July 27, 2011

Bittersweet | Moments

It's always interesting when life throws you bittersweet moments to chomp on.

For the past 7 or so years, Brandi has busted her buns with 2 companies to finally have the opportunity of a lifetime. She headed of to Hong Kong for international market for GUESS handbags to help coordinate things from the production side of things. I can't explain how excited, proud and sad I was all at the same time. Although Brandi and I have been together for over 8 years now, we have been fortunate enough to not have to spend that much time apart. She was gone for 1 week and while we've managed to get through times like that just like any other couple would, I headed out to Seattle for 1 week the day before she returned. It may sound odd to some, but it was really weird for me to drop her off that the airport but not be there to welcome her home, especially after such an exciting trip. You can see highlights and all of the awesomeness that her trip was filled with here.

While she was gone, I had to keep myself EXTREMELY busy! After work on 7/18, I met with my buddy Eric for some much needed indoor karting at K1 Speed. It had been a long time since we hung out since he doesn't live all that close and I have been traveling so much.

I'll own this helmet forever...

We both managed to make the top 100 times for the month of July. Here are the results from just 1 of our 4 races...Yep, that's me at the top. Typical...

Once the weekend rolled around, I needed to keep myself busy so I ended up shampooing our carpets and cleaning the entire house on Saturday. Sunday was spent washing my car, Brandi's car, Angelique's car and getting Brandi's car an oil change before heading off to the gym. Once I was all showered up, it was time for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory with my mom and Angelique.

The next few days were filled with preparing for my trip to Seattle for Round 5 of the Formula Drift season.

As you can see, Mixie wasn't exactly thrilled I was leaving and she was ready to come with.

Here's a shot of some huge ass mountain peaking through the clouds about an hour outside of Seattle.

Once we landed in Seattle, the first thing I took notice of were the stunning clouds!

Well I wasn't really in Seattle but it's the closest place you'd be familiar with. We drove about 30-45 min. outside of Seattle to Monroe, WA. Let's be real, there's never any cool race tracks near a big city unless it's a street course. The event itself would be held at Evergreen Speedway which had recently been re-done. The owners did a great job to say the least!

Anyhow, we arrived at the hotel to check-in and headed off to grab some Mongolian BBQ. After that we had our staff meeting just had a low key night since we had an early call time the next morning.

Thursday was supposed to be practice for the drivers but rain but a stop to that. It finally cleared up around 5pm and drivers were able to squeeze in a good hour or so of practice before Friday's qualifying session. For dinner, we headed to Bellevue and ate at Tap House Grill which was pretty good. Enjoyed a few Pike IPA's with a solid gorgonzola and bacon burger! Back to the hotel we went for some much needed rest!

Friday morning we awoke to amazing weather and knew right off the bat we were in store for a great weekend of drifting! Here's a shot during the drivers meeting...

Friday night was actually pretty awesome. A few of the staff members headed to K1 Speed for some karting action before eating dinner at Din Tai Fung in Bellevue, WA.  If you've never been there it's a MUST! Their dumplings are so bomb! Once dinner was done we went to Lucky Strike for the Formula Drift pre-party.

Saturday was the main event! After hitting the gym and grubbin' on breakfast we headed to the track.

Jose and I drove our go-kart around to check out some of the car show entrants pulling when we noticed this guys skateboard...inverted trucks give this board a super-slammed look. Not exactly great for riding since it only goes straight but mighty original for sure!

As far as staff lunhes go, this was hands the best we've had all season! Both Friday and Saturday we got Hawaiian BBQ and spam musubi! Two of my absolute favorites!

This event brought out record breaking crowds! It was jammed packed! So awesome that the sport of drifting and Formula Drift specifically have come so far!

This event was beyond exciting and I feel so blessed, privileged and proud to be part of such an amazing organization. Having grown up at the race track, the comradery that is shared between staff, drivers and the crew members is something that I can't quite describe. We're all there for different reasons and have different job duties but all get along as if we've known each other for years. Some of us have and some of haven't but you'd never know the way we all get along. I hate being away from home and especially away from Brandi but if I have to, this is the crew I want to be with.

Once the event was over, it was time to head back to the hotel for some sleep! 

Sunday morning we all woke up and headed over to one of the best brunches I have ever been to. We ate at Salty's across the bay from downtown Seattle. 

We grubbed on everything from king crab legs, eggs benedict (my personal favorite), cheesy hashbrowns, sausage, ceviche, shrimp, oysters...you name it, they not only had it but it was BOMB! 

Once we finished it time to become tourists and stroll through the Pike Place. Of course we hit up the fish market and first Starbucks!
After that we decided we wouldn't be full-blown tourists without getting animal t-shirts. Here is my lion!

That was about all the time we had before catching out flight back to LAX! It was a long few weeks away from Brandi and our first dinner back together had to be at our favorite sushi joint!

I am so happy to be home and back to our normal lives! Just over a month from now Brandi and I will be husband and wife! Each and every day that passes raises my level of excitement, anticipation and eagerness to be married! Speaking of which, last night we finalized the invites and filled out our marriage license! 
Until next time...


July 21, 2011

July 20, 2011

Wedding | Work | Life

Well, well, well....look who has returned. There's been so much that's happened since Brandi and I booked our honeymoon...aka the last post I did in late April.

The amount of work and traveling I have done since then would be considered insane by many. I ended up hitting a stretch shortly after my last post where I worked 7 days a week for 7 weeks straight. And no we aren't talking about typical hours either. The good majority of those days were 12+ hour days on the road. My first weekend off in what seemed like forever was 4th of July weekend. An interesting weekend to say the least but I'll get into the nitty-gritty shortly.

I'm going to dedicate this post to getting you all caught up over what Brandi and I have been up to.

Let's go back to May 4-8 when I headed out to Atlanta, GA for Round 2 of the Formula Drift series. Having never been to Atlanta except to the airport for a quick layover, I was pretty excited since this event was held at Road Atlanta. For me, this is one of the top 10 race tracks I've wanted to visit. The scenery is unreal with tons of trees, grass and a gorgeous track layout loaded with elevation changes.

Just a few weeks after my trip to Atlanta, I was back out on the road June 1-5 and headed to Palm Beach, FL for Round 3 of Formula Drift. This was not only a new venue for myself but this was also Formula Drift's first time holding an event at Palm Beach International Raceway. Florida sure did live up to it's hype regarding the humidity. As soon as we stepped foot off the plane, you could feel it hit you like big slap in the face. Considering I practically sweat in the shower, this was the sign of a long 4 days to come. Luckily for me, my home-base for the weekend was inside an air-conditioned media center. As you can imagine, my spot became the popular place to be with temperatures reaching into the 90's along with 90% humidity. We all thought it was some sort of joke when we were told they had gators around certain portions of the track. To our surprise, this was serious shit!

Just when I got settled back in at home, it was off to Wall, NJ for Round 4 of Formula Drift from June 15-19. I know what you're thinking...NJ? Like 'Jersey Shore Fisting Pumping' status? No, not even close. Take a moment to look up Wall, NJ and you'll see that we were out in the middle of nowhere! Nonetheless, it was a great time with the Formula Drift crew just like always! The hotel we stayed at had a lounge/bar that ended up being where we had out staff meetings and dinner. Little did we know, Friday and Saturday were karaoke night! This place had no idea what hit them! When 100+ drift related drivers, crew, or staff came through the door with only 2 bartenders, you knew right away they weren't going to handle it. Regardless, it was only a matter of time before the singing and laughter began!

Once I came back from New Jersey, things sort of settled down a bit for Brandi and I. We were finally able to finish our wedding registry and she actually had two bridal showers - one with just really close friends and bridesmaids and the other was with all of our female friends and relatives.

I can't explain how much it meant to me to show up to both showers during the gift opening and see Brandi just glow with excitement over everyone celebrating the love we share for each other. When I showed up to the smaller bridal shower, I brought Brandi, my mom, Brandi's mom and all of the girls some flowers to show some appreciation for all that they've done to make this so memorable for us.

They had the smaller of the two showers at a really nice tea house in Santa Monica, CA. No bridal shower at a tea house would complete without some fancy-shmancy hats right? Not to worry, the ladies had this covered!

In between both of Brandi's bridal showers, we "enjoyed" our first weekend together when I didn't have to work. After 50 days of working everyday, to say I was ready to party would be an understatement. I was long overdue for some free time with Brandi, our family and our group of friends. It just so happened to be 4th of July weekend so there would be plenty of things to do. As luck would have it, the Valley would experience 3 days of 105 degree heat when our air conditioner unit decided to catch on fire.

As Brandi was getting ready for work on that Friday morning, she woke me up in a panic smelling smoke. As soon as I got up, I could tell it was electrical just by the smell. After unplugging everything in the house while more and more smoke poured through the vents causing the smoke detectors to go off, it was time to call the fire dept. Turns out that the motor blew and caught on fire but the fuze never blew which would have turned it off. Needless to say, our house stayed at 95 degrees during that weekend even at 10pm. Thus, the 'want' to party became more of a necessity.

That Saturday night was spent at Ashely and Alex's wedding in Culver City. Imagine putting suit on in a house that's 95 degrees...yep, you guessed it...not fun!

Sunday was BBQ day at Maritza's house BBQ'ing, swimming and laughing all day!

Monday was a pool party extravaganza at Tracy's! Many games of beer pong, flip cup and water-basketball were played! Always nice to be around our group of friends who are endless amounts of fun! I should also mention how responsible Brandi and I were that day. Since we knew that we'd be partying pretty damn hard, we decided to skip driving and hopped on the metro. Yep, that's right. We took the bus in our swim attire and a 30-pack of beer on the bus. It's okay...we don't judge you for not being as cool as we are.

Come Tuesday, my hungover self worked from home so that the air-conditioning saviors could fix our unit. Now that we're back in business, you better believe I keep this house as cold as possible!

Just a little over a week ago, Brandi had the larger bridal shower and let's just say it was memorable! Since she's marrying an Italian, it was only right to have it at Buca Di Beppo's. When I made my grand appearance, it was a little more special this time. Not only was I accompanied by my soon to be father in-law, but we walked in during a performance by "Michael Bolton." Long story short, Brandi and I have both shared an incredible passion and many inside jokes about the famed singer. Low and behold, my mom decided to hire a Michael Bolton impersonator to show up and sing a few songs. Boy was everyone in for a treat. Not only did he not look like Michael Bolton (more like Rod Stewart to me), let's just say his voice wasn't exactly on par with what Mr. Bolton would approve of. Putting his non-Bolton-like looks and lack of a singing voice aside, he was incredibly funny and had everyone laughing hysterically. I guarantee you it's a bridal shower that no one in attendance will ever forget!

Here's where I get a taste of my own medicine.

Generally, I am the one traveling between Brandi and I. She has worked her whooty off and finally got the opportunity she's been waiting for! She was asked to go to Hong Kong for 1 week for market where they'll present the newest lines of handbags to different distributors. It's something I know she has been dying to do and I couldn't be any prouder that she has accomplished this goal and getting to experience such an amazing place the way she should be....by that I mean, BALLER STATUS!

I hate to be away from her at this time and of course we wish we could always travel together but regardless, I can't express how proud I am of her for working her way up to this level. She's the one who has pushed me to work harder, strive for what I want and never take opportunities for granted. The opportunities I get to experience right now and the traveling I get to do are because of her. She's pushed me and made me believe in myself more than I ever have. Thank you b...you'll never know how much it means to me that you believe in me so much!

As fate would have it, the day before Brandi comes home from Hong Kong, I leave for Seattle, WA for Round 5 of Formula Drift. It's very bittersweet since I miss her so much but I am happy that we both understand that following what we're passionate about requires sacrifices and a great deal of understanding. One of these days we'll be successful enough to be able to travel together instead of alone. That will be when I can say I've "made it."

Well folks, if you've managed to stick with me throughout all of this, consider yourself all caught up now. That's been the past few months of our lives in a nutshell.

On another note, Brandi and I have accomplished so much wedding planning amongst all of this chaos. How? I have no idea but it's happened. Brandi has really taken the bull by the horns and done all that she could to make our wedding day one that will go down in history! Every day that goes by and we get closer and closer, the more excited I get. I've pictured how this day will go down so many times and I know it's going to be that but times 1 billion.

There's no words to describe how anxious, excited, thrilled and happy I am to have Brandi as my soon to be wife.

Until next time...