Thankful

Last week I was talking to one of my very best friends about what is going on with our lives and our families and life in general. The past two weeks had kind of sucked for me and both of our families. No major tragedies; just a couple stabs. As each of us made a complaint, the other one would say “at least you had/could/are/etc.” reminding each other that it could be much worse. In reality, it’s been a really good year for me (and her too, I think) and I have a lot that I am thankful for – some good and some making the bad good. Here’s what I am thankful for so far this year in no particular order:

  1. My job: I am so thankful for my job for many reasons. First, because I have one when so many people do not. It’s tough out there and I managed to find a new job in a bad economy with tons of other people competing for the spot. I’m crazy luck just for that. Second, because it allowed me to leave a job that made me beyond miserable and to join a team of genuinely nice, friendly and non-dramatic people. Third, because it pays me a significant amount more than my last job. Not to say that money is everything or that I’m rolling in dough now (because I’m definitely not) but, for other reasons that I’ll get to next. And finally because it’s providing me with a great opportunity to learn and grow as I work.
  2. I can donate to charities: Okay, I understand that this one may sound ridiculous but, hear me out. Remember what I said about my new job paying me more. This is one of the biggest benefits of that salary (beyond being able to live with a little bit of comfort). When people ask you to donate to their walk fund for whatever charity or when everyone puts in money to sponsor a family around the holidays, they always say that even $1 helps. That’s very true but, it’s nice to be able to give more. Since I started my new job I’ve been able to donate to my mom’s walk fund for the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeastern New York and to my friend’s walk fund for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. I was able to buy a little extra for the two families the hotel sponsored for Thanksgiving. And I’ll be able to make some contributions to my favorite charities this holiday season and buy some extra toys for Toys for Tots. I am thankful that I can help make a little more of a difference this year.
  3. My parents: I am always thankful for my parents. They’re amazing people who made my life pretty damn easy and put up with my shit when I was making their life pretty damn hard. That’s a whole ‘nother type of thankful right there (Thanks for letting me live, Mom & Dad. I can think of more than one time I would have killed me.) But, the reason that I’m especially thankful for them this year is because of who they are. 2012 has not been their year at all. And this is after the past couple years haven’t been so great either. I won’t go into their personal details but, I am thankful for the strength that they have shown and continue to show through it all. I’m hoping 2013 is the year that they get to finally see the light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.
  4. My fianceYeah…I have one of those and in April, I’ll have a husband. And, I’m ridiculously thankful for him. Not only can he put up with me and my crazies and love me in spite of them but, he’s also helped me become a better person.
  5. My dog: Emma has been my companion for almost seven years. She is a crazy bundle of joy. No matter what has happened in my life or where I’ve gone, she’s been there. She may not be the brightest bulb but, she is the most loving.
  6. My family, My friends and Everyone who doesn’t like me so much: Because they are the people that help shape your personality and your life. Without all of them, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today.

And, while that’s the end of my list, there is so much more to be thankful for every day.

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Meet Melissa

Remember a few months ago when I posted a picture of my sister and I from approximately 24 years ago?  No?  It was this picture…

Melissa, 5 & Me, 1 month

She said I was a “nugget.”  Yeah…

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went down to New York City to spend the weekend with my sister and, as much as we talked about it, we never once took a picture together.  That’s kind of the way we are.  I do have a few pictures of just her, though. Meet my sister, Melissa…

Texting, as usual.  It must run in the family or something.

We had such a fun weekend.  It’s been a long time since we spent a weekend (or really just a day) together.  Whenever we see each other there’s always something else going on with a bunch of other people.

I was in New York for about 36 hours so our time was limited but, we made the most of it.  After I arrived on Saturday, we took a ferry to Governors Island which has some fun stuff on it and amazing views of the city.  We rented bikes and cruised around the island for hours – checking out the old houses, art exhibits and some strange mini-golf.

Trying to move the seat down...

That night we went to dinner at Kittichai which was a fabulous restaurant and we thoroughly enjoyed the food.  The atmosphere is very “date night” but, it’s all decorated beautifully.  After dinner we headed over the the SoHo Grand Hotel and had a drink in their shi-shi lounge.  Then we headed out to The 13th Step which is one of her company’s bars.  We spent the night hanging out with friends, some guy they called Homicide and a bouncer that looked like Danny Trejo.

The next day we went to breakfast at this cute place called Kitchenette.  They had a yummy breakfast and amazing desserts.  Oh!  And strawberry sangria.  Yum!  It was supposed to be raining but, it wasn’t showing any signs of a downpour so we followed our original plan and went to South Street Seaport.  There was a convention at the Seaport for people that are hearing impaired.  It was pretty cool to see upwards of 200 people using sign language and not saying a word.

Next door to the Seaport was The New Amsterdam Farmers Market.  It’s something that apparently only happens once a month and it’s huge.  We started to walk over there and it began to downpour.  Luckily the market is under a bridge so we made our rounds, bought 2 types of dill pickles and something called “Olive Treasure” and caught a cab back to the hotel.

We got completely soaked getting into the cab but, the rain stopped by the time we got to the hotel.  We grabbed our luggage and went to Melissa’s apartment since I had a hour or so until I had to be to Penn.

As I got into the cab outside of her apartment, it was hard to say goodbye to my sister.  It was a whirlwind of a weekend but, it was so nice to spend time with her and we both had so much fun.  She’s always been the one that I can talk to about anything and she’s helped me a ton on so many different things.  We work opposite schedules and live three hours apart so, being able to spend that time together was great.

I’m heading back down to the city on the 17th with derryX and I’m hoping that I’ll get to see her for a little while.  And, if I do get to see here, we can cross one more person off the list of family for derryX to meet.

Side note:  We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Tribeca and we had a great experience.  The hotel is very new and the staff were extremely pleasant.  I would definitely recommend it and no, this is neither a paid recommendation or because I work for Hilton.

Day at the Races

A couple weeks ago, Mom and I head up to Saratoga Race Course for a day of fun.  We stopped at Fresh Market in Latham for some food to bring with us.  Fresh Market had only been open for a day or so and it was crowded.  You could barely move in the store and it seemed like the cashiers weren’t prepared for anyone to buy more than 5 items.  We grabbed some salads from the deli and a couple of drinks and headed out.

Orzo Salad from Fresh Market

When we got to the Track we headed to the club house and grabbed a table on the patio right by the horse’s entrance to the track.  It was the perfect spot to spend the day.  We sat down with our books, our food and some drinks and planned out bets for the day.

Mom Planning Her Bets

We had a great time and we both ended up winning slightly more than we bet.  I was able to take some great pictures, too since we had such an awesome spot and were able to get close the the finish line.

Racing season is over now but, I’m really glad that Mom and I were able to spend a day up there together.  It’s kind of been a long-standing tradition but, in the past few years we’ve been unable to go together.  I’m looking forward to next year and hopefully we’ll be able to go again.

Check out my full set of pictures on Flickr!

La Bella Vita

I was going to title this blog “Inbox – 215” but I think that gives it a negative conotation and this is anything but a negative post.

Yesterday two friends and I exchanged 215 email throughout the day.  There must have been 20 random topics but, it kept us entertained and made the day go by faster than normal.

During my drive home I was thinking about what a ridiculous number of emails that was.  I don’t think I’ve exchanged 215 emails with anyone…let alone in one day.  I don’t know if I’ve ever had that much to talk about before or that I even wanted to email anyone that much.  Anyway…thinking about this made me reflect on the past few years and I realized something very important.

Three Years Ago

Three years ago this week I was in the midst of ending a horrible relationship.  I won’t go into the sorrid details but it was a toxic relationship that lasted for two years and was about a year and a half too long.  For the past two years I’ve celebrated the day it ended as my own “Independence Day.”  It was the celebration of having my life back and being able to breath again.  This year…I simply forgot.

For the past three years, I’ve had to rebuild my life.  My relationship with one person took a toll on my relationships with many people.  It took a toll on my finances, on my self-esteem and on my sanity.  For three years, I have worked tirelessly to right the wrongs that were done.  Most of all I’ve worked to rebuild myself to someone that I was proud of again.  Today, I finally realized that I’ve completed that goal.

What 215 Emails Have To Do With It…

While thinking about the emails and the events of the past few months, I couldn’t help but think how absolutely blessed I am to have so many amazing people in my life.  Three years ago I walked away from a relationship with one friend and my dog.  Today I still have that one friend and my dog but I can add at least 15 more friends to that list.  Three years ago, I felt alone and like the shell of a person.  Today, I feel full and happy and complete thanks to the friendships that I have.

This year, I forgot my anniversary because it wasn’t necessary anymore.  I don’t need to celebarate being me becaue I’m happy with me and can celebrate it every day. That has everything to do with the people that have come into my life and that I am surrounded by every day.  I am proud of the person that I am and can say that I am a good person because I have good friends that make me that way.

Each and every friend that has come into my life over the past three years has helped bring me to this point.  You have all added something to my life…something that I carry with me every day.  Whether you know it or not, you have all helped me become a whole person again, to realize my worth and make me feel good about being me again.  And for that, I thank you.

I’ll leave you with this…on the bulletin board above my desk I have a piece of paper that says

Gli amici sono la famiglia si sceglie

which means “Friends are the family you choose.”  I have chosen a wonderful family and thank you for choosing me.

A Night Out

As you probably know, one of my goals is to have a night out with my mom once a month.  I love my mom a lot.  She has taught me more things than I could ever possibly list from building professional relationships to how to hang a spoon from my nose.

Professionally, my mom has served as an invaluable resource and I probably would not be where I am had it not been for her tutoring and guidance.  On a personal mother/daughter level, we have gone through severe ups and downs.  Basically, we get along best when we’re not living in the same house.

Up until about a year ago, I lived at home.  I had lived there for about two years because I had lived with my boyfriend and that (thankfully) ended.  Those two years didn’t go the greatest and they ended on a pretty sour note.  Since I moved out again, mom and I are getting along 1,000 times better.  We talk on a pretty regular basis and she and my dad help out a lot by watching Cheyenne and Emma when Kevin and I have long work days.  I made monthly dinners with mom a goal because it is important to me to spend some time with her beyond the brief hellos at her house and phone conversations.

So, last night was our night out.  We had a wonderful dinner at LaSerre Restaurant.  LaSerre is a quaint French restaurant tucked in a side street in downtown Albany.  I had the Chicken ala Florentine and mom had the Veal Oscar.  Both were wonderfully prepared and thoroughly enjoyed.  We sat and chatted for a bit before heading to Capital Repertory Theater for the opening night of Betrayal (thanks Kelly!).  The play was wonderful.  It is a 90 minute play that tells the story of three people – a husband, wife and the husband’s best friend – who are entangled in a love triangle.  The play moves backwards through time.  When the stage went dark at the end, no one could believe it had been an hour and a half.  I highly recommend it.  After the play they had dessert and a champagne toast.  It was extremely crowded so mom and I stayed for the brief speeches and then headed out.

All in all it was a fabulous night and I really think mom enjoyed herself.  I told her I was hoping we could do dinner at least once a month and she loved the idea.  We were even able to plan a future dinner a few months away but it’s something that I’ll have to reserve soon.  I’m looking forward to more dinners with her.  I think it will be great for our relationship and an enjoyable time for both of us.

P.S.  My mother (as far as I know) isn’t aware that I have a blog.  It’s not that I have anything to hide but I like to tell my mother things in person and not have her read it here.  So, don’t expect any supporting comments from her…although if she knew, I think she would comment.