Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wedding Letters: Part One - Nick's Letter to Anne

When Anne & I were married, we had two ceremonies: A catholic one and a Jewish one, to honor both of our religions. For the Jewish ceremony, the Rabbi had both of us write letters to one another (addressed to the Rabbi) which would be read allowed for all to hear. In honor of our two-year anniversary, we thought it would be nice to share those letters with all of you. First up - my letter to Anne.

Dear Rabbi Kolton,
            I feel so incredibly lucky to have found the most caring, supportive, funny, smart, adorable, beautiful, and of course, loving partner in Anne. If you asked me three years ago if I was going to marry this woman, I honestly would have had no idea. Mainly because she played more hard-to-get than any woman I had dated previously. But I was up for the challenge! I must admit, from the very first time I saw Anne, her infectious smile is what caught my eye. The Mazzeo smile will get you every time -- there is no escaping it -- and I fell victim immediately.
            As our relationship grew stronger, there was no doubt in my mind that she was the one for me. I felt like a kid in high school again, with our phone calls that went on for hours, sometimes until 1 or 2 in the morning. It was so exciting for me to finally be with someone who likes to talk as much as I do. It wasn’t before long that I realized I was falling for this woman, and I was falling hard. I started to miss her when she wasn’t around me, and I found myself anticipating her phone calls on a day-to-day basis. I knew that she felt this way too, because soon we were absolutely inseparable, and talks of a future together was a popular topic for us. 
            Over the past three years, I have really begun to see more meaning in my life, with real responsibilities, and this is largely because of the woman I am marrying today. She met me at a time in my life when I was in somewhat of a rut – I now realize I didn’t have much in the way of real responsibilities. If I planned on being with Anne for the rest of my life, I decided I had better put the pedal to the metal, metaphorically speaking. With her support, my first two years of real estate have been such a life-changing career choice for me primarily because she believes in me, and loves me every step of the way.
I love how she would rather make it a Blockbuster night, and curl up on the couch with a nice glass of wine, as opposed to going out on a Saturday night. I love how she crinkles up her nose when she gets frustrated. I love how she always orders $5 lattes and never finishes them. I love how she will order a side of veggies with her grilled cheese and then end up eating my French Fries. I love how she always knows where my keys are when I forget where I put them just 10 minutes earlier. I love how she sets the DVR for “GLEE” because I never remember. I love how she’d rather eat at a diner than have fine dining. I love how she makes the best baked ziti I have ever tasted. I love how she loves to watch Ultimate Fighting – well, just Chuck Liddell. I love how she pouts when she doesn’t get what she wants, and folds her arms like a little kid. I love how she doesn’t care if I listen to Howard Stern when we’re driving, and she’s able to tune it out and read the newest Harry Potter installment. But most of all, I love us, and I love how she loves me. She is love, and she is all I need.

-Nick Baldwin

Friday, November 11, 2011

Baby Toys / Items Clearly Made with Dad in Mind

As many of you already know, Anne and I are expecting our first child in May. We are both very excited! I'm excited for two reasons, though. The first reason, obviously, being the new baby, but the second being the fact that it will be perfectly acceptable for me to play with toys again! I have compiled a list of baby items that clearly were made with the dad in mind. There is no way a child would get as much pleasure out of these things as a grown man in his 30's. Behold, the top five most awesomest toddler toys and items most likely made with the new dad in mind! They are in order of cool to most awesome.

5) The Android Tablet for Kids

3) The Toilet Buddy

And the best one of all...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coming May, 2012!

Ladies and Gents, you may have noticed that we haven't been up on our blogging as much as we used to be. My wife especially. Now, we would like to tell you that morning sickness has been one of the main reasons. Yes, that's right...my beautiful wife Anne is officially 12 weeks pregnant, and little Baby Baldwin is due on May 15th, 2012! We couldn't be happier, and we are honored to share our fantastic news with all of you!

                                  So what do you guys think? Is it a boy or a girl? :-)

Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a White...Halloween?!?!

It all began with a light snow fall in...October? For New Jersey, that's a rarity. But it didn't take long until trees were collapsing on to power lines and electricity was going out all over town. My wife has to work every 12th Saturday, so she had to commute into Manhattan. All the trains and buses back to New Jersey got cancelled later on in the day, so I had to go pick her up. It felt as if I was in a car commercial, dodging every tree limb that had fallen into the street due to the heavy snow. It took me 90 minutes to make a trip that should only take me 30.

We were one of the few unlucky ones who lost power and heat, so we packed up the pup and are spending two nights in a hotel. Power is not expected to be fully restored until Wednesday. As you can see below, there's a certain K-9 that doesn't seem to mind one bit. He is so spoiled!

Don't worry. Even though we are spending All Hallows Eve in a hotel, my wife and I were able to dress up last week. It's her all-time favorite holiday (aside for Christmas, or any holiday where she receives presents), so there is NO way we would have missed the opportunity to be...Toddlers & Tiaras and Baby Bieber! Yes, I am wearing a REAL diaper! And no, that is not my real hair. Although, a very long time ago I did have hair like that.

Since the wife and I are not putting on costumes today because we're living out of a suitcase for the time being, Barney decided to throw on an outfit (that's right - he made that decision all by himself). He's going as a DEVIL DOG!

                                      Happy Halloween everyone! Stay safe & warm!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Scariest Horror Movie House Is...

With All Hallows Eve approaching, this is the time of year when every house seems to have a creepy look to it. As a real estate agent myself, I probably notice it more so than others. Whenever I go into a house with a client (vacant ones, especially) and there are doors closed, or lights don't turn on, or basements are dark - it gives me the heebee jeebees. I can't let my clients see that I'm freaked out, though, because I'm supposed to be the calm, cool, and collected Realtor that's not afraid of the dark. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fraidy cat all the time. But, I think the reason I get spooked is because I started watching horror movies at a very young age. The first scary movie I ever saw was "The Exorcist." By today's standards, kids probably won't find it as frightening as I did because horror movies now are all about blood & guts. I do remember being in the Washington, DC area some years ago and seeing the house from "The Exorcist" in person. I walked up the famous tall and steep staircase to the side of the home and when I got to the very top...there is was. Not as ominous as it was portrayed in the film, but still creepy nonetheless. Having seen that house in person and knowing what happened to Linda Blair inside (yes, I know it was only a movie), would have to be the house I pick as the scariest house in a movie - EVER! 

This leads me to my question: What is your opinion as the scariest horror movie house of all time? Is it the "Nightmare on Elm St." house where Freddy Krueger crept into the dreams of teenagers? Maybe it's the one from "Halloween" where Jamie Lee Curtis escaped Michael Myers. Perhaps it's the house where Norman Bates kept his dead mother in a rocking chair, in "Psycho." Whichever scary house makes you sleep with the light on, let me know in a comment.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Women Are Always Right. There, I Said It!

Hey, Nick here! Wow, has it really been two weeks since our last blog entry? I’m so sorry, guys. Sometimes life just gets the better of us. 

I wanted to talk about a topic that the women are going to love, and the men might actually hate me for. But you never know – you guys out there just may learn something valuable. It’s time for: Our Women Are ALWAYS Right: 101! 

Men, no matter how you try to spin this, there will most likely be only a handful of times in your relationship when you will actually be 100%, utterly correct about something. Believe me, you will do whatever you can to find that moment when you might actually be right. A moment in a conversation when there’s a teeny inkling of a possibility when you could possibly be right. The moment your wife or girlfriend says, “You’re right,” is probably the most glorious moment of your life. So glorious, in fact, that you will ask her to repeat it. You will celebrate with a beer and call your friends to vast in your “rightness.” You may try and get her to say it on video to keep for all time, but that usually doesn't work out.

The reason I write about this today is because last week my wrongness almost cost me $600! Two short months ago I purchased a fancy new cell phone. One with a big touch screen that basically does everything but my laundry. The salesman at the store talked me into getting this protector case for it that is supposed to make the phone break-proof. I hated this case. It’s big and bulky and looked like I had a DVD player on my hip. My wife warned me time and time again, “Don’t take that phone out of the case. You’re going to drop it.” She must have told me that a dozen times, but I’m too stubborn to acknowledge it. In my mind, there was absolutely NO WAY I would ever drop this phone. I was so delicate with it. I handled it like a newborn baby – ever so gently. ‘I didn’t need that stupid cell phone case,’ I thought. ‘I’ll show HER!’

Well, last weekend I was out with clients showing houses and just as we got to the last house I took my phone out of my pocket and it slipped from my hand. I swear, it seemed like a slow motion scene in a movie as my phone fell from my fingers and crashed, screen first, to the concrete. 

After leaving my clients, I spent 3 hours at the cell phone store where luckily my insurance covered the damage and only cost $100 (I say only, because it could have been MUCH more than that), and came home to Anne with the, “I told you so” look on her face soaking up her rightness. She didn’t even need to say the words. Needless to say, I’m back to having a phone the size of a DVD player attached to my hip.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/01 - We Need a Sense of History

On the day before my mother & father's 30th wedding anniversary, 3,000 innocent people lost their lives on American soil. 10 years later, my father reflects in his New Jersey Star Ledger blog.


On the evening of September 10, 2001, my wife and I arrived at a hotel at the Jersey shore to celebrate our anniversary. Next morning, when the planes hit, the first thing I did was call my office in NYC. The father of one of the young women who worked for me was an executive at a company on the upper floors of the World Trade Center. Waiting for some word, she did not come to the phone.

Now, in my mind's eye, it is Friday morning, September 14. I am getting off the train at Hoboken, track 17, next to the lapping waters. Ruins across the Hudson still smoulder. At noon, I leave the office after a useless morning and head out to lunch for lack of anything better to do. Flaky ashes drift over
East 29th Street .
I take a furtive glance down Madison Avenue; the sky fades from peerless blue to murky grey. I start walking, aimlessly, uncertain of which takeout place I should choose.

During the weekend, as self-administered therapy, I clean and re-stain our back deck. Every time a plane flies over into Newark Airport on an altered flight plan, I imagine an explosion.

In those days after the trauma there was plenty of unadulterated existentialism in the air: Resolution to go on with business as usual would be rudely interrupted by speculation about who did this horrendous thing -- and why. People resolved to change daily habits, become more empathic toward others. To remember the dead. In a Vanity Fair editorial, Graydon Carter declared an "end to irony" and called for a return to grounded values. No more cynicism. No more conspicuous consumption.

In retrospect – and I hadn't realized this until now, established as a teacher at Montclair State University, and no longer commuting – the fact that I had been working in the City, day in and day out, for fifteen years had a lot to do with my disposition in the weeks and months after 9/11. I felt as if I were entering the fray every time I emerged from the subway; as if I were a member of the advance-guard for the culture at large, stoically representing "American interests at home" or some such.

We were, each one of us, "soldiers of civilization," indispensable interlocking cogs determined to keep the Huge Machine cranking along. Hence the cosmopolitan surge in eye-contact, the counterintuitive desire to connect with passers-by who would have been ignored in the era before That Day.

The layers of years accrete, and iconic images of billowing smoke and gashed concrete and ruined glass remain in the forefront of my mind, and I still hear the wail of echoing sirens.

But as an historian, I have spent my writing life trying quixotically to make coherence out of events that have already happened. It's not just because, as a writer, I have come to believe that when you live through a global drama of epic proportions you need to memorialize it. And it's not just because I am compelled by a popular pedagogical obligation to "teach the conflicts."

I wish for our students that they will take some time during this grey and dreary week to reflect upon 9/11/01 as a way in to historical consciousness in general.

By Neil Baldwin