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Archive for December, 2007

I can look back on 2007 and feel a mixture of sadness and joy, as with all years worth living, I suppose. A few things that stick out for me:

January: Lots of grading, going out with friends, and grad school work. A pretty nice balance, all in all.

February: Mr. Done broke up with me on Superbowl Sunday, but that would not be the last I heard (or saw) of him. I was so devastated that day, but now I think that he did me a huge favor, because he was not even close to be “the one.” February 20th was the date I started this Bella Blog, and it’s been a source of so much joy for me.

March: This was the worst month of last year for my family and me. My beloved uncle died on March 17th and our lives were forever changed. He was only 53 years old, and it was a huge shock for all of us. He had been in the hospital since the previous November, and he doctors told us he would never be back to the person he was before he got ill. I’d call it a blessing, but losing him is definitely nothing but a tragedy. He touched all of our lives in such a profound way, and I think about him all the time. It doesn’t seem real to me that he’s gone, but I hope to honor his memory every day.

April: The only good thing about April was that I had a week long break and CTLB had a birthday. Other than that, my month was spent doing things for grad school and work. No moments out enjoying “April showers,” unfortunately.

May: This month I went to a few weekday happy hours at a local wine shop, which were fun. This month also marked the end of my first year of graduate school. I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I was halfway through and had several months off.

June: School’s out! Freedom reigns… well, until I started my summer fellowship working at a huge, international company. The extra money helped me enjoy the summer a bit more, and led me to find balance. Working a “normal” job allowed me to see family and friends a lot more often than when school is in. I need to change that, somehow.

July: Any month that has my birthday and the 4th of July within two days of each other is a great month! I started taking the Buddhism in a Nutshell classes to explore a new philosophy/religion that I’ve been interested in for some time. This was also the month that I really began exercising (walking, pedometer, working out) in earnest. Lots of nights out with friends this month, as well.

August: The beginning of the month brought huge changes to my duplex — new couch, new paint in most of the rooms, and a new duvet. All the redecorating helped me turn this house into a home. Lots of nesting this month. August 7th was the night that Barry Bonds hit THE HOMERUN. I never expected to see it in person, yet by the luck of being Italian (it was Italian Heritage Night at the Giants’ stadium) it was destiny. Of course, school also started back up this month — the beginning of my 4th year at my current school.

September: Grad school and teaching are in full swing and the wonderful sense of balance that I felt in the summer is long gone. This was the beginning of my most difficult and demanding semester of grad school yet.

October: No major highlights, just working, going to school, and trying to see friends/family in the few moments of free time.

November: See above. Continuing the juggling act, although the ball marked “fun, family, and friends” seems to get dropped.

December: A month of significant changes. I began the South Beach Diet and started myself on the path of weight loss. The 3rd semester of grad school came to a close, with only one more to go! Lots of time spent with family and friends, well at least during the last week of the month, thanks to Christmas Vacation. Working out and yoga also became a new lifestyle for me this month.

All in all, not my most fun-filled or exciting year. Some pretty major things occurred, but looking back, many of the days were spent doing mundane things. I don’t want to repeat another year like this. I want to try to attain more balance to my days (and nights) and make more memories along the way.

December 31st is always a great day to take stock of the year that’s about to end and look forward to the coming year. I have said that 2008 is going to be the “new me” year, and I mean it. In fact, I’m not making any new year’s resolutions, only New Me Resolutions this time around.

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Yesterday BFF and I went to the yoga studio to take our first yoga class. We had decided months ago that for Christmas, we’d give each other the $40 for 30 deal at this studio. For $40, we can take as many yoga classes as we’d like to. We get to try them all out and decide if yoga is right for us.

BFF already loves yoga, so this was just a way for her to find the right yoga class/instructor at this particular studio. For me, it was a chance to try yoga for the first time.

Well, that’s not entirely true: I did try yoga a few years ago at my 24 Hour Fitness club. It was a bad situation from the start. I was wearing a shirt that was blousy, and for those of you who have done yoga, you know how hard it can be to get into positions where you’re bending your back, etc., and have your top halfway over your head. Not to mention that this “teacher” didn’t go around and make sure that any of us (me) were in the right positions. Plus, the class moved so quickly that I couldn’t seem to keep up. I had cramps in my feet, of all things. I left that class in the middle because I really couldn’t take it.

This was going to be different, I told myself. This was an actual yoga studio, not some class at the gym. These people took the practice of yoga seriously, and had studied it. The studio lobby itself was filled with so much cool yoga stuff — tees, tanks, pants, mats, bags, towels, etc. There was even this one bag that had a bunch of affirmations on it. One in particular stood out to me: Do something that scares you everyday. Being “big” and trying yoga definitely scares me — check!

I told myself that even if I couldn’t get into the same positions that everyone else was doing, I would be ok. I had to give myself time to get used to moving in this new way. I told myself not to worry what I looked like, and hoped to God that everyone in the class would be non-judgmental.

You see, I was donning the yogatard. Sure, it looks nice on the model in the picture, but in person, ON ME, not so much. BFF was kind and said, “well, it’s not really that attractive, but it isn’t terrible.” I felt pretty awful in it. I mean, bulges were showing without any possibility of anything to cover them up. The outfit itself was comfortable, and allowed me to move pretty well without feeling like anything was going to fall over my head or impede me from getting into a certain position. But still, I was extremely self-conscious wearing it. Especially since I was the biggest person in the room, by far.

The room was heated to around 80 degrees, allowing our bodies and muscles to warm up and get a bit more flexible. Our teacher came in and started talking to BFF and me, because she knew we were new. She was the sweetest person, and when I told her I had never taken yoga before, she seemed surprised that I would choose this class — Foundations of Flow — to begin. I asked if she thought it would be too advanced, and she said, no, but she did say that I should try lots of the different types of classes they offered to see which one I thought I would be happiest in.

We started out easily enough — downward dog. I was good at getting into this position, and it felt somewhat comfortable. But no sooner had we gotten into that pose when she was telling us to move into another one and then another one and then another one. All of it was going too fast for me, and I barely had time to figure out the first position and we were moving into another one. The one good thing about all of this was once we started going, I quickly forgot about how I looked in the damn yogatard, and focused more on trying to get into these weird positions.

The thing I like about this teacher is that she guided with a gentle hand. She never came over and completely corrected my positions, but she did offer encouragement when I was doing something right. She realized that my bulky body simply couldn’t get into some of the positions that she was instructing the class to move into.

For example, at one point, we were supposed to lift our right leg behind us and grab our foot with our right hand. Sounds easy enough, right? NO! I couldn’t bend enough to get my foot into my hand. And not because I’m not flexible enough, but because I’m fat. There I said it. I know I’m fat, but this yoga class really showed me how much more bulk I have than everyone else. I can’t simply bend the way other people can, because I have huge thighs and a big butt and a big stomach. I started wish there was a “yoga for fat people” class, where the instructor would be a bit overweight and would make the movements so that the students in the class could actually do them, without needing to modify too much. I know they have these classes in some cities, but not in mine, that I can find, and certainly not at this studio.

But back to this class: I tried my best to modify the movements so that I’d be getting the same basic stretch, but there were several moments that I wanted to walk out and wait for BFF.

But I didn’t. I stayed and sweated and worked through the tears that formed when I simply couldn’t move into an easy position like everyone else in the class. I am so proud of myself for sticking it out, even though I wanted more desperately than anything to just walk out of the room.

After the class, I was proud that I stuck with it, but vowed two things — I wouldn’t wear this terrible yogatard again, until I had lost at least 25 lbs, and I would try the rest of the “beginner” yoga classes to see if there was one that made me feel less huge. I’m very interested in Bikram (hot yoga), because although the room is heated to 105 degrees, there is less movement and poses are held for a bit longer. I think that might be good for me. There’s also another class called “yin yoga” where positions are held for 3-5 minutes, which seems like it would be difficult, but in a much different way than this flow class was.

This morning I woke up and lots of muscles in my body are sore. So sore. So something I did yesterday worked.

I want to be someone who practices yoga. I love the idea of yoga and the philosophy of it. It’s just the reality that I’m having some trouble with right now. But I know that eventually, as I lose weight and practice the moves more, I will be able to do it. Maybe not perfectly or gracefully, but I will be better than I was yesterday.

And now I’m off to search for plus-sized yoga clothes that don’t end in “tard.”

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Just the type of night I needed.

I woke up this morning and worked out, then went grocery shopping, came home and had coffee and read the paper.  After that I started doing a deep cleaning of the house.  Everything was neat and organized, but I hadn’t mopped the floor or vacuumed in so long, so I thought it was about time. Ever since the events of last week, I’ve vowed to keep this place looking presentable at all times, just in case.  I like it looking neat, organized, and clean, anyway.  It helps me feel on top of things, which is such a comforting feeling.

After that, the day pretty much escaped me.

I ate lunch at 3pm, finally got in the shower at 3:45 or so, and then headed to my parents’ house at 5pm to have a drink with them.  I also helped them figure out how to do iTunes and sync the iPods, since my sister and I gave them each an iPod Shuffle and and iTunes gift certificate for Christmas.  My dad sort of knew how to do it, but my mom didn’t, so I spent some time showing them.  I’m happy to report that the relationship is back to normal now, which is great.  I did have a terrible headache all day, so I came home early to hopefully take it easy and get over it.
So anyway, I came home and made a very SBD-friendly dinner — greens sauteed with onions, garlic, & olive oil and Italian turkey sausage.  It was delicious and filling.  I also had a glass of one of my favorite red wines — 7 Deadly Zins.   While the food was cooking, I made some coffee, and right after dinner I cleaned everything up — dishes, pots, and pans and all.  It feels so good to have everything cleaned up and looking nice.

The one thing I haven’t done is any of the piles and piles and stack and stacks of essays I have, but I’m not going to worry about that right now — I have a week and a half to get it all done, and I will.  Tomorrow is slated for a big grading day, so I should be able to get a huge chunk of it done, I hope.

At the moment I’m listening to music, with candles lit, and enjoying a nice cup of hot coffee.  It just doesn’t get any better than this.  Actually, scratch that — having a boy here would make it that much more perfect, but in lieu of that, a nice evening at home is perfect.

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Friday night CBCB, BeachGirl, and I had planned to go ice skating and soak in a little holiday spirit by looking at the displays at Christmas in the Park. I had written an email a month ago to all of our teacher-friends asking if they wanted to join us for the holiday fun and drinks/apps that would surely follow. Being that Friday was our last day of school before Christmas Vacation, all of the teachers had other plans — getting ready for holiday plane travel, finishing up Christmas shopping, spending time with family, and all the other odds and ends that come with this time of year.

Since it looked like it was just going to be the three of us, I put an email out to some of my non-teaching friends, telling them that I would once again be able to be “human,” and spend time with them, if only for these next 2-weeks. The girls were ready to leave the kids and hubbies at home and come out and have a fun Girls’ Night Out.

We decided to meet up at The Fairmont at 7ish. CBCB, BeachGirl, and I abandoned our plans to go ice skating (mostly because I got nervous that I might fall and break something, even though it was originally my idea), and decided to put all those Starbucks cards our students gave us as presents to good use. It was so relaxing to sit there, sipping my grande, nonfat, no whip, sugar-free gingerbread latte and talk with these two women who are becoming two of my closest friends. We talk all the time, but this night it felt different, lighter somehow. I think for me it was the fact that I had the next two weeks off and I could leave the stress of school behind me. We all seemed calmer and ready for some fun.

At this point, CBCB had to leave, as she was taking her roomie to the airport. It’s too bad, because CBCB would’ve loved what happened next.

BeachGirl and I met up with my friends who had found a great spot in the Fairmont’s bar/sitting area — a perfect grouping of comfy chairs and a loveseat in the middle of the room. I hadn’t seen these girls in at least 4 months, but it was just like no time had passed at all, which is why I love spending time with all of them. DRMK was there, looking as beautiful as ever. She seems to have this light that comes from within, and whenever I’m around her I feel such a sense of friendship and warmth. AM seemed so happy to have a night off from being mommy and being able to be an adult for a few hours. I love AM because she is so real, honest, and fun to be around. CJ was there, too, ready to have a fun night out with the ladies. And finally there was MAPB, who I haven’t seen in about a year and a half. She’s so busy with two little ones and I’m so busy with grad school and work that we just haven’t had a chance to connect.

MAPB had brought a gift for me. This wasn’t a Christmas gift, but a birthday gift from July 2006 — I told you we hadn’t seen each other in forever! She was so excited to have me open it, and when I did, I found the most gorgeous martini glasses. It was an ideal gift because I was just thinking that since I only have 4 martini glasses, I should really buy some more, just in case I wanted to have a martini/cosmo party at some point. The glasses she gave me are so classic, and sort of retro, which is perfect for me. I knew that the night was going to be a great one. I mean, how can a night that starts out with a great gift be anything but fabulous, right?

Soon after we sat down, a band started setting up — right next to us. We weren’t sure if it was going to be too loud, but we were kinda stuck where we were, since there were no other seats to be had. Shortly after, the bandleader comes to the mic and tells the audience that swing dance lessons are about to begin — right where we were sitting. How cool! We were going to have a front row seat to the fun. I was so disappointed that CBCB couldn’t be there with us, because she loves to swing dance, and I know she would’ve been out on the dance floor cuttin’ a rug with everyone. Since I’ve never taken swing dancing lessons, I opted to sit this one out, but AM and CJ bolted to the floor. They were so cute to watch — two sisters dancing together. AM leading, because she is the older sister, after all. Suddenly the bandleader/dance instructor grabs CJ and tells her he wants her to be his “demo girl.”

The funny thing is this guy was a great dancer but looked like the biggest dork — coke bottle glasses, comb over, and all. CJ is a terrific dancer (she used to be on the dance team in high school and even danced for a local indoor soccer league in her early 20s), so she was a natural choice as “teacher’s pet” for this evening. She was amazing out there as the instructor spun her this way and that, never missing a beat. “She’s so in her element, ” AM announced gleefully. It was so much fun to watch CJ and all of the other people out on the dance floor. Little kids, tweens, married couples, older couples — all there enjoying life and having a ball. I was so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear. This is the type of pure joy that I don’t want to miss out on — spending a night with friends, drinking wine, and watching people dance with such blissful abandon. It really warmed my heart and made me so glad to be alive.

After the dance lesson, the band started playing all sorts of songs, and I knew it was time to get out on the dance floor and move. It was so fun, dancing like a crazy girl with my friends. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and it reminded me how much I love to dance. I think the thing that deters me from dancing is the smarminess of some of the dance clubs. I hate that whole scene, but if I can find a way to dance without needing to be surrounded by hootchie mamas and thugs, I’m there. (As a side note, CBCB told me about a swing dancing studio that she wanted to start going to again — they have lessons several nights a week and then afterwards, they have an “open dance” time where everyone just has a great time. I told her that I’d love to take lessons with her in late May/early June, once I graduated from grad school. I’m really looking forward to it).

The night ended with us kissing and hugging, and stopping to pose in front of a huge gingerbread house. I can’t wait to see those pictures of all of us enjoying our time off. It was a perfect night out, and one that I hope becomes a tradition for all of us.

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This week was my last week before getting 2 weeks off for Winter Break aka Christmas Vacation. As with any greatly anticipated vacation/break, this week had to be the longest one ever. Besides the normal, everyday teaching trials, this week I had a student tell me he was addicted to heroin. Fun times, I tell ya.

Actually, this is probably part of the reason my duplex was in such bad shape when my parents came over.  This year, many of my students have shared some really deep personal shit with me.  First there was the student whose father hung himself in their garage, then there was the girl who was pregnant and getting an abortion, next came the kid whose mother was hitting him and verbally abusing him, and finally, my heroin addicted honors student.  Shaping young minds has never been so emotionally draining.

I’m glad that these kids feel like they can come to me for help, support, a shoulder, whatever, but I am getting far too wrapped up in it.  I think the weight of all of these dramas finally hit me this week, and even taking a dish from the living room to the dishwasher in the kitchen seemed like a monumental task.

But yesterday, I was able to wash all of that away.  The last day of school for two whole weeks!  Whoo-fucking-hoo!!!

I had spent most of Thursday night cleaning my duplex, getting it back to somewhat presentable shape.  I still have to wash the floors and vacuum, but everything else had been washed, windexed, folded, and put away.  It felt good to organize and clean everything and get the house back to the way I like to keep it.  They say that the way your house looks reflects how your life is going, and it couldn’t have been more accurate these past couple of days.

So, I left school as soon as the final bell rang and headed home.  I made a phone call to my parents’ house and spoke to my dad.  He’s the calmer, more rational of the two, and he said how shocked and disappointed he was in what he found when he walked into the house.  I apologized and told him that it really didn’t reflect how I live on a normal basis.  I actually ended up breaking down and crying on the phone, talking about all that had occurred all week with the addict/student.

After we got off the phone I spent another 10 minutes crying.  The term “a good cry” has never made any sense to me before, but I think I finally got it yesterday.  I released everything that had been building up — working long hours on deadlines for yearbook and journalism, not having a prep period because I was covering for my teacher/friend who was on maternity leave, dealing with needy students,  and basically having no life.

After a few minutes I felt ready to move on.  I organized a few more things that needed to be tidied up and got on with preparing for my night out with the girls…but the rest of it is a story for the next entry.

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One of my worst fears was realized today, and I wasn’t even home to know it. Actually, had I been home, it wouldn’t have happened.

You see, my parents decided to drop by my house to bring one of my Christmas gifts. Sweet. Kind. Thoughtful. What a fun surprise, right? Wrong!

I usually keep my place very clean. Everything put away and organized, for the most part. Sure, don’t open some of the drawers in the dresser, but whose drawers are 100% neat all the time? Anyway, in this last week I’ve let the place go. And I don’t mean just haven’t dusted. I mean dishes all over the coffee table, mail strew on the couch, clothes all over my floor in the bedroom, bed un-made, towels in the hallway in the laundry basket that just need to be put away, dirty pots and pans in the sink (which is a HUGE pet peeve of mine), tupperware containers on the counter that need to be washed and put away. A colossal mess.

It should be noted that my mom is a neat freak. You could walk into her home at any moment and it would be spotless. No matter how hectic her life is or what’s going on. She places high value on the way her house looks, and it’s something she passed down to me. Well, most of the time.

So you can imagine how shocked, disgusted, disappointed, and upset my mom was when she and my father walked into my place and saw the mess I had left.

I called to thank them for the gift and my mom could barely talk to me. She told me that she was utterly disgusted by me and that she didn’t know how I could live in such filth. She said “your father and I raised you better than that.” She told me she had to go.

I feel completely embarrassed and upset. This is not normally how I live, but things have been terrible for me this week (both with a lot of work to do and emotionally). I just haven’t had the energy or the inclination to clean up and make things look presentable.

The first thing I am going to do when I finish writing this is clean everything, no matter how long it takes me, but it feels like it’s all for nothing. Now my mom thinks I’m a pig and that this is the way I normally live my life. Even though she’s been here plenty of times and seen that I normally keep the place incredibly clean and neat. I’m sure she won’t be able to erase the image she saw today from her mind for quite some time, and I am devastated by that fact.

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CTLB invited a few of us to go to a Tacky Christmas Sweater Party that her friend was throwing. It sounded like a great reason to have a good time, and a nice way to celebrate the end of a long week.

Not owning any tacky sweaters, especially tacky Christmas sweaters, I scoured a nearby thrift store to see if I could find something that would work. The place was dirty and disgusting, and they didn’t have anything. I should’ve checked out the Goodwill, but I didn’t so I headed to Mervyn’s in search of something. I figured that if worse came to worse, I could just buy a red sweatshirt and then go to Michael’s and get some sort of Christmas-y iron on appliqué.

I headed to the men’s section to get a sweatshirt that would fit, but on my way I saw a display of fleece pjs. I was so happy to see that they had some holiday ones. I found one that had a red background and snowman snow globes all over it. It came as a pj set for $20 and they had my size — XXL. Not only was it holiday, it was soft and comfy. Perfect! (And no, I didn’t wear the pj bottoms, only the top, with some jeans — BeachGirl asked about that!)

So on Saturday CBCB and I headed up to SF to meet up with CTLB, her fiance M, and all of their friends.

The house was in the Marina district, and for an apartment rented by two straight guys, it was really clean, nicely decorated, and well put together. It was also pretty big, by SF standards. I’m sure the guys pay a pretty penny for the apartment, but since they both work with stocks, I’m sure they can afford it.

It was great to see CTLB and M, and to meet some of their friends. One of M’s old high school buddies was in SF for the weekend, on leave from the Navy, and he was so fun. I have found that I love the personalities of people from Boston — the phrases, the down-to-earth nature, the fun-loving spirit — they just seem so warm and welcoming.

One weird part of the party was that I felt like everyone was staring at me. Granted, I was wearing a bright red pj top with snowman globes all over it, but then again, everyone was wearing crazy Christmas sweaters. Also, I was one of the oldest people there, by far, since most of them were in their mid to late 20s. I’m not usually paranoid, nor do I usually feel self conscious, but there was something about the way that some of the girls were staring that made me sort of uncomfortable.

Nothing a couple of plastic cups full of red wine wouldn’t cure, though. 😉 (Don’t worry, red wine is allowed on Phase 2 of SBD, so I’m fine).

All of the people who are CTLB and M’s friends are really cool, especially A, a bartender who works at their local bar. She is one of the sweetest girls I’ve ever met, and I hope I get a chance to get to know her a bit better.

I had a great time at the party, and at a couple of bars we hit afterwards. I always have a fun time whenever I hang out with CTLB and M. Add CBCB and a few Bostonians to the mix, and that’s all you need for a party worth blogging about.

Another highlight of the night was that I found a new crush. G, who is co-owner of the place M works. He’s from Boston, 1/2 Italian, and so much fun. He’s enthusiastic, really personable, and is very cute. Dark haired and from Boston? He may be in contention for becoming my FBBF (future Boston boyfriend). Some funny “gossip” about him is that all of his friends think he might be a virgin… at 32 years old. Apparently he was with a girl for a very long time, but since she was a devout Christian, they didn’t have sex. He hasn’t been with anyone else, so they think he’s a virgin. I told M that G may have had a one night stands or something, who knows? Just because he hasn’t dated anyone doesn’t mean he’s still a virgin. Does it? I admit, it’s kinda strange. But I don’t really care about that, he’s cute, sweet, and nice. I told CTLB and CBCB that I’d “pop his cherry,” and they both got mad at my use of that phrase. Blame the crassness of the language on the amount of alcohol in my system at the time. I also said, “I’ll see him again in about 50 pounds, and maybe something can happen.”

He’s going to CTLB’s wedding, so you never know…

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