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Archive for August, 2007

I spent my time in a nice mix of work and play. I hope this sense of balance is something I’m able to carry with my into the new school year. Actually, not “I hope,” but rather, “this is something I am going to promise myself, through dedicated efforts.”

Saturday morning I made some coffee and read the newspaper, made some breakfast, and then started in on household chores like laundry, vacuuming, etc. I went online and bought some new clothes for school — 4 dresses and 4 tops for about $200 including shipping and tax, which was really good, I thought.

My parents and my niece came over for a bit, which was nice because now that my sister lives about 45 minutes away from me, I don’t get to see her family as much as I’d like to. My niece is really something special, she’s almost 5 and just started kindergarten, and what a personality she has! So sweet, but also just a touch of spiciness (which I swear she gets from me) that makes her a fun person to be around.

After they left, I headed to school so I could fix up my classroom. As I mentioned in my previous post, the janitors never seem to put things back the way they find it, but I guess I should give them a break, because they have a really hard job. I made copies, cleaned, organized, and rearranged furniture for about 3 hours. The room looks great, and I’m all set for the first day on Tuesday.

After school I left to do some grocery shopping for the week at Trader Joe’s. How much do I love that store? It’s the poor man’s Whole Foods, but I always find some new item that tastes great and is fairly healthy. I stocked up on EmergenC and women’s daily vitamins, so I should be all set for a healthy start to my days.

When I got home, I made dinner. Actually, all I had to do was microwave one of my previously cooked Dream Dinners. Each one is better than the next! I had chicken with cheese ravioli and pesto, a huge tomato from my dad’s garden as my salad, and a nice glass of pinot grigio. Ever since we repainted the breakfast nook I’ve been trying to eat in there instead of in the living room in front of the t.v. Not only is it easier to clear the plates and clean up afterwards, but it’s also more conducive to enjoying my meal. I read a good book (currently A Thousand Splendid Suns, which is amazing) and take the time to savor my food. It’s made a big difference in how much I enjoy my meal. I’m definitely going to keep this habit up, because I really like it.

After dinner I was going to watch some bad t.v., but got the idea to take a long bath. I filled the tub with bubble bath, lit some candles, put on some soothing music, and was all set. I don’t know why I don’t take more baths — it’s a really nice way to do something good for yourself. Before I got in the tub, I put on a facial mask and was all set. I lay there and drove all the little nagging worries out of my head. I thought about the school year that was ahead and told myself that this year was going to be different from the last because I would make a concerted effort to achieve the balance that was so lacking last year. No more staying up all night to finish that last set of essays. No more not seeing my family for weeks on end. No more feeling so stressed out that I can’t sleep at night. I’ve written about this before, but the new plan is to stay after school for 2-3 hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays to get work done. Maybe an hour on Friday, although I doubt I’ll feel like it. No grading on weekends, unless there is a grading period coming up. Weekends will be spent keeping up on the housework, doing work for grad school, and enjoying my time with family and friends. I also promised myself that working out would become even more of a routine than it is now. I have a 1st period prep, and since we’re on a block schedule, this means that I have a prep every other day. Having it 1st period means I don’t have to get to school until 9ish. (I really don’t “have” to be there until 10:05, but I want to get there around 9 so I can use my prep time and stay organized). On “B” days (when I don’t have the prep), I’d like to go to the local track to walk/jog at least once a week. I also thought that I should look into the yoga studio that BFF had told me about. I’ve only done yoga once, and it was a pi-yo class (mix of pilates and yoga), so I didn’t feel ready for it. This yoga studio has all different types of yoga, from Bikram to Vinyasa, so I would be able to check out the different types and decide which one is right for me. I think that yoga will be an excellent release of the daily stresses that are sure to come up this year.

After my bath I poured myself another glass of wine and sat in the living room with candles as the only light. I listened to Natalie Merchant’s hypnotic voice and just relaxed. It was a refreshing, relaxing night. So much so that I told myself I need to have quiet nights like that — with a nice dinner followed by a long bath and a few glasses of wine — at least once a month. Friday nights seem like a great time to unwind from the work week and get into the mood to enjoy the weekend. (On the Friday nights I’m not out enjoying the TGIFs that are sure to be planned).

Today I woke up and read the paper with my coffee and breakfast and then went to BFF’s house with Starbucks in hand. She and I caught up on our weeks and talked about everything, as we usually do. Topics included gardening, decorating, meditation, gratitude journals, what we want to be remembered for after we die, and men. Typical for us. Conversations always flow so naturally and we’re so open with each other. I never have to worry about what I say to BFF because I know that she’ll be accepting, offer advice, or simply give me the kick in the ass that I need, depending on what the situation calls for. I’m the same with her. It’s wonderful.

Afterwards, I met my mom for a shopping trip to Bed Bath and Beyond to get a few more items to decorate the duplex with. I bought a ton of stuff (a wall clock, a candle garden, 350 thread count sheets, and a few other odds and ends) and only spent $137, thanks to a bunch of 20% off coupons. I could’ve spent more, but I restrained myself. I’d already spent so much this weekend that I really had to keep it in check. Decorating and making my place into a home is so fun and I waited so long to put my personality into the place that now that I’ve started, I can’t seem to stop. Then we hit the fabric store to find the perfect retro print fabric for BFF’s sister to sew into kitchen curtains. It took us a L-O-N-G time to figure it out, but we finally settled on a thin striped fabric in shades of peach. We also selected a second fabric that’s got a pinkish peach background with tiny cherries on it. The two don’t sound like they’d go together, but they do. I think it’s going to look so 40’s/50’s when it’s all sewed and hung. I can’t believe how cheap fabric is! I bought over 3 1/4 yards of fabric and it only cost $11. You just can’t beat that!

After the shopping, we headed back to my parents’ house and had some cocktails. Then I came home and cooked dinner (Dijon chicken breasts with a panko crust(Dream Dinner), rice pilaf, and a salad of arugula and baby yellow tomatoes). I’m in the middle of doing more laundry and about to start reading 3 chapters for my class tomorrow night.

All in all I was able to live this weekend exactly the way I want to live the rest of my life from here on out — with a nice balance of work and play. Having this new mindset has really changed my feelings about school starting.  I’m usually in a sort of semi-panic/nervous state of mind the days before school is about to start.  Part of it is the excitement of starting school with a fresh group of kids to teach, but part of it is not feeling ready and dreading the impending workload that is sure to come down the pike.  I’m so excited about my new goal of leading a balanced life, and I can’t wait to begin this journey.

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I had planned to spend most of this weekend getting myself mentally prepared for school.

You know, by shopping for cute new school clothes and things like that.  Haha.

I also planned to go by school and reorganize my room because of course the custodians never leave it the way they find it when they do a deep cleaning/wax on the floors.  I also need to make a bunch of copies of my class expectations and syllabi.

All bets were off when yesterday the plumber informed me that the basement under my duplex was flooded.  2-3 inches of water on the ground flooded.  Pipes burst flooded.

It all started on Thursday when my toilet backed up and overflowed.  I thought it was fairly odd, because in the year that I’ve lived here, that has never happened.  My dad came over to help me unclog it, because I don’t have a plunger.  He said that he thought it was fairly serious, so I should call the management company and have them send out a plumber.

Yesterday I found out that my next door neighbors were also having problems with their toilet, so we thought it was something with the sewer.

The plumber got here and asked to look in the basement, and lo and behold, it was flooded!  At least two inches of water was on the ground.  Luckily, I had all of my stuff up on a table, so none of it got damaged.  I did have one box of school stuff that had my dvd player, some cameras, etc. that was on the ground, but only the bottom of the box got soaked.  None of the equipment was damaged.  My yearbook was at the bottom, so it took most of the water on, but luckily I know the yearbook advisor, so getting a new one should be easy.    The neighbors had more boxes that were damaged, but the only thing inside of them were old vhs movies that they just threw out.

All in all I feel really lucky, but the plumber said that the main line was leaking in two places and another pipe had burst.  So, I think they’re basically going to replace the pipe that had burst, which links to my neighbors’ bathroom sink.  They “should” probably replace all of the pipes, but I know that’s too expensive and they won’t do that until they have to. 

Right now everything is working, and we can use all sinks, toilets, showers, washers.  The neighbors can’t use the sink in their bathroom, but that’s only temporary, until someone comes out to replace the pipes.

Nice.  Just when I get the house looking amazing this happens.  But again, I know it could’ve been a lot worse. 

Still, with all of the craziness of yesterday, I was able to get a lot of work done that I needed to for school, so it wasn’t all bad.  Sure, I had to reschedule my appointment with my stylist, but staying home for the plumber did force me to get quite a bit done.

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I can hear them in the distance. The sound is unmistakable. The sounds are akin to an arcade, but so much more satisfying. The high-energy spinning and whirling. The fun pictures of cherries and “free spins.”

The sound of SLOT MACHINES hitting the jackpot!!

Today I’m heading to Cache Creek Resort & Casino to get my gambling fix in, and I can hardly wait.

Ever since BFF and her boyfriend went to Oregon and hit a few Indian casinos there, I’ve been jonesing to hit the slots. I love everything about playing slot machines, especially the randomness and unlikeliness of winning.

I know that it’s all pure luck and that the casinos work the slots to get people to keep at it and pour all of their hard-earned money into these little machines, but I don’t care. I think it’s fun, exhilarating, and something that gives me hope.

My dad has a tried and true game plan for keeping spirits up while gambling. When it gets to that point in the day when everyone is losing their shirts, he rounds us up and tells us it’s time to get something to eat. We have a good meal and go back to the slots with a new attitude and perspective. And wouldn’t you know that we start winning? It works like a charm every time.

There’s nothing better than setting up your own little superstitious way to hit the button and make those wheels spin. I usually stick to two or three different types of machines and play those all day. I devise little “rules” for myself about when to hit the “spin” button. And I ALWAYS play the max bet, because how much would it suck to win and not get everything you could’ve because you didn’t want to spend the extra 50cents?

So wish me luck as I spin those wheels today. I hope I’ll be writing tomorrow about the 10,000 jackpot that I hit.

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Update: Friday, Aug. 17

I thought you guys were going to send me winning vibes?  Well, somehow they didn’t hit Cache Creek I guess.  I lost $440!  When I think about what I could’ve done with that money instead — a bunch of new clothes for the new school year, 4 fancy facials at the nice spa I went to earlier in the summer, a bunch of iTunes songs, and the list goes on and on.   I had a fun time, and I did win a bit during the day.  It’s just that when you win early, you’ve got nothing else to do but keep playing.  And that’s how the casinos make money.   But, oh well, thems the breaks, I guess.

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Ever since I was in grade school, Sundays have always been bittersweet for me.  Sure, it’s the last day of the weekend, but that also means that Monday is looming just around the corner.  Sunday is a catch-up day.  A day for making sure all of your errands are done and you’re ready to tackle the week ahead.  This time of the summer, mid-August, feels like one big Sunday for me.  I’m trying to eek out those last few days of summer vacation, going places and enjoying myself, but I know that school is about to start, and all of the craziness is just around the corner.  I have a lot of things to do before August 27th when I have to go back, and I’m feeling that same dread/anticipation that Sundays bring.

This week has been really busy with painting, redecorating, and working.

My dad has been the one painting, truth be told, but I’ve been helping with moving furniture from one room to another to clear his way.  Next week, when he starts on the kitchen and dining nook, I’m hoping I can really lend a hand.  All of the cabinets are going to be a lot of work, so I want to be of some assistance.  Since my dad has done all of this himself, I’ve decided to buy him and my mom 2 iPod Shuffles.  A green one for him and an orange one for her.  They’ve been starting their own walking program, and I’d like to give them the Shuffles so that they can have some music to make the walks less boring.  Plus, I know they’d never buy them on their own, but I also know they’d love to have them.

I went to Cost Plus yesterday with DRMK to look at art to put up in the bedroom.  Now that the walls are white and the duvet is tangerine, I want to get some artwork up that really ties everything in together.  I found a great “painting” that looks like it’s set in the Mediterranean.  It’s got great colors, and I’m hoping it really ties in the “Moroccan” look of the room.   I also need to buy some candles for the living room and bedroom, as well as bookcases for the bedroom.  I have to rearrange some furniture in the living room, now htat I have the new couch (which I love).  It’s a sectional with a chaise lounge, so it’s quite a bit bigger than the old one I had.  I want to open up the room a bit so that it doesn’t seem dwarfed by this new large piece of furniture.  The kitchen and dining nook are pretty much set, all they need is a fresh coat of paint.  Once I get all of it the new decorative pieces, and the rooms are set up the way I want them to be, I’ll post the pictures so you  can see how everything looks.

I have two more days of my corporate fellowship, and then about two weeks before school starts back up.  Lots to do before school starts again, but hopefully I’ll be able to keep working on my summer goals.  Two main things I have to do are to read a book for grad school, which starts next Saturday with an all day class, and read some journalism books, since I’m taking on that class this year.

Lots to do, but it’s all fun.  The summer flew by, but I think I did quite a bit to prepare myself for the upcoming year of craziness.  I’m trying to put things in place so that I have plenty of time for me — working out, doing things I enjoy, spending time with family and friends — and not get consumed by grad school and school like I did last year.   Time will tell.

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I was there last night when Barry Bonds hit the record breaking 756th home run!! It was amazing and spectacular and a once in a lifetime event.

I still can’t believe I was able to be there for it in person.

Last night was Italian Heritage Night at AT&T Park, and an Italian group I belong to had bought 50 tickets for the August 7th game. I went because it’s always a fun night. They play songs by famous Italian Americans like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, etc. at game breaks and between innings. They also always hand out a souvenir — this year it was a newsboy cap with “SF” in red, white, and green (the colors of the Italian flag). The seats are in the “nose bleed” section of the park, but we had such an amazing vantage point. The 13 row climb to the top was grueling, but oh so worth it. You felt like you were on top of the field; on top of the world.

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We were sitting on the 3rd base line, and could see everything so clearly. When Barry came up to bat during the 5th inning and the count was 3 and 2, you could almost feel the electricity in the air. As with all of his times up at bat, the crowd was on its feet in anticipation. Every swing brought with it thousands of camera flashes going off, just in case.

Then he did it — he it a home run to the bleachers and the ballpark erupted.

All at once there was fireworks and streamers and screaming and crying and relief. I had tears in my eyes and my heart was racing; the emotion of the moment overtook all of us, I think. We were in a surreal state that BFF’s boyfriend described as a “baseball orgasm.” It really was sort of like that. And after the high-fives, speeches, and celebrations on the field, there was this strange sense of calm within the park. My head was buzzing and I felt like we were all basking in the afterglow of the historical moment we had just witnessed.

This was the only baseball game I’ve gone to all year! I guess we picked a great night, huh?

Regardless of what you think of Barry Bonds, he made history. He has done what no one else has — he hit 756 home runs, and he’s not through yet.

Even though the Giants lost last night, we made our way home on a high that I’ve never experienced before. We shared that single, historic, life changing event that we can talk about for the rest of our lives. Forget Balco and the steroid scandal — we can discuss the ethics of all of that another day.

For today I can say I WAS THERE!!! s640x480.jpg

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I’ve been following the 10,000 Steps Program for about a week now, and I’ve really been enjoying trying to hit that mark. It’s a lot more difficult than I thought!

One of the main problems is that my summer office job doesn’t really offer too much opportunity for getting up and walking around. My trips to the bathroom are about all the movement I get during the day. I have been taking the stairs instead of the elevator, but my cube is only on the 2nd floor.

Even on the nights when I went walking with BFF, I still didn’t hit the target.

Here’s my progress:
Wednesday – 4530
Thursday – 3768
Friday – 5552
Saturday – 9994 (I went to the flea market looking for my couch and covered a lot of ground)

Until today!!!!!!!!!

I didn’t even walk at the track today — I just ran a ton of errands and cleaned the whole house. Grocery shopping and going to Target can certainly wrack up the steps, let me tell you!

I was able to get in 11,258 steps! WhoooooooHooooo!   Can you tell I’m pretty proud of myself?   We’ll see how many I can get in tomorrow!

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My fabulously beautiful new couch will be here in 4 days, and I absolutely cannot wait!!

I wish I would’ve taken a picture of the floor model, but I wasn’t thinking that far ahead. Plus, this way, you can see it in its full glory in my living room.

You’ll never believe where I got it — at the flea market! I know what you’re thinking: cheap, ugly, awful. Not so! Both BFF and DRMK got their couches at the flea market, and I was stunned. The prices they have are really good; at least 1/3 of what you’d pay in a regular furniture store. The trick is in the negotiating.

Armed with lots of cash and a gift for gab, I was determined to find a couch just like DRMK’s, because I love hers so much. I asked her if she minded if I copied her, and she said she didn’t at all. Plus, the rest of my furnishings are so different from hers that it won’t seem like the same couch. This couch has dark brown “leather” at the bottom and the sides, but all of the cushions are a micro-fiber fabric. Really comfy. Plus, it has a built in chaise lounge, giving it a sectional type of feel. It comes with a matching square ottoman, which really completes the look.

It took 3 different places to find the couch I wanted at a price I could live with. The first place was nice, but the man wasn’t budging. He wanted $1300 for everything, and while that was a good deal, I knew I could do better. The second place was offering $999, but the man was such an asshole that I really didn’t want to do business with him. Plus, he didn’t want to throw in the free delivery. Finally I happened upon a man and his 20-something son. Wouldn’t you know they were part Italian, so they immediately wanted to give me a great deal. First he said $995, including delivery. I asked if he could do better since I had cash, and he brought it down to $895, including delivery!! Not a bad deal at all. With tax it came to $965. I know this sofa and ottoman would’ve been $1500 in a “regular” store.

They’re going to deliver it on Wednesday and I can’t wait.

My other purchase today was some bamboo. I love the simplicity of green bamboo and the serenity it brings to a room.

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In the picture, the bamboo is on the floor, just to show the contrast against my bright walls, but the vase full of river rocks and the gorgeous green bamboo is on a side table in the living room. I love the way a plant can really add some life to a room.

Tomorrow my dad and I go to the paint store to purchase all of the paint needed for the painting project. I’ll make sure to take some before pictures of the rooms we’re going to be painting, just so you can see the difference.

I love how this place is starting to shape up! Nothing like a little TLC to make a home feel warm and inviting.

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