2002 was one of our craziest years yet. We had such a good time this year that it was incredible. To start off the year, I was working at The Bagel Bistro in North Arlington, which I absolutely HATED. Thankfully, my friends Mildred and Charles got me hired at the Fairfield Inn which was awesome. I moved from my Aunt Heather’s house to Amanda’s House. Much thanks to my Aunt Heather, cousin Brianna, Amanda and Mr. and Mrs. DePalma for taking me in. I know I was a handful and I am forever in your debt…
We started hanging out at the Loop Lounge and at Dingo’s Den a lot. Dingo’s was fun because there werecouches but it was always ear-splittingly loud up in that piece. Still, we managed to eek out a good time.
We suddenly got into No Doubt this year and went to their Rock Steady tour. It was general admission and we were hella close to the stage. It was awesome and we all walked out with crushes on Gwen Stefani although Kristyn spent a lot of the concert pressed up against someone who smelled like cat urine but that’s another story.
A few months later, we went on a cruise to San Juan, St. Thomas and the Bahamas. Kristyn’s sister Lynn and her now-husband Tommy were getting married and wanted to do it cruise style. Oh my god, what a great idea that was! Probably like 20 people went, we all had fun on the ship, got to get off and visit the islands, the ceremony was on the beach in St. Thomas and they got off in the Bahamas for their honeymoon. It was a great time.
In San Juan, we got off the boat and walked around the harbor. It was beautiful there and the architecture was amazing. We found out that you’re allowed to drink in public so we all bought cans of beer in a store. But while in the store, we found out that you can drink them in public but you have to drink them in the store. What?! Haha, no problem. We slammed them in the store and then went wandering around. I got a little dizzy at the port because of the size of the ships. The ships are probably like ten stories high, I’m not even joking. And parked close together, it’s like walking down a ten story high hallway. Oh my god even thinking about it makes me want to faint. And we got hungry so we went to a restaurant thinking we’d get some good Puerto Rican food. Nope, for some reason we found the only American Baseball-themed MEXICAN restaurant in San Juan. It was crappy Mexican food too. We get back on the ship and find out that there is a HUGE party on the main deck. Food and drinks for miles. Ice sculptures, music, dancing…it was incredible.
We were supposed to stop next in St. Maarten I think. On the ship, in your room, there is a tv station that shows you what is going on outside the boat. There are cameras on the side of the boat and if you’re moving, you see the water moving. If you’re stopped, you see that the water is flat. We were expecting to be docked already but instead saw moving water. The captain came over the loudspeaker and told us that we couldn’t stop at the port for some reason or another so “Free drinks on the main deck!” Well alright. Some day I’ll post the pictures of what happened that day and you will love it. For now I can’t find them so you’ll have to suffer in suspense.
BUT we went to St. Thomas and it was loverly. I think that is where we are below:
We also had a lot of time to kill on the boat. Stops at ports were only so long. For the most part we were at sea. This day we went and played Bingo. I won $197. It was awesome.
On ship dining was a hairy experience. Oh the food was good, definitely. You had your choice of whatever you wanted to eat every minute of the day. They had a breakfast buffet, then shortly following, hot dogs and burgers by the pool, then lunch, then dessert, then soft serve, then appetizers, then you could have dinner in the formal dining room, in any restaurant you wanted or delivered to your room. All of it was included in the price of your cruise ticket. It was bananas. So we wanted to eat in the formal dining room at first because they serve you like eight courses. So we thought that was fancy and awesome. We were seated with a family though (who actually were with our party, sorry Lynn) who forgot who we were every night, haha. They introduced themselves and asked us who we were and what we did every single night. They made constant racist jokes. And they called each other fat every other minute. “Really dear? Do you really NEED that?” “Oh my GOD, why don’t you have a little bread with your butter…” “Oh I’m gonna be so bad and finish this corn.” After a while we were like, “Okay, nevermind” and ate in our room. BUT we liked our waiter and took a picture with him for posterity’s sake.
In 1999, I had interviewed for and gotten hired to do an internship at Walt Disney World. For various reasons, I decided not to do it and that I missed that opportunity really nagged at me. I decided that I would interview again and if I got it, I was definitely going this time. Kristyn interviewed too and we decided come hell or high water that we’d do it. Well we were both accepted and lost our nerve. BUT after a lot of mutal back-patting, we took the plunge.
We left for Florida in late August/early September. We got to Newark Airport and almost missed our flight because we were enjoying some Pretzel Dogs at Wetzel’s Pretzels. I shit you not. They were closing the gate. They’d been calling for us for a half hour and we plain didn’t hear it. Idiots.
We had Mitten with us in a carry-on case. My parents sold their house and there was no where for Mitten to go. My friend Karen lives in Orlando so she offered to let Mitten stay with her while we were at Disney. You’re supposed to keep pets under the seat but I took her out and she sat on our laps for the entire flight and was a good girl. There was only one little incident that was totally my fault. I put her carrier on top of our suitcases at Orlando Airport and then accidentally knocked it off. Her carrier, naturally, landed upside now. Mitten, thankfully, was unscathed but nonplussed.
We got to Orlando a week early to kind of settle in and chill with Karen. It was weird because we had no idea where we’d be living or who we’d be living with. We really even only had a vague idea of where we’d be working. We were going to be given our assignments when we got there.
On the morning of our checkin at Disney, we got on line and ended up rooming with the four girls on line next to us, haha. Jamie, Mandy, Lynzi and Regina. Me and Kristyn got our own room, Regina and Mandy stayed together and Jamie and Lynzi shared a room. We really lucked out because there were tons of stories of roommates like physically fighting and hating each other. We all got along great!
As for our work assignments, I was to work in Attractions at the Magic Kingdom. At first I worked as a Fast Pass Operator (don’t ask) in Fantasyland. I worked specifically at the Winnie the Pooh ride, Peter Pan and the Haunted Mansion. Later on, they moved me to Mickey’s Toontown Fair and I worked at Minnie’s House, Micky’s House, at a place where you greet characters and the Barnstormer, a children’s roller coaster. I also got to do Parade Crowd Control in the front of the park which is what I’m doing in this picture below. At Micky’s House, I got to meet Ricky Martin (I almost fainted bc like a year before me and Amanda had cultivated a huge Ricky Martin crush and even spent $80 each to go to his concert, haha) and doing crowd control, I saw Gary Sinise (I almost died bc Forrest Gump is one of my all-time favorite movies).
Kristyn worked as a hostess/line server at Restaurantosaurus, a restaurant in the Animal Kingdom. She hated it because she had to stand on the fry line and came home caked in grease every day, haha. BUT in the mornings, Restauranosaurus was a character breakfast and she got to see all the characters and greet the guests and give them a spiel about how Donald Duck evolved from a Dinosaur into the Donald you see today, haha. And her costume was by far the craziest which made it the most awesome.
We soon got to know our roommates and had a great time. Below, Mandy is teaching us how to shotgun beers to varying success. I still don’t have the hang of it seven years later.
Around Halloween, Disney goes crazy. The parks are awesome. The Magic Kingdom does a nightly Halloween party that lasts all through the end of September through the beginning of October. They have the Headless Horseman ride through the park. There are fireworks every night. The characters are all dressed up in Halloween costumes. One of the coolest parts is that they have candy stations set up all over the park so everyone can go trick or treating. I volunteered to work at one of these stations. I got put in front of the Teacups. I had to dress like the Four of Hearts every night with some dude. Honestly, it sucked. Halloween in Orlando is like 85 degrees +. I had to wear a red turteneck, white pleated khakis, a giant felt card and that giant red heart on my head. Nightmare city. Kind of fun in retrospect but ONLY in retrospect, haha.
We decided to have a Halloween party at our apartment. We didn’t know a ton of people so not a lot of people came but we managed to have a great time regardless. We invited Karen, her boyfriend at the time and her brother. Also some people came and brought friends. Me and Kristyn had been going through a serious “Gone with the Wind” phase at the time and talked about that book to anyone who would listen. So, naturally, we cornered some girl we didn’t know and started making long soliloquies about Scarlet’s impishness and Rhett’s sexiness, blahblahblah…we’re going on and on when the girl offhandedly says, “Oh, Margaret Mitchell was my Great-Great-Great Grandmother”. In case you don’t know, Margaret Mitchell WROTE Gone with the Wind. It was all the f over at that point. We started like asking if we could touch her and then touching her without her permission. We wrote down our phone number on little scraps of paper and stuck them in her pockets. We demanded that we hang out with her all the time. We high fived a bunch of times. It was out of hand. Before long, Margaret Mitchell’s great-great-great Grand-daughter remembered that she had to get up early. She yawned and said, “I’m definitely going to call you!” and left. We never heard from that girl again. I wonder why.
We didn’t make a lot of money so we couldn’t really go out to too many places. We made like $6 an hour and then had like $70 taken out of our checks per week for rent. So basically we had like $30 or $40 after taxes with which to buy groceries and have a good time. So we had to kind of be careful with what we did with our money. But, we did manage to get out on the town a coupla times. Mainly when we wanted to have fun, we went to Pleasure Island, or “PI” as the locals called it. On Thursdays we could get in for free and there was a free bus to get there so we would get bombed and go dance our asses off. We also had free access to all the parks and resorts so we spent a lot of time going on rides and taking buses and trams to weird Disney Resorts and Parks you probably don’t even know exist. It was hella fun.
From November to January, all the parks get decorated for Christmas. If you think Halloween is awesome, you haven’t seen Christmas. Oh. Ma. God. They make it snow! There are separate parades for Christmas, all the characters are dressed for Christmas…it’s gorgeous. At MGM, they have an area that is all sets. Like one set looks like New York City, etc. Well in this area, they have it crazily lit up with Christmas lights. And they give you these glasses that make each individual light look like a thousand tiny angels. It was AMAZING.
The pictures below were taken on Thanksgiving Day. We are wearing the glasses in the first picture and dying from food coma in the second because we made the hugest Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever seen. It was disgusting and amazing.
Then our friends and my family came to visit! I couldn’t find pictures of my Mom, Dad and Charles visiting but below are pictures of my sister Christine, Amanda and Bernice visiting. Bernice actually moved to Florida at this time and only just recently moved back to NJ!
We had such a great time. We were able to get everyone into the parks for free!
There was a notice put up in the Magic Kingdom that Good Day New York was going to come to Epcot to film a segment. They were looking for “cast members” ie. workers from the Tri-State area to come to Epcot and be part of the crowd. Don’t mind if we do!
We got to meet Weatherman Dave Price!
And we got to meet Florence La Rue from the Fifth Dimension! This blew my mind because during my high school love affair with sixties and seventies music, I fell in love with the song, “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In” from “Hair” as sung by The Fifth Dimension! We got to meet them and Florence wore our Mickey ears! Amazing!
During Christmas, we pooled our money bought a fake tree and some inexpensive lights and ornaments. We had a little party and exchanged small Disney-themed presents. We bought each other little dolls and picture frames and t-shirts. It was cute and I still have all of that stuff. We also got an idea that we should get a professional portrait taken at Wal-Mart! Lynzi wisely sat this one out, haha. We’re all mostly wearing scarves that I’d knitted for everyone over the semester. I spent a lot of time home knitting scarves and reading Gone with the Wind like a little old lady when I was in Florida for some reason, haha.
New Year’s Eve was a ton of fun. The semester was over and we were all about to go home. There were a ton of parties and we just party hopped around. It was a great time.
We had a Graduation Day Ceremony and I know this is 2003 already but I wanted to finish all of my Florida tales in this post. Anyway, no one but me, Kristyn and Jamie wanted to go to the ceremony. The three of us figured that if we did the time, we should get the diploma and ears at least, haha. They had a buffet breakfast for us and gave us some speeches. They took a professional portrait of us at the ceremony too, haha.
Lynzi had decided to stay another semester and had already moved out to live with her new roommates. When we got home, Mandy was about to leave and we were really sad and crying.
I think I forced us to take this picture below. Look at Mandy’s face, hahahaha…
This was probably the next day. We were standing outside waiting for Jamie’s bus to come. It was really emotional and I actually haven’t seen Jamie since that day. God it’s been seven years. I keep threatening to travel to Oregon and see her. Now that I’m on the West Coast, she’s been put on notice to beware. She DID force me to agree to give her some notice though. People and their details…sigh.
Regina is from Mississippi and her parents had originally driven and dropped her off in Florida. They were going to come and pick her back up again but what the f did we have to rush home to? Also, we’d accidentally booked our return flight to NJ for a week after when we were supposed to leave like morons. SO the three of us devised a plan a few months before it was time for us to leave. We saved up our nickles and dimes and booked a rental car to take Regina back to Mississippi. We took this picture right after we’d shut the door for the last time.
We got in our (convertible!) rental car and met Karen and her mother for lunch. I LOOOOOOOOOVE me some Karen’s Momma. She gave me my first, second, third, fourth…ninetieth quesadillas. She gave me Mexican candies in high school and let me sleep over and let me act a fool in her house and didn’t kill us when we listened to the Grease soundtrack over and over and over and over again in her house. She’s like my second Momma. SO we met up with her before we were gonna leave. Suddenly she says, “OMG we have to leave! Someone’s paid our check!” We were like, “Wow who?!” She was like, “I don’t know but we should definitely leave before they change their mind.” We were mystified by our good fortune. Duh and double duh. Second Momma Guadelupe did us a solid and I had no idea. Thank you and I love you!!!!!!!