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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]

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