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Ah, the weekend. It’s a common theme amongst my generation that our jobs are just the gigs between weekends. That doesn’t mean we don’t take work seriously, only that our free time is just as important to us. Balance. It’s something I strive for everyday. As a Libra, those into astrology would say that I was born with a need for balance in my life, that I constantly try to stay middle of the road on things. If there is such a thing as perfect balance, I am still striving to find it.

Balance, harmony is about how you feel, not how your balance makes others feel around you. See, you might strive for one thing, when someone in your life needs something else from you. What you need less of, they may need more of. That in itself is a seesaw. You can’t please everyone all the time, or live to balance out other’s lives, so focus on you – the one and only thing you have control of.

I try to pack my weekends with a mix of exercise, relaxing and friends. It’s a great recipe for me. I started off the weekend by seeing “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” with my friend Lee. I loved the first movie, who doesn’t? The atypical woman gets the quirky hot guy! What is there not to love!? The second one is definitely worth seeing. I forget how similar Greek and Italian cultures are. Both of our families are huge, and loud. Nobody ever wants to move away, and everybody does everything (and I mean everything) together. You take care of your own. Instead of everyone being named Nick, we’ve got Tonys and Joes and Maries in my family. That reminds me of something that happened earlier in the week.

It’s beautiful weather here in Arizona. It got hot waaaay too early this year, and because of that, things are blooming sooner than usual, which means I’m having breathing problems sooner than usual. I went to see an ear, nose and throat doctor for the first time this week. He was born in Brooklyn, raised in Long Island.

“LaRocca, huh. We had one of those in the neighborhood. Joe LaRocca. He used to sell things that “fell off” the back of the truck, if you know what I mean”. Oh, I know what you mean.

“There’s so many Joes in my family, who can keep count?” I laughed.

“I better treat you well” he said “I don’t want your family coming after me.” After a thorough discussion about my nose (and me being extremely disappointed that my breathing issues are not cause by anything that can get me a free nose job) he said to me as I was leaving, “Are you going to call your father and tell him I did right by you?”.

“It’s way too early”, I said. “Let’s see how you do with my allergies first. And if not…” I took a slow look around the office and did a little circle upward with my finger as I asked, “…you got good insurance on this place?”

Italians, Greeks, Mexicans. Big families. All the same.

On Sunday I’d planned to go to free yoga with my friend Lynn at lululemon. If you don’t know what lululemon is, it’s a high end athletic-wear store that focuses on yoga clothes, among other things. Their clothes are expensive (and I mean expensive) but they are well made, last forever and make your butt look amazing! Lululemon has an ideal, target customer: her name is Ocean. She does yoga every day, is single, mid-thirties and makes at least $100,000 a year. While I’m not quite there, I am a proud lululemon snob. I refuse to wear anything else. I still have my first pair of yoga pants, which I bought six years ago and still wear to this day. That’s quality.

Anyway, I knew I was going to yoga today, so I planned to get up early and go to church, 8am mass. Yeah, that didn’t happen, I like sleep too much. After a beautiful yoga class outside at Scottsdale Quarter on the lawn, a canopy of palm trees overhead and a few weirdos sitting there watching us, the Catholic guilt started to kick in.

On the way home, I looked up which masses were remaining for the day and found there was one left – Spanish mass. Lynn laughed and said it sounded like a good idea. Why not, right? How hard could it be? I know when to sit, stand and kneel. I took Spanish in high school and college. I know how to ask where the bathroom is and how to order two beers. Also, my church has projectors where they show the words to the songs, the responses. I could totally do this!

I thought, I’ll go right before it starts so there’s no time for people to try to talk to me. If somebody tries to start a conversation in Spanish, I’ll just pretend I’m deep in prayer. I love Latino guys, maybe my future husband is there!

During mass, there’s only one part where you actually talk to one another, and that’s towards the end when you do the sign of piece. For those of you who have never been dragged to Catholic mass, the sign of peace is where you turn to those around you, shake their hand and say “peace be with you”. There’s an older lady that always sat near us growing up, who used to say “peace and love”. I thought that was cool, different. I called her the Peace and Love Lady. When I was home for Christmas this year, there she was, in front of us. “Peace and Love”. I was elated to see that she still does it (actually, no, I was elated to see that she was still alive, she was an old lady back when I was growing up).

“Hey Siri, text Pita.” I love using talk to text when I’m driving. For those of you who haven’t read all my blogs, Pita got his name because he’s a big Pain In The…you know. He’s also Mexican.

“How do you say peace be with you in Spanish?” I told him what I planned to do. He promised me I wouldn’t be the only white girl there (he was wrong) and sent me back the detail I needed, “Paz este contigo”. Shit. How was I going to remember that? I thought about writing it on my hand, but then I need to shake hands, so that was no good…paz, that part I could remember. As a kid, when you wanted to be cool (cough) during mass, you would make a peace sign with your fingers and say “peace” to your brother, to your friends. While I wasn’t about to throw up a peace sign, I could remember “Paz”.

I got to my church parking lot just as it started. When I go on a non Christmas-Easter Sunday (to a gringo mass), I can always find a parking spot. Today, nothing. I had to park two blocks away, thank God I was in flip flops. As I walked up, I heard people clapping and singing. What the? Nobody sings at white people mass! Except me. I’m usually the only one around me singing; and the music…bum bum, bum ba bump bum, bum bum…this doesn’t sound like the old guy singing cheesy Jesus music; this was upbeat, this was fun…and everyone was clapping to the music. A whole church full, standing room only…so much for showing up late! I found an empty spot on the back wall to lean against as I clapped along in time to the music.

Who performed the service, I wondered? We have an old French-Canadian priest that is 82 and then a younger, enthusiastic Italian priest from the Midwest with hair longer than mine…evidently the latter speaks perfect Spanish. I marveled at him as he walked down the isle amongst everyone singing hallelu-“jas”.

While I couldn’t understand everything, I got the gist of it. “Jesus Christos” died for our sins. There was an energy at church that I’d never felt before. They baptized four kids during mass today, something that most churches do in a separate ceremony on an errant Saturday. Not my church, no, we do it during mass. We renewed our own baptismal vows (at least, I think that’s what we were saying?) and as he poured holy water on them, he said “Paz este contigo”. I got this! I said The Lord’s Prayer in almost perfect Spanish, thank God (literally) for the words being projected on the front screens.

After mass, there was a guy selling sno cones outside, another one was selling churros! I think I may do this Spanish mass thing more often….

Paz, este contigo.