment of that spirit. Paris is The City of Light. Not just light, but LIGHT. Happiness. Spirit. Vibrancy. Love. And LOVE NEVER FAILS.

Monday, October 19, 2015

October Fun

HELLOOOO OCTOBER! 

Fall is officially here, and I am officially the happiest and saddest I've ever been in Florida, all at the same time. I am loving my job and the family I work for, and this has been a super fun-filled, action-packed month so far. But I went home to the Jerz this past weekend, got to experience REAL fall weather and decor, and see all the college girls for Becca's wedding. It just made me so, so sad to live so far away. But then I came back for a Florida friend's wedding in West Palm yesterday, and it made me happy to be here again. It made me happy to not be perpetually shivering from cold... Can I be a snow bird? That would be ideal. Maybe in forty years when we're retired and hopefully rich enough to afford two homes... Hahahaha ANYWAY, here is the month in photos so far.

October 3rd. First weekend of October. I stuck on the flannel and drank a hot pumpkin spice latte because it was only 80 degrees... Kristin came over this night to play games with us. She called me crazy. I did not deny it.
It made me happy to see people in Florida getting in to the Halloween spirit!
Not as many people decorate for fall down here. Maybe because pumpkins, corn stalks, and hay bales get DISGUSTING and rotten in the Florida heat, and mums don't seem to survive here. But I've seen a few houses that are festive, and it has made me feel at home.
I cut my hair even shorter and dyed it red, because why not? It's a good color for fall, but I forgot how much it sucks to wash your hair with cold water (to prevent fading, incase you didn't know). Good thing it's still summer weather here.
Nym has taken over our couch, but ONLY on the blanket... for now.
We went to Bedner's for the Fall Festival! Jersey people: Think of it as Duffield's Fall Festival on crack. Cars are parked for a mile down the road, because it is the only place that does this kind of thing around here.  They have a pumpkin patch, corn maze, hayride, and tons of food and craft vendors. We got to eat apple cider donuts!
We went with Ben, Kristin, and Chloe, exactly one year from Chloe's first pumpkin picking last year. She was a chubby little grumpy pants back then. This time, she was running all over the pumpkin patch and led us through the corn maze! She had a great time, and so did we.
And then, I was home. My mom really outdid herself with the decorations this year.
EVEN THE BATHROOM WAS DECORATED. Seriously.
Ghost blanket on the couch.
"The Raven" and Halloween tea towels. 
Haunted houses.
The foyer all decked out in autumn garland and Halloween decor.
I WAS GOING TO GET THAT FLASK. My own mother beat me to it.
My personal favorite: the haunted village :)
My sister gave this awesome sweater to me! It is my new favorite article of clothing. She also got me a book called "Goodnight Goon," which is a parody of my favorite children's book, "Goodnight Moon" lolol.
Autumn. So beautiful.
Possibly the highlight of my trip: A REAL DINER.
DO YOU SEE THE SCRAPPLE?!?!?!?
Baked goods from Linny's bakery were pretty much the only thing I ate all weekend.
We sat around the fire pit. I drank hot chocolate from my favorite mug while bundled up in a jacket and scarf... it was 50 degrees hahahahaha. I am pathetic.
AND THEN IT WAS BECCA'S WEDDING AND IT WAS AMAZING!!!! So much dancing. I'd post all the photo booth pictures, but there are 23058730485. I never considered myself a "girls girl" until this crew took me in. Yes, I feel like I was adopted by them. I had a really rough first semester of freshman year of college, and if it wasn't for them, I probably would have given up. They encouraged me to audition for the MelUDees, forced me to get out of my room, invited me to eat with them in the dining hall. I took my first shot ever (Captain Morgan) with Becca in her room hahahahaha. Nearly a decade later, we are all still friends. We live all over the east coast now: Boston, Philly, Wilmington, Baltimore, DC, West Palm. No matter how much time goes by between seeing each other or talking, it feels like no time has passed at all. I miss them more than my cats, and that says a lot.
My cousin Matt and his wife Emily came over on Saturday night, and we all ate my mom's penne alla vodka. Family and Italian food is all I hope for when I go to NJ!!!
Off to the airport on Sunday morning. Center City Philly skyline from the Walt Whitman. Look at that crisp, blue autumn sky over the industrial smokestacks. Ah, home. <3
A pumpkin spice muffin from Linny's bakery for the plane ride back to Florida. She knows the way to a basic Jersey-turned-Florida girl's heart.
As soon as I got home from the airport, I got myself ready for Charity's wedding! It was in the big glass building at the end of Clematis in West Palm. Beautiful!
They had tattoos and games and dancing and mini cupcakes, including MAPLE BACON flavor. Does it get any better than that?!
The centerpieces were so pretty, and each one was unique. Loved the decor. Pinterest perfect!
The happy couple smashing cake on each other :)
And there is October so far. With only twelve days left until Halloween, I will be putting the finishing touches on my autumn decorations and getting my costume together. Hooray!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Sound of Silence


"'Fools,' said I, 'You do not know. Silence like a cancer grows. Hear my words that I might teach you. Take my arms that I might reach you.' But my words, like silent raindrops, fell, and echoed in the wells of silence."

THIS is the music that young people used to listen to. Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, The Beatles. Music that started a revolution. Now, the radio is filled with lyrics about guns and hoes and getting sloppy. No wonder kids today are so fucked up and our society is going to shit. NOT A GOOD REVOLUTION TO START, PEOPLE. WRONG MESSAGE.

Dear everyone in my generation that is having children: Please do the world a favor and introduce them to some good music.

Sorry for getting preachy. That is all for today.

The Boxer

I am just a poor boy.
Though my story's seldom told,
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles.
Such are promises:
All lies and jest.
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.

When I left my home
And my family,
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station,
Running scared.
Laying low,
Seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go,
Looking for the places
Only they would know.

Asking only workman's wages
I come looking for a job,
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores
On Seventh Avenue.
I do declare,
There were times when I was so
lonesome
I took some comfort there.

Then I'm laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone,
Going home,
Where the New York City winters
Aren't bleeding me,
Leading me,
Going home.

In the clearing stands a boxer,
And a fighter by his trade.
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame,
"I am leaving, I am leaving."
But the fighter still remains.



I don't think my parents will ever understand how important it is that they introduced me to "their" music, let me play the albums on repeat, analyzed the lyrics with me, discussed the time period with me. I cringe when I look at my Timehop and see lyrics posted as cryptic statuses on Facebook, but those lyrics are what saved me. I can be sad, anxious, depressed, suicidal, angry, everything bad, but this music will always be here. If it got me through those feelings so many years ago when I first heard it, then I know, no matter how bad I feel, it can get me through it again.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Major FOMO

For those of you not of the internet slang generation, FOMO is Feeling Of Missing Out. It is the worst acronym, I hate how it sounds, and I never use it... but I am using it now, because there is no better way to describe what I am feeling right now.

Here I sit, on a cloudy (yet surprisingly mild) Florida morning, on the floor with my dog and my laptop. The only humans I have interacted with in person in the past two days are my "work family," and two of them are less than five years old... one only communicates by laughing and crying. Normally, for an introvert such as myself, this would be a good thing, especially after ten days of non-stop SEEING people. I loved seeing everyone, but that is the most exhausting thing ever. I need time to myself to recharge my battery. But now, I am going stir-crazy without Eric, and I have serious FOMO thinking about what everyone is doing right now.

Eric is back in NJ (yes, three days after leaving... we need VIP passes at PBI, for real) for the wedding of our friends Meg and Carolyn. A little background: Eric and Meg met long before I knew Eric, and they lived together basically ever since, up until shortly before Eric and I moved to Florida. I went to high school with Carolyn, and we did chorus together. All of them worked together after high school. Then, I met Eric, and Meg and Carolyn were together, and we spent many happy times all basically living together in Eric and Meg's townhome with lots of alcohol, good cooking, Ketchup the beta fish, and Footfoot the snake. No matter how long goes by without talking or seeing each other, when we are all together, hilarious times ensue.

Today, Meg and Carolyn are finally tying the knot, but with so many weddings in September and October, Eric and I had to do some serious thinking about how we could make this work with all the flying around necessary. It's not like I can work remotely, and Eric doesn't have unlimited vacation days. Ultimately, we decided that we needed to split up for the weddings, with the exception of the one on our one-year anniversary, which we combined with our annual trip home. He is at Meg and Carolyn's today, and I will go to Becca's without him in a few weeks. I am missing the #biggaypumpkinspicedwedding :(

Missing out on big life events is by far the shittiest thing about living so far away. Weddings, holidays, birthdays, engagement parties, even bachelorette parties. I had to miss Nicole's last year, and I missed Becca's last weekend (which was in MIAMI, of all places) while I was home. It is the worst. Not only do I feel like the shittiest friend, but I sit there thinking about all the fun everyone is having and how I wish I could be there. And now that Eric with people, and I am not, I feel EXTRA shitty. I love Nym, don't get me wrong, but she sleeps a lot, and she has a healing paw at the moment (another story for another day... this dog is wreck). I can't even take her to the dog park or for long walks.

I normally love to be alone... but right now, instead of feeling alone, I just feel lonely.

So, I've been trying to keep myself busy. I worked until 11pm last night, and surprisingly, nothing could've made me happier than reading bedtime stories and cleaning up baby food prunes. I got all my fall decorations out (RAVENS EVERYWHERE!!!) to keep me happy when I'm home. I played with Nym and all her new toys, and now I'm cuddling with her lazy ass on the floor.

I also drank a lot of tea this morning, because caffeine is an upper, and drowning my sorrows in alcohol at 9:00am will be no good for anyone. Self-medicating at its smartest, yes?

So... sorry for that downer of a post. I know things can be way worse in life, obviously. I am still grateful for the warmth and palm trees and Floridian way of life. Nothing beats it. I am just not the type of person who pretends everything is fine when I don't feel like I am fine.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Jersey in Photos

Alright, don't be expecting professional photographer quality photos. That's Eric's area of expertise. I'm just over here snapping quick pictures with my phone, and chances are I'm intoxicated while doing it.
Ben drove Eric and I to the airport on his way to work at 6:45am  Friday morning (what a good guy!). We had dropped Nym off the night before, and I was pretty sad about it, but we were pumped to be heading home for the first time in a year.
First stop: Geno's Steaks for lunch. Yes, I know there are better in the city. But no place takes me back in time like Geno's. I ate the entire thing in ten minutes and didn't eat again til the next morning because I was so full/sick. Always worth it!
We arrived at my house, and I promptly ran out of the car barefoot to feel the soft grass between my toes and admire Mom's flowers.
Kelly always decorates our chalkboard for the month. September's drawing: an anniversary surprise for Eric and I! These lyrics were our wedding cake topper. :)
My back yard. It smelled like pine trees.
Goon #1: Diego
Goon #2: Binx
Our first night, we saw some of Eric's family. We went to Uncle Adam and Aunt Jen's and looked at pictures from their Disney vacation that we were supposed to join them on, but sadly missed, due to tropical storm Erika's "cone of uncertainty"... AND DRANK MY FIRST PUMPKIN BEER OF THE SEASON! Hate away, haters. This was delicious.
This was also delicious. Tasted like a milkshake. Mmmmm Florida beer.
Saturday morning, I had my first Wawa of the trip, which was also my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. Basic.
It was our one year anniversary, so we got to eat our wedding cake, which was still amazing.
And it also happened to be the wedding day of our good friends, Dave and Rachel!
Couldn't think of a better way to spend our first anniversary. Beautiful scenery, great friends, unlimited drinks... Here I am posing with my "anniversary flowers" from Eric, aka the table centerpiece hahaha.
Sunday was spent at Eric's family's Labor Day party. My parents came, too, so it was really nice. I was having way too much fun seeing people and playing cops and robbers with the kids to take pictures, but here is a snap of a cake that Linny got for us from her bakery for dessert. DELICIOUS.
We met Nym's cousin, Zeus! Look, he has a huge tongue, too. They are definitely related!
Monday. Starbucks PSL and Philly soft pretzels. Still basic. Still delicious.
Monday, my Uncle Al came over for a Labor Day cookout. We made s'mores at my request. :) 

Peg, Ray, Sean, and Kelly joined us as well. We spent the night drinking wine, eating s'mores, and having a guitar jam sesh on the deck.
Tuesday was spent recovering from a busy few days. We went to Uncle Al's briefly to discuss Italy and see my cousin Adam and his daughter Annamarie! She babbled the whole time. So cute. But Wednesday was SHORE DAY! We visited Sean in Ventnor and had the beach all to ourselves since the season was over. It was incredible. I missed this view of AC.
Eric and I stopped at the OC boardwalk for lunch. Here is the Wonderland Pier ferris wheel. Such great childhood memories.
The boardwalk is a ghost town out of season. So peaceful. I spent a lot of time thinking about Aunt Joyce, my cousins, and how lucky we were to spend our lives here.
Ocean City Music Pier
PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA.
GOOD pizza. REAL pizza. MY pizza.
Couldn't leave the boardwalk without getting some mango Polish water ice. Can Florida please get some good junk food? Please?
After lunch, we headed down to the Cape May house to hang out with Erin and Aunt Sean! Eric spent his childhood here, and I spent Cape May Vacays here. Aunt Sean's flowers are ridiculous this year. She had these all around the yard!
Watching the sun go down in Cape May with good company.
Thursday morning, we all took a nice walk. Love walking by the bay.
The weather quickly turned to shit, because it knew we had to drive a lot today. Of course. But it was the only shitty weather day on our whole trip!
We made it down to Delaware despite the rain to see Dave and Sunny and finally meet Arya! She is the chillest baby. Eric wasn't even scared to hold her! We got dinner and margaritas, then ate brownies and played Exploding Kittens. The only thing harmed during the game was Eric's ego, I promise. ;)
Friday. How did a week go by already? Eating a mint icing Andes brownie from Linny's bakery. Do you sense a theme of eating a lot during this trip?
After a week of being a PSL-loving basic bitch, I decided to get real and go to Endgrain Coffee in Pitman. The benefits of a small town include shop owners who will actually spend time with you. Joe, the owner, gave me some insight about why I love basic bitch coffee and how to start loving real, good coffee. He gave me a real latte, made with real, high-quality coffee beans... it was incredible. No sugar necessary.
We headed on over from Endgrain to the Speak residence for a giant party with most of our Jersey friends. Mr. and Mrs. Speak have graciously hosted our alcohol-fueled nerd hangouts for as long as anyone can remember, and it never gets old. We ate a ton and played yard games. Sean's girlfriend, Lauren, and I won at bocce ball! I never win things! It was the power of the Laurens.
Mrs. Speak got candy corn just for me! Thank you, Mrs. Speak! My first candy corn of the season. It was the highlight of my night. :D
... but also, THIS happened. Jager shots with Shot Buddy trumps all. Love ya, Linds!
We ended the night in true nerd form: Dean created his own Mario levels, which we played til 4am. Yes. 
Saturday we were hurting pretty bad. Bella helped me feel better though. :)
Saturday night, our last night home, we went out to dinner at Manino's in Pitman with both our families together. Good Italian food is like drugs to me. I got an instant high when I ate this penne alla vodka. Also, I don't know why these pictures are flipped the wrong way, but I don't care enough to fix it.
The cognac pumpkin cheesecake was BOMB. Great food, wine, and family. This is why we love NJ!
Sunday morning. This morning. Our trip ended, and I drowned my sorrows in an Auntie Anne's pretzel in the airport, like usual.
We arrived safely with NJ goodies for Kristin and ourselves, including Philly soft pretzels, boardwalk fudge, and salt water taffy. Kristin picked us up from the airport and informed us that we had not missed a lot during our ten days away. I don't think she realizes that being away from her and Ben and Chloe for ten days IS missing a lot.
... AND being away from Nym. Reunited with my baby and it feels so good. Speaking of which, Nym had quite a good vacation...
We boarded her at a really great place. Lauren, the woman whose house she was at, runs a doggy daycare and boards dogs of all sizes. Nym even had her own room. She sent us updates throughout the week and said Nym did really well. In fact...
She became best friends with another dog there! 
Buddies!

Now, we are home with Nym, watching football and drinking Funky Buddha Sweet Potato Casserole beer. Fall is upon us! It feels like our time home was just a dream. It was too short. It always takes me about a week to adjust to being away from my family and friends, so I am feeling pretty down right now. But the more I think about it, the more Florida is feeling like home to me. I have a good life here. I have a feeling my heart is going to be torn between Florida and NJ from now on. When I am here in Florida, it feels like a piece of me is missing. But now, when I am in NJ, it also feels like a piece of me is missing. My Nym, my Florida fam, the palm trees, the water...

It's a pretty good problem to have when your life is TOO good no matter where you are.