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By friends, memories 3 Comments

This is a post for my friend Jessie, who, as far as I know, was a loyal reader of this blog since back in the LJ days. Jessie and I met back in 2006, when my friend Tom (remember Tom?) returned from a deployment on his submarine, moved in with me, and promptly ordered me to accompany him out to meet a girl he met the night before he left six months earlier. “She’s bringing her roommate,” he said. “Maybe you’ll like him.” It took some convincing, but I tagged along.

“What did you think of her roommate?” Tom asked me the next day.

“He was pretty nice,” I said. “She’s awesome though. I need more girl friends. She and I have a lot in common. Can we hang out with her again?”

As fate would have it, Tom and Jessie didn’t really hit it off, but her roommate and I ended up dating for almost two years. At first, the three of us — Jessie, Chris and I — got along great. We spent lots of time riding bikes, going to concerts, drinking margaritas, and generally having an all-around fun time. I gradually got to know some of their other friends, and spent a weekend at her parents’ house in the Outer Banks, which still to this day goes down as one of my all-time favorite weekend getaways. But after the first few months, miscommunication set in, as it often does when you’re 25 and your boyfriend’s BFF is a girl.

Despite the sort of love triangle thing we had going on, Jessie and I had our moments. One of my favorites was the time she came to visit me after I’d had my wisdom teeth pulled in 2007. She brought over a few things, including a my first ever Sudoku book, which I still have to this day. I wish she knew how many sleepless nights I’ve spent keeping my mind occupied by that puzzle book and how often I’ve thanked her for it in my head.

After awhile, Chris and I broke up. Jessie and I lost touch. And eventually, I think even Chris and Jessie drifted apart.

But in March of 2009, to my surprise, I got a message from her on Facebook. It said:

so…i’m having livejournal withdrawal!

your mom’s name is cecelia? random- so is mine…but spelled cecilia.

and okay more random. i just clicked on the next picture of hers that says ‘my girls’. linda travers- works at the school i teach at!

It was a little silly how excited I was to hear from her, but the fact is even though we’d had some misunderstandings the year before, I always liked Jessie. She reminded me a little of myself, and isn’t that what we all want to find in this world? A kindred spirit.

We stayed in contact for the next four and a half years, occasionally meeting for dinner or drinks, but always keeping up a string of messages, emails and texts. If one of us dropped the ball for a month or two, the other shot over a message — me inquiring about her parents’ house after a hurricane, her offering advice when she saw J and I adopted a puppy, or me reopening the lines of communication after I’d just seen the movie Step Up on TV.

And the thing is, against all odds, Jessie and I became pretty good friends. We didn’t see each other a lot, but when we did it always felt familiar — like old friends catching up. Over the years, we relived many awkward moments, hashed out a lot of issues, uncovered more than a few common insecurities, talked, laughed and cried about guys, complained about jobs, discussed the pros and cons of having long hair, bonded over how absolutely ridiculously difficult it is to find a flattering one-piece swimsuit, and shared a few secrets in hushed voices over 2-for-1 dinners at Il Giardino, our mutual favorite restaurant where we both loved to spend our birthdays, which were only a few days apart.

At the beginning of the summer, I hadn’t heard from Jessie in a little while, but she reached out to me to see if I wanted to grab dinner. We settled on Cobalt for happy hour, where we caught up on lots we’d missed since we last saw each other in January. She was moving back to the beach, and we said we’d get together more often, which we did — dinner at Il G’s, another happy hour at Cobalt, and finally I convinced her to come to a cookout at J’s and meet some of our friends. We even made plans to see John Mayer in August, and I bought our tickets on my phone.

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the concert. I texted her about six times over the three weeks leading up to that night, but for reasons I’ll never know, I didn’t hear back from her in response to any of them. Maybe I should have called. I got busy at work in September, but inviting Jessie to the first Il Giardino 2-for-1 Sunday of the season was at the top of October’s to-do list.

And then on Friday, I got a message on Facebook from an old friend of hers.

“I just got a call from Jessie’s sister. Your name was one of the names she mentioned when she asked me to let people in Virginia Beach know. The service is next Saturday at 2 pm.”

I spent a lot of my weekend and the last few days thinking about her. I read through tons of old emails and texts, remembered the rocky start our friendship got off to, and realized how thankful I was that we both gave each other another shot. Knowing her taught me a lot about not making assumptions and always being open to the possibility that things won’t turn out the way you expect. I’d like to think we would have remained close for a long time if we’d had the chance.

I’ll miss you, friend. I am so very sad. I didn’t know your family or many of your friends, but I am so sorry that they’ve lost an amazing daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. And I’m sorry for all those in the future who may have had the chance to know you, but never will. I don’t know what happened, but I hope you left this world peacefully. I hope you knew how much I valued our friendship and how happy I was to get to know you better. I’ll never forget the fun times we had, and I’ll always, always miss our fabulous Italian dinner dates.

MDW 2013

By boats, holiday fun, life's a beach, lifestyle, memories, new jersey, photography, road trips, spring, style, summer, the places you'll go, travel, weather 4 Comments

belmar marina

Greetings from the Jersey Shore! I’m up here on a sort of half-vacation this week, spending time with my brother before he moves to Jacksonville and leaves for his first six-month deployment on the USS The Sullivans.

This is the first Memorial Day weekend I’ve spent in NJ since 2006. It’s actually been seven years to the day that I took this somewhat infamous photo of my favorite little boats in the Belmar Marina (above). I can’t remember exactly what we were doing or where we were going, but I ordered my dad to swerve off Rte. 35 into the marina parking lot, so I could snap some pictures of the sunset. It was a gorgeous night. I ran around taking as many photos as I possibly could and lucked out with this one. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since. It later served as a Christmas present for my dad, and it now hangs framed in my parents’ entryway with a little note on the mat:

Thanks for stopping.
Love, Lisa

I got on the road as the sun was coming up yesterday morning. Mine was the only car in sight all the way across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and I made such good time that I was able to catch the 9:15 ferry leaving Lewes, DE, rather than the 10:15 I’d been planning to take. I spent late morning sipping a Bloody Mary, catching up with some of my Virginia Beach friends in Sea Isle City. We had lunch of sauteed vegetables and braciole on the deck, followed by a stroll through some of Sea Isle’s poshest little boutiques and possibly the best French vanilla milkshake I’ve ever had.

I departed Sea Isle and made my way north to Atlantic City, where I spent an hour browsing the outlets and the Pier Shops at Caesar’s before I met my parents for dinner at the brand new Margaritaville entertainment complex at Resorts. Little did I know that the player’s card I signed up for three years ago would save me $5 on parking, which I promptly spent on Parrothead sunscreen in the gift shop. Not to worry, though. I kept my AC winning streak alive by scoring $55 from a Triple Diamond slot machine.

My plans for the rest of the week include some time at the spa, working from my parents’ patio, a day in NYC, catching up with friends and family, reading about seven magazines I haven’t had time to look at, and a graduation/bon voyage party for my brother Saturday night. Oh, and some shopping. (I may have already done a little of that.)

Anyway, I’m glad to be here. The weather’s not quite as summery as I remember last year’s was, but today was a perfect day to cook out, and it’s supposed to warm up this week. I hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day weekend and took some time to remember those who have lost their lives serving our country.

Pensacola Flashback

By boat drinks, catch a wave, florida, food, life's a beach, lifestyle, memories, navy, pensacola, pineapples and palm trees, ruling at life, summer, take me away, the places you'll go, travel 2 Comments

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What with Friday being National Margarita Day and all, I couldn’t help but take some time to finally go through my photos from last summer’s stay with my family at the Margaritaville Beach Hotel. I treated myself to first class seats on the two flights down (totally worth it), and set myself up for the most relaxing weekend I remember having all year. The real reason for our little reunion in Pensacola was to see my brother graduate A-School at Corry Station, but I’m not gonna lie — the salty, sandy days that followed were the highlight of our trip.

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Stephen’s graduation ceremony was early enough in the morning that we were able to spend a few hours exploring the National Naval Aviation Museum and the Pensacola Lighthouse before heading down to Pensacola Beach for a weekend of fun in the sun.

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Pensacola Beach is situated on the barrier island of Santa Rosa. It’s bordered to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by the Santa Rosa Sound and Pensacola Bay, and to the east and west by Gulf Islands National Seashore.

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge Jimmy Buffett fan, so there was no question about where we were going to stay. The Margaritaville Beach Hotel is gorgeous — stately, even. The decor is inspired by a combination of Jimmy’s music and the ocean, and the overall effect is unquestionably elegant.

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The rooms were decorated in hues of blues, teals and greens, and the bed was the most comfortable one I’ve ever slept on. Our balcony offered us a view of the turquoise Gulf and the softest, whitest sand I have ever seen.

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Once we unpacked, we immediately headed down to the beach for relaxing, relaxing, and more relaxing.

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I lost track of time in a hammock strung between two palm trees on the sand, which was, quite possibly, the best place I have ever spaced out.

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I collected seashells at the water’s edge — something I haven’t done in years.

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I spent an afternoon soaking up the shade on a teak lounger under an umbrella, reading my favorite magazines and catching up with my brother.

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And then I indulged in an oh-so-refreshing shower and these lovely Tocca products, compliments of the resort.

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There was also drinking, drinking, and more drinking. Margaritas by the pool…

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Mimosas at breakfast…

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Landshark in the water…

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Mudslides on the beach…

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Champagne with dinner…

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Boat drinks with my dad…

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A little water to recover…

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And, cheers. =) I think you get the point.

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Then there were the Gulf shrimp. So delicious. I think I ate shrimp with every meal I had in Pensacola.

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Colossal Shrimp Cocktail (above) and Wild American Shrimp & Grits (below) @ The Grand Marlin. The shrimp cocktail is self-explanatory, but the Wild American Shrimp & Grits consisted of chipotle seared shrimp and local boursin cheese grits surrounded by an andouille sausage tomato stew. Amazing with a bit of a kick to it.

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Lava Lava Shrimp @ Frank & Lola Love Pensacola Café. Shrimp breaded and fried then tossed with an Asian aioli sauce. So good.

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World Famous Grits À Ya Ya @ The Fish House. Spiced Gulf jumbo shrimp top a sauté of spinach, portobello mushrooms, applewood-smoked bacon, garlic, shallots,and cream over a heaping bed of smoked Gouda cheese grits. Incredible.

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Our balcony was the perfect place to watch a storm roll in…

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…and roll out. (After a quick nap.)

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We spent a drizzly evening walking along the Portofino Boardwalk. It was a bit deserted because of the weather, but seemed like it would have been bustling on a nicer night.

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After we checked out Sunday morning, we drove east (or maybe that was west?) through the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

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Despite the clouds and kicked-up breeze, it was actually a beautiful, warm day.

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We spent about an hour walking along an empty expanse of soft, white sand with hardly anyone else in sight.

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We snapped a bunch of photos here as our weekend on the Gulf drew to a close.

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These three particular shots (below) are a reminder that these pictures don’t even do it justice. =)

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There wasn’t anyone around to take a photo of the four of us, so I Photoshopped my brother and I into a photo of my parents (below) to give to my mom for Christmas. =)

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And that’s about it. Perfect long weekend.

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Hey, Dad…can we go back? Like tomorrow? =)


By memories, music, winter One Comment

Four years ago today, I got some sad news. At the time, it was still necessary to compile a CD for a drive home to NJ, so I rushed to burn one for a last-minute trip home for Grandma Tillie’s funeral. I called it hurry.blurry.flurry (I always used to name them) because it pretty much described the situation (and it rhymed). The last song on it happened to be this one, which my cousin, my brother, and I listened to in the car on the way from the funeral home to the repast. I left my copy of hurry.blurry.flurry with my cousin because we all agreed this was the perfect song to remember Grandma Tillie.

So, today when she tweeted me a link to this video on YouTube, I smiled and decided it was about time I shared it with anyone else who may want to take three minutes and 22 seconds to think of Grandma Tillie today (or any other day for that matter).

For the record, hurry.blurry.flurry went like this:


Also, proof that Grandma Tillie was ridiculously awesome and hilarious:


As if you hadn’t see that one before… 😉

Pieces of Summer

By fashion statements, life's a beach, memories, summer One Comment

Kiel James Patrick_001

Earlier this summer, I treated myself to this Kiel James Patrick nautical rope bracelet. I’d been wanting one for over a year, and finally forced myself to choose one of the three or four eight options on my wish list. Since it arrived, I’ve hardly taken it off (other than to sleep, shower and head to the beach) all summer. I held off on posting about it because I’ve been through many a braided bracelet in my life, and I wanted to make sure this one held up. Three months later, it’s still going strong.

When I was a kid, each summer we’d spend a week or so in Long Beach Island with family friends we didn’t see very often. One year, three of us girls used our own money to purchase braided rope bracelets as a reminder of the days we spent together jumping waves and collecting sand crabs on the beach. (I can hardly remember, but something tells me those three bracelets came from The Parlor at Bay Village.) After vacation was over, I wore mine as long as I could, well into the fall, until it started to unravel and I put it away in a box for safekeeping.

I bought a few more over the years. Those braided rope bracelets were little pieces of summer I could keep with me long after beach days were just a distant memory. Now, I’ve finally got a grown-up version to keep the tradition going. Autumn may be on its way, but my KJP bracelet is staying right here on my wrist, and I might even buy another one to keep it company. =)

Kiel James Patrick_002

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