Friendships……a journey

After being on summer break for a few weeks I have started to reflect on an issue that has been on-going: my small group of friends…..or lack thereof. As a woman I know it is hard to find good friends. It’s not hard to find acquaintances or people who are in your bookclub etc. But, I am thinking about friends who you have known for years and the ones you call on a regular basis. Of course, you can have hundreds of friends on FB or Linked In but I am thinking about friends you know face-to-face.

In my search to expand my circle of friends I have reached out to friends of other friends, people at work, spouses of TX Hub’s friends, girls in the book club, and even going so far to strike up a conversation with the other girl who is browsing clothes at the outlet mall etc. Over the years, probably since college, I have searched high and low and yet I still wished I had more friends. I have always had a small circle of girls I could call on but as I have grown older, changed careers, and stayed child-free I have noticed my social group dwindling to almost nothing.

The last good friend I had I met through my alumni book club and we became fast friends. She lived within a few miles, worked close by, had a similar background, and was always up for going out to eat, the movies, etc. We would talk and call a couple of times a week and then she just stopped calling. Since I was so busy trying to keep up with my first year of teaching I knew that I probably let a few weeks go by before I realized that she had stopped texting, calling, e-mailing etc. I called her a few times, texted her a few times and even went so far to e-mail her (at her workplace) asking what was going on and if I had done something to hurt or offend her. To this day….never heard back…..can’t find her online…nothing.

You would figure that living in a large city, like I do, makes it much easier to meet someone. However I have found it very difficult to meet someone who wants to hang out, grab a cup of coffee, or who just calls to shoot the breeze. I have had close friendships but the girls either stops calling, moves in with a new beau, or begins having children.TX Hub is fine spending the rest of his life never having to make another friend since he has a close group of friends from college he stays in touch with and he is a generally quiet guy. Anyways guys don’t have the same kind of friendships that women have. Girls support each other through bad color jobs, bad boyfriends/ husbands, parental issues, you name it…we are there to help out.

The second friend who I wish was still around also came to my book club, lived close by, and was always around for a drink or dinner out. We even got our guys together to double date a few times. But, then she got divorced from her husband and she met a guy who I did not care for. I remember how the guy wanted to friend me on FB and I declined his friend request…then he sent me an e-mail calling me out on the fact that I would not friend him on FB. I just could not add him as a friend and from there….the friendship with my dear friend when downhill fast. The last time I saw her was in 2011 and I drove about 40 miles to go meet her for lunch. She e-mailed me a few months back (as a large group e-mail) telling me how exciting her knew life was traveling all over the county but they were needing $$$ for her boyfriend’s medicine and other various medical procedures. I did not respond and just deleted the e-mail. A few weeks ago I e-mailed her asking if she wanted to meet up for lunch. She quickly responded that she lived and worked on a specific side of town and that I would need to come and see her. I e-mailed her back saying that I had come to her side of town last time and just thought it was fun to go to lunch at one of our old places to eat.  Never heard back from her……and shortly after I decided that I needed to let go of the friendship and un-friended her on FB.

People would probably argue that not all friendships start in-person but online these days. I agree and do have some very good friends who are more online friends then in-person friends but it is face-to-face friends I am craving. I have tried to expand my online community of friends by reaching out to authors or bloggers who encourage “friends” to read with them or drop them a note. The last time I took a chance to e-mail a person off-line I got exactly what I expected….a form response. Reflecting on this step in the process I realized that this blogger used the term “friend” very loosely since it is much easier to call a customer a friend then really what it is…someone who builds up the numbers on their blog. It makes me think that some people use the term “friend” when really they meant “number or customer.”

As the summer continues…..I am still going to continue keeping my mind and my heart open to new friend possibilities…..and I know when I am not reflecting on the subject….it will happen.

It’s Only Monday

This week is going to be interesting already. Last week, after the explosion of ants in our only tub, I convinced TX Hub that it was time to do a little home maintenance so the exterminator was called and I went into list-making mode trying to determine what could be done immediately, next season or as needed. In my flurry of calling the exterminator I pulled out my contacts for repairs folder and called a few people to find out who would be willing to come out and spruce up the outside of house.

So, this AM, I woke up at a decent time to meet the guy who is going to spruce up the house and noticed I had a flat tire. Phwwwwwwwww. Called TX Hub who is on the road and tried to figure out how to get AAA out to put spare on tire just in time for my handy guy to show up for his 9am appointment. Then I also called the plumber after the handy man determined that there is air in our pipes which is causing the sink in our half-bath to not have water.

An hour later, AAA is here putting the spare on the car and throwing the flat tire in the backseat of the car. I was also left with a $300 bill for sprucing up the house. Of course, the first thing TX Hub says is, “that sounds expensive” and I go on to tell him “I don’t give a hoot” “for all of these things he is going to do…this week and we don’t have to bring out the ladder, hose, climb under the house, and pressure wash the house in 90-something degree weather it IS worth the $$” So, I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything will hold together until TX Hub returns Thursday night.

Turning lemons into lemonade I found out that Discount Tires is the bomb. I called them this morning asking about having them repair or replace the flat tire, made an appointment, and went to their store just a couple of minutes down the road. They fixed the tire in under 40 minutes, had a nice waiting area, and even offered to match the price of a tire if I needed one. Afterwards, I went to Costco to eat lunch and am now home in time to watch Looper. Has anyone else seen this one? I actually ended up renting this one along with Jack Reacher. I loved Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher and loved Robert Duvall even more as the ownder of the firing range. I highly recommend this movie for anyone who likes a good mystery/ action movie. Even Tom Cruise wasn’t too full of himself….which is a win-win for the audience.

 

 

 

Key Ingredients

The other day a former classmate of mine from grad school posted on her FB wall thaqt she was going to cancel their family vacation because she just found out her husband had bought a new gun without her knowledge. Now this is the second incidence where I have heard of someone’s husband purchasing a large ticket item without telling their spouse. I won’t even take into account that both of these purchases involved guns but instead want to focus on the idea of spouses making big purchases without telling their spouses.

Big ticket item?? So, first, let’s establish the threshold of big ticket items. For me…..if you are spending more then your monthly allowance on an item then it is a big ticket item. In other words, if you have to save up or dip into savings it is a big ticket item. I’m not talking about the mundane purchases like shoes, ammo, clothing, books, games, CDs etc. I am talking about something that I would have to move money from the savings to the checking to purchase. For example, right now I am in the market to purchase a new mattress for our guest bedroom and have been trolling the local big name stores to find a good deal on a comfy mattress. TX Hub knows about this and knows how much I am planning to spend of my own money. And yes, even though I am using my savings from my job to make the purchase I have let him know my plans…..because he is going to help me put the bedframe together and load the mattress in the back of the truck to bring it home. Smile.

One question I always have for married couples is, “what is the one thing that has kept your marriage strong enough to last this long?” Most of the time people will tell me it is about always putting that person’s needs first, communicating, and being respectful of each other. But the one thing I know that has kept my marriage going through the tough and sticky is trust. I trust TX Hub and this is so crucial for our relationship because of the amount of time we spend apart. This trait has always been an important component of our relationship since we met online through Match.com, were both traveling for work at the time we met, and both had been hurt by a cheating partner in the past. So, it was not even mentioned when we first fell in-love but it was just an implicit understanding that our relationship and love would not continue unless there was this unspoken understanding that trust was going to be a priority.

Why are these two husbands purchasing things without their wife’s knowledge? If they are making these type of purchases then what else (in their mind) needs to be kept hidden? We all know how indiscretion begins. We know how quickly things can spiral out of control when we don’t remember what is important or what our priorities are. These husbands have made purchases without their wives knowing and they now how this secret to carry and foster until they either get discovered or divorced.

I never want my husband to feel as though he needs to hide something from me. If he is feeling a certain way or feels like he is feeling removed then I want him to tell me that he feels this….if he has a change in hobbies I would want him to share it with me and then we can decide if this is a joint venture or a singular journey. But, I don’t want my husband, my best friend, my good guy to ever hide something. If he does hide something then I would hope that he finds the strength to come clean. Last thought: what would you do if you discovered something that your spouse has been keeping secret? Does it depend on the type of secret? Does it depend on how long they kept it from you? We all think we are going to react one way if placed in a certain scenario but we never know how we are going to really re-act until that moment.

Book Review: Tampa by Alissa Nutting

OK, this is going to be tough. On one hand I had high hopes for this book since the publisher is pushing this book to be similar to the amazing, “Gone Girl.” It’s not. Simply put this book is about a pedophile who teaches middle school in Tampa. There is no other way to describe this book except to say that I am surprised that HarperCollins would take a risk to publish something so inappropriate and graphic. This book is simply a wet dream for pedophiles and goes into graphic details on how to seduce young boys.

Let’s back up…..first, I received this book as part of a contest. Thankfully I did not spend any money on this book. I wanted to read it since it was being compared to “Gone Girl” but after reading the first page which describes the protagonist as a “smoldering twenty-six-year-old middle school teacher unrepentantly recounts her elaborate and sociopathically determined seduction of her fourteen-year-old student in this sexually explicit, satirical, “American Psycho”-esque rendering of monsterously misplaced, inexorable desire that is sure to be the most controversial book of the year.” WOW! Not to mention that the front cover has a huge warning sticker that reads, “CAUTION: Explicit Content.” Let me grab my Vera Bradley book cover for this one. I’m sure the publisher felt as though with the publication of “Fifty Shades” and the mounds of other soft-core romance novels out there that the readers would be lining up for this one. It’s not going to happen…..and if it does….well people really need to focus on other books in the market.

After reading the first 25 pages, I literally had to walk away and ask myself, “Am I offended because this is simply another reason for people to hate teachers?” But, the book called my name…..I needed to see how this tale would end. I’m glad I did end up finishing the book because there is some closure for the characters and even the beloved Ms. Feinlog makes a cameo appearance at Celeste’s trial. But this book made me think constantly…is this how people imagine teachers acting? Is this what kids think of their teachers? Is this in some way supposed to make teachers feel better about their jobs or is it a mind-check for those who work with adolescents and remind them that teachers do hold a lot of power and influence in their lives? I was upset by the way teachers are seen and it makes me want to write the author a letter or e-mail telling her exactly why this book is not worth publishing and only serves to hurt the teaching community that works tirelessly to help our younger generations grow up to become productive citizens.

In the end…..I hope that Ms. Nutting does a better job of picking a career field to portray in her next novel. Personally, I think she wrote the book to fulfill her own sick fantasy that she would like to play out being that she is a teacher herself.

Ms. Nutting……. please do me a favor and not write another novel.

A Reading Frenzy

Summer again and I am sitting on the couch. Seriously?! Yes! Of course, I was ready to return to the classroom about two weeks into vacation but now I am getting into a bit of a summer rhythm so I know once school begins I am going to miss my summer routine. So what have I been doing? Good question: spending time catching up on my reading, discovering new shows to watch on Netflix, and of course the ultimate time waster…..Pintrest. I try not to spend too much time on there but it has been a good way to find creative ideas for my classroom.

 

On another note, this week TX Hub is out of town for business so my goal this week is to clean out our freezer by choosing something for each meal from the freezer. It has been a neat and cheap idea to go through some of the items that have been sitting in there for quite some time. For example, last night I had Trader Joe’s Butter chicken and a piece of their naan. For lunch today, it was a lean cuisine that has been in there for quite some time. Tonight, it will probably be a veggie burger and some tater tots. Yum! I highly recommend this to anyone who is on a budget this summer and wants to clean out their freezer or fridge.

 

The other exciting thing that has been going on in my life is my new bookclub. I love this bookclub and the women in it. I found it through Meetup.com and am so happy that I took a chance on it. So far, I have met two sweet ladies through the group and even became friendly enough with another lady who teaches high school English so we always commiserate after our bookclub gatherings.

Normally I do not mention my career or job since there is a lot of pressure to keep the business and personal aspects separate but I am very excited about my new opportunity coming up this fall. Just keeping my fingers crossed that the negative aspects from my other position will be positive aspects in this new one. As it develops I will have to reflect on the changes that have taken place.

 

 

 

Book Review: Chevy Steven’s Always Watching (Summer 2013)

Always Watching is Chevy Steven’s third book published by St. Martins. The biggest difference that readers will notice is Steven’s departure from writing about young women being abducted. I am excitred that the author was able to make the change in her focus so she could write about a differnet topic and type of female protagonist.

Nadine is a psychiatrist andthe protagonist of Always Watching. Being a psychiatrist, Nadine begins working with a young lady who has just tried to commit suicide who recently left a commune. Now Nadine must confront her own issues that stem from her being raised on the same commune during the 60s-70s.

Not everything is different in Always Watching. Chevy Stevens remains faithful to her familiar landscape of Vancouver, BC by placing her story in and around Victoria. You can tell that Stevens is an outdoorsy kind of person who must enjoy being surrounded by nature. Her characters are often placed in dangerous situations in the wild and this setting/scenario is no different.

It is clear that Stevens spent a lot of researching the field of psychiatry/counseling to help develop Nadine’s character and the inner workings of a psychiatric unit. Most of the internal dialogue and conversations that take place in the book sounds exactly like a counselor would say or do in situations that involve conflicts, dealing with addiction, and cults.

This is a quick read that will draw in readers with simple dialogue, crafty female characters, and an emphasis on healing past emotional trauma. Nadine eventually comes to term with what happened during her childhood at the River of Life cult while also realizing that her grown daughter, Lisa has her own demons that haunt them both.

Readers who like mysteries, crime novels, and psychological thrillers will enjoy Always Watching. I read the book in three days and it helped me get over reading the absolutely boring (The) Secrets of Mary Bowser. Fans of Chevy Stevens will enjoy her new book but may be disapointed that most of the story focuses on Nadine trying to cope with her own psyche instead of her usual protagonist who must remain focused on being able to escape a physical barrier.

Always Watching will be published this summer by St. Martin’s Publishing.

September

This month has gone by in a blur of work, doctor’s appointments, and football games. I have had to take off some time from work to squeeze in several doctor’s appointments since I seriously neglected my health last year. Now, after punishing myself for the past four months I am finally feeling better and keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to continue healing. For those who are curious I am battling a female issue that has been lingering…..so without revealing too may details it involves bacteria and lots and lots of penicillin…and no it is not an STD for all you negatives out there. One last note, I am very thankful for my new OB/GYN for helping me to get to this point.

On the baking front……I was told at one point to go on a wheat-free diet but did not have stick to it. The good news is that we live close to a farmer’s market, whole foods (whole paycheck) and several other gluten-free resources but I am not sure I would be able to manage a gluten-free diet long term. It is definitely a commitment to a lifestyle change. However, while I was on the diet I found two excellent products: Udi’s Gluten Free blueberry muffins (YUM!) and gluten-free pretzels. Have you ever heard of Almond Breeze made by Blue Diamond? Well, they make these rice crackers that are like crack cocaine….no joke. Those crackers are both gluten-free and yummy. I usually eat them as a snack and with my sushi adventures.
Reading front: check out NetGalley.com if you are looking to get into blogging about the books you read. I have joined their mailing list and was able to receive a copy of Love Unscripted by Tina Reber. What a great romance…the ones when the love wary girl meets Mr. Right and they fall in love. HARD. Actually, the story is about a twenty-something lady who owns a pubs in a small north east town. One day while cleaning up her pub she realizes that a very cute guy is being chased by a bunch of crazy girl fans and offers him a place to hide. The sudden rescue turns into a tentative friendship and eventually grows into a full blown Hollywood romance filled with exotic vacations, paparazzi, and the other normal relationship happenings like meeting the parents for the first time, etc.  I have to admit that I did not have high expectations for this novel but was quickly swept off my feet by the gentle romance scenes, hot make out sessions, and the fact that this guy truly loves his partner.  One word of caution: this story is LONG but worth reading.  I highly recommend it for those who still believe in romance, good guys, and read People magazine.
What else happened this month? I received a copy of Fifty Shades Darker and finished it while waiting for most of my Dr’s appointments. At least it made the four hour wait for the CT scan go much quicker. I also think it allowed me to feel so good that everything came back looking normal. Whoohoo. Oh, then there was the oven fiasco but that is a post worthy of its own. Otherwise, it is hard to believe that it is only 80 degrees outside and almost October.

Daily Organization

Sitting on my window shelf right in front of my sink is my collection of Star Wars Chubbies which are otherwise known as Russian nesting dolls. One day, I was washing the dishes and decided that it was time to increase my collection since I would be returning to work and might need something to inspire me. Hence, my latest Etsy purchase. Have you ever spent time on Etsy? It is almost as bad as Pintrest but not as bad. I probably waste a few hours on Etsy each month. So, my search for Russian nesting dolls landed me at this beauty.

 

Image

It is from RockitBot and is a local company which really piqued my interest since I always think about the whole idea of staying local and not buying from a chain store. But, while this looks like a piece of fabric or simply a wallet it is much better because it is designed to hold all of your electronic accessories like a cell phone, SD card, jump drive…and a small amount of money, a few credit cards/ ids, etc.

Image

One of the coolest features of shopping on Etsy is that sometimes you will order an item from a really crafty, creative vendor and they will send you all kinds of what I call tag-alongs including candy, cards, paper, etc. My package came wrapped in tissue paper and was wrapped in a cellophane bag tied with a pretty, simple, ribbon bow. There was also a card included which had a golf pencil too which was used to advertise the company. I was very impressed and elated to see the whole package literally.

 

Image

 

If you have not shopped on Etsy before I highly recommend checking it out and find something to buy. You are supporting local artists, stay-at-home moms, and just good crafty people in general. Check it out!

 

 

Check out this wonderful designer/knitter

If you knit or crochet you have probably found yourself spending a few hours days perusing the wonderful website Ravelry. On there, you will literally find thousands of patterns from hats to weenie warmers. Phydeaux Designs was advertising one of her new patterns on the website and the colors immediately caught my eye. I began following her online on FB, bought a couple of her beautiful shawl patterns, drooled over her yarn clubs, and joined her mailing list.

Today, Phydeaux Designs announced to her mailing list that she is becoming a fully, independent designer, knitter, and yarn dyer starting today after working full-time while attending to her budding knitting business on the side. I am very excited for her and wanted to share this wonderful news with my readers. Congrats to Phydeaux and go check out her new website.

Tweet!

I fixed the widget on here to enable the Twitter feed for my blog. Please feel free to check it out and post a comment.

Have a great Tuesday! It’s finally raining around here…… What is on your plate for today???