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I know 1989 was 20 years ago, but from the constant hugs, huge smiles, and squeals of delight at seeing each other, you’d have never known it.  My 20th high school reunion was last night, and what a fun time it was.

Last year, when I first thought about going to my 20th reunion, I was quite anxious.  I hadn’t gone to any of the previous reunions, mostly because I didn’t think enough had happened in my life to warrant it.  I mean, at 5 years I was still in my credential program, so how much had changed?  At 10 years I was too busy working at Yahoo, and feeling a bit down about life because I didn’t have a boyfriend/husband to bring.  But I knew that I had to go to my 20th, because it would be so great to see everyone, despite feeling like I wasn’t looking my best.

Sure, it would’ve been amazing to have lost 140 pounds and look skinny.  But that wasn’t the case, and I didn’t want to let my weight stop me from attending what was sure to be a great night.  So, I joined the reunion planning committee, dealt with the “mean girl” syndrome that seems to have followed a few people into their adult lives, and made sure that we were going to have the best reunion possible.

As much as I had hoped to lose at least 20 pounds and feel even better about myself, it didn’t happen.  But none of that mattered as soon as I started getting ready.  I had a great dress that looked nice and was comfortable.  A fabulous necklace that added a funky flair, and shoes that put that much-needed splash of color into the outfit.  I’d gone to have my hair colored earlier in the afternoon, so my wild curls were blown out into a nicely coiffed ‘do.

As soon as I arrived, I knew it was going to be a wonderful time.  Everyone greeted me so warmly, gave huge hugs, and thanked me for helping to plan it.  The compliments flowed about everything – my makeup, my hair, my necklace, my dress – these girls had me feeling like I was a superstar.  I felt so confident and so happy, which was so nice.  It was really as if the 20 years hadn’t gone by and we were all back in high school just hanging out on a Saturday night.

Most of the girls (I went to an all-girls school) left their husbands and boyfriends at home, which made it feel even more like a night back in high school.  The few husbands that were there seemed to enjoy the hilarity of it all.  The old personalities soon emerged, and I’m sure it was wildly entertaining to see their wives the way they looked back in high school.

The best part of the evening was the slideshow of old photos from when were were in high school.  Other than a few inches in the waistline and a few cans of hairspray holding together our ‘dos, most people looked the same.  I was shocked to see that throughout my senior year as I was growing out a short 80s haircut, I seemed to be sporting a ‘fro.  Well, that’s what happens with curly hair, I guess.  Seeing all of us in our old plaid uniforms and penny loafers definitely brought back so many memories.

Outside on the pool deck as we sipped cocktails and enjoyed old stories, you could truly see that our sense of community hadn’t changed at all.  One of the husbands commented about how confident each of us looked back in high school, something that he never found in the girls who went to his co-ed school.  And it’s true; going to an all-girls school did instill in each of us a sense that we could do anything, be anyone, and accomplish whatever we wanted.  Nothing was off limits or too far out of reach.  And it showed in the great things that each of us has done with our lives.  We’re all still hugely confident women today, and we can thank our old alma mater for that.

The night passed by in a blur.  I think all greatly-anticipated evenings do, though, don’t they?  I wish I would’ve been able to talk to more people, caught up on more lives, and made my way through more of the groupings, but there just wasn’t time.  It was a fantastic reunion, and I’m so glad I went.

Here are a few photos from the night.  I wish I would’ve taken more, but I was enjoying myself too much.  Still, it’ll give you an idea.

My 20th High School Reunion

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black-and-white-candles

Today is my 38th birthday, and I guess it’s time for a bit of reflection.  38 is definitely in the “late thirties” category, yet I don’t feel that old at all.  I feel as though I’m in my late twenties, maybe.  I guess that’s because I don’t have a husband, children, or a mortgage, and all of those other things that go with being a responsible adult.

Being young-at-heart runs in my family.  My dad just turned 69 and he doesn’t look it or act it at all.  He’s still so full of life and vigor, and it’s wonderful to see him enjoying his retirement.  (Although he retired 3 years ago, he still substitute teaches because he says the kids keep him young).  My mom is the same way – she’s 62 years old and you would seriously never know it.  She has a really energetic personally that keeps all of us on our toes, and I love it!

This birthday marks 20 years since I graduated from high school.  The summer of 1989 was one of the best ever because it was the one between high school and college.  The summer on the cusp of growing up.  The summer when there were absolutely no responsibilities.  This summer feels very much the same way to me.  It’s the first summer in years that I haven’t worked, and I’m absolutely enjoying every minute of it – even the quieter ones.

So, what’s on tap for today?

  • Well, I started the day with my WW meeting.  The news was good, and the meeting really helped me get on the right track for this week.
  • After the meeting I got the car washed – I love the feeling of a spotless car.
  • Then I came home and did the Wii Fit.  I don’t know what it was, but I broke all sorts of records today.  Maybe there were being nice because it was my birthday?  Or maybe I’m just advancing!
  • I’m planning on spending an hour or so today just reading.  I’ve been really lax about reading this summer (too active, I guess), and it is going to be nice to just sit with a good book.  I’m reading Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani.  Love her writing and I’m sure this won’t disappoint.
  • Later this afternoon, my mom and I are going shopping!  She said that the gifts that I mentioned to her (she still likes us to give her birthday wish lists) were ones that she needed me to be there to pick out.  I’ve asked for some silver hoop earrings, a new coffeemaker, and a few other items.
  • After the shopping, my mom is making me a birthday dinner – pasta with pesto, barbecued Italian sausage, and a salad.

A birthday spent with family – shopping and eating well – how much better can it get?!

Now to explain the title.  I know all of you can add, but to me, turning 38 is really a wake-up call to me to get back on track with my life list (aka Bucket List, only these are things I want to do by the time I’m 40).  So, I have two years to complete the following:

Things to do before I turn 40:
1. Lose 100 lbs. Working on it, but the progress is slow.  I’m vowing to do this, though.  It’s the most important thing on this list.
2. After weight loss, go on a shopping spree at Anthropologie and Ann Taylor Loft, knowing the clothes will look great!
3. Sky dive.
4. Own a convertible. I should complete this one in August, when I buy the new VW Beetle convertible!
5. Find balance in my life. (I’m so bad with the work/personal life balance). As I wrote earlier this week, I’ve got a great handle on this one.
6. Make spirituality a part of my everyday life.
7. Try yoga. I have not only tried it, but I discovered I LOVE Bikram yoga.  I haven’t been in a while, though, so I’m going to go this month.
8. Start meditating. I tried it a couple of times, but couldn’t seem to quiet my mind long enough.  It might be worth another shot.
9. Get a Brazilian bikini wax.
10. Go to the beach in a bathing suit and feel proud of how I look.
11. Go to NYC.
12. Go to Boston/Connecticut CTLB’s wedding in August ‘08. I’m hoping to go back next summer to see CTLB’s new house.
13. Run a 5K. (Maybe even a 10K). I’ve walked two 5Ks, and have another one coming up July 19th.  Not sure if running one will be realistic.
14. Meet “The One” aka “Mr. Right” and be engaged, or close to it.
15. Own a home (condo/townhouse), even if I’m still single.
16. Go on an exotic vacation to Bali or Morocco.
17. Learn to speak Italian.
18. Get some of my writing published.
19. Use my masters in educational leadership, either in school administration at my school or on the district level working with the new teacher program.
20. Adopt a dog.

So, you can see that I still have several of the items to work on.  Some of them are a bit unrealistic, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try.  You never know what you can do until you attempt it, right?

38 is definitely going to be a great year, I can just feel it.  There is no doubt that I will feel better than I ever have with my increase in activity, focus weight loss, and quitting smoking (July 15th).  There are so many things I want to accomplish, but like you know by now, I’m a girl who loves a goal, and I can’t wait to take some of these on!

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Ever since I started my weight loss blog, I’ve been writing much less frequently on this one.  Because weight loss is my main focus (almost like a part-time job), it makes sense that I have more to write about that topic than any other.  Still, sometimes I feel badly that this blog, the one I started blogging with, gets pushed back to second-class citizen status.

One thing that seems appropriate to write about here is how I’ve been doing on my quest to “get a life.”  Last August, I wrote a post where I vowed to take back my life and stop living to work instead of just working to live.

I’m happy to report that I am now a reformed workaholic.

It wasn’t easy.  At first I felt like I was really sloughing off on my duties at work.  “I really should go to the play this weekend.” “The students would really like it if I went to that football/basketball/soccer game,” etc.  Instead of feeding into this guilt trip I was laying on myself, I just said no.  I took myself off of the numerous committees I had been serving on and kept only those that I felt were the most important.

Did I feel like I was out of the loop?  Yes.  Did I crave being “in the know” the way I was when I served on lots of different committees and attended tons of school events?  Sure, sometimes.  But that feeling of being slightly out of the dialed in group was well worth the time and energy I found now that I wasn’t spending so much time and effort at work.

It was a strange year for me because CTLB, my best friend at school and one of my best friends in life, left.  I felt a lot lonlier than I had in the past 4 years, when were were “joined at the hip.”  But before you start feeling too sorry for me, I do have an amazing group of friends at school, and we all eat lunch together every day, so it’s not like I sit alone in my classroom and grade papers while I eat a stale sandwich.  (That would never, ever be me, by the way).  We also had a new principal this year, and that made for a lot of changes.  Good changes, but still, there were a lot of things going on this year that left me feeling out of sorts a lot of time time.

But my life outside of the work day was fantastic!  I found that I had tons of free time, and I used it to try new activities, reach out to old friends and make some new ones, spend lots more time with my family, and just enjoy myself by doing whatever I wanted to do – riding my bike, reading a great (or trashy) book, watching movies, cooking, etc.

It seemed idyllic until the school said they were looking for someone to teach a “summer school after school” class.  I saw dollar signs and knew that if I taught the class I would have the money I needed for a down payment on my new car AND I wouldn’t have to work this summer.  So, beginning after February break, I gave up 60 hours+ of free time and taught the class.  (This may not sound like a lot, but this is on top of teaching 5 other classes.  Not to mention grading and prepping for 6 classes).  It is something that I’m glad I did (for the money), but will never do again.  It’s just not worth giving up that much of my life.

All in all, I loved having my life back.  I felt like I was a better teacher because I could look at things from a well rested, happy point of view.  I plan on doing more of the same this coming school year.  Actually, it should be even better because I’m only teaching one honors class, which will dramatically cut down on my paperload.  Can’t wait.

Ok, enough writing, time to get out there and LIVE!

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Lately, I’ve been hearing that question a lot.  This is the first summer where I haven’t signed up to work, and I couldn’t be happier.  I’m looking forward to actually getting one of the full benefits of teaching – an entire 2-month period of time off.

My mom in particular is worried that I’ll get bored.  She knows me too well, because when I get bored, I start to spend money.  What better way to ebb boredom than to go shopping, right?  Well, not this summer.

This summer I plan to do nothing.

And by “nothing,” I mean that the plan is no plan. Nothing too specific. Mornings spent reading the newspaper while sipping coffee. Walking. Working out. Swimming. Biking. Lots if activity & focus on weight loss. Keeping the house super clean and organized. Feeling like every day is a Saturday, even when it’s Tuesday.  Thursday morning WW meetings. Seeing friends. Buying produce and flowers from the farmers market every Friday. Overusing my Netflix queue. Music in the Park. Cooking healthy, delicious meals for myself every day. Laying in the sun reading a captivating book. Shopping, but trying not to spend too much $.  Starlight Cinema.  Buying a new car in August when my current lease is up.  (I’m thinking a VW Beetle convertible would suit me perfectly).  A tiny bit if tweaking my current curriculum. And lots and lots of writing on this blog and BellaOnTheBeach.

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.

— Henry James

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heathers_5

Last night was the first meeting of the reunion planning committee for my 20thhigh school reunion, which is coming up in October.  I decided to join the committee because I love organizing events – I swear I was an event planner in a former life.  I am going to have some free time this summer, and I thought I’d lend my skills to make sure our reunion is really special.  Plus, I haven’t been able to donate money to my Alma mater, so I figured donating time would be the way to go. 

To give a bit of background, I went to an all-girls, Catholic high school.  Yes, plaid skirt and all.  Full of all sorts of privileged girls who would get BMWs on their 16th birthdays.  You know the ones.  The same “popular girls” who are so insecure about themselves that they have to cut everyone else down just to make themselves feel good.  The type that have to judge every action, every moment,  just to show their supposed superiority. 

While I had a fantastic experience at my high school and had so many wonderful friends, I couldn’t stand these Mean Girls then, even though we got along, on the surface.  I had friends from all different groups – the Mods (pre-Goth, all-black-and-crazy-eye-makeup-wearing people who took fashion cues from Robert Smith of The Cure), the geeks, the jocks, the partiers, etc.  I can generally get along with all sorts of people.  The ones that I have no patience for are the ones who are so petty and so superficial.  The ones who fit the stereotypical sorority-girl-on-crack type of personality. 

Well last night I was sitting next one such Mean Girl planning the reunion.  I don’t remember “Heather” being such a bitchy girl in high school, but she defines the word now.  She spent half the meeting talking shit all these different girls, most of whom I could barely remember, let alone have any gossip about.  This one is divorced, that one is now a lesbian, this one is now a bitch (I thought this was hilariously ironic, coming from her), that one was….well, you get the idea.  I mean, whose life is so shallow that you have time to keep up with all the gossip about girls you haven’t seen in years?  Not to mention spreading so many rumors.  She even started talking about people whom I know are her “friends.”  I was disgusted.

Of course, she pretended to be all sweetness and light with me, but I can only imagine what she’s saying about me behind my back.  I’m sure my weight gain will come up in a future gossip session she’ll be having.  Not that I care, because while I may have gained a bunch of weight since high school, at least I’m not a Mean Girl.  To paraphrase the saying, “I can lose weight, but you’ll always be a bitch.”

I think the part that was the most disheartening to me about the whole evening was that the Alumnae Coordinator was right there with Heather gossiping away.  (AC graduated the year after us, so she knows all the girls from our class). Now AC was never in the popular crowd, and I know that back in high school Heather would have never been seen talking to AC, let alone gossiping with her.  I think that AC should have have been much more professional than she was, and it definitely put her in a whole new light in my eyes.  

Heather is very active at our high school and donates a ton of money,  so I don’t think she’s going anywhere anytime soon. 

So at this point, you may think I’m crazy for continuing on the committee, and that may be, but I’m sticking on it for a few reasons:

  • There are tons of girls who will be attending whom I love and can’t wait to see in person again.  I want to make sure they have the best reunion possible.
  • I’m good at this stuff!
  • I’ll be damned if I want Heather to run the show, because who knows what she’d come up with.
  • I’m not intimidated by  Heather or any other Mean Girls, and I won’t back down. 
  • Someone may just need to bring Heather down a peg or two, and I think I’m just the girl to do it, don’t you? 

For now Heather has no clue that I feel this way, because I can play fake as well as the next person.  I was very careful not to add to any of the gossip, but I did take it all in. Hopefully Heather will get a life (she is a mother of two, after all), and cool it with all this bullshit.  But that might be giving her way too much credit.  We’ll see, I suppose. 

Thanks for letting me vent – I had to get  that off my chest, otherwise I might’ve had to pull a “Veronica.”

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facebooklogo_11 I can’t tell you how cool this week has been in regards to getting back in touch with friends that I knew in high school!  All thanks to Facebook.  I know that site is incredibly addictive and a HUGE time suck, but you gotta love it for getting old friends back in touch.

When I first joined FB, most of my friends were people I was in regular contact with.  One guy from my grammar school got on and started connecting kids from elementary school! Then all of a sudden more and more girls from high school (I went to an all-girls, Catholic school) started joining. Suddenly FB was like a mini reunion every time I logged in.  For the most part I would exchange “hello, how’s life?” with these people and that was about it.

This week, though, I’ve actually reconnected with two former friends, and I couldn’t be happier.

DH and I were great friends in high school.  She was even LC’s “big sister,” at school.  Then we graduated and went our separate ways.  No falling out or anything like that.  Just sort of lost touch as we were starting new lives at college.  When I first joined FB, DH was one of the first names I looked up.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t on there yet.  I guess she joined not too long ago, and found me.  I was so excited!  She lives really nearby, and so we set a date to meet for lunch – Tuesday.  DH looks exactly as I remember her in high school.  Seriously, she has not aged a bit.  She’s still that kind, warm soul that I knew then.  She and I have so many parallels in our lives that it was a bit eery.  We’ve both struggled with our weight, we’re both on WW, we both had bad past relationships that completely devestated our lives, and yet we’re both moving on and looking ahead.  DH has two children, 7 and 8, which blows my mind.  When I think of myself having kids…well, I can’t.  Still, she has it together, and she’s doing so well.  We were having such a great time catching up at lunch that neither of us realized that we had been there for 4 HOURS!  We had over 2 decades to catch up on, though, so that’s about right.  We made an instant reconnection, and even revealed some pretty painful realities to each other.  I think we’re going to be great friends now that we’ve found each other again, and I’m so glad.

TI also recently found me on FB.  She and I met right after high school in a college English class and became fast friends.  She actually introduced me to my first love (not the terrible relationship, this guy was “the one who got away”).  TI and I used to go out and party like I can’t tell you.  At one point, we were hitting different bars downtown almost every night of the week.  But then again, we were in our 20’s so why not?  TI and I lost touch because she got sick and tired of me throwing away my life on the aforementioned terrible relationship.  Then she moved to San Diego, got married, had a child, and we lost touch.  She called me yesterday and we were on the phone catching up for 2 hours.  Since TI lives in San Diego, I’m not sure how often we’ll be able to see each other, but it sure is nice to talk now and then.

There are tons of other people on FB that I’ve reconnected with, and it’s so fun.  So far DH and TI are the only ones that I’ve actually met and/or talked on the phone with, but I know this is only the beginning.  CC is moving back to SF from NYC in a couple of months, and once that happens, I know she and I will hang out all the time.  LCS, one of my all-time-best-friends-ever in high school who moved back east our junior year said she’s going to be coming out to CA next year!  I cannot wait.  She and I tried to keep in touch for a while (about 7-8 years), but then it got to be too difficult.  Now that we’re both on FB, though, we chat all the time.

So while some of you may not appreciate getting poked, sent virutal cocktails, or asked to join Mob Wars, you’ve got to admit that FB really is a great tool for reconnecting with old friends.

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Last night I went to Bingo with my cousin FMG and 3 of her friends.  (FMG is actually my cousin’s cousin, but in Italian families, everyone who is even slightly related is considered family).  When FMG first asked me about going to bingo, I wondered what my social life had come to if I was going to spend Saturday “girls’ night out” in a room where the next youngest person would be more than 20 years older than me.  But then I said to myself, “it could be lots of fun, and who knows, you might even win some money?”

Plus, I love hanging out with FMG and knew that her friends would be a kick because that’s the type of people she attracts.  I wasn’t wrong.

I got to the bingo hall first, and was slightly disappointed with what I saw.  The entire room seemed to harken back to the days when you could buy a soda for 5 cents at the local Woolworths.  The people I saw were in sweats, at best, and I felt majorly overdressed in my jeans and nice top.  I felt completely out of my element, but got over it as soon as I saw FMG and her friends arrive.  They too had “dressed up” in jeans and nice tops, so we were the glamour queens for the evening, I guess.  (I know this makes me sound like a snob, and I’m ok with it).

We settled down at a table next to a group of older ladies who took bingo seriously.  I had no idea how much effort bingo takes.  We mistakenly purchased two books, each with 9 squares on them.  When they started calling out the numbers, it was more stressful than anything I’ve done in a long time.  The “caller” was whipping out numbers at a furious rate, and I couldn’t keep up.  It’s a lot harder than it seems to scan the sheets in search of B-10 or O-69.  Finally, I decided that I could only handle one book at a time, but even then, I couldn’t figure out the different configurations of bingo we were supposed to be aiming for.  A 6-pack?  A 3-way?  What kind of bingo game was this?  And any time we laughed loudly at ourselves we were quickly shushed by the ladies next to us.  I’m sure they thought we were “loud, obnoxious young people” every time we burst out laughing at our inability to follow the game.  They say that it’s good for older people to play crossword puzzles to keep their minds fresh, but I think bingo is the game that really helps keep them sharp.  I felt like such a dummy the entire night.

Then we discovered the magic that is Pull Tab Cards.  The cards are like lottery tickets, except instead of scratching them off, you pull the tabs (hence the name) to reveal whether or not you’ve won.  The odds are a lot better than with lottery tickets, as two of the girls I was with won $250 each just minutes after buying $20 worth of Pull Tabs.  !!!!  These Pull Tabs are addictive!  I had the same feeling I get when I play slot machines, that need to keep playing and spending with the hopes that the next Pull Tab was going to be the big winner.  Luckily, I only spent $40, which didn’t put too much of a strain on my budget.  I myself didn’t win big, but I did win enough to keep me getting more Pull Tabs all night long.  It was so fun!

We’ve decided that next time we go to bingo, and there WILL be a next time, we’re going to buy the electronic bingo machines and play Pull Tabs all night long.  We’re going to pool our money so that we increase the odds of winning.  The electronic bingo machines do all the work for you, all you have to do is hit “enter,” and if you’ve won that game, it will display ‘BINGO’ in big letters for you.  Easy-peasy.

I haven’t laughed that much in a long time, and it was so fun meeting some new people.  FMG’s friends were a riot, and I’m looking forward to hanging out with them again. And who knows?  With any luck, I’ll come home with a little extra money in my wallet.

This is just one small pile of the pull tabs

This is just one small pile of the pull tabs

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