Saturday, October 31, 2009

"are you going to be here next year, lady?" (m)

Today is Halloween.  My husband lives for this day the way many kids live for Christmas.  My mother says it's the most animated he gets.  He takes the initiative to decorate outside and even went to iParty to "keep things fresh and current."  I couldn't tell the new inventory from the old, but he was quite pleased with himself when the decorating job was done. 

Just before the trick or treaters arrive, he has a moment of self-doubt and runs to the store to buy more candy.  I bought two of those 150-count bags of assorted candy at Costco earlier this week. I thought 300 pieces was plenty. You wouldn't believe what he comes back with--mini Almond Joys (what kids eat coconut?) and those Kraft caramels that you might put in a candy dish on a receptionist's desk in the 1970's.  My mother snorts: "nice choice."

We have too much candy, especially since he parses it out like the Yankee that he is (he gave the UNICEF collectors a quarter each......our neighbors were peeling $1 bills off rolls).

By 10 p.m., we had about 75 pieces of the Costco bag left, all the Almond Joys and two bags of that caramel crud.  I was dying for a Kit Kat and a Reese's peanut butter cup and maybe even some M&M peanuts.  Just as I'm mentally calculating the points if I were to consume all that, the doorbell rings.

I told my husband that I would get the door.

Standing there are two young boys, about 12 years old.  I look at them for a minute and ask if they noticed any other kids on the street.  "I think we're the last ones," they say.

"Okay, boys, here you go".  I gave them the rest of the candy.

Their jaws dropped.  "Are you going to be here next year, lady?"

"Yes, but you won't recognize me", I say.


small compromises (lyn)

Years ago I used to smoke.  Maybe a pack a week.  I was mostly a recreational smoker.  I almost never smoked before five pm, preferring instead, the evenings.  And even then, I smoked primarily in social situations.  When I was drinking (which was rare), driving alone (which was more common), or playing games (cards, backgammon, boggle, etc.), I usually had a cigarette in my hand.

In 1981, I was dating John (whom I still speak to).  He challenged me to give up smoking for a week, and I did.  After that, it was easy to continue.  This was one of John’s few positive influences on me.

But I found that when I gave up smoking, I didn’t enjoy as much the activity I used to associate with it.  So for a while, I didn’t like driving or game-playing.  It took some time to disassociate the smoking from the activity.

It’s not so different with food.  It’s not as much fun dining out if I have to order something I don’t like to stay within my points. (I know this is not a perfect analogy as one cannot disassociate eating out from food, but I think there is still some similarity).   Tomorrow my sister is going to be in the city (she lives in Long Island) and she asked me to join her and her family for brunch at a restaurant I really like, Atlantic Grill.  So I go online to check their menu, and see lots of things I love.  Eggs Benedict.  Crab Cakes.  Cinnamon Raisin French Toast.  Blueberry Pancakes.  And then I see Egg White Omelet with low-fat Muenster Cheese.  That’s what I’d have to order if I went.  And as much as I want to have brunch with my sister and her family, I decide it’ll be too hard to eat something I don’t like, while watching others eat the very things I crave (and haven’t had in almost two months).  I decide to pass.

Tonight’s another example.   I am seeing a movie with Zelia.  I used to love to go to the movies, buy a box of popcorn and mix in junior mints (or chocolate covered raisinets or goobers).  I haven’t abandoned this combination entirely; I’ve just adjusted it.

Before leaving the house tonight, I will microwave a 94% fat-free bag of popcorn.  I will take out my new Weight Watchers scale (that I love but may have to hide, as I feel like an obsessive dieter just having one).  I will then pour a serving of raisinets onto it so I can accurately account for its weight.  And then I will mix the two together in a bag, and hide it in my purse. 

It is a lot easier to eat with abandon, but the results are not as pretty.

Friday, October 30, 2009

little food, much angst (lyn)

Today turns out to be a low-eating day.  It begins with a planning meeting for this year’s school Benefit.  While there is great food offered, I just have coffee.  

After the meeting, I run some errands and come home to deal with my diseased computer.   Following is an actual transcript from my online chat with Norton. 
I write:
“I need software to fix a virus called W97M that has attached itself to my Office Word documents. I am running MAC OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard).  I read that you will soon have a virus protection product for this Operating System.  Do you know when this will product be released?

Below is the transcript of the online chat that ensued.   It could be a play by Ionesco.

Namith: You are being transferred to Namith.
Namith: Welcome to Norton Live Spyware & Virus Removal Service.
Is this the first time you are contacting us?
Lyn: yes
Namith: Please confirm your email address is  _______  and direct phone number is ______   . Is that correct?
Lyn: yes
Namith: Please provide me your alternate phone number or mobile number.
Lyn: don't have one
Namith: Please tell me which country you are connected from.
Lyn: this is taking way too long...can you pls just answer my question.  I’m from you have an anti virus sofware compatible with Mac OX 10.6 (snow leopard) and if not, when will one be released?
Namith: Which Operating System do you have on the computer? (Operating System would mean Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS, etc.)
Lyn: as I just wrote (see above) MAC 10.6
Namith: We do not support computer running on Mac Operating System. We have separate department for the same, I shall transfer you.

After another 15 minutes with another person, the final answer was that they don’t know when a compatible product will be released.

I’m so caught up in this mess that I only have a bowl of fruit for lunch, eating it while I am waiting for Namith who must be masquerading as a customer service rep for Halloween.  Soon it’s 5pm and I need to leave by 5:30. 

I rush through a dinner of roasted tomatoes, grilled tuna and sugar snaps, with a Weight Watchers ice cream for dessert.  I meet Robyn to see an off-Broadway play billed as a comedy about a 60-something married couple who are contemplating suicide.  It isn't funny at all.

two-week weigh in results (m)

Missed weighing in last Friday because I was in Vermont for the New England Skating Championships with my son.

Thought about weighing in when I got back but didn't want to upset the rhythm of the Friday check-ins.

Weighed in this morning and Elaine's face nearly erupted.  I knew I had lost weight but didn't know how much.  We go through the same drill every time, she and I.  Elaine:  "Okay, so you want to know what you lost or gained (her emphasis...I know she's playing me), but you don't want to know the actual weight, correct".  Me: "Yes, Elaine....same as the last 5 weeks".  Elaine: (leans in, sotto voce) "You lost 8 pounds!"

Grand total to date: 24 pounds in 7 weeks. 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

leftovers (m)

I hosted a gathering of alumni interviewers from my college.  About 20 people showed up and the start time was 7 p.m.  Many came directly from work so I promised "refreshments".  Here's what I served: "pinwheel" sandwiches (half turkey, half roast beef--basically a micro roll-up); cheese and crackers; fresh fruit;  mozzarella and tomato skewers; and crudite.  I figured it was substantial enough and healthy (except for the cheese).

I spruced up the house and even bought matching napkins and plates (it killed me to spend money on this stuff when I have clear plastic plates and plenty of white napkins but my friend Mary is trying to reform my blue-collar ways).

The house looked even better when I watered the few plants I have and put out the fancy liquid soap bottles.

As the guests arrived, I greeted them at the front door and was a tad embarassed/horrified to realize I had forgotten to take down the woodpecker traps.  There, hanging from the front of the house, were several cut-up nylon stockings filled with mothballs and hot pepper flakes (my Cousin Patty's's working).  It looked like some demented Halloween decoration.

People were too polite to ask and I didn't volunteer an explanation.

The meeting went well, but I had a ton of leftovers.  I circled the counter on my kitchen island a few times like a vulture spotting some roadkill.  Maybe a piece of cheese....or two?  How about some dip with the veggies?  The sandwiches were calling me.  I could have sworn I heard them speak.

This was a test of will and a moment of reckoning.  I realized that while I am not strong enough (yet) to have only one or two things, I am strong enough to wrap all of it up and give it away.

Which is exactly what I did. 

My neighbors were very grateful.

sidetracked (lyn)

The date begins with promise.  I awake at 6am and it is dark.  I decide to go for a 3.6-mile walk/run.  Surprisingly, Alexander is already up studying for an AP Economics test.  He asks me if it’s safe in the park this early, and I tell him that since Sunday is the NYC Marathon I should be fine.

I reach the park around 6:20 and the sun is nowhere in sight.  But it is well lit with lanterns, and I see many runners and bikers on the outer road.  I run up the small ramp leading to the reservoir and it is deserted.  I decide to forge ahead anyway.   It is so dark that I race straight through the leftover puddles from the prior two days of rain.  I’m faster than usual; it’s my fear of some menacing creature surprising me from the bushes.  I’m home before daybreak, and feel great.

Around noon, I email Shari with an attachment.  She doesn’t receive it.  I also don’t receive the copy I send myself.  I try again.  No luck.  I reboot my computer.  I still can’t send the attachment.

I decide to go out and run some errands, hoping that when I come home the problem will somehow be solved.  It isn’t.  I call Apple.  I’m on with Jason for 28 minutes.  He puts me on hold to check something, disconnects me, and calls back.  We troubleshoot a few more things, and he gives up.  Says he’ll transfer me to a ‘product specialist’ who can help me further.  He disconnects me again, but this time forgets (or maybe chooses) to not call back.   I so hate computer problems.

I call back and I’m on the phone with very-nice Ryan (for the first 90 minutes).  We test a million things and discover that I can send and receive mail, send and receive non-Word attachments, and even receive Word attachments.  But I cannot send an email with a Word document attachment.

Ryan - and this is when things turn a little less pleasant (but still so much fun)- concludes that the problem is with Microsoft Word and not Apple and that I need to contact them.  But I can never reach them!  I hate them!  My Office 2004 is out of warrantee and I’d have to pay to get help!  I plead.  I beg.  I cry.  Nothing works.  Ryan can no longer help me.

But then he gets another idea.  He really is trying.  He sends me an email with some free program that will scan documents and tell me if they are infected.  So I scan a few Word documents and they are all infected with some micro virus.  The good news, Ryan tells me, is that it doesn’t affect the rest of my computer.  Just my Word documents.  Of which I must have a million, at least.  Such good news!

It’s now been over three hours since I first called Ryan.  More than 90 minutes on the phone with him.  Another half hour doing a free scan that just identifies all my corrupt files…too many to count.  And another hour searching the internet for good anti virus programs for a Mac that are compatible with Snow Leopard.  So far I haven’t found any.

So my documents still have a virus.  I don’t know how to make them better.  And I have zero appetite.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

tomatoes (m)

I was ravenous around lunchtime today.  Maybe it was the trip to Costco this morning where I had to dodge free samples of Pillsbury crescent rolls, mini egg rolls, "homemade" macaroni and cheese, spinach ravioli and chocolate covered almonds.  I felt like Ulysses navigating my way around the Sirens.  It was a bitch.

I knew it would be all over points-wise if I started with the turkey sandwich (I would have inhaled that and looked for more). Instead, I washed some tomatoes which had ripened on my windowsill.  They came from a tomato plant Sam and I planted this summer.

I bit into the tomato and a very strange thing happened.  I got a wave of nostalgia for my grandparents.  Seriously.  Tears in my eyes.  

My mother's mother was a beautiful woman who had a very difficult life. I remember she used every patch of earth on her property to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers.  I had a flashback of her one sunny day in her blue checked housedress picking the ripe tomatoes and putting them in her apron.  Lunch was a tomato salad with olive oil, ground salt, garlic cloves and basil served with fresh crusty bread.  Bliss.  Just thinking about her made me sad.  She and I had the closest of relationships.

My father's father was a trip.  He guarded his tomatoes with his life.  Once, when I was about 14 years old, I wandered into his garden and offered to help.  He stared at me for a minute and asked me, "Are you all right?"  What??  "I said are you all right?" he repeated.  I asked him what he meant by that and he asked me if I felt all right.  "Yes," I said.  He then told me to go into the house and ask my aunts if I was all right. "But Papa Nonnie, I'm telling you that I'm all right!".  He wasn't buying it.

I stormed into the house, angry and confused.  I was used to not being able to communicate with his wife who never learned English but this was a first between him and me.

My aunts laughed and said, "He means are you having your period?"  Oh My God, I thought.  Gross.  Why?  "Because he thinks that when a woman is having her period something happens to her body that makes the tomato plants die if she touches them." Voodoo gardening.....only my family.

So, I cried and I laughed and finished the tomatoes.  Who knew a simple thing like a tomato could evoke such powerful memories?

“trees don’t have eyes!” (lyn)

Karen, my friend and walking partner, lives down the hall from me.  She and her husband Tim are from Ireland, and plan only to be here for five years.  They have two gorgeous children, three-year-old Sam and 18-month old Rebecca.  Most mornings we have coffee together. 

It’s so great to have a next-door neighbor who is also a friend, and as an added plus, I get to spend some time each day with two beautifully energetic and smart little kids.  I love their innocence and sense of wonder.  Usually I knock on Karen's door around 9 each morning, but today being Wednesday, I have my 9:30 Weight Watchers meeting. 

I arrive early.  The woman who scolded me last week is exceedingly smiley and pleasant this morning.  I hold no grudge, but still check in with Robyn.  She smiles and says, “Very good.  You are down another 1.2 pounds.”  That’s a total of 11.8 pounds in six weeks.  I know this is good, but I was hoping for better.

Steve, our usual instructor is not leading today and a very-very-bubbly Dianne is the fill-in.  She does a good job, but after 60 minutes or so her vivaciousness becomes grating.  I’m looking forward to Steve’s return next week.

I come home and stop by Karen’s.  Becky, who barely speaks, says “Hi Lyn.”  I feel so honored that my name is part of her less-than-ten-word vocabulary.

It’s become habit that when I leave each day, Rebecca and Sam come back to my apartment and get a chocolate each.  I keep a bowl of Hershey-wrapped chocolates on my credenza and Alexander and I never eat them.  I am not even tempted.  They are primarily there for my little neighbors.

So this morning, Sam comes over and while I am getting him a chocolate I hear him say, “Trees don’t have eyes.”  I have no idea what he is referring to.  So I ask him and he points to a picture I have hanging on my wall called ‘Four Night Palms.’

I have looked at this picture many times daily for years, as has my son.  And we’ve only seen trees with hanging fruit.  But after Sam’s comment I take another look, and sure enough, he is right.  The trees do have eyes.  And perhaps I subconsciously know this, and that’s the real reason I save all the chocolates for Sam and Rebecca.

something to re-consider (lyn)

Last night I met Julie and Ken (along with Meredith) for a sushi dinner before theater.  I think it’s only the third time I have been in a restaurant since starting on Weight Watchers.

I don’t see Julie and Ken often, though I’ve known them for 30 years and adore them both.  Julie and I met in Chicago when I was going to Northwestern graduate school at night and working at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois in the day (we were both in Human Resources).  It was just a job.  Aside from Julie, there wasn't much to remember about my job there, but I do remember this.  The claims adjusters would work all day in fluffy slippers.  Perhaps they even wore them home.  I was 28 and this bothered me.  I think I felt that the job I was in was beneath me, and seeing fellow workers traipse around the halls in footwear that shouldn't leave one's home only reinforced my feelings.  I petitioned my boss to institute a policy that forbade fluffy slippers in the workplace.  It was unprofessional, I argued.  He agreed.  That was about the extent of the impact I had there.

Julie and Ken once lived in Manhattan, but moved out a while ago.  They now have two kids, a beautiful home with idyllic grounds in Connecticut, and great pets.  One is a rabbit.  Once when Alexander was little we visited them.  Alexander loved playing with their cats and two dogs, but was most enamored with their rabbit.  So he asked Ken what the rabbit’s name was and Ken replied, “Zeus, I think.”  Seems that the rabbit did not receive the same level of family love and attention that the others did.

Julie and Ken are the people I go to when I need to escape.  In the last ten years I have had that need twice:  once from the city and once from myself.    They are definitely not the coddling types (both are the least-whiny people I know).  A few years ago Julie was in a horrific car accident, nearly died, had a very lengthy recovery, and never once complained. 

The first time I ran to Julie and Ken’s was after 9-11.  I took Alexander and never wanted to come back.  I actually spent time with Ken looking at places to live in New Canaan Connecticut, a beautiful place that couldn’t possibly be less-me. We laugh about it now.

The second time was in June 2006, when I felt I was losing my grip on life.  I had completely lost my appetite and weighed about 118 pounds.  My clothes were literally falling off me, and I had to make an effort to put food in my mouth.   Everything tasted like sandpaper.  I remember going to Agata, in a fugue-like state.   I would buy spinach because objectively I knew it was healthy and nourishing, even though I couldn’t taste it.  Similarly I purchased other foods.  I was possibly even too-thin.  (But I did look good in a bathing suit).

In some ways, they’ve saved my life twice.  They also happen to be a ton of fun.

So as I sat at dinner last night with three very good friends, I decided that perhaps I should consider eating out more.  I've missed it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

there but for the grace of god (m)

Today was a "red letter day" on my calendar....the MRI.  I shopped around the state of Massachusetts until I found a truly open on all four sides..... versus a larger tunnel as some call an "open" MRI.  Still, I woke up with a pit in my stomach.

For moral support, I dragged my brother Phil with me.  While we were waiting in the lobby, we saw a young woman in her twenties sitting there, watching television.  I asked her what she was there for and she said that her doctor recently discovered a spot on her liver.  She is a former smoker and very concerned.  I felt like a huge baby, dragging my brother to accompany me for a knee scan while this poor person had to go in the closed MRI, head to toe, with no one there for support.

Phil and I tried to distract her.  An infomercial came on for a jet hose...powerful enough to clean your gutters, wipe away grime on your aluminum siding and get rid of pesky dirt between the grout in your cobblestones.  It had that woodpecker's name all over it and I made note to put it on my Christmas list.  I said I thought it would cost about $99.  Phil and I turned to Laurie (the young woman) and asked her to guess.  She said "$19.99."  Actual price: $19.95.  Phil instructed me to get the bowl of Halloween candy from the receptionist's desk and have Laurie select a couple of pieces for her prize.  He told me not to even think about taking any for myself.  She seemed distracted enough and was laughing by the time they called her in.  There but for the grace of God go I.

I won't bore you with my little moment of panic as I was moved in towards the magnet.  Because of my weight loss, the fit was not an issue even though most of me was under the machine. One of the segments was 4 minutes long and I counted one short program in figure skating (2 minutes thirty seconds...I hummed the music); one thirty-second tv commercial ( Gillette: "The Best A Man Can Get") and one 60 second countdown (60..59..58..).  That helped the time pass.

My husband made dinner plans with a business colleague and his girlfriend who is from Peru.   Restaurants are tough for me in that you have to kill alot of time NOT eating. The woman was very nice, but her accent is thick and the restaurant was noisy so it was a struggle to understand her.  I asked if she had any kids and she said that her husband was killed in a car accident when she was 29 years old. She said she would have liked to have had kids, but life didn't work out that way for her. There but the grace of God go I (she was, however, thin and beautiful so I didn't feel too sorry for her).

I had to leave dinner a little early to run back to the Skating Club to pick up Harrison and take him to an evening appointment.  I parked in one of those multi-level garages with all the black marks along the walls testifying to the tight fit up and down the ramps.  I was headed to my car when all of a sudden, another car came careening up from the lower level.  I couldn't move fast enough and screamed for the driver to stop.  I threw my large purse in between my body and the car to cushion the blow.  He stopped...but not soon enough as the fender brushed my right leg.  My leftover swordfish took flight as did everything else.  I'm okay, but I really thought I was going to be killed.  There but for the grace of God go I.

Rattled, I got into the car, drove to the rink, picked Harrison up and took him to his appointment.  I sat parked along the sidewalk while he was inside.  I avoided the new Berry Freeze store (fat-free, tart frozen yogurt with fresh fruit toppings) which was directly across the street.  I'd like to say I didn't get the yogurt because of willpower, but at that point in my day I thought I would be tempting fate and probably would be killed by a trolley while crossing the street if I did.

Instead of eating, I put on an extra coat of bright red lipstick and fluffed up my zebra print black and white scarf.  My hair still looked a little wild from the trauma, but I was content to be safe in my car.

Harrison got in the car 30 minutes later, took one look at me and said: "You look like one of Pagliacci's clowns".

I didn't care.  I'm just happy to be alive and well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

book club (lyn)

Zelia picks me up around 11 for our monthly excursion to Costco.  She tells me that my face really looks better (not as fleshy), and I am flattered.  I know she’s right though, as I can see it too.

Our trip to Costco is much faster and less expensive than normal.  Now that I am eating healthier, I can zip by the cookie/bakery section as well as the frozen desserts and head straight for the non-perishables, the healthy foods, and the meats and fish.  We are in and out in record time, under an hour.  I spend only $128, but that includes $14 for smoked salmon, and $13 for a fruit bowl.  A lot of money, maybe, but good for a lot of low points.

Tonight is Book Club.  Based on Zelia’s comment today, I anticipate that the women in my Book Club will react to the new me, especially since I haven’t seen them since before the summer.  I’m wrong.

I walk in late, and while everyone is very friendly, no one says a word about my weight.  I even stand around awhile before sitting, hoping that the smaller-sized me in my smaller-sized jeans will be noticed.  I’m not.

So of course I blurt out that I’ve lost almost 12 pounds, and everyone congratulates me.  But no one says I look thinner, because I’m told, they never thought I looked heavy before.  I am relieved.

Our Book Club is an interesting mix of very intelligent women.  At one time, our children attended the same public elementary school, Manhattan New School, or, PS 290.  Now, some of those same children are in college.

We get together about every five or six weeks, and have been doing this for over five years.  It’s always more about the socializing than the discussion of the book, since more times than not the topics we cover are of greater interest than the book. 

Take tonight for example; we meet to discuss Lucy, by Ellen Feldman, a fictitious account of the love affair between FDR and Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd.  The discussion lasts about 15 minutes, with no one really liking the book all that much.  The rest of the time we converse on a multitude of topics, including: the application process for college; the Collyer brothers and what to do if you think you know someone who may be a compulsive hoarder, (I do, and it’s a neighbor); the upcoming mayoral election (I think everyone supports Bloomberg, with varying levels of enthusiasm);  and this blog (the two people who have read it really seem to like it, which means a lot as they are both very smart, literary, and highly discerning.  Thank you Lynn and Pennelope).

All this discussing is done in the presence of delicious-looking food.  Crackers and dips, cut up fresh bread with cold cuts, a bowl of cashews, a spinach quiche, wine, and fruit. 

I eat only the pineapples, drink only the water, and leave feeling physically and mentally sated.

do you have a best friend at work? (m)

Believe it or not, when the Gallup Company takes a poll to measure employee satisfaction and engagement in the workplace, that is one of the questions they ask: "do you have a best friend at work?"

Several years ago, a new Chairman took over our company.  He was the first outsider in history to get the top job.  One of the first things he ordered was a climate survey of key groups within the company.  We thought it was a bit of a "witch hunt." The group I was in did not fare well.  It was the most productive business unit in the company, but not a "happy" place.  My colleagues and I were gathered and forced to view the results which were projected onto a large screen in a dark conference room with a large table featuring a cold granite countertop. 

I remember just two things from this meeting: the "best friend" question and the outstanding muffins and bagels from Rebecca's Cafe.

If you believe the people from Gallup, they say that in all their years of doing such surveys, this one question alone correlates most to job satisfaction.  It doesn't mean you work with your "best friend" in the does mean that there is someone at work you consider a good friend.  Someone with whom you can talk, eat lunch, socialize, vent, etc.  They say it makes a big difference.   My group thought it was B.S.

Today, I went to lunch with three women, all of whom I've worked with over the past sixteen years.  Two are from outside my old group.  The other, Michele, was in my group. We've launched major multi-million dollar businesses together; stressed together, worked late nights and weekends together, laughed together, consoled each other over the death of a parent/loved one together, celebrated birthdays together and, finally, said goodbye to each other as our company changed ownership and we went our separate ways.

We ate a healthy seafood lunch, skipped dessert, drove the other customers away with our laughter and gave our waitress a nervous breakdown (but tipped her well).

My three friends are still working but none are as happy as when we all worked together.

I totally get that Gallup question now.  Sometimes you have to lose something to really understand and appreciate what you had.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"i like your hair that way" (m)

Got home from Vermont last evening after a grueling five-hour drive in the pouring--at times almost blinding--rain.

Unpacked the car with Harrison and started a laundry.  He tells me that his school friends are coming over in thirty minutes to gather before they head out to the Homecoming Dance at school.  They are to wear costumes and, by the way, what will we serve them for dinner?   My mother has been at my house all day and is grumbling about why my house has to be Grand Central for everyone.  I'm looking around for Allan Funt and Candid Camera because this has to be some set-up for someone else's amusement.

We order pizza for the kids, they get in their attire (the three boys are Gladiators; the girls are Ninjas) and we get them off to school.   I'm ready for either the Betty Ford Clinic or my couch at this point.

My husband tells me that he wants us to go out since we've been like ships passing in the night all week.  That would mean dinner at 9 p.m. which is fine if you live in Spain but we do not.

I agree to go.  I am more tired than hungry.  I order some fish and steamed broccoli and eat half.  My husband is making small talk and my ears perk up when he says: "I like your hair that way."  Now, I've been wearing my hair the same way for a few years.  My head turns around like Linda Blair in the Exorcist.  "What are you talking about?  I haven't changed my hairstyle."  Then he says: "Mmm...well it looks different".

My husband is very intelligent but details are not his thing.  He once left the front door to our house OPEN all night long (we live in a heavily wooded area--it's a wonder the coyotes didn't get us) and, often, mail comes back to our house where he addresses letters to himself and puts the recipient's name in the return address section. When the boys were babies, I lived in fear that he would leave them in their car seats on the roof of the car while he unlocked the door and then drive off.

By 11:30, I'm finally in bed and looking forward to my first good night's sleep in four days.  My husband walks by the dresser with the photos on it and says:  "You know, it's NOT your hair that's different!  It's your face!   It looks more like it was in this picture!"  It's a picture of me and a friend from college, circa 1979.

I slept like a baby.....that is,until my friend, Susan, woke me up to watch a Sunday morning show about obesity.

all played out (lyn)

Today I saw Hamlet on Broadway, starring Jude Law.  He was electrifying, but at three hours, the play was too long.  Perhaps if Shakespeare had been a contemporary playwright, he might have been advised to shorten the play by an hour or so in order to appeal to a broader audience.  

I go to theater a lot, but this week I may have overdone it.  By Tuesday, I’ll have seen five plays in seven days. That’s a lot of sitting and watching.

I get hungrier when I’m engaged in a passive activity.  Today was no exception.  By the time I left the theater, at 6pm, I was starving.  

For dinner, I settled for a turkey burger with exactly 30 fat-free Pringles and a 2-point WW ice cream for dessert.  I am now full, and feel I didn’t have the  healthiest dinner, but I did stay within my points.  

If someone had told me three months ago that one day I'd be counting out the number of chips I ate, I'd think they were crazy.    But as long as the pounds keep melting away, counting, weighing, avoiding and substituting are minor sacrifices to make.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

eating simplification (lyn)

I realized today that I rearrange my schedule in subtle ways to accommodate my new eating habits.

Today was homecoming at Horace Mann, and despite beautiful fall weather all week, today it rained.  And rained.  And rained.  Alexander’s football game was scheduled for 3pm, and Zelia offered me a ride up at 11:00am.  I was all set to go, until Shari called and said she was driving up at 1:00.  I opted to go with Shari, not because I wanted to arrive at Horace Mann later, and not because it was raining, but because it would make the food-thing easier.

You see, if I left at 11, I would have to deal with lunch…. where and what to eat.  For homecoming, the school was providing a free bar-b-que.  I knew it would be hard to resist. As a possible alternative,  I went on line and looked up the points for various Subway sandwiches, as there is a Subway a few blocks from the school.  The points seemed too high.  That, and I didn't really want to leave homecoming, to walk down the hill into town in order to satisfy my hunger in a healthy way.  So I was relieved when Shari called and offered me a post-lunch ride.  This way, I could eat my lox-cream cheese-and Arnold thin sandwich and an apple at home.

As for the football game, the result was a disappointing 40 to 0.

I got home late and was going to an off-Broadway play with Carol.  She had asked yesterday about having dinner before theater, but I had declined, saying I would be home too late from the game, which turned out to be accurate.  I got home around 6:10, changed out of my wet clothes, practically inhaled asparagus, shrimp cocktail, and Chilean sea bass, and left by 6:40.  When I had declined Carol’s offer to eat out, the real reason was to avoid a restaurant experience where it would be more difficult to stay on plan.  I felt less exposed just saying I’d be home from the game too late.

Until I am in closer range of my goal-weight, I’ll continue to eat most meals in.  It's a lot less complicated that way.  But less social too, and that I don't like.

time flies (m)

Driving up to Vermont on Thursday afternoon.  I think my son is sleeping and I am just plowing ahead on I-89 with farms and cows everwhere I look.  It is a beautiful Fall day in New England.  Vermont is picture-perfect.

All of a sudden, Harrison speaks.  "I love these long drives with you".  You do? I ask. "Yes, you usually get lost and it becomes an adventure.  Remember when we missed the George Washington Bridge last summer on the way to Delaware?" I will never forget it, I say.   We were hopelessly lost and I attempted to throw an apple out the window in frustration but instead  it hit the inside of the car, ricocheted off and hit me back.  He could not stop laughing when that happened.

 Then he says: "You know, it seems that when I was young, I felt as though I was a little kid for a really long time, but now it seems as though time is flying by."

I can't speak or else he'll know I'm about to cry.  I say nothing.  Then he says: "I'm glad you're losing weight so I get to keep you for a lot longer."

I vow to stick to this diet.

too much of a good thing (m)

I've been away these past couple of days with my younger son who was competing in the New England Championships in ice skating so we've got some catching up to do.

Thursday was the day from Hell. 

It began with me taking him to school in Cambridge in rush-hour traffic at 7 a.m....a daily occurrence.  Then, I had to go back home to finish loading the car for the trip...skates, bags, boot dryer, tub to ice his ankles after competing....normal stuff like that.

After that, I had to rush into Boston for a meeting.  No time for a hot breakfast, so I grabbed a cup of 100% Bran Buds and some skim milk and ate it quickly before heading out.

Raced through the meeting and then had to go back to Cambridge to get him and take him to the rink for a last practice on home ice before heading to Vermont.  While at the rink, I had a snack--a 100 calorie bag of popcorn.

Around 2 pm, I gassed up the car and got him some lunch.  I realized then that I had left my turkey sandwich home (not to worry, you-know-who will scarf it up), but I needed to eat lunch before the 4-hour drive.  Eddie, the cook at the rink, told me to have a small bowl of his lentil soup.  It was great and hit the spot.

During the long drive, I snacked on an apple and had two bottles of water.

We got to Vermont, checked into the hotel and joined some other parents and skaters for a quick dinner.  I had salad with grilled fish and steamed broccoli and two large glasses of unsweetened ice tea.

The official practice ice was 9:20- 9:50 p.m.  It was in another town and my GPS abandoned me in the dark about two miles from the rink over by Lake Champlain.  My son and I looked at each other in horror when "Pat" (our name for the GPS voice...she also speaks French, very smart lady) told us she was done guiding us and for us to "check the local signs" to find our destination.  I thought it was nerves when I heard my stomach gurgle.

We called a friend who guided us to the rink (she had just finished there) and I settled my nerves with a cup of tea and another apple while my son did his last practice of the day.

On the drive back to the hotel, my stomach was gurgling like crazy.  I'm not usually this nervous, I thought.

Got into the lobby and realized it wasn't just nerves....I had to "go". 

Ran past the bowl of large red apples in the lobby and realized why.

Too much fiber today.

Friday, October 23, 2009

celebrating silvia (lyn)

My neighbor Silvia died.  She was 98 years old.  In 7th grade, my son interviewed her for a project he was doing and she told him about her life.  She was born in 1911, and immigrated from Cuba in 1932.  She married soon after, had three daughters, lived on Fifth Avenue, and basically lived a happy life.  In fact, the interview with my son ended with her saying, “I love to have somebody taking care of me and cooking and all that.  THAT I LIKE!  I like comfort.  Yes.  And I do like New York City.  A lot.  I have lived a long long time here…a lot of years… and I don’t think I’d change it for anything.”

The funeral was today and after the funeral the mourners came back to her apartment which is right next to mine.  Kiko, one of Silvia’s nephews, knocked on my door around noon.  I had given Silvia’s daughter a copy of the interview Alexander had transcribed and he came over to thank me and invite me over.  I appreciated his thoughtfulness and said that I would.

When I answered the door I was still in my walking clothes from 6:45 this morning.  So I showered and changed.  It felt good not to have to agonize over clothes.  I pulled a straight- black Sonia Rykiel skirt from my closet, one that did not fit last year, and put it on.  I checked myself in the full-length mirror and was relieved to notice that my bum was hardly protruding.

Silvia’s relatives appeared to be more joyous than somber.  I declined all offers of food, despite how tantalizing they looked, and met some very nice people.

Silvia was well loved and well cared for.  She lived a good life.  And I was glad to be part of the celebration that honored her.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

the "blind" man (lyn)

In January of this year I decided, finally, to get shades or shutters for all my windows. That’s how I met John. He installed my blinds.  Tonight we have a date.  I haven’t seen John since our last date in late April.  We have a very casual, pressure-free relationship.  I think we both like it that way.

I am nervous about our date.  Not at all about seeing John, but rather about the meal.  We always go to a nice restaurant where the food is fabulous so I mentally have to prepare for what I will or will not eat.  I had previously been strategic about picking the actual date.  I didn’t want to taint the quality of the date by scheduling it on a Monday or Tuesday, too close to weigh-in Wednesday.  So Thursday was perfect.

We decide during the day to go to The Strip House, one of NYC’s popular steak houses.  My friend Shari (who knows so much about so many things) highly recommends it.  I call her for ordering advice and she has three suggestions:  1.  Don’t be tempted by all the great-sounding steaks.  Order the strip steak.  It’s what the restaurant is known for.  2. The french fries are amazing.  Don’t order them.  You’ll have to eat them all if you do.  3.  Order the truffled creamed spinach.  You’ve never eaten anything like it.

John arrives on time and looks great.  I like the way he dresses.  Jeans with always a nice button down shirt.  I decide on a skirt and white blouse with slimming suede boots (that I later learn are good for no more than a 5-block walk, discovered during our after-dinner walk through Washington Square). So, here's me, 10.6 pounds lighter from when I started.  I know that the flared shirt doesn't accent my new-found waist:
I don’t give John a chance to say anything about my weight loss.  Within five minutes of getting in his car I ask him if I look thinner.  He says I do, but then I think he is saying yes to be nice.  But later John, unsolicited, does tell me again that I really do look thinner, and that he would have told me on his own had I not asked.

The restaurant is perfect.  Buzzing with New York noise.  Intimate.  And crowded.  We are seated immediately.  With great will power, I am able to ignore the breadbasket, but do try a delicious cracker with pate that is offered.  We order a glass of red wine each, and decide to split a shrimp cocktail for an appetizer.  It’s perfect.  Two giant shrimp beautifully presented on two separate plates, a little heap of cucumber strips, and cocktail sauce.  For dinner, we follow Shari’s recommendation exactly and she doesn’t disappoint (she rarely does).  The 16-ounce strip steak is maybe the best steak I have ever had.  I leave only about 6 ounces for tonight.  And the creamed spinach with truffles is hard to describe without having the skills of a food critic.  So I’ll just say it was amazing.  We each order another glass of red wine.  We skip dessert and just have cappuccino. 

After dinner we go for a short walk.  That’s when I discover the walking-limitations of my boots.  John drives me home and before we say goodnight, John says that when he sees me on our next date in February I should look even thinner.  I should, but I hope he’s kidding.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"bother me! bother me!" (m)

I'm pretty sure it was 1987.  I know because I was wearing one of those synthetic fabric, Dynasty-inspired dresses with the big shoulder pads and the elastic band around the hips so the top part of the dress bloused over.  In retrospect, that was the beginning of the end of being thin because that style dress hid alot of sins and was flattering.  The dress was black and red.

Anyway, this is not about the dress.  I was in NYC for a meeting with my advertising agency.  We had just finished dinner and I couldn't wait to get back to my hotel room to relax and take a break from thinking about home perms.

I was staying at a hotel on 6th Avenue across from Radio City Music Hall.  It was a high-rise building that was always busy with conventions and business travelers.  I remember waiting for the elevator, seeing drunks, smelling cigarette smoke and listening to insipid piano music from the bar.  There was a large bank of elevators and I failed miserably at "gaming" which one was going to arrive first (just as the numbers go down towards the lobby, the elevator I'm standing in front of stops forever on the fourth floor).  Finally, I see an elevator door open and I race to get in, sticking my foot in to keep the door from closing.

Relief.  I'm in the elevator and there is only one other person.  I turn to look at the person, and it's Bea Arthur, the television actress.  I LOVE her.  She's staring forward, not acknowledging me.  I want to tell her how much I admire her, but do I dare?  Would you?  What if she thinks I'm an idiot?  I see that we have several floors to go before we reach either one's destination.  I'll feel ridiculous if I say something and she just looks through me.  I decide to wait until we're almost at my stop and then I say: "Excuse me, Ms. Arthur, sorry to bother you but I just want to tell you that I love your work.  In fact, my whole family loves you and we watch every episode of The Golden Girls." 

She turns towards me and grabs my arm and says: "Bother me! Bother me!"

I think we made each other's day.

Today, I was sitting at the rink where my younger son trains.  I was deeply engrossed in doing my bills.  A mother came up to me and said: "Sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to say that your weight loss is beginning to show".

I grabbed her arm and said: "Bother me! Bother me!"

hitting rock bottom (lyn)

I get up at 6:30 and go walking with Karen.  I love leaving when it’s dark and seeing the sky lighten by the time we hit Central Park.  I’m hoping that by walking before weigh-in my weight might be lowered.

I come home, put on my weight watchers “outfit” and go to class.  Last week there was a rumor that one of the two check-in scales was slightly lower than the other.  I query some early arrivers as to which scale was registering the lower weight and no one can remember so I decide to try them both and see.  I get on the first scale and check-in.  Then I ask if I can get on the second scale.  I do, and Robyn consults with the first check-in lady and then smiles and tells me that the weights are exactly the same.  And, she adds, congratulations, you are down 1.2 pounds, for a total to date of 10.6 pounds.  She gives me a star.  I feel good.  But then, the first check-in person looks at me somberly and says, “We can’t do this every week.”  “Do what every week?” I ask.  “Weigh-in on two scales,” she says.  This is the first and only time I’ve done it and now that I know that both scales are equally calibrated why would I ever need to do a double weigh-in again?  I hate when people do this.    Take a singular act and expand it into many.  I decide that I don’t like the first check in lady and in the future will be checking in with the more cheerful Robyn.

My new weight allows me to now eat 18 points a day (down from 19 last week).  It is impossible to go below 18 points.  That means I’ve now reached rock bottom. I like it here!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

my inspiration (m)

Several years ago, I was assigned to manage one of the most inane products ever introduced: a non-aerosol shave cream for women.  It wasn't the non-aerosol part that was bankrupt; it was the container itself.  While it looked pretty with its sexy shape, it was heavy and impossible to dispense without a third hand.

The package was so heavy and clumsy I asked if we were planning to give free medical care to women in the event they dropped it on their toes in the shower.  My boss did not look amused.  Instead, he told me we needed to make it "as big a deal as possible" in the marketplace. 

So, we had a big sales meeting and then we had a public relations event.  Michele S. was Director of P.R. for the business and she came up with a great idea.  Let's host a function in New York City and invite every editor of every major women's magazine to a breakfast at a great location and tell them about the product.  To entice them further, Michele pulled out the Big Gun...Dr. L--dermatologist to the stars (like Madonna).  Dr. L always draws a big crowd, Michele said.  And, to top it all off, we'll have one of the hottest (as in most popular) private workout instructors in NYC join us.

The theme for the event was "It's All About Legs".  It was a three part presentation.  I was going to regale the audience with the key messages about this wonderful product women have been waiting for and how it helps the shave; Dr. L was going to tell them about the skin on their legs, how it differs from the other parts of the body and therefore needs special care which this product would provide and the Personal Trainer was going to show them some leg exercises to tone the muscles so they would have smokin' hot legs.  The perfect trifecta, no?

Well, Dr. L shows up for rehearsal and she's as big as I am.  We look at each other the way Lindsay Lohan first looked at her British campmate (who was her long-lost twin sister)  in The Parent Trap---with a gasp and a jolt of recognition.  We don't say anything and rehearse our lines.  The Personal Trainer was too busy to come to rehearsal.

The next day, Dr L and I are wearing near-identical outfits in brown (which was the new black that year).  We could have been sisters.  In walks the trainer, wearing a sports bra and spandex shorts....for the presentation!

The event was well-attended, the presentation was effective and we got lots of placements in the magazines that summer.  The product got great trial but bombed because women couldn't get the product to dispense as the package was too hard (ahem!)  I still have the photos from this event and you can see Dr. L and I on the ends with the skinny half-naked trainer in the middle.  We're looking at the Trainer and our eyes are saying "Die, bitch".

Fast forward to 5 years later.  We do a different PR event for a different--and better--product.  We again stage it in NYC and again hire Dr. L. 

She walks into the room and is DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!  She's lost more weight than she currently weighs and is wearing some fabulous outfit.  She's stunning.

I corner her after the meeting and ask how she did it. 

She said she went to a nutritionist, followed the program and went into chat rooms every night to talk to people and get support.  She said writing about it helped her.

She is my inspiration.  And this is why I blog.