Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring break!

Today was the first official day of spring break. Why my school district starts us on a Friday, I don't know, but I'm certainly not complaining.

So how did this teacher celebrate the beginning of spring break? By grading papers, of course!

At least the paper grading was accompanied by a chai latte and a chocolate croissant!

And what will I do with the rest of my spring break? Last night, I created a long to-do list. After one day on spring break, I've only been able to cross off one thing.

Remaining items include the following:
  • several more class periods' worth of essays to grade
  • writing up my packing list for the Rome trip
  • numerous daily Italian lessons
  • making lesson plans for the days I'm in Italy
  • making lesson plans for the days my district is requiring me to administer a special pilot of a standardized test, thereby taking me out of my regular classroom
  • creating new seating charts for when we return to school (they've been in the same seats since winter break, and they keep bugging me for new seats)
  • taxes!!!
  • supplies to buy for the Rome trip
  • cleaning (I swear I only get my floor washed on holidays)
  • creating sample projects/assignments for those days when I have a sub in my room
So yeah, that's what spring break means to this teacher.  I'm tired already, but it will all be worth it when I'm in Italy next month!

Second Blooming

Friday, March 14, 2014

Six months 'til 40

Today marks the "sixth months 'til I'm 40" date.

So how do I feel about turning 40 at the moment?

Quite frankly, I'm too busy to even think about it. I haven't even posted here for nine days. I run from one activity to the next, work feverishly on Italian lessons (I haven't done a single one yet today, and it's almost 10:00), grade papers, plan lessons, chit chat online with my fellow pilgrims to Rome, get together with friends, attend Lentan faith sharing meetings with two different groups, attend writers meetings, try to see family now and then. The list goes on and on.

I have no time to think about turning forty. But maybe that's for the best. Then again I started this blog because I didn't want 40 to sneak up on me. I wanted to make sure I was soaking up every moment of my thirties.

On other hand, maybe by staying so active, I really am soaking up every moment of my thirties. Maybe I'm doing as Thoreau proposed, to "suck out all the marrow of life," and to "see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Advice from Mama on How to Find a Husband

My mom gave me two pieces of advice for finding a husband. Not sure they were the best pieces of advice since I'm 39 and single! But at the very least, they've kept me from marrying the *wrong* person, and the only thing worse than no marriage is a bad marriage!

#1-Find someone who shares the same values you do.

This includes moral values, economic values, interpersonal values . . . you name it. I'm sure this piece of advice has kept me from marrying the wrong guy. I spent a year and a half dating a guy only to realize (finally!) that we didn't really share the same values. I valued going to church on Sundays. He didn't. I valued spending time with other people. He valued playing video games. I valued Catholic education and said I hoped any kids we might have would go to Catholic schools. He said, "I'm not spending any of my hard-earned money on Catholic schools." He valued Hustler magazine. I do not.

Someone tell me again why I spent a year and a half with him????

The problem with having your mama instill such strong moral values in you is that it's hard to find a guy with similar moral values who isn't as dull as beans. Seriously, aren't there any "good guys" who can also make a girl laugh?

#2-Pray for your future husband.

When I was in high school, my mom told me that she started praying for the man who would become her husband and my father long before they met. She started praying for him back when she was a teenager. I thought it was a nice idea and decided to try it.

Truth be told, I only prayed for him sporadically during my teen years. It wasn't until my late twenties that I really started praying for him. But even then, it was more of a praying that God would send him to me and not actually praying for God to take care of him.

In fact, I don't think I became really serious about my prayers for him until a little over a year ago. Around that time, I found this book:

I took it on retreat with me one weekend and found a lot of comfort in what the authors had to say. Plus, there's a nice list of 52 prayer suggestions at the back that I'm praying through again this winter.

One last thing to share: Shortly after I started re-praying the prayers at the end of the book, I heard the song "6'2" by Marie Miller for the first time. It's the perfect song for any woman praying for her future husband!

Did you get any good (or bad!) advice from your mom?  Link up with Mama Kat this week!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Friday, February 21, 2014

I Need to Escape from the Pit!

Over at the Spin Cycle this week, they are talking about "escape."

I can't do any escaping right now, but I'll tell you this: I'd sure love to escape from all this paper grading I have to do.

Maybe I should use the everyone-gets-an-A theory!
This may not look like much, but it will take me hours to grade all these essays, book reports, and extra credit assignments. I'm so behind, and the trimester ends this week, so I've got to get caught up!

One of my old principals used to call February the "armpit of the school year." Boy, was she right! It really stinks. It's been so cold and snowy that the kids never get outdoor recess. They're sick of being inside. I'm sick of how wound up they are. They're tired of tests and projects and homework. I'm tired of grading said tests and projects and homework. They're tired of being told what to do. I'm tired of telling them what to do. They're tired of being cold. I'm tired of being cold. We're all just tired!

I need to escape from the armpit that is February, but I can't! Guess I'll just count down the days till Rome (57!) or at least spring break (17 days of school!).

Second Blooming

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Possibly the Worst Blind Date Ever

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. As a single woman, I try not to get too sad about the day. I try not to cringe when the cashier at Target wishes me a Happy Valentine's Day. I try not to feel sorry for myself when others discuss their plans. And I try not to weep at Hallmark commercials.

If I can remember that St. Valentine's Day is actually a saint's feast day and not a Hallmark creation, and if I can also remember to honor it as a day for showing love to everyone I care about, then maybe I'll make it through the day without any tears. However, I'll admit that I started to tear up in the car this afternoon when someone on the radio started talking about having a date last weekend, and I realized that it's been F O R E V E R since I've had a date.

Then again, sometimes having no date is better than having a bad date. I've shared a couple of my dating horror stories with my spiritual director, and it was her advice that I write some of these out on my blog. Why? Because they're funny as hell! My spiritual director nearly fell out of her chair as I described one of my dates. As she finished wiping away her tears of laughter, she said, "Oh, Angelina, you've got to write these down. People would pay money for stories like that!"

Well, I don't know about that. But if my dating stories make you laugh, so be it! I've laughed over them many times.

So here's a blind date I had back when I was 30 that might just be the worst blind date ever. Grab a cuppa and enjoy!

The date was initiated by an older couple at my church. She was a widow, and he was a widower, and they fell in love. (Side note: why do some people get multiple "loves of their lives" and some of us get none? Seems a little unfair, God.)

Anyway, I really didn't know Widow X and Widower Y, but they recognized me from the times I would lector at Mass. They also knew my mother whom they would see at morning Mass. Somehow they found out I was single and told my mom they wanted me to come to their wedding to meet their caterer.

First of all, I had never spoken to this couple. Who goes to the wedding of somebody you don't know?

Second, I googled the guy and found out he had started his catering business when I was in the third grade. By my conservative estimates, he was at least fifteen years older than me. At age 30, a forty-five year old guy seems really old. Besides, how old did this couple think I was?

I told my mom that I didn't feel comfortable going to the wedding of people I really didn't know.

This did not deter Widow X and Widower Y. They kept harassing my mom at morning Mass. Eventually, they gave up on the idea of the caterer and turned their attention to their pianist. Yes, now I just had to come to their wedding to meet their pianist.

Week after week my mom would tell me how Widow X and Widower Y really wanted me to go to the wedding. I kept turning down the invitation. There was no way I was going to a wedding where I knew absolutely no one in order to stalk a pianist and a caterer.  What if I took one look and said, "No, they're hideous!" and walked right out? And what if they were cute? How would I approach them? "Excuse me. You don't know me, and I know neither the bride nor the groom, but I'm terribly lonely and was told you're desperate enough you might just date a random girl who shows up at a wedding! Are you free to talk right now, or are you too busy being a part of this wedding?"

After a couple months of harassment, Widower Y gave my mom the pianist's card and told her that I should call or email him.

I was really beginning to feel sorry for my mom. How much longer would this couple harass her? Shouldn't she be allowed to go to morning Mass in peace? I realized the only way to end this misery was to go out with the guy.

I took the card from my mom non-too-enthusiastically, and proceeded to google the pianist. He was an elementary school music teacher, which immediately sent up some flags. High school and middle school music teachers are okay. But how many straight men teach music to kindergarteners? Then I learned that he was also a director of an all-boys choir. You know the kind, where the boys have to leave as soon as their voices change.

God forgive me, but my immediate reaction was, "They want me to date a pedophile!?!"

Then I found his picture online. Oh dear God. Long hair pulled back in a string ponytail and a scraggly beard.

I hate long hair on guys. Short and dark, please.

I hate beards. I never liked Santa Claus. As a baby, I cried whenever a bearded man approached. I don't trust men with beards. What are they trying to hide under there?

There was no way, no how I was going to be attracted to this man. But could I keep ignoring Widow X and Widower Y? Would they ever stop harassing my mom?

My parents were planning a trip a week or so later. If I was going to go out with this guy, I figured it'd be best to do while they were gone. That way, there wouldn't be day-by-day speculations held after morning Mass.

So I emailed the guy: "Hi, I'm Angelina. I got your card from Widow X and Widower Y. Do you want to meet for coffee some time?

His response: "Yes! Sure! That would be great! Where do you want to meet?"

Dear God, why can't men plan dates? I've ranted about this before. Really, it's unbelievable. I mentioned coffee. Pick a stinking Starbucks, for crying out loud.

So I sent him the address of a Starbucks and gave him three dates I was available.

His response: "Sorry, I'm not available any of those dates, but Starbucks sounds great."

Uh, want to give me some alternate dates? Apparently not.

So I emailed three more dates I was available that were also during my parents' vacation.

His response: "Nope, sorry, can't do those dates either."

Again, he offered no alternatives.

Finally, I emailed: "So when are you free?"

That finally got a date settled between us. He sent me his cell number, and I didn't send him mine. I didn't want this creep having my cell number!

The big day finally arrived. My parents were on their trip and would return home in just a couple days. Before work started, I decided to check my email. My date had emailed me in a panic. His hot water heater had broken. A guy was coming to repair it after school. He didn't think he could make our date on time. Did I want to postpone?

Dear God, no! That would push the date back until after my parents returned!

I emailed him right away that we would push back the time an hour, and I would simply wait at the Starbucks and grade papers until he arrived. If things got too late, I'd call him.

That afternoon, I headed to my parents' house to water their plants and feed the cat. I noticed their voice mail light blinking. I had a sinking feeling as I hit play.

"Hi, Angelina's mom, this is Widow X. Angelina and our pianist friend were supposed to have a date tonight, but his hot water heater broke, and he might be late, and he doesn't have Angelina's cell number. He left her an email, but he's worried she won't get the message in time. Can you call Angelina for us and let her know what's going on?"

Yes, that's right, my friends. My date called his widow friend who called his date's mom. I deleted the message from my parents' voice mail.

Two hours later, I sat at the Starbucks grading papers and praying he'd show up just so we could get the date over with.

Finally, he arrived. He'd shaved off his beard and cut his hair really short. It was actually an improvement over his old look, but he kept apologizing for his recent haircut. I wanted to say, "Buddy, it's a lot better than the photos I found of you online."

Then he apologized for his clothes. He'd come to our date in old jeans and a dirty white undershirt. He claimed he'd been helping the repair guy and had not had time to change. Really? You couldn't take 30 seconds to put on a clean shirt? You were late already. Who cares about 30 more seconds?

Three points of our conversation stood out for me that night:

1) He told me he was renting the house he lived in because he couldn't afford to buy. He was 38 years old, and when I googled him I learned that his salary (as a public school teacher) was over $70K. I was teaching in the Catholic schools at the time, making about $29K and had just bought my condo. What kind of financial idiot was this guy that he couldn't afford to own even a condo or townhome instead of renting?

2) Like I said, he was 38 years old. We got around to discussing movies. A popular one at the time was the 40-year-old Virgin. I'd seen it and found it quite humorous and really rather touching at the end. My date proceeded to tell me that his friends kept harassing him to go see it, but he didn't want to because he knew "they were only going to make funny of me." That's right, my date admitted to being a virgin on our first date. Guys, here's a tip. Don't discuss sex on a first date. Never. Not if you've had a lot, none, or somewhere in between. It's just TMI for a first date.

But wait. It gets worse. Eventually, he relented and went to see the movie with his friends. "But, Angelina," he told me, "after the first fifteen minutes of the movie I. Was. So. Morally. Offended" (he struck the Starbucks table emphatically with each word) "that I just got up and left the movie theater. Just left my friends right there. Went home to my house and put on my pjs. And a couple hours later, my friends dared to come to my door and ask why I had left the movie theater to come home and sit alone in my pajamas at 9:00 on a Saturday night."

How I resisted the urge to just get up and walk out I'll never know.

3) This was the last of the major creep factors on this date. We were discussing our interests. I mentioned traveling. He said, "Where have you been?" I mentioned a couple places including my first trip to Italy.

"Have you been to the Vatican?" he said.

"Yes, actually," I replied.

He leaned forward over the Starbucks table and said the most awkward thing I've ever heard on a date. "Can I touch your hand? I want to touch the hand of someone who's been to the Vatican."

In the history of the Starbucks corporation, I don't think there's ever been another incident of a customer immediately dropping her Starbucks cup and instantaneously throwing both hands under the table in order to escape the reach of her date's hands.

As you can imagine, I declined his offer for a second date.

Got a Valentine's story? Hook up with the Spin Cycle this week!

Second Blooming

Sunday, February 2, 2014

One of the Many Reasons Online Dating Sucks

I could go on and on about why online dating truly sucks, but I don't have enough time right now. I have a Superbowl party to get ready for. However, I couldn't resist one quick little post.

Just a few minutes ago (at 2:23 P.M. to be precise), I received an email from an online dating site, stating that "Damon" was interested in me, and I should "Click here" to read his profile.

I got the message at 2:34 (just eleven minutes after it was sent). Here's what I saw when I clicked:

Sorry, the profile you are looking for is no longer available.

This may be a result of the following conditions:
  • This member has hidden their profile.
  • The member's profile is no longer approved (due to recent updates).
  • This member has been blocked due to inappropriate activity.

What?!?! How does a guy's profile disappear in eleven minutes? What kind of hell are these online dating sites trying to create? Or are guys just sending out winks and emails and then immediately cancelling their profiles or doing such unspeakable things that they would immediately get blocked?

Dear Lord, save us.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Anti-Vortex

It's been nothing but polar vortex after polar vortex around here. I pass the time by counting down the days to my Rome trip.

And by creating my own anti-vortex!

Or rather, just a vortex of a different kind.  There's no bitingly cold wind involved. No piles of snow. However, spinning is involved, as well as a flurry of activity.

So what kind of vortex have I been in lately? A workout vortex!

With multiple days of school canceled, I've been fighting the cabin fever by working out a lot more than usual. And to make it extra enticing, I've been choosing workouts that remind me of warm climates.

First, I pulled out an old workout videotape (yes, that's right, VHS) from the 90s. My parents had received it as a gift. When they decided this "beginner" workout was too much for them, they passed it on to me. It was filmed on the sunny beaches of Hawaii, so once or twice a year (usually in the dead of winter) I pull it out and pretend I'm working out there instead of here.

But you can only envy Hawaiians for so long, so then I ventured out into the polar vortex to get a workout DVD from the library. I found an Advanced Zumba one. Although it was filmed in a studio and not on some sunny location, it still gave me warm thoughts as the Latin music made me thing of more appealing climates. Yes, that's right. I'm dancing in Brazil!

The workouts really help for a couple reasons. One, I get to shed a few layers of clothes. Two, I start thinking about getting my body back in shape for the summer. Three, nothing helps get your mind of terribly cold weather like working up a sweat!

Another round of polar vortex is headed our way, so I guess I better stop at the library to get another "warm weather" workout. What vortex have you found yourself in lately?

Second Blooming