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Archive for the ‘surprises’ Category

Yesterday I had a fantastic Saturday:

  • Zumba in the morning
  • Headed to Los Gatos to pick up our latest wine club offering at Flemming Jenkins with Ish.  We stayed for a free tasting, just because.
  • Lunch at Willow Street Pizza to have their amazing summer salad special – skirt steak with peaches and goat cheese on mixed greens with a balsamic vinaigrette.  Yum!!!
  • A quick trip to Benefit to buy some new lipsticks.
  • A trip to Walmart to look for workout clothes – more about this on Bella on the Beach.

I was gone from 1:20pm to 6pm.  I was so tired when I got home, but as soon as I drove into the driveway, I noticed that my back door was open.  Not just unlocked, but OPEN!

At first I thought someone had broken in, so I quickly went through the duplex and saw that nothing was out of place.  (Well nothing that I hadn’t left out of place to begin with).

Which means that I left for hours without locking my door!!!  Stupid!!!!

I know exactly what happened, thinking back.  I was running late to meet Ish and I was trying to put the windguard up in the back of the convertible so that I could have the top down on the freeway without ruining my hair.  I couldn’t get the darn thing up (gotta read the manual) and I finally said, “F-it, I’m so late as it is, I need to go NOW.”  I remember putting the windguard in my little pantry area, and I thought I closed the door, but I definitely don’t remember locking the deadbolt.  One of the “tricks” with my back door is that it doesn’t close unless you really pull it.  I must’ve thought that I did, but I obviously didn’t.  When I looked at it, the bottom lock was “locked,” but that doesn’t really work unless the door is closed.

The thing is, I always lock my doors.  Always.  Always have.  Growing up, we lived in a really affluent area of the city with a very small crime rate, but we always locked the doors as soon as we came in the house.  Even in the middle of the day when we were all home.  I continue that habit at my own house, and always have.  Better safe than sorry.

Now what’s heart-warming about what happened yesterday is that even though my house was wide open and asking for someone to come in and steal the many valuable and expensive things I own, no one took a thing.  I live in a neighborhood that has a ton of foot traffic, much of it by homeless types who look like they’ve just gotten out of some sort of halfway house.  Some of them look crazy (literally), but they’re generally harmless.  Still, I make sure to keep things locked up, because you never know. It was such a relief to know that no one came in and took anything.  People respected the house.

I’ve always felt safe at home, and now I know that I truly am. That said, I still plan on locking the doors, just to be sure.

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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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41umN8uHLRL I just finished reading Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center.

I absolutely loved this book, and I have to admit, I was a bit surprised. I wasn’t sure how much I could relate to the story of a married woman with 3 kids. But the story of Lanie Coates is the story of any woman who has seen imperfection in her own life. And really, which of us hasn’t?

One of the things I loved about this novel, besides the brilliant writing and laugh-out-loud humor, was the use of art (photography and music) to demonstrate the creative outlet we all need. I also appreciated the fact that Lanie admits that having kids isn’t all about baking cupcakes and smiling faces. She shows the real side, the very difficult side, that you sometimes wish you could get away from.

One aspect of the novel that I could completely relate to was the idea of reinventing yourself. Lanie goes on a quest to get her pre-mother self back. She starts taking time for herself, even when there doesn’t seem to be even one minute. She starts going to the gym, she starts taking pictures, and she starts being a little bit selfish. And in the midst of doing it, she not only regains her “self,” but she also finds the new woman who she has now become.

One of the quotes I love from this book comes from the last page, but it doesn’t give anything about the novel away:

Beauty comes from variety, from specificity, from the fact that no person in the world looks exactly like anyone else.  Beauty comes from the tragedy that each person’s life is destined to be lost to time.  I believe women are too hard on themselves.  I believe that when you love someone, she becomes beautiful to you (Center 233).

This quote made me think about myself.  So often I focus on the things about myself that I want to improve – weight loss, how to deal with my crazy, curly hair, a new foundation or lipstick that will make me look beautiful – and I forget to focus on the things about myself that I love.  My personality, my humor, my intelligence, and my lust for life.  I am beautiful, and this quote reminded me to think about that a bit more often.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well written story but I feel like it should be mandatory reading for anyone who is a mother.

I look forward to reading Center’s other books, because she is an author with a gift for expressing the everyday in an extraordinary way.

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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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Tonight when I went to my parents’ house to pick up my photos from Italy to put in my new picture frames, I happened upon a box of my old high school photos.  I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this box, because I had no idea where it had gone.  I’ve moved a lot over the years, and I was afraid that I might have somehow gotten rid of my old high school yearbooks and photos.  Why I would throw away memories like that, I have no idea, but sometimes when I’m in the mood to purge “old stuff,” you never know what might get thrown out.  I’m the opposite of a pack rat.

I can’t wait to spend some time tomorrow going through all of these old photos.  So many memories!  This is just in time, too, because my 20th high school reunion is coming up this October, so I may even find some great pictures to share with my classmates.  How fun!

One thing I’m also looking forward to is seeing my thinner self.  Now, I have never in my life been thin, but in high school my heaviest weight was 176, which I thought was enormous at the time.  What I wouldn’t give to weigh 176 now!!  I think seeing myself at that weight will be good motivation, and who knows, I may even find a picture to hang up on the fridge!

The other fun thing about finding these photos is that lots of my old high school friends are now on Facebook, and I can’t wait to share these pictures with them there.  I’m sure there will be plenty of “blackmail” pictures to go around  – this was the 80’s after all.

Finding this box of high school memories is like opening a huge treasure trove.  I can’t wait to dig in and see what I uncover.

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2008 was quite a year, wasn’t it?  So many challenging things occurred around the world and here at home, but we made it through.  Some of us just barely, but we ARE here to live again another day.

Personally, 2008 was a pretty good year for me.

  • I started on a serious weight loss journey that involved trying the South Beach Diet, medically supervised fasting, Medifast, and finally Weight Watchers.  I lost a lot of weight, but more than that, I gained a whole new perspective about how I wanted to live my life.  I decided I wanted to live in a healthier, happier way.
  • I graduated with my Masters in Educational Leadership in May.
  • I bought a beach cruiser and rediscovered how much I love riding my bike.  It doesn’t really matter what the destination is; it just makes me feel happy to feel the rush of wind as I pedal as fast as I can, or slowly cruise by.  I love looking at life and the things around me at a bit of a slower pace than normal.  It’s like I’m taking time to breathe when I’m on my bike.
  • I went to CTLB’s wedding in Connecticut in August, and I was able to travel all over Massachusetts (Cape Cod, Boston, etc).  It was a trip I had been looking forward to for at least a year and half, and it was awesome.  I can’t wait to go back to  visit CTLB and her new hubby at their new place in Southie (South Boston).
  • I made sure that my life had more balance.  I left work at work, which was HUGE for me.  Never before in my life have I had the sense that work is just work (although I love it), but that there is so much more to life than your profession.  I am still working towards figuring out how to define myself past what I do, but I know that will come in time.
  • I started cooking for myself. All the time.  Delicious, healthy dinners.  And along the way, I discovered that I not only enjoy cooking, but that I’m really good at it.  I can’t wait to try out a bunch of new recipes (at least 1 a week) in 2009.  (I’ll be writing about those on Bella on the Beach, if you want to check them out).
  • I started reading again in earnest, once I no longer had grad school books to read.  I’ve borrowed a ton of books from the library since May, and truly, it has been one of my greatest pleasures.  I even started a book club with some friends, something I had always wanted to do.  I really like the discussions we’ve had about the book choices.  Plus, it’s a great excuse to get a wonderful group of ladies together for an afternoon.
  • I organized my life.  Top to bottom.  Floor to ceiling.  I feel in control, at ease, and happy.

Even with all of the positive things that happened to me in 2008, I am really looking forward to 2009 even more.  I have a terrific feeling about this upcoming year.  For myself personally, I think it’s going to be MY year, filled with many new triumphs and discoveries, capped off in October with my 20th high school reunion.  But thinking in a more global sense, 2009 means change.  Change in political leadership in our country, change in our perspective about how we should live our lives, and change in the way we deal with nations and people around the globe.

Tonight, New Year’s Eve, I am a bit sad that I don’t have that traditional “date,” but I know all good things will come in time.  HE is out there, I just have to wait and not settle for the Mr. Maybes of the world who might distract me from HIM.

As we welcome 2009 tomorrow, what is the thing you’re most looking forward to?

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Before I get into what happened last night, I should catch you up.  This post explains about my background with Mr. Could Be The One. This one explains how I became That Girl.  And finally, this one talks about how Mr. Could Be The One turned into Mr. Done.

(It should also be noted that after Mr. Done appeared and things were supposed to be over, I did see him a few times, but it never ended up being what I wanted.  Finally I found some self-respect and stopped responding to his texts and IMs.  I told him that until he wanted to talk about truly dating, I didn’t think that either of us could offer each other what the other person wanted).

It had been quite a few months since Mr. Done had texted me.  I’d started up my profile eHarmony, but that hadn’t really been panning out.  All of the men that they matched me with just didn’t spark my interest for various reasons.  I had recently met one guy, Mr. Sweet, who seemed to be really sweet, hence the name, but he has 3 kids (11, 6, and 4).  That’s a huge undertaking in and of itself, but especially for someone like me who has decided she doesn’t want to have children.  He and I had set up a date for today, just to meet and go to lunch, but I was hesitant, because I didn’t think we were in the same places in our lives.

And then Mr. Done texted me:

Mr. Done: “For the record…I’m looking for an ltr now.”

Bella: “Interesting.  What changed?”

Mr. Done: “I’ve grown up.”

Bella: “I’m so happy to hear it.  Good for you. :)”

Mr. Done: “You interested?”

Now, at this point, I stopped to ask myself if I was interested.  The weird thing was, I had just thought about Mr. Done earlier in the day.  I had tuned my radio to a station that plays all Christmas music this time of year, and Mr. Done was the first one who had introduced me to this station 2 years ago.  It made me think of him and all of the fun we had together when we first went out.

Bella: “Of course.  If you really mean it.”

Mr. Done: “I do.”

Bella: “I think about how wonderful you were when we were dating.  How you surprised me with the Stanford theatre.

{On one date right before Christmas, Mr. Done told me he had a surprise for me.  He took me to Palo Alto but wouldn’t say what we were going to do.  We started walking in the downtown area, and stopped at the Stanford Theatre.  They were playing Miracle on 34th Street, which I had never seen.  The theatre was decorated for Christmas, and it was a really romantic night.}

Bella: “I really miss the way you made me feel. So special.”

Mr. Done: “Can I call you sometime?”

Bella: “Yes.”

Even as I type that text exchange, I get butterflies because Mr. Done and I have had so much chemistry.  At the same time, I also worry that I may come off as too into him, even after he broke my heart.  But as this was occurring last night, I kept thinking about how much I enjoyed my time with Mr. Done, and knew that it felt right to give him another chance.

Of course I called BFF to ask her opinion, because she remembers just how broken-hearted and depressed I was when I Mr. Done broke up with me.  She said that she might not be the best person to ask, because she’s the Queen of 2nd (or 10th) Chances. I didn’t really need her advice, per se, but I wanted to discuss my thought process with her.  I guess I needed her to tell me that I was making the right decision.

In my heart I knew that Mr. Done and I weren’t truly finished.  Yes, he’d hurt me when he broke up with me.  Yes, he had called me again and again looking for something more casual than what I wanted.  But I could tell that there was something different about him this time.  He reminded me of the person I had first met and fell for with when we were dating.  I hadn’t gone out on a serious date since I’d gone out with him. And I know I’m ready to try it again, with my eyes wide open this time.

So when Mr. Done called last night, I was ready.  He made a bit of small talk, charmed me a bit, and then asked me if I’d like to go out sometime.  I told him I would.  So we made a date for next Saturday.  But in the back of my mind, I had so many questions that I wanted to ask him NOW.  As we kept talking, he asked me what I had going on for the evening.  I said I was just going to stay home and watch t.v. or read.  He said he’d planned the same thing.  And then I boldly suggested that we hang out.  He said he’d love to, and asked if I’d feel more comfortable coming to his house or having him come to mine.  I told him I’d rather go to his house, so I jumped in the shower, figured out the perfect “just hanging out” outfit, put on some makeup, and headed over to his place.

When he opened the door, I noticed that he looked much the same as the last time I’d seen him.  He gave me a huge hug, told me I smelled great and looked so pretty, and asked me to make myself comfortable.  We had a glass of wine and snuggled on the couch to watch a movie.  The movie, Untraceable, was not great, or even good, but just being able to cuddle and hold hands with him on the couch was so nice. It really wasn’t about the movie at all, but I think you already figured that out, right?

The movie ended around 1am, and then we spent some time talking and enjoying each other’s company.  We talked a bit about why things ended, and I asked him if I had pushed him too far or asked too much of him when we were dating.  And then he said something that really made me feel wonderful: “Bella, it was never about your personality.  I love your personality, even though you are intense at times.  You might be too much for some people – too strong, and a bit intimidating – but I love that about you.  I can handle you.  You’re not intimidating to me at all. And I like the way we interact with each other.”  My heart melted.  Because he is so right.  Often, my personality is too domineering for people, men and women alike, but especially guys I’m dating.  I’m bold and blunt, and people don’t always know how to take me.  But Mr. Done always knew how to deal with me.  He stood up to me, and wasn’t overpowered by me.  He has enough of a personality and a bit of “smart ass” in him that he and I just “work.”

We spent a few more hours talking and at that point it was past 3am and he said, “why don’t you just sleep over? No expectations, no hidden agendas.  I just don’t think you should drive home this late when you’re tired.”  So, I did.  And it felt great.  It was nice to cuddle with someone without any expectations or things moving too far too fast.

I left this morning around 7am because I had a date with Mr. Sweet from eHarmony.  As I drove home, I realized that I didn’t want to go on the date with Mr. Sweet.  And not because of Mr. Done, or at least, not entirely.  Sure, when I compare the two, Mr. Done has more going for him than Mr. Sweet, because of our lifestyles.  I have a history with Mr. Done that Mr. Sweet can’t compete with.  Which may not be fair, but it’s how I feel.  I wasn’t too enthused about Mr. Sweet even before Mr. Done contacted me.  His having 3 kids is a lot for me, as I’ve already mentioned.  I started thinking that it was unfair to him to meet up with him, have him pay for lunch, etc., knowing that I wasn’t interested in pursuing anything long term with him.  So I texted him and told him that I didn’t think it was going to work out and that I didn’t want to meet up.  He asked if it was something he had said, and I told him that it wasn’t him at all, that someone from my past had contacted me, and I was interested in pursuing that, and plus I didn’t want to waste his time.  In true, sweet fashion, he said he understood, and wished me the best of luck.  He truly is Mr. Sweet.

So, at this point, I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Done will now be referred to as Mr. Maybe.  Not that I’m thinking that far ahead.  Or at least, I’m trying not to.  This time, I’m just going to go with the flow and let things happen as they’re meant to.

Either way, it should be fun.

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