Friday, December 27, 2013

I Am Alive

Although this blog may show no signs of life, I assure you I am alive. And relatively well.

Sometimes I can't get out of my own way, sometimes I can't sit down long enough to write, sometimes I can't stay awake long enough to write when I finally sit down, sometimes I post on Facebook when I should be posting here. I do plan to write again, and to do so regularly, more than "my week in a word" posts, which I can't even manage lately. I know I'll get there. I'll start working through my list of post topics.

While I struggle out of this lazy, distracted, tired state I thought I would say hello. I hope that you are enjoying a happy holiday season. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Home Bound and Happy

Wow. October and November flew by without a chance to hunker down and nest. (You know how I love my fuzzy slippers and Sunday soup!) Every weekend for the last seven I've had an event or been away for a day or a whole weekend (or out buying a car!). Don't get me wrong; I am not complaining. It has been fun. Adventurous even. (I went glamping!) Just busy.

The benefits of being busy, aside from trying new things and being in good company, include preventing me from dwelling all weekend on how awful things are at work. The downside is that I haven't really had a chance to do projects and spend a Sunday cooking, getting ready for the week. I know, there are worse things. Anyway.
Finally, after a busy work week (including a dinner out with friends one night, my niece's concert with my parents another), this weekend--perfectly timed before the Thanksgiving holiday--I had nowhere to be. 

I thought I might hibernate for both days, but I didn't. I spent the afternoon out shopping (and returning) yesterday (my winter wardrobe is all set now), but today have been content to be at home, with the wind howling outside. I tackled some chores, broke down some boxes (have I mentioned I have been doing some on-line shopping?), talked to Jill around noon, got around to making and eating breakfast around two, and started chopping onions at three for French onion soup that was ready at seven.

See? I'm not really high maintenance at all.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Week in a Word: Predictable

I know now that it is typical for me to fantasize about taking a mental health day without following through (because calling in is harder than showing up), so that on Friday I'll be exhausted but proud. (I agree, there is something wrong about both fantasizing a sick day AND deciding it's easier not to take one. Every week.)

In the middle of it I'll go out to eat one night, do a little retail therapy (probably the same night I go out for dinner) (and probably with Amy), visit with my parents another night, have a (little) burst of energy to work on house projects another night, and go to bed ridiculously early yet another without feeling refreshed in the morning. 

And at the end of it, before I've fully recovered from the previous week, I will gear up to do it all over again the next. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

[Heart] Note to... Bluetooth in My Car

I love a lot, make that everything, about my new car. The shiny, dent-free, scratch-free newness makes me smile. As does the new car smell. And the way it drives. I have experienced before that kind of newness and the happiness that comes from it exactly twice in my adult life, but this time on a scale of one to ten my happiness is an eleven (a la Spinal Tap). One better.

Because my phone talks to my car.

I know, right?

Every song I have downloaded from iTunes I can play in my car. My contact list is available to me on a touch screen. My phone rings through my car speakers. No more fishing through my purse to find my phone. No more second guessing if I forgot my phone once I belt in and start the engine. I turn on my car and it tells me if it's there: Bluetooth Connected. All those moments of digging around my purse I won't get back, but I am happy never to have to waste another moment like that again.

Driving is a joy again. Singing along to my favorite 123 songs in random order this past week has been delightful.

Bluetooth, I love you.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Week in a Word: Victorious!

Made it through first quarter grades with a new grade book program (that I (we) didn't get training on) and a formal observation (which I haven't had in years)...and just bought a new car, all by myself! (That can be a post on its own.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Photo Journal: Peaceful Place

I am not ready for winter. At all. But I saw this the other day on Facebook, posted by Boston, Massachusetts (which means I do not claim this beautiful photo is my own) and I absolutely love it. It is so beautiful and peaceful to me...

And after a day like the one I had today, after most days this year, I wish so much to feel this in my heart

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Email Madness

Used to be I could find five or ten minutes at the end of study hall or something that barely resembles lunch break to go through my email--quickly deleting those I had no interest in based on the address and/or subject line, leaving in my inbox those I should check out when I had more time. The occasional really good coupon made it worth the minimal effort. These days? Not so much.

Lately I don't get a single minute (never mind 5 or 10!) to scan my inbox during the day. Even if I did, it would not be enough time to go through the umpteen emails I get these days.

Case in point? I promised Amy today that I would catch up on her blog. (She and her husband won a Whole Foods recipe contest!) When I opened my iPad tonight, I had notification of 50 new emails since this morning when I last checked during morning coffee. Yes, 50.

That's it, I thought. I'm done with newsletters I never read and discount offers I don't take advantage of.

I proceeded then to spend AN HOUR OF MY LIFE THAT I WILL NEVER GET BACK unsubscribing from lists, some of which I never signed up for. God forbid unsubscribing be easy. Nooooooo. Some emails I had to download more of to find the prompt. Others provided links to unsubscribe that were easy to find, but when I clicked "unsubscribe" sent me out to their websites to rethink my request or tell them why I wanted off their list.

Then I spent FIFTEEN MINUTES deleting more emails that told me I have "successfully unsubscribed."

Meanwhile, I still haven't caught up on Amy's blog! Or finished a post I started writing last week.

My point exactly.


PS Since posting I have caught up on A Couple in the Kitchen, and found out they won a photo contest, too.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cheaters: A Sign of Our Times

I'm not talking here about students who think it's okay to copy their friends' homework ("it's only homework") and think I don't see their cell phones coming out of their pockets and onto their laps during quizzes and tests--although those are also both signs of the times, particularly the latter. Nor am I talking about people being unfaithful in their marriages. Or diets. I'm talking about reading glasses.

At my 30th high school reunion recently, the only difference from the 20th reunion really was all the cheaters in the room. (Here, more than one definition of cheater may apply. I'll never know.) Everyone looked the same to me as they did at the 20th reunion, but I saw more reading glasses coming out of suit pockets, worn on heads, and sitting at the ends of noses than I did ten years ago, before we turned forty.

One by one, everyone in my life over forty has started to wear cheaters. When I'm among people I don't know, it has become the way I spot forty-somethings: husbands and wives sharing cheaters at dinner to make their menu choices. I spy someone over 40!  Especially amusing to me is the dance of denial (vanity?) when I see someone try to read the menu sans glasses, only to give in and ask to borrow someone's cheaters when they discover his or her arms are not long enough to see where the appetizers end and the entrees start.

Finally, a safe topic related to aging--other than maybe blood pressure and cholesterol meds--that is okay to discuss among acquaintances. All that other stuff that's going on? Yeah, better left for conversations with close friends and family.

Or a semi-anonymous blog.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Week in a Word: Erratic

After a weekend of fun, family wedding celebrations, I began my week tired. But I was happy. And hopeful. I giggled and smiled a lot.

By midweek I was distracted from giddy hopefulness by stress...And I began to feel doubtful. Skepticism set in as fatigue returned.

This afternoon I felt disappointed and a hint of embarrassed.

Tonight I am simply sad and discouraged.

I know, I'll bounce back. But tonight I'm not in the mood to try.

Monday, September 30, 2013

As*holes Among Us

Mondays are always difficult, in part because Sunday nights I have trouble sleeping, but today was especially stressful. I won't be in on Friday because I'm taking a personal day--the one personal day I get all year--for a family wedding and I'm already worried about my lesson plans. I'm certainly looking forward to the wedding. The lesson plans? Not so much. It is definitely easier to be in school than to stay home.

Anyway, I felt super stressed today. And I didn't bring lunch (my own fault) (wouldn't have had time to eat it if I did), so I decided to go out after school. Since I can finally travel north to Springfield now that the Big E is over, I decided to go to one of my favorite places (that shall remain nameless but is near the Basketball Hall of Fame and is one of 10 in a greater Hartford restaurant group).

My choice of bar stool was somewhat limited since I arrived at the tail end of extended business lunches, but I was okay with my seat. I eat out often, and often alone, so I feel practiced at the art of small talk--when required.

My goal was chicken Milanese with arugula salad after a lemon drop martini; it was not to talk to the three businessmen to my right. But when they asked the bartender what she was shaking for me, and she said, "lemon drop," I decided to add "or 'Monday Medicine' as I prefer to call it"--both to break the ice and let them know I could hear their conversation. "Hahaha," they chuckled. Mission accomplished,

My late lunch/early dinner proceeded without out incident.

For a little while.

Then the bartender decanted their second bottle of wine.

(Read: then the douche bags ordered another fancy bottle.)

So while I enjoyed my meal and a glass of wine, I got to hear stories that included words and phrases like "dirty hippies," and "she was hot, but her sisters are like double wides." And, "oh yeah, my cousin would call me to take her fat friends to the prom."

Yeah. From the "dirty hippies" judging man who was wearing a version of a (more) salt (than) pepper, crispy, gelled mullet that he apparently thought compensated for the receding Widow's peak.

They finished their second decanted bottle and asked the bartender for advice on how to proceed. More wine, they wondered? Or eXpresso martinis? She steered them toward another bottle of wine, which steered me against ordering another glass.

As I finished my wine and took care of my tab, I vented my disgust via text messages, instead of saying this before I left.

Clearly cuff links don't confer class. And if you were half as worldly as you think you act, you'd know that it's eSpresso, not eXpresso....Dirty hippies? really?! Hmmmm...jealous you didn't have the balls to resist "the man" in your simple, bourgeois lives and gave it all up for those cuff links? And those poor fat girls you had to suffer through dates with? I sure hope they have voodoo dolls and pluck the rest of your ridiculous mullet hair by hair, and that they time it perfectly so that the last one goes the same day I hope your tiny little dicks fall off.

Cheers. Have a good night.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Week in a Word: Overwhelming

Unfortunately, overwhelmed is the new normal these days, so I have to get used to it.

Thank goodness for weekends.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Weeks in a Word: Preoccupied

I don't want to be one of those bloggers who makes more excuses about not writing than actually writing, but I feel I can't ignore the fact that I haven't written a single word or uploaded a photo in two weeks. I have been busy back at school, and therefore also tired, while trying also to do some fun things when I can, but I need to make a better effort to get to the page. I need to tell you about some things while they are fresh on my mind--while I'm still enchanted, or annoyed, or amused, or horrified. And I need to feel okay about reminiscing here as well--because looking back can bring back some of those same feelings.

And every once in a while, when I need to reboot, I need to feel okay about that, too.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

My Week in a Word: Painful

It hurts to be back at school. Physically. So, literally, I suppose. Only I hate to use that word since I hear it misused so often. Most people I speak with can't tell a story without using it. For example, said type person (most all Americans these days) would have said "there are literally people who can't tell a story..." But I digress.

I am reminded daily when I write on my white board that my rotator cuff issues are not completely resolved, although I am much better than I was about a month or so ago. I would I am say 85% improved. I don't want to cry in the morning when I reach back to hook my bra, but I do wince a little when I fill my coffee maker with water. And when I write on the white board at school. But even then the pain is dwarfed by the bursitis in my hip.

By end of the day I would rather have another embarrassing first period sweating episode (akin to a hot flash but brought on by the stifling humidity in the building), during which I always feel like an SNL parody of myself, than hobble in hip pain. Probably the worst moment of my day is when I get to go home, and the lateral movement of my right leg required to get in the car begins an excruciating ride home to where I can rest.

But it's the weekend now. A well-deserved weekend. No sweating, wincing or hobbling allowed.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Catching Up, Moving Forward

I have been remiss. I didn't report last weekend that my week (in a word) was jarring. Getting back to school after summer vacation is always a rude awakening. This year it was particularly shocking. I hadn't been home from the west coast for a week before reality closed in around me and my alarm clock and coffee timer were back on. Really early.

But I'm over it. No more whining. After all, this is my life. It is what I do. I teach. And, as much as I struggle with saying this because it seems to fill all the spaces even when I'd rather it not: I am a teacher. So for the seventeenth time around I will attempt to give this school year and my students my best. I will give it my best, but I hesitate to say I will give it my all--because I need for it not to leave me empty.

I want to be a good teacher; really, I do. But I want also to be a good friend, and daughter, and sister, and aunt. And this year I want also to be someone's sweetheart again. And I want to be a writer. I want to be more adventurous. Creative. Spontaneous. Available. Grounded. Healthy. Happy.

May as well start by being ambitious.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Road Trip

On my recent trip out west, I got to spend time with my friend Jill, whom I have known since I was 12. It has been quite a journey for us, beginning that day we met in the park, doing something no 12 year olds should ever do. Even in the seventies. We have been through middle school, high school, college, our twenties, our thirties (probably the bumpiest of decades), and now we are in our--dare I say it aloud-- late forties.

On this latest leg of our journey we found ourselves on a short road trip from San Diego to meet my cousins in Laguna Beach. Just after we pulled away from the gas station, when Jill immediately had to crank the air conditioner because I had been sitting there sweating--despite open windows, no humidity, and a nice breeze--she suggested we come up with a list of things you'll never hear a menopausal woman say.

Ten minutes later, we had most of our list. We tweaked, reworded, and had only a couple more to come up with. I finished the list just yesterday, and consulted with Jill to make sure she would stand by the list before I hit publish. And so here it is, the list.

10 Things You'll Never Hear a Menopausal Woman Say

1. It's cold in here.
2. My hair is so thick, silky and smooth.
3. This is my natural color
4. Wow, that was a good night's sleep; I didn't wake up once. Not even to pee.
5. I haven't cried in months!
6. I'm late for my period--do you think I could be pregnant?
7. I don't understand the point of pantyliners.
8. As much as I eat, I just can't seem to gain any weight!
9. I'm so sad to see my period go.
10. I'm going to miss having cramps.

One thing you will hear me say, often and sincerely, is that I am incredibly blessed to have friends--Jill and others, some nowhere near menopause-- with whom to share this long, drawn out, incredibly inconvenient and sometimes embarrassing end of fertility that is menopause.

My Week in a Word: Anticlimactic

I am not referring to the beginning of the week that was the end of my west coast vacation. I'm talking about coming home to spend the last week of my summer vacation in light of the time I had spent away.

I had an excellent summer vacation--one of the best in recent memory. In addition to my trip west to Seattle, Portland and San Diego to visit with Tamara, Jill, and my cousins Lisa and Joanne, I got away to Newport for few days and to the Cape for a weekend (and reconnected with an old friend there who was nice enough to have me at her house), and Lindsay got married. My family celebrated happy occasions this summer. Only happy occasions.

So when I say my week was anticlimactic, it is because my summer was simply fantastic.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Week in a Word: Therapeutic

Despite the most excruciating pain I have never experienced In my back, leg and hip after last Friday's airport debacle, I am on an amazing vacation. Spending time with old friends--talking, laughing, eating, drinking, shopping, laughing some more--far away from home, in beautiful west coast destinations has been everything I needed it to be.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hot Mess Redefined

I like vacations to be low-stress, especially when I fly. Not all of that is under my control, of course, but I do what I can. I'd rather a long layover than a short one, and I typically don't travel at crazy times. After the Cankle Incident a few years ago, I have sworn off red-eyes from California. Generally, afternoon air travel suits me well. Happy hour in the sky.

It leaves me to wonder, then, what the heck I was thinking back in the spring when I booked a 6:05 am flight out of Bradley International. Another lapse of reason came just yesterday morning, when I allowed myself only an hour at the airport. I never do that. Apparently my inner teacher child was rebelling against the alarm clock and waking in the dead of night, as I do so much of the school year.

So imagine my panic when I got to the airport and saw a line of 40 people waiting for the sky cap.

Then imagine the anxiety escalating as I waited, and waited, in thick August humidity, only to see the skycap tag my luggage "late" when it was finally my turn and tell me I needed to take my suitcase in myself to TSA carousel 2 so it could get on the plane with me. Grrr. At least he refused my tip.

I did as told, then waited in another long line to get through security, all the while taking deep, calming breaths, saying little prayers for the safe arrival of my bag and me in Seattle.

Finally, just after I gathered my things from the X-ray conveyor and put my sandals back on, I heard this: "Southwest Airlines paging passenger K to gate 4. Passenger Joanne K to gate 4 for final boarding."

Holy $&@?!$&*#%¥€!!!

Did I mention that while waiting in that first line I started a doozy of a hot flash?

So there I was, in my well-chosen outfit (comfy, not too casual--you never know who you might meet), a heavy weekender bag on my good shoulder, carrying my purse with the arm of my bad shoulder, sciatica in my right leg (yeah, that's the latest) running as fast as I could while the adrenaline exacerbated my hot flash.

Hot Mess much?

Make that a Hot Flying Mess.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Week in a Word: Productive!

I had my teeth cleaned, my sister (the one who cleans my teeth) helped me clean my car (like REALLY clean my car-- post to follow), I had my first physical therapy session for my shoulder, I started a calligraphy project, I finished reading a book and started another one, I cooked dinner in three nights, I caught up on my tan...

And had my first mini-anxiety attack that weeks like this are numbered.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Crazy Catless Lady

Summer gives me extra time to think, which for me--frankly--can be dangerous. At minimum it is unnecessary. I think enough already. At family get-togethers I think, thank god I don't have to put kids through college. Immediately after I think, but who is going to take care of me when I'm old? Driving down the road, a ballad makes me wonder if I should try on line dating again. Then I remember you can't feel chemistry through a computer, so I laugh and sing along.

And on it goes. Opposite thoughts--positive, negative; hopeful, resigned; serious, lighthearted. Gemini twins battling in my head.

My truths are equally polar.

I still wish to find someone with whom I can spend the rest of my life. Statistically, he will probably come to me divorced and with children. I am both prepared for and okay with that. I have my own history as well: a break-up after seven years that felt part amicable divorce, part mourning. No alimony or custody agreements, but a broken heart nonetheless. I will share with The (Next) One stories of love and learning and loss, and we will grow old together.

But then, as I sit by the pool for the fourth hour, knowing there is a pile of laundry in my bedroom that needs washing and a pile of magazines on the floor by my coffee table that I will continue to walk around for a few more days before I recycle them, I wonder if I am too set in my ways. Can I relinquish my remote every night? I was okay to hand it over on weekends, but every night? Could I give up Chris Matthews? Will I have to start cooking all the time, rather than only when I'm feeling inspired? Will I have to stop using the chair in my bedroom as a closet? What if he wants pets? Oh, dear. I wear way too much black to ever have pets. And I hate vacuuming, Will I end up the crazy cat lady--sans the cats?

Okay, that's enough. Time to swim. And read. And get out of my own head.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Week in a Word: Relaxing

I have been overheating--part heat, part hormones--a lot this summer. And head sweat is hard to hide. (So much for the professional blow out I had done for Lindsay's wedding. I should have known better.) But finally, this past week, while on vacation in Newport, a day passed that I didn't sweat. It was remarkable. It was a cool, cloudy day, but when I told my sister Liz about it, I couldn't help give credit to how absolutely relaxed I was feeling.

Newport has that effect on me.

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Week in a Word: Hot

And lazy.

We are in the middle of a wicked heat wave here in Connecticut. It's uncomfortably hot and humid. When I'm at the pool I'm in the pool. Sitting in my chair comes with the risk of spontaneously combusting, so I avoid it. When I'm not in the pool, I'm hiding in the air conditioning, but not motivated to do anything productive in the comfort of cool air. Hence the expression about lazy days of summer, right? In fact, wasn't there a song to that effect?

Anyway, one day soon I'm hoping to write a real post or two (I have a dozen topics in the hopper), or to sit down for a length of time to work on something substantial-- but for now I am content to spend my energy keeping cool.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Week in a Word: Busy

The week started with my father's 77th birthday, and ended with a weekend on the Cape. (Fun!) In between there were house projects and cleaning and shopping, and wishing for better weather.

I'm still wishing for better weather as I start this new week. More so, I am looking forward to Lindsay and Bobby's wedding on Saturday.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Week in a Word: Summer!

Summer starts for some on Memorial Day, June 21 for others. For those who still weren't in the spirit of Summer time, I hope the 4th of July did the trick.

Hope you had a happy 4th, and that you enjoy the rest of summer!

Photo credit to my niece Meredith. Taken at Old Lyme Shores.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Week in a Word: Delighful


But I'm on vacation, so no big deal.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Few Days Later: The Five Stages of Vacation

Day 6 of vacation and I'm finally relaxed. I think. Seems like a luxury to have the time to settle in and learn again the art of relaxation, right? To the non-teacher, yes. To my teacher friends, no. Necessary. Sad but true.

I spent most of the first day feeling relief--and a little anger. "Yay, it's over!," could quickly morph into "glad I don't have to go to that f**king place for a while. It almost killed me!" Of course it didn't really, but it did crush my soul a little. Text messaging with friends on Day 1 wherein we reveled in the absolutely absurd ways we could now waste time kept the anger from working its way in from the edges. I am grateful for that.

Day 2 was better. It wasn't a dream, a too-hot-for-school day; I really was on vacation. And I didn't want to be angry anymore. So when I needed to come in from the sun (having overdosed on sun and fresh air on Day 1), I started making lists: things I need to get done this summer/this week/today, things I'd like to do, things I'd love to do. As I made the lists--some mental, some in my iPad-- that day, and the next, and the next, I was mindful not to put too much pressure on myself. It is vacation after all.

And so it went for the next couple of days, as I moved from anger and relief to possibilities and hope. (And understanding that staying drunk for the duration is probably not in anyone's best interest... I didn't say never! Just not the whole time.) Anyway. Finally, I think I've moved on to relaxed. Truly relaxed.

My accomplishments today? I remembered again to wear Chapstick with SPF and I finished reading a book I started 6 months ago. Tonight I'm off to a painting class with some friends who know the stages of vacation as well.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm there.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another Note to My Silly (Stupid?) Self



The pear martinis tasted like spa water. After two of them--despite the half eggplant caprese sandwich you ate-- you thought it was a good idea to shop for eyeglasses on Newbury Street? Haven't you ever trimmed your bangs after a couple glasses of wine? Yeah, you have. You even blogged about it. Ass.

As soon as that handsome, oh-so-hip and equally gay young man started calling you Miss Joanne while pulling frames off the shelves and trying them on you, looking at you as a photog might look at a fashion model, you should have known to leave.

At the least, you should have asked "how much" before handing him your progressive bifocal prescription and credit card. Because asking him to drop the ten dollar shipping charge after he shared the total is not a great victory.

So, Miss Joanne, you better hope they look as fabulous on you as your fabulous optician, the intoxication of being in Boston on a beautiful sunny June day, and the pear martinis led you to believe.

My view of the Back Bay and the Charles from my room

Monday, June 10, 2013

Spiritual S.O.S.

I need some help living in the moment. Living in the moment for me, right now, means acknowledging that I am tired and I ache from head to toe. Sleep is no longer restorative. Sleeping in on weekends helps--only until Monday comes. Living in the moment means being hot and cranky and stressed out. And miserable. In a bad mood.

It is difficult to feel blessed and all that happy spiritual stuff--which I really do believe in--when I'm a hot mess with frizzy hair and stiff joints, who can't speak a sentence without at least one expletive. All I want is for this school year to end so I can get back to a better me.

My pool opened a few weeks ago but I haven't been there yet. I'd rather hide in the air conditioning than be around other people's ill-behaved children. I have higher expectations for my pool this year. I am waiting to take my first dip when no one is around, to let the water wash away all that was wrong with my school year. To refresh me.

I want to feel better. Happier. Healthier. Freer. More creative. I want to spend every day living in and enjoying the moment, not looking forward to the time when I can again.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Week in a Word: Cra-cra

For those of you without a teenage niece, that means crazy.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Week in a Word: Birthday

This year my birthday fell on Tuesday, but I celebrated with my family on Memorial Day as I often do, as I was a Memorial Day baby. Forty-something years ago my Dad took my sisters to the Memorial Day Parade, while my aunt Irene took my mother to the hospital to have me. I was induced. (And I may still be a little scarred by the parade story.)

I celebrated Tuesday with Amy, Wednesday with Erika, Thursday by myself. And again yesterday by myself. I think I'm set now. And ever so grateful.

Even though my father was nowhere near the hospital when I was born. Ha! (I really am over it.)

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Week in a Word: Humid.

Sticky, humid, gross.

Better days ahead.

Monday, May 20, 2013

[Heart] Note to...Torrone

One of many reasons I love the North End of Boston

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My Week in a Word: Phew!

My big event is over. I was stressed until the last minute, more out of habit than anything, and now it is done.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

(Not So) Random Gratitude

A nice afternoon and Mother's Day dinner with my parents... lilacs and lily of the valley, open windows and fuzzy socks because my flowers need the fresh air as much as I do...

I wish every Sunday night felt like this.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Week in a Word: Blurry

I have gotten to that time of year when the end is in sight. You choose the countdown: 3 more paychecks, 5 more Mondays, 27 more school days; they all work for me. We're almost done. (Did I hear an Amen?) It would be nice to coast to the end, but that is not how it works.

Teaching becomes more challenging when the weather is nice, the prom takes priority, and my seniors have made their college decisions and their parents have made their tuition deposits. (Exactly.) End-of-the-year tasks (and random directives) pop up every day and I have extracurricular adviser responsibilities that culminate next week.

Of course I'm not just a teacher either. I'm an aunt and daughter and sister and cousin, and this is the time of year for showers and communions and parties of the outdoor variety.

Busy is good, but this week was a blur.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Back to Boston

I went to Boston recently, for the first time since the marathon.

For the first time since the bombing.

I did things I typically do on a visit to the Back Bay--including shopping and dining on both Newbury and Boylston Streets. Only this time I stopped to visit the makeshift memorial in Copley Square. Instead of simply enjoying the reflection of the church in the John Hancock Building and admiring the beautiful tulips, I also noticed the media trucks, and walked over to the hats and sneakers and t-shirts and candles and notes. When I had lunch at Atlantic Fish, this time I was aware that I was right next door to one of the bomb sites, and able to see the small memorial right in front of the Forum, which remains closed. I looked for the surveillance cameras on Lord and Taylor. I saw police presence in places I used not to see police—including right in front of the restaurant. I saw people approach the officers for information about the bombing, and I saw the officers oblige them with details, pointing to the specific locations.

And when I went back to my hotel that was the place all the media gathered and where press conferences were held, I thought to myself that Boston has a new draw. People will come now not just because Boston is a great city, but because it is where the bombings happened. It will attract tourists who want to see the memorial and know exactly the places where people were killed and injured. They will satisfy their curiosities and pay their respects, as I did, and they will experience that Boston remains a great city.

To some of us, the best.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Week in a Word: Sunny

The weather was perfect this week, as close as it gets to being like San Diego in these parts. Being in a good mood was easy.

More sunshine and happiness in the forecast.

I love May.

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Week in a Word: Enjoyable

I was busy this week--both at school (a given) and after school (not so much--on purpose). I had shower gifts to buy, old friends to reconnect with, other friends to catch up with, a new restaurant to try, more news and politics to alternately avoid and devour, and sunny and warm weather to enjoy after a winter-like start to the week...

Late afternoon sun was perhaps the most delicious ingredient in this simple, midweek, impromptu, al fresco dinner at a local favorite place.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Week in a Word: Intense

When I look back on this week, I will remember the events, and I will remember how and what I felt as I watched them unfold on television. From shock and horror and worry to relief and profound sadness, to anxiety and relief again, followed by jubilation and gratitude and intense pride, this was an intensely emotional week.

And now I am happy it is over.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Just for Fun

Last weekend, I received a text from a friend that said "enjoy your nine days off!" Okay, I thought, that's one way to look at. I was more inclined to see it as five days off because weekends don't really count, and was also on the verge of a little pity party because I wasn't going away, but I was willing to change my mindset. After K's unwitting pep talk I decided to embrace the Nine Day Philosophy. I could get a lot done; I could feel good about my vacation. I opened my iPad notes and started a list: Nine Days, Nine Projects.

The next day I decided to finish writing that list (one day had passed; I hadn't even finished writing the project list), but realized I needed to write another list as well: Nine Days, Nine Fun Things To Do. It was my vacation after all.

Needless to say, this week hasn't been a whole lot of fun. My project list is untouched (yes, it's Thursday), and although I have done some fun things--lunch with Amy, an afternoon with Lindsay, a mani-pedi this morning--it hasn't been a fun week for me.

I have been shocked, and worried, relieved and grief stricken. I have been sad and I have been preoccupied. Incredulous. Heartbroken. Distracted.

Earlier this afternoon, while I watched more news and enjoyed some Chinese takeout--a plate on my lap, a pile of unread magazines and books at my side, and my newly painted feet on the coffee table in front of me--I decided it was time to scrap my project list. Delete. There will be rainy days and weekends ahead. For the next few days, these last three days of my vacation, I am going to focus on trying to have a little more fun.

Despite my sadness.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

[Heart] Note... to Boston

Today we are all heartbroken. As Americans our hearts are heavy for those who were injured and for the families of those injured and killed at the Boston Marathon. Those of us who love Boston grieve for the city too, no matter how or when we came to know her.

I met her in 1983. I must admit I am one of those former college  students whose mailing address actually read "Boston,"--not Waltham or Chestnut Hill--and who secretly scoffs when those in the latter groups claim to have gone to college with those of us in the former group. We make the distinction between Boston and the Boston area or greater Boston because we didn't need to take the T to get there; we stepped outside our dorms and were there. We not only could see the Pru from campus, but could make out every letter on that iconic building. The CITGO sign actually led us home.

I am also an adult who makes the distinction between going to college in Boston and living there as a grown-up, working person. I know the difference because I did both. First I was a student at Simmons College, who could hear Red Sox games from outside my window on Brookline Avenue. I became a Bostonian when I filed taxes and voted there. I got on the green line every day and changed to the red line and got off in Fields Corner, where most college students fear to tread. I struggled to pay rent even though the pho I ate regularly from the Vietnamese restaurant across the street from the clinic in Dorchester cost next to nothing.

I spent a lot of free time--I had no exams to study for or lab reports to write anymore, after all-- walking around, finding ethnic restaurants, lingering over bowls of au lait with a good book at my favorite book store cafes. When I really lived there I discovered things I hadn't, I couldn't as a student.

Recently I had lunch with an old high school friend, Allison, who has made Boston her home since graduating from college. Not Malden or Waltham, Beverly or North Andover. Boston. She lives in the North End and works in the Back Bay. She is a Bostonian. She understands the difference. (I am happy to report, incidentally, that she is okay. Thank goodness.)

So that distinction, smug as it may seem, matters to me. I usually say nothing when a Boston area alum talks of going to school in Boston. It is more difficult to remain silent, however, when I hear a former college student say they lived in Boston. When I tell my story I usually make the distinction. "I went to college in Boston and then I lived there," I will say. Sometimes I even note that I was born and raised in Connecticut but grew up in Boston. Going to college in Boston introduced me to the city I called home through my twenties. Visiting on weekends during college made Allison fall in love with the city she still calls home. 

There was a time I thought I'd never leave. And now, more and more, I realize I want to go back. Not just for weekends.

I love Boston. And I miss her dearly.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My Week in a Word: Enlightening

Another long week--as always, not in the length of time but amount of stress--is done. I've learned some things about myself and some others this week, and because I'm on vacation with no travel plans (you notice I did not use the word staycation....because I loathe it) I am ready to process the events of the last week or two.

I have been more observant and a bit more introspective lately. I see the stress of school  (I would saying teaching but I think it has a little less to do with our profession and more to do with where we are doing it) eating away at my friends and me, and I am ready to be in another place. Not another school, but another place in my life.

I am a big, bubbling cauldron of emotions about to boil over. When I do I need it to be transformative. Not just for me. And I trust it will be.

I guess it's time to turn up the heat.

Monday, April 1, 2013

[Heart] Beef Carpaccio...

 and to Peppercorn's Grill in Hartford for getting it right.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Week in a Word: Doable

Somehow "short" work weeks never feel short at all; they feel shorter at best. As the week moved inched on, my friends and I cheered each other on by renaming days. On Tuesday: Well, today was really our hump day. On Wednesday : Today is our Thursday or Tomorrow's Friday! On Thursday there were high fives and heavy sighs and Amens.

Another week done.

Monday, March 25, 2013

March (Meteorological) Madness

Last March, and the March before, I enjoyed unseasonably warm weather that made me happy, that put me in the mood for Mexican food and margaritas (and San Diego). With no such weather luck this March for New Englanders like me, and no plans for an April trip to San Diego, I still have a spring in my step these days.

It was still light out last Sunday when drove home from Boston (after a super--albeit cold--weekend there), even though it was dinnertime when I left. And it was light out when I got out to my car every morning this week. Only once did I have frost on my windshield.

So I know spring is out there, just around the corner, waiting with April to appear. And I know that summer follows spring.

Already my mood has improved.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Photo Journal: Saturday Splurge

Steak frites
Eastern Standard, Boston

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Week in a Word: Frustrating

I know now that it is possible to eat a salad without croutons or a sandwich without potato chips. Possible. Not awesome or super satisfying or my new favorite thing, but possible, and I am pleased with myself that I even just tried to forego those crunchy delights. But I am frustrated that in my third week of passing on the chips and croutons I didn't lose weight. The first two weeks I did, but not this week. I know that it is unrealistic to want to drop a bunch of weight--that I put on over several years--in a month, but I would like a little more positive reinforcement.

Because this week, of all weeks, I would have loved to crunch my way through a bag of chips or Cheez Doodles or scarf a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies with a glass of milk and call it dinner.

I thought about it, but I didn't.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Soup

Spring is a little reluctant to make an appearance this year, so I thought I would take advantage of a chilly Sunday afternoon (one of the last, I hope) to make soup. Since I had the time and the onions, and the patience to let them caramelize, I decided on French Onion soup.

I have no regrets.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Week in a Word: Exhausting

And tonight I'm too tired to explain.

Glad it's the weekend.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Meet You at the Obelisk

We didn't know it would be pouring rain (in fact, I left my umbrella back in my suitcase at a hotel in London--it hadn't rained in London, why would it in Rome?-- where I'd be returning after my adventures in Italy), but Amy and I had a plan to meet in the morning at the obelisk in St. Peter's square. And we did meet there. We have a picture to prove it.

We waited in line and toured St. Peter's Basilica.

We did all the things that tourists do-- mainly because it was my first time there. Amy, my Latin teacher friend and frequent flier to Rome, indulged me as I played tourist and she played guide.

Later, with Amy's guidance, we dined like locals. (And I learned firsthand the power of limoncello.)

But now I am moving away from St. Peter's square, where Amy and I met at the obelisk in the rain...where for days the faithful have gathered, and today they celebrated the announcement of the new pope.

I was there!!

It was one of the best memories of my life.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Losing Daylight

Thank goodness it's not just me: a cranky, tired, burned-out, bitter teacher who hates daylight savings time--or the front end of it. Just when mornings are getting a little easier because I can walk out of the house into daylight, I'm back to driving to work in the dark. Now 5:30 am is really 4:30 am so I can't even be happy that it'll be light out until after 6 tonight because I'll be too tired to enjoy it. And when I can, when summer starts and I don't wake up to an alarm and it's light until 9-- why really is it necessary to be light until 9?

Anyway, I must say that I felt incredibly validated this morning to read "The Annual Sleep-Loss Day." As Dr. Allen so aptly notes, we aren't saving daylight at all--we're just taking it from morning light and moving it to the end of the day. And I agree wholeheartedly with her that I wish we could leave my morning hour of sleep and light alone.

After all, isn't morning supposed to be light and night supposed to be dark?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Week in a Word: Manageable

I really don't remember the last time I didn't feel stressed at work. Gone are the days that being prepared for my lessons and confident with my content and my experience was the formula for a good day. Even unforeseen behavior issues couldn't rattle me enough to ruin a whole day. These days I go to work stressed and I leave stressed. A light bulb moment with a student might provide momentary stress relief, but feeling stressed and overwhelmed is the given. And those light bulb moments are rare.

While my stress level has risen and become a constant, my ability to relieve it leaves something to be desired. Because getting overwhelmed and shutting down completely I'm sure doesn't count. And I do know enough to know that avoidance and overindulgence are not recommended methods of stress management--long term anyway. I can attest to the temporary satisfaction of aforementioned methods: getting in my pajamas at three in the afternoon and sipping a lemon drop martini with my feet (all cozy in fuzzy socks) up on my coffee table and a bag of Cheez Doodles on my lap is my idea of wonderful, just not a long term plan.

But this week I am happy to report that stress didn't get the better of me. It was manageable. Without lemon drops and Cheez Doodles. Because I tried harder.

Did somebody mention light bulb moments?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Speechless No More

Today during lunch a colleague--a friend, I thought-- made a fat joke about another teacher.

For not the first time.

Yes, really.

The last time, I was so shocked and disgusted and discouraged that I said nothing although I wished I had. Unfortunately, I had another opportunity to respond more appropriately today.

I thought, "Hello! Have we met?! I'm fat and you make jokes about people like me!"

How insensitive. How rude and inappropriate it is to make fun of someone for her weight. Or anything else for that matter. And I hope you believe that I would have stood up for the teacher who was the brunt of his joke even if I were skinny. Because I would have.

So what I said was: "That is so mean! I hate when you make fat jokes. We're grown-ups for God's sake. And you make fat jokes?!?!"

He turned red but said nothing. I regained composure and carried on for the remaining 10 minutes of my twenty-minute lunch, but I haven't really let it go.

I will eventually, but not right now. For now I remain sad that people can be so rude and insensitive. I'm especially sad and discouraged that in my forties I still have to endure fat jokes.

Because really, he was talking about me too.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Week in a Word: Fruity

In an effort to blog more I have come up with another "feature" that will force me to log on. I might take a short cut and give a bulleted list of highs and/or lows, or I may actually write something that resembles a few paragraphs. I might sum up my week in a photo or just write a single word. Not sure.  I give myself permission to experiment; in so doing I will force myself to check in on Friday night or Saturday for those of you out there who stop by often so you will be less often disappointed. Thanks...


I ate about this much fruit this week (not even kidding) except for the two ripe bananas shown there. The rest I bought today to have for next week.

Monday night I thought I might chew my own arm off if my stomach didn't eat itself first, but I stayed the course. Despite a stressful five day week (no holidays, snow days or sick days) (mid quarter progress reports) (CAPT next week) I tracked everything I ate and drank. It got a little easier as the week went on, but I don't think it will ever be a breeze. It really is quite a commitment.

For now, anyway, I'm willing to keep it.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Produce Palooza

I'm not going to use that terrible d word that has four letters and ends with t, but I am going to tell you that I have never had so much fruit in my house (apples, pears, and bananas). Ever.

My refrigerator is full of fresh veggies--carrots, celery, spinach, salad greens, mushrooms, broccoli and beets--and perfect portions of chicken. (I'm not too proud to take short cuts. Plus they were on sale.) There's yogurt and mozzarella string cheese. Deli turkey and lean roast beef. None of these items are strangers to my fridge, of course, but I don't usually have a supply of all of these at once. Similar to the fruit.

I have little baggies with pistachios that I measured. (In case you're wondering, 45 shell-on pistachios weigh two ounces, and contain 150 calories.) I have 100 calorie packs of Goldfish and Special K 90 calorie bars. (I heart Goldfish but don't usually buy snack bars.) And I am loathe to admit that I bought protein shakes. (I predict I will try one, hate it, and give the rest to my sister Liz.)

I have spent the last few years decidedly and proudly anti-d word, and there certainly wasn't a single moment that precipitated this di change of heart effort, but a bunch of them. Waiting for an elevator in front of mirrors that showed no mercy and a stepping on a scale that doesn't lie come to mind as two such recent and devastating moments. So while I will forever remain profoundly troubled by the premium we place on thinness in this society, the time for me to start being more thoughtful and calculated about what I eat and drink has come.

Yep. It's time to reign it in...leaving enough slack, of course, for happy hours and well-deserved dinners out.

A girl's gotta have a little fun after all.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I Love It, I Love It Not… the Ticonderoga tri-write???

I’m afraid to ask the secretary who orders supplies if she inadvertently ordered the wrong pencils or if my tried and true, all time favorite pencil, the Dixon Ticonderoga has gone bye-bye to old school supply heaven and been replaced by a three-sided version. Yes, you read that correctly: a three-sided pencil. ?&?$!&!#%&!#!& The tri-write. About which there is nothing right.

So I’m on a mission. I’m in search of the favorite pencil brand of my youth and my adulthood. Should all I find is the tri-write, then I’ll be sad to say my love affair with D-T is over. If you—you know who you are, my fellow school supply geeks—feel my pain, my irrational anxiety, then take a moment to wish me a fruitful journey.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

No Power Outages, Please

Dear God,

Thanks for the snow day. When will superintendents figure out that we need our February vacations back? Winter is long. We're tired and need a break. And the schools need a scrub down. Ugh. School has been a Petri dish lately. Colds and stomach bugs going around and around and germs left behind, lurking on desks waiting to infect the next person. Ick. But anyway, I appreciate you trumping their decisions. Now at least we get two long weekends in a row.

So I'm all set for a couple days here. I have snacks (read: junk food) on hand, some good food too, a movie, good reading materials, and--should we lose power-- a full tank of gas and some cash on hand. (Thanks to Amy for urging me to go out and take care of that.)

And that's really what I want to talk to you about. Please please please let us enjoy the next couple of days with only shoveling out to worry about. Power outages put a wicked damper on being snowed in.  I worry about my parents, and people with young kids, and it really just zaps the joy out of some God-delivered down time.

And there is the matter of me having a 2lb. bag of lobster in the freezer...just saying'...and praying...


Friday, February 1, 2013

Photo Journal: Take Out Tonight

shrimp with mixed vegetables

Saturday, January 26, 2013

[Heart] Tony's

I'm okay with change and modernization. Trust me. I don't know what I'd do without my iPhone and iPad. But in a world of supermarket chains where I can buy one and get two free, and megastores where I can get a two year supply of dishwasher tablets in one package, there are times I just need a quart of half and half, or am hankering for a bag of chips. I don't want to deal with the parking lot shopping cart derby, and I don't want to have to present a card or exchange a coin for a discount.

Lucky for me, walking distance from home, right next door to my Waltonesque post office, is Tony's.

Basic staples without a gas station mark up. No cards, no coins, no coupons, no lines, no nonsense. Groceries with a nod to simpler times.

I love Tony's Store. Every neighborhood should have one.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Battle of the Bags

I have gone on the record here on more than one occasion and admitted freely that I have a bag problem. Until recently that meant I have a problem not buying a bag if I see one and like it. Yes. I have more bags than I should. One for every mood in every season. A dozen. Or more. And that’s after a cleaning frenzy and a Good Will drop.

Lately though my bag problem relates more to back problems.

During Tamara’s visit this summer I found myself beyond uncomfortable in pain as I stood waiting for her to take yet another (sorry, Tam) picture somewhere in Boston (every block, if I remember correctly)—weighed down with my heavy, albeit gorgeous, shoulder bag.

I knew the days of shoulder bags were over. They make me crooked and give me sciatica.

Which of course gave me a new excuse to buy bags. Woe is me.

So I tried short handled bags. And bags with both short handles and cross body straps. And they helped, but not always. Or not for long. Because I carry too much sh*t. Eventually, despite my initial efforts, I fill my bags to capacity. My iPad is heavy enough on its own; add notepads and things I really needn’t carry with my everywhere, and even a short handled bag gets uncomfortable to carry.

So I tried using a tote bag in which I’d throw in a wristlet or smaller bag so I could take that out and use it while shopping or out to eat, and leave everything else in the tote in the car, but I found those a little too small to fit even bare minimum items. Moreover, I found I started carrying more in the tote—even if it was just to the car, into school, back to the car, into the house.

In fact, putting said tote on my front passenger seat set off the seat belt alarm.

Not kidding.

No freakin’ wonder my back hurts.

And then I found it. A leather cross body bag—leather soft as buttah— that can fit my iPad (but doesn’t have to) and those things I have figured out I really do need to have with me, on my person. But it doesn’t weigh as much as a person, so my seat belt alarm stays quiet. And my back feels better.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


So far, the beginning of this new year resembles those of others in recent memory: quite a bit of reflection and taking stock, new storage boxes and a vow to get organized, a trip to the grocery store with a carriage full of produce and Progresso soup, a moment on my bathroom scale (resulting in aforementioned trip to grocery store).

Only the beginning of this year came after the end of last, which--albeit another year of tremendous loss and sadness--ended in a positive way, with happy memories and news of good things to look forward to.

So this year I have thrown a whole lot of hope into my new year mix. (And bought a necklace in San Diego to remind me of it.) I hope for more good. For positive change. For answers to questions. For direction, And courage. And love. And I believe that it can come to me. To us.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Photo Journal: A Different Kind of Love Scene

A couple and their dogs in a baby carriage, after lunch at In-N-Out.

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