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Archive for September, 2008

Today at 2pm my new book club will meet for the first time.  I’m really looking forward to getting together with this group of friends to discuss books.  I’ve been in a few different book clubs over the years, and enjoyed some aspects of them, but this book club is the first that I actually started, so it makes it even more special.

The book club is made up of lots of my good friends, including: LC, Neece, AM, CJ, Margie, as well as Neece’s sister-in-law Mer.  Today’s group will be a bit smaller than normal, because a few of the women had other plans pop up at the last minute, but the core group will be in attendance: LC, Neece, AM and me.

Our first book is The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which is a book I’d been wanting to read since I first heard one of my students give a book report on it last year.  If a junior in high school can be so moved by a book, I was sure that we’d all enjoy it.

The book was beautifully written and immensely sad.  The author drew rich, round characters who were as flawed as any of us.  This novel drew you into the incredible plot – a doctor helps his wife give birth in an emergency situation (the middle of a terrible snowstorm) and delivers a healthy, happy son.  Then he sees that there’s another baby waiting to be born.  Only this one isn’t quite as healthy and perfect as the first – his daughter has Down’s Syndrome.  For reasons that seem inexplicable until you finish the novel, the doctor gives his daughter to the nurse who helped deliver her and asks the nurse to bring her to a nearby institution.  He tells his wife that the daughter was stillborn, and the lives of each of the characters are forever altered by this decision.

I had some problems with Kim Edwards writing style, which was very slow in parts and rushed near the end, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The author was able to make the reader feel strong emotions while reading the novel – a true sign of great writing.

Now all that’s left for me to do before the book club meeting is vaccuum the living room and get myself ready.  I can’t wait to hear what the other girls thought of this book, and I look forward to our next selection.  I’ll keep you posted once I know what it is.

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I did it.  I finally took the scary step of getting back out there and dating again.  Well, I took the first step towards that, anyway.

It’s been more than a year and a half since I have gone out on a real date.  Wow, typing that out, it seems so long!  I guess it HAS been a long time, but my life was so crazy for the last two years with grad school and working full time that I really didn’t have time to date anyway.

So now that I’ve had some time to breathe and look at how I’m spending my evenings and weekends, I’ve decided it may be time to start dating again.  Don’t get me wrong, Gossip Girl, Project Runway, Heroes, Mad Men, Biggest Loser, etc. keep me nicely occupied most of the time, but lately I’ve been missing the excitement of being with people of the opposite sex.  The getting-to-know-you, the getting dressed for a date, the anticipation of a first-time meeting, the flirting, the did-he-have-a-good-time-too? — all of the things that go along with dating.  I can’t believe I actually missed some of that stuff, but it’s true, I have.

I am also at the point in my weight loss where I feel ready to date again.  Now, I know, I know, I shouldn’t be concerned with such superficial things as how I look, but I am.  I feel more confident and sexy and desirable at this weight than I did when I was 55 pounds heavier.

I’ve chosen to sign up for eHarmony because I think it seems like the best option out of the online dating sites out there.  Plus, I have to admit, their more recent commercials are really good.  I’m a consumer, what can I say?  I’ve tried Yahoo! Personals and Match.com in the past, and never met anyone I’d bring home to Mom, if you know what I mean.  Most of the guys on those sites aren’t into finding a lasting relationship – they’re out for a quick romp.  Maybe that’s true of most guys, regardless of online or not, but I think that there must be some men out there that are looking to find a fun person to spend time with. (ME!!).

So Friday night, Neece came over and I signed up for eHarmony.  When I told her of my plan to get back into the dating scene, she said that she wanted to be there when I signed up on eHarmony because she wanted to make sure I wasn’t over-analyzing the questions.  (The last time I signed up on eHarmony, I got a bunch of responses from Jesus-freaks (sorry, it’s the only way I can put it).  I’m not sure what the heck I said in my questionnaire that would prompt the eHarmony system to match me up with guys like that, but needless to say, I didn’t find anyone I wanted to date from that pool).  I thought it would be a good idea for her to make sure that I was reading the question correctly and that my response was accurate.  You know how sometimes you answer a question with what you think you’d like to be, rather than who you really are?  Ya, well, I wanted to avoid that.

So, I’m on eHarmony.  And I have some matches that sound good on paper.  I haven’t paid for my subscription yet (payday is coming soon!), so I can’t see any of the photos of the guys.  Which sucks!  I mean, I know looks shouldn’t be that important, but they are.  I mean, they’re not everything, but they are something.  It’s like a blind date without being able to see what the guys look like, you know?  Who wants that?  Oh, and also?  I can’t respond to any of their questions for me without signing up, so our communication is at a standstill right now.  Sigh.

I can’t wait to actually really begin this process and see what develops.  I’m going to give eHarmony 6 months, after that, I’ll pursue other avenues.  What those avenues are, I have no idea.   This should make for some fun blog entries, don’t you think?

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As I was starting to write this post, I realized it was my 250th.  Instead of writing some serious, reflective, thought-provoking post, I think I’ll keep it to something fun and light.

Since this blog is anonymous, I don’t post pictures of myself on it.  Some readers wonder what I look like, especially now that I’ve lost over 50 pounds.  Sometimes I’m tempted to post pictures, but maintaining my anonymity is more important to me.

Then on Wednesday, one of my students said that he thought I looked like Jordin Sparks.  Really?  I mean, she’s a really pretty girl, and I guess I can see the similarities. Although she’s Black and I’m Italian, but maybe our full cheeks and almond eyes are the same.

Being compared to Jordin Sparks is probably a lot better than being compared to Ricky Lake, back when she had her talk show and was really, really heavy.  That comparison came from a student, too, come to think of it.  Not that Ricky Lake isn’t a beautiful woman, because she is.  But I really don’t think I look like her at all, and at the time, the comparison was probably because of my weight, more than anything.

As I’ve said before, people have a hard time figuring out my ethnicity and never guess Italian.  They’ve mentioned lots of different ethnicities – Are you Middle Eastern?  Iranian?  Colombian?  Salvadorian?  Puerto Rican?  Half Black?  Mexican?  In a way I kind of like that, because I have exotic features that can “blend” into different situations and settings.  I’m able to be more accepted by different groups because they think that I am of their same ethnic background. Isn’t it funny how we naturally gravitate toward people we think understand where we come from?  I’m sure there’s a sociology paper or two out there about this very thing.

So, there’s a glimpse at what I look like.  Sort of.  Without the long hair.  And with a slightly smaller mouth and nose.  Without the beautiful voice.  And not as thin.  🙂

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It really doesn’t get any better than the day I had with my sister today.

As I wrote yesterday, we had a birthday dinner for her at my parents’ house last night, and then she spent the night at my place, since we had appointments for a spa day later this afternoon. Having a “sister sleepover” was so much fun, and I hope we get a chance to do it again.  LC said that not having anyone calling, “Mommy, mommy!!” was a treat in and of itself.  She was able to let her hair down and just take it easy this morning.  Even though she woke up at 6am!!!  Which was sleeping in for her!!!

I love sharing my music with LC, and I told her that since I had the new iPhone, I’d give her my older iPod mini so she could use it.  (I had given her my OLD iPod a few years ago, but it was time for her to upgrade).  I also told her she should look through my iTunes library and make a new playlist for herself of songs she wanted to take, and we could burn the cds.  Well, 331 songs & 18 burned cds later, she has a bunch of new music to groove to.  She was so excited about the new music, that it really made me feel good.

I was also able to give LC two of my dresses that are a bit too large for me, which is great. It helps her boost up her wardrobe a bit, and the clothes go to good use.  Plus, since she’s been losing weight herself, I’m sure she’ll be getting new clothes soon enough, too.

LC is one of those people that so appreciates any kindness or gift you offer her, which makes it so much fun to treat her to something special.  She’s a really kind, generous person herself, and it’s nice to be able to help her indulge a bit every now and then.  She certainly deserves it!

LC and I spent a good part of today at Burke Williams spa, and all I can say is that I feel so blissful right now.  I recommend everyone reading this blog makes it a point to get to a spa and get a much-deserved treatment soon.

We got to the spa around 11:30 in order to enjoy the steam room and some of the other amenitites before our services began.  LC was signed up for a massage, and I was getting a facial.  Both treatments were for an hour, which is the perfect amount of time.  Because it was her birthday, LC was able to get a free bath treatment, as well.  I think she chose a milk bath, which I’m sure made her skin silky soft, after all the toxins had been removed in the steam room.

Even the shower at Burke Williams makes you feel good!  Their shower stalls have 3 jets that hit you from all directions, maximizing the relaxing effect of the powerful sprays of water.

After we got dressed and ready to go, we had a wonderful dim sum lunch at Sino.  It was so nice to enjoy a great, exotic meal and just continue the fantastic conversations we’d had all weekend.

After lunch, we popped into the mall for a few quick purchases.  Nothing to write home about (or even blog about!), just a few things each of us needed.

Then, LC came back to my place to collect all of her belongings and head home.  I was so happy to have spent so much quality time with her that I was really sad to see her go.  But, I know she needs to get back home before it gets too late, since she has a lot of things to do to get everybody ready for school/work tomorrow.

My sister is amazing, and I’m so happy that she and I are back on track to being good friends again.  Not that we didn’t always love each other, because we did, but we did go through a period when both of us were under a tremendous amount of pressure in our respective lives, and we weren’t able to do things as often.  We sort of drifted apart, and it’s so nice to be back to being great friends, like we used to be in high school and college.  I was mentioning this to DRMK, and she told me I should definitely share these thoughts with LC, which I did, about a week ago.  She said she felt the exact same way and was so happy.

LC and I are planning to make more sister days/weekends as often as our schedules will allow, which probably means every 4-6 weeks.  We’re already thinking of a bike-riding trip in Half Moon Bay, a morning of yoga and a day in Berkeley, and a few other treats.  Can’t wait!!!

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Yesterday was my sister’s birthday.  LC turned 35, which is one of those BIG birthdays.  You know, one that ends with a 5 or a 0 is always a big one.

Last night she spent a quiet night at home with her family.  Her husband was going to cook dinner, and later my sister, my two nieces, and my bro-in-law were going to open her gifts.  What a nice night.

Today we’re havign a BBQ at my parents’ house for LC’s birthday.  My mom has a great menu planned, and the only thing I had to bring was some watermelon.  I chose some delicious, sweet Dulcinea melons, which just so happened to be on sale this week.  (Nothing wrong with that!)  We’re planning to take lots of candid (and I’m sure just as many posed) pictures of the family, because we gave my dad a digital picture frame for his birthday in June, and now he’s all about filling it with really recent shots.  I’m looking forward to a fun afternoon and evening.

After the BBQ LC is coming over my house to spend the night, since we have a fun “sister day” planned for tomorrow.  I’m really looking forward to her spending the night, because we haven’t had a sleepover in so long, since her kids are 1 and almost 6.  It’ll be fun staying up late gossiping, giggling, and I’m sure, fighting over the blankets, just like we used to do.

Tomorrow I’m taking LC to Burke Williams Spa for a wonderfully relaxing spa day.  She’s getting a combination shiatsu/Swedish massage and I’m getting a facial that includes a neck, foot, and hand massage.  We’re planning on getting there early so we can take advantage of the other spa amenities, like the steam room and sauna.  I love the way the steam room opens my pores and makes me feel like all the toxins are leaving my body.  I’m not much for the sauna, because the dry heat gets to me after just a few minutes.  After our spa time, we’re going to have a wonderful, late lunch at one of Santana Row‘s many restaurants.  I think LC said she wanted to go to Sino, and since it’s her bday weekend, her wish is my command. Plus, I love their dim sum, and they have a fabulous wine list, so we really can’t go wrong.

I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with my sister (and the rest of my family) this weekend.  It feels so good to enact my new plan of not taking school work home with me.  I feel absolutely no guilt about things I could be grading, because I know that I’m going to be putting in 8-10 hours this week on grading, after school.  THIS is what leading a balanced life is all about.

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This week’s offering is another “summer sizzle bouquet” from Safeway.  $4.99.  Again, how can you beat the prices?

Taken with the flash
Taken with the flash
Taken in natural light (without flash)

Taken in natural light (without flash)

I think next weekend I might go to one of the local farmers’ markets and buy a bouquet from them.  Just to change it up a little.

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I get asked this question a lot by students, and I always follow it up with, “well…what books do you enjoy?” Which usually leads to a long discussion about books and authors, which is fun, but doesn’t always lead to good book recommendations.

I’m really excited by something that I discovered yesterday, and I thought I’d share it with all of you book lovers out there.  I found some interesting websites that help readers find new books.  

The term is called “ReadAlikes” and if you search those words in Google, it will come up with a long list of websites that have lists of authors and books that are similar in writing style, content, etc. as other authors.  For example, “If you like Stephanie Meyer, you’ll like…”

So, if you’re looking for a new book to read, type “ReadAlike” and then the author’s name into Google and see all the sites that come up.  Most of the sites are hosted by different public libraries around the country, and should be well researched and fairly accurate.  I’ve also done the search with just the term “ReadAlike,” and found tons of sites that looked interesting. 

I hope this helps you find a great new book to read!!

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