Wish List [Day 2]

When I was younger, I would go through Finger Hut catalogs and circle anything and everything that I could possibly want for Christmas. Like, I would look through baby strollers, full-size ones, because why not?! And I didn’t even play with baby dolls (thanks Chucky movies)!!!

As I’ve gotten older, have a stable job, live hundreds of miles away from most of my friends and family, and catalogs have become pretty insignificant, I no longer need or want all the material things. Presents are great, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the anticipation of looking at wrapped gifts, thinking about what they could possibly be, unwrapping said gifts, and finally seeing the mystery inside just as much as the next person.

But I’m much more of an experiential person – that’s experiential, not experimental…I’m not a scientist – I much prefer experiences over material things. One of my main goals in life (aside from the usual family, house, etc) is to travel. I’ve never gone out of the country except Canada which doesn’t count seeing as it was somewhere we went for school field trips growing up. The farthest south I’ve gone is Orlando (New Year’s 2015) and the farthest west I’ve gone is Louisville (with a church group 2008ish). I want to go [almost] everywhere and explore and experience new cultures and different people.

I also love being with and experiencing things with people that I care about. So I think for my wish list this year, I just want to spend time with people I love. I know, so cliché.

I wish I could see my mom more than a couple times per year because she’s the strongest woman I know. I miss my friends from home a lot and cherish the few times we get to see each other throughout the year. I’m lucky enough to have married a wonderful guy whom I love spending time with. I have amazing in-laws that live close by and I have wonderful co-workers that I enjoy seeing every day.

And wouldn’t you know it, Tom and I are heading to my hometown the weekend before Christmas to see my mom and friends from home. And we are spending Christmas with my in-laws. AND I get to see my awesome co-workers every weekday leading up to this time!

So my wish list is actually a checklist that will be totally checked off by Christmas! Boom. I’m all set.

Creating a Smashbook (a scrapbook for wimps with commitment issues!)

August 16 marks my paper anniversary with Tom, so I thought what better way to celebrate than to create a scrapbook? I mean, that’s, like, ALL paper!

Unlike a traditional scrapbook, however, I want to make something a little less perfect. I have a fear of commitment when it comes to such artistic feats, so I tend to get discouraged in the planning process and never follow through. Or even start it…

Which is why I have not actually attached anything to our wedding scrapbook.

Oh, I figured out what I wanted on each page.

I even gathered special details like an extra save-the-date, invitation, a balloon from one of my bridal showers, etc.

And believe me, I got pictures developed.

But I got spooked because I didn’t have any other decorative scrapbook doodads and didn’t want to screw it up forever. Pinterest sets the bar way high.

I have a fear of commitment to attach things to paper, but I vowed my life to another human being. Go figure.

I also don’t want to spend a fortune on this. Scrapbooking gets freaking expensive with all the excess crap you buy into. You want the extra pizzazz of colored paper. And, oh, won’t that lace detailed paper make the pictures pop and give the page texture? And you just need those gold letters in every font. But you might as well buy the silver ones too because what if you get sick of gold? And all the stickers!!!!!

The memories are priceless but putting them in a book is nightmarishly pricey.

Anyways, my first inspiration for this came from (surprise, surprise) a YouTube video. A couple that I watch (Colleen Ballinger AKA Miranda Sings and Joshua Evans) recently got married and, throughout their honeymoon, worked on a scrapbook. So instead of waiting until after they came home, they brought the journal, pens/markers, and a polaroid camera to fill the scrapbook as they went.

Here’s a video about it, if you’re interested to see little bits of their scrapbook. I’ve set the video to start from where she’s talking about the scrapbook. You’re welcome.

Brilliant and adorable!!! Except, we’re almost a year out from our honeymoon and documenting it as we go is out of the question.

But why not start now, catch up to the present, and then we can document as we go through the rest of our marriage?! In a perfect world, I will stick to this and fill up multiple journals/scrapbooks. I’m getting ahead of myself. I need to just focus on getting this one started!

Okay, so I bought a journal from Walgreens for about $10; nothing super fancy, but I like the gold accent. Unlike a full-size scrapbook, this journal causes me less anxiety when I think about filling it and possibly messing up. Cool!

Smashbook

While doing research on how to go about starting something like this, I found some Pinterest pins about smashbooks. According to The Realistic Mama, a smashbook is “a delightfully simplified way to chronicle life’s special moments without the time commitment usually required by scrapbooking.” Here’s her step-by-step guide on creating a smashbook. She made a travel smashbook in the post and I like how she used maps for backgrounds!

Perfect! I don’t like all the pressure that comes with planning out, arranging, rearranging, and finally settling on what could potentially be a horrible looking scrapbook spread. I’ll do all that for this journal-thing, but the pages are smaller and I just feel like it’s less of a commitment. There’s that word again.

This book is going to chronicle Tom’s and my relationship, from when we first met until more recent events. I have been journaling since middle school, so luckily I had the last 3 journals I’ve filled to help me map out important dates and events. Facebook was super helpful in keeping track of certain events too, giving me ideas on what pictures I could use if I wanted to include a certain day. So I started the process of mapping out the chronology of the smashbook in my current journal.

list 2

Some events don’t have pictures attached to them (the day we first met, our first kiss, first official “I Love You”, etc), but those will just be written out with blurbs about how, when, and where it happened. I hope Tom will also take part in filling in blurbs. I know he’s self-conscious about his handwriting, but he is just a much a part of this relationship as I am. Although his memory quite frankly sucks, so I’m not so sure how that will work out.

First date

Once I mapped out the timeline portion, I then went to Social Print Studio (formerly Prinstagram) to order mini prints. I have a bunch of full-size photos of special events, but I don’t want to fill up every single page with only one photo each. So I ordered 48 squares by selecting straight from my Instagram feed. Not all 48 are going into this book; some are for friends or just to remember other moments in time. Then I uploaded 116 from my computer to order mini-prints; this doesn’t limit you to stick with a certain set of dimensions, so it just takes your picture and shrinks it. Nothing is cut off haphazardly. Sounds great!

As of right now, that’s where I’m at. I just ordered the prints today, so they probably won’t arrive until next week. I also want to pop into Michaels while I’m in Long Island this coming week to check out stickers and maybe some pretty paper to give the pages some extra oomph. I don’t plan on going all out and spending a ton of money – that’s half of what I wanted to avoid in pursuing this less-fancy option!

Okay, so that’s it! Let me know if you’re a scrap/smashbooker and if you have any tips! And fingers crossed I get this project off the ground before I get cold feet!

Three things my mom passed on to me.

First and foremost, this is my 100th blog post! Holy cow!

I wanted to make this a special post, so I hope I did a good job of that.

I’ve been thinking about my mom a lot lately. Although I’m 25 and married, I live 350+ miles away from my mom, so I miss her quite a bit. And I’m okay with that because she’s my mom and she taught me a lot, showed me what real motherly love is, and (in my opinion) raised me to be a mature but silly, intelligent but empathetic, independent but humble, and loving but tough woman.

I’ve often thought about writing a book about my mom’s life because I think she is a remarkable woman – even if I wrote about my own life, she would play a central character in it. She’s gone through so much in her life, and if you know her then you understand what I’m talking about.

Instead of thinking about the frustrating and/or sad things surrounding my mom, though, I find myself reflecting on little (and big) things that I don’t necessarily realize I have picked up from her. If you told me when I was younger that I would pick up or appreciate some of these things, I would laugh at you and say, “Yeah, right.”

So here we go, here are some things my mom passed on to me.

My baby face. If you know me, then you know I’ve often talked about being told I look like I’m a high school student. I don’t think my facial features have changed much since graduating high school (other than my teeth, thanks to Invisalign) so I’ve gotten asked my age a lot since then.

I know that people always tell me, “Oh, you’ll appreciate it when you’re older!” But when I was trying to be taken seriously and get a professional job as a teacher, it was difficult when the principals, teachers, and even students looked at me as being similar to a high school student, if only by looks. Obviously that makes me seem unqualified and inexperienced.

Luckily now I have a job, but I still get that comment at least once a week. I was even questioned by the school nurse this past September when I went down and she was about to deny me a feminine product because students aren’t allowed to use them. Heck, my hairdresser just mentioned it again to me today, that the first time I came in to the salon back in October, she thought I was 18. Well, that’s all thanks to my mom; she always looked at least 10 years younger than she actually was.

Mom and IThanks for my youthful (albeit pale as heck) skin, Mom.

My love of crosswords. When I was younger, my mom’s right hand seemingly always had a blue stain on it from using erasable pens while doing crossword puzzles. She always had a crossword dictionary at the ready for when she just couldn’t seem to think of the answer. We also had a coffee mug with crosswords on it. That’s how much they were present in our house.

I think she has gone through 4 of those paperback crossword dictionaries (the spines always break, so she has to duct tape them back together), but she swears that the particular one she has always used is the best out there. And for birthdays or Christmas, it was always a safe bet to buy her crossword books. The hard ones. Like New York Times hard. She’s so smart and has done crosswords for years, so she knows all of these answers!

When I got a little older (like, 10), she would leave the less difficult answers blank and ask me to help her fill them in. As I grew up, I began getting my own crossword books; you know, the ones with EASY written on the front in gigantic letters so that you knew they were flipping EASY. As time went on, I was able to help my mom with the more difficult ones: Spanish translations, typical crossword clues, ones with more modern clues/answers, etc.

Now I have a few books of my own – they don’t have EASY on the front, but they aren’t the super hard ones like my mom does. Mostly because I take them with me when I might have some downtime and want to do a puzzle or two and so therefore don’t want to lug a dictionary with me everywhere. Yes, I’m sure there’s an app for that, but I’d just assume not have to use one on the go. Thus, I’m not able to fill them out completely without looking at the answers in the back. But I’ve found I’m better than the average person (not to sound cocky at all. I mean, come on, how can you be cocky about crosswords? Unless that’s what you base your self-esteem on and go to competitions and stuff like that. Well then, good for you, but that’s not for me).

Crossword love mug

Thanks for my intelligence and weird love of crosswords, Mom.

My compassion for others with differences. Ever since I was young, my mom would always make sure I understood that just because someone was different did not mean they were inferior in any way. I was told that I shouldn’t make fun of people just because they spoke different, looked different, walked different, thought different, or lacked the ability to do things that I could.

Sure, growing up as a dumb little elementary/middle school girl, of course I said some mean things here and there. But I honestly don’t think I was ever mean to the point of being cruel or making someone cry.

Especially because I HATE WHEN PEOPLE CRY. I’m a very sensitive soul; my mom will be the first to tell you that. I hated when people made me feel bad, so therefore I hated making other people feel bad. I was always able to put myself in their shoes, because that’s what my mom instilled in me from a young age.

Sure this has backfired on me a lot because I would tend to hold back feelings so as to not rock the boat. I would let people make snide comments and not defend myself. But now that I’m grown, I am able to defend myself without being mean and nasty. Plus, with all that’s happened in my life surrounding my mom, I know I’m much more compassionate than I would have been had my life been different.

Cute animals different rabbit kitty puppy mouse

Thanks for teaching me compassion and love, Mom.

So obviously there are many more things that I’ve learned from my mom, but I figured I would start with these three. If you liked this, let me know and maybe I’ll write another sometime.

Feel free to comment something(s) that you value about your mom or have picked up from your mom because moms and other motherly figures are important and need to be appreciated and valued much more than they are.

My first semester as a full-time high school teacher

What a whirlwind couple months!

If you had asked me five years ago (during my first semester at SUNY Geneseo) where I thought I would be in five years, there is absolutely no way I would have had any inkling it would be where I am. My roommate Becky and I were too busy annoying the obnoxious girl next door, making our room into “A Little Girl’s Mind” for my art class, and getting used to living together.

I would never have imagined living in New York City with a teaching job that I enjoy as much as I do. I wouldn’t have said I would be married to an amazing guy like Tom, or that I would’ve received my Master’s degree (let alone from Columbia U).

It’s so cliche, but I don’t care. I have been blessed beyond my wildest (within reason) dreams or (realistic) expectations. I mean, I can think of crazier things to include in my wildest dreams, but I am much more of a realist (like Iggy Azalea, duh).

But anyways, I love my coworkers, I love my students, and I love waking up and going to my job. Sure, Mondays are usually difficult, and 6:15 comes way too quickly most mornings, but I have never had a job that I was actually happy and excited to go to every day. Until now. [Disclaimer: I also love my friends, family, and my husband and our future puppies and kitties and children and so on, but that didn’t fit so much seeing as this post is mostly about my job.]

From my first job as a newspaper deliverer at 12 years old (that lasted a couple months), to serving at Dunkin Donuts (for a year during college), cashiering and supervising at Walmart (4 different times over the course of 4 years because of college), and my two long-term substitute jobs (7 weeks and 10 weeks), nothing has been as satisfying as my full-time, first-year teaching job.

And I know how rare and wonderful that is. I’ve heard so many teachers complain about their first year(s) being hell and beyond stressful. Yes, of course I’ve been stressed and sleep-deprived and run ragged some days/weeks, working 12+ hour days, taking work home, and learning how to work with each student and each coworker individually.

BUT. Overall, I am completely content at this point in time and feel like I’ve been successful for my first semester of teaching. I’m actually contributing to the lives of young people, and I’m hoping they take at least one positive thing away from my time with them, whether it’s math-related, life-related, a sense of humor, or higher self-worth (or, bonus, all of the above).

Holliday is the Best

And not only that, but they’re contributing to my life as well – they make me laugh, but they also challenge me and make me think and re-think my ways, both in and out of school. They make me a better person…just don’t tell them that, or they’ll get big heads.

It wasn’t always this way, especially in the beginning of this school year.

I worked at my current school last year as a student’s personal aide, so I already knew all of the staff and most of the students (except, of course, the incoming freshmen this year). In that sense, it was a little easier getting more acquainted with my coworkers because I had already interacted with them and gotten to know them last year. They invited me out to happy hours on Fridays even though I wasn’t technically part of the faculty.

And we still go to happy hours every week – sometimes, we don’t all go because we all have our rougher-than-usual weeks where we would rather just go home and crash at 6 pm, but that’s completely understandable. But I love that our faculty is such a close-knit community. Even within our school system, the elementary and middle school faculty don’t seem as close as we at the high school do. Yay for community!

As easy as it’s been to incorporate myself into the faculty, it wasn’t as easy among the students. I think they still saw me as ‘that girl’s aide’ and couldn’t see past that to see me as a competent and college-educated math teacher. But I think we’ve gotten past that because the amount of trust and respect I’ve gained since September is significantly higher. I mean, check out the amount of chocolate and cookies I got from them yesterday!

Teacher haul

The last two weeks were especially stressful with meetings, covering fellow teachers’ classes, and scrambling before the upcoming break. And now we’re off for 2 whole weeks for winter break. Ah, the perks of being a teacher.

Wedding Update: 2 months left!

Okay, can time just speed up now?? It’s so cliche but where has the time gone?! We’ve been engaged for almost 10 months already?!

But at the same time, it feels like it was forever ago. Does that make sense? Probs nobs.

Does anyone else say that? I said that to Tom last night and he was like, “Who says that? And what does that even mean?”

I say it, and it means probably not. Only it’s more e-fish. Get it? Like, efficient? Anyone? No? Alright, let’s move on.

So the past week and a half was crazy insane.

Like seriously. This post includes not only wedding updates, but also life updates because, well, it’s my blog and I do what I want. Are you ready?

Last weekend, I wrote about my progress with invitations. I’m glad to say that I’m 99% done (there are a few stragglers that Tom needs to find addresses for) and have sent out any and all invitations that I could! I put the majority of them in the mail on Sunday the 8th (the day after I wrote my 10 week update post on our wedding website) and have already gotten a bunch of response cards back!

Instagram - invitations

I’m using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of responses as they come. I made a column of all the people we invited, and then made columns for the downstate and upstate festivities, under which I will write the names of people in relation to how they responded. So I’m keeping track of who has responded, how they responded to each event, and also how many are coming. Exciting stuff! Yeah!

The next day, Monday, I accepted a teaching job for next school year! I’ll be the newest addition to the math and science crew at Mary McDowell Friends Upper School here in Brooklyn and I couldn’t be more excited! I worked there this past year as a paraprofessional, employed by a family whose student attends the school. I’m ecstatic that I get to work with (almost) everyone again this year, only as a teacher this time! I’m sad to see people go, but wish them all the best in their amazing future endeavors (one guy is going to Malaysia to teach math!) and know they’ll kick butt wherever they are.

Tuesday was a ‘no school’ day so I spent the day cleaning and relaxing. Wednesday was the last official day of school for my student, and it was a half day, so I got to chill a bit that day too. I went and got a spray tan so that I wouldn’t blend in with my ivory colored bridal shower dress. Although they were two different dresses, both of my shower dresses were similarly pale and would not mesh well with my pastiness.

Shower Dresses

Thursday I got my hair colored and blown out. I’m telling you, I would love it if those girls would wash my hair and massage my scalp like that every other day. It feels amazing! And the stylist was able to get my hair straight and swishy! Please come home with me!

Friday was flight day, so I spent the morning packing and getting ready to fly upstate for the weekend. I hadn’t heard anything bad in weather reports, so I left for the airport around 2 so that I would arrive about 75 minutes before my scheduled flight time. Everything was going smoothly – the subway was on time and connection times weren’t long, and I got to the AirTrain in great time.

And that’s when Delta emailed me saying that my flight was delayed an hour. I texted my friend in Boston, Michelle, since we were originally flying in to Buffalo around the same time, and I also texted my friend in Buffalo, Courtney, to let her know since she was picking us up. Michelle said her flight was cancelled and wouldn’t be getting out until the next morning. We discussed what it could be due to – both of us were looking at fairly clear skies!

I got to JFK and my flight was still only delayed an hour which was good. I got my bag checked and, wouldn’t you know it, when I walk out of security and check the departures board, my flight was cancelled. Delta kindly sent me an email letting me know that everything was good and they rebooked me for a 4pm flight the following afternoon.

Oh hell no Felicia Day

Little did they know, that would not work seeing as my bridal shower was at 1pm the following afternoon. So I stood in line for over an hour and the agent was able to rebook me for the 8am flight the following morning. She was really kind and wished me congratulations and good luck on my bridal shower.

Back home I went, this time only with my small carry-on, which was convenient but also meant that all of my beauty products were somewhere in the airport instead of at my fingertips. This meant that I would look like a bag lady until I got said products and the use of someone’s bathroom mirror and outlets upstate. And I was worried that something would happen that would cause my luggage to be lost, and then I’d look like a bag lady all weekend. Nonetheless, back on the AirTrain and subway I went, annoyed but sure everything would work out fine.

Except it was lashing rain when I got out of the subway. Thunder, lightning, the whole shebang. Luckily, in said carry-on, I had my umbrella. Okay, I guess it was a good thing we didn’t try to fly.

The next morning, when I went to leave at 4:30am to go through the whole process again, my sneakers were still wet; not pleasant. Everything went fine and before I knew it, I was landing in Buffalo…where it was about 20 degrees colder than I had packed for. My checked bag made it there fine and, wouldn’t you know, Michelle’s flight was only about half an hour ahead of mine! So it all worked out perfectly!

We got to Batavia in record time, enjoying some TimBits and caffeine on the way, and I was (finally!) able to beautify myself. The entire day was party day – bridal shower, lingerie shopping (oh la la!), and bachelorette party. It was so great seeing all of my friends and family! I want to thank all the ladies who planned and attended my bridal shower this past weekend – it was a fabulous time and I can’t begin to tell you how special I felt. I’ll be writing a post about it soon so stay tuned!

Bridal party

Sunday was relax by the pool day with my friend Jenna whose family generously opened their home to me all weekend. I’m so glad we got a nice sunny day to enjoy! Monday was spent visiting my mom and Godmother before I had to take off once again. My friend Becky drove me to the airport and we got to talk like we used to in college, just shooting the breeze…figuratively and literally since the AC doesn’t work in her car and it was like 84 that day, so the windows were all down! My car was the same exact way a few years ago so it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.

My flight home was very smooth and it was so nice to get home and finally not live out of a suitcase! And, of course, see and hug and talk to Tom! I am so grateful that I was able to see and spend time with so many wonderful people this weekend. I miss that so much and I know that it will probably only get harder as everyone gets married and starts having kids and whatnot, but I want to make a point to get together at least once or twice a year because those relationships are so important!

Engagement Photo Shoot Outtakes

So here it is.

The moment you’ve all been waiting for.

Even if you didn’t know it, I assure you, you’ve been waiting for this moment.

The moment when you see just how awkward and ridiculously hilarious two people can look. And how fantastic it is that it was caught on camera.

The moment you find out that 99% of engagement pictures turn out looking like hot messes, only to produce a select few worth editing and retouching to make somewhat presentable photos.

Then again, that might only pertain to this situation.

The moment you realize, uh oh, you might need to change because, hey, you think you just wet yourself from laughing so much.

*So if you haven’t already done so, you may want to psyche yourself out and look at the decent ones here to prepare yourself for this. Kind of like the calm before the storm type deal.*

So now, without further ado, here are the (seemingly unending) outtakes from our October photo shoot; I didn’t include every single one because some are repetitive. Now grab your Depends, make sure you’re sitting down, and let the mayhem begin.

My friend Courtney was downstate for that weekend and came along for the shoot, so she makes a great addition to a couple of the pictures. 🙂

Oh and if you don’t automatically see anything wrong with a picture, make sure to examine both of our faces, Tom’s eyes, my hair, our body positions, etc. You’ll always find something…

Well, congratulations if you made it this far! I’m even more impressed if you did it without peeing your pants. I mean, I was part of the shoot and have looked at the pictures multiple times since October. They still get me to the point of crying; sometimes from embarrassment, but mostly because they’re hilarious.

Let me know what your favorite(s) is/are and don’t be afraid to like and/or bookmark this post. That way you have easy access to a surefire pick-me-up when you’re feeling blue. Or need a good ab workout.

Wedding Update: Halfway There (6 months to go!)

We are halfway there folks! There are only 6 months left in this journey to the altar! And guess what…saturday night live so freaking excited kristen wiig

A lot of progress has been made this past month! We finalized the bridesmaids’ dresses so all my girls can put their orders in and I can’t wait until they receive their dresses so I can see them and have peace of mind in that department. The online company that the dresses are from is actually sending me a swatch of the dress color so I can use that to match the guys’ ties.

Speaking of, Tom and I agreed on the guys’ attire, so we just need to go somewhere like Men’s Wearhouse, find the tuxes we want, and get measurements and orders in. This one is a front-runner:

dumb and dumber orange tux dance gif

We sent out Save the Dates about 3 weeks ago, and it made me feel really good to hear that people thought they looked nice! The following week, I started looking into invitations; goodness, I just finished getting the STDs out, do I really need to start getting invitations already? I’ve let Tom look at a few that I personalized and we have an idea of what we both like, so that’s progress.

Since we sent out our Save the Dates, our wedding website is now public! If you want to go check it out, it’s right here; it includes not only the updates I’ve published here on my personal blog, but also has the proposal story and will continue to have new wedding-related posts that I might not post on here.

Also, we received our first engagement gift this month! One of Mrs. Harrigan’s co-workers/friends (who is invited to the wedding) gave us a set of BEAUTIFUL crystal champagne flutes. They are absolutely stunning, and surprisingly heavy!

Waterford Crystal Believe Flutes

We went to a florist last weekend, and I have to admit that this was one of the pieces of planning that had me kind of stressed. So far, everything has been fairly stressless – our venue, my dress, the bridal party attire – and yet I’m worried about flowers. Is that weird or what?

I had ideas about what I wanted, but there are just so many options when it comes to bouquets and centerpieces and other arrangements. I think most (if not, all) flowers are pretty, so it’s hard to narrow it down! I mean, you can start by figuring out the color(s) you want to use, but after that you still have so many options and combinations!Wedding flower collage

I figured it was time to start hammering out the flower situation, so I made an appointment with a florist in Melville, NY since they have worked with our venue before. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of meeting with multiple florists and having to go over the same layout multiple times and then have to choose which one to go with and then start doubting my ideas and decisions.

The lady we met with was very knowledgeable and thorough in all aspects of the typical wedding flower arrangements. She sat with us for about an hour and a half going over everything from bouquets and centerpieces to boutonnieres and corsages.

We decided that since she was so great and we would be getting everything we wanted/needed, we would just go with this florist instead of shlepping around to others and spending more time when we could just get it done and over with. I’m really thankful that Tom agreed to go with me because I know it’s not something he really wanted to spend a couple hours doing on a Saturday.

Not only did he come with me, but Tom actually contributed his ideas and opinions! I honestly don’t think he realizes how happy that made me. It may seem silly, especially to guys, but I’m sure that all engaged girls out there can appreciate those moments when our grooms participate in the planning process, no matter how small the task. Unless you’re a bride who wants no one else’s opinion but your own; that’s fine, carry on.

But seriously Tom, you’re amazing for picking out flowers. I love you!stefon aww gif saturday night live

Anyways, I guess we can step off the corny train now.

I really want to go cake-tasting. Like, bad. I don’t think that has to happen until about 2 months before the wedding, but I want to go now. I want 20 different flavors of cake, with buttercream frosting, all cut into bite-size pieces, so that I can pop those suckers in my mouth and savor each and every one of them. Except, then we have to decide on only one for the wedding. Bummer.wedding cake tasting

We’ve discussed the honeymoon situation and I think we’ve come to a decision. Since we’re getting married in the middle of August in Long Island, holding a separate reception upstate the next weekend, and I’ll (hopefully!) be starting a teaching job soon after, I don’t see us having time to go on a proper (i.e. week+ long) honeymoon for awhile after. So we’ll go on our honeymoon over winter break; not only would that give us a few months to settle into married life (living together and me starting a new job, for starters) but it’ll also get us out of the cold for a bit!

Alrighty, well, until next month: cheers!

Serendipitous Friday

This past Friday was an amazing, serendipitous day. Not just because it was Friday. And not just because I got to leave work early. And, no, it wasn’t the glass of wine I had with dinner (it was a long week, okay?).

In a matter of 12 hours, God put in motion events that opened my eyes and restored my faith in humanity. Honestly, that is the only way I can describe what happened today.

I work as a paraprofessional/aide for a freshman girl, let’s call her Julia, with cerebral palsy in New York City and my day started like all others this week: wake up at 4:15 a.m. to catch the 5:05 train, and travel for almost 2 hours to get to work. Once off the subway, I got my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and bagel, got to school at 7:15, and relaxed with my breakfast and Netflix before Julia got to school and work actually began.

About an hour later, while in class, Julia got physically sick, so we went down to the nurse’s office so she could lay down and wait for her mom to pick her up. I felt bad that she wasn’t feeling well, but I was kind of excited that my weekend would be starting early.

Maybe I could take a nap today. After consecutively getting only 5 hours of sleep each night, that would be great! Oh, happy day.

While waiting for Julia’s mom, a couple of students came in and out of the office, complaining of sore throats, dizziness, or just feeling sad; it’s amazing how extremely life-altering the death of a guinea pig can be to a teenager.

I ended up talking to one of the students and found out how absolutely amazing she is. This girl, whom I had seen in the hallways and had a bunch of assumptions and preconceived notions about. This girl who was very talkative and was a distraction in class at times. This girl blew me away with her life story which included being adopted from Ethiopia at the age of 10 and having spent her last birthday in China helping orphans.

I didn’t ask for anything for my birthday this past year. I already have everything I’ve ever wanted – I’ve been adopted and I don’t live in an abusive family anymore – so I ask to do things to help others.

How amazing and selfless is she?! She also takes part in other foundations, one being charity: water, and has even been able to go back to Ethiopia to help her original community.

Not only that, but she talked about her celebrity friends like it was nothing; “Amy Poehler is so nice,” and, “Hugh Jackman’s wife, I call her Deb, wants to produce my movie.” Where I’m from, we consider Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills players celebrities. And we don’t hang out and go to parties with them. So I was starstruck just by hearing her stories of these events.

Brian Moorman, Buffalo Bills
Snuggling with Brian Moorman, punter of the Buffalo Bills, circa 2008. Like, whoa.

So once Julia’s mom came, I had to figure out which train I would be able to take home. When I got on the train at Penn Station, I was surprised to find that it was already packed. We still had 20 minutes until the train was scheduled to leave – usually it isn’t packed until a couple minutes before. And that’s only during rush hour (before and after usual work hours), so it was odd that it was so full at noon.

And then I realized I had walked onto the wrong train. Shoot. I ride the train everyday, how did I manage this?!

I walked to the door, which was already closed, and started panicking a bit. I had no idea where this train’s destination was, but my train was across the platform. If only I could get the door open…

Some guy walked up to the door from the outside, wanting to get in, and by an amazing act of God, the door opened a bit. It opened just enough for the two of us, me on the inside and this guy on the outside, to pull it open the rest of the way so that we could trade places. That worked out really well.

LIRR train

I got on my (correct) train, which was now a bit packed since I had just wasted time on the wrong train. I sat in a 3-seater, me on one end and a middle-aged guy on the other, with all of his bags in between us. There was a guy in the seat in front of us that started muttering about finding a conductor. His speech was a bit odd, so I couldn’t tell whether he was mentally challenged or drunk or had a stroke or what.

Luckily, the guy I shared a seat with was very patient because Tyrone, the guy in front of us, had a lot of questions. He kept saying how he was trying to get to the Mineola mall; “I gotta go to the mall and get me a new pair of gloves because I lost mine last week. I wanna see how big that mall is.”

He sounded like a child in a 40-year old man’s body. We knew that something was wrong, but weren’t sure what to do about it. Should he be alone? Would the conductor do anything about it to help him? Would he get defensive or aggressive if we tried helping any more than just answering questions?

The guy next to me, whom I later found out is named Jimmy, talked to Tyrone whenever a question was asked, even though many questions were repeated multiple times. “My name is Tyrone. I want to thank you for helping me, sir,” Tyrone said. “I hope you never forget my name.”

Jimmy told Tyrone that he would need to take a bus to get to the mall from the train station, but Tyrone only had 75 cents on him. I gave him the $2 he would need for the bus, Jimmy wrote down the information so that Tyrone could get help from the bus driver, and we figured that was all we could really do.

The first train conductor came by, punching tickets, and Tyrone introduced himself and asked how he could get to the mall. The conductor was pretty patient with him and helped him as best he could, but ultimately walked away letting Tyrone continue his adventure to the mall. “I hope you never forget me,” Tyrone said to him before he walked away. “I won’t, Tyrone. You take care of yourself, okay buddy?” the conductor said, chuckling, before moving on to the next car full of tickets to punch.LIRR ticket punch

A little while later, a second conductor named Donna came through; Tyrone introduced himself and asked how to get to the bus to get to the mall. “Are you alone, honey? Have you made this trip before?” she asked. She ended up telling him not to get off the train at his planned stop, that she would be back for him and would escort him personally.

When we got close to the last stop (I had to transfer to another train to get home), Donna came back to Tyrone and asked him for ID and where he was going. He didn’t have ID but had some papers in his backpack with some information; apparently he was just discharged from a “hospital” earlier in the week, from what Donna read aloud from these papers. She asked again where he was going, to which he responded with his glove spiel.

All of a sudden, a guy comes up behind Donna and hands her a pair of red gloves. “They’re double insulated; he can have them.” Wow, that was so nice of him, I thought. Tyrone thanked the man, and as I looked around, a smile on my face, I noticed that everyone else was smiling too.

Pulling into the station, Jimmy asked Tyrone if he had eaten today. After Tyrone shook his head, Jimmy pulled out an apple and a banana and gave them to Tyrone. Then the girl behind us handed Tyrone half of a sandwich she had left over from lunch.

Oh my gosh. It was so wonderful seeing all of these strangers come together to help someone in need. Being in New York City (but I’m sure this applies to practically any city), everyone is so consumed with our own lives and problems that we forget to look at the needs of others. And even then, we see these needs but don’t know how to help because there are so many people that need help. And then there are times when we simply don’t want to help, so we look past those in need without a second thought.

Times Square - I took this back in 2011
Times Square, NYC

My heart was soaring and I couldn’t stop smiling. I mean, the fact that God placed all of us in the vicinity to help him was absolutely phenomenal. There could’ve been another, less patient man in Jimmy’s seat who wouldn’t have looked up bus fares or schedules for Tyrone to help him.

The man with the gloves could’ve simply kept them hidden in his pocket, reasoning that his hands were cold, or that they were his favorite pair, or whatever other excuse.

And if Donna hadn’t come down the aisle and taken Tyrone under her wing, who knows where he would have ended up if he got off the train at Mineola. Check out this article I found from April on nypost.com that features Donna as one of NYC’s most popular train conductors!

So during the rest of my commute home, I was hoping and praying for Tyrone’s safety and well-being, thanking God for putting us in the situation, and allowing me to help, albeit in such a minuscule way. I mean, $2 for bus fare is such a small thing. But I’m so glad I could be involved.

When I got off the train, waiting for the “railroad crossing” arms to go up, I ran into Jimmy! I introduced myself to him because we hadn’t throughout the whole ordeal earlier. He told me his name was Jimmy and said my name was beautiful. I thanked him for what he did on the train earlier, and he thanked me for my $2. We said good-bye and I threw in “I hope you never forget my name!” in memory of our friend Tyrone.

He assured me he wouldn’t. And I won’t forget what I witnessed today – my faith in humanity has been restored. And all because Julia got sick. And then I almost took the wrong train. But I ended up right where I was supposed to be; it was true serendipity.