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Nov. 12th, 2015

JD Nikki Beach

Welcome to the World, Charlotte Aurora!!!

Hi everyone. It is with great honor and pleasure that I update you today. As of one week ago, November 5, 2015, my daughter Charlotte Aurora was born into the world!!!

I've detailed a lot of memorable moments over the years but perhaps this one is the most significant. Your whole life changes when your bundle of joy finally makes their appearance. I found that immediately I wasn't just thinking for myself or for my wife anymore; I now have my daughter on my mind 24/7. I just love her and can't believe Nicole and I (with the grace of God) created her!

We initially had a false alarm in the early morning hours on Tuesday, November 3rd. I remember the Monday evening before, I watched WWE Raw as usual and Nicole, believe it or not, had ushered at Spring Awakening. Nicole complained of pains all day, as even her sister Robyn had witnessed it. When she had gotten home that night, close to midnight, she expressed those pains to me as well. After contemplating going to the hospital, we spoke with her doctor, who said we should go in just to double check.

We got to South Nassau close to 1 AM and after checking Nicole's vitals and her contractions, they dismissed us around 4 AM. I immediately emailed work that I would be in later that day as I hadn't gotten much sleep. I wound up arriving to work by 10:30 AM the following day.

The next couple of work days were rough because I was anticipating Charlotte's birth and it was honestly hard to concentrate. Nicole and I would literally text every hour on the hour (if not more) and I did not want to be at the office. It wasn't really laziness talking either; it was the anticipation and the excitement.

On Wednesday evening, Nicole and I had run some last minute errands and capped off our evening with a dinner at Cheeburger Cheeburger on Austin Street. We really pigged out over some greasy (and delicious) all-American food. Something told us it was our "last meal" aka final dinner prior to Nikki giving birth. And we were right.

We went back home and decided to sleep in the basement. Nicole's contractions which, again, began on November 2nd into the 3rd, were now becoming more rapid...and painful. We had barely gotten into bed in the pull-out couch when Nicole could not even lay down without writhing in pain. I knew it was GO time. We immediately changed and went to the hospital.

When we arrived at South Nassau, the nurses confirmed her contractions were happening more often and her cervix had dilated some more. We stayed overnight this time around, and there was lots of progress by morning. I, of course, called out of work (they were told months ahead of time and were super cool about it) and we were in it for the long haul.

Nicole was in agony for hours after initially waking up. I had never seen her in that much physical pain. The sad part is, there was nothing I could do except hold her hand and say everything will be okay. There was a funny part of the day where our friend Lauren semi-joked and said to remind Nicole of happier times like Disney trips and whatnot. I was mentioning how we had a great time dining around Epcot's World Showcase and it looked like she wanted to kill me, haha. Not the time nor the place is the vibe I got. Reminded me of a scene from a sitcom or something. Speaking of sitcoms, that reminds me!

The way labor is reflected in sitcoms and movies is not very accurate. I mean, they get the basics right, but that's about it. To anticipate our princess Charlotte's arrival, we had watched some shows like Full House, Friends, and Everybody Loves Raymond where children were born. Lisa Kudrow, Patricia Heaton, and Lori Loughlin all looked amazing while giving birth and not a hair was loose. Meanwhile, Nicole was digging her claws...err...nails into me and was squeaming and writhing. Don't get me wrong, after all was said and done, Nicole looked fabulous considering all she had been through but just sayin'. The magic of Hollywood for sure.

Nicole's labor process began after her cervix dilated to around 10 cm. She had resisted the epidural at first but decided on it when she could not take the pain any more. It took three shots of whatever was in the anesthesia to work on Nicole. The first two times Nicole was still hurting. It was decided that since she is so tall, that could very well be a reason it didn't affect her right away. Also, her blood pressure went higher which her nurse was a little worried about. Luckily, once the epidural kicked in, her blood pressure lowered and Nicole was in far less pain. I was so nervous but breathed a sigh of relief when it finally worked.

After 2 hours of pushing, with the nurse Felicia and Dr. Ravens cheering her on, Nicole gave birth to our beautiful doll Charlotte at 2:10 PM on November 5, 2015.

I will never forget the feeling of seeing Charlotte come out of her mommy's you-know-what. I thought for sure I wouldn't be able to stomach it but I actually found it kind of fascinating. The nurse was terrific and the doctor was very enthusiastic about the process so I think that courage to watch rubbed off on me. The doctor even had me record part of the birth which I thought for sure was a no-no. He absolutely insisted on having me cut the umbilical chord and to have that on video.

But really...what a feeling when my daughter was finally welcomed into the world. It' something I'll never forget. She was an absolute doll and was more adorable than I could have ever believed. I was actually the first to see her after she was brought out and it was love at first sight for me. I think that image will be etched in my mind forever and ever.

Of course, later that day, our families came by to visit, including Robyn, my parents, Nicole's parents, Michael, and Tiffany. The next day, more relatives and friends stopped by, including: cousin Joey, Aunt Pam, cousin Stephen, Sal G., Erica, John, Mike, Lucie, Aunt Alex, and Nikki's brother Chris. Needless to say, we had a lot of guests and are honored they all stopped by to see the princess.

On Saturday, November 7, we were officially discharged from the hospital and brought Charlotte home. At home, besides my parents, we were greeted by Erica, John, Johnny, and Victoria. Robyn soon joined, followed by our friend Lauren, Aunt Teresa, and then Stephen and Ashley as well. Another fun day where we were honored to have spent time with our relatives.

Sunday was actually Nicole's 30th Birthday and as a special treat, my parents invited over Nicole's family. Aunt Alex couldn't make it because the girls (Ayla and Eliza) were sick, but otherwise all family members made it including her mom, dad, Michael, Robyn, Chris, Oma, and Opa. We showed them the renovations to our apartment and the baby's room/nursery. Dinner soon followed with dessert, where of course we got Nikki a Carvel cake. It was actually a really nice day and everyone got along swimmingly. Much thanks to my parents for hosting and Nicole's family for being great guests.

Monday was a nice day as well where we took Charlotte to her first doctor's appointment. She has done really well so far, according to the doctor. Thank God. At night, Wilfredo or "Uncle Will" stopped by to see Charlotte, which was very nice.

Tuesday through today we really haven't done much except spend time with Charlotte and get used to her sleep patterns. The nights are pretty rough especially for Nicole but we manage. It will get easier the older Charlotte gets. Well, hopefully anyway. I also fit in a viewing of Jurassic World yesterday, since Nicole had gotten that for me on Blu-ray as one of her presents for our anniversary. It's been a mostly relaxing week.

I return to work either tomorrow or Monday; it's up to me and is all dependent on our funds since this absence is sadly not paid. I thought for sure you are supposed to get a paid paternity leave but I don't believe this company works that way. Oh well.

Tonight, Kim and Vinnie are going to stop by and spend some time with us whereby they'll meet Charlotte. Looking forward to it.

In any case, I thank everyone for their wonderful support over the past week. It's been a really magical time in my life and one I will never forget.

God Bless!

--J[o]n[a]t[h]a[n]

Oct. 15th, 2015

Jonny Dano

The Final Countdown (Baby Edition)

I find it so ironic that a year ago at this time, Nicole and I were counting down the days to our wedding. Now, here we are a year later, and we are counting down the days until our baby girl is born. Although both occasions are different, it's a happy vibe all around. For the past two years, October has been a really special month for us. It's always been one of my favorite months; I love June-August and October-December in general. Life feels more fun because everything is so festive with the summer, followed by the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's).

As per usual, I apologize I haven't gotten a chance to write in this journal very often. These past couple of years have been so eventful that I hardly get time to myself, especially to write entries in here. It kind of sucks because I always enjoy looking back and seeing where I was at a given time. But, hey, even if I write a handful of entries per year, it's surely better than nothing.

People have been asking me how I've been feeling lately, knowing my daughter's arrival is mere weeks away, and I have to say that I have a range of emotions. I'm nervous in the sense of what to expect as a parent (though I've gotten practice through my nephew Johnny, niece Victoria, and cousins Ayla and Eliza) but most of all...I'm very excited. You know, it's funny, Savage Garden has a song "I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You" and I never quite understood what they meant. Well, now I know. I love my daughter already and she hasn't even been born into the world yet.

You know, when Nicole first announced she was pregnant, it was a fun announcement and all, but as time went on, it became more and more real. And there were different milestones, like when Nicole's stomach would grow (not so much when it would gradually, but when it really popped) or when we found out the baby's gender or, most recently, when we went to a place in White Plains that specialized in 3D sonograms. We now have a sense of what she looks like. As each of those events occurred, it made her upcoming arrival more and more exciting.

Nicole was also recently thrown a baby shower by her mom and sister. It was held at Barosa Restaurant at the end of September and was just lovely. Nicole's mom, my mother-in-law Jackie, worked her butt off to create all these decorations and to ensure that all of Nikki's guests had a great time. Some of the guys joined me as well, while their ladies were in the other room. Those gentlemen included: Stephen, Wilfredo, Mike Dalvano, Jason Pitera, Chris M., Vinnie, and John Pan. Although it was not a surprise baby shower, I can assure you that Nicole was flattered beyond belief by everyone's generosity and well wishes. I was too.

On to some other subjects...

In taking a look at my last entry, I spoke about my 32nd birthday, and I must say it was a wonderful few days. It happened to fall on a Wednesday night and besides Nicole and my parents, my sister and the kids came by, as well as Sal and Teresa. The weather was very cooperative so we got to eat dinner outside (on the deck) as well as have the cake out there too. My family was generous and I'm thankful for their presents and their presence. My nephew Johnny actually wrote me a birthday card and it was the best home-made gift I could have received.

On the Friday that followed, I admittedly called out of work, so that Nicole and I could spend the day together. She had gotten me a watch for my birthday but said that I could return it if it's not the model I was looking for. As awesome as it was, it was very fancy looking (which would have been great for weddings and such), but I had been looking for more of an everyday watch. We ventured out to Roosevelt Field and were able to find an awesome one in the Fossil store. I actually sort of created it by picking out the face I wanted, as well as the band itself.

After RF Mall, Nicole took me to dinner at Piccolo's in Mineola, a delicious Italian restaurant we had tried years earlier, as Kim had her bridal shower there. It was very good the second time around as well. Thank you again to Nicole for a great few days! :-)

The day after that, Nicole and I went to Michael and Lauren's wedding and I must say, we really enjoyed ourselves. Mike and Lauren admittedly did not have a big affair and I think that Mike almost felt that I was going to be judgmental about things because our wedding had more people or whatever. Hey, I come from a big Italian family where you gotta invite everyone and their mother, literally. Even Nicole's family is kind of like that. Not to mention, our social circle - while great - is a blessing and a curse because we have many groups of friends. I don't say that conceitedly either; just being honest. In any case, I told Michael from the get go that "you do you," meaning it's your day and everyone who was fortunate enough to be invited would have a blast. I also told him that his wedding day will be (one of) the happiest day(s) of his life. I said this before and I'll say it again; weddings are very autobiographical. It's not just a day with you and your new spouse, but a celebration where all your family and friends are under one roof. It's an awesome feeling. I remember Michael, during the cocktail hour, coming up to me and saying, "This is awesome!". It was then that I knew that same emotion hit him.

The ceremony was at a small church on the SJU campus, while the reception was at the Riviera on Long Island. The venue was lovely and fit them perfectly. The food was tasty, the company was fun (i.e. our table had the Curcios, Sivaks, Grahams, Dwayne, and Giacomo, to name a few), and it was just an elegant evening all around. Much like Mike and Lucie, who got married a few weeks before, it was a classy affair. I tip my hat to both gentlemen!

In the month of September, on Labor Day weekend to be exact, I joined my buddy Richard out in Baltimore. He moved there last January and had been wanting me to visit there for a while now. Whether it be the crazy amount of events Nicole and I had attended on the weekends or expenses that hit us, there was always a reason why I couldn't make it. I finally found the time and resources to go and I was happy that I did.

I joined Mr. Parker on Friday after work. I took the Bolt Bus down there and met up with him around 9:30 PM. We went to a cool '50s/Sci-Fi/comic book-themed diner. Then we bar hopped for a few more hours until we hit the hay.

The next day, we had some brunch at Miss Shirley's (their waffles were pretty great!) and went down to Camden Yards. While the Orioles were not in town unfortunately, we did get to see the stadium as their staff was super cool about it. And a nice, quaint stadium it was! We also went to the Geppi Museum which had a lot of old-school memorabilia from the '50s onward. They had plenty of movie posters, comic books, classic board games, and so forth.

We followed up our trip to Camden Yards by walking along Chesapeake Bay and eating at a seafood restaurant. The weather was absolutely perfect, too. Post-dinner, we walked through Baltimore's version of Little Italy and then went to downtown Baltimore where we had delicious ice cream at this place called The Charmery. The last thing we did was hit up a local bar that RJP frequents. While I enjoyed all of that, I also had fun just chilling in his nice apartment, which incidentally is inside of a building that was formerly a hotel. We actually spent some of that night watching old episodes of "Double Dare," where Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon guest starred. Hey, can't beat that!

The next day, I hopped back on the Bolt Bus back to NYC, but not before we had breakfast at a nearby Saloon (as they called it). I had chicken and waffles, which may have been the best version of that dish that I've had.

Once again, a hearty thank you to Mr. Parker for having me over. It was nice to spend time with one of my long-time buddies and bond in "Charm City."

In late August/early September, Nicole and I moved from our apartment on Alderton, back to my parents' house in Forest Hills. This time is different than it was years ago, however, as we are paying rent to live in the basement. Our kitchen and living room are down there but our bedroom and bathroom have remained on the second floor. That's okay with us, though, as we didn't want my parents doing too much construction to the house. The basement, warmly known as The DanoDome, is now completely redone. The wood paneling is now painted sheetrock, the floor is tile, and we have a kitchenette. The layout is a bit different, too, though admittedly the bar is still there. We wanted it to look different but to still have that ambiance.

The moving process was a real pain, as we had to hire movers (Moving Right Along) to bring all of our stuff from Alderton to over here. The move to the apartment was much easier, because we did everything gradually. In this case, we sort of waited til the last minute, not to mention we accrued a lot of extra items living in that apartment. The movers were great, though, and we had some extra help from Nicole's mom, whose assistance we're super appreciative of.

After several weeks of having a ton of boxes scattered everywhere, we're almost finished. The baby's room (my former room) is complete, our bedroom is handled, and the basement is just about ready. Now it's time for DiBaby to arrive!

The last thing I wanted to mention was some recent wrestling events I've gone to with friends. Back in August, I went to NXT: Takeover Brooklyn with my former NBC coworker Chris. We also met up with our friend Casey. The event was a boatload of fun and had one of the best matches I've ever seen live, in that of Sasha Banks vs Bayley. It was one of the best women's matches, period. The crowd was essentially going crazy the whole time and made for a fun evening all around.

Earlier this month, on October 4th, I joined my brother-in-law Michael and friend Rich (Martinez) in seeing the WWE live show at Madison Square Garden, titled "Brock Lesnar's Go To Hell Tour." It had Brock Lesnar vs The Big Show, John Cena vs Seth Rollins in a cage match, and Chris Jericho vs Kevin Owens for the IC title. As an added bonus, Chris Jericho was celebrating his 25th anniversary in the wrestling business, so I was happy to be in attendance. I'm sure most of you know he's one of my favorite pro wrestlers, if not my top favorite.

The job situation is still the same from when I last updated but I have been connecting with a lot of people who are keeping their eyes out for me and have passed along my resume. I'm gonna keep doing that until I'm blue in the face. I'm tired of my job being my Achilles' heel. I am confident things are going to turn around for me, as they did back in 2013 when I needed a change with my wedding on the horizon. I may not have that great job the minute my daughter is born, but I promise you I am working hard to find a better job so my baby girl and my wife are well supported.

Lastly, I wanted to say that I am honored, as I was recently asked by Stephen to be his Best Man at his wedding to my cousin Ashley next October. I hope to make them both proud and cannot wait to celebrate this happy time for them! I've already started working on the speech. Wish me luck!

Thank you all for reading if you did and I hope you all are well.

Until next time...

--J[o]n[a]t[h]a[n]

Aug. 11th, 2015

Surprise!

The Eve of 32

Greetings folks. I hope this entry finds everyone well. I figured I would post a little update before I turn 32 tomorrow.

As a 31-year-old man I had very epic year. I moved into an apartment with Nicole, got married to Nicole, and found out we are expecting a child as of November 2015. It was definitely a time in my life I will remember forever and ever.

However, the one Achilles' heel - and it seems like a recurring theme - is my job situation. Where I am right now is better than where I was previously but it's still nothing to boast about. My salary is for the birds. While the benefits are fine, there's no room for ascension within the company. We were promised quarterly bonuses and I've yet to see one hit my bank account, other than Christmastime. The only improvement since I last posted is the fact that was finally get breaks. We get a 40 minute lunch break and two 10 minute breaks dispersed during the other parts of the day. Those breaks are welcomed and much needed.

Having said that, though, we now have to pay for lunch out of pocket. Originally, lunch was supplied via Seamless by the company, so you didn't need to spend a dime on lunch during the week. Now, although I try not to spend too much anyway, you still find yourself paying for food during the workweek. There's only so many times you can bring a sandwich from home before you get sick of it. Subway, Wendy's, and Smashburger have been my best friend these days in that area.

But of course now that we finally get breaks, two representatives and counting have left the company. Therefore, we have to pick up their slack and have to stay late every day. For a few weeks there - when we were better staffed - we got lunch breaks and we had a very decent call volume because our customers were away, on vacation. As an extra bonus, we got to leave at 5:00 most days. It was a pretty decent couple of weeks. Now, as of this past week, the flood gates have opened since people have returned from their getaways and the call queue is absolutely unmanageable because, as I mentioned, two or three reps have left and there are so many people calling. There are more calls than there are representatives.

In any case, I apologize for the airing of my work laundry - but notice I never actually mentioned the name of this company. In this entry or any of the ones before it.

Going forward, I really really really need a new job. One that pays better and is good for the psyche as well. At times, this can be too much for one person to digest. I am about to have a daughter in November so this needs to happen ASAP. The problem is, the few leads I have, have not answered me back in a week or two. I understand the summer season as a whole can be slow, but if you're trying to help me attain a new job (one person is actually a head hunter) a more rapid answer is much appreciated.

Moral of the story? Something HAS to happen. I found myself in a similar predicament almost two years ago when I was engaged and really needed a new job because of my upcoming wedding. I need that same miracle to happen and I'm praying it does with every fiber of my being. I want my wife to have a husband who can support her and I want my daughter (well, both of them) to have the best life imaginable. 31...marriage and a child on the way. 32...here's lookin' at you, kid. Our daughter will be here soon and I want her to be healthy and happy and, damn it, let's get me a new job where I can fully advance myself.

With all this said - and I appreciate your understanding and well wishes at this time - let's talk about the summer so far.

As of this moment, I have very mixed feelings about Summer 2015. The weather was always so topsy-turvy and never really felt like summer except for those exceptionally hot days. Nicole and I didn't go on any kind of vacations, even for a weekend. At least last year, although we were saving most of my vacation dates for our honeymoon, we were able to get away for a few weekends. In terms of fun factor, Summer 2014 definitely beats Summer 2015.

What I do like about this summer is the fact that I've been seeing lots of movies lately. For a while there, I didn't go to the movies as much as I would like, but now I've been going very frequently. I've seen the following films (in no particular order): "Jurassic World," "Ant-Man," "Vacation," "Irrational Man," "Terminator: Genisys," "Inside-Out," and a few others. I still find one of my biggest passions in life is the enjoyment of motion pictures and television shows.

In terms of TV, I don't watch all that much other than WWE's flagship show, "Monday Night Raw," but I do enjoy my various DVDs of (usually older) television shows. For me, I never pass up classic sitcoms ranging from "The Honeymooners" to "Boy Meets World" to a more recent addition to my collection, "Cheers." It's been a blast watching the entire series of "Cheers" from the beginning. When I was younger, I always loved the episodes with Rebecca Howe (played by Kirstie Alley). I never did care for the Diane Chambers (played by Shelley Long) episodes when I was younger. Now, I sing a slightly different tune as I enjoyed the Diane episodes this go-around. She had a unique chemistry with Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and it was always a question of "will they?" or "won't they?". I felt their relationship was very real. Now I am up to the Rebecca episodes and have been enjoying those a lot as well. Sam and Rebecca's teasing and flirting (at least in Sam's case) is definitely addicting. It's similar to the "what if?" of Sam and Diane but also very different. I look forward to watching the rest of the series when I have the chance.

The summer also reminds me of the many hangouts we've had with Wilfredo and Leslie. We found ourselves socializing with them every few weekends and that's been very nice. We've caught a few of the aforementioned movies with them and have taken a ride up to Jersey quite a few times, heading to malls like Menlo Park and Jersey Gardens. Nicole hasn't always been able to join us due to her crazy work schedule, but there were times I've hung out with W&L aloneand they've been nothing but terrific company. They never have made me feel like a third wheel.

Another thing I associate with this summer is bachelor parties. Back at the end of June, I went to Mikey G's Bachelor Party in Atlantic City and it was an absolute blast! His groomsmen and relatives are just so warm and endearing. Besides Michael and myself, the other gentlemen who made that weekend fun are Sal (the best man, of course!), Rich M., Jeff, James, and Anthony, along with Mike's relatives the Gangis.

We stayed at Harrah's and they had really nice rooms and overall great decor. The first night (Friday), we ate at a delicious seafood restaurant. We concluded the evening by hanging inside Harrah's beautiful club, called The Pool After Dark. I am not a fan of clubs whatsoever, but it was very entertaining and enjoyable. It was very spacious so you could walk around and it never got so crowded that you felt like you were on top of others. It just looked stunning at night with the natural pool surroundings and all the flashing, decorative lights.

The next night, we had dinner at Carmine's and met up with Mike's cousins whom I mentioned earlier, the Gangis. After that, we went to Providence, inside the Tropicana, which is also a club. I was happy to be there for Michael but to be honest, it wasn't exactly my cup of tea. Not to say that I didn't have a good time but overall that kind of club just isn't my scene. It was super loud and overcrowded at times. I did enjoy the company though, that's for sure!

The next day, as we were on our way back from AC, we stopped at Cracker Barrel. It was some of the guys' first time there and I think they really liked it. A great way to end a very enjoyable weekend.

Two weeks later, I joined Dalvano for his Bachelor Party--also in Atlantic City. He and his crew stayed at Resorts. I actually couldn't go for two nights because I was honestly strapped for cash, so I just went Saturday into Sunday. I took the bus from PABT and it was very affordable. I met the guys in the room as soon as I arrived. In typical Dalvano (and his gang) fashion, they greeted me by hitting me over the head with pillows, haha.

We sort of putzed around for a while and then when to a strip club. I'm not a big fan of those places at all but it is what it is. The guys know that's not my scene so of course they were busting chops, sending many of the strippers over to me. However, the girls soon learned it was no dice. I wasn't trying to be cheap but, again, it's just not my thing. I did enjoy when they took some of the bachelors up on stage and pretty much kicked their asses, embarrassing them in the process. That part was fun!

After the adventures in Stripperland, we went to a really nice dinner at a soul food place called Kelsey's. They played live jazz the whole night and that was awfully pleasant. The food was pretty good too. Best corn bread I've ever had in my life.

Following dinner, I went back to the room briefly and sort of wandered the streets and boardwalk of AC. Not the safest place in the world, but whatever. I then met up again with Michael and some of the others. We went along the beach, stopped at Toga in Caesar's, and roamed the boardwalk some more. We hit the hay around 2:00 AM that night. The next day, I hitched a ride home with Giacomo, and I really appreciated him driving me home.

Both bachelor parties were a lot of fun, but I guess the only difference is that Mike D's crew were slightly more ball busters than Mike G's crew. But really, both sets of dudes are good people. I was glad I could be a part each gathering!

The last thing I wanted to talk about this evening is Michael and Lucie's wedding. It was one of my favorite days of the year. I was honored to be one of Mike's groomsmen. He made me feel a large part of his special day and I want to thank him for that.

The day started at Mike's house around 11:00 AM. Well, actually, Jeff picked me up around 10:40--with Francis and Rich already in the car. We got to Michael's shortly thereafter and were taking pictures, grabbing food, getting ready, and so forth. Then it was off to the church portion. The ceremony was lovely and the church was decorated very nicely. It did run a little bit longer than expected because the priest took his time, admittedly (no disrespect to Mike and Lucie; I think they'd agree as did many people).

When mass concluded, we rode in the limo to DUMBO where we took a lot of terrific pictures. Honestly, that's my only regret from my own wedding, that we weren't able to take more shots outside. However, beggars can't be choosers and many of our pics came out gorgeous regardless so I really shouldn't complain.

Up next was the reception at Marina Del Rey, in my opinion, the best wedding venue in town. The place where I got married, Chateau Briand, is terrific itself but I guess I feel MDR has the slight edge because of its view of the bridge and such. That just adds such a charm to it. I can say that confidently since my sister got married there back in 2007. However, I stand by my word of choosing another venue since I did not want my wedding to blend in with my sister's. CB is magical in and of itself.

Mike and Lucie put on such a terrific affair. Everything was so classy and elegant, yet fun. That's a hard medium to find but they created that atmosphere very well. I saw a lot of familiar faces (besides my immediate family) including: Stephen, Ashley, Wilfredo, Leslie, and even my old friend John Blanco. We all enjoyed their delicious cocktail hour and dinner was off the charts. Their DJ was terrific too, as they had a percussionist and a saxophone player! That guy was amazing.

Again, the night just reeked of FUN. I also have to say that the Best Man, Michael's brother Sal, did a phenomenal job with his speech. I know Sal reads this journal every now and again so buddy if you're reading it right now...I tip my visor (err, hat) to you! It was funny, sentimental, and warm all rolled into one. The guy hit it out of the park.

As for Michael and Lucie, they looked incredible and played a terrific bride and groom. I wish them nothing but happiness, always! Michael has truly been one of my best friends over the years. The guy has never, ever let me down in all the years that I've known him. I can't even recall a single, solitary argument we may have had. Obviously, I'm a peaceful person and avoid arguments in the first place, but you know what I mean. Mike is never too busy to check in and see how my family and I are doing or to hang out, in person. He is really the definition of a best friend and others should take note. (I don't mean that against one particular person, by the way, but in general.) He just personifies what a friend should be. As for Lucie, she has been nothing but warm and caring towards Nicole and I and we're so happy for her as well. The Graffeos in general aren't like family, they are family. They prove that you don't need blood, to be family. Salute!

So I've been blabbering quite a while. I have to say that it's been really nice playing catch up. Although most of my journalism and documentation has been done via photos on Facebook and/or Instagram where I'll caption the fun moments in my life, there's something really nice about writing a detailed entry here in the good ol' LJ.

I hope you are all doing well and that you enjoy the rest of the summer.

Until next time...

--J[o]n[a]t[h]a[n]

PS - I can't wait for SummerSlam weekend! I JUST bought tickets to the NXT show at the Barclay's Center the night before SummerSlam. I'm gonna try to get tickets to the PPV too but they are really expensive on StubHub. But, hey, you never know...

Jun. 7th, 2015

#1!

Wander to Wonder

Good evening, everybody. I figured I would check-in and write a little about my life. Now you know I normally write positive updates, for the most part, but I'm afraid this one may be a bit on the sadder side of the spectrum.

I have to say, I am absolutely sick of my job. I know the term "overworked and underpaid" can sound cliche and redundant, but it is so true in this case. We are severely understaffed. While lunch is paid for on the company's dime, we don't get any breaks. Every month, it seems, more tasks are added to our pile and we are not compensated (monetarily) for them. We don't get raises and we certainly don't get quarterly bonuses as was promised.

Moreover, this past work week was hell. We debit our customers, so the banking files were sent delayed, which caused a huge explosion in the queue. That also meant that payment was sent out later towards the customer's bills, so after that initial boom occurred and things kind of calmed down, then the queue jacked back up because people were complaining about late payments. I also got scolded by one of my supervisors. She claimed the policy was one way but I literally copied and pasted a conversation with another supervisor where he said the protocol was another way. She seemingly didn't care and belittled me anyway. Woof. It was terrible.

I would hope this next week is going to be better, but I can't say for sure, because I think there are more delays we have to worry about. And they've also changed their policy about leaving a little earlier, which I think is complete horse shit. WE DON'T GET ANY BREAKS, so if a coworker has to leave a little sooner than expected, LET THEM LEAVE. While I do like (most of) the people I work with, I can't believe the lack of etiquette - and empathy - that exists in this place. It's unbelievable to me.

Having said all of this, especially with a child on the way, I NEED a better job. One that is good for my family and I financially and mentally. Hearing complaints and dealing with difficult customers week by week can really get to your psyche. When you get home, you hardly have the energy to do anything else. I am backed up on other projects and I honestly don't blame that on laziness. The little free time I do have after work, I have earned that free time, and simply want to relax. However, I have promised myself that no matter how bad work is, I have to go home and toss out resumes. I've been trying to reach out to various friends because I hate sending out job applications blindly, because, Lord Knows, it's not what you know but who you know.

While we're being honest here, I am also very sad about our finances. We don't really have the greatest savings because of so many bills...rent, cable, phone bill, credit cards, the gas bill...it goes on and on. At least if I got a better paying job, we could manage this better. Come the fall, we really want Nicole to be a stay-at-home mom, so a lot of the pressure is going to fall on me. By the grace of God, I hope my situation changes.

Our ultimate goal is to have our own home/condo, our own car, and certainly, to provide the best life for our little one that's on the way. In order to do this...we have to take one step back, to take three steps forward. Nicole and I are doing something that we're not thrilled to do, but something practical. In early September, we are moving in to my parents' house. Now, I know what you're probably thinking, "Why are you moving back there?" The truth is, while we really like our apartment, it is very expensive. And I personally hate paying someone to rent their space. I want to be paying my mortgage, not someone else's. By moving back to the house on Harrow, my parents are giving us a significant cut in rent, while also taking much of that money and using it towards savings. They are making a HUGE sacrifice and we are already eternally grateful. Essentially, they are changing the basement (the former DanoDome) into an apartment. It'll have a living room and a kitchen attached. We will then sleep upstairs in the room we used to sleep in and my old room will be the baby's room. We intend to do this for approximately three years, so that we can save up. Obviously, kids are expensive too, so overall, we feel this is the route to go. You have to do, what you have to do.

Besides my home and job situation, another thing that's making me sad is the fact that I don't see certain friends as often. There are some friends who have been awesome and keep in touch as if nothing has changed, but then there are some whom I feel I have grown apart with. While I hate pointing fingers, I can tell you that it is definitely not my doing. I have tried to get together with certain friends several times and they always appear busy. It's sad, too, because some of these people I've known for a long time. I understand life changes and so do priorities, but I do believe that the friendships you have built over the years should not take a backseat because you're suddenly in a serious relationship or got a new job or whatever. You should always show people what they mean to you. Sometimes, texting and occasional calls aren't enough. There is nothing like face-to-face. Never take your friends for granted, no matter how much your life has changed.

I have, however, realized that not everyone is going to be as kind to you as you are to them. It's something that I've learned along the way. I refuse to put extra effort into something when I constantly get rejected for hangouts. I'm at a point where, if you want to hang out we'll hang out. If not, oh well.

Like I said earlier, I absolutely apologize for the morbidness of this entry, but life isn't always peaches and cream. I always like to preach positively but even I have my breaking point on things. This is the most down in the dumps I've been in a while. I know I'll get over it, but sometimes it's nice to get things off of your chest.

Also, another bummer I found out a few days ago, the Sizzler on Metropolitan Ave. closed. Man, talk about a bad week. :-P

Hopefully by the next entry, I'll be in better spirits. Prayers and good vibes are welcomed. Thank you for your time and I apologize if I sounded a little whiny. To quote my late, great Grandma, "Better days ahead."

Until next time...

Jonathan

Apr. 30th, 2015

Superman

Remember Me?

Hello, LJ world. It has been two and a half months since my last entry. I think this may be a record for the longest time in between entries! It's just so difficult to keep up with these days, to be honest.

For starters, as many of you know, my job requires me to sit in front of a computer for 8-9 hours a day, so when I get home from work, it's hard to go on a computer again. The most I'll do is web surf but I mean to specifically find the inspiration to write an entry. Besides that, I am completely backed up with other things. For instance - a very big instance - I have two episodes of our home-made sitcom The Insiders that I have to edit. We have already filmed 90% of the two-part finale, but things got so hectic. There was the wedding in the fall, then the holidays, then we went away to Orlando, then there was the passing of Nikki's grandfather Joe, and then I was finally ready to edit. Except, my new computer didn't really work with some of the older sources that I had. So after several weeks, I finally found the correct software I could use to digitize all the footage. I have hours and hours of tapes that I have to edit. I am SO unbelievably antsy to start editing the show and seeing the final product. And here's a bit of extra trivia...we began filming episode 13 (part 1) in September of 2013! It's been a long while of filming (though very sporatic) to say the least. So yes, this is definitely going to be a priority over the next several months. I plan to release it by at least the conclusion of the summer/early fall.

Besides the aforementioned project, there's just so much other stuff going on. When you're an adult, finding time to do the things you once did can be a bit challenging. I also find that I get tired a lot earlier than I used to. Back in my QC (college) days, I would be up until 2:00-3:00 in the morning and I now I can barely make it to 11:00. It kind of sucks but I guess it does have its advantages. I usually will get at least a 7 or 8 hours of sleep which is definitely essential when you're working 5 days straight. It was different than when I was in retail, where the schedule was all over the place. You could kind of push your limits a little more, though it certainly had its boundaries too.

Having said that, and to touch on what I briefly mentioned earlier, back in March we lost Nicole's Grandpa Joe. Grandpa was a great man whom I'm so happy I got to meet. He had an on-and-off battle with cancer...first getting it around a year ago, seemingly surviving it, but then getting it again back in the earlier part of this year. Since Grandpa saw the pain his twin sister Joanie went through with chemo, he decided not to opt for that. He passed away in mid-March as a result, and Nicole and I, along with other family members, flew down to Charlotte, NC for the services. It kind of sucked too that, besides the fact that we were going for such a sad event, it came so soon after our trip to Disney World. I had to take 4 extra days off about 3 weeks after returning from Orlando. I told my boss that he didn't have to pay me for these days (because I wasn't sure of his stance on time off for bereavement) but that I still needed my remaining vacation days for previous obligations coming up in the summer and fall; he kindly enough paid me anyway, which I appreciate. With that said, I wouldn't have missed Grandpa's services for the world and am grateful that my workplace was understanding. In any case, the only perhaps positive thing about that impromptu trip to NC was seeing Nicole's relatives like Grandma, Uncle Scott, Aunt Cyndi, their kids, cousin Charlie, and getting to see Aunt Chrissy after such a long while and, of course, meeting her husband and their adorable son Francis. Nicole and I plan to go back to NC in the summer and this time, although we'll certainly miss Grandpa's presence, at least it can be under happier circumstances.

Besides that, our Disney trip in February was a lot of fun as always. We hit up the main four Disney parks as well as Universal this time around. We also had the chance to hang out with my old NBC cohort and friend, Lauren L. as well as her girlfriend Katie. Restaurant-wise, we went to our favorites as we usually do, such as The Sci-Fine Dine-In Theater, The '50s Prime-Time Cafe, The Liberty Tree Tavern, and The San Angel Inn in Epcot's Mexico pavilion. However, we did try some new places as well including The Wave over at Disney's Contemporary Resort, which was DELICIOUS, and also Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot's Canadian pavilion. While I had been there many years ago (2004), Nicole was never there. It was a great treat, especially since we celebrated our *6*-year dating anniversary that evening. The only thing that I kind of regret about the trip is the weather. Of course, we couldn't control it, but because NY's winter was nothing short of crappy, we thought going to Florida would escape that climate. While it was certainly warmer and didn't, you know, snow, it was still really chilly. We had to wear jackets and long pants and weren't used to being in Florida under those conditions. I was telling Nicole yesterday that I am going to miss going in the summertime. But as Nicole said, there was a reason we specifically went in February. Why? Well, I'm glad you asked...

On February 22nd, the day before our trip (which was incidentally the Academy Awards and Wilfredo's annual Oscar party), Nicole and I found out that....SHE'S PREGNANT!!!!!! Now, while we haven't posted it publicly to Facebook yet, I know that most of the readers of this journal should know already. If we haven't gotten the chance to tell you, however, well...now you know! We are waiting until Mother's Day to post it on Facebook for the rest of our family and friends to see. It is amazing news and we are both so happy! We admittedly had been trying. Nicole wanted to have a baby to coincide with turning 30 so we didn't wait very long after we were married. Then again, we were together 5 and 1/2 years, dating-wise, so it's not like our relationship itself is very new. And, by the way, to go back to an earlier point...Nicole wanted to go to Disney in the winter because she had a feeling she would be pregnant in the summer and knew that she wouldn't have been able to experience as many attractions over there.

Regarding the big news, our parents' reactions were hysterical, too. We had told them when we returned from WDW and they were ecstatic. We had my niece Victoria FaceTime my parents through my sister's phone. After several tries, she finally spit it out and said, "I'll be having another cousin!". My parents thought she meant my brother-in-law John's sister(s) at first, but we clarified it was Nicole and they pretty much jumped for joy. As for Nicole's parents, that was another classic. It was Nicole's cousin Ayla's fourth birthday and after all the gifts were opened, Robyn opened up her sweater to reveal a shirt that said, "Great sisters are promoted to Aunt - November 2015." At first, some family members didn't get it and/or didn't read all the wording but once they got it/understood it...the place erupted! Nicole's mother bawled and her dad was in a complete state of shock. After he digested it, he gave Nicole and I big hugs and was thrilled. He said it was great news, especially since his father's health was failing, so it was definitely a pick-me-up.

As for our friends, they've also reacted greatly. With a lot of them, we've used the wording, "She's eating for two!" or "She can't have that (alcoholic) drink because...". We've told a lot of friends in different ways and on different days and they've all been nothing but supportive. And trust me...we appreciate it!

You might be wondering how I feel and I have to admit that it still hasn't hit me 100%. I mean, obviously I know there's a baby DiDonato on the way, and am very happy, but it's one of those things where you can never fully be prepared. I'm taking it one day at a time and am enjoying watching Nicole's belly grow. I know she is certainly experiencing certain pains that she never had before and I certainly will be there to support her in any way that I can. Sometimes I think she can be too much of a worry wart, but in the end, I'm super appreciative of her being careful and pretty much housing our baby for the next six (more) months.

In related news, I'm still itching to find a better-paying job. My current occupation has its good days and bad days, but overall, I really just need to make more money. I mean, I certainly would like it to be in the field of my choosing and that desire will never die, but knowing that a baby is on its way...a higher salary would be ideal. There's unfortunately not room for much growth where I am now so that's why if I can attain something somewhere where there's room for advancement AND there's a pay increase...man, I sure hope so. Also, additional thanks to my coworkers whom I just told the big news to recently. They've all been very supportive and I appreciate it.

Segueing to another topic, Nicole and I recently mailed out our Thank You cards for our wedding. They came out beautiful, as our photographer Robert Longo did an exceptional job compiling them. We picked the photos and the fonts and such but the way he laid out the photos and the quality of the cards is just terrific. We also included some additional photos for those who had pictures snapped of them by our pro photographer that they may have not seen. Nicole and I received a lot of praise for the cards so far and we are very glad. Obviously, with Thank You cards you shouldn't expect a thank you in return. However, for those that did so, all I can say is: I'm thankful you're thankful we're thankful. It means a lot!

I was also telling Nicole the other day that I know our wedding was now over six months ago, but I think about it every day. Every. Single. Day. I am still overwhelmed by the fact that it turned out to be such a beautiful day. At least once a day (or more), I relive a certain part of our wedding in my head. Whether it be seeing a picture or just something that reminds me of it. You have no idea how grateful we are to everyone who made it so special for us. I just cannot wait to see the edited video! Nicole and I are highly anticipating that!

Going forward, I'm really looking forward to what the spring and summer have to offer. I'll be going to 2 bachelor parties (Mike Graffeo and Dalvano, respectively) and their weddings, as well as a couple of weekend trips outside of that (Baltimore to visit RJP, NC to visit Grandma and the Corrigans, etc). It should be an exciting time of year!

Well, I just wanted to briefly update my journal to reflect this time in my life. I hope to update again soon and in more detail (i.e. certain social gatherings and events that have been scattered over the past several months/weekends). Thanks, as always, if you read this.

Until next time...

--J[o]na[t]h[a]n

Feb. 15th, 2015

Superman

Winter Highs and Lows

What's up folks? Just checking in for a mid-Winter update. I haven't written in here since the new year began. Last night, I read back on a few entries from the end of 2014 and really enjoyed that. Although I may not post as much as I once did, it's always great looking back on these journal entries, especially during special times.

So far, 2015 hasn't been too bad. Winter is easily my least favorite season because it's just a pain in the ass to get around in with the inclimate weather and I just don't do well in frigid temperatures. But having said all of that, the social events have kept me from going nuts.

Back in January, we had back to back weekends that were very fun. On January 17th, Nicole and I, along with many of our good friends, attended the wedding of John GL and Rita. I was honored, too, as John had chosen me to be one of his groomsmen. It was held at the Floral Terrace in New Hyde Park.

After getting ready at my parents' house, I drove myself there (Nicole was not with me as she was getting her hair and makeup done and such) where I met up with the other groomsmen. Those gentlemen included Antonio, Kenn, David, Chris, and Johnny (yes, John's brother's name is Johnny). Gina (Liberta) and Karol (Cuneealy) accompanied their husbands as well. We mostly hung around in the bridal suite until the ceremony had begun. It was nice to be such a big part of John and Rita's day; I was appreciative of the opportunity they had given me to be a part of it as a groomsman. I tried to take as many pictures as possible as John had asked me beforehand. I know what he means, as, at my own wedding, I was very appreciative to those who took pictures. It's fun to see - beyond what your pro-photographer takes - what your friends/guests come up with.

J&R's wedding ceremony was actually very nice. It was situated in a room on the first floor of the hall. It was still decorated with Christmas-themed items since Christmas was less than a month prior. The minister included both Italian and Chinese traditions into the ceremony to honor John and Rita's ethnicities.

Once the ceremony was over, we all went up to the bridal suite for some food. We then took it upon ourselves to join the guests during the cocktail hour as well. There we got to see people like Stephen & Ashley, Kim & Vinnie, Joe & Allyson, Anthony & Gina, Richie Boy, Chris (Corrigan), Jackie, Robyn, Lauren & Dennis, and many others.

Of course, following that, was John & Rita's reception. We were sitting at a table with Kim, Vinnie, Chris (Corrigan), Jackie, Robyn, Matt, Christy, Melanie and her guest. The neighboring table included Stephen, Ashley, Joe, Wilfredo, Leslie, and others. Across the room was a table with Billy, Eddie, and Richie.

I found that the food was rather good and it was just a classy affair in general. You could tell John and Rita really put their all into it. The overall decor and theme of the wedding was tasteful. I also really enjoyed Chris M's Best Man speech. It was nice, flowed well, and sounded natural. And the DJ was terrific! He incorporated a lot of songs from all different generations, giving different age groups a reason to get up there. Their Venetian hour was great, too, as it included everything and anything. They get extra points for the snow cones!

The only bit of blemish came at the end when Kim and Eddie exchanged words. I don't usually even like to report stuff like this, but it just saddened me something like that had to happen at a wedding out of all places. I think there's a time and a place for everything. I'm not going to get into who-did-what but hopefully, going forward, there can be some peace.

Outside of that, once again, John & Rita's wedding gets an A all around. I was happy to be a part of it!

The following weekend, Nicole and I went to David & Karol's son James' Christening. First of all, that boy is absolutely adorable. Secondly, it was a fun party. Nicole and I enjoyed the table we sat at, with the likes of Kenn, Kim, Vinnie, John, Rita, Chris M, and others. The conversations were funny, to say the least.

After the Baptism, Kim and Vinnie came by our apartment for the first time. They really seemed to like it and used that word "cozy" again. Almost everyone that has come by has used that word. We drank some wine, had some crackers and cheese, and the VinMan and I played some video games. We busted out my old Super Nintendo and chose "Battletoads/Double Dragon" as our game of choice. We ended up beating the whole game, which was rather fun. It was an entertaining night and we'd love to see them again soon. In general, I find that the double dates Nicole and I go on are usually a lot of fun.

Another double date we had with Kim and Vinnie occurred a couple of weeks prior, as we went to B.B. King in the city to see a show called "Strictly Sinatra." It starred a crooner who, as the title suggests, sang many Sinatra songs. His name is Michael Dutra and we thought he did a great job. The sucky part was that the show was on a Monday night, but luckily we were all able to let loose and enjoy it for what it was. I would definitely go see him again or another show like it! Kim and Vinnie were saying that they saw a Rat Pack tribute show there once. Count me in if that happens again!

The day after the aforementioned Christening was my annual Royal Rumble party. This was the first year that it was being held at our new place, so I worked pretty hard on preparing it. While the setup is somewhat similar to my parents' basement, our living room is definitely a bit smaller. Therefore, we had to rearrange some of our furniture. We put the big couch in our computer room and just lined up chairs - stadium-style - against the living room wall. Then, I added a big table in the center of the kitchen to accommodate the 6 foot hero. It was definitely cramped, yet, as most guests reported, it was still comfortable and everyone seemingly enjoyed themselves.

The winner of this year's "Royal Rumble Raffle" is our first ever TWO-TIME "Rumble Raffle" Winner...Mr. Erik Luers!! Congratulations to him. Then of course, we had side-bets as well including the Wild Cards (if you get the # to the wrestler chosen in advance, you win that bet). I actually won a Wild Card as Kane, so that was pretty cool. I was appreciative of it especially since the Rumble is easily the most expensive PPV I host because of the sheer amount of people that come by...in terms of the food, the bets/the prizes, and so forth. As long as everyone had a good time, though, then mission: accomplished.

Also, some wrestling fans were bitching about this year's Rumble. As much as maybe Roman Reigns wouldn't have been my first choice to win nor the way he won wasn't exactly the way I would have booked it, I thought it was overall a very entertaining show. I thought the triple threat match for the WWE Championship was very exciting and I though the Rumble match, overall, was pretty fun. I felt it was world's better than year's PPV, that's for sure. I guess we shall see how the tide of the scene will change going into WrestleMania. Seems like they're backtracking again and going with Daniel Bryan. As long as it's an enjoyable 'Mania and not a stinker, I say, let them do what they have to do.

Speaking of wrestling, and not to sound like your everyday mark (which, I know sometimes I can sound like though, whatever, I'd rather not be complaining half the damn time)...I really have been enjoying NXT. They have a great crop of talent. I even watched their special NXT Takeover Rival this past Wednesday. I was actually kind of sick, so I stayed in and watched the show from the comfort of my couch. I literally viewed it from beginning to end. God, do I miss the days of 2 hour wrestling shows. It was the perfect amount of time to hold my attention and there were at least 3 or 4 great matches on the event. It is definitely a separate entity than Raw, but I think that's why I like it. I enjoy that they are separate entities. I tip my hat to the talent, for sure.

The weekend following the Rumble was a bit more relaxing, as on that Friday evening, I joined Jason and Donald for a dinner at Joe's Restaurant in Ridgewood. It's always terrific catching up with those two; it's life we're a comedy team when we're together and naturally my time working at the NBC Store is always a highlight. While I disliked it towards the end of my tenure there, I'll always take with me the great friendships I attained from that place, this one being no exception. It was just a great night, "great for the soul" as Jay said. The following day, Nicole and I joined Wilfredo, Leslie, Robyn, and Chris (Corrigan) for a lunch at Dallas BBQ in the city, which was pleasant. And at night, Chris and I went to see "Birdman" which was an entertaining film about a typecast actor who produces and acts in a Broadway show. It was interesting to see the ins-and-outs and certainly the struggles of an actor and a show of the caliber. While the film is fictitious, it had a lot of real issues that I'm sure many people in the business go through. To end that weekend, on Sunday evening, Nicole and I went to Manor Oktoberfest with her parents and Chris and Michael to watch the SuperBowl. The food was delcious and the game was pretty good. Oh and I almost forgot...we won $500 on a bet!! :-)

Last weekend was my nephew Johnny's 6th birthday party at Bounce U in Brooklyn. It's similar to a Discovery Zone. It was fun getting to see family and friends at that event. Can't believe my nephew/Godson is already six! Unreal.

At night, we joined Joe (Showstoppa) and Chris for their annual birthday bash. It was held at Connolly's Corner in Maspeth. We saw the usual familiar faces and had a grand ol' time. I even got a chance to catch up with my buddy RJP, as he was in from Baltimore that weekend. He recently moved there about a month or two ago. I'm looking forward to visiting him in the Spring/Summer. We shall see.

Speaking of trips...Nicole and I booked a trip to Disney World and will be going there next week. Basically, when we looked at 2015 as a whole, we decided to our big trip in the winter. The summer is already packed, with two weddings (Michael Graffeo and Dalvano, respectively). Plus, Eddie gave us tickets to Disney World that his mother won and that he didn't plan on using. Rather than have those go to waste, Nicole and I decided to take advantage of those comped tickets. Not to mention, my old NBC cohort, Lauren, gave us comped tickets to Universal as well, so this trip is definitely worth it. And last, but certainly not least, Nicole and I have been trying...you know, for a baby...and figured we should get a trip out of the way in the earlier part of the year. We will probably take a weekend trip here or there in the summer but ultimately it appears this Orlando vacation will be the big one this year.

I'm beyond excited and so is she! As you may remember from the last entry, Nicole has gotten a lot of extra work within her theatre system, so we don't see each other as much as we would like. This is the perfect chance to get away during this awful Winter and spend some extra time together in our favorite place. I know we're going to have a great time...this is actually the first time since 2010 we're going for a week and others won't be joining us. In 2012, my parents came with us and in 2013 Jason and Joanna were there as well. Those trips were awesome in their own right, but I am really excited to be spending this trip mono y mono with Nikki. There's so many weeks where we don't spend much time together so I know this will definitely be just what Doctor Disney ordered.

As for this weekend, it was a pretty nice one so far. Yesterday was Valentine's Day and Nicole had work, of course. I was able to book a quick dinner at White Castle. I know a lot of people laugh at us for going there but we can't tell you how much fun it is. They dress every table up with a tablecloth and Valentine's Day decor. And they actually have a waiter or waitress serve you! It's just a ball of fun and something we've done consecutively for three years now. Nicole had to usher at "Honeymoon in Vegas" shortly thereafter but she did take off of her night show, in other words her maintenance duties at "If/Then" the Musical. At least we were able to salvage some of the night as well. That brings us to tonight, where, after the matinee show at "If/Then" Nikki has to work, we will be eating a more fancy Valentine's dinner at London Lennie's on Woodhaven Blvd. Can't wait!

As you can see, this Winter has been jam-packed. Although the weather has been abysmal and as I mentioned earlier, I pretty much hate it, I can't complain social-event-wise. It's been pretty fun in that regard.

The only thing that I've been down about is my job. I absolutely NEED a new one, both because I want a better salary and because I just can't take the protocol anymore. Every week it's something new and ridiculous. Sure, we have our good days, but there's plenty of bad ones too and I just want to work somewhere more stable, admittedly. I'm fortunate for the full-time job itself and the benefits, but as a 31-year-old married man, I want more.

Having said all of this, I hope everyone is well and that you are doing your best to fight the Winter cold and certainly the blues that go along with it.

Until next time...

--J[o]n[a]t[h]a[n]

Jan. 4th, 2015

Garfield & Odie Holiday

Christmas Recap & More

Hi folks, Happy 2015! Although I posted that little recap from Facebook, I figured I would write an update specifically for the LJ world.

First and foremost, I am writing on our *brand new* computer! That's right, our apartment aka DiPartment has its very own computer. We had been toying with the notion of getting one over the past month. When we had gotten back from the Honeymoon - and let's face it, that was certainly expensive - we had decided not to right away. Now that the holidays are over, and we had a little extra money because Nicole has been doing extra work within her theatre chain, we decided to finally get one. It was the last piece of the puzzle of the essential electronics that we wanted in our new place, including cable television (Verizon FiOS) and Wifi.

I had purchased the computer the other night with my dad, whom had joined me at Best Buy on Queens Blvd. Nicole was at work so I had dad accompany me since he's actually very computer savvy. Nicole and I had a certain model type and price range in mind, but ultimately, we decided on a model that was slightly more expensive but we knew could handle our heavy photo and video editing. We decided on the HP Envy desktop computer. However, the funny part is, we chose a Dell monitor. Dell had been our computer for many, many years so I consider it a passing of the torch so-to-speak. Also, while I am a fan of Apple products, I still prefer a PC as I feel it is slightly more user friendly than a Mac. Or it could be that I'm just a fan of Windows. I find their photo/video editing equipment a bit easier to use as well.

Having said all of this, I also wanted to talk briefly about the holidays. Thanksgiving last month was very nice, as we had spent the day at the Corrigan/Urem/Suarez household. Then of course, the madness began the day after, as it was Black Friday followed by the blink-and-you-miss it holiday season. This year, Christmastime felt a little different for me. Obviously, I was now a married man and no longer living with my parents at their house. It wasn't a bad different, it was just different, that's all. In general, the buildup to the holidays didn't have the same feeling it had had in previous years and it really didn't feel like the holiday season this year. I tried to be in spirit as much as I could but there was something that just didn't connect right away this year. I'm actually almost relieved to report that other friends had felt the same way. I think it may just be one of those cases where the older you get, the faster the time goes, and the world around you - including during Christmastime - feels different.

I can say that through all these changes and such, I was still able to enjoy it nonetheless. It was nice being able to put up our own tree. Nicole and I bought a pre-lit, artificially lit tree at Home Depot. We had plenty of ornaments to decorate it with and just added things around the apartment as the season wore on. I can certainly say the apartment was Christmas-sy. I am also glad to say that I helped my parents put up their (indoor) decorations as well and when I'd go to their house, I felt that old magic I had been used to. One of my favorite sights all year round (similar to the way I feel when I see Cinderella castle at the Magic Kingdom upon our arrival) is actually my parents' living room during the holiday season--their tree being the central focal point. So many wonderful memories occurred in that room over the years, especially at Christmas, so as I mentioned, there was/is a certain magic to it.

I'm also happy to report that I was able to keep certain traditions alive. I joined Stephen and Chris a few weeks ago at Roosevelt Field Mall to take our annual picture with Santa. We were originally supposed to go on a Tuesday evening, but Worm had gotten sick, so we rescheduled for a Sunday morning. Fast forward to that morning, and the mall was a madhouse. Well, it was the final Sunday before Christmas. But...I don't know...there was something really fun about it. We grabbed a tasty breakfast at the Carle Place Diner and then drove right over to the mall. The line was very lengthly and was the longest we had ever waited to meet old Saint Nick but it was worth it, as usual. We took two pictures with him: the regular one where we're all smiling, and one where we're fist bumping with Santa (wrestling fans may remember The Shield faction posing like that from time to time). As Stephen said the other day when we were reminiscing about that day, it had finally felt like Christmastime. I couldn't agree more.

Later that day, there was another tradition that had continued, and that is my usual trip to the mall with Lauren. Just a refresher, Lauren is probably my best female friend outside of my wife and other family members. I met Lauren through my sister as they have been best friends since childhood. One Christmas season, I'd say probably 12 years ago, my sister had her work holiday party so Lauren and I went off on our own. We had such a fun time that night AND got a lot of Christmas shopping done, that we've kept it going every year ever since. I think we only missed one year if I'm not mistaken. In any case, Lauren and I continued our tradition in 2014. We had gone to Roosevelt Field (and yes, I was there just mere hours prior with Chris and Stephen) and got so much done. It was probably the most shopping I had done the entire Christmas season. More so than anything, it was a great way to catch up with one another and I'm glad we were able to squeeze it in.

As for Christmas itself, it was actually very nice this year. Of course, my family and I miss my uncle Dom severely. You may remember, he passed away in April of 2013 and the holidays have not been the same. We usually at least see my cousin Alexis (his daughter), Gaetano (her husband), and Aunt Ro (his wife) but they didn't even come in this year. While that definitely saddened us, I'm elated to say that Christmas Eve was not a total bust. My Aunt Roseann, uncle Frank, and cousins Paul and Have joined the fray this year. They really breathed some new life into Christmas Eve, along with our holiday mainstays Aunt Connie, Uncle John, and Danielle. We all gelled very well, I'm happy to say. Because Aunt Roseann and co. are from my dad's side and Aunt Connie and co. are from my mom's side and don't know each other that well, we weren't sure what the dynamic would be like. But, again, everyone got along swimmingly. It was a very lovely evening, I have to say.

Dinner itself was great as my parents put out the usual seafood spread including shrimps, lobster tails, and linguini with clam sauce. The Santa/Elf tradition continued as well with uncle Frank playing Santa opposite my Elf. I'm glad to see that tradition continued as well! As usual, everyone got a great kick out of it. It's always a pleasure performing as that character.

Also, this had been the first Christmas Eve Nicole had spent with my family since 2009, so that was an extra special treat.

See, we had decided to split up for the holidays certain years, because the Eve for both of our families was very big. Last year, however, we decided since we were engaged it was finally time to start spending the Eve with one another. So in 2013, I joined Nicole and her family it Farmingdale, which was terrific. This year, she came by my parents' house and that was lovely as well. If we keep this back-and-forth tradition going, I'd be absolutely fine with that.

Christmas Day was also great, as I joined Nicole at her family's house in Woodside. Her Opa (Grandpa in German) put out an amazing spread, including Virginia ham, crispy potatoes, and stuffed cabbage. I liked it so much, I had seconds. Our gift swap at the end of the night was also fun as we did our annual "Kris Kringle" gift exchange where it remains a surprise until the end who got you; meaning, the person to choose a gift for you that particular year. I got Nicole's father and he really liked my gifts, which included a Harley Davidson gift card; right up his alley! Nicole's mom was actually the one who got me this year and bought me a Disney gift card, which is always very useful.

Oh, I forgot to mention, Christmas morning was pretty sweet, too, as Nicole and I celebrated our first Christmas together. We got each other some awesome gifts which I'm looking forward to using over the next few winter months (which, personally, I feel can be a bit boring). Before heading to Woodside, we stopped by my parents' house real fast and exchanged gifts with them. As usual they were very generous in their presents and I'd like to think Nicole and I did well this year. We got them a little extra something (both sets of parents, actually) as a way to say Thank You for helping us make our wedding as amazing as it was. We splurged on gift certificates per each set of parents to Peter Luger Steakhouse. I'm sure they'll enjoy that as that place is fanastic! Best steak ever.

While Christmas Eve and Day wound up being pretty terrific, this holiday season did have some downers, too. Nicole had gotten extra work within her theatre system (which I did mention earlier) and as great as that is monetarily, it can take a toll on a couple that is newlywed. I was working my usual 9:00-5:00 shift and she'd literally be leaving for work when I got home. That's the way it had been for a while - at least 6 out of 7 days a week - for the entire month of December. It was definitely a bit sad as we missed one another and admittedly even butted heads a bit (because of the scheduling and so forth), but ultimately it was very worth it and I'm awfully proud of her.

The other thing is, it sucked not seeing my sister, bro-in-law, and the kids for Christmas. If I am being honest, this was supposed to be their year to come by our parents' house for Christmas Eve as they had done back in 2012 (meaning, they'd switch houses every other year). Except this year, they were doing the day with my parents, so we missed each other completely since my parents celebrated Christmas Day at my aunt's house in Westchester. In other words, Erica and company went to my aunt's so there was really no time to see them. Again, that was kind of sad as that had never happened before. Luckily, the Saturday that followed (December 27th), we all met up to go with our cousins to a dinner at Bamonte's in Brooklyn, which turned out to be a great night. Erica and the kids came by earlier that day to swap presents which was nice. But I don't know...there's nothing like seeing each other on the actual holiday. Then again, beggars can't be choosers, right?

For New Year's Eve this year, Nicole and I spent the first half of the night at our apartment with Wilfredo, Leslie, and Robyn. Then, we met up with Jason and Joanna for a little while and went to Exo Cafe on Austin Street. On our walk over, the "Austin Street Ninja," Erik, popped up behind us...scaring us in the process, haha. But that was cool running into him.

At Exo Cafe, more friends joined us, including Rita (the soon-to-be-Mrs. Pan), Chris (Corrigan), Eddie, and Elisa. We had a four course meal and it was an enjoyable evening for the most part. I don't absolutely love New Year's, the way I do Christmas, but I've learned to appreciate it more since Nicole is a pretty big fan of it.

The worst part, I'd have to say, is right now. Christmas and New Year's are both over and it's the winter. Everything kind of seems empty and downright boring, to be honest. The only thing I will say is that this was literally the first weekend in a while where I got to just sit around and not do much. The past few months were insane because of our wedding and then Christmas was shortly thereafter so there wasn't much down time. Today, for instance, I napped a couple of times, and vegged out in front of the TV. I don't do that too often, as I mentioned, so it was definitely a treat.

With all of this aside, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year's. May 2015 bring you much luck, love, joy, and blessings. Thanks as always for reading this if you did.

Until next time...

--J[o]n[a]t[h]a[n]

Jan. 1st, 2015

The Dashing One

Happy 2015! And reflecting on 2014...

Figured I would paste this status I posted on Facebook yesterday to reflect on last year. Happy 2015!

___________________________

Before the clock strikes midnight later on this evening, I just wanted to reflect on 2014. It has been an amazing year for me, admittedly. I'm sure some of you are sick of hearing this by now (lol) although understand it's only been two months...I am extremely grateful as I got to marry Nicole after dating for 5 years and the experience was awesome. October 25, 2014 is a day I'll remember forever and will always want to relive through photos, video, and certainly, memories in my own mind. A giant THANK YOU to all those who attended - and even those who didn't physically but did so in spirit - I salute you! You guys were an amazing support system throughout our journey...especially our parents!

And it wasn't just that particular date that was exciting, but everything that surrounded it. From our spectacular Hawaiian honeymoon, to the food and cake tastings, to our respective bachelor and bachelorette parties, to the creation of the invitations, to the rehearsal, our time engaged was just an unbelievably exciting time. While it had its fair share of stress, there was something ridiculously fun about it, knowing that our big day was on the horizon. Again thank you for your support and I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record, haha.
I'm happy to see that many people who are important to me have found their own happiness. Love was in the air for a lot of close friends and family members. Whether you got engaged/celebrated an engagement or have entered into a solid relationship, know that I'm so happy for you. And for those who had children that were born this year, I wish you the absolute best as well. And, heck, even those who moved to another part of the country to fulfill a new dream, I tip my hat to you. You all know who you are.

Additionally, it was a big year in the sense that in August I moved from my [parents'] house in Forest Hills to an apartment in Rego Park. It's a small place but it's very likable, I'd like to think. Whenever friends come to visit, they've used the words "nice" and "cozy," which are my sentiments exactly. I'm very pleased that we found such a good place...for the time being, anyway.

Another change included my job, which happened at the very tail end of 2013 but certainly 99% of my experiences at the office occurred in 2014. While my time in retail was fun, it was nice to switch occupations and obtain a job with a 9:00 - 5:00 (sometimes...) schedule. It was also entertaining getting to work with three long-time friends of mine (RJP, Ali, and Ted). I may not exactly love every facet of what I currently do for a living, but I'm certainly 100% grateful for the opportunity it provided me. I look forward to additional opportunities 2015 may bring to the table.

This year also marked the very last filming dates for the home-made sitcom I produce(d) along with my friends Michael and Sal called "The Insiders." Throughout the year, we got together to film various scenes for the show and I truly cherished every minute of it because I knew this was the last time we'd be doing this after over twelve years. I look forward to finally getting to edit and complete the two-part finale that we filmed this year (and even some parts in 2013!). I can't wait to premiere them in their entirety. A lot of time and dedication went into the production. Thank you to our amazing cast including close friends and family members.

Lastly, 2014 also had some shockers, that's for sure. The death of Robin Williams was very sad - and even less than a month later - Joan Rivers. It proves that even though you may not know these personalities in real life (though I did get to meet RW in person and he seemed like a great guy), they still manage to touch you, especially when their life ends so suddenly. And I do have to bring this up despite it being old news and probably so trivial to many of you: when the Undertaker lost his his (winning) streak at WrestleMania XXX back in April, that was a shocker too. Though the matches are predetermined, I can vouch for all those who were watching it with me on that night, our jaws were certainly on the floor when Brock ("BRRRROCK") Lesnar defeated the Undertaker. I respect and like the Undertaker but wouldn't consider myself a huge fan of his like some others, however, that was definitely a newsworthy surprise of 2014 IMO.

Of course, just because things in my life were going well, doesn't mean I don't sympathize with the hardships that have occurred over the year and the shape this world is in right now, especially the last few months of 2014. I hope that we can all live more peacefully in the upcoming year as ALL lives matter.

Have a blessed, happy, and healthy 2015! 2014 thank you, for being awesome.

All my best,

JD

Dec. 4th, 2014

JD Nikki Beach

Merry Wedding Recap

Hey folks! Hope everyone's having a great holiday season. It's been a month and a half since I last updated so I figured I would check in real fast.

Firstly, I can honestly say that my wedding was fabulous. I don't say that conceitedly either. I say that because all those involved made it as such. It was certainly the best day of my life...and how could it not be? I married the love of my life with most of my family and friends in attendance. I think, given those details, if your wedding day is not the best, or at least, one of the best days of your life then you're probably doing something wrong.

I remember looking out into that crowd and seeing all the familiar faces. I said this last time and I'll repeat it now, it was a literal Who's-Who. It was very...biographical. You just look around and have so many special connections with everyone in attendance. You can't help reflecting on what they mean to you and if applicable, what they've meant to your relationship. Again, all those in attendance were a fabulous support system.

The fun really began two nights earlier at our rehearsal dinner. Father Kevin led the way as he tried to guide 10 groomsmen, 8 bridesmaids, our parents, friends' significant others, family, and certainly one ring bearer and three flower girls. I'm sure that was a bit of a struggle for Father Kevin who had to restore some order along the way. For instance, Ayla and Eliza were playing with the bells that usually ring during the Eucharist and you could see his eyes bulging out of his face. His overall reactions were pretty funny and people got a kick out of him, even if that wasn't exactly the intention, haha.

Following that we had gone to Donovan's Pub, which was right across the street, and had a fabulous dinner in there. The room was split up pretty evenly and, as Wilfredo said, kind of reminded me of Gaston's Tavern from Beauty and The Beast. Even on that night, I looked around and couldn't believe that I was at my own wedding rehearsal.

The day after, Friday, was a bit hectic for us as we had to do so many last minute things. You can plan as far as in advance as possible but you can never plan enough. It's like trying to plan for a birthday party x10. Nicole and I ran around like chickens without our heads but luckily managed to do mostly everything we needed to before we parted ways around 3:00. The rest of the night we stayed with our respective families which was rather cool. I had dinner with my parents and then Erica and Victoria came by as they were sleeping over. I also hung out with Ashley and Stephen that night as we grabbed some drinks at the nearby Manor Oktoberfest. My sister even joined us for a little while, which was pretty shocking because she hasn't gone out like that in a long time.

When I had gotten home, I worked on a few more ins and outs and got to bed by 1:00. Not terrible, considering I thought I'd get to bed even later. I remember thinking to myself how crazy it was that I was tying the knot the following day. It was a feeling that I hope I never forget. It was almost like the way you feel on Christmas Eve...but again...that feeling x10.

I'm also happy to report that I actually slept a good six hours. I didn't think I'd sleep at all if I'm being honest, so I exceeded my own expectations. I woke up and actually squeezed in a viewing of Laurel & Hardy's "Our Wife" which had Ollie marrying his sweetheart Dulcey and Stan, of course, was the best man. Rather fitting, I thought. I also fit in a quick listening of Sinatra's version of "Get Me to the Church" aka "I'm Getting Married in the Morning."

I'll never forget even such small details like where I showered. My parents had recently renovated their master bathroom with a beautifully tiled shower stall. As I was showering, again, that feeling of, "Am I really getting married today?" popped up. But it was super exciting and extremely happy feeling. I was on top of the world.

The guys came by in the morning, with Stephen being first, followed by the rest of the gang...Michael (Corrigan), Chris (Corrigan), Jason, Wilfredo, Chris (Maurer), my BIL John, Johnny, Mikey G, Sal, and last but certainly not least, good ol' Richie Parker. Even that moment was kind of surreal, being in my dining room, sharing a toast with my parents, my groomsmen, and even my Godparents (who are more like aunt and uncle), Sal and Teresa. Robbie, our photographer, was also over with his crew and since he knows our family very well (he's married to my BIL's cousin Daniella) he felt more like extra family at the house vs a vendor that you barely know. At the same time this was going on, my bride-to-be was at her parents' house with all her bridesmaids.

Soon after was our church ceremony and I truly enjoyed it. That feeling I got when Nicole was walking down the aisle to me...man...it was pretty awesome. And another part I'll never forget is walking down the aisle after we were officially wed. Just seeing all those flashing lights, smiling faces, and people applauding. Wow, it was super cool.

The same can go for the reception. We saw whomever wasn't at the church, which was actually quite a lot more people. We tried to make as many rounds as we could but it's hard to talk to people in depth, naturally, when you're being tugged in so many different directions. But again, that feeling of seeing those that you really love sitting at tables, mingling, enjoying themselves. It's awesome. That's why I say, the wedding isn't just about you and the love of your life. It's about that support system too and your love for them. At least, that's the way I felt.

Two things I'm elated to say went over so well were as follows. At the church, when the priest asked us to kiss, I brought out a couple of phone books. I gestured for Stephen (my BM) to grab them and then I put them on the altar as we were about to kiss. Part of me thought the joke would bomb but how wrong I was. I turned around and saw every single person in that room smiling and laughing. Mission: accomplished!

The second thing that was rather awesome was our entrance at the reception. I had this idea to come out as Chris Jericho, with his light up jacket and all. I got the inspiration for this over a year prior. It was August of 2013 and I was with the Libertas at the IHOP in Ozone Park. I was talking to Antonio about our proposed entrance for the wedding. I thought we would just have the countdown go and then pose like Jericho and turn around. It was he who suggested I wear the light-up jacket as well and I was game. Over a year later, he not only supported me, but he created the jacket for me! He bought the lights and jewels in Michaels Arts and Crafts store and worked on it for several weeks. When he presented it to me the night before the wedding, I just couldn't believe it! So, fast forward. There were Nicole and I, at our wedding, behind the doors, ready to enter the main hall. First, we heard the Y2J countdown which got a pop from the crowd, especially the wrestling fans. Then we came out, I put the lights on, and Nicole and I posed. Although Nicole didn't have a lightup jacket of her own, she still posed with her back to the crowd and arms outstretched and it looked amazing. We even had belts (me, the WWE WH championship, and Nicole, the Divas championship) on our arms! It definitely got some cheers from the crowd and I think both fans and non-wrestling fans appreciated it. We chose that because whether you follow or not, it's still a pretty cool entrance and you don't have to know Jericho to understand it.

The one thing I will say about a wedding (or anything of that magnitude) that I learned on that day...not everything's going to go your way or as planned. We planned and planned and planned but sometimes, like I said, it may not play out the way you imagined. Examples: 1) At the church, the priest said the readings would be there for our readers. The readings were not. Two of the readers read off of their phones (I had sent them the PDF file just to practice on) while my cousin Alexis didn't have her phone on her so the priest repeated the passage to her, which personally I thought was embarrassing for my cousin but appreciated her going through with it. 2) Again, at church, the florist was supposed to leave us flowers for the Blessed Mother Mary. However, they had already put the flowers by Mary without us realizing it. My brother-in-law shouted, "I think they're already there!" and he was absolutely right. Again, something not according to plan, but oh well. 3) At the reception, the DJ played a video montage of pictures with music. Nicole and I spent hours filtering the pictures and choosing the right ones. There were four folders of photos he was suppose to use (one of Nicole from youth with friends and family, one of me from youth with friends and family, one of the two of us with our mutual friends and family, and then one of us alone) but he only ended up using three...he essentially skipped the folder of us together with mutual friends and family. We were a bit flustered about that. However, I bring ALL of this up because, we both kind of just shrugged it off. What was the sense of getting upset? Everybody was having a grand ol' time and didn't give a crap about some of these minor snags that I'm sure only we noticed anyway. As long as it was a good time, that's ALL that mattered.

After the reception, most people left, but there were a few that were staying overnight at the neighboring hotel, including Nicole and I. Those people included: Kim, Vinnie, Lauren, Mike (Nieves), Ed, Giacomo, Teddy, and Chris M and Steve (though the last two didn't stay overnight they just came to the after-party). That was fun in-and-of itself. Very appreciative to all who joined us at the hotel. We even had Denny's for breakfast the following morning!

The day following the wedding, we spent most of it opening up our various generous gifts from our family and friends and packing for our (almost) two week honeymoon. That was another hectic day that saw us get to bed at an ungodly hour. But, it was totally worth it. The Honeymoon was absolutely fabulous. We stayed two days in California at Disneyland, then we flew to Hawaii where we stayed 3 days on land in Waikiki and then hopped on NCL's Pride of America which cruised around the Hawaiian islands. It was unbelievable and so, so relaxing. We loved it!

And now that brings me to today. It has been a bit of a struggle getting back to reality. For so long, you're in this wedding bubble and then *poof* it disappears. Again, it takes a little while for you to come back down to earth. As stressful as wedding planning could be, I really miss it. It gave me an extra pep in my step knowing that it was approaching. And not just these past few months before the wedding but I'm talking about when we actually booked it. We had 14 months worth of anticipation. In any case, I thank you ALL for taking this journey with us. It was an absolute pleasure. I'll never, ever forget this time in my life for as long as I live.

In some good news, the holidays are here! I hope to update more on this shortly.

Until next time...

-- J[o]n[a]t[h]a[n]

Oct. 25th, 2014

SHOWTIME!

The Day Has Finally Arrived!

Hi folks,

Wow...a year and a half...and the big day is here.

How do I feel? Well, I feel a million things at once to be honest. Tired being one of them, but that's only because Nicole and I have been running around all week and have not stopped at all. Whoever said the week before your wedding is the most hectic is NOT kidding!! You could be so prepared but then forget this, that, and the other thing. Plus, I worked most of the week except for today (well, technically yesterday already) being Friday and I left a little earlier Thursday. It was just a marathon of week, let me tell you.

Having said that, obviously I'm feeling a sense of excitement! That's the biggest one of them all. I just...wow...I can't believe I'm marrying my sweetie tomorrow for close friends and family to see. It's incredible, it really is. It's going to be like a "This Is Your Life" or something along those lines. A "Who's-Who" so to speak. All the people will be in attendance who have made Nicole and I what we are today. And that? That's awesome.

It also feels like tomorrow's Christmas...combined with the 4th of July...combined with your birthday...combined with your family reunion...combined with the Royal Rumble...combined with Disney World. All things that get me excited in a giant mashup. It's truly unreal. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I just can't believe it. As tired as I am right now, I'd imagine I may have some trouble sleeping, at least, at first. The thoughts just swirl around in your head (I know from my sleep last night) and you just can't help but think about things. A worry here, a "did I forget something?" there. It's bound to happen. All I can hope and pray for is a day that runs as smoothly as possible. We have a few tricks up our sleeves and hope they're able to come to fruition. We had our wedding rehearsal last night and while the church part was a little chaotic, especially when you have a larger wedding party, the dinner portion that followed thereafter was just lovely. It really was. I loved seeing all my family and friends under one roof.

Tomorrow will certainly be the same. While we have a large wedding party and even those helping us during the actual mass, I want people to understand that each and every person at that event will have a special place in our hearts and belong there. Each of our guests are a big piece of the puzzle that forms the support system behind Nicole and I.

Well, I'd better get to bed as it is nearing 1:00 AM. I have to look nice for tomorrow, you know. The bags under my eyes can only go so low, haha.

I truly thank everyone for their support over the years from the bottom of my heart.

Until next time...

Jonathan

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