It’s been an emotional week for my home state, particularly for the city of Orlando. I woke up Sunday to my family and friends there marked as “Safe” on Facebook, but there are more than 50 families who weren’t as fortunate. I’m still collecting my thoughts into coherent sentences for a separate post, but until then, here are some things to help us smile through the pain:
- Hallee’s Birthday: Hallee Sorenson is a vibrant young woman, who happens to be autistic and celebrated her 18th birthday alone last year after invited guests failed to show. Her cousin Becky has now invited all of Facebook to send Hallee birthday wishes via mail. If you can take a few minutes to brighten this young lady’s day, cards can be mailed to:
34 Wellesley Way
Bangor, ME 04401
- Magz Retires: The mother of all teachers — my mother — retired last week after 32 years of teaching foreign languages and life lessons. She spent 22 years at the same high school and has inspired countless students throughout her tenure. True to form, she’s still working hard this week and grading AP tests in Cincinnati. There’s a large margarita on the rocks (no salt) with her name on it when I see her next month.
- T-Rex Competes on “America Ninja Warrior”: The T-Rex costume has provided plenty of laughs in various viral videos, but this one might just take the cake. I don’t think I could complete any of these obstacles in regular clothes, let alone an inflatable costume. Spoiler alert: T-Rex’s tiny arms may be his downfall.
- NYC Gay Men’s Chorus on “GMA”: Driving out the darkness with a message of positivity, my friend Marc and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus shone brightly on Monday’s broadcast of “Good Morning America.” Their message of pride and joy to comfort the grieving Orlando and LGTBQ communities is truly mesmerizing.
On a final note, as Father’s Day approaches: If you’re fortunate enough to have a relationship with your dad, please call or spend time with him — anything you can — on Sunday. A close friend of mine just lost her father to cancer, 50+ children in Orlando won’t be celebrating and there are things so much bigger in this world than our stubborn differences and disputes.
After months of planning and anticipation, my cousin’s wedding was absolutely amazing! The newlyweds ended the evening with a firework sendoff fit for a fairytale. I’m sort of back to reality while working remotely from Tampa this week — so here are four things I’m loving while in the 813. Are you surprised they’re all food-related?
- The Columbia: We celebrated my sister-in-law’s birthday Sunday at this iconic Ybor establishment. From mojitos to the 1905 salad to “good rice” that’s to die for, it’s no wonder this Cuban cookery has been a Tampa tradition for 110+ years. Don’t pass through Tampa without stopping by!
- Moreno Bakery: What birthday dinner would be complete without a towering, tantalizing cake? My SIL’s mom provided a fantastic Bananas Foster cake that left us all with sugar comas beyond compare. I’m actually drooling at the thought.
- Publix Subs: These things have a cult following for a reason. The PubSub is actually life-changing, and being so far from this grocery store makes them all that more special when I’m in Florida. Boar’s Head Italian FTW!
- “Sugar” – Maroon 5: Full disclosure: I actually can’t stand this song (or Adam Levine’s voice, still). But something about hearing it at a wedding — or when my niece is in the car — just gets the people going. Plus, the video is just the cutest ever (fake or not).
How’s my week going? My contact ripped while inside my eye today. You’re welcome for that visual.
Not to fear! Here are some other, hopefully less vomit-inducing presents:
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine: The Olympics are over, so I had to find something new to binge-watch. Thank goodness for Andy Samberg and this delightful little cop comedy. The supporting characters are equally entertaining and ridiculous.
- MikWiki’s Birthday: My friend, my muse, my everything. This Brooklyn guy is one of my best friends and has stuck by me for more than 10 years. He deserves the world … or at least another Xtina tour!
- Atlantic City: We celebrated Mike’s birthday in AC last weekend, and let me tell you: It’s absolutely a place you should be for 24 hours at most. What a clusterfuck. But, a fun clusterfuck and I can’t wait for the next visit!
- “Dirrty” – Christina Aguilera: I couldn’t possibly do a tribute without including his muse, his everything. This track, in particular, will always remind me of Mike because his choreography to it is ON. POINT.
I haven’t felt as emotional about living in New York as I have today, the 12th anniversary of our nation’s deadliest terrorist attacks. The city that never sleeps is a little bit somber, but it’s also stronger. If you haven’t already, thank the servicemen and women in your life for their continued support. And with that, here’s what else I’m celebrating:
- These Guys’ Birthdays: It’s my godfather’s birthday, as well as my good friend Charlie’s. They’re some of my favorite fellas, and I’m so glad they’ve kept me around for years. Cheers, boys!
- Lazzara’s: Pizza There’s no better way to honor New York than with an authentic slice, and Lazzara’s is a new fave for just that. Their daily specials are great, and a half-size pie is perfect for a hearty lunch treat.
- 9/11 Memorial: My college bestie and I visited when she was here for Labor Day, and it was such a heavy experience (in a good way). The stories and perspective it offers are invaluable — I think it should be on every American’s bucket list. Visit the site for more info and how you can donate.
- “The Final Countdown” – Europe: We’re in the final weeks of waiting for my niece to arrive, so naturally, this anthem has played in my head on repeat. Fun fact: I sent my company’s entire NY office the below gif in an email … on purpose.
In case you’re not FB friends with Magz and haven’t seen her weeklong countdown … it’s my birthday tomorrow! It kind of snuck up on me, probably because I’ve been packing every weekend with funtivities and nearly forgot to pay rent this month. Adulthood.
- 27 Ways to Be as American as Ron Swanson: Because, ‘Merica. And though I can’t grow a moustache like his, my mere existence is defined by #22. I’d say that’s a fair trade.
- Pie Face: My cubemate introduced me to this sweet and savory shop yesterday and I’m already hooked. I can’t wait to indulge in an all-American apple pie & caramel smasher tomorrow!
- Macy’s 37th Annual 4th of July Fireworks: Shameless plug? Sure, why not. Hosted by Nick Cannon, this year’s show features his wifey, plus Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. Like, OMG.
- “The Remedy” – Jason Mraz: OK, I totally admit to loving this song simply because it opens with “ … fireworks from the freeway … ‘cause you were born on the 4th of July, freedom ring.” So sue me!
Hope you all have a safe and happy 4th!