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Music2Loud Ok, so let me say first of all that I don’t consider myself an old curmudgeon in any way.  I’m a fairly tolerant, open-minded person, but I do like to have a sense of orderliness and peace around my home.

Recently FavNeighbor and her hubby moved out because they bought a condo.  I was so thrilled for them, but so sad for me, because they were amazing neighbors.  We had similar schedules, similar expectations, and similar lifestyles.  We liked to keep our duplex neat and orderly and we were friends with each other.  We got along so well, and I guess I sort of forgot that it’s not always that way with neighbors.

The place was vacant for a few weeks, and I spent that time wondering who was going to move in next door.  It is important to like and trust the neighbors that you share a common wall with.  Not to mention the fact that our backyard is a common space, as is our basement.

Very few people had come by to see the place, and I was worried that the management company might start to get desperate to rent it out.  My fears were warranted, as it turned out. I should mention that the management company was anxious for me to sign the new lease to my house.  I was glad to do it, especially because I found out they weren’t going to increase my rent.  I was really dumb not to wait to see who was moving in next door, especially because my lease wasn’t officially up until September 30th.

Tuesday I arrived home after a “koffee klatch” with Ish, to discover a bunch of plants, a medium-sized dog, and a bunch of backpacking equipment in the house next door.  No people.  I wondered what was going on, since I hadn’t been told that anyone was moving in.

Later in the evening, two people arrived.  One guy in his mid 20’s and his father, who I found out was 45.  Both men had long hair and a bit of a hippie vibe, but I wasn’t judging them by their appearances.  They seemed like nice people, and I found out that the son was an artist from Santa Cruz who moved here because this city has more of an artists community than Santa Cruz does.  (I knew we had some great galleries in this city, but I didn’t know it was such a hub of artistic talent).

Anyway, the father then proceeded to tell me that he used to do drugs (as evidenced from his lack of teeth – he has maybe 7 in his whole mouth) and had spent some time in jail.  Again, I believe that everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.  I also learned that they were going to leave at midnight to pick up the younger guy’s girlfriend and her dog.

So, just in case you aren’t following this, that makes 3 adults and 2 dogs living next door in a 1-bedroom unit.  Definitely a sign of trouble.

The first couple of nights went fine.  They were quiet, friendly, and I thought that things might work out.  Thursday night painted a whole different picture.

Thursday night they decided to start drinking, playing the music incredibly loud (I had all my doors closed and could hear it clearly), and were hooting and hollering.  They were hanging out on the front steps, and the vibe was just really low class and trashy.  I know that makes me sound snobby, but so be it.  I work too hard for what I have and care too much about my home to live next to something like this.

So, I wrote a letter to the management company explaining what was going on, how unhappy I was, and why I wanted to change my lease from 1-year to month-to-month.  Lots of my co-workers are in the process of buying condos or smaller houses since the real estate market is down right now, and I started thinking, “maybe I can afford to buy something, too.”

I got an email the next day (Friday) from the management company explaining that they had talked the the neighbors and assuring me that they would cease and desist with the noise.  The thing is, the noise was only a small symptom of a greater problem.  The main thing is that these new neighbors simply don’t know any different – they’re used to living like this and I’m sure they see nothing wrong with the way they live or the noise they make.  The fact that so many of them are crammed into a 1-bedroom unit should be an indication.  Plus the fact that the son is the only one with a job.  Now, I know that the economy is tough right now, but they don’t strike me as the hard-working sort.

The neighbors obviously realized that I spoke to the management, and that fact was confirmed when I heard the father say, “wow, she pretended to be so sweet, but she’s actually a fucking bitch.”  Nice.  It’s going to be just wonderful living next door to this, right?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’m at the place in my life where I want to live in an area where everyone cares about their home as much as I do.  My area isn’t like that.  My area is full of traffic, homeless people, and down-and-out sorts.  I’ve made huge improvements to this place, and I love my duplex, but if I’m honest, I don’t live in the best neighborhood.  By any means.  So maybe it’s time for me to move on to something better, somewhere nicer.

My mom always says that everything happens for a reason, and maybe the reason these people moved in was to show me that it’s time for me to look into buying a condo.  It would be a stretch, but I could probably afford something small.  I don’t have any money for a down payment, but there are new home buyer and teacher programs in my city that may make buying a place more affordable.  Plus, this is the time to buy because prices are down.

I pulled my credit score on Thursday and was happily surprised to discover that it’s gone from “poor” to “good” in the course of 3 months.  My Experian rating is 706, which isn’t stellar, but isn’t terrible, either.  I’m starting to get a bit hopeful that maybe I can join the ranks of homeowner.  So, I’ve contacted a real estate agent, and I’m waiting for his call.  I’m excited to see what might happen.

Things might be a bit uncomfortable for me at my current home, but with the idea that I may be moving onward and upward, I’m feeling positive.

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Ok, so I should tell you right up front that I’m not going to reveal too much of what’s been going on because I don’t want to jinx anything.  Not that I’m especially superstitious or anything.  But, I am someone who has been accused of oversharing. Go figure, I’m a blogger, of COURSE I  overshare.

That being said, I did want to tell you all that a job opportunity has presented itself this past week.  It’s a position that I’ve been wanting for over 3 years, and it would have a huge impact on my life, my career path, and my future.  I am completely qualified for the position, and have a really good shot of getting the job.

The downside?  It’s so close to the start of the new school year, and if I were to take the position, I would feel as though I was leaving my classes and my colleagues in the lurch.  Sort of.  Not the English classes so much, because that is an easy position to fill, but the yearbook and journalism classes, because for some reason, there aren’t a lot of people out there who want to take on both of those duties.  I LOVE teaching those classes.  In fact, those classes are what keeps me sane as a teacher.  I am actually going to miss teaching those classes if I get this new position.

The new position itself?  I don’t want to give too many details unless it comes to fruition, and then I’ll probably bore you with the minutae of the job descpription.  It is still in my school district, and it’s obviously still in education.  What it isn’t is being an English teacher.  Which means that I will no longer have any essays to grade, should I get the job.  The pay is more or less the same as I make now, although I will get $2400 less per year, before taxes, because I won’t receive two of the stipends I currently receive.  But in thinking it over, I’d gladly take a $2400 cut if it meant not having to grade any essays.

So, I’ve turned in my cover letter, resume, and 3 letters of recomendation.  The position is posted until July 29th and interviews will take place about a week after that.  My hope is that they make a quick decision so that I can figure out my next steps.  If I get the position, it means I have to clean out my classroom.  10 years worth of materials and files and decorations.  Ugh.  But thankfully I have a huge basement to store everything in.

So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get it, but if I don’t, I will hold true to my belief that everything happens for a reason.

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july4thHappy 4th of July, everyone!

Usually I spend the 4th with friends and/or family at BBQs and beach parties.  There was the one year that Neece got married on the 4th of July, and I was in her bridal party.  There was another year that I went out on a first date with a guy I met online on the 4th.  And then there’s this year.

This year I am spending the 4th of July by myself.  And I don’t like it.

I don’t mean to sound full of self-pity at all.  My life is amazing and filled with wonderful people who show me how much I mean to them in thousands of ways throughout the year.  It just so happened that today all of those people have other plans. My parents are going wine tasting with friends so we’ve delayed our usual BBQ until tomorrow. LC is going to spend the day alone with her family.  Ish is off with her hubby for their annual 4th of July Reno trip.  Not sure what Neece is doing, but since it’s her anniversary, I’m sure it involves couple-time with her husband.  The rest of my friends all have boyfriends or husbands or families.

Spending the 4th of July alone really highlights for me that I am sick of being single.  If I were dating someone, he and I would be spending the 4th of July together, and no matter what we decided to do, even if it was just to stay home and watch movies, we’d be doing it together.

The question that’s come up a lot for me lately is how the heck am I going to meet someone?  I would never date another teacher at school because if things didn’t work out, it would be so awkward, plus can you imagine the field day the teenage girls would have with gossip like that?  I’ve tried the online dating website thing and never really met anyone worth knowing.  I’m fairly social, but it’s rare that anyone would come up to me in a bar or restaurant.  And I’m not really a member of any sort of social club or organization where I’d meet someone.  I guess my best bet is somehow being introduced to someone through a friend?

Yesterday I was thinking a lot about being 38.  About how it’s so close to 40, and am I really going to get married someday, or is that just a pipe dream?  Again, I’m not trying to sound down on myself or self-pitying, but it does weigh heavily on my mind sometimes.  Luckily, my family never puts any pressure on me to get married.  They know that I wish I were dating someone great.  They also know that I think my weight affects my ability to meet men.  Which I believe it does.  Whether or not it should, if I believe it does, than it must.  It’s like a self-fufilling prophecy of sorts.

I think I’ve come to the point in my life where I am really open to meeting a nice guy.  I’m not going to put a ton of effort into meeting someone, because they say that you find love when you’re least expecting it.   So, I’m saying I’m open to the possibility of meeting someone great.  I’m putting it out there in the universe.  And that’s all I’m going to do.

I’m going to keep living my life like I have been.  Enjoying time spent with friends and family.  Keeping active and losing weight.  Relishing who I am and what I’ve accomplished.  And if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.

And now I’m going for a walk to get outside of the house (and out of my own head) to enjoy the music on my iPod and the sights, sounds, and sun around my neighborhood.

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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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Today around 3:30pm, my maternal grandmother passed away.

I am sad, in a way, yes, but I am also relieved that she is free of the pain that she had been feeling.  My grandmother had been having heart problems (erratic heartbeat and other heart-related issues) for the last 10 years, and for the last 2 years, her quality of life was diminished.  She closed herself off from most of the people whom she loved, and led a life that was very lonely.

I know I should be sadder that my grandmother is gone, but I’m not.  It’s complicated.  My grandmother was a bitter woman who had a very difficult life, but who also had a very difficult time showing love to anyone.  She was abusive (both physically and verbally) to my mother, and for that, I had very little respect for her.  I love her out of a sense of duty, but I’m so conflicted.  In many ways, and for many reasons, her death is a blessing.

I can only recall my grandmother telling me she loved me one time, when I was going through one of the darkest periods of my life.  I know she loved me, and in many ways she favored me over my sister and her other grandchildren, but it was very difficult for her to tell anyone how she felt.

I can say that my grandmother was a physically beautiful woman who took time to make sure she always looked her best.  She worked for over 35 years at the cosmetics counters at The Emporium.  She loved using the products and made sure that we never bought “the drug store stuff.”  Grandma cared about her appearance, a trait that was passed down to my mom, and to me.  Some might call it vanity, but I like to think of it as taking care of ourselves.

My final memory of my grandmother is from this Sunday, Easter Sunday.  After having brunch with the family, my parents and I went to visit Grandma at the hospital.  I was shocked by her appearance – she was so thin, so frail, so weak.  She didn’t have her false teeth in, and she looked so ill.  But she was having a good day, and she continued to compliment us on  how we looked.  She told each of us that we looked so wonderful, and she even told my father that she loved the scent of his aftershave.  That memory of her complimenting us on our appearance is a happy one for me.

I am so thankful that I went to see Grandma on Sunday, and that she knew I was thinking about her.  I am glad she was able to recognize me and my parents, and that we were able to say goodbye to her.  The next day, Grandma had a stroke, and on Tuesday, she slipped into a coma.

I can’t imagine what my mom is going through right now.  Her entire life was spent seeking my grandmother’s love and approval, and she never really got it.  They went for huge periods of time not speaking, but in the end, they were able get past all of the hurt and bad feelings and say goodbye.  I am so grateful for that.

So, Grandma, where ever you are now, I hope that you are at peace in a way that you were never able to be in life.

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Is today really Monday?  Aren’t Mondays supposed to be yucky and awful and hard to deal with?

Today has been a fantastic day!  From the time I got up (early, before the alarm!) all the way until I got home, things have been going great.

Not only did I have time to sit down, read the newspaper, enjoy a cup of coffee and my breakfast at home, but I also got to work earlier than normal.  This is quite a feat for me, since I’m usually running to my classroom just in time to beat the 5 minute bell.  Unlike other jobs, teaching requires that I be there exactly at a certain time, with hardly any leeway.  It was so nice to be able to get to my room with plenty of time to prepare for the day ahead.  (Usually I make sure that I have everything ready, including writing the next day’s agenda on the board, just in case).

My classes went wonderfully, despite the fact that my honors students had a research paper due today.  Usually the days that papers are due are the ones that cause major stress for my type-A, overachieving students.  Today most of them were completely prepared and calm, which really helps set a nice tone for the day.  Plus, they’re really enjoying the new novel we just started, which is always nice.

Then, after lunch, I was surprised to discover that I got paid a day early!  Considering that I only get paid once a month, getting my check a whole day in advance was awesome.  I was able to come home after a few errands and pay all of my bills early.  It’s so nice to feel organized and ready for the month ahead.

I even had a bit extra this month, so I treated myself to some new makeup from Sephora.  Speaking of which, I’m not sure how you are, but I’m a really loyal to certain brands of makeup, and making a change is a really big deal for me.  For several years now, I’ve been using Bare Escentuals.  I like the lightness of the feel of the makeup on my face, but I am getting sick and tired of the mess it makes in my bathroom.  Seriously!  There has to be a better way to deal with the loose mineral makeup!!  The thing that fueled my wanting to switch is that last week, in a moment of rushing around the bathroom in the morning, I dropped the container with the foundation in it, and… SPLAT!  POOF!  Clouds of mineral makeup all over the bathroom floor, all over my shoes, all over everything!  UGH!  As if my mornings weren’t hectic enough already.  Couple that with the fact that I feel like the makeup looks a bit too “powdery” on my skin, and I made the decision that as soon as I got paid, I was making a change.

So what did I move to?  FMG raved about how much she loves Stila.  So I went to Sephora last week to check out their products and found some wonderful options for my skin.  Today I ordered:

  • Illuminating Powder Foundation I love that this powder is packed and not loose.  Plus, it really does give the lightness that I liked in the Bare Escentuals with none of the mess.  I also really like the brightness that it gives to my face.  They aren’t kidding about the illumination!  It also has an SPF of 12, which doesn’t hurt.  (Now before you jump all over me about how I need more than just a 12 SPF, I know I do.  My moisturizer has an SPF 25, plus my skin is olive and doesn’t burn easily, so I’m covered already.  This will just be a nice little added protection).
  • Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer I don’t usually use a tinted moisturizer, but I got this as a sample from Sephora a little while ago, and LOVED it.  It gives your skin a really beautiful, dewy glow, without a heavy feel.  It’s perfect for those weekend days when you aren’t going to be doing more than running errands or walking around the farmers’ market.  Since I’m taking this summer off, I figured this would be a nice item to add to my beauty bag.  It has an SPF of 15, which is a decent amount of coverage for my skin (see above).
  • Convertible Color I like the idea of a cream blush, because I think it gives a really lovely, light bit of color to your cheeks.  If done correctly, it can be so much more natural than powder.  I bought it in Peony, because in my “research” on youtube, I think it will be a great color for my skin tone.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about this product, so I’m really looking forward to trying it.

After my online shopping spree, I made a healthy, delicious dinner myself and ended the evening with a nice dose of one of my guilty pleasures, Gossip Girl

Today was simple, yet perfect.  Gotta loves days like that.

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