Saturday, April 3, 2010

March Madness!!!! :)

March brought visitors to my little world in Florida.
My cousin, Michael, drove from New Jersey, all the while texting me despite my Aunt & I telling him not to text and drive. I was very happy to have him stay with me, while I bored him to tears with my rants on school and life. He, the typical Italian, took over my kitchen and cooked for me while he was here. It was soo delicious! :)
Despite my school work, and not being able to take off from work, it was an extremely fun visit!
The following week, to my delight, PJ flew in from Maine - with weather and a connecting flight - to Orlando, FLA to spend his spring break with me! :) After a very long year without seeing him, to say he was a sight for sore eyes is the cheesiest cliche ever, but it totally fits. He provided the perfect ending to an incredibly insane month.
In between school work (poor guy had to hear me on conference calls for school!) we had an awesome time going to theme parks, Tampa, Lakeland, and driving all over the place (um, that'd be because Miss Bene Fit lacks a GPS).
It was an amazing vacation. PJ knows me so well it is a bit scary. Love him like a brother. Love his honesty, his ability to say what he means and how he always asks for what he wants (even if it's Taylor Ham, Egg & Cheese late at night), his attitude, his intellect, his technical genius, his flexibility, his laugh, his sense of humor, his wit, his point of view on EVERYTHING (how he always makes me say, "Wow, I never really thought of it that way"), his insane addiction to Tyra Banks' ANTM, his kindness, his patience, his listening skills, his taste in music/ movies/ television/ books, his wanting to sugar coat the most brutal facts of my reality - but, yet, he never needs to - I can take it!, how he loves food almost as much as me, how he doesn't think I am weird for absolutely adoring Bollywood or Indian music, but most importantly... I love his friendship - and what being PJ's friend means to me. I am so lucky to have him in my life.

See our entire photo album here.

We all have a cherished garden we tend -
It is planted with love of family and friends.
The memories and dreams we treasure and share
Are like beautiful roses found blooming there.
The comfort and care on which we depend
Is given with love between family and friends.
The sunshine of laughter and rain of a tear
Only make our love grow with each passing year.
We may all be ourselves with no need to pretend
Because of the love of family and friends;
They notice the rainbows and weather the showers.
They overlook weeds and praise all our flowers.
The most valuable thing is the time that we spend
Tending this garden with family and friends.
When counting our blessings, we know from the start
That family and friends come first in our heart.

Family & Friends © Jill Wolf

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's all becoming a blur...

Since I last wrote, Graduate School has truly been making my life a joyous blur! As I write, I have 8 weeks left & am in the last stretch of a hell-bent class called "Capstone" in lieu of a thesis. It's incredibly time consuming, confusing, & draining! But in the end it will all be worth it.
At the end of January, I had the great pleasure of joining colleague & friend, Ashley, to Tsunami for sushi with a large group of her friends before going to Polk County's Shiner's Ball. It was a night of much laughter & a few "WTF" moments! I am so glad Ashley invited me because it was certainly an event you had to see to believe. It's outdoors, overlooking a lake, with live music and tons of people all wearing black-light clothing.

In February, I took a much needed vacation as my parents from New Jersey & my two cousins from Italia came to visit for one week. We split the week: half in Disney & half on Marco Island. It was freezing cold, but we had the most perfect visit. It was my cousins' first trip to the States so I was so happy to be with them to experience Disney for the very first time. I loved seeing my family in my new home - we ate a lot, laughed a lot, & hugged a lot. It was heartbreaking to see them leave.

Here's my cousin, Frank, & I in space during our visit to Spaceship Earth in Epcot: Click here to see the whole album.

One work highlight worth mentioning was that I, along with three other employees, were chosen to appear in an informative (yet funny) customer service internal "commercial". During the taping, we were all so gitty & silly, that my sides actually hurt from laughing so hard. We had a great time filming it. The vignette was released on the company's website the week of February 15th - I truly thought I came off like such a clown - but regardless, it was a terrific experience.

Towards the end of February, I wento a beer festival in the town of Lakeland, the town I lived for 13 months & adored! Since moving, a hookah place has opened up, so after the beer fest, I went there, enjoyed a hookah, fabulous conversation with my friend & watched belly dancers perform. So cool! Who knew Lakeland would have such a great place to go hang out at!?!

March, half over as I pen this, has been insanely hectic with school & work. Luckily, my cousin, Michael, will be visiting next week, & the week after, BFF, PJ will come to town. So happy!

I know I am truly blessed with an amazing family & friends. A year ago, I had no idea why I was here. It still has not been revealed to me. But, I am happy, I am satisfied, & I am doing the best I can to enjoy my life even though I am still trying to figure it out...

Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It's in our hands. - Cathy Better.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A request for prayers...

Please pray for my friend, Michele, her son, Ian, & their entire family. Michele's son, Myles, passed away in a tragic car accident Tuesday.

We have a beautiful new angel in heaven, Everyone - and his name is Myles Masek Donnelly.

Yahweh, I know you are near,
Standing always at my side.
You guard me from the foe,
and you lead me in ways everlasting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

December 13th - January 13th

My friend, Bob, a colleague of mine from back in my Learning & Development days in NJ, sent me the following e-mail :

Sent: Thursday, January 07, 2010 2:13 PM
To: Assunta Marino
Subject: December 13? (Or 18?)

That’s the last posting on your blog! I’m interested in your continuing adventures!
Nice car!

Well, it’s been one month since my last post, and it’s mostly because I thought my life had been very boring & I didn't think y’all would wanna hear about it on a weekly rant so I waited until I actually had something decent to write.

After receiving Bob's e-mail - it made me realize that at least one reader out there did wanna hear about what's going on! LOL. And, as I began to pen a post wrapping up a month's activities, it made me sure that my life is not boring at all!

The last month has been very busy. As y’all know, I have a nice list of “to do” items, that, slowly, one by one, I have been able to check off:
1) Move
2) Get a new car
3) Grad School
4) New cell phone
...Etc etc

I am pleased to report that the new apartment & Miss Bene Fit are both working out fine. I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing friends to help me transition & to help furnish the place (Tanya awesomely gave me some of her unused furniture!!!).
Speaking of Tanya, we spent Christmas day together at her home, where she made the most fabulous baked ziti. The next day, she & I took a Christmas road trip in an effort to break in my new vehicle.
We drove about 3 hours to South Beach, an island off of Miami, & spent the day window shopping, walking on the beach, had a nice lunch outside, & stopped at Starbucks twice. It was the perfect way to end a most tumultuous year. Bene did great, & I am proud to announce that I was able to parallel park her without issue, despite her being a boat in comparison to Gabby the Cabby. LOL.

Did y'all get that? :)
We ate OUTSIDE the day after Christmas. We were on the BEACH the day after Christmas.
Florida-life can really be quite grand!

The past month will also mark the month that I learned how to shoot a gun. Thanks to Rick & Lynda, they along with Katie & Vickie, joined me on my first trip to the shooting range. Monday nights are free for the ladies in Lakeland, Florida. Gotta love that!!! Rick teaching me: Katie, Lynda, & Vickie: My "person":
This month, I also began my much anticipated 2nd to last class of Graduate School after my 4 ½ year sabbatical. It is exhilarating and exhausting.

Oh, AND, I chopped my hair, again, into an edgy mid-length uneven cut. Please excuse the wacky photo, I could've at least put on some make-up for it. Haha! (But, in the background you can see the television & one of the sofas Tanya gave me - the sweetheart she is!).
It looks a little crazy when I wear it curly - or maybe it's just this shot of me, who knows? And, really, who cares? :)
I must close now, though, as I still have that never-ending to-do list on my mind. Thank you all for reading.
Wishing a wonderful 2010 to each of you.

It only seems like others have it all figured out; that their challenges are simpler, their friends are jollier, and their grass is greener. But, you should hear how they admire you. And perhaps, whatever others have figured out, it's because they get to have you as one of their jolly, green friends.... - The Universe

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Introducing Miss Bene Fit!

Here she is in all her glory - Miss Fit, you may call her "Bene" once you meet her in person. :)
It took me about a week to get used to her & begin the much hesitated process of falling in love. It did help once I added SHU decals:
The first grocery shopping trip with her was extremely comforting. For once in 12 years I didn't have to pile groceries in the front & back seats, AND the trunk. Everything fit perfectly in the hatch...
All the print ads on the Fit picture it with a surfboard in it; for the first time I own a vehicle that fits a surfboard. This may be just the excuse I need to finally learn how to surf, something I've always wanted to do!
I realize I had a hard time letting go of my Gabby, but I have the feeling Bene Fit is gonna work out just fine. And for that, I am forever grateful.

You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need. -Rolling Stones.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In Memory Of Gabby the Cabby 09/27/1997 - 12/04/2009

Is it normal to be completely attached to your vehicle?
As I say goodbye to Gabby the Cabby, my trusty VW of over 12 years, I am happy to recall the memories we shared (LOL).
The many road trips to LBI with the top down & the sun warming us.
The road trips to Maine to visit PJ & upon moving to Maine many years later, the road trips home to NJ.
The way she was capable of zipping in & out of Manhattan & the simplicity of parallel parking there in the tightest of spots.
The many business trips to Long Island, Brooklyn, Pa, & NYS, since I refused to take a company car.
The many friends that stuffed into little Gabby & the many laughs we shared.
How Zoe dog would eagerly get into the back seat - and even once, as Mary as my witness, jumped into the trunk - cuz Zoe was a little crazy! :)
How Kismet would stand on the passenger seat paws stretched onto the dashboard as if he owned the streets.

Gabby the Cabby moved 7 times with me. I learned how to pack her like it was an art!
The many times I got completely lost, whether in NJ, SI, Maine, or Florida, before & after the incarnation of nav systems (yes, I still don't own one!). She never minded that I completely do not have any sense of direction. It seemed fitting that Thursday night, after choosing a replacement vehicle, we got totally lost in Lakeland due to a Christmas parade & roads being closed - I swear, I had no idea where the detour led me. It was pitch black, pouring rain, & her & I had a nice 2 1/2 hour travel home. Perfect for our last evening together.
After many years of good driving, she, as you know, began completely falling apart in Florida. With much hesitation, on Friday, I had to leave her, sadly, in a big parking lot of a car dealership in Lakeland where she will be transported to an auto auction. :( My poor car!!

I must purchase SHU alumni stickers immediately for the new car. LOL.
Here she is next to her replacement vehicle: a 2009 Honda Fit Sport.
Oh, Dear Gabby, I already miss you! :(
The car has become a secular sanctuary for the individual, his shrine to the self, his mobile Walden Pond. - Edward McDonagh

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Third Time's A Charm...

The third move within Florida since moving to Florida in June 2008.
If I never move again, I would be 100% fine with it.
Moving is incredibly stressful & painful - especially when you're moving from a 3rd floor apartment home to a 2nd floor apartment. Haha!
First off, Stray Cat had way more fun than I did with the move...

After everything was out of the Lakeland apartment, I took a day off to clean it like a crazy person & have the carpets professionally cleaned. It was a grueling 8 hours, but hopefully, time well spent to get back the security deposit in full.
So... I went from this awesome vaulted ceiling'd kitchen that I truly appreciated to... This tiny older styled kitchen (as in countertops & appliances aren't new or anything fancy & the floor is not tile, but linoleum):

From this 30X22 dining/living room space:
To this:

From a 13X11 master bedroom with lotsa light:
To this miniature version of a master bedroom with a mini window to boot :) :
But the second bedroom, which will be used as both a guest room & home office (upon the purchase of a much needed computer desk) has a bigger window:And, although, the new apartment's balcony isn't as big or open as the old one, Stray Cat adores it just the same, & if he's happy here, I know I will be:
This was a very smart move. It's closer to work. It's a lot less money per month. The savings will allow me to get a new car soon, as well as fulfill the long-list of household necessities like a microwave, a bed, a new cell phone, and... and... the list keeps growing & growing.
A new year is fast approaching, a new outlook has been required of me, & with that, I am forever grateful for what I do have & what I have learned along the way.

**In way more exciting news, my dear friend, Tanya, got married on November 7th, I was honored to be included in the celebration. I have created a web-album of the beautiful day. The weather was perfect for an outdoor wedding - breezy, sunny, & cool. A mere 75-78 degrees in Orlando, Florida. Simply perfect. Congratulations Tanya & Carl!
There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be - The Beatles.