I'm a Little Bit Country...no, wait...I'm a LOT BIT!

I'm embarrassed. Okay, it's out there. I got all excited about having a blog space, and BROADCASTING it to the world...only to fail miserably with the updates. So, here I am. I'll try my best to give you the Reader's Digest version of what's been happening lately...there's been quite a few trips, and the update is mostly mundane, but I am way overdue. Here goes:

Shortly after my birthday, my friend, Chris, treated me to a night with Dave Matthews (Dankuwel, C-Mac)! No, I didn't spend THE NIGHT with Dave, but I did go to his concert...along with two of my other Monterey homeys, Laura and JP. Concert was a blast, company was par NONE, and a good time was had by all. A special shot out to my favorite concert girlfriend,
Heather Walrod. Heather let me crash at her San Francisco pad for the night, as I flew out the next morning for a big family weekend in Madison, IN.

My big brother, Ernie, lives there with his wife, Jen, and my niece and nephew Sage and Gage. Ernie, Jen and the 'rents bought me a plane ticket for my birthday, and there was a big party at their house that Sunday. It was the first time we were all together since Mom and Simmer's wedding in November of '03. I also got some more time with the baby brother,
Topher. The only flaw was the absence of Seabass, my biological baby brother. Sebby, we missed you, but man...gear up for Buffett - West Palm Beach - FEBRUARY 2006! The highlight of my trip was getting that quality time with Sage and Gage. Check out these gorgeous kiddos, and a family shot from my trip.

I made a brief cameo back home in Monterey, then I was on a plane again to Portland for a wedding. Congrats to Edward and Shelly Busse! I was so honored to be a part of your special day.

Here's where I need to pause and do a little shameless plug for, yet again, our wonderful men & women in uniform. Each time I traveled this summer, in every airport, I always encountered men and women in desert BDU's - which meant these great folks were either coming from or going to their 'R & R Leave' time. I know this is just OVER THE TOP cheesy, but every time I saw one of these folks, I just welled up with emotion. I mean, TEARS, people! I am still in amazement and awe of what these folks are doing. Not only for our great country, but for the men & women of Iraq. I want to make no political statements here...I'm neither prepared nor educated enough to make this political. BUT...full of pride? You better believe it. Even though I work with these service members EVERY SINGLE DAY...I am still humbled when I see the desert uniform. God bless you all and come home safe.

Once I returned from Portland, I was so lucky to have a visit from my best college girlfriend,
Ms. Kimberly Palermo. Kimmie is currently in grad school at Wharton. She's someone whom I've always admired for her honesty, her wit and her class. We had such a great visit, laughed until our sides hurt...and cried when we had to say goodbye. Kimmie, thanks for the stopover in Monterey. You made my month!

In baby news, I have a new Goddaughter. Her name is Talea Rose and she is an absolute bundle of joy! Her Mommy (Shilo) is one of my dearest friends from Japan (who now lives in Australia). Welcome, Talea. Now get to Ft. Worth QUICK, so Tante can cover that cute face with kisses (Shilo and her family will move to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area next spring - thanks to the US Navy, HOORAH!)!!! Here's the latest shot of her:

Now I've brought you all the way up to fall. And the real reason I haven't blogged in so long.

In the life of Toma, the fall means only one thing. COLLEGE FOOTBALL.

As a proud graduate of the
University of Miami, I take my Hurricane Football very seriously. I realize that we suffered a MAJOR heartbreak with our season opener, as we fell to defeat against the Seminoles (Take a bow, Kruszewski)...but I have absolute faith in my 'Canes, and am still proud to call them MINE! The rest of the season, so far, so good. However, there's a tough schedule ahead, with Virginia Tech and Virginia in the hopper. My new favorite is tight end, #82, Greg Olsen. Despite the loss to FSU, Greg showed amazing skills, and he's being talked about in the ACC! Even more interesting will be our match up with Virginia, where his brother is the QB! Still, we're ranked #9 in the AP, so I'm happy. The other happy part of the opening weekend, was that I had a wonderful visit from Kayla Marie, my beautiful niece.

Oh yeah, and her Daddy came, too. She's a die-hard 'Canes fan. Check this out...


Lastly, I simply CANNOT blog without a little country music tidbit. I've been so privileged, this year, to be able to see Dierks Bentley twice! At press time, I've got three faves: Dierks, Kenny (Chesney...duh!), and Brad Paisley.

In no particular order.

However, I will tell you, after seeing Brad last Friday, he's really climbing my charts. It's like the top 3 are really are #1s in my book (Read: TOMA IS A BIG COUNTRY MUSIC DORKUS!!). His latest CD, 'Time Well Wasted' is a CAREER BEST, in my opinion. Lyrically, musically and vocally.

I told Brad just that when I got to meet him, BACKSTAGE!! AAAHHHH! I told him how my favorite track on his latest record, "Rainin' You" just makes me melt when he busts out with the falsetto. Yeah, I'm a sucker for the falsetto, and I get made fun of, by my friend, Eric, constantly. It's not that I DIG on falsetto, like BEE GEES falsetto...but when a burly, manly man like Brad just lets it sail up there in the high register, a girl gets weak in the knees. I have no fear of telling someone they're good. Maybe he'll offer me a job, because of my quick wit and sparkling personality.

My trip to Brad was nothing short of a pilgrimage. You see, Brad played with
Sara Evans and Sugarland wayyyyyyyyyyyy up in Kelseyville. Kelseyville is about 4 hours north of Monterey. Quite a jaunt for a girl, ya know. So, because we are very serious about our country music addiction, Heather (mentioned earlier) and I decide we're going to make this trip. I decide to leave work early on Friday, drive the 2 hours to Heather's house (in San Francisco), chill out for a minute, then we're on the road to Kelseyville (SUPPOSEDLY another 2 hours).

Yeah, the 2 hour trip took 4 1/2. We left at the HEART of rush hour, and the 55 miles of highway we were to travel was a pure PARKING LOT. THEN...as we begin the journey toward the venue, we learn that it is in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, down a 2-LANE road that wraps and winds as it's going UP HILL.

Way to plan, Toma.

Oh yeah, did I mention? I asked Heather drive, as I've got to repair a headlight o the CONTOUR....poor Heather, who has a tendency to get car sick, insisted that she would do much better driving than riding, anyway! WHAT A CHAMP!! God love her.

We finally arrive at the venue, only to discover that we have missed Sugarland. Now, yes, Brad was the headliner, but if Heather and I had to pick who we'd want to miss? Yeah, nothing against Sara...but...we didn't want to miss Sugarland. Heather was heartbroken. And, as if this wasn't enough, Heather did not get selected for a meet and greet with Brad, but I did. There are STRICT rules to meet and greets: one autograph, one picture, per person. But, I had my story all in line, I was going to tug at Brad's heartstrings and beg him to sign an extra autograph...for Miss Heather. On her cowboy hat.

And it worked!!!!!

He was as nice as he could be...signed the autographs for both of us, and was so very thankful of my compliments. Brad? If you're listening...I know that you and Kimberly are blissfully happy (After all, you write around a MILLION songs about her)....but, should it never work out?

I'm in the book.

He played an incredible set, all of my faves, and it was great to get backstage. I think Heather will agree; definitely worth the pilgrimage (As I'm passing the Dramamine...)

So, that brings me up to today. In between it all, I've been busy working at the Golf Course on weekends, visiting with Kayla when I can, welcoming new friends to the Presidio (Amy, Scott, Kate & Ella Bartley - Marcus Ferrara - ALL Y'ALL! Welcome to Monterey!!), et cetera et cetera et cetera.

Horribly mundane, I know and I'm sorry. But, everyone's updated. BUT! It's not mundane to me! I am so blessed with all of you in my life! I guess I'm just not the daily or weekly journal type. I don't really wax philosophical or get too deeply emotional in blogging. I mean, I could, but then I think "Who would read it?" Funny things happen to me, it seems, and I guess I try to tell stories about how these RANDOM things keep happening. But then, time goes by, I forget that it happened, and all of a sudden, 2 months pass by and I go, "Oh wait! I need to blog about this!"

I think I've done enough for today. Upcoming in Toma's life? A trip to New York City (for work - POOR ME) the week before Thanksgiving, then a week at Mimi's house in South Carolina, for Thanksgiving. Christmas/New Year's in Monterey, with my two little brothers here (Sebastian and Toph)! I can't WAIT!!

I'm also tossing around the idea of a trip to Cabo San Lucas for a week in late June. If you're a girl and want to do NOTHING but lay on the beach and get margaritas brought to you by hot men, then dial me up. EMPHASIS: NO CULTURE. There will be no sightseeing, no hiking, no touristy educational CRAP. This vacation is to be purely relaxation, with our only goal being to be as LAZY as possible. NO BOYS (minus the ones we meet in Cabo, duh!).

So far on the roster? My FAVORITE gal pal, Michele Lowe...who makes every day in my life here in Monterey worth it!!! Michele and I are TiVo friends, sauna friends, dog friends, grocery shopping friends, you name it. Additionally on the bill, possibly Heather. The more ladies we have, the cheaper it is, and better our chances of finding cute boys to buy us drinks.

Remember: Never underestimate the naiveté of boys in large groups. Let us be each other's combat multipliers.....

Hugs and love...take care of each other.


Toma's Favorite Song Today: "Rainin' You" -
Brad Paisley