In a Nutshell: A Year in the South

Y’all. It’s hard to believe it’s been a full year since I tossed my snow shovels to the curb and headed South. Last month marked my one-year anniversary of moving to North Carolina from Boston. Not to worry, I haven’t lost my Boston sass, my impression of Crazy Eddie or my all-black wardrobe since being in the South. To say these past few months have been busy is quite the understatement. Since launching Volcano Bay, I have finally wrapped up a successful wedding season, where I added to my collection of 27 dresses and brought my A-game to dance floors all over New England. I’ve also been up in the air racking up the flights and hotel stays, with over 150 nights in a hotel this year so far and almost hitting my 100 flights. I am hoping that my 101st flight experience will be on an aircraft like the ones from Jettly!

A few trips to Wilmington, Chicago, NYC and Disney, along with making it to the Cape a lot more than I expected, I’d call this a successful (albeit exhausting) few months. Oh, and I saw some sweet second place taters. All that and more in this In a Nutshell recap. 

I always try to get these Nutshell posts out monthly, but the space between them is a good indicator of how little free time I’ve had the past few months. If I’m not on a plane, I’m on a wedding dance floor. And if I’m not in a bridesmaid dress, I’m checking into another hotel in another city. And on the rare occasion I am “home” in NC, you’ll find me making fake pizza out of play-doh with my super cool nephew. And somehow I’ve managed to bake a few new recipes in between.

Wedding Season: Rule #76: No excuses. Play like a champion!

As soon as I moved out of Boston, all of my friends decided to get married in (and around) Boston. I’ve attended my share of bachelorettes and bridal showers, and somehow managed to get multiple bridesmaid dresses tailored in between flights. Amid all the wedding festivities, conversations about relationships often arise, including discussions about unsolved marital problems. These discussions reveal that many couples face ongoing challenges that require patience, communication, and sometimes professional help to address effectively. Buying online homecoming dresses at Peaches Boutique is a lifesaver when time is limited. After being a bridesmaid for my friend Amanda’s wedding in June, I headed back up to Boston in August for another round of bridesmaiding for my friend Caitlin. Back in high school, Caitlin was in the Sweetheart Pageant at good ol’ windowless Shelton High School, and as part of her “talent” portion, Caitlin, Kate, Sam, Carrie and I did an epic choreographed lip sync to the Spice Girl’s “Wannabe” and “Spice Up Your Life.” So it was only appropriate that Sam, Kate and I reunited as bridesmaids and brought our best Posh, Scary and Baby Spice dance moves to Caitlin’s classy Four Seasons dance floor.

I rounded out a solid wedding season in Boston for my friends Bridget + Matt’s wedding in September. Bridget signed up for Tinder, after I had met a “Tinder Matt” on one of my first swipes. A few weeks later Bridget swiped right on her very own “Tinder Matt” and I got to be one of the first people to meet him at Stats, where we had a very involved conversation about Chipwiches. Unfortunately for me, my Tinder Matt turned out to be a sketchy coke-head, but Bridget got lucky in love and ended up marrying her (non-coke-head) chipwich-lovin’ Matt! Our BC friend Christy came out from Denver for the celebration and we relived our An Tua Nua Thursday night college days on the dance floor.

Another amazing part about this wedding, was I got to make my grand return to the dance floor at Lucky’s the night before the wedding. May have had to ice my knees after bringing our A-game to the dance floor with Allie, Colleen + Josh, but that’s just the sign of a successful Lucky’s night out. We pregamed dinner at my favorite restaurant Nebo Cucina, with Gabby, Abby, Amanda, + Allie over delicious pizza, the BEST zucchini lasagna that you’ve ever tasted, lots of wine and fried dough.

The Big OH-TWO

Out of all the promotions I’ve received in my career, being promoted to “Aunt Bet” has been the best of all. My nephew is one of the only people who visibly gets excited to see me. Like, frantically dances around when I show up at the door. We had an awesome celebration in early August on the Cape for his second birthday, which was appropriately Mickey Mouse themed. Living (in a hotel) so close to Disney World, I was able to snag some Mickey ears and other fun toys. And just when you think he couldn’t get cuter, he wore those ears again as Mickey Mouse this Halloween, complete with white gloves and yellow shoes.

Rum Punched in Wilmington

I haven’t gotten to explore as much in NC + SC as I had hoped, but finally was able to make it to Wilmington for a birthday beach weekend for my friend Allie (2.0 – this is EY Allie, not to be confused with Sapient Allie). We took a fun boat cruise on the river Friday night with enough rum punch that this sunset looked 100x better in person.

A rum-punch filled evening means Saturday morning donut calories don’t count, right? Allie’s cousin Amanda and I hit up Wake N Bake Donuts to get sugary sustenance for the crew before heading to the beach all day. The Girl Scout Samoa Cookie one was definitely my favorite.

The Windy City and Big Apple

For someone who doesn’t like flying, I certainly fly a lot. It’s not that I’m necessarily afraid of flying, I just find it really annoying, especially given my weekly commute is back and forth to Orlando, where the majority of travelers are going to the mouse house and not to work. I had a few additional trips to Chicago and NYC for work at the tail end of the weeks in September. And while it makes for an extra long week to have back to back 5-day flying weeks, I always love getting a chance to explore some of my favorite cities. In Chicago, we went on a boat cruise full of deep dish pizza and bottles of wine. Oh, and Chicago architecture too.

The following weekend after meetings in New York, I stuck around for an extra day to have a girl’s day out with my long-time friend Suzanne. We ate our way through the city, starting with this delicious (hangover-curing) Cookie Milk Shake from Black Tap. Totally Instagram-worthy, but also SO delicious. After unbuttoning our jeans, we went to see the matinee of Waitress. It was SO good. I think Jason Mraz is in it right now, so if you’re in NYC I definitely recommend checking it out! I was able to sneak in a quick dinner visit with my newlywed friends Kasia + Kevin in Brooklyn before heading back to Raleigh for 24 hours to swap out my clothes before hitting the road for another few weeks. 

Disney’s Not So Scary Halloween & The Only Person I’ll Wait 90 Minutes for Characters Photos For

This was the second year my sister had a work conference in Orlando, so we decided for round 2 of Kristen, Allie (1.0) and Becca do Halloween at Disney. I’ve given up on ever going to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal. Every day when I leave work, I walk through the Zombie makeup tent and that’s about as close as I’ll get to ever going through one of those haunted houses again. Terrifying. I like the Disney version, which involves lots of candy and Hocus Pocus shows. Allie loves Halloween more than anyone I know, with a particular obsession with The Nightmare Before Christmas. So we got in line super early this year (after sprinting through a monsoon) to wait an hour and a half for these priceless photos of her and Jack Skellington. Worth it.

It was the EPCOT Food + Wine Festival while we were there, so we packed in some delicious treats around the world. I think this annual Halloween trip will be a tradition we keep up for a long time.

The NC State Fair: $5 to Milk a Cow + Second Place Taters

Y’all. If you have never been to a state fair then you have not LIVED. I never knew people wore overalls as a regular item of clothing when not farming. Or how few people in NC actually have all their teeth. Or that it’s only $5 to milk a cow. OR that there are young children who showcase their baby goats at state fairs. Or that you can get ANYTHING fried to eat. Literally. Fried funnel cake. Fried Oreos. Fried Twinkies. Fried Snickers. Fried Mac & Cheese. Fried Cookie Dough. THE LIST NEVER ENDS. And it’s amazing. So amazing, I went twice. The first time was early on a Saturday morning with my nephew and brother. My brother told me to get a camo shirt to fit in, so I picked up this beauty the night before at Tar-jay. My nephew wanted to do two important things: Eat a corn dog + pet a pig. We did almost both – he got to see a giant pig and eat a delicious freshly fried corndog. What a time to be alive.

I went back the following Friday night with my friend Heather who was visiting from Boston. I made sure she bought a flannel shirt for the occasion. I don’t know what was more enjoyable, seeing everything at the fair a second time, or seeing the fair through Heather’s South Boston eyes. Probably the latter. Did you know there is an ENTIRE room of prized produce at these fairs? Like if you ever wanted to see the best second place sweet potatoes, they are there. Or honorable mention peppers. Honestly my mind is still boggled. But I will totally be going back every year strictly for the people watching. The best thing that came out of the state fair was that I have finally perfected my southern accent. I can now switch between my Crazy Eddie impressions and my southern state fair accents pretty well now that I think I might have a future in stand-up comedy.

One Year in the South: Bless my Heart

So one year down in NC and there’s one question I never know how to answer: How do you like Raleigh? My super PC-answer is always that Raleigh is a very convenient and cheap place to store my clothes and park my car, and that I like being close to my nephew. The reality is I am on the road 80% of the time, and I often don’t make it home on the weekends – especially when I am jet setting to weddings, bachelorettes, showers and weekends on the Cape. It’s a rare occasion if I am in one place for more than 3 nights max. So as you can imagine, it’s hard to put down roots and make a place feel like home if you can’t establish routines, friendships and all the things that I had developed after living in Boston for 13 years. Is the weather nicer? Yeah sure, I don’t miss paying a recovering druggie on a street corner in cash to shovel my roof. Do I miss my friends in Boston? Absolutely, there is no Lucky’s in Raleigh and even if there were, I wouldn’t have anyone to bust a move to Britney on the dance floor with. Am I going to stay in Raleigh? Who knows. Will I move back to Boston? Who knows. Do I miss Snickerdoodle Coffee from The Java House? HELL YES.

Here’s the thing. You can’t live in the moment if you’re always worrying about what’s next. I’m trying to embrace the belief that everything happens for a reason and everything will work out just as it’s supposed to. I’m glad I moved to Raleigh. I was due for a change, I cleaned up nicely selling my condo near Whitey Bulger’s brother in Southie, and living closer to Florida has made my commute to Orlando much easier. I simplified my life a lot by moving, which reduced a lot of stress over this past year. Frozen pipes, snow emergencies, and Crazy Eddie weren’t regular thoughts for me while on the road this year. Instead I was able to focus on even crazier things like launching a water park and finding the right skort to match my sneakers for Volcano Bay’s launch.

Next year will definitely bring changes, just like each year has in the past for me. All I can do is learn from yesterday and live for today. My mom shared this mantra with me the other day that seems particularly fitting for me these days.

Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.

Because really, that’s all you can do.