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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...

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November 2015

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