Wednesday, July 28, 2010

30th Birthday Celebration(s)

It has taken me a few days to recover from my 30th birthday celebrations.

My mom started the day off buying shoes and a necklace to go with my dress. Then we got our hair done and nails mani'd and pedi'd.

Mom all rolled up:

Then, we ran home to finish the party favors I made for each of my guests -- cards with my favorite thing about them, or my favorite memory, and a nip-bottle of various types of liquor.

The dinner was fabulous. The service and food were excellent -- from the cocktail hour to the actual dinner to the tasty Tiramisu dessert that I plopped my 30 candle in (yes, I brought my own candle).

After I gave a speech to my dearest friends -- ones that I have known since age 2 on up to age 24... so minimum 6 years -- they decided to toast to me one by one, sharing touching remarks and funny stories. I love these guys. They are my inspiration, and to hear the warm remarks were just what I needed to hear after this tumultuous year and as I step out into 30.

Our next stop was a nightclub in Jersey, dancing until 2am. Then we finished the night at our favorite JC diner, talking until our waitress packed up and left, giving us a hint.

I couldn't have asked for a better birthday, honestly. Thanks to everyone who played a part.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm 30!!!

I'm finally here.

I woke up on the flight after nodding off while reading Heart of the Matter. At first, I was disoriented. The customs form had been mysteriously placed on my seatback tray. I had no sense of time. Then I heard,
"Prepare for arrival."

Ahhhhh! That means, it's probably close to 2am. It's July 26th! I'm 30! Oh my gosh... as tears began welling up in my eyes.

I'm finally here.

The last ten years have been one heck of a journey. I have learned a lot about life, about myself, about the people in my life. I wish I could say it was all fun, but it was rough for a lot of that time. But, I'm here. At 30. With my fresh start. With my chance to do things differently. With my chance to be better.

And I feel different. I wonder if I even look different.

My first pic at 30:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

1 Day 'Til 30... And we're delayed

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

July 25th was a long day. Shonda and I woke up to room service breakfast. We packed, dilly-dallied, then spent the hours before her flight poolside yet again, reflecting on life while intermittently reading our books (Her: Lipstick Jungle. Me: Heart of the Matter).

She left at 1:30pm for her 4:30 flight. I got picked up a little later at 3:45pm for a 7 o'clock flight. So, the shuttle drops me and the other 7 o'clockers all going back to Jersey off a little past 4. Well, guess what? The flight was delayed. First to 7:50, then to 9:20, then to 9:40. We took off at 10pm.

Let's do the math. Not only were we originally 3 hours early for our flight, but then we ended up spending a total of 6 hours in Cancun's airport -- hours that could have been spent on the beach. And it was freezing! So all of us in our tank tops and beach attire eventually broke down and bought Mexican blankets. This is a group shot of random passengers with our blankets on.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

2 Days 'Til 30... Dueling Rub Downs

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

First order of business today was the post-wedding brunch. So yummy! Me with the big (married) cousin:
Following brunch, we took our usual positions - poolside, facing the water, under a couple of umbrellas, book in hand.
In case you forgot where we are... and I included my toes as proof!
Today's special treats were full-body massages (plus steam room and jacuzzi) at the resort spa. This is me feeling loose and serene after my rub-down.
We ended the night at a family dinner at the resort's seafood restaurant. I ordered Mahi Mahi (which I must order from any restaurant that actually offers it) and it was terrible! The fish was so dead and dried out that when I cut it with the knife, it shed into crumbles. Such a letdown. The saving graces, however, were the mixed vegetables and the yucca & vanilla creme brulee.

Our last adventure of the day was finding a lizard in our room.
We called maintenance to free us of the infestation and he laughed at us, showing us the lizard in a towel saying, "Godzilla" in a Mexican accent. Nice, dude. Make fun of our terror.

Friday, July 23, 2010

3 Days 'Til 30... I do!

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

Today started out as any normal day should -- lounging at a pool at an all-inclusive resort with a swim-up bar and many waiters and waitresses happy to take your 25th (all-included) drink order. Rashonda and I in our respective posts.
We even got a little swimming in and spent time with the family:
Then, it was time for a quick change and off to the wedding. The wedding ceremony was amazing. The beautiful bride was brought in by a horse-drawn carriage. The sound of any hooves may actually make me misty for at least the next year.
Once the carriage stopped at the front of the gazebo, I couldn't contain myself. She was gorgeous. I'm already Misty Molly, but that lump in the back of throat let loose and I started pouring full-on tears all down my recently-applied makeup. This was my big cousin getting married. My closest male first-cousin, my sounding board on most things, my voice of reason some days, my inspiration on others. And he just hadn't found the right one until now. If anyone deserves the amazing woman that his bride is, it's him. And for that reason, I lost it, and most of my MAC foundation. The vows didn't help the makeup cause either. 

I can't think of a better way to approach 30 -- this journey that has left me so introspective and appreciative of life -- than to be surrounded my so much love.

Then of course, we partied the night away at the reception until Rashonda and I called it a night... no afterparty for us (Gasp... are we getting old? I don't wanna know the answer).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

4 Days 'Til 30.... Bienvenidos a Cancun!

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

I am in MEXICO! I was completely knocked out on my 9:40am flight to Cancun and according to my cousin's boyfriend, my mouth was wide open and I was leaning on the lady next to me (sorry Ma'am, but you never said anything). This is likely due to being awake for 38 hours from Tuesday into Wednesday. But, nonetheless, I am here, in one piece, and ready to relax.

Me, newly arrived, in the lobby with my aunts and little cousin:
So yes... this means I will be spending the last 4 days of my 20's staring out at clear blue water, sipping fruity drinks poolside with my friend, Rashonda and my dad's side of the family. I can't wait. Check out the view from my balcony:
Oh yea -- how could I forget... we're all here for a wedding! The view must have distracted me. A pic of the soon-to-be wed at tonight's welcome dinner.
And me in my Cancun-inspired welcome dinner attire (with the new summer-y hair)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

5 Days 'Til 30..... A Bedtime Story

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

Change of plans. I didn't run the 5K on my schedule tonight.

First of all, it downpoured. I'm dedicated, but not that dedicated.

Secondly, I wanted to make it back to NJ to read my kiddo a bedtime story.

So, after being awake for 38 hours (minus a 2-hr nap), packing and running errands, I hit the road at 6, making it to NJ at 8:30pm -- just before bedtime.

That was a special something to beat out all the other special somethings.

Cancun tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

6 Days 'Til 30... Letter to the Older Me

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

So, I have this countdown to 30 -- an age that some people hide from, lie about, or bawl over. Yet, I'm celebrating it in full force. But, why is 30 so important? It's just a number right? Life doesn't drastically change because some invisible clock turns it's big hand to 30. Or does it?

For me, turning 30 is a chance to start over. A chance to do things better. Be a better me.

I get to leave the tumultuous 20s behind me and settle into the peace of being more mature, more secure in who I am as a person, and more importantly -- actually knowing who I am as a person.

Think about someone at 20... then 23... then 27... and finally 29. Each of those phases are so very different. The life lessons, the heartbreak, the drama, the killing yourself to plant your roots into a career, the ignorant decisions just because you don't know any better... I'm over it.

I want to leave the drama behind, feel settled for once, all while embracing those people and those experiences that helped me arrive at this point.

Eight years ago, I wrote a letter to myself while in Paris alone for New Year's Eve. It talked about how I needed to be more confident and strong. When I read that letter now, it reminds me that this is always a battle -- coming into your own at 22, now at 30, and I'm sure it will happen again at 40 and 50.

So, today, my special something was writing myself a letter. Hopefully, to read another 8-10 years from now and be able to say I accomplished everything in it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

7 Days 'Til 30... Birthday Suit!

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**, not THAT birthday suit. I finally found the dress I plan to wear to my birthday shindig (you know... that totally unimportant birthday we're counting down to...).

I absolutely hate, hate, hate shopping. The split decisions, always afraid I'm not getting the most for my money, trying everything on because my proportions are so non-traditional, the crowds, the racks after racks, the either neglectful or overbearing salespeople. It's just not for me.

Knowing this, I split this process up over two days. Yesterday, I just went to browse -- no pressure. I saw this dress at Marshall's, but I wasn't sure, so I snapped some pics and looked elsewhere. Well, nothing beat out this dress, so here we are. I went back to Marshall's to get it. It seems a little prom-dressy, but you know what? I'll make it work with some shoes and accessories. I'm working on being (an almost-30) diva anyway, right? (see yesterday's post) So here we go!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

8 Days 'Til 30...

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

So since I colored my hair, I've been really insecure about it. I felt like the hair was either overpowering me or washing me out. Then, today I realized -- it's because I'm letting the hair wear ME. The (almost blonde) hair definitely says unique and dare I say it -- DIVA. Yet, my (frumpy) clothes and my attitude the past few days have not been anything close to diva. So, today I jazzed it up. Put on a full face of makeup, wore cute clothes to work complete with my best flats and favorite dangly necklace and finally felt like the hair looked good on me. Not to mention, looking good boosted my ego and made me a lot closer to diva than just 24 hours ago.

So, my special thing today was a physical and attitude makeover (hehehe).

By the way, 8 is my favorite number.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

9 Days 'Til 30... Time with the Munchkin

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

We're in single digits now, people! The big 3-0 is getting closer and closer.

Today's special something was surprising my kiddo, who didn't know I was coming to NJ and spending 5 hours with him before having to drive back to CT for work.

Him on his scooter and the slide at Liberty State Park in 90-degree weather even at 9 in the morning!

Me sweating and donning the new 'do:
We finished off the day at IHOP and brought my mom along -- the same IHOP I worked at during my summer between freshman and sophomore years ('98), that Christmas break ('98) and the following summer ('99). I really enjoyed waitressing and racking up on tips. I was pretty good at it, plus I got to talk to different people all the time. It was fun.

Oddly enough, the same people own and manage it and some of the same waitresses are there. It's a head trip to take the flash to the past when I go there 12 years later, and bring my 5-year-old son with me? Crazy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

10 Days 'Til 30... A New Look

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

I got out of work early today and hit the road back to NJ and made it 5 minutes before the time my hairdresser takes her last client.

Today is special because I decided to highlight my hair for the summer, and for turning 30 and for the new changes that are happening in my life now.

What do you think?

It's taking some getting used to, but I like it so far.

11 Days 'Til 30... Rest & Relaxation

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

Today was a hard day for me. Very emotional. The weight of everything that's been happening hit me hard and I had a good cry -- twice. Once in the morning and once in the evening. In my quest to be a better me, I'm coming to some harsh realizations about who I've been for the past five years, and the things I could have and should have done differently. It's intense, but it's putting me on the road to improvement.

With the type of day I had, my special something was skipping my barbell class, going home to watch the first half of my latest Netflix delivery -- Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 -- before drifting off to sleep well before my usual bedtime. I definitely needed the rest (and sleep).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

12 Days 'Til 30... Dinner Party & Girl Talk

 **Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

Two of my fellow residents came to my new (still packed in boxes) apartment for dinner, drinks and girl talk. It was nice being in good company, especially in CT, when most of my base is still in NJ. And they didn't mind me pulling bowls and dishes and forks out of a huge packing box throughout the night.

Anne brought hand-made guacamole which was delish with the italian bread, and fresh fruit for our appetizers. Oh and the most important appetizer -- wine!

I made chicken skewers in the oven with onions and red, green and yellow peppers. I used a little seasoned salt on the chicken and McCormick's Mediterranean marinade over the fully-loaded skewer. I've never actually made chicken skewers myself before. They were tasty (if I'm allowed to compliment my own cooking). The yellow rice and carrots rounded out our plates, and we ate much, talked much and it was exactly what I needed.

By the way -- My most recent article for MSNBC's went up today: Cough 'sizzurp' is dangerous drug of choice for stars, youth

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

13 Days 'Til 30... Kicking Up My Heels

 **Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

My special something was an activity I haven't participated in for almost six years. Any guesses? Okay, I'll give you some hints.

Okay, I'll give you another:
I'm sure it's now obvious that I took dance classes today. I took a tap class followed by a ballet class. 

I used to be a dancer... I danced for 13+ years, through college and part of medical school, but I haven't danced since I became pregnant with my son. I miss that part of me, the creative side, moving to music, getting a good workout.

My ideal fitness regimen would actually include dancing a few times a week, and weight lifting. Unfortunately there are no adult dance classes in New Haven, so I finally expanded my search to Hartford (40 minutes away) and I'm glad I did.

Running is good, but I don't think I'm a run-3-times-a-week kind of person. Maybe once a week, or every other week. It was initially a challenge and helped me drop nearly 20 pounds. But, I am losing interest. I want to run when I feel like it, not forcing myself to run to stay on a training schedule. And in all honestly, I'd prefer to dance than most other things.

The beginner/intermediate tap class was good. The moves came back to me after a while and I felt coordinated. Ballet on the other hand was ROUGH. I held my own, but the moves didn't come as naturally. It's actually be more than 10 years since I took a true ballet class, though. My legs were stronger than I expected, thanks to running. But, both classes were a workout. By the time I reached home, my ankle and hips/quads were stiff.

Monday, July 12, 2010

14 Days 'Til 30... Mother-Daughter Time at the River

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

Today, mom and I went down to Liberty State Park in Jersey City for her to draw and me to read overlooking the Hudson River.

Mom with her sketch book:
It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the great views.

It was quite relaxing and allowed my mind to wander. In my quest to be "better," I have been more introspective than usual, trying to figure out where I've gone wrong and improve those deficits. One day at a time...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

15 Days 'Til 30... Good Convo & A (Kids) Movie

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

I had great grown-up conversation today while the kids swam in the pool with my good friend Chakia who I've known since I was 7, but haven't seen in a few years.

My kiddo also surprised me by being able to swim. He just finished his second week in swim camp and let me tell you -- despite what he believed, he could NOT swim before he started camp. He did a lot of splashing, but no swimming. Now look at him!

We started to get rained on, but the kids decided to keep swimming, so we threw towels on our heads and kept the conversation going. That is, until we heard thunder and everyone scattered.

Next, I met up with Kenye to take the kids to see "Despicable Me." It was really funny. I actually laughed at least 10 times. Not the "oh, that's cute," laugh, but true laughter. I didn't expect it to be that good.

As an aside -- spending so much time at home has been great. It's nice to spend time with lifelong friends who remember me back when I was happy, who have known me through all the of my phases of life - flaws and all - and still love me anyway. They are also amazing people who teach me a lot and inspire me to be a better person, which is one of my main goals this year anyway. I haven't spent this much free time back in NJ in over 3 years.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

16 Days 'Til 30... Traversing Freely around NYC

**Now that my countdown to 30 has officially begun, I've decided to do something extra special every day until I turn 30.**

We started our day at the Battery Park Conservancy for a free adult painting and drawing course as part of the River to River festival. There wasn't much instruction. But, that could be due to our initial introduction with the teacher which involved him telling us that it was a bad idea to have the kids there because the last time a parent tried the class the kids were running amuck and throwing things into the water. I calmly informed him that those kids probably behave that way on a normal day and ours don't. And after he conceded, we proceeded to gather our supplies.

Us hard at work:
The finished products. No critiques please!
After pretending to be artists for an hour, we had lunch at Chipotle (my first time going to this common fave). I managed to consume 1100 calories in one sitting... between the chicken burrito, one chicken taco and a margarita. Thanks NYC for putting calorie counts front and center on the menu.
Next, we saw a free performance by the Rochester City Ballet at Pace University. It was amazing. The kiddos loved it, evidenced by them sitting on the edge of their seats and not letting out a peep during the 70-minute performance.
The adventure ended at Starbucks with full-on smiles...
...and my grande green tea latte.

I managed to tire out the kiddo. Him on the Light Rail train.
I also replaced my broken camera today. No more camera phone pics after today!