A “Working” Summer

This past weekend, I found myself with quite a bit of work to do, which, unfortunately will be taking up the majority of my summer.  The two classes that I am taking to complete my certificate both require a ton of reading…more than I had anticipated.  I had tried to continue reading for pleasure, but after attempting a not-so-great book that I have basically given up on (I haven’t touched it in about a week), I realized that my time (mind) needs to be devoted to these classes.  So, last weekend, when my boyfriend had plans to do a few things with his dad in Long Island, I tagged along…and so did my work.

I woke up Saturday morning, exercised (a new routine I recently started that I’m obsessed with, but more on that later), had breakfast and made a quick trip to CVS (nail polish emergency).  Then I slathered on sunscreen, threw on a bikini, and headed outside to sit by the pool and do a massive amount of reading.  The thought in my head was, if I have to work, I might as well sit outside and get a little color while doing it. After all, I was a mere two and a half (now two) weeks away from my trip to Florida with Billy, and I needed a base so that I don’t burn.  I had a manuscript of two-hundred-plus pages that I needed to become familiar with – an editing project for one of my classes – and I was determined to get a chunk of it read.  I had brought a couple magazines with me to leaf through if I needed a break, but I quickly decided that they would be the reward for later, and they were banished along with my phone to a table far-far-away from me.  I had trouble settling down at first, but after a quick dip in the pool and a few sips of a lime-o-rita (sooo delicious), I got to work. 

The next day, I went to a morning yoga class – an hour and a half long – then grabbed a latte and walked home.  Once again, I spent much of the day on my assignments (a pretty blah weekend if you ask me), going back-and-forth between the manuscript and a take-home exam.  I was alone for most of the day, which was good because I was able to work with few distractions, and accomplished a lot.  After another day of countless hours at work (on the weekend), I treated myself to froyo, and then had some wine in the backyard with a few friends, until the bugs drove us away. 

Yesterday I came home to a box from Amazon with two books.  I was excited for a moment, but then remembered that they needed to be put aside until after I’m done with my classes (we’ll see how long that lasts).  They have been added to a pile along with the two books that I picked up from a late Barnes & Noble run last week.  Sadly, it seems as if it will not be a summer full of reading for enjoyment…although I fully plan on taking a book down with me when I go away in two weeks.

Protect Your Skin

Normally, I’m ecstatic when it comes to the beginning of summer, and though I do find myself overjoyed at the prospect of not having to wear a jacket for the next few months, among other things, this year I also am finding myself a bit cautious.  Yes, the sun is good for you in some ways – it uplifts your mood and provides you with a natural dose of vitamin D – but it is bad for you as well – sun spots, wrinkles, skin cancer.  Skin cancer is more common than you think; I recently read an article that stated that it is the most common form of cancer in the United States.  So, other than hiding away from the sun, which seems a bit dramatic and saddening (although I have considered it this year), investing in a good sunscreen is important.

My favorite thing about summer has always been the sun (I loathe the humidity), the warmth of it against my skin, the golden glow it leaves on me.  I lived for those beautiful sunny days that boasted the perfect temperature for a beach adventure – carefully following the weather forecast so I would not miss a day.  I would take off during the week on one of those “perfect days,” travel to the beach and spend hours laying in the sun.  The beach was my meditation.  I would be sure to pack water and something to eat along with my towel and magazines (to read on the train-ride there and back), and of course sunscreen.  Years ago, I was at the beach on a cloudy day and ended up severely burned (my ears blistered).  I hadn’t put on any sunscreen because I thought I would be safe…but I had been wrong.  Aside from the bright red shade that I was, and the obvious damage that I had done to my skin, I remember how painful it was, how I couldn’t sleep because literally my whole body was burned, and how I could barely move.  Since then, I’ve been careful, always bringing spf (I used mostly 8 or 15) with me to the beach.  I thought that I was doing good, but as it turns out, it wasn’t that much better than not wearing sunscreen at all.

Last year, the FDA regulations on sunscreen changed, and one of the things was the addition of the words “broad spectrum” on some bottles.  Sunscreens protect against UVB rays – the ones that give you a sunburn – but most don’t protect against UVA rays – the ones that cause skin cancer.  Sunscreens with the label “broad spectrum” protect against both UVA and UVB rays, and therefore should be the only one that you are using.  Also, sunscreens over a spf of 30 do not do much more to protect you than 30 – so little so that it really does not make a difference. 

This year, before the summer started, I threw out all of my sunscreens and replaced them with ones labeled “broad spectrum” with a spf of 30, and so should you.

Restlessly Awaiting

About two weeks ago I started a new book.  Given my track record recently for devouring whatever I read, I was upset to see that, after this morning’s commute, I had barely gotten over page sixty and, I’ve only read a total of four chapters.  Aside from the ever increasing reading from the two summer classes that I’m taking, which, if I was really into the book would not deter me from continuing it, I have not been able to pinpoint exactly what about the book I don’t like.  The book is kind of slow, but that necessarily wouldn’t turn away my interest, and the story sounded like it was going to be interesting.  To be truthful, it’s a bit boring. But I know it’s only begun, so if I can bare it, I will forge ahead a bit more before I decide if I’m going to put it down permanently. 

A reason of why it feels boring could be the fact that, last week, I ordered a few books from Amazon.  One had just been published, and the other two were pre-orders, but none of them have gotten into my hands yet.  Sometimes, when I’m dying to start reading a book that isn’t in my possession, whatever I pick up to read while I wait doesn’t seem interesting to me.  If that makes sense.  Unless the placeholder is an extraordinarily amazing book, there’s a good chance that it will not distract me away from the book that I actually want to be reading.  This has happened to me in the past, and for a period of months last year, but oppositely.  After finishing The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro, I had the hardest time getting into anything else.  I would pick up a book only to discard it, unfinished, and it wasn’t until my two favorite authors came out with new books mid-year, that I got out of my slump…if only they came out with new books every year, I would never have this problem again.

The other reason could be that, and I hate to say it, the book might just be boring.  It’s my first time reading this particular author, and actually one of my new books that is coming from Amazon is also by this author – whose stories do sound interesting – so, I’m really hoping that either this book is just really slow to get into and speeds up, or that this book is boring but the other one that’s coming in the mail is more interesting.  I can deal with it if it just this book, but if the next one feels like this too, I’m going to cry. 

On a happy note, I received an email last night from Amazon, saying that two of my three books will be shipping sooner than anticipated, and will be coming to be next week.  I’m super excited!  The summer really is the best time (I feel) not only to catch up on your reading, but to purchase new books.  A lot of good books come out during the summer (it is also the time where new authors are tested), and aside from the ones that I have just purchased, I cannot wait to see what else comes out.

Shopping in Brooklyn

Since late last year, I have been spending a lot of time in Brooklyn, mostly hanging out with my boyfriend and friends, eating, drinking and just having fun.  On Memorial Day, we picnicked under a tree at a park by the Brooklyn Bridge; it was a beautiful, relaxing day.  I’ve attended yoga classes, walked for fro-yo…but one thing that I hadn’t done much of was shop.  When Billy first moved to Brooklyn back in November, I had walked into a boutique or two, but didn’t really find anything that I liked…I was also in a shopping-exile because of an upcoming trip that didn’t end up happening, but believe me, if I had found something I loved, I would have purchased it without a second thought.

The weekend before Mother’s Day, I ventured out to a couple of markets in search of food to cook for dinner.  On my way to one of the markets, I was passing a boutique and something caught my eye.  In the window, there was a sleeveless asymmetrical print green dress.  I stared at it for a few seconds, pondering over whether to enter the boutique or not.  In the end, I decided to walk in and briefly comb the racks.  I didn’t see the dress, and wasn’t in the mood to try anything on, so I left, finished up my grocery shopping and went home.  But…I kept thinking about that dress.

The following week, I went with Billy to a florist to pick out an orchid for his mom for Mother’s Day.  The florist was a little bit of a walk, but their flowers were amazing, so it was worth it.  As we were looking at the different orchids, deciding which one to get, I turned to my left and saw the most beautiful vases on a shelf.  They were brown, the tone varying slightly here-and-there, and there were very thing stems with small leaves painted on them.  There were only two of them, both different shapes, and I could not stop staring.  I pointed them out to Billy, and we picked them up and looked at them.  In vain, I looked for a price tag, but when I saw there wasn’t one, we asked the woman who was helping us.  They were not that expensive, and the woman said that they were handmaid by someone who lived locally.  I was already in love with them, but the fact that they were unique and not mass-produced made me love them even more.  When we were getting ready to leave – the orchid had already been picked out and paid for – I still could not decide which to purchase.  In the end, I walked out with both.  I purchased one of them, and Billy being the great boyfriend that he is, purchased the other for me, saying that he saw how much I loved them and that he wanted me to have both. 

The weekend after that (yes, there were a few shopping ventures in a row) we stepped out on a misty Saturday to do a little shopping and some errands.  I was determined to see if the boutique still had the dress that I coveted, so I took Billy there with me.  The dress was no longer in the window, so we went inside to see if it was in the shop.  I asked one of the women, and she pulled out two dresses that had been displayed – neither of which was it.  To be fair, I had described the dress as floral, not asymmetrical patterned.  The woman then pulled out a third dress, and it was it.  Billy and I both glanced at the price tag, and I cringed, but tried it on anyway.  Of course it fit perfectly.  After adjusting the straps and staring at it in the mirror, I took it off and went to consult with Billy about it.  He thought that I should get it regardless of the price, and I did.

Bottom line – Brooklyn isn’t nearly as bad as I always have made it out to be – the shopping is great, but I have to force myself not to step into any boutique too often or I will purchase way too many items.

Scaling in

After not being able to work out for three months due to various reasons, last month I made my come-back, well sort of.  I started running again, and despite a few ailments, it felt good to be back at the gym.  Normal.  I started off slow, going for time on the clock as opposed to mileage, then I changed it up.  Last week I was able to make two miles, which I know isn’t much, but for me it is, and this week I have run two miles three times, with an attempt to hit said mark on Monday, but settling for one and a half instead (at least I was able to hit it the rest of the week!).  I haven’t used weights yet, but am thinking about trying them out in another month or two, and I attended my first yoga class (first in a while) last week.  I may do yoga at home this weekend since my boyfriend will be occupied with Bachelor party festivities and the plans that I had had fell through.

My goal?  To lose around ten pounds.  There are a couple of reasons for this, one being that I just want to lose a little weight, and the other being that I am attending a wedding at the end of next month, and I want to better fit into a dress that has been sitting in my closet since I bought it nearly two years ago.  It is a Roberto Cavalli silk halter gown, done in the patchwork that he is famous for and…it is simply beautiful.  So, why would I buy a dress that doesn’t fit me?  It’s not that it doesn’t fit, it’s that it could fit better.  Yes, I do have other dresses that I could where, but I really want to wear this one.

With the wedding only a month and a half away, I don’t have that much time if I’m going to be able to wear that dress.  It’s crunch time.  I know that if I work hard enough, I can do it.  Plus, I have just scheduled a mini vacation with Billy a few weeks before the wedding, which gives me extra motivation.  I know it’ll all be worth it when I put that dress on and it fits me perfectly :).

Back to Yoga

After about five months or so of not being able to attend a single yoga class for various reasons, Monday morning, I made the decision that this was the week that I would give it a try.  I’d been back at the gym running for a few weeks, and I had gotten the clearance that yoga was okay again, so I figured why not…the most that it could do was hurt.  For weeks I had been afraid that it would hurt me, but when I finally made the decision to go back, I was no longer afraid.  I had a plan: leave work for Brooklyn, arrive at Billy’s, throw on my yoga gear and run to class.  So, as I was on the F train, fuming as it crawled slowly (very slowly) to my destination, all I could think about was how angry I would be if I was late or missed the class because of the train. 

Outside of social gatherings, of which I am never on time, I hate being late.  I’d rather either be early or not show up at all.  I blame my dad for this, although his penchant for being early (this includes social engagements) borderlines on insanity.  Seriously.  Last year, my dad and I attended a cousin’s christening party.  The invitation had been sent to my dad’s so I had no idea what time it was supposed to start, and we got there an hour early.  One hour.  We were the first ones in attendance; not even my cousin who was hosting the party had arrived yet.  We ended up sitting in the car – my dad stepping out multiple times to smoke – while we waited, because although it was spring, it was pretty cold out.  Another time, we had to attend a Saturday morning wedding – I think it started around eleven – and despite the fact that the church was right near my dad’s, and he’s only twenty minutes away from me, he insisted on picking me up at eight.  Eight in the morning.  This resulted in my rushing to get ready and accidentally dropping my curling iron, burning my cheek.  I spent the entire day trying to hide the burn mark (which was painful) with a piece of my hair, and weeks after doing the same.  Yes, I hate being late, but there is such a thing as being too early.  Anyway, back to yoga.

Although the train didn’t leave me with much leeway in terms of time – I had to speed walk home and then speed walk to the yoga studio – I made it with a few minutes to spare and, as it turned out, the class before mine ran a little late.  I had expected the room to be full with barely any breathing space, as I had been accustomed to, but there was barely anyone there: maybe about eight including myself.  I took a spot by the wall with the windows and went to speak to the instructor, informing her about my situation and that it was my first day back, and then the class started.

I have to admit, no matter how much yoga relaxes me, because it does, I always have trouble clearing my mind.  There’s usually a few times when I feel my thoughts wander beyond the walls of the class – thinking about the day’s past events and tasks that have yet to be completed – and I have to make conscious efforts to bring my focus back.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has struggled with this.  It’s easy to get swept up in your life and events that surround you; it’s difficult to force yourself to take a step back and leave it all alone for an hour.  After class last night, as I was walking home, I realized that that hadn’t happened to me this time, that I had stayed focused for the whole class.  I smiled to myself.  Perhaps it was because I hadn’t taken a class in a while, or maybe, a new-found peace within myself that hadn’t been there months before.  Whatever it was, it left me with a good feeling.  There were a few things that I could not do, but for the most part, I was good.   And although today I can barely walk – the result of two days of running before yesterday’s yoga – I learned that I can in fact take yoga classes again.  🙂

“The best work in literature is always done by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread and the highest form of literature, Poetry, brings no wealth to the singer.

Make some sacrifice for your art and you will be repaid but ask of art to sacrifice herself for you and a bitter disappointment may come to you.”

 

-Oscar Wilde

Friends Forever?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship.  How can you tell the difference between a good friend and a bad one?  The ones that will last forever versus the ones that are for right now or have already expired? 

I’m not sure if there is a right answer for this because everyone is different – every friendship is different – but I feel like it is simpler than it seems.  Your friends are people who are there for you.  Period.  How they, themselves can express that, or how they choose to, is another story.  There may be circumstances that are beyond their control, ones that physically limit their roles in your life. 

There are a few people that I can think of who fit into this category; one being my friend John.  He and I have known each other for over half of our lives.  For a long time, he was my go-to for advice – both personal and about guys.  I didn’t always like what he had to say, but a lot of the time he was right (okay, most of the time).  He’s in the army so there are long stretches where I don’t hear from him, but that doesn’t make him any less of a friend.  Thank goodness I have branched-out a bit, or who knows where I’d be.  It also helps that I have a boyfriend that I can talk to about anything, one who actually listens to me, doesn’t judge me and won’t hesitate to tell me when I’m wrong or right.

Then there are the other kind of friends, the ones that are only around when it is convenient for them, ones that are there for the positive things but avoid the negatives.  I’ve had friends like these, and I think everyone has.  Sometimes it takes a while to recognize the signs, but once you see them, there really is no sense to ignore.  Your friends don’t all have to be your best friends for them to count.  You can have bus friends, shopping friends, coffee friends, yoga friends…the list is endless really.  Just because they may not all have a significant role in your life doesn’t mean they are bad friends.  The bad ones are the ones that don’t act like friends, the ones that you need to let go of.  Originally, I had started this post towards the end of January, after a huge fight with someone who was supposed to be a good friend.  I had been in her wedding party, attended her child’s christening, even hosted her and her then two-year-old in my very un-baby friendly apartment (yes, things were broken and my only set of house-keys was lost temporarily).  The fight was on-going, spanning over a month, and really unnecessary, but too many words were said that could not be taken back.  I had been there for her when she needed me, but the one time that I could not adhere to something, she couldn’t handle it; the fact that I had tried to be accommodating didn’t matter.  It was upsetting to lose her as a friend, but in the end it was the only decision to be made.

I believe that everyone enters your life for a reason, to teach you a lesson that you would otherwise not have learned.  Some people will leave your life after you learn those lessons and some will continue onward with you on your journey, be there with you for the good times and the bad, as you close chapters in your life and start new ones.  There are some friends that I have had forever, that I’ll always keep a special place for in my heart no matter the distance that grows between us, and some that will fade away into the night and become past memories.  Friendships do not have to last forever to be good, but they have to be true friends to last forever.

Survivor-a-thon

The popular reality show Survivor has been on for quite a while, nearly thirteen years to be exact, but until a few weeks ago, I had never seen one episode despite the popularity of it.  It was a Wednesday evening, and Billy and I were flipping through channels trying to decide what to put on.  We flipped on Survivor, and since one of our friends is a huge fan of the show, decided to give it a chance.  I have to say, it was entertaining.  I haven’t turned the new season on since, but Billy has been watching it.

Fast forward to last Thursday.  I spent the night (my birthday-eve) in Brooklyn so that I wouldn’t have to lug around an overnight bag to dinner on Friday.  Billy pops in a dvd of a previous Survivor season (All Stars) and we become hooked, watching multiple episodes a night, even waking up on Sunday morning at my apartment to watch one.  After realizing that there was only one more episode left and that I could not persuade Billy to give me the last dvd before he saw it, I traveled back with him to Brooklyn to have tea (I left my new tea infuser there by accident) and watch the final episode.  Although we had already known who was going to win, we were still hooked.  I don’t think I’ll ever become obsessed with the show, but I can definitely see myself watching a few seasons of it.

Turning Twenty-Nine

Last Friday, the count-down to the end of my twenties and (gasp) beginning of my thirties commenced.  I have never been one to care about age before, so why should it be any different now?  Age is only a number after all, and if my birthday was any indication on how the year will go, I say, come on thirty!

It started off like any other week-day, except for the fact that I was wearing a date-dress during the day (covered up with a sweater).  After work, I hurried downtown to meet Billy at our favorite restaurant in Little Italy.  The food was delicious as usual; we shared a bottle of wine and veal parmigiana, and each had our own pasta.  I dream about their pasta.  Then we headed to Brooklyn, where I got my present (finally!  I had been hearing about said present for about a month).  I have the most amazing boyfriend; he bought me a beautiful necklace, and I have to say, my eyes started tearing a little as he put it on me.  I’ve never loved something so much or felt so much love from one person.  I have not taken the necklace off since.  Okay, that’s a lie.  I’ve taken it off to shower and sleep since I don’t want anything to happen to it. 

A little later, I freshened up my makeup, changed into jeans and we set off to meet friends for drinks.  It was a lot of fun, filled with old friends and new, and we were out for quite a while.  We ended the night walking home in the rain (more like drizzle), getting into pajamas and eating the rest of my pasta from dinner…and ice cream :).  Speaking of ice cream, I also now own an ice cream maker, something that I’ve wanted ever since I was a little girl (my favorite American Girl character made ice cream in one of her books), and cannot wait to make ice cream in the very near future.