You & the Moon & Neptune Got It Right

Everyone has been encouraging me to write a post about “living with a boy” lately. This whole thing makes me laugh. First of all, the fact that living with a boy is “post-worthy” is hilarious. Second, I had no idea what to talk about. It would be completely one-sided and awkward. But…

A few weeks ago, a reporter from a national magazine reached out (I can’t say which yet!) after hearing our story of how Daniel and I met. It is pretty hilarious. For those of you who don’t know, Daniel is from Southern California and I am from Chicago. We met at Whatever, USA, a town created by Bud Light for one weekend and contest winners get to go on the trip. Daniel won by auditioning and I won through a job I had in college. One of the events at Whatever, USA was Beer School, where you learn how Bud Light is made (and drink more beer). You can go any time, on the hour, on Friday or Saturday, and we happened to go to the same one. He saw me walk in with my roommate asked the hostess to seat us together…the rest is history. We spent the next 24 hours running around the island with impromptu concerts and watching the Blackhawks until it was time to head back to reality. Something inside both of us wouldn’t let this be the last time we saw each other, so not too long after, I was flying out to San Diego for a month to see where this could go.

Not long after getting home from California and Daniel visiting Chicago (for the first time in his life, I might add), he left the country for 7 weeks to travel in Asia. Between the distance and the difference in time zones, it was extremely tough, but we managed through, and the week after he got home from Asia, he moved in with me (and our puppy!) in Chicago.

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The questions below were from the reporter and Dan and I answered accordingly. The answers, of course, made me cry and I figured what better way to update everyone how “living with a boy” is going than from both of our own words.

Why did you two decide to start your life together in Chicago rather than both of you going to Southern California?
A: We decided on Chicago because I had a year lease signed here already and Dan was planning on looking for places in LA when he got back from his trip. But the more we talked while he was gone, the more we wanted to start a life together right away, so we decided on him coming here until my lease was up and then we would decide if we wanted to stay in Chicago or head back west.

D: Apart from her having the lease signed, I was also very interested in experiencing a new city. I had just spent nearly two months traveling around Asia, and going back home to San Diego seemed a bit too routine. When we had spent time together before, we couldn’t get enough of each other. When I was gone, these feelings only increased. As crazy as it was, moving to Chicago seemed like the natural next.

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Can you name two-three things that changed when you moved in together?
A: For us, since we met it was very fast-paced. We met at Whatever, USA and shortly after, I went to visit him and a few other friends in California and ended up essentially living with him for a month while I was there anyways. Immediately following our month together, he left for seven weeks for Asia and we dove right into 12-hour time differences and a major lack of wifi, so three things that I really noticed that changed when he got back were:
   – Our communication. I felt like it was so much easier to be able to talk in person, whether it was just deciding on dinner or where we were spending Thanksgiving. In today’s world, it’s so easy to hide behind texting, so us being able to sit down and talk was so nice.
   – Our comfortability. This was the biggest one for me. We have always been comfortable around each other, from day one. That’s how I knew it was different between us. But this was even more than that. I could be goofy or cry or I do this weird little snort when I laugh (ugh) but he loved everything about me and that has really become clear since we’ve been living together.
   – “Little things.” I think with Daniel traveling and I was starting a new job and helping my parents move, we kind of took what we could get with talking or Facetiming. There wasn’t much room for anything else. But once we moved in together, little things became so important for us. Like compromising on plans or when I come home and the apartment is cleaned, or he’ll make breakfast while I sleep in or get flowers from the place down the street. Stuff like that really started to mean something because we had so many days where we couldn’t do stuff like that for each other.

D: I couldn’t agree more with the things that she’s said, my answers add to that just a bit.
   – Our appreciation for each other. Living with each other allows us to show this so much more than being apart. Having someone around that is available and willing to help out with chores or errands is such a nice luxury. It makes me happy when I can do something to make her life easier, and I know she feels the same way. As we continue this journey, I know that I’ll have my biggest fan by my side.
   – Having a third body in the apartment. When we were together before my travels, it was just us. When I moved to Chicago, I wasn’t just moving in with her. We have an adorable little puppy to take care of as well. He’s only seven months old, so he’s quite the handful, but he’s my little buddy and I love taking care of him. It’s a little crazy to go from being apart, to moving in together, to essentially having a little family, but it’s all been nothing but great so far.

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Can you name two-three things you learned about each other?
A:
   – He’s so thoughtful. We were skeletons one day of Halloween and I did his face make up before mine. Naturally, it looked terrible (I’m not a makeup person!). He kept saying “Do you want me to keep it? I’ll keep it! It’s okay, it’s your first time!” It was so sweet. But I didn’t make him keep it. I re-did it…and we were late…haha!
   – He’s so smart. Every time we’re watching tv or walking around the city, anything, he will “quiz” me on different things about the world. Whether it’s watching rugby and he asks me “what country is that city in” (I never know) or something about politics, he always knows. I chalk it up to him traveling so much, but maybe he’s just played a lot of trivia crack? Who knows.
   – He has the best support system. I come from a pretty big Italian family, so I know support. No matter what it is, they’re there for me…and now us. But his family is the same. They are so sweet and I have gained some great people in my life just from knowing him and his family and friends. I’m just the luckiest.

D:
She is hilarious. I pride myself on being a jokester and making her laugh until she snorts (sorry), but she’s really funny as well. Every once in a while we’ll lie in bed and watch funny videos online until we’re in tears. We couldn’t be more on the same page when it comes to humor which is an amazing asset to me. We still laugh at some of the jokes she first made with me, and she’s kept them coming since. I even snorted once, and that’s saying something…
   – I’ve learned all about her life. The first night we met, we stayed up until six in the morning sharing stories about our past, and learning about one another. In the months that followed it continued, but now living together, it has escalated to a new level. I now know all about the special combination of events, people, and environment that makes her who she is. I’ve met the friends I’ve heard stories about, I’ve seen the house she grew up in, and I’ve spend time with the family that raised her. It’s done nothing but advance my feelings about how special of a girl I found. 

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What surprised you most about moving in together?
A: Mine is easy. What surprised me the most was how much my day-to-day life improved by him being there. If I had a bad day at work or I was crabby or anything, coming home to him made absolutely anything better. He’s always there to make me laugh. On the good days, he’s the first one I want to run home and tell everything to and he gets just as excited about the things that happen in my world as I am. My days are brighter simply because he’s a part of them.

D: I couldn’t agree more with her – just how exciting every day is, and how much I love having her around. I work from home and I literally cannot wait for her to get back from every day. It’s a pretty regular occurrence that I text her at 5:01 asking if she’s left the office yet, and maybe I’ve taken after the puppy, but we sit together each night counting down the minutes until we hear the keys in the front door.

As many of you have been following me on my journey on my blog, you know how much this means to me. To have someone who shows me what pure happiness is and makes every single day magical is something I’ve wanted for so long and I feel so lucky and blessed to have finally found that.

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Love you, b! Here’s to the last six crazy months and to many, many more.

xo,
“Your” Al

Paradise City: Whatever, USA

The weekend that I’ve been looking forward to for what seems like forever now is over and I could absolutely not be more grateful for the last forty-eight hours. It sounds so cliche, but Whatever, USA was exactly what I needed right now.

A year ago, I might not a have gone on a trip like this, but this year with my freedom gained over the last year with my parents leaving, my graduation, my getting ready to move out, I experienced this weekend to the absolute fullest and I completely fell in love with it.

IMG_8145Of course the events were incredible…artists like T-Pain, Diplo and Snoop Dogg performing, going to beer school and walking the pier to decorate cotton candy, dying our hair crazy colors, going to a Roaring 20s themed party and of course drinking enough Bud Light to keep our buzz going for three days straight. But what was truly the best part of this weekend was the people. Everyone was in the same mindset of wanting to live it up and have the absolute time of our lives and this created some of the best memories I’ve ever had.

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Someone told me “you can’t buy happiness, but who doesn’t smile on a jet ski?” While, true, we did not jet ski this weekend, we did just about everything else and he was absolutely right. It’s not the monetary valued things in life, it’s the walks at noon, the music at 7pm, the talks at 3 am and the laughter at 6 am and waking up smiling with the same people and doing it all over again the next day. You never know when life is going to hand you a few people that could possibly change your life forever, so look out for them.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have gone on this trip and I cannot express my thanks enough to Bud Light for making it all happen. Here’s to staying #UpForWhatever and to making more memories across the country in the future.

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None But Ourselves Can Free Our Mind

The sixth of February holds a special meaning for me each year and today is no different. The birthday of the legend that is Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley is this day and it strikes a chord with me unlike any other. Marley was a Catholic and later converted to becoming a Rasta, so he had a very unique set of beliefs. I truly believe, however, that we can learn an immense amount from his words and what better day than today to acknowledge them?

Marley recorded four songs with the Wailers originally, one of which was Judge Not. The title alone is something our world needs today. The lyrics proclaim, “I know that I’m not perfect and that I don’t claim to be. So before you point your fingers, be sure your hands are clean.” Another song that follows this mentality is So Much Trouble In The World. So many people compare their lives to other people: celebrities, friends, enemies, colleagues. A common way of making us feel better about our lives is to put other people’s down or claim what they are doing is not up to par. If we would take a look at our own lives, I know that we would see that they are not perfect either. Everyone makes mistakes. No one life is exactly what they want it to be. Focus on yourself and your own life before jumping into judging someone else’s.

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I Shot the Sheriff seemed mistakenly innocent, yet there was huge meaning behind it. Marley originally wanted the lyrics to be “I shot the police…,” however he later stated that “the government would have made a fuss so I said ‘I shot the sheriff’ instead… but it’s the same idea: justice.” Marley lived in a time with racial prejudice and injustice. He became a verbal leader through his music for equality and peace and this song was just one more way of him proving that. Today’s world, while improved in some senses, is still incredibly prejudice among select groups of people whether it be based on race, ethnicity, religion or even gender orientation. Marley also released Get Up, Stand Up to encourage people to fight for their rights. He saw the injustice in the world and wanted to shed light onto it and that it just what he did. Using his words to demand peace proved to be a better solution than any fighting could have.

When his album Exodus was released, a song entitled Three Little Birds was a major hit. This song has continuously made its way into people’s hearts and souls since its release. The lyrics are simple but powerful, plus the music of this song is joyful and happy. This song personally hits home for me. Each of our lives have had and will have trials. There are days where we feel that going on is simply unbearable. Losing someone we love or making major life decisions are examples of days where we feel we cannot manage. These lyrics speak to people in every facet of their troubles. “Don’t worry about a thing cause every little thing is gonna be alright.” No matter what you are going through, fate will bring you to exactly where you need to be and everything will work out just as planned.

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The last song that I feel is extremely worth noting is my personal favorite. Redemption Song has spoken the purest words and made the biggest impact on our world out of any song, in my opinion. Marley took the things he saw around him that were hurting people or causing pain and strung this song together based on a speech given by Marcus Garvey on Pan-Africanism.  This movement sought to uplift the people of African descent. At a time with such hate in the world, this song made an incredible impact. When Marley wrote this song, he was already deep into his diagnosis with cancer and dealing with the thoughts of death that clearly appear through the lyrics in this song. Redemption Song has been called “the most influential recording in Jamaican music history.” The lyrics state to “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds.” This line is my favorite of any song. We become fixated on becoming the perfect person and through this we obtain a “mental slavery,” which only we can break.

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The legacy that Bob Marley left in this world is one that will never be forgotten. His words still hold true meaning and his life remains one that people everywhere respect and admire. Rest in Peace, Bob Marley, and Happy 70th Birthday…we know the Sun is Shining.

Thankful

I’ve been trying to think of a way to get back into blogging. Honestly, I just miss it. But finding something to write about, especially as a comeback post, isn’t always easy. Then I realized that writing why I am thankful would not only be appropriate for today, but also remind me to be extra grateful for those things…so here it is!

1. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful to be here after having some bumps in my “health road.” I am thankful for the way I was born and for the doctors that have ensured my safety in any situation since then.

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2. I am thankful for my family. My best friends in the world. My support system. I am so thankful for you. My parents, you have given me the world and shown me how to be the best person I can be. Even if you are far away now, I still feel your love. I am so thankful for my cousins, my papa and grandparents. I am thankful for my surrogate mom. I am thankful for my mom’s family for never making me feel like I didn’t belong. I am thankful for my guardian angels that have gone before me. I am thankful for my puppy, Khoya, and my friends who have become more like family.

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3. I am thankful for music. I am so in love with so many songs and the feelings that just one song can give you. I am so thankful to be able to hear the beautiful sounds created in our world. So many times in my life have had music in the center of them, whether it’s a concert, music playing while I’m getting ready with my friends or on while I’m driving in the car with Matt or sending a song to the people I love when it reminds me of them. These times make me especially grateful today.

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4. I am thankful for seasons. I hate the cold, as most people know, but the cold brings back my favorite season, spring. The cold reminds me how lovely the warmer months are. The warm months are ones of rebirth and change. Every year something new comes and reminds us how lucky we are to be alive. This makes me so grateful.

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Even just writing these things makes me smile. Seeing how many little things and people there are that make my world better every day and for those, I am truly thankful.

– Al

She Designed a Life She Loved.

“What good is livin’ the life you’ve been given if all you do is stand in one place?”
– Lord Huron

The only word I have in my head right now is bliss. Sheer bliss.  I am receiving the amazing opportunity to travel throughout this incredible world with my best friend, sister, soulmate, my rock, my cousin, Kendra. I am the luckiest girl.

292878_10150286292526173_525871172_8126293_1900853_nIf you know me at all, you know this is something I have been waiting to do forever. I decided not to study abroad in college because I know I am just too free-spirited to be in a new country with new people… new everything, but then have to go to class or follow a schedule of where to be and when. I mean a schedule of countries, sure, but something didn’t feel right about studying abroad. So, I passed that chance up multiple times, decided on graduating early and using that money to travel through Europe and I can now officially say that huge risk paid off and I am over-the-moon ecstatic about it.

We booked these cities/regions:
Athens
Mykonos
Pompeii
Rome
Florence
Venice
Tyrol Region
Munich
Prague
Nuremberg
Heidelberg
Amsterdam
Bruges
Paris
The French Riviera
Barcelona
*Of course, if you have any suggestions for any of these places,
things to do, restaurants, beaches, etc., please let me know!

I have to say how blessed I feel right now. I have the greatest parents to be sending me on a trip like this, the most fantastic family to support us on our journey, the most amazing best friend & cousin to be coming with me and sharing this experience with me and the most perfect God and guardian angel, gramma, to guide us on the trip of a lifetime. I said it once, but I’ll say it again, I really am the luckiest girl in the world. I cannot wait to leave, but planning the details of this trip is going to be so much fun, too, so I’m just going to enjoy this time and take in every moment leading up to it. I know I’m going to want this time back one day.

IMG_9205As it unfolds, there will be plenty more posts. We leave June 30th, (right after my 21st birthday in Vegas…can this be any better?!) so we’ve still got some time, but a trip like this could never have enough excitement and the words in this post cannot convey how absolutely, exceptionally elated I am.

I love you, Kenners. Thank you for being my person and my best friend every single day, for being you. I cannot wait to share this amazing journey with you & experience all that this world has to offer together. Here’s to laughing until we cry, to trying new things in new places with new people and to the memories we’ll make that will last a lifetime! aafnmw.

My viaggi futuri Pinterest board can now be my viaggi presto board. Love it.

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Al

A Kerm is a Second Self.

It’s coming up on a year ago that the “kerm” was hatched, so what better time is there to write a post about her?! Trick question, there is no better time. Every time is great for a kerm talk.

So, I just stumbled upon this link talking about seven signs that you know you have a real best friend. I “literally can’t handle” how perfect this is for us. Every single point has been done between us numerous times and some of my best memories with you have somehow been captured in an Elite Daily post. Now, side note, I’ve had best friends before and I still have other best friends, but no one quite compares to my kermsauce.

From the time during fall semester last year that you were brutally honest with me and told me you “didn’t like me throughout high school and now you’re obsessed with me,” I knew you were going to be someone I wanted around for a long time. You’re just as big of an asshole as I am and that alone makes me love you to death. You made that clear again when you told me you hated my dreads, but if anyone could pull of this style, it’s me. (Took that as a compliment as much as possible.) But shotgunning energy drinks the night of finals in my kitchen and not sleeping for two days straight sealed the deal. You’re also just as weird as I am and that’s saying a hell of a lot.

I have found, in you, my best friend and my person. You are my absolute go-to (as you saw at 3:56 am on Sunday morning) and the best advice giver in the world. I have found security in knowing that I can trust you in any situation and you make me laugh harder than anyone ever has. I know that I want you in my life forever because you’re the only person that can be brutally honest with me and tell me when I’m right or wrong and not feel bad either way. You back me up in any situation, whether it’s just talking me through a situation or literally threatening people’s existence when they say rude comments to or about me. You love my family and that alone makes me feel like you’re my sister, but the bond we share exemplifies that to the extreme.

I am so lucky to have finally found the person I’ve always wanted to have in my life. I am so lucky to have you and as my sister in Alpha Phi and in the shish world, too. I am so happy that I came to U of I solely based on the fact that I got to become best friends with you and change your stupid high school opinion of me. I really don’t know where I’d be without you, kermboo.

Just to end this, a few comparisons to let everyone know just how attached we are…
You’re the Daisy Duck to my Minnie Mouse.
You’re the Opie to my Jax Teller.
You’re the Gru to my Minion.
You’re the lime to my tequila and the Jack to my diet coke.
You’re the Marta Foote Crow to my…..who are the other founders?
You’re the Jimmy Johns to my Torticas.
You’re the Toews to my Kane.
You’re the Insomnia Cookie to my Berry Juicy Juice.
You’re the Stabler to my Benson.
You’re the Yolk to my Burnett’s.
You’re the Pumpkin Spice Latte to my Fleece Vest.
You’re the Tinkerbelle to my Alice in Wonderland.
You’re the Margartiaville to my Red Lion.
You’re the iParty to my Semi-formal.
You’re the Redbull to my Monster.
You’re the kerm to my kerm.

PS. I’m sorry this sounds like a love letter.
PPS. No, I’m not. Lesbikerms.

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AlKerm.

…Please Don’t Take My Sunshine Away.

Whenever I hear this, I think of you. (This was the song that she sent me last night that I talked about on my status. I’m still in shock. I am so lucky.)

And I have absolutely no way to describe the feeling that I have right now knowing that you’ve been gone for three years. Three. Years. When I say it like that, it doesn’t seem too long. I mean, hell, college has gone by quicker than I can even fathom. But when I look back on how much has happened in three years, it’s an eternity. How much I’ve had to go through in my life without you being here with me. You would be so proud of all your babies here. I have to say, you raised the greatest three girls in the whole world. Auntie Gina is the most caring and genuine person I think I’ve ever met. To have her as my aunt is truly an inspiration and I’m so honored and lucky to have someone so strong to look up to. Auntie Mona is, to this day, someone I can go to in any given situation, no matter what. She’s such a good friend and an even better aunt. She gives the greatest advice and knows exactly how to make your day when you need it. I’m so happy for her that she’s found Quinn and I have a pretty good feeling you were behind that, so I’m sure she’s so thankful to you. And then there’s my mom. I know that she and you had a very unique relationship and I know that because so do she and I. As I’m getting older now and starting to look back on my past 20 years on the planet and I realize that these are the last times I’ll have with her before I graduate and start  my life, I’m starting to realize how great she really is. Not many people can say they have a best friend in their mom, but I really do. I haven’t been the perfect daughter by any means, but she looks past my flaws and mistakes and loves me like you did and that alone makes me the luckiest girl in the world. She cares about me more than just a “motherly instinct,” but as a best friend and as someone who, I genuinely know, won’t give up on me and will always have my back. She is the perfect mom and I have you to thank for that because I know you were so perfect, too. Us grandbabies ain’t so bad either. Zach’s in college in Mesa and as bad-ass as ever. Garrett is killin’ it in high school and is driving now! I still have my voicemail on our phone of you wishing me good luck on my first day of driving. I’ll have to send that to him now. Emma is just the greatest little human in the entire world. She’s so thoughtful and sweet and precious and perfect. Sam and Kendra came this summer for the weekend and I’m so beyond happy I got to spend time with them. I know you were there, too. I’m so incredibly blessed to have those two in my life because they, along with Z, G and Emma, are some of my best friends and I’m so lucky that they’re my family. You left a phenomenal legacy here in your family and I will never be able to thank you enough for giving me this never-failing support system.

I can still see us six standing over you on that last day and Sam telling us how lucky we are to have had the experiences and the beautiful, perfect moments that we had with you. Who else in the world could say that they had a best friend in someone who was 70 years older than they are? No one, but I can. Your advice and your guidance gets me through even my toughest days here and that’s something that I will never be able to replace.

I still cry every time I Love You, Baby comes on or I see old pictures of us. I found some old cards from you telling me how much you love me, your “sunshine,” but what you don’t realize is you were mine, too. You still are. You made my life so bright and so warm and my childhood would never have been even a fraction of as perfect as it was if you weren’t a part of it. The problem is, now, my sunshine is gone. Please don’t take my sunshine away. That line always made me cry when I was little because I couldn’t imagine my sunshine being taken away, but three years ago, it was and, now, I’m starting to realize that I’m not sure how to go on without it. I’ve never felt more loved than I did with you. I never had more fun watching a LifeTime movie or going to the “beauty shop” or laying in bed and talking about what the perfect life would be like. I’ve never seen someone more beautiful. I’ve never seen more happiness or love than with you and papa. I’m so lucky to have been able to witness those things because I know now what sheer bliss is because of you.

I just realized I’m writing this like a letter to you. Like, I’m hoping you’re reading it or hearing it in my head or something. I know you and I still have our little ways of communicating, but I want you to actually know all of this. I am so lucky to have had seventeen exquisite years with you and those will be something I cherish for the rest of my life. Every day you are on my mind. I know you’ll continue to stay there and you’ll be there for every milestone that I have from here on out. I know that there are going to be thunderstorms that hide my sunshine and some days will feel worse than others, but I promise you that at the end of those and even during their darkest points, I will still seek my sunshine. I will always look for you in my toughest moments and seek  your wisdom, whether that be through your words you left me with, the people you left behind here or just simply seeking you by myself in my soul.

“I love you more than the words of this letter can convey and more than you or I could even fathom.” I wrote that to you in our book and you best believe I still mean that. I’ll open our book and a bottle of wine for you tonight and know that my being and my soul will celebrate the person that you were and are and everything that I do is for you. Always and Forever, No Matter What. Oh yeah, and thanks for being you! I love you more.

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Al