That’s Amore

Yesterday, my mom and I were looking for something fun to do instead of binge-watching Netflix all day. So naturally, we decided to go out for lunch. Since Sam was working, we strategically picked a very gluteny restaurant so that Sam couldn’t be mad at us for going without her; we headed to The Pie in Port Jefferson for the best pizza ever. (Side note: Sam was still a tiny bit mad at us for going without her.)

Anyway, it turns out they do offer gluten-free pastas. Sorry Sam.

The Pie has a really great lunch menu with all different types of sandwiches in addition to their regular pastas and sides, but my mom and I opted to split a small margarita pie and each get a house salad. Although their house salad is a little pricey for its size, the walnuts, croutons, and house dressing are to die for. I’m mildly allergic to walnuts, but ate every single one anyway because it was just that good.

As for the pizza, I can’t even explain how great it was. I’m hoping that all of my readers are familiar with Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore,” so just bear with me here . . . the pizza from The Pie tastes exactly how “That’s Amore” sounds. It’s authentic, high-quality brick oven pizza. Amazing. I’ve eaten the same exact plain pizza from The Pie at least fifty times in my life, but I’m still surprised every time by how good it is.

Do yourself a favor. Grab a few friends and get yourselves a pie in Port Jeff. And also, please bring me with you guys.

Sorry again, Sam. Love you.

Getting Out of the Work Week Rut

You know what sucks? Mornings. Mornings are horrible. There is almost nothing worse than dragging yourself out of your nice, warm bed, getting into a shower that is never quite hot enough, eating the same old boring breakfast that you have everyday, and then driving to work (rushing, just to be late as usual) … only to stare at a computer for 8 hours.

And yet, this is the routine that most of us have five days a week. Did you ever think about that? Five. Days. A week. Five out of seven days. You spend more time doing stuff you hate than stuff you like. How is this what life has become? It doesn’t seem fair.

A year or so back, I had this crisis the first time. I still have it every Sunday night, but the first time was definitely the worst. It was at that point that I decided to apply to nursing school. My reasoning was that I would find being a nurse much more fulfilling than working in an office. At least I would have the satisfaction of knowing that I was helping others in their times of need rather than just paperwork and filing. Plus, a much more flexible schedule to get myself out of that 9-5 rut.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of a massive career change- so what else can we do to liven up our work weeks and stop living for the weekend?

I’m trying this “optimism” thing that I’ve heard so much about. Positive vibes and such. I’m waking up about an hour earlier than normal and trying to hit snooze a few less times (also, side rant… Apple products need to up their game. The snooze time on an iPhone is 9 minutes with no way to change it, which is exactly enough time for me to fall back into a very deep sleep. The only way I’ve been able to combat this is to set multiple alarms for 3 or 4 minute intervals). I’ve been using the extra time to do about a half hour of yoga and then actually spend some time on my hair and makeup. As I’m sure all our lovely female readers know, the better you look, the better you feel. Shallow, but true.

As I wean myself off the snooze button, I’m also trying to incorporate a more exciting breakfast- maybe even scrambling some eggs instead of the usual gluten free waffle with peanut butter (and chocolate milk, obviously). I also find the extra time allows me to take it easy on my drive to work, so I’m much less frantic and angry when I get to the office.

I feel like the morning really sets the tone for the rest of the day, so it’s important to have as positive of a morning as humanly possible. That said, I’m also trying to sprinkle a little excitement into the rest of my dull AF day. Hold on to your hats kids, because I like to get really wild around 11 am and have… tea. Yes, I know, how rambunctious of me. Sometimes I even have a cup of coffee if I really feel like being a loose cannon. I know it sounds silly but my God, office life is boring. That is literally what I look forward to, please don’t judge me.

The bills aren’t going to pay themselves, but if you have to spend 40 hours a week at work, you might as well try to be as optimistic as possible. Also, don’t forget to have fun after work! Go to dinner, take an exercise class, catch a movie with a friend. Life is too short to spend five days waiting for two.

Always Seeking, Never Ceasing

We all have friends that fly under the radar until they need something: advice, a ride somewhere, someone to show up to the party with. Of course, I have nothing against these friends. I love them just as much as all my other friends, and kudos to them for having the courage to ask for support (or a shirt to borrow) when they need it. But last week, I discovered the complete opposite of this kind of friend.

If you couldn’t tell from my post last Monday, last week was rough for me. I was beyond angry at God and everyone else in the world. I was even considering finding coverage for the Saturday mass I sing at, just so that I didn’t have to face God. Then, on Thursday, I got a text from a friend I had barely spoken to in months, inviting me to a Christian youth group Friday night. Out of nowhere, right when I needed it the most, she was there for me to restore my faith and provide support and healing in one of my lowest moments.

God is this kind of friend. He asks for nothing but love and trust in return for a lifetime of support and healing. God does not reach out to you only when it benefits Him; God is constantly seeking us, even when we have stopped seeking Him.

After attending the youth group with my friend, I felt more at peace with life than I have in months. Understanding and revelation filled my weekend, and I feel much closer to God. I know that He sent my friend Mary Kate to me at that moment to pull me back into His arms and to save me from myself.

When you start listening and watching for the Lord, it is so abundantly obvious that He is always seeking us and calling us back when we stray too far. Find friends that not only support but encourage your ever-growing relationship with God.

I cannot be any more grateful to Mary Kate for showing me the way back to the Lord.

Off The Island

This week, On The Island spent some time OFF the island, in my second favorite nautical location: ~Connecticut~. Now you may be thinking “Sam, who cares. It’s just a ferry ride away. It’s basically the same place!” But it’s slightly different and I love it and it’s my blog so I’ll write what I want, thank you very much.

Anyway, while the port towns of Long Island feel very beachy and yacht club-esque, I find that across the sound, the port towns have a more lobster-fishing and whale-watching vibe. Which is great because there is nothing on this earth that I love nearly as much as I love sea critters.

From what I gathered at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut has a rich history in whaling. Normally this would upset me (again, I love whales a weird amount) however, the Seaport has taken many of the old ships used to hunt, and restored them into a beautiful way to sail the Long Island Sound and watch these awesome little fellas in their natural environment. If there is anything I love as much as whales, it’s history so I love that the old ships are still being used and that part of history can live on in a more positive way.

History seems to still be thriving in the parts of southern Connecticut we visited. In addition to the Seaport continuing to celebrate the maritime past of the area, multiple museums pay homage to the Native American history. Unfortunately all of these museums were closed on Mondays, the only free day that we had for this trip. I was pretty disappointed, but it is definitely giving me an excuse to go back ASAP!

Of course, no trip to Connecticut would be complete without a visit to the casinos. We actually stayed at Mohegan Sun during this trip. Our main focus for this trip (well, Matt’s main focus at least) was the Barrett-Jackson car auction that was held at the Mohegan Sun Arena, so I figured it was best for us to stay as close as possible. Plus, I think the hotel there is beautiful and so convenient for being right in the middle of the action. While we certainly are not gamblers by any means, we did spend a few dollars on some machines. We kind of considered it more entertainment than gambling- the way you would spend money to play games at Dave and Busters or Chuck E. Cheese. Or how I spend a ton of money going to Mets games knowing that no one I want to win ever does. But we had a ton of fun and that, my friends, is #winning in my book.

Look at all these chickens…

Fatherless on Father’s Day

I would like to start by saying that I love Father’s Day. There is nobody in this world more deserving of a BBQ and a couple handmade cards than the dads of the world. I am so glad to see so many people spending time with their dads and telling them how much they love them while they’re still here. On the other hand, Father’s Day for someone who has lost an incredible dad (me, in case you didn’t put that together) SUCKS.

For a solid month, every store is filled with “Best Dad Ever” merchandise, and ever since the dawn of technology, it’s even worse. Advertisements for “the perfect gift for dad” take over Instagram, Facebook, and even Twitter. Radio stations play songs about fatherhood for a whole week, and my favorite radio station even spent all of Father’s Day weekend having listeners call in and share their favorite stories about their dads. Once Father’s Day finally rolled around, everyone on the planet posted pictures of them with their dads. At first, I thought I was angry at everyone for still having a dad. Then I realized I was just sad.

Kids my age posted pictures of their multi-generational Father’s Days with their fathers and grandfathers. People older than me shared pictures of their father-daughter dances at their weddings, and photos of their fathers holding their brand new baby. All of these people got to watch their dad become a grandpa. They got to dance with their dad on their wedding day. My dad won’t even get meet whoever I end up marrying.

Then I realized I actually was mad. At God.

Why would a loving God take away my dad? My dad was funnier than all the other dads . . . nicer than all the other dads . . . he even gave a brand new umbrella to a homeless man in Manhattan even though he still needed it. Why why why would God take such a positive force off Earth?

A few weeks after my dad passed away, my mom and I attended a mass with a homily that stuck with me like no other. The priest told the congregation that he often has people come into confession to say that they were angry at God. But he said that isn’t a sin.

Think about a few different relationships you have with others and try to think of times that you were angry with them. You should notice that the people you are closest to and love the most are also the people you get angry at the most. The priest told us that anger at God is just a sign of a living relationship, and the fact that we get angry at God rather than simply abandoning Him is a testament to that relationship.

So yes. I spent the whole week leading up to Father’s Day hysterically crying in public, and all of Father’s Day weekend boiling with anger, and hopefully tomorrow will be better, but if not, that’s okay.

You are Who You Surround Yourself With

Remember all the cliques and labels from high school? How all the athletic kids were buddies on and off the field while all the punk rock kids listened to Nirvana on skateboards all weekend? If you don’t remember the insane amount of anxiety caused by trying to fit into a high school clique, you were probably one of the elite popular kids… congratulations (sorry about the rest of your life though).

But how does that happen? Do all the Nirvana loving kids have telepathy and instinctively know to hang out with each other? Or – and this is my theory – do friendships blossom naturally and gradually, you adopt the interests and some characteristics of the people you surround yourself with?

I think that the people you spend the most time with impact your life in ways that you can’t even detect. It’s almost like how a little kid picks up his older brother’s mannerisms. Except it tends to be on a larger scale as an adult.

If you surround yourself with friends who are constantly out at bars until 3 am, odds are, you will also be out at bars until 3 am – staggering half asleep into the office the next day. On the other hand, if all your friends are bookworms, you might end up staggering into work because “one more chapter” turned into finishing the book.

Of course, it seems logical that you would adopt the hobbies of your friends, but I think it goes much deeper than that. I think you also start to absorb the personality traits of those friends, your family and… the dreaded coworker. Oh yes, if you’re spending 40 hours every week with these people, you may very well be bringing some of them home with you. Did you ever catch yourself complaining about how much Nancy-three-desks-over complains about EVERYTHING? Because I have. It is a terrifying realization.

However, maybe we can use this to our advantage. After I realized I was adopting some of “Nancy’s” characteristics, I started to think of positive qualities that I would love to have myself and started reaching out to people that I’ve always admired for having these qualities. Maybe if I could spend more time with an exceptionally hard working, financially-savvy friend, she would be a positive influence in my life. And maybe if I reached out to my cousin who always loves learning new things and improving herself, her personality will help prevent me from becoming stagnant in my own life.

I believe that the number one factor influencing your quality of life is your perception. The person who feels blessed to live in a basement apartment will always be happier than the person who thinks her mansion is too small. But I also believe that the number one factor influencing your perception is the mindset of those around you. Happy people cause more people to be happy. Choose who you surround yourself with wisely, you may become more like them than you think.

Family, Faith, Forgiveness

After spending five days in Disney World with my mom and sister, then coming home and immediately going to a family get together, I have reached the conclusion that there is nothing in this world I will ever love as much as my family. It was even my uncle who gave me the idea for this blog post! Family has such a huge influence on us and our lives, and I have been blessed beyond belief with tightknit families both on my mom’s and my dad’s sides.

Appropriately enough, this weekend in mass, the presider spoke about the importance of families during his homily. Since we are all brothers and sisters through the Lord, we are all family, and we need to start treating each other as such.

When it comes to my family, forgiveness and understanding reign. When I come home and my mom is stressed out, I know she had a bad day, so I back off; God knows I don’t judge my mom for being stressed out. When Sam “accidentally” gave my cell phone number to a complete stranger, I may have laughed at her a little bit, but I wasn’t mad. Even last night, Sam and I got into an argument (over who had control of the remote, if you were wondering), and this morning I woke up to a text from her that said “Are we still fighting? I have stuff to tell you!” Anger never prevails and grudges never last when it comes to our families, so why do we embrace anger and grudges when it comes to strangers?

I work in the service department of a car dealership, and a few weeks ago, I had a very angry customer call me at work. He asked how many miles we usually recommend between oil changes, and when I told him 5,000 miles or 5 months, he flipped out and told me I don’t know what I’m talking about. He insisted on speaking to a man. Angry people are a staple of life, but for some reason this guy really bothered me to the point where I am still thinking about it weeks later. But why? If it was my mom, cousin, aunt, or uncle who called me at work and wanted to speak to one of the guys – who do, in fact, know exponentially more than me about literally everything car-related – I wouldn’t be mad at all.

I know its way easier said than done, but if we can treat strangers like family, we can let go of grudges, judgements, prejudices, and every other negative, lasting feeling we have towards others. That guy on the phone probably wouldn’t have screamed at me in the first place if he thought of me as family.

We can all do our part to make the world a tiny bit nicer. It’s impossible to be 100% positive and never get angry at all, but once we start thinking of everyone as family, the anger fades just a little faster, and forgiveness prevails.