#151 Christmas Tree Lighting

Growing up, during Christmas time, it was unavoidable to see sappy crappy holiday movies everywhere. If the setting of the movie took place in a small rural everyone knows everyone type of town, there always seemed to be a Whoville like Christmas tree lighting ceremony going on. I seriously thought this was something that was fake and only happened in movies. I was wrong.

This is the first Christmas we spend in our new town. In the mail, the city actually sent us a flyer for the towns Christmas tree lighting ceremony/festivities. Of course, we decided to check it out; be part of our community. It was pretty nice! The tree stood at the top of the steps of city hall. Families scattered throughout the entire plaza. There were vendors on the streets selling food and goods. The restaurants in the area had their door open with music and people spilling out. People sang carols. Kids danced. The mayor gave a speech. We had a countdown. The tree colors were awesome and the lights on tree blinked to the music. It was a fun night.  My very first movie like Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration!

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#150 Unpacking, Wine, and Hibachi

Working hard all day to unpack as many boxes as I could. Now that my mom is here I have been able to focus on getting my room together. I still have a few boxes left for the living room but, I have finished putting all the books on my shelves, put clothes away, put all my little NYC knickknacks all over the place, put my hat collection on the wall, etc. I like how it looks. I feel it came out great. It looks more like home now.

Aside form getting things unpacked,  have also managed to take my mom out to a few places. On Nov 28th I took her to Fujiyama for Diana’s birthday. Everyone went and it was my moms first official outing so it was pretty cool. Christina, Corey, and I also took my mom to Strong Tower Vineyard on Dec 1st. We had dinner at their house then went to chill at the vineyard with free wine tasting and sitting by the fire-pit with our glasses. Chill night. Both are places I visited before but not places my mom has been to so it was really nice to have her experience both places. Shes never done a wine tasting or gone to a vineyard. She also never went to a hibachi style restaurant before.

 

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Mom and I Strong Tower Vineyard

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Fujiyama (Brandon, Ashley, Mom, Me, Nina, Willy, Diana, Emma, Jonathan, Corey, Christina)

I have a strong feeling she is going to love living out here. I know she will get to do way more here than she has ever been able to do in NYC. I know that sounds crazy what with New York having so much to do, but she cannot take public transit and we didn’t have a car so she couldn’t get around to many places. It’s a different story out here! She will go anywhere and everywhere I can possibly take her. Wait and see.

#149 The Final Step: Road Trip

Went through hell to get to New York on Wednesday, November 22, 2017. Christina and Corey took me by car to the airport early in the morning. When I got to the airport went through security just fine. Very quick. Skipped a bit of a line. Got a breakfast/snack for the plane, water, and went to the bathroom before settling in to a spot near my gate. It was only then that I realized I left the house in Florida style with no hoodie or coat and I was heading to a cold north east. Ended up having to go to the souvenir shop to get a hoodie that was one size too small but it was better than nothing. I suffered through the flight as always and arrived at JFK. I had to hike out towards the other end of the airport where I had to get on the tram (train) towards a bus stop that then took me to the car rental location. I checked in, picked out the car, then had to suffer through driving in the streets of New York. Finally arrived to the apartment building only to have found no parking, so I spent an additional 15 minutes driving in circles until I found a convenient enough parking spot. I do not know how to parallel park, which made it very difficult for me to get into the parking. I kid you not I almost killed a tree and a fire hydrant but,  I got it done. I swear you could have made a movie of my journey. The new planes trains and automobiles. It was a complete nightmare.

Nonetheless, I made it home safely where I spent the rest of the day hanging out with friends and family saying my goodbyes. It was a bit depressing especially when my family started to cry. I’m not going to get into details about it all because I am kind of getting teary eyed again thinking about it but, the entire night was emotional. I barely got any sleep. Everyone left a little after midnight.

The entire point of having to drive my mother down is that she has claustrophobia and anxiety so she doesn’t do well with public transit, confined spaces, or traffic. Trust me if I could have gotten her a plane ticket and gotten her here in three hours I would have. Despite the fact I went to bed at close to 1AM, I had to wake up at about 4AM to shower, finish up our last goodbye to the people who spent the night and to the apartment where I grew up, and pack up the car. We didn’t do it the night before as to not temp NYC thieves from breaking into the car and taking everything while we slept and rested.

The goal was to leave by 5AM Thursday morning so that we could be well out of the city before the Thanksgiving morning rush began. We were driving off and on our way at about 5:30AM. I drove around through Brooklyn and into Staten Island and out through Jersey. There was no way I was going through Manhattan. My mom was extremely nervous so I stopped at a rest stop somewhere in Penn Grove, New Jersey to get her some breakfast and coffee, stretch our legs, and use the bathroom. Back on the road I don’t think we stopped anywhere until we reached  Lorton, VA where we had breakfast/lunch. When I was setting up the GPS back in the car, it showed that right after we got off of the highway there were several crashes on the road we were on and that traffic was really bad. Instead of continuing on the route I had set up, I took State Route 1 on the side of highway and went thought the streets to get us a bit further. Having had barely any sleep the night before I told her I couldn’t really keep going that day. It was early still, around 1PM but, I did not want to swerve off of the road or something. Besides to avoid traffic, I thought it best to drive all night anyway.

We got back on the highway after getting around the traffic. When we got to Richmond, VA I took the first exit I saw had cheap motels nearby. We got a room. The lady was nice enough to let us in early. We went up, I took a nap. Slept a few hours. We got a dinner at a subways down the road. Came back to eat in the room while watching a movie. Went back to bed. Slept until 12AM. Took a shower. Got dressed. Checked out. Hit the road again at about 1AM Friday morning.

We made a quick stop somewhere in Virginia to fill up on gas and use the restroom but I pretty much kept going until we reached Fayetteville, NC where I stopped off to get my mom some breakfast at about 5:30AM. We ate there. Stretched our legs. Headed out again. We stopped in at the Georgia welcome center to use the bathrooms and for me to take a quick power nap in the car. I loved the center. It had a cute little museum vibe full of Georgia stuff. Its pretty much the only thing we saw on the trip other than rest stops. I originally wanted to make it a sight seeing road trip on the way down but my mom was too nervous for it and just wanted to hurry up and get it over with. After resting my eyes a bit, we discussed our next move. I was planning on staying another night at a hotel because after driving all morning I was ready to drop dead, but I thought it was stupid to sleep over night and then only drive like 4hrs the next day. Besides it was a little bit before midday and I knew there would be no hotels checking people in at that time. I decided to press on. We stopped off somewhere else for lunch and to fill up on gas again. Kept going. By 2PM we were already at the Florida Welcome Center.

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We kept going after that. I flew down the highway like a bat out of hell. The traffic was starting to increase but I told my mother we needed to keep on it just the last little stretch until we got to our exit. I wanted to go to sleep so bad and I was not playing! By 6PM we were in our new neighborhood. I stopped off at a fast food place and picked up some dinner. We got home. I gave her a tour of the apartment. She got emotional when she saw it. Again I am not getting into details. Too many feelings. We sat down eating dinner and watching TV.  By 7:30 I was ready to go to sleep. I missed my bed so much and wanted to get to sleep but my mom was anxious about being in a strange place. I ended up having to sleep in her bed with her that night. I was super uncomfortable but it made her feel better.

I pretty much made the trip in two days. I was exhausted but it was worth it having it all done. I spent all of Saturday in bed recuperating. I did not want to sit. My ass was flat as a pancake after all that sitting.

Sunday we rested some more. I woke up late but we did go to my aunts house for a bit so that they could see each other. More resting.

Today I took my mom to the DMV to get her Florida ID and to open a local bank account. She is officially a Floridian! Resting again the rest of the day as I have to return to work tomorrow. I am happy that she is finally here and we don’t have to go through dramatics anymore. It is over!

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#148 Movers

Left work early today because the movers called and told me they would be arriving. I am so happy that this didn’t happen while I was out on the cruise. I have pretty much completed everything for this move. I got the job, the car, the apartment, I went to NYC to pack up my belonging, I paid the movers over the phone for the truck and delivery of my stuff, my mom helped them pack everything in the truck a few weeks ago, now today they are here. They brought everything upstairs for me so I didn’t have to do anything. Everything is done and I feel like I can breathe. The only thing left to do is fly to NYC to pick up my mom and drive her back down here. Almost there.

#147 Employee Appreciation Cruise

In the first week of my new job, my boss told me of certain perks that came along with the job; things she did not mention during my interview. The biggest of these perks being that the owners of the company take their employees on a free cruise every year!

I was thrilled! Going on a cruise has always been on my croak list. Additionally, I have only been out of the country once (to Canada), so being presented with the opportunity to see another country for free was the icing on top of the cake! Even better its not an experience I have to do alone because we are allowed one guest. Technically its supposed to be spouse only, but because I’m not married I get to bring whoever I want.

I spent weeks prepping for the trip. It’s all everyone at work could talk about / focus on. This weekend was finally the weekend! Below are my entries from my handwritten travel journal.

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Night Before (Thursday, November 9, 2017 )
Brooksville, FL

Christina and I thought it best that she spent the night at the apartment so things would be less rushed in the morning. She is the cruise expert and one of the few people I can always have a great time with, which is why I picked her to go with me. I haven’t done this before and to be honest I am a little scared of being on the ship. Makes me feel better to have someone showing me the ropes first time around. Our bags are packed and ready to go. We are eating pizza for dinner while watching a movie and then its off to bed. We want to get an early start tomorrow. The ship doesn’t leave until 4PM but boarding is technically allowed starting from about 10:00AM or so. We have a three hour ride out to Port Canaveral so Christina wants to leave early and be there by the time the let the first people on the ship. According to her, our rooms are never ready right away so we decided to check in our bags so that we do not have to carry them around all day, apparently they bring them up to your room later in the day.

Day 1 (Friday, November 10, 2017)
Ridge Manor, FL

We woke early as planned. Christina is driving her car. She figures since I am taking her on a free cruise and saving her hundreds of dollars that the least she can do is drive us there and back. I am cool with that. I am so nervous that having to drive these three hours would be horrible. We have just stopped at a Dunkin Donuts along the way to get a quick breakfast. I don’t think I can eat right now but I am forcing myself because lord only knows how long it will be until we have our lunch.

Port Canaveral, FL

We have just arrived at the port. We dropped off the car at Park Port Canaveral then they shuttled us to the port. We have already checked in our bags, They did it right from where we got off of the bus. Now we are taking turns to use the bathroom before we go in through security. Nerves are turning into excitement.

On Board MS Majesty of the Seas

We are finally on board and I am freaking out! Security was quick and reminded me of the airport. We went through customs. We got our pass card. It’s kind of our entire life for the weekend. It unlocks the room door, it serves as ID on the gangway on and off the ship, it tells the staff members if we have drink packages or not. It’s our entire life and has to be guarded carefully because even our credit cards are linked to it because this is even how we pay for stuff on the ship. It’s a little insane … but I like it. Anyway we walked around the ship exploring some. I had my famous jack/rose moment at the end and front of the ship. We set up my WiFi for the weekend because without it I wouldn’t be able to call or message my mom and she would flip a shit. We are now sitting in the dining hall after finishing eating the most yummy food I have had in a while. I swear it’s amazing and there are so many different options! Buffet style! I’m in heaven. This place is getting pretty crowded for still having three hours or so until we take off. We are just relaxing at our table by the window staring out at the water. We are about to see if we have access to our room yet.

Stateroom 5018 – At Sea

We found our room and it’s beautiful! It was ready when we arrived except we did not have any towels so we had to track down our room attendant to get some. We unpacked. Explored ship some more. Came back to room to shower and get dressed. Went to my company’s cocktail party and then to dinner followed by the Comedy Show which was hilarious! Kinda wanted to do a few more things but we need to wake up at the crack of dawn for an excursion. We wont have time to go to the dining room for breakfast so we have just set out a room service card where they had us choose what items we would like brought in. I am probably more excited about it than I should be.

Day 2 (Saturday, November 11, 2017)
Senor Frogs, Freeport Bahamas.

Breakfast this morning was amazing. Fresh fruit, juice, a bagel with cream cheese, eggs, coffee, etc. It was just so tasty! Even better that I ate it all in bed! We headed down to the theater where we met up with everyone else going on the tour. Going through the gangway is always stressful for me. I try not to look down and see the ocean death below me, but it’s worth it once you step off the ship and onto Freeport, Bahamas! Once at the harbor we met up with our tour guide who shoved us all on a greyhound style type bus.  It was my first experience with being in a vehicle driving on the other side of the road. It actually took me quite some time to realize that we were. The bus took us to a gas station where we met up with the second tour guide/driver and his Unimog Truck. During the ride to our first destination we learned about our surroundings from our awesome guide Lia (lots of town/Bahamian history). We went out to the Ol’ Freetown Farm where we saw animals and vegetation. Got to try some awesome mini bananas. my favorite part of the farm tour being the domestic cats running around and following us throughout the entire tour. They kept walking through our legs making us trip and stopping for us to pet them and scratch behind their ears. They were such cute fluff balls. We then headed out to Owls Hole Cavern an underwater cave that was scary/beautiful. The walk to the cave was interestingly rocky/dangerous. Not something I should have worn my flip flop for. The guides gave us time to enjoy our surroundings and take photos. We got back on the Unimog for an even bumpier ride toward MantaRay Beach.  There we had an awesome lunch at their waterside restaurant. We got to try some Bahamian pineapple soda. After lunch we got to walk and enjoyed a beautiful Bahamian beach! I did not have my bathing suit on under my clothes so I did not get a chance to swim, but I did roll up my jeans and got in knee deep. Playing and splashing was fun enough. Most of the time on the beach was spent siting up on a rock staring out at the clear blue water and waves. Super peaceful and calming. We drove back to the harbor where we explored a bit. Got to buy some souvenirs from the shops littered around the harbor. When I went to Canada I kept some of their currency. I did the same for the Bahamas. This kind clerk lady gave me a Bahamian dollar to keep for free. She was pretty cool. Now we are sitting at Senor Frog’s having a drink, listening to music, watching my coworkers get drunk, seeing other tourists dancing around the bar, and making fun of everyone. Back to the ship we go.

At Sea

When we got on the ship we left our stuff in the room and went pool side for he belly flop competition but I think that they cancelled it. We sat there drinking pina coladas for a while but it didn’t happen. They were just having a little dance party so we watched a bit and headed to the room. We just got upstairs and the owners of the company are just so sweet! They sent a box of gourmet chocolates to our room as an extra gift! As if the cruise wasn’t enough! I love my job so much! And the room attendant left an elephant on my bed! He’s wearing my sunglasses and is so cute! Going to rest here for a bit before we get ready for the captains formal dinner tonight.

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Went to the fancy dinner at the moonlight dining room. Flamingos! Since it was free and I felt like I might never get the chance to do it again, I ordered escargot and creme brulee. Two things I have always wanted to try so I could say, Hey! I have eaten that! I did not like the snails. They were just …  booger textured? I was not about it. Maybe next time I wont try to chew it and just swallow whole so it doesn’t explode or feel rubbery. Flamingos! The creme tasted good but it had that flan like texture that I am not fond of. So I did not eat it all. I also decided to have a shot of espresso for first time. Good but I think I prefer my coffee with cream and sugar. Flamingos! Sorry. All though dinner this big group, a bachelorette party, was following us around. they were decked out with Flamingos! They even had a gigantic inflatable flamingo as well as a pinata. So that is stuck in my head obviously. Flamingo! After dinner we saw another show and enjoyed the dance party poolside with drinks! I am not sure if it was the espresso, the amaretto sour, or a combination of both mixed with snails but I was actually dancing in public. To several songs. Specifically to footloose. One of the few on deck that knew the actual steps and people were looking at me. But then they joined in so it was an awesome moment. I need sleep. Tomorrow is beach day at Coco Cay! Didn’t get to swim at MantaRay but I’ll get a chance to tomorrow!

Day Three (Sunday, November 12, 2017)
Panicking At Sea

Coco Cay was cancelled due to rough waters and bad weather. Spent day at sea instead. We had breakfast at the buffet this time. So many options. It was crazy. Enjoyed many boat activities like the belly flop competition, the love and marriage game show, the 80’s music trivia at the skipper bar, watching a movie (Cars 3) in the theater, Groovy Wonderland Show at the theater as well, etc. We even took the time to go to the casino. I did not win anything! But Christina did, $60. We were planning on a little more but those rough waters are causing a super rocky ship, which in turn got me incredibly sea sick. I was sitting in the theater after our last dinner on board watching Groovy Wonderland and I kept seeing the theater curtains swaying back and forth. Everything was swinging like a pendulum on a grandfather clock. Even I was swinging. Trying to walk from the theater to my room was hilariously awful. We kept slip sliding all over the dam place in the hallways. I banged into the walls a few times. Lets just say dinner has evacuated my system. I’ve already thrown up once, I feel like crap, I am going to miss the last comedy show of the weekend because I can barely move. I’m off to bed early and hoping the rest of the night goes better. Dramamine is my best friend tonight.

Day Four (Monday, November 13, 2017)
Somewhere, FL

On car ride home. Have no clue where we are. Just on the road.  I am feeling better. The night wasn’t that bad once I fell asleep. The rocking back and forth actually knocked me out and I didn’t throw up except that one time. I did wake up in the middle of the night because my bed was up against the wall and the head of the bed was at the window so every time the boat rolled toward the window side I would bang my head. So I got up switched my pillows to the foot of the bed and slept better from then on. This morning we finished packing, something I never leave for the morning of departure, but I just could not focus on it last night. We decided not to check in the bags so that when we got off the ship we wouldn’t have to wait for them to come off the ship. We had them in hand and went over to our shuttle right away and then right to the car. For the rest of the day I am pretty much just going to unpack, recover, rest, and sleep before going back to work and reality tomorrow. I had the best time on this trip. I am still trying to process that it actually happened. I just have to repeat it one more time because it is just so true. I have been truly blessed with the best job ever! I cannot wait to see what next years cruise will be like.