Our Second Marine Corps Birthday Ball

This past Friday, Ezrael and I attended the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Greenville, North Carolina. Although it wasn’t as fabulous as partying in Las Vegas, I am definitely thankful for the chance to partake in these celebrations together. We arrived at the Hilton in Greenville prety early, as Ez was the narrator for the ball. He’s quite the big deal, I guess!

Narrating the Ball so beautifully

We waited quite a while to enter the ballroom and be seated… and of course, I was seated with a lot of higher-ups–Ez’s bosses, basically. I put my gameface on and mentally prepared myself for a night of niceties. Luckily, I was able to switch seats with a captain seated at a table full of lieutenants, although that wasn’t much fun either! The wives of the other lieutenants only really spoke to each other. We did all share some sentiments: the wait was too long, we were STARVING, the ballroom was set up horribly. Cool, at least we agreed on that.

Cake cake cake cake

The guest of honor, Mr. Gregg Troy, had some interesting anecdotes to share, long-winded as they were. He was the head coach of the 2012 Olympic Men’s Swim Team. So yes, he’s coached Phelps and Lochte. He also got to eat the first piece of cake after they cut it with the sword. [Did I mention Ez and I get to cut our wedding cake with a sword?]

Cake-cutting

Gregg Troy having the first piece

After sitting and standing throughout the ceremony (with Ez narrating!), dinner was finally served! Breaded chicken and some filet mignon, mmm! Then the birthday cake, which isn’t really the birthday cake that is ceremoniously cut–as I learned last year. We unintentionally left early, though I’m sure we didn’t miss much. Drab as this post made it sound, I actually had fun spending time with Ez. In case my blog hasn’t already told you, we don’t really see each other! Happy 237th Birthday to all the Marines out there :)

We clean up pretty well, don’t ya think?

Our Weekend in Raleigh: Day 2

Check out Day 1 here! Our Weekend in Raleigh: Day 1

We got up bright and early on Saturday to start our packed itinerary. Pre-planned itineraries are GOLD. Search for them before you travel to gain some ideas about the stock things to do in a tourist spot. Of course, you can mix and match activities from different itineraries to really suit your tastes. Our first craving was for breakfast, which I swear I only eat when I’m traveling. Another excuse for me to experience a new place. We headed to Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant, in the Moore Square District and it was poppin’. Luckily, we were seated quickly and greeted with that southern hospitality. I had bacon, eggs, toast, and hashbrowns with some sweet tea. Any sweet tea from the South shits on McDonald’s sweet tea. Even Bojangles. I feel bad for people who call McD’s sweet tea “crack,” because of its addictive qualities… they have not lived. Ez had a spinach, mushrooms, and cheddar omelette with grits and toast. Yum. Big Ed’s is a cheap, tasty, cute, must-do breakfast joint in Raleigh.

City Market itself is super cute as well. It’s got quite a few boutique shops and restaurants, complete with cobblestone-paved streets. Oh, and Art Space! Art Space is essentially a building full of public studios and galleries with big windows. You can wander the halls and watch artists work their magic on a regular basis. This is such an innovative idea, but one that makes so much sense. Art is not just about the finished project, but about the art-making itself and all of the passion, dedication, and emotion that come with it. To be able to publicly share this gives nuances of meaning to the artists’ work and art itself. It really blurs the distinction between performance art and all other fine art genres. Even to peer into an artist’s studio when he or she is not there… it’s spooky! The presence of art is quite the transformer.

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Art Space entrace

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Outside Art Space

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Inside one of the Art Space galleries

Our itinerary got a little turned around by the day’s festivities… I told you we always have good luck when traveling. We were distracted by none other than the Annual 3K Dog Walk! Moore Square was chock full of doggies! We walked through the park in search of the cutest ones… and definitely had to find a pomeranian. We had almost given up hope… but on our way out of the park, we saw a beautiful little bear just like Teddy! It has a Abe Lincoln beard and a cotton tail and was SO cute, begging for food and everything. The Bear is a hard one to match, though. We finally made it back to the car after creepily watching that little bear for a few minutes. The next stop was the Greater Raleigh Visitor’s Information Center… which had to be the most difficult this to find in this city. How does that even make sense? It was inside a Marriott across the street from the Raleigh Convention Center. After searching for the center for an hour, we headed for Mordecai Park to see some historic buildings and hop on The Raleigh Trolley.

Mordecai Park was pretty cool. The Mordecai House is the oldest house in Raleigh [or North Carolina?] on its original foundation–built in 1778. The Mordecai’s property actually extended hundreds of acres from the park. It crazy to think all of that land was once tended by slaves. Slave rhetoric at different historic sites is so interesting. The Mordecai Park pamphlet was not condoning slavery of course, but it was written in such a way as if African-American people benefitted from it because their culture developed in a unique way in the midst of the tight-knit bonds slavery forced them to forge. Okay, so this is true–cultural queues were taken from slavery and its corresponding relationships. But this pamphlet just shed light on it in such a weirdly optimistic manner and didn’t mention any other realities of slavery. What was I expecting, huh? Anyway, the kitchen Andrew Johnson was born in was also at the park. It was moved there from its original location on Fayetteville Street. Pretty coooool.

During the Raleigh Trolley tour, we saw many historic homes and buildings… homes of people you read about in history books, pretty crazy. There is just something so beautiful about old buildings, no matter the style. The trolley tour was a great taste of all the different districts at $10 a ticket for a 45-minute trip. I just kept thinking that most Californians don’t really have an appreciation for old buildings because all our stuff is relatively new and it’s not a question to knock it down if its not functional enough. Very different from a lot of major east coast cities where a significant percentage of buildings are landmarked or deemed historic sites and you can’t demolish them, renovate them, or change their facades. I love traveling for this reason–places are all so different from each other and that gives rise to different beliefs and lifestyles.

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After the tour, we went back to the Museum of Natural Sciences to check out the dinosaurs because we hadn’t fully explored the night before. The crowds were crazy. And it started pouring so we killed some time in there looking at the bugs, dinosaur bones, and the like. We never actually made it to that new research wing they were celebrating…

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Not a T-Rex, contrary to popular belief

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Check the size on that ground sloth

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Can you spot 3 poisonous frogs?

When the rain had passed, we went into the North Carolina History Museum across the way. Ez had to check out all the war/weapons stuff, duh. The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame was also on our agenda… wanted to see what kind of Michael Jordan stuff they had. And guess what? NOTHING. How is that even possible? They had memorabilia for every sport and athlete that came out of NC and not a single thing for MJ. Needless to say, I was extremely confused.

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In between the Museum of Natural Sciences and Museum of History

We rested up for dinner and headed back to The Cupcake Shoppe–I needed more of those macarons! I asked for 6 and raved about how amazing they were… went on about being the best macarons… and somehow I ended up with 2 extra :) YES. Their specialty cupcake of the day was pistachio lime, which was so creatively delicious. Pistachio cake with lime icing and lime filling. Ez had to get another Cookie Monster because that was his fave. He swore these were the best cupcakes he’s ever had. And we’ve had A LOT of cupcakes (Sprinkles, Crumbs, Georgetown Cupcakes, etc).

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More macarons from Heaven

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Pistachio Lime and Cookie Monster cupcakes

Zaky’s Mediterranean was our dinner spot. Had some meat plates with rice, pita with hummus, and that crack sauce you find at the chicken&rice cart in NYC. It was close, anyway. Wonderful service and open til 3am on Fridays and Saturdays… probably for all the pub crawlers late-night drunchies. It seems that nightlife here is bustling, yet more laidback than other big cities.

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Combo plate from Zaky's Mediterranean

Our Weekend in Raleigh: Day 1

After a handful of trips to New Bern, North Carolina, I had yet to see any big cities that the state had to offer. Since I planned to visit Ezrael for about 11 days, we figured it would be a perfect time to explore Raleigh for a weekend. After being semi-cooped up in a house for about a week, we made our way out to Raleigh at about 4pm on a Friday. The road brought us past so many Bojangles… Mmm…

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We didn’t have dinner reservations til 9:30pm, but arrived around 6pm… so we did what any savvy traveler would do and Googled “Things to do in Raleigh.” It seems we have pretty good luck traveling to new places, because there is always some sort of event going on. This weekend, it was the grand opening of the Nature Research Center at the Museum of Natural Sciences–complete with 24-hour festival celebration and extended museum hours. It turns out Raleigh is big on museums, which was wonderful news to my ears. We roamed a couple floors of the Museum of Natural Sciences and wandered the streets featuring different information booths, food, and items for sale. The whale skeletons were mind-blowing. Suspended from the ceiling, it’s hard to imagine actual flesh covered the bones of such huge, magnificent creatures. Humans don’t got nothing on sea animals! Outside, we stumbled across a woman selling Locopops from an ice cream cart, much to my delight. I had read about this popsicle business on Yelp and was curious to try it, but didn’t want to go out of the way for it during our adventures. Ezrael and I shared one strawberries and cream Locopop ($3) and it was GLORIOUS. It was a little tangy, creamy, and with just the right amount of flavor. Pretty filling too, for such a small popsicle. It was on my mind all the way through dinner.

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That's a big mouth...

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Whale bones suspended from the ceiling

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Strawberries and Creme Locopop

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Outside the Museum of Natural Sciences

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Checking out the centerpiece of the Nature Research Center

The capitol building was a block away, so we walked over and snapped a few pictures to prove we were there. I really just wanted to contribute to Instagram’s hashtag project for the weekend: #landmarked. Sadly, it turned out that historic North Carolina is not interesting enough for their blog. We came across swarms of high schoolers taping up “Kony 2012” posters everywhere, but ironically enough… they didn’t post any on the actual capitol building. Anyway, the building seemed white, grand, and historic, as most capitol buildings usually do. There were statues of the three presidents born in North Carolina, as well as other statues of dead white guys.

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The Capitol Building

Around 9:10pm, we headed for Fayetteville district, to make our reservation at Sono Sushi Bar. Downtown Raleigh is divided into seven districts, each with their own restaurants, nightlife, and cultural activities/events. There is so much more diversity in Raleigh than in New Bern and way more food choices. The downtown area is great with people everywhere, but no crazy crowds. The one-way streets are killer though! Eventually, we made it to Sono on Anna’s recommendation. Anna is Ez’s landlord, I guess you could call her. Ez trusts her recs “because she’s a world traveler.” I can only hope to be a world traveler too–what an honor it would be for my word to carry weight like that. But then again, my palate is easy to please and I’d probably send people on missions for mediocre food. Sono was a small, gourmet Japanese restaurant and had a steady crowd for a Friday night. The dim lighting and awkward contemporary decor seemed a little pretentious for a Japanese restaurant and they had quite the interesting selection of rolls. I had the Surf & Turf Roll, which had something like seared tenderloin, cream cheese, crab salad, aioli, garlic chips, and other interesting ingredients. It was pretty freaking delicious though. Ez had the typical Dragon Roll, which you can’t really go wrong with. The rolls were pretty affordable for an expensive restaurant. I also had a Cherry Blossom Margarita, which was a traditional margarita with some grenadine and pear sake added. It was tasty as well, and maybe worth the $9 just this once. In the midst of my forgetfulness [or maybe tipsy state?] I left my clutch at the table, but luckily, one of the servers grabbed it for me and came outside just as I was turning around to go back.

Sono Sushi Bar #raleigh #northcarolina

Cherry Blossom Margarita and my Baby

It was a beautiful night, not too chilly, so we decided to walk around and see what else the Fayetteville district had to offer. Of course, Ez and I aren’t really party people so we searched for dessert instead. I had read about The Cupcake Shoppe on Yelp during our drive, and lo and behold, it was on the way back to our hotel. The Glenwood South District to be exact. We made it there right before closing and grabbed three cupcakes and two macarons. We left right away, but after driving a few feet, we saw a pizza place and had to. And passing Tutti Fruitti on the way back to the car… we had to again. Yes, we had just had dinner. We settled back in our hotel to eat our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rounds of food. By golly, those macarons were SO amazing. Macarons recently gained a lot of hype and I have tried quite a few… they are good, but I just had this idea of the perfect macaron before I bit into my first one in Chicago. And this chocolate mint macaron from The Cupcake Shoppe in downtown Raleigh was the manifestation of this idea. Perhaps my dream macarons drift from a baker’s ideal, but sheesh, these were AMAZING. I might have to move to North Carolina just for these macarons.

Yes, we really did just hit up 4 eateries in the last hour. #raleigh #sushi #froyo #pizza #cupcakes #macarons

On to Our Weekend in Raleigh: Day 2!

30-Day Challenge, Day 6: 30 Interesting Facts About Myself

I unexpectedly spent the last few days in Chino Hills and was without my laptop for a while. Despite how healthy and necessary technology cleanses are,  I was really itching to blog! I am very excited to put today’s post together because my boyfriend, Ezrael, actually agreed to participate :) He provided half of today’s 30 interesting facts. The odd numbers are mine, and the even numbers are from him. So, without further ado…

So I'm not doing 30 days straight... too bad!

  1. I am left-handed and write on paper with a horizontal orientation, rather than vertically.
  2. I graduated from high school without going to high school. (I skipped ~40 days of junior and senior year–each. I was tardy the rest of the days.)
  3. I was a snare drummer in drumline from 6th-9th grade.

    Canyon

    CHJHS 2004

  4. I experienced college parties before college.
  5. My name is [somewhat] my mom’s name scrambled. (DONNALY <–> YOLANDA). I also have a middle name that is only one letter: Y.
  6. I traveled the Midwest for a summer.
  7. I used to hide behind the couch when the video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or the opening credits for “Are Your Afraid of the Dark?” came on TV.
  8. I was a Hooters Girl.

    Promotion work at Taste of Santa Monica 2009

  9. I did a summer program in New York City. I never imagined I would be able to do a travel-study program.

    View of the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge

  10. I was assistant drum major of my high school marching band during my sophomore year. I was drum major of Yamato Drum and Bugle Corps after I graduated from high school in 2008.

    Frontpage of the DCI website at the end of summer 2008

  11. During my ballet and tap dance recital when I was 4 years old, I ran from the locker room, found my mom, and sat in her lap during the whole performance. I wish I would have performed.
  12. I am involved in campus politics. At UCLA, everything is political. However, most students fail to realize that.

    So Fierce!

  13. I was the champion of the 4th grade science fair. Really, my dad and uncle earned it. They helped me build a seismograph. The next year, I won First Place by building a weather vane.
  14. I am the Art Director for the Cultural Affairs Commission at UCLA. I manage the Kerckhoff Art Gallery and organize free art classes for UCLA students, among other awesome CAC duties.

    "Journey" by Celina Taganas-Duffy featured at the Empowerment: An Exhibition of Pilipino Strength exhibit in the Kerckhoff Art Gallery, October 2011

  15. [I think] I’ve been to 27 states. California, Nevada, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, New York.
  16. I eat a lot and never gain weight. [This one is not true.]
  17. My first car was a white 1993 Mercedes 190-E. It was a beast.
  18. When I was 1 or 2, I cracked my head open on a bed frame at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. I was taken to the hospital in a limo.
  19. I taught 2nd grade religious education when I was a senior in high school. I was so proud of my students for learning all their prayers and going through their first reconciliation.
  20. I was one of six valedictorians of my graduating class.
  21. I can’t stand Twizzlers or jelly beans because once when I was younger, I ate so many that I threw up.
  22. I’ve been in a long distance relationship for two and a half years with a Marine. Still going!

    Our 2-year anniversary at Club A Steakhouse in NYC

  23. I didn’t eat dinner at my own debut. I was too busy preparing for and performing 6 dance numbers.
  24. I “matured very early,” meaning I don’t trip out over things most girls go crazy over, like distance. [I’m gonna take Ez’s word for that one.]
  25. I believe there is a different between candy and chocolate. Regardless, I love both and have many cavities.
  26. I love a little bear as much as Ez does. [Sometimes I still think he loves The Bear more than he loves me :P]
  27. I got braces in 4th grade and had them taken off before 7th grade.
  28. I traveled cross-country with Ez for 5 days. Sitting in a car is really tiring.
  29. My parents converted our first house into a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly. We still lived there for the first couple of years their business was open. Living with old people was quite an interesting experience.
  30. I’m willing to relocate my life to North Carolina after graduation so Ez and I can be together.

I really appreciate Ezrael helping me with this post, it means a lot. It was definitely a process trying to figure out what “interesting” actually means and I still don’t think I hit it quite on the nose. It’s nice to recap what you know and remember about your own life. In times when everything is moving so fast, we need to stop and  reflect about how much we’ve done, from the biggest achievements to the smallest of instances.

30-Day Challenge, Day 2: Where I’d Like to be in 10 Years

In ten years, I will be 31 years young.

I remember writing a story in my senior year Psychology class about my life in the future. It had something to do with my career, where I live, my loving husband, and my two kids.

In ten years, I want to be hot (still). This will come as a result of being happy and healthy ;)

I can list the easy stuff too. I will be married to this guy:

No, not Mr. Potato Head...

I hope to have 2 kids by then (out of 4). Ez only wants 3 kids, but then someone will have to ride alone when we go to Disneyland and that’s no fun. It’s my decision how many kids we’ll have because let’s face it, Ez. What are you gonna do? Abstain? :P

Ideally, we’ll be living back in SoCal–I can’t handle the cold in NorCal… I don’t know how I’m going to brave East Coast winters for a few years. Living in Chino Hills would be nice, or the OC, if we can afford it. I think I could settle down in San Diego as well. I am worried about the public education system, however. Ez and I have considered living in a couple other states for the sake of our kids’ schooling. I’d like to have a Master’s degree by then, because if I don’t finish it before I start having kids, I think I may never finish it. I want to be established in some sort of career that has to do with art–preferably in a museum or in art therapy.

I want to have a steady routine that allows for flavor when I need/want it. I hope this routine includes blogging, cooking, traveling, and lots of cuddling. And doggies, too. Pretty ones. They must all be as pretty as this guy:

Yes, our dogs will be models. For us, at least.

I hope Ez and I never fall into a boring routine… or live constantly stressed. In ten years, I want to be comfortable and content. I [still] want to feel like I have the whole world at my fingertips and I [still] want to be ready and willing to take on new adventures. Sure, I’ll have experienced quite a few milestones by then. I hope that I won’t be weighed down by my commitments, but rather, enriched by them. In ten years, I still want to be working on my personal development… just with a lot more in the mix! Like I always preach… it’s all about finding the relevance within everything I’m doing. With the average American lifespan at about 80 years, 31 still sounds early to me!

And in the event I am on the brink of a “mid-life” crisis, I’d like to have the capacity to do lots of mid-life crisis-y things such as buying a new car, getting a wild hair cut, traveling somewhere awesome, or starting a cupcake business. But who knows what novelty food trends will be around in 10 years?

Starting My 30-Day Challenge: Day 1

I’ve been kinda hesitant to start this challenge because I am sort of afraid of some of the answers. In many of my involvements, I’m pushed to think critically and this mindset does not carry over into some aspects of my life. I guess this is why it’s a challenge. Also, I always miss the first of the month and give myself yet another reason to put it off… but if’s there’s one thing Soc 183 (Comparative and Historical Sociology) taught me, it’s to not abide by arbitrary social constructions, such as calendar days. Here it goes…

I am currently in a relationship with Ezrael Atajar, who is the love of my life. Having this as the first post is really loaded! We’ve been together since July 6th, 2009. Yes, there is a 6-year age difference, but that’s hardly anything to me. I’ve always had an old soul. In my past relationships, I felt like it was my duty to change those guys for the better or bring out the best in them, which is not a good foundation for a relationship. In my current relationship, we deal with a different struggle: distance. I have a man who I am extremely compatible with and puts in just as much effort as I do–we want to make each other happy and give each other the best we can. BUT we can’t ever really be together.

Our first picture together | Six Flags Magic Mountain

For the first year we were together, Ez lived in San Jose and I was at school, of course. I would work to pay for travel. We saw each other 2 or 3 times a month for a few days at a time and it was difficult, but worth it. Then Ez went to OCS (Officer Candidates School) in October of 2010, which was in Quantico, VA. I am super proud of all he has accomplished and although it’s a struggle doing this whole thing long-distance (his duty station is Cherry Point, NC), the effort will pay off in the end. I’m actually getting pretty spoiled because he’s training in Twentynine Palms, CA (September-December) so I’ve gotten to see him every weekend. I know it will be difficult transition back to seldom seeing each other, but we’re blessed to have gotten to spend all this time together. I plan on moving to North Carolina after I graduate so I can experience life outside of SoCal’s glitz and glamour. He won’t be there forever anyway.

Ez's graduation from OCS

Ez is simple. I am complicated–always overthinking things, diving into deeper intentions and meanings, reading into situations to the point where it’s no longer productive. We balance each other out pretty well. At times, it gets frustrating because we have trouble understanding each other’s thought processes, but the point is that we try. We do our best to communicate with each other about everything. There have been some bumps in the road, but what’s life without a few challenges? We are by no means perfect, nor striving to be. We just want to settle in our own little niche of happiness.

We travel a lot, which is a result of Ez being in the military. Just this past summer we drove cross-country to bring his car to CA from NC. We’ll be doing it again when he has to go back in December. I love that we get to have so many new experiences together–it keeps us away from the humdrum of school and work.

Starting our cross-country trip

Although a lot of people say it about their own relationship… We are going to be together forever. It’s just how life is going to work out for us. When we first started dating, it was already clear that Ez would be going to OCS, so we didn’t exactly have time to mess around or “cupcake.” There was no point in wasting our time if it was going to end before he left. We fell in love right away though, acting crazy and talking about the rest of our lives not even a month into the relationship. It felt so right then and it still does every single day.

My favorite thing to do with Ez is eat :) He has a pretty strict diet/workout plan, but he can definitely eat! I used to hate that he would eat so healthy, but I’ve learned to trick him into eating with me. He motivates me to be healthier also, but maybe not on his level (yet?). His weakness is sweets, which is so adorable. This past Valentine’s Day, I got him a bouquet of personalized Popcakes and he ate ALL of them while I was asleep on the drive to Philadelphia.

Valentine's Weekend 2011 in Philly

Enjoying some BBQ in Memphis

A lot of our time is also spent sleeping (and cuddling!) because we are always tired for some reason -_- His arms are definitely my favorite place to be. We do waste some time arguing, but no relationship is perfect. It comes from our stubborn personalities. The most important thing, in the end, is that we love each other and we are trying.

We’re in a little over two years and we’ve got forever to go.

Don't worry, I'll try too ;)

Our First Marine Corps Birthday Ball

This past weekend, Ez and I made the oh-so-long journey to Las Vegas for the 236th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

We arrived at Harrah’s late Thursday night and just turned in since Ez didn’t bring other clothes for going out -_- We definitely needed our energy for the next day! We had lunch at Cheeseburger Las Vegas (in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood), which is a MUST for us when we’re in Vegas. Had a margarita, a burger, and fries to get the day started. Then we bought some last-minute necessities (water, Zantac, eyeshadow, etc) before getting ready. It took me all of two hours to prepare my dress and myself because Lord knows I love to dazzle when I go out. I pressed my dress, and opted to do my own hair and make-up because it’s probably not worth spending on those for the amount of balls we’ll be attending :P

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End result

I must say I was pretty satisfied with a last-minute dress find, my hair, and my make-up :) Ez tried rushed me because cocktail hour started at 6pm and I had barely finished getting ready at 5:30pm. However, I reminded him that he doesn’t like chopping it up anyway–and neither to do! We boarded a free shuttle from Harrah’s to Rio. Everyone in line let us go ahead of them and quite a few people stopped to thank Ez and shake his hand. This guy is a real celebrity! But really, it’s always refreshing to know many Americans acknowledge the work he does for our country. There were also two other couples headed to the ball on the same shuttle and I finally got a taste of where my dress was in the spectrum of [SLUTTY<—–>OUTRAGEOUSLY OVERDONE]. I would say I found a solid middle ground and it helped that my dress actually suited me. One of the girls had a bright red full ball gown and curled locks, yet NO make-up? Another wore a simple black dress, but with a long train. Both of these choices confused me, but I felt stellar in my own dress.

All of the examples I Googled were mostly people from the South or the East, who have vastly different styles, tastes, and selections. I was SO worried about overdoing it, but come on now… I make great shopping decisions.

We arrived at the ball right after 6:00pm and had a long walk from the hotel entrance to the Amazon Room where the ball was being held. We just walked right on in, even though the tickets explicitly stated they were required for admission. Some regulation! Met Ez’s fellow officers and their dates… all very sweet and warm with some interesting personalities.

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Instant photo-op as soon as we arrived

Drinks were pricey, of course, but the bartender had a decent selection. There were multiple bars and hors d’oeuvre tables set up so lines never really got long.

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Giving Ez proof that popping a Zantac (or Pepcid AC) before drinking reduces flushed skin

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After a half an hour of Ez greeting people and introducing me, munching, drinking, and snapping some pics, the program finally started. It was about an hour of sitting and standing with various presentations, cake-cutting, messages, speeches, and music mixed in.

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Fake birthday cake used for the cake-cutting

The video message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps made me tear up because it was all about Marines involved in 9/11 and I’m such a crybaby! Ez (who was not facing me at that time) even called me out later about how I probably cried during that video -_- It was pretty touching, okayy? The program wasn’t all too bad, but I tend to yawn when I listen to people talk for prolonged periods of time, so I REALLY had to fight it. At the end of the ceremony, the head table grabbed food first. It was served buffet style with multiple stations. Ez and I grabbed another drink, thinking it would be long before our table number (68) was called, but there was no type of order to the serving! Plus there were so many stations that the line never got long. Dinner was something like chicken with prosciutto, roast beef, grilled veggies, salad, rice pilaf, and pasta. And cake!

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Real birthday cake used for eating

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More real birthday cake used for (Ez) eating

It was fun to sit and people watch for a while, especially with Ez being drunk as he was :P I’ve never heard him say he didn’t care how much he was going to drink. The discomfort of the uniform really pushed him over the edge! The dance floor was filled with people of all ages–tiny tots jumping around with their parents, old couples fist pumping to Rihanna, some really getting down, and many more. We grabbed MORE drinks and waited for the photography line to die down. So many people tried to greet Ez and make small talk with him, but he completely missed them in his state of drunkenness so I did my best to save him from embarrassment.

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Silly guyIMG_0661
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Proving once again how effective Zantac is at battling "Asian Glow"

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Sneaking in one last pic

The photographer’s pics looked amazing from the glimpse I got on his camera, can’t wait to order them! We headed for the shuttle shortly after that so I could change for a night out ;)

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Messing around on the way back to the room

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Ready for a night out!

Everyone met up at the Harrah’s Casino where some folks were playing Roulette. I could tell Ez was tempted to play too–luckily, he didn’t drunkenly gamble all his money away! We were stopped a few more times and one man even bought all the guys shots while we were waiting around. Headed to Toby Keith’s for another drink while waiting for the gamblers to finish up. Slowly made our way to Paris. One of the club promoters saw us standing around the casino, gave us VIP wristbands and escorted us to Chateau. It was Ez’s and my first clubbing experience (ever!) in Vegas, and it was cool that we could experience it together. We were hooked up with free bottle service (priced at $400) as a sign of gratitude for our amazing men in uniform. Our table was located at the VIP rooftop bar, which a beautiful view of the fake Eiffel Tower. Someone also generously bought us a bottle of Patron.

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Free bottle service

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Fake Eiffel Tower

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Rooftop

As awesome as it was outside, the heaters were not enough for my freakish cold sensitivity so Ez and I decided to check out the inside of the club, which was pretty small, but really cute. We danced together for a while, which was actually really fun! Had never danced together, even though we’ve been together almost 2.5 years :P Club photographers snapped some pics, we tried to set up the single guys with a bachelorette party, mingled with Ez’s friends some more, and just plain ol’ had a good time. It was nice to be around other women who are in a relationship with a Marine Officer. They understand.

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Cheesing at our table with the guys

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Club paparazzi

We left the club pretty early because we’re “old and boring,” but of course we had to grab some food! But not before throwing up the alcohol we drank because we felt yucky.  Definitely proponents of throwing up to feel better. Instead of busting a mission for steak and eggs, we grabbed the first food we could find: KGB. Late-night burger place. I had some wings and Ez got a chicken sandwich and some sweet potato tots, but we were just too tired to eat! All in all, great short trip to Vegas :) I hope next year’s ball and proceeding festivities are just as exciting. :D