Friday, June 8, 2018

Mental Health Awareness: Depression

Hey guys, Dana here. Long time no talk. It's been a while, I know. The last time I was in the writing realm, it was back in January when I discussed the 5 cent charge on plastic bags in Suffolk County.  Today is different. Today, I'm here to talk to you all about mental health.

I'll start with something personal. Yesterday afternoon, I found out an old friend of mine from several years ago took his own life. I haven't seen, talked to, or even thought of that friend since I was maybe 18 or 19 years old. When I found out that he left this world, I was stunned. I wish we never lost touch with each other all those years ago. I couldn't stop thinking about him. It broke my heart that he was so depressed and lonely that he took his own life thinking that nobody would care that he left. Nobody should ever feel that way. To tell you the truth, I've had my share of low points in my life as well. I was bullied in elementary school, middle school, and high school. During my sophomore year of high school, I was in "a relationship" with a sociopath who lead me to believe that the things he did to me were my fault. I struggled with earning my associate's and bachelor's degree in college. I was at the end of my rope when I was job hunting. I was fighting with my parents left and right. I felt like I failed them because I didn't have a job straight out of college. I wasn't living on my own. I struggled with my weight and self esteem. I understand how horrible and unfair life can be. Life can get really difficult, unexpected situations can rock your world. But it doesn't mean that death is the only solution to resolve what life throws at you.

Depression is a disease within your head that makes you believe that you are not worth it. You don't matter. Life is not worth living. Nobody loves you. Nobody would miss you if you were gone. That's how heartbreakingly powerful depression is, and how it takes over your life. Your own mind is fighting against you. But nobody actually pays attention or takes it seriously until somebody well known takes his/her own life.  Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Verne Troyer, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain: a comedian, two musicians, an actor, a designer, and a chef had mental health issues and nobody knew because everyone thinks famous people don't struggle with depression, bi-polar, OCD, any other chemical imbalance. Even if you have it all; wealth, a family, a legacy, all of those things do not buy happiness. It doesn't matter how successful you are in this world. Fame does not equate happiness, and sometimes a smile is just a facade to mask what's really going on inside their minds. You need to open your eyes and realize that there is more than just what you see on the surface. Depression is more than just "the blues." It isn't something where you can easily say "get over it." It's all in your head." Don't ever belittle someone who struggles with anxiety, depression, bi-polar, or anything. The brain is an organ just like your lungs, your pancreas, your liver, your prostate, any organ that is diagnosed with a disease. Mental health is not something to take lightly and ignore it if it becomes an inconvenience to you. You need to check up on your loved ones ALL the time; keep them close, reach out, make plans to meet up for a cup of coffee, invite them places, anything to remind them that they are loved and cherished.

Being kind to one another can prevent these situations too. Every day I sign onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, all of the social media sites we know, and somebody has to say something insulting, stir the pot, push people to point out somebody's insecurities and make them feel less than what they're worth. AND PEOPLE LOVE IT. Why? Why is "being a troll" more acceptable than being a decent human being? Why is being disrespectful getting more praise than kindess and compassion? Yes, disagreements are a part of every day life. Yes, we don't always have to get along with each other. But is it really that hard to be a decent human being to someone you barely know? Better yet, You have no idea how a simple smile, a kind gesture, or any random act of kindness can brighten someone's day. Compliments can literally turn someone's day around. Tell a stranger you like their shirt. Tell your co-worker that you appreciate them. Lend someone some spare change if they come up short when they're getting a sandwich at the deli. Thank the Starbucks barrista and wish him/her well. Wouldn't you like it if somebody said something sweet to you? Especially if you were having a terrible day? You and I both know how heartwarming a little act of kindness can be, and how far it can go.

With that being said, I want to remind you of something that I tell everyone I become friends with, or if we just got to know each other, you get to know this now. If at any moment in your life you feel like you are at the end of your rope, I want you to know that you can always come to me with anything that is threatening you. If you have my cell number, I want you to call me. I don't care what time it is. I don't care if I'm sleeping. I don't  care if I have work in the morning. I don't care if we haven't talked in a long time. I don't care if the last time we spoke, we were fighting. I want you to talk to me, and I will not leave or hang up until I know that you are okay. My phone ringer is on loud every night for a reason. I'd rather get a phone call at 4am to talk you out of suicide than a phone call at 4am to find out that you're gone. If you believe that no one will miss you if you killed yourself, that is untrue. I will never leave your side. I will never let you fall so far down to the point of no return. I am your friend who will never make you feel ashamed or embarrassed if you come to me with anything that makes you consider the unthinkable. I promise with every fiber of my being that if you come to me, you will find an open mind, a non-judgemental ear, and arms to hug you until you're okay to enough to take a deep breath and realize that you are not alone. I may not be able to 100% fix the issues you have, but I promise to hold your hand and walk beside you until the storm subsides. Please remember that, my friends. I love you all. Don't ever forget that. Have a good weekend, and I will return to the writing realm again.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

5 Cent Charge For Plastic Bags In Suffolk County Stores

Hey guys, Dana here. Wow, it’s been almost a full year since I’ve posted here; a whole 363 days, and I'm pleased to say that this blog has officially resurrected from the dead. Back in New Year's Eve 2016, I wrote a whole recap of everything that happened that year. But the thing is, a lot of eventful things happened that year, and I can't say the same about 2017. I’m not gonna lie here, 2017 flat out sucked. I mean come on, we lost Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Paxton, Chuck Berry, Don Rickles, Roger Moore, Adam West, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Glen Campbell, Jerry Lewis, Hugh Hefner, Tom Petty, and David Cassidy. Not to mention all of the innocent lives lost to the mass shooting in Los Vegas, suicide bombings, the Halloween hit-and-run tragedy in NYC, in order words, too many acts of terrorism happened. Yes, terrorism is not limited to just ISIS. I couldn’t find words to describe how I really felt about all of those things, I lose my ability to write with negative vibes.  And all people did was bitch about everything. No wonder this blog was dormant, the world was too God damn depressing; I was too depressed to write.

To be honest, I had my own inner demons as well; whether it be self-esteem, self-image, lack of motivation, lack of confidence, negative people, but that was in 2017. It’s a new year, removing negative people from my life(some of them actually opened and closed the door themselves!) and I’m looking forward to writing more and bringing this blog back to the high activity level as it was when this blog started four years ago. And I got the perfect topic to kick off this year; contoversy over the 5 Cent charge on plastic bags at your local

About a month or two ago, I saw this post online about how effective January 1st, 2018, all supermarkets/convenience stores in the Suffolk County area of Long Island are required to charge 5 cents for each plastic bag used while packing said groceries. I didn't think anything of it because since it's the 21st century, people like to start rumors and get people talking just for the sake of causing some controversy. But then the other day while walking out of Target, this elderly women approached me and mentioned the new law. So when I asked her what was actually going to happen, she essentially said that if you don't have those re-usable tote bags for your groceries, you're getting charged 5 cents for every bag used. God damn, I sure am glad that I don't work at CVS anymore; ontop of getting yelled at for prices being 23 cents more than what was shown in the aisle, not honoring expired coupons, and not giving back a cash refund without a receipt, I'd be getting yelled at for the newly implented 5 cent fee for each bag. Those poor cashiers, I really feel for them. As for me, I've got some mixed feelings and thoughts about this one. 
I'm a Nassau county gal, but I can walk to Suffolk if I really wanted to since I'm not too far from the Nassau/Suffolk border. The thing is, I've done my fair share of shopping in Suffolk county stores, the Smithaven mall, so if I end up going there, I gotta remember this new law. 

Let's start with one side of this debate; it's ridiculous. Supermarkets have been using plastic bags since they first became a thing in the early 20th century, so why the change? Why would they implement this 5 cent fee when plastic bags have been free for the past seventy years? Are supermarkets losing money and gotta charge the customers even more for overpriced groceries to make up for shrinkage? Or is this a tax issue? Are we seriously getting taxed for plastic? That's kinda messed up, especially if you're working several jobs to make ends meet, and then gotta pay even more when you're already under a tight budget.

They can also be like me and re-use the "single use" plastic bags for the tiny garbage can in the bathroom, or for when I bring in lunch from home to work. Once I run out, that's it; if I want those kinds of bags, I would have to pay 5 cents each. That's gonna suck if Nassau county follows suit.

The easiest solution for this plastic bag issue to to get a ton of tote bags to dodge the plastic bag fee. The thing is, not all items can easily fit into tote bags either, and the customer will also have to estimate how many tote bags to bring! What if you only bring x amount of tote bags and you end up getting more than you intended, so you're stuck with items without the bag? Or, the complete end up getting less than what you intended, and you're stuck carrying empty tote bags. Some tote bags may not even be large enough for the bigger items either. Now, while all these reasons are simply annoyances and clear disdain for this new law,  there is always another side to a controversial topic; what if this new law is actually for a good cause? What if this is a good thing?

I cannot count how many times I'd be driving to work, to my boyfriend's house, to the beach, and see plastic bags on the side of the road. Come on guys, it's not that hard to toss out/recycle those things once they're used up. They're ugly to look at after they've been rained on, dragged in the mud, and I'd hate to touch it if I was a member of the sanitation/parks department. Come to think of it, I've actually seen plastic bags while swimming in the ocean at Jones Beach; really nasty, and super dangerous for the sea folk.  I've seen this ad here so many times, and I really feel for all the sea creatures that are suffocating and getting asphixiated because they can't tell the difference between the plastic bag from King Kullen, and the jelly fish they live off of their whole lives. Birds, pigeons, seagulls, geese also get caught in these things too; people get creeped out enough with roadkill; the last thing we need is to see them end up like that as well.

Here's another idea supermarkets can use if people are completely against the 5 cent fee: why not take Costco's example and not use plastic bags at all like this mom and two kids? Or the lady back there? Do you see any plastic bags in that cart? Looks pretty, if you ask me.
All the times I used to go to Costco with my mom, they never used plastic bags, and NOBODY complained! I had no problem going back and forth getting each individual item, and no one else did either; if they did, no one would shop there, and Costco would have died out a long time ago. Unless people re-use the plastic bags, they're just going to get thrown out anyway, so why bother using them at all? An obvious exception is if you're buying milk, eggs, and/or raw meat, then they should use those plastic bags. I'm not sure if they addressed that already, but if not, I really hope that the Suffolk county stores make an exception for the raw meat and eggs. Not gonna lie, that's really screwed up if they charge 5 cents for literal sanitary containers, and it's pretty gross if you just throw your package of raw meat in between your cereal and toothpaste. If Suffolk stores don't make an exception to that, they're screwed, and I highly doubt that people will shop there anymore.

This law has been in effect for approximately 24 hours, and a lot of people are either boycotting the plastic bags, or they're just not caring and carrying on with the fee regardless. Perhaps the rest of the state will follow suit? If we're looking to make changes for the future, we might as well make it a good one. Thank you for reading, and continuing to follow me. I'll come up with something to write for a future post. Until then, have a great night, and I'll return the writing realm again before you know it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Review of Hollywood Drive-By's Debut Album: The Diagnosis

Hey guys, Dana here. Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is treating you well so far and you're not too bummed out from returning to work/school, or any other place you needed to return to. For me personally, I'm happy to be back in the writing realm less than a week after my last blog post of 2016. I'd like to begin 2017 with a local band CD review! I know, it's been a while since I've done one, and it's really refreshing. Hailing from Huntington, NY, let me introduce you all to Hollywood Drive-By!

Founded in 2011, Hollywood Drive-By consists of MC/lead vocalist Vijay "Vendetta" Ramcharitar, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Josh "J-Flo" Berger, lead guitarrist Chuck "CL5" McNally, bassist Cheynnyne "Chevy" DeLorenzo, and drummer Adam "Kap" Kaplan.  Their influences include, but are not limited to, Rage Against The Machine, Eminem, Tupac, Incubus, Linkin Park, Godsmack, Audioslave, Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc. 
On November 25th, 2016(Black Friday...) Hollywood Drive-By released their debut album, The Diagnosis. Due to family obligations, I couldn't come out to Amityville Music Hall that night to support them, but I still wanted a CD. Chuck McNally is a friend of mine, and when asked me to review this album, I immediately said yes. Without further ado, let's dive into The Diagnosis! *insert applause here*

Let's take this track-by-track, shall we?

Track 1: The Diagnosis

This self-titled track begins with a piano introduction, followed by Vijay's hip hop vocals that join shortly afterward. Now, that is something you don't see in a lot of local bands these days. Anytime I hear hip hop and rock/metal combinations, I think about Korn, Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine, Hollywood Undead, or any other rap/metal bands that are signed to major record labels. I've been to several local band showcases, and every metal band either has either melodic or hardcore undertones, but never hip hop. This song is nothing but hip hop vocals with a piano accompaniment. What I like the most is that the words are pretty much telling the media and pop culture icons like the Kardashians to drop off the face of the earth. That's the kind of music I can listen to. Great opening track, let's move on to the next...

Track 2: Human Condition

Human Condition begins with an opening guitar riff and then is joined in by Adam's drums. Shortly afterward, Josh begins to sing and then the rest of the bands joins in. Shortly after, Vijay raps a verse, and then Josh sings the chorus. The way Josh and Vijay switch off the lead vocals between verses and the chorus reminds me of how Linkin Park was back during their Hybrid Theory and Meteora days. I've seen many local bands in my life, and it's usually just one vocalist, or if there are dual vocalist, there's harmonies. I've never seen a vocalist that straight up sings, and the other raps. That's definitely the most unique thing about Hollywood Drive-By; I don't know of any other local bands that have that kind of sound.

Track 3: 6 to Midnight

This was the first track I've ever heard from Hollywood Drive-By because over the summer, Chuck McNally messaged me to check out his band's first music video, and I was immediately hooked. 6 to Midnight pretty much screams Red Hot Chili Peppers, especially during the verses. The funky bass line, Vijay's hip-hop vocals, Josh's soothing voice during the chorus, it makes me want to dance. The message behind the music video is really heavy, by the way. Check it out here:

Track 4: Over My Head

This track has a very reggae type rhythm that makes me bop my head back and forth while writing this sentence; almost like 311 since Josh sounds a lot like Nick Hexum. "Over My Head" is different from any song I've heard so far because it begins with a drum and bass groove, and then a syncopated guitar riff that reminds me of something you would listen to while lying on the beach on a hot summer day. Vijay comes in and raps while Josh's faint voice sings accompanies Vijay with backing vocals. Definitely one of my favorites on this album; there's nothing better than listening to an album with songs that don't sound just like the other.

Track 5: Shoot First

I'm usually not a hip-hop kind of gal because I tend to associate hip hop with garbage "artists" like Kanye West, Wiz Kalifa, Lil Wayne, or anyone else that writes mindless, shallow, superficial lyrics to show the world. But this is the complete antithesis of any other hip hop song I've listened to(excluding Eminem, haha). This is definitely one of Hollywood Drive-By's heavier songs; not because of the sound, but because the meaning behind this song is so true and so real, and pinpoints everything going on with our country. Vijay raps about politics, the presidential election, discrimination, America's feud with other countries in the world, how disgusting the media portrays people; it's the epitome of a reality check. What's a better way to expose the wrong in the world? Through music.

Track 6: Knuckle Up

Like the second track, it opens up with a guitar riff, followed by drums, and then the rest of the guitars and bass come in for an instrumental introduction. Josh comes in and is pretty much telling the listener that everything is going to be okay as the opening lyrics go: "Breathe in slowly; there's no need to worry now. I can make it, take my chances, I will show you how." Rage Against the Machine is one of their influences, and you can definitely hear it in this song; especially the way Vijay raps like Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine during the choruses. Yet at the same time, I hear a lot of Linkin Park influences with the way Josh sings; as if Rage Against the Machine and Linkin Park collaborated with each other.

Track 7: Invictus

What you don't see in most local bands these days is an interlude/instrumental break between tracks in an album. When I hear an instrumental song with no vocals, it's usually an intro/opening track to an album, and then the rest of the album is your typical verse/chorus/verse layout until the CD ends. Invictus consists of nothing but a guitar solo; no bass, no drums, no vocals. It's actually kind of refreshing to hear 6 tracks back-to-back-to-back, and then a quiet lone guitar riff; very unique.

Track 8: Master of My Fate

Although there is a bit of silence between the end of "Invictus" and "Master of my Fate," the song begins with another opening guitar intro, followed by crashing cymbals and then Vijay comes in. What's interesting is that the majority of this song is hip hop, yet it's accompanied by guitars and drums instead of a looping backtrack that you'd typically hear in most mainstream hip hop songs. Chuck's guitar solo is quite memorable here, it compliments the main melody of the chorus; how most guitar solos should be. Solos shouldn't be based on how fast you can shred or how complicated it sounds. Very well done here, for sure.

Track 9: One Man Army

"One Man Army" is another favorite on this album based on the message of this song. When you hear the words "One Man Army," that pretty much means that it's you against the world, nothing on Earth can take you down, and you have the strength of a thousand troops. No matter how many hardships you face, no matter how much "bullshit" comes at you, giving up is the last thing on your mind. What a great, positive message to give to your fans; the world is ugly enough as it is, and hearing a song like that can give you the inspiration to keep your head up when life is hard.

Track 10: Light in the Darkness(Year of the Hitman)

This song in particular has one of the most unique sounds I've heard from a local band. The song begins with a drum intro, Vijay jumps right in, with bass and drums accompanying him without any guitars. However, when Josh sings the chorus, the guitars join in so it's a fuller sound. Then when the song reprises the verses, all you hear Vijay, drums, and bass. You can easily distinguish the difference between both parts of the songs; far too often are the verses and choruses near identical, yet this song is quite the exception. Later on, Chuck plays this really melodic guitar solo that leads into the final chorus and an abrupt ending; closing the album.

I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed every single track from this album. I loved the variety of sounds; the different time signatures, different keys, pure talent. These guys have great potential, and I'd love for my band to share the stage with them in the near future.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review of Hollywood Drive-By's The Diagnosis. Listening to this was a pleasure, and I truly believe that these guys have a lot of talent; very solid musicians with great chemistry. If this bands seems like something you would like to know more about, please check them out on Facebook,  Twitter, Reverbnation and Soundcloud. Once again, thank you for reading, and I'll return to the wrting realm soon. Until then, enjoy the rest of the week!

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Hey guys, Dana here. Happy New Year's Eve!!! We've only got a couple more hours until this year comes to an end. Tonight, I've got something special for you all; my annual End-of-the-Year blog post! I would have done a New Year's blog post last year, but I was kind of on the other side of the planet without a laptop, so I couldn't sum up an entire year while on my cell phone in Japan. So, I'm re-doing the annual New Year's blog post tonight. Now, I'm not going to lie, 2016 was pretty rough on us this year. Aside from electing a reality TV show host as our soon-to-be 45th President of the United States, we lost David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, George Martin, Doris Roberts(Marie Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond), ex-WWE wrestler Chyna, Harambe, Prince, Muhammed Ali, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Florence Henderson(Carol Brady from the Brady Bunch), Joseph Mascolo(he played Stefano DiMera on Days of our Lives...the sometimes SOAP I watch on and off), Cindy Stowell(the Jeopardy champion who had terminal cancer and died a week before her Jeopardy debut aired.) George Michael and Carrie Fisher...a lot of my friends lost loved ones and friends and I give nothing but love, support, and my deepest condolences to them. My heart also goes out to the innocent lives of people who were killed from acts of terror in the world. However, for me personally, 2016 was by far one of the greatest years I ever lived in. Tonight, I'm going to sum up all of the highlights that happened to me month by month up until I sign off for the night. Let's dive into what happened to me in 2016!


Yours truly in an authentic Japanese yukata.
So as the clock struck midnight on January 1st, 2016...I was sitting in a restaurant in Osaka, Japan with my parents and brother...missing Eddie and all of my friends who were together with their loved ones on New Year's Eve/Day. A day or two later we went to Kobe and I had kobe steak for the first time in my life. It was literally the freshest most delicious beef I've ever eaten in my entire life. Let's just say you didn't need teeth to eat it. The next day we went to Kyoto, and I saw shrines, temples, and all kinds of gorgeous architecture. The next day we took a bullet train from Osaka to an old fashioned Japanese hotel in the mountains...along with a hot spring right outside the hotel room. There is nothing more amazing than sitting in a hot spring by yourself and looking at the stars while remembering that your co-workers in America are already back at work and you still had a week off. My time in Japan was coming down to an end, as our flight back home was just around the corner. Our flight left Japan on Wednesday, January 6th at 5pm. We landed in New York on the same 3pm. That's when I realized that I experienced time travel for the first time in my entire life. You can't say that happens every day! After re-cooperating from 14 hours of jet lag and adjusting back into the New York time zone, my band played our first show of 2016 at Sinclair's Pub in West Babylon. We met Vigil Antics for the first time, along with NFU, Limelight, and shared the stage again with our old friends The Nightmare Police! It was great seeing all of my friends again after being on the other side of the world for two weeks. Once that fun weekend was over, it was time to get back into the swing of things and be an adult again. I returned to work and found my inbox overflowing with emails...duplicate ones getting snippier and snipper as the dates got newer. It took me nearly a week just to catch up on a few days worth of emails. It wasn't all terrible, though. The rest of January consisted of hanging out with friends, going out to dinner, and watching hilarious movies. We did get a foot of snow dumped on us, though; that sucked.


Praise Jesus, Leo finally won!!!!
February was a pretty dull month, then again, not a lot of eventful things happen in February. Aside from Valentine's Day, it's a pretty terrible month. It's too cold to go out, local band shows are pretty scarce, and no one really wants to do anything besides watch a movie or binge watch Netflix shows. For me personally, I didn't really see anyone except for on the weekends. I'm not going to lie, it was depressing to repeat the same mundane tasks day in and day out: wake up, forcefeed myself, go to work, come home, eat dinner, shower, sleep, repeat. It wasn't all terrible, though. On days where it wasn't brick outside or getting buried in snow, I either had band practice with the guys or did end up hanging with some friends here and there on the weekends. So yeah, there really wasn't anything memorable this month, but if I didn't include February in this post, the OCD in me would have gone through the roof. I do have a good highlight, though! And the funny thing about this highlight is that it didn't affect me at all. The one thing that I'll never forget about February is the moment where Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar! All of those potential "Leo didn't win an Oscar again" memes were officially thrown in the garbage. May they rest in peace.


This was a fun month, I made up for all of the time lost in February by having an eventful March! We kicked off March with our first show since January; once again it was back at Sinclair's pub. This ended up being a last minute show; a band dropped out and the promoter asked us if we would fill in. Of course we hopped on it, especially since we were sharing the stage with our friends in Logan's

At Sinclair's with Logan's Room, Vigil Antics & Cherry Pop
Room, reuniting with Vigil Antics, and for the first time ever, our friends in Cherry Pop! Aside from playing this awesome show, I realized that this was also the month of birthdays for three of my closest friends in the world. The weekend after playing that show at Sinclairs, my friend Rosalie had her birthday party at Dave and Busters in Islandia! I discovered an incredible drink that got me a little tipsy: ANGRY BALLS.(Sounds dirty, I know.) It consisted of Fireball Whiskey and Angry Orchard hard cider...and man, was I thrilled to be there with some of my favorite people in the world. Then about a week later, Rosalie's awesome boyfriend, and my close friend, Matt had a birthday too! Not only did we bake him a cake, his band Logan's Room played a show at Revolution so he got to do his favorite thing in the world on his birthday! Then, the following weekend was Brendan's birthday! We hung out at his house, had dinner, played multiple rounds of Mortal Kombat, and had a carvel ice cream cake. A few days later, I reconnected and had dinner with my friend Kelly for the first time since we both graduated high school in 2009. We talked and caught up as if the 7 years never passed; that was definitely needed. Another highlight towards the end of March was that I saw two of my favorite Long Island local bands within the same week as each other. First I saw Bad Mary at Mulcahy's in Wantagh, and then the following night, I saw Fawkes at Amityville Music Hall.


April...was an extremely eventful month, and one of my favorites this year. I apologize in advance to anyone who doesn't like to read long segments, but this month was so good that I had to include every detail possible.
The first weekend of April, my band played at Grizzly's Sports Den in Bay Shore for the very first time, thanks to Patty Dodge. Not a lot of our friends were able to make it because they were playing shows, or had prior engagements to attend. But one of my close friends surprised me to no end; my friend Alex, who I haven't seen in years, showed up at Grizzly's with his friend Julian and videotaped my band's set. Neither of them are really into punk rock, but fell in love with our music. That is a really beautiful thing to do for a friend...unconditional support. It turns out that we have a lot of mutual friends, so that was a good laugh too.
After the show ended, we ended up at our usual post-show food joint, Massapequa Diner. That emotional high was unfortunately shortlived, because the following weekend, I got sick for the first time in three years. I'm dead serious; the last time I felt so sick that I couldn't even get out of bed was in February of 2013. And no, this was not the throwing up kind of sick; it was an upper respitory infection kind of sick. I was prescribed ammoxicilin and probiotics that were supposed to last me for two weeks. For the very first time since working at Kravet, I called out of work that Monday. That's how my boss knew that I was a mess; I NEVER call out of work an hour before I'm supposed to come in. It sucked, in retrospect, my body could not have picked a more perfect time to shut down on me because it was literally the only weekend where I didn't have something to do. So, I spent that Monday binge watching movies on whatever movie channels had something good. I finally saw the movie The Fault In Our Stars and nearly cried at the end of the movie.
I was pretty much back to normal that Tuesday, but I was drowning in emails since no one covered me while I was gone. I was mess that week, but I was determined to make myself better by the end of the week because I had something amazing to look forward to that Friday: my first solo trip out of New York to 
support my friends Joe and Tyler in Ashes to Oranges for their CD release show at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, New Jersey

My 25th birthday :)
Eddie and Dillon had to work, and Brendan wasn't available until later that evening, so I took this trip alone. I left my job at 2pm thinking I'd be able to beat the rush hour traffic, but I was dead wrong. It took me an hour and 5 minutes just to get to the Verrazano Bridge from my job in Bethpage because the Belt Parkway is a nightmare, and then more traffic through Staten Island to the Outerbridge Crossing. Once I hit the Garden State Parkway, it was smooth sailing from there. Seeing Joe and Tyler for the first time since December was really great; I missed them terribly. However, there were A LOT of people I didn't know, so the social anxiety was getting to me really bad. Tyler's girlfriend, Mia, kept me company and stayed with me a good portion of the night since I didn't really know anyone and made sure I was comfortable enough in such an intense setting. She's such a sweetheart. Aside from her, Joe, and Tyler, I did break away from my wallflower mindset and aquainted myself with some cool Jersey people who also came out to support Ashes to Oranges; like their video guy/friend Jarred, and long time supporter, Pichael. When the night came to a close, I was sad to leave, but I was also extremely exhausted. I had to drive a good hour and a half back home to New York that night after being awake since a quarter to 8 that morning. Joe was really worried for me, so he said something that I will never forget for the rest of my life: "I need you to text me as soon as you get home. I need to know that you're safe." Only a true friend would say that. I love you, Joe!
After recovering from a crazy week, I voted in my first presidential primaries since I wasn't old enough to vote in the primaries in 2008, and in 2012, there were no primaries. I voted for Bernie Sanders and I miss him terribly. But the following weekend, my band played a show at The Hub in Island Park for the first time in over a year. Although it's a bit of a hike for a lot of our friends, it's a great venue with a nice open room and a decent sized stage. Then that Sunday, my parents got me and Eddie tickets to see Jersey Boys on Broadway for a matinee show as my 25th birthday present. Joseph Leo Bwarie, the guy who played Frankie Valli, had his final performance that night, so Mom and Dad made sure we didn't miss it. Jersey Boys became my favorite Broadway show.
And then finally, the highlight of this whole month: my 25th birthday; I missed a handful of friends who couldn't make it due to prior engagements, but I still enjoyed it with the ones who did take the time to see me. What a perfect way to end an amazing month.


With the boys at Eisenhower Park on Memorial Day/Eddie's birthday! :)May was pretty eventful, and went pretty fast. I kicked off May by venturing into the city to see one of my favorite bands for the first time, Local H, at the Bowery Ballroom. I brought Eddie and Dillon with me, and we met up with our favorite Jersey boys, Joe and Tyler(Ashes To Oranges♥), and Jarred! This was Local H's 20th anniversary of their album As Good As Dead, so not only was Scott Lucas performing with his current drummer, Ryan Harding, but also played a set with  the original drummer, Joe Daniels. It was awesome to say that I've seen Local H's original line up as well as their current line up. They literally played all of my favorite songs, like  "The One With Kid," "California Songs," "City of Knives," "Freshly Fucked," and the entire As Good As Dead album. It was definitely my favorite concert so far. Unfortnately, since I had work early the next morning, I had to leave before the concert ended so I didn't get a chance to meet Local H. I didn't fret too hard, I knew they'd play a show in New York again soon. That weekend, we once again shared the stage with our friends in Logan's Room, and networked with other local bands that night. The following Monday, however, was a sad day. It was the 4 year anniversary since the death of my friend Casey, so I was pretty emotional that day and night. To this day, I can't thank Matt and Rosalie for consoling me as  I cried on their shoulders from missing Casey so much. They're amazing friends, and I got to spend almost every weekend with them. We either ended up at a bowling alley, Applebee's, karaoke, or back at Eddie's house to play Cards Against Humanity. Another weekend, I took Eddie and Brendan to see Captain America: Civil War and I thorougly enjoyed it; first half was pretty boring, but once Ant-Man and Spiderman made an appearance, it got so much better. It's one of my favorite Marvel movies now. Towards the end of the month, my friend Phil came up to visit New York and brought his lovely girlfriend(now fiancĂ©e) and introduced them to Rick and Morty.  And finally, the highlight of May ended up being the end of the month. We played a show at a Memorial Day festival; also Eddie's birthday. This festival is definitely up there in my top favorite shows of all time; good handful of our friends showed up, and we got to celebrate Eddie's birthday too.


Summer was finally around the corner, and I began my summer schedule at work: every other Friday off, so I was actually able to do more summer activities during the week and getting three day weekends instead of being confined to a desk in a room with no windows when the weather is really nice for 40 hours a week. One highlight was seeing two of my favorite bands, Fawkes and Logan's Room, play a show at Revolution! Another weekend consisted of playing mini
Coming home from NYC with Eddie, Brendan and Dillon.
golf with Eddie, Brendan, and Dillon, and then finally watching Deadpool once the night came to a close.Mini golf became a common activity this summer; especially when Matt and Rosalie joined us and we ended up back at Eddie's where I made everyone milkshakes and/or root beer floats. We even ventured into NYC to celebrate my friend Sarah's birthday at Fort Tyron Park! However, if there is one thing that stuck with me this month, it was the morning of June 18th, 2016. My friend Patrick Keenan asked me if I wanted to jam with his band consisting himself, my friend Matt and their other guitarrist Eric on a Saturday in June. I accepted the invite, but like I said in my previous blogpost about Heartstone, I was terrified because I didn't know what to expect. However, I faced my fears and discovered that I had some serious chemistry with these guys; I discovered Matt is a fantastic drummer,(I'm only used to seeing him as the guitarrist for Logan's Room) and I clicked with him immediately as a bassist. I met Eric, who is a very talented guitar player and sings very well too. Pat was nervous, but determined to make his dream of being in a band come true. Because of how well my "audition" went, Pat was thoroughly impressed with me. The next day, Pat asked me if I would like to be his permanent bassist, and I originally said no because I was afraid of commiting myself to another band when I already had my hands full with Bending Over Backwards. However, he told me that this was going to be based around OUR availabilities and won't have a strict schedule. He'd never do that to us. So, I changed my mind and became a part of a project outside my comfort zone. I've never been happier. My confidence and self esteem skyrocketed, and I feel that I'm slowly growing into a developed musician. Thank you Pat for asking me to be a part of this amazing project and allowing myself to see my full potential.


We kicked off July by playing a backyard show at our friend Conor's house(He's the lead vocalist of Vigil Antics, by the way) along with other acoustic artists. Unfortunately, we couldn't play in the backyard because it was raining, so we moved the show to his basement, and we had our very first acoustic show with Dillon. I must say, it was one of the most fun and intimate shows we've ever played. Every single person who was watching us was really into us; singing along to our covers, adding chants and making circle pits during every song. I still smile about it. The next day, we returned to Grizzly's in Bay Shore and shared the stage with Gutterlife, Straw Away, Cherry Pop, and other local bands who played both the indoor AND outdoor stage. The next day was Amy's 25th
Amy's 25th birthday at the Nautical Mile
birthday at the Nautical Mile in Freeport. We couldn't have asked for the most perfect weather. It wasn't humid, and there was no wind either; usually when you're by the water, it's naturally cooler. The next day was 4th of July so I was off from work and spent it outside, stuffing my face with your typical BBQ cuisine. Around that time was when Pokemon Go came out, and virtually anyone with a mobile phone was able to download the app, walk the streets of their neighborhood and catch Pokemon. Since I was playing Pokemon X, I didn't want to download it since I was already in the middle of playing a videogame; I can't multitask like that! Not to mention if I downloaded it, and since everyone on Earth was playing it, all it would have done is freeze and lag due to the high traffic on the app. So, Dana never experienced Pokemon Go. I'm not losing sleep over it, though. I didn't really have interest to begin with anyway. However, I did accompany Rosalie in an epic Pokemon catching quest Port Jefferson on a beautiful summer night and got Ralph's, and then the next day I had "pre-planned hooky" and went to Jones Beach with my longtime friend Kate; the ocean was like a washing machine, but it totally beat going to work. I even discovered a new favorite book that Dillon recommended to me: It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. That weekend, we played a show at Hollis Wood Community Church and met new bands we've never played with before, like Canker Blossom.


Like April, this was one of my favorite months this year; extremely eventful and memorable, so once again, please forgive me for another long segment. First, I discovered that I don't need to drive to Queens or take a train into NYC to get great quality halal food. There's a halal joint right off Route 107 in Hicksville; I go there for lunch ALL THE TIME. Then later on that week, I spent the afternoon and evening with my relatives in Long Beach since they rent a house out there every summer; I discovered a really great sushi joint literally called "Asian Fusion" and I wish I could go there more often. The following weekend, I ventured into NYC to see my friends Kate, Sarah, David, and my other friend who is also named Kate; we watched Sarah and her mom perform in a short play,
Playing at Grizzly's on the outdoor stage :)
and then grabbed lunch/dinner at an English sandwich joint called "Pret A Manger." It was a bit pricy, but I enjoyed the company of friends I don't get to see as often as I'd like. That night, I took Eddie, Brendan, and Dillon to see Suicide Squad. It was a good movie, but I felt there was just a little too much exposition and not enough Joker, haha, but it was still a lot of fun. I have a confession: it took me SEVEN YEARS to admit this, but I truly do enjoy Lady Gaga. Thank you Brendan for making that happen, haha. Thanks to newly discovered music, rediscovered To Kill a Mockingbird, I got through an exhausting and stressful week at work. However, I had something amazing to look forward to: a full week off from work in the summer; something I thought I'd never have. I kicked off that week off by playing a show at Grizzly's in Bay Shore with Logan's Room, and a select few other bands who played that outdoor stage. It was a pig roast, so not only did we get to play music, we were well fed! The only crazy thing that happened was that in the middle of our set, my guitar strap broke off completely. But did that stop me from performing the song? NOPE. I took that microphone and continued the song as the sound guy and maybe a few others were taking care of my bass. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can stop me from performing with my band. I finish the song no matter what happens to me. Despite that little hiccup, I had something amazing to look forward to the following day: I was going to see Baroness at Webster Hall in
Me, Joe, Tyler, Jarred and Dillon at Mighty Quinn's in NYC :)
NYC with Dillon, and reuniting with our favorite Jersey boys: Joe, Tyler and Jarred. That was an eventful day, let me tell you. Now, I've spent an entire day with Eddie, and I've spent an entire day with Brendan. But I've never spent a full day and evening with Dillon before, so this was truly a first for me.(Eddie and Brendan aren't really into Baroness, hence why I only took Dillon with me, and Eddie had to be up at 4:30am for work the next day.) We took the train from Mineola and got to the city around noon; what we didn't know was how ungodly hot it was going to be that day; wandering the streets of NYC in the blistering heat and pure humidity was exhausting, but it was so worth it because I got to spend an entire day with some of my favorite people in the world, who I don't get to see as often as I'd like due to the distance. Since I was the only one who had excellent navigation skills, I was the designated NYC tour guide as I took the boys to visit smoke shops, comic shops, a vintage videogame store, and ended up at a kickass BBQ joint a few blocks away from Webster Hall called Mighty Quinn's.When we got to Webster Hall, a doom metal band called Pallbearer opened up for Baroness. Oh my God, they were so terrible that I nearly fell asleep standing up; this happened FOUR MONTHS AGO, and I STILL can't get over how terrible they were! But that disappointment was expunged, as Baroness took the stage and put on one of the best performances I've ever seen. A few days later, we played a backyard show in East Meadow and actually got to perform in said backyard since it was a beautiful afternoon/evening. The next day, I needed a short break from Long Island, so I took it upon myself to take a little roadtrip to Brick, New Jersey and got to hang out with Joe, Tyler, Jarred, and my newest friend from New Jersey, Krystin. It was the first time I saw these guys without one or both of our bands playing a show, or attending a concert in NYC; it was very much needed and I intend to go back there in the near future; especially since I returned home with two beautiful glass pendants(One shattered, unfortunately) that Joe made me. The next day I had a beach day with Eddie; we spent the entire time in the water because it was just too perfect to leave. We ended that weekend by ressurecting "bro night" with Evan by having Eddie's homemade halal food, and playing Mortal Kombat like the old days. That week off was polished off by watching Summerslam with Eddie, Brendan, Dillon, Matt, Steve, and Amy; that was an eventful WWE pay-per-view. We spent the final weekend of August by playing a show at Mr. Beery's in Bethpage where we met Mia, Dillon's soon-to-be girlfriend, and going to a carnival down the block from Eddie's house the following night. The ultimate highlight? I discovered the TV show My Name Is Earl. I think that just about covers the month of August. On to the next...


Sarah sent me a Beatles postcard from Liverpool!
Summer was coming to an end, and so was my "every-other-Friday-off" work schedule; I had one last "hurrah" by taking one last Friday before Labor Day off so I enjoyed a four day weekend instead of a three-day one. That was my last paid day off until the last week of December, so I had nearly three months to wait for time off during the week. In retrospect, I truly couldn't have asked for a more perfect summer; not alot of people get those benefits. During Labor Day weekend, I kicked it off by going to Long Beach with my family one more time before the rented house closed up for the summer. The same weekend, we played a show at Amityville Music Hall and shared the stage with our friends Bad Mary and Fawkes. The same night, we became friends with a new out-of-state local band from North Carolina, Skylight Heights. I wasn't sure about the music at first since they're electronic metalcore and I'm more of a punk/hard rock kind of girl, but I enjoyed them! They're really talented and freindly guys; especially their drummer, Chase Hamlett. Met him once and he's one of my close friends; did I mention he was super talented? Another highlight was that I now have life insurance as well as medical, dental, vision and 401 k from my job; I'm well covered for if God forbid anything happens to me. We played our first Friday night show in a long time, and returned to Shaker's Pub in Oakdale for the first time since last winter (before I went to Japan!).  The next day I went to my first street fair all year, and discovered that Rick and Morty has a comic book series! I even returned to Hurricane Wings with the boys, along with Matt and Rosalie. My favorite highight of September was when I received a postcard from my friend Sarah who visited England. I got a Beatles postcard from Liverpool; I've never gotten a post card before. 
Something amazing happened towards the end of the month, though. When I was driving to practice with Heartstone, my car's exhaust pipe decided it didn't want to live anymore, so it was hanging on by a thread and dragging across the cement as I drove. So, I stopped on the side of the road and saw what happened. All of a sudden, a guy and his sister come to my aid and just so happened to have tape and wires to keep the exhaust pipe from dragging on the ground. I couldn't believe how kindhearted he was to me; and when I tried to give him some money as a token of my appreciation, he refused it and said "Just paying it forward." What a perfect example of restoring someone's faith in humanity. Karma, my friends.


Oh, October. Where do I begin with how much of a perfect month this was for me? The beginning, perhaps? First and foremost, I learned how to play the bassline to the Beatles song "All My Loving." I've been trying to learn that song for years, and I finally took the time to play along with it, as you can see here. It's not perfect, but I'm really proud of this one. I still have no idea how Paul McCartney was able to play this bass riff AND SING LEAD VOCALS at the EXACT SAME TIME.
About a week or two later, I got a touchup on my hair; it was getting too damn moppy, and I also wanted to look my best for the following week which consisted of my band playing THREE SHOWS in the same week. I got through that week and began that weekend with my last rehearsal with Heartstone before our DEBUT PERFORMANCE on October 14th at Backstage Pass in Ronkonkoma. The same night, I discovered my newest Netflix addiction: Stranger Things. I couldn't believe how addicting that show became. Literally, in 48 hours, I binge watched the entire first (and only) season. 
The next day, we played at a venue called The Space in Westbury. I met and became friends with a band called Maybe Later and truly enjoyed their sound; they've got great potential and a lot of talent. I was also super thrilled that my friend from high school, Kelly, came out to support us that night. And then, the following Friday became the most memorable moment of my entire 25 years of existing on this planet. 
So, as previously stated above regarding Heartstine's debut on Friday, October 14th, the line up also consisted of my band, Vigil Antics, Ashes To Oranges, and Logan's Room. Heartstone's first performance went really well; most first performances tank, but we pulled it off well. We ended our set with Rob Zombie's "Living Dead Girl" which came out flawlessly, but when we had it videotaped, the battery died so unless you were there that night, you didn't see it. Then Vigil Antics followed, and they were solid! Then, my band was up next and I couldn't believe how many people enjoyed our set. Some people were singing along, wanting to dance, joined in with gang vocals, it's still my favorite performance.  Ashes to Oranges was next, and since I'm a huge fan, I was pumped and was singing/shouting the lyrics from the audience; heading banging included. I was so into it, they even gave me a shoutout for being the most supportive fan they had. I was more excited to see these guys play a show because the last time I saw them live, it was in April. I waited six months for that to happen again. After they played their single "Mirrors" and then "Mother Goose," the most magical moment of my life happened around 11:30 that night:

Tyler: Hey Dana, do you know the words to all of our songs?

Me: *bashful* Yeah, pretty much...I've listened to your album at least a dozen times...

Tyler: Do you know them well enough to sing the next song with us?

*crowd EXPLODES and cheers as Joe and Tyler motion me to go up on stage with them*

I walk onto that stage, and I'm not exaggerating here; the ENTIRE BAR was cheering and CHANTING MY NAME as if I was the most special human being on Earth. Never in my life has an entire room of people been so happy to see me; I was covering my face trying not to cry happy tears while saying "oh my God" at least twenty times while this was all going on; it was like a dream. I'm 25 years old and this was by far the most overwhelming experience of my life, and I sang that song with them; my friend Meg videotaped that performance here: 

I felt so alive; and cried the happiest tears afterwards. Guys, call me pathetic, but it's been two months since that happened, and I still think about that moment every single day. No one comprehends how special that was for me. Later on, it was brought to my attention that "Euthanasia" was not supposed to be on the set list; they made that change just because they wanted to let me know how special I was to everyone. I still get emotional over it. Thank you Pat, Joe, and Tyler for giving me that special moment. I love you guys so much.
The night ended with Logan's Room, as they took the stage with a brand new look and new sound with new songs. Literally, the debut of new Logan's Room.

The next day, we played our third and final show of that week at The Hub in Island Park; not as big of a turnout at the night before, but The Hub is still one of my favorite places to play. I wasn't even that disappointed from the lack of a turnout because I was still glowing from that surprise the night before. Then, on October 18th, I celebrated my EIGHT YEAR anniversary with Eddie! That's right; EIGHT YEARS TOGETHER. We went to our favorite place to get sushi, then went to Witches Brew for dessert; a perfect date for our anniversary, and many many many more anniversaries to come.♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
The following weekend, I ventured into NYC to see my friend Kate and she introduced me to SUSHI BURRITOS at a place called Pokeworks, located on the corner of 6th avenue and 37th street...later on that night, we saw the movie The Girl on the Train. It movie was literally the film adaptaion of the book in almost every single way, with the major exception of the setting: the book took place in England, the film took place in New York. And finally, Halloweekend. Since Halloween landed on a Monday this year, I threw my first Halloween party for the first time in about 12 years the Saturday before Halloween. I was especially happy that my friend Brian came out that night since it was the first time seeing him a very long time. Man, was October perfect; I wish I could relive that month over and over and over again. I literally saw all of my favorite people that month. I love you all so much.


November was a lot more quiet than October, especially due to the fact that we didn't play three shows in the same week. Since the holidays were coming up, shows were getting scarce as winter was slowly approaching us. 
One night during the week, I was looking to add new music to my iPod, and I re-discovered a band I haven't listened to since I was maybe 16 or 17 yers old: NoFX. The only CD I had was their greatest hits CD, so I downloaded all of my favorites from that album, along with new songs I've never heard before. I believe the reason why I stopped listening to NoFX was because I kept hearing that the lead vocalist, Fat Mike, was disrespectful to his fans. However, I saw the punk rock documentary The Other F Word and saw that he is a loving father to his daughter; nothing but respect for that.
A couple of days later, I got a Snapchat notification from my friend Alex; I was assuming itg was something silly, funny, or just a simple hello. I opened up the message, and it's a picture of himself wearing our band t-shirt. I was so overcome with emotions that I silently let tears fall from my eyes because I had no idea people actually rock our merchendise. So many times I've wondered if people actually wore our t-shirts and our CD's are just collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. Alex is one of my closest friends, and I'm thankful to have him in my life.

The number one highlight of this month was an amazing one for sure. Remember how I saw Local H in May? Well, they returned to New York City again; except this time it was at the
Me and Scott Lucas of Local H♥
Highline Ballroom instead of the Bowery Ballroom. The even better part? The concert was on a Saturday, so I didn't have to worry about leaving early! My favorite Jersey boys couldn't make it up to New York, but hey, they saw and met them the previous month; we can't see Local H together all the time! We did bring Brendan with us so he got to experience Local H too. That day, I introduced them to sushi burritos, and then headed towards the venue.We did know that our friend Kevin was going to that show, so that was an awesome surprise as well. We stook literally in front of the stage, and Scott Lucas came out to either tune his guitar, or make an adjustment to his amp. Dillon said "EY, IT'S THE MAN WITH THE PLAN!" Scott responds with "There is no plan..." On impulse, I said "PLANS ARE FOR SQUARES!" Scott thought that was amusing so he turned to me, smiled and said "Yeah..yeah, that." The starstruck feeling began. A couple minutes later, Local H kicked off their set with "Fritz's Corner" and since I was standing literally in front of Scott, he noticed me singing along and smiled. They didn't play some of my select few favorites, but they played a ton of songs they DIDN'T play at the Bowery Ballroom. After they played, Helmet took the stage. Now, I gave Helmet a chance, I really did, but I didn't have that emotional connection that I usually get with a new band. All of a sudden, I get a text from Eddie: "DANA COME TO THE MERCH TABLE, SCOTT IS HERE!!!" I bolted from the front of the stage and went out to merch table, and there he was. I approached him, and said hello. He smiled at me, and noticed the shirt I was wearing. That's right; Joe and Tyler, if you're reading this, he remembered you guys after seeing your band t-shirt. I talked with him some more, got a Local H t-shirt from him, and then I said "Hey Scott, can I take a picture with you?" He said "Of course you can!!" so I snapped a selfie with him, and it's my favorite picture with a signed artist. He hugged me too; how could I forget that? The one thing I love about Local H is not only is their music phenominal, they adore their fans. Brendan asked for one of their shirts in a certain size, and it wasn't in the box displayed. Most artists would shrug it off; Scott was determined to find Brendan's shirt size, and when he couldn't find it, Scott was genuinely dissapointed that he couldn't find it for him. We even gave him one of our CD's, and the first thing he said was "What am I, a Bitch?" with a smile. I wonder if he listened to it? All  know is, that was by far my favorite memory from November. I hope I can see Local H again in the near future.
About a week or two later, we played a matinee show at Amityville Music Hall and shared the stage with out friends Maybe Later, Ashes In The Sky, and Urbanoid(half of Fawkes). It was quite an eclectic night; not to mention we were interviewed and then had our set videotaped. Our set went well, but the person who was running the show tried to make us cough up 50 dollars(pay to play douchebag) because we apparently didn't sell enough tickets. If you haven't heard, we strictly do not condone "pay-to-play" or anything remotely related to that asinine policy. Pay-to-play should be illegal. It's like hiring a plumber, but you charge him for fixing your toilet. I'm serious, if you charge local bands to play a show at a venue, you ought to be thrown in jail. Thanksgiving was around the corner, and I was truly thankful for people who had my back when people gave me trouble. They know what I'm talking about and who I'm refering to. Thank you again, guys.


And so we're at the final month of 2016; the last month of an amazing year. I must say, movies made a huge portion on my highlights this month. I either watched movies I've never seen before, or discussed movies that I have seen. First, I kicked off December by venturing into the city again to celebrate my friend Kate's birthday. The past few times I've gone to the city for her birthday, we either ended up at a pub or a sushi joint. This time, I went to a cafe that I never thought I'd ever go to: a vegan cafe. I've always wanted to try vegan food; aside from Witches Brew, I've never been to any restaurants or cafes that were vegan. Afterwards, we went to the movies and saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It truly was one of the best movies I've seen this year; even if you're not familiar with the Harry Potter universe, you can still enjoy it because you don't have to know the events that took place in the books and movies.
I saw another movie the following weekend, but it wasn't in theaters, and it's been out for nearly 30 years: The Princess Bride. Yeah, go ahead and laugh. Make fun of me for being late to the party; but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd watch it again if I ever catch it on TV or something.
On a random weeknight when no one was around to hang out with, I snuggled up in my bed and watched the movie Stranger Than Fiction as per recommendation of my friend Pat. I usually see Will Farrell in comedies, but I've never seen him in a dramatic role before. Most of the time, when an actor/actress is typecasted to comedic roles, they tend to not perform as well. Will Farrell is a major exception to that; he pulled it off phenominally. Since Pat recommended one of his favorite movies to me, I had to return the favor and recommend my favorite movie to him: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. He loved it as much as I do; if not more.

I wasn't lying about the ugly sweater.
One of my favorite memories from this month was my friend Amy's annual Christmas party. The past few years, we either dressed up, or I couldn't make it because I either had work or the band had a show. One year, we had to dress up  threw her annual Christmas party; like the last few years, it was "Ugly Christmas Sweater" themed. Now, when you go to an "ugly sweater" party, you get a colorful, christmas/winter themed sweater. Brendan and I took it upon ourselves to take the "ugly sweater" detail literally, and got the most hideous sweaters at a thrift store. My disgusting sweater was literally the ugliest sweater I've ever seen, and it cost me 5 dollars. That's right; FIVE DOLLARS. It was uncomfortable, but if there was a contest for the ugliest sweater, I would have won.
One of my favorite things about this month? Not only does Christmas land towards the end of the month, but my job shuts down between Christmas and New Year's so I get a week off from work. Since I wasn't on the other side of the planet this year, I was able to do what I wanted duirng my time off. Once the Christmas festivities ended that weekend, I began that Monday by meeting up with Pat and Barnes and Noble; an afternoon with one of my best friends at one of my favorite stores with a cute little Starbucks cafe. The next day, I went on a double date with Eddie, Alex, and his girlfriend from California, Jumanja. We grabbed dinner at Dave & Busters and then headed to the arcade. The next day, I picked up Brendan and we ventured around Long Island; first we went to our usual stomping ground, the Smithhaven Mall. Then we ended up at Roosevelt Field Mall so I could grab a quick dinner and spend a little bit of my Christmas money. Out of all the days this week, Thursday was definitely my favorite; well, the afternoon and evening. That morning was my friend's dad's funeral; it was an emotional morning, but it felt good being there to show my unconditional love and support. After the funeral, I took a roadtrip back down to New Jersey and hung out with Joe, Tyler, his girlfriend Mia, and their friend Krystin! I experienced Chic-Fil-A, and it's my new favorite place to get a chicken sandwich. Joe and Tyler introduced me to my new favorite standup comedian, Anthony Jeselnik. He had me laughing so hard that my sides hurt. New Jersey also has a convenience store called "Wawa." In otherwords, it's 7-11 with a deli and it's a lot cleaner than 7-11. And towards the end of the night, they taught me how to play Rummy. The only card games I know how to play are Bullshit and Black Jack; never played Rummy before. I did surprisingly well for a first try. Funny, I've been to New Jersey more this year than my entire life, and I'm telling you right now; it will feel 100% wrong if I go to New Jersey and not see my boys in Ashes to Oranges and any of their friends as well.
Yesterday, I ventured into NYC for the last time in 2016 to see Kate, the big ass Christmas tree in Rockefeller Centre, and an off-Broadway show, Puffs. In essenence, this play took place in the perspective of Hufflepuffs instead of Harry Potter's point of view. It was HILARIOUS and I'm so glad Kate suggested that we see it.
And finally, today is New Year's Eve; the final day of 2016. I spent my morning and the first half of this morning rehearsing with Heartstone; I was so happy to see everyone again for the first time since our debut performance in October. We would have had practices earlier this month, but due to scheduling conflicts or health issues, we had to keep rescheduling. But today, we got two new songs in the works; perhaps at our next rehearsal, Pat will add lyrics. I cannot wait for where I will go in 2017 with Heartstone. 2017 will be our year.

Everyone, thank you so much for reading my year-in-rview. I never loved a year as much as this one in my whole life. I discovered who my true friends were, made several new friends, experienced so many things I never thought I'd experience, and I truly never felt so happy to be alive today. I love each and every one of you for being in my life, and I cannot wait to see how 2017 treats us. God bless you, Happy New Year, and see you in 2017.