Sunday, January 31, 2010

framing a life (lyn)

This afternoon is DJ’s memorial service.  Ironically it’s in the same exact room where I saw The Jackie Look last night.  Instead of seeing photos of the former first lady on a big screen as I walk through the door, I see pictures of DJ.

About 70 of his friends have come together to celebrate his life.  Hors d’oeuvres and drinks are offered in abundance.  I have only one small beef Wellington appetizer and two glasses of seltzer water.  But today is not about the food.

Fourteen people, including myself, speak.  And each speaker brings another dimension to the dynamic mosaic of DJ’s life.  There are beautiful and funny and touching anecdotes.  There are remembered moments from his times as a choir boy in Scranton Pennsylvania to his march on Washington this past October for gay rights equality.  He is remembered for his beautiful work as a creative director as well as his love of culture.  But most importantly, people speak of Don’s kindness, empathy, and humor.  He lit up every room he entered.

The venue today is much better used than it was last night. It’s really a shame that we can’t attend our own funerals.  DJ would have loved this one.

how I survived the birthday party (m)

If you were an alcoholic, trying to quit, do you think you could stand 2 hours at a bar where a variety of alcoholic drinks were pre-poured and available for the taking?

That's how it felt tonight at the 60th Birthday party.  I stood at the island in the kitchen where everyone had congregated and sipped seltzer water with platters of cheese, crackers, shrimp cocktail, oysters, mushroom puffs, asparagus wrapped in pastry, and proscuitto wrapped around pears with figs on top surrounding me. Oh, and bowls of cashews.  I tried moving to the living room to sit in front of the fire but NO ONE joined me.  Why would they?  They were having a ball eating and drinking in the kitchen.  There was nothing in the living room but furniture.

I had 6 glasses (tumbler sized) of seltzer and two pieces of shrimp, knowing full well I had to stop there since dinner was yet to be served.

My husband suggested I have a few oysters and, while I know they don't do damage points-wise, I really think they taste like post-nasal drip going down the back of your throat, so I said no.

I tried to engage in conversation.  One guy's brother studies climates from dinosaur times.  That was interesting for 5 minutes (mostly because I was trying to find out "why" he chose this field).  One guest, already drunk, joined in on one of my conversations and kept repeating key phrases he heard us say.  I glared at him and he left.  Two of my husbands' close friends asked why I chose to leave the company which took over my former company.  I think they had ADHD because I'd talk for 2 minutes and they'd get distracted.  I said "excuse me" in the middle of a sentence (one of my own, in fact) and left to get a refill of the seltzer.

Then, from across the room, I saw my exit strategy.  The granddaughters.  Two adorable tykes dressed in full party regalia, running around.  I told their mothers I would give them a break and look after the kids.

We went into the playroom and read books, played with the wooden trains, did flash cards (pictures of animals).  I stayed there as long as I could, came out to have salad and some beef and more conversation with the grown ups.

After the birthday cake, we left.

And that is how I got through the night.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

the jackie look (lyn)

I have a long black shearling-hooded coat that I rarely wear.  It’s a great coat and very warm.  I maybe wear it four nights a year.  Tonight is one of those nights.  It’s 14 degrees out.  My kind of weather.

Last night Zelia, my Brazilian friend, tells me that she is worried about tonight.  As she explains,  “ it’s going to be so cold I’m not sure I can go out.”

I’m also worried, but for two very different reasons. 

  1. I hope the play is good
Similar to choosing a restaurant, I feel responsible for the quality of the play.  If Zelia hates it, I’ll feel bad, particularly given the weather.  We are seeing a play called The Jackie Look.  It stars a provocative performance artist named Karen Findley. Wikipedia describes her as someone “whose theatrical pieces and recordings have often been labelled obsene due to their graphic depictions of sexuality, abuse, and disenfranchisement.”  I don’t think tonight’s play will be that. 

 I’m somewhat enamored with the life of Jackie Kennedy.   In the summer of 2008, Alexander, my mother and I went to a one-woman show about Jackie.  .  It was performed for free in a small town on the Cape (Centerville) at the local senior center.  We arrived early, had subs in the parking lot for fear of being late (my mother is notoriously early for everything), and left at intermission.

  1. The food
There is a $15 food or drink minimum so we decide to have dinner there.  Eating out always worries me.

We get to the theater, which is downstairs in a restaurant, around 7:15.  Our seats are the worst in the house... at a  table in the very back of the theater, about three feet from the rear door.  The stage is miles away.  That, and you have to dodge heads to get a peek at the big screen set up in the front.  One person who is seated at our table is so disappointed with its location that she leaves before the play begins.  

We flag down a waiter and order.  I get scallops (and have only water to drink).  

By the time our food arrives, the performance has started and all lights are out.  I cannot see what I am eating.  I think there are some vegetables and a sweet sauce mixed in with the scallops and maybe even some lettuce.    I can’t be sure.

The play begins with promise.  Lots of Jackie photos.  Ms. Findley, dressed to look like Jackie, is on stage.  She begins by analyzing a website called, about the Texas School Book Depository Museum at Dealey Plaza.  She analyzes this website, particularly the store and its collectibles (like a 1963 Depository Building Magnet and JFK spoon). Her delivery is clever and funny.  But that only lasts ten minutes.  Soon she begins a lecture, with photos in the background that don’t correspond to what she is saying.  It’s not funny.  It’s not informative.  It’s just extraordinarily boring. 

Now the worst seats in the house have become the best.  We ask for our check and sneak out the rear door. I’m home by nine.

ice tea disaster (lyn)

Once a week I make a pitcher of ice tea.  It’s zero points, heathlier than carbonated diet soda, and I like it.  After trying several brands, I’ve settled on Harney & Sons’ Raspberry Herbal.  Making the tea is easy.  It's three steps.

  1. Boil two cups of water and pour over teabag, into a gallon container (in my case, a glass pitcher)
  2. Let steep for 15 minutes and then fill with 6 cups of cold water
  3.  Remove tea bag and gently squeeze it
Tonight, I almost burn down our kitchen before getting to step three.

While boiling the water, I take a tea bag out and leave it on the counter next to the stove.   I go in the other room and finish my lunch of chicken salad on Arnold thins and fat-free Pringles.  I hear the kettle whistling and return to the kitchen.  My eyes are immediately drawn to the dancing flames on my counter top.  Apparently (and I have absolutely no idea how) the tea bag has caught on fire.  I pour water on the flames, and Alexander is helpful in cleaning up the mess.   Fortunately nothing is permanently damaged.  I decide to try again.

I add a new tea bag to the pitcher and fill a measuring cup with boiling water (as I do every single week).   But this time, when I pour the water into the glass pitcher, it explodes outward from the heat of the water.   Glass everywhere, but no one is hurt.

Maybe next time I will explore recipes for sun-brewed ice tea.   

time passages (m)

My godson, W, sent me a letter this week.  At the end, he told me he was going into the Marine Corps.  I got very misty-eyed because it seemed like yesterday (literally) that I was in California for his christening.  He was a gorgeous little blonde baby with big blue eyes. 

My older son, Sam, called the other night to discuss his rooming situation for SENIOR year in college.  He's a sophomore now but the place he wants is in high demand and you have to declare interest well in advance.  While it's a way off in reality, the very idea that this stake was put in the ground reminds me that soon he will be a man, out on his own. 

My mother will celebrate her 85th birthday next Saturday.  She is now two years older than her mother who died at the age of 83.  It doesn't seem possible and I don't want to think about life after her (I'll even put up with a 2-year supply of paper towels).

Yesterday, my younger son, H, got his driver's permit.  I can remember like it was yesterday teaching him to pump his legs on the swing (he never grasped the concept).  Soon, he won't need me to take him to school or skating.   I will miss our time together.

Tonight, I am going to our friend Michael's 60th Birthday party.  He's my husband's roommate from Dartmouth and his best friend.  He's a gray-haired grandfather (but still boyishly handsome).  Sixty!  Yikes.

As I was reflecting on all this, I got depressed thinking that while life marched on all around me, I am still fat.

Just then, I heard H call to me in the house:  "Wow!  You were much heavier in this picture!"  He was going through an album from 2001 (we're pulling pictures for a montage for my mother's birthday party).  I looked at the picture and knew exactly what I weighed that day ....28 pounds more than I do now.

Maybe the next milestone we all recognize will be mine?

Friday, January 29, 2010

a multi-lingual day (m)

Slept in until 7 a.m. as H was done with exams and did not have school today.   He decides he would like to take the test to get his driver's permit.

Arrive at the Registry of Motor Vehicles by 9 a.m. and the line is out the door.  H fills out the paperwork, gets a number, and waits to be called.  We look around.  It's a League of Nations.  Ethnic garb, native languages. 

Our number comes up on the screen and we approach the counter.  I let my son handle this transaction and wait a few steps behind him.  I can hear his entire interaction with the clerk.  They review the paperwork, check out his passport and Social Security card, and then take the picture for the permit.  The clerk looks at my perfectly American son (with whom he's already spoken for 10 minutes) and asks "which language would you like to take the test in?"  I wonder if he would be asked this question if we were in another country.  Aren't all the road signs in English?

After successful completion of the process, we head to the pediatrician's to follow up on the tonsillitis situation.  A beautiful little girl is in the waiting room, clutching a Happy Birthday balloon.  She has a wretched cold (rheumy eyes, phlegmy cough).  I just want to pick her up, she's so cute.  I say "Is it your birthday today?"  Her equally gorgeous mother says she turned three yesterday, but is still celebrating. I say "Happy Birthday" to the little girl.  Her mother explains that she doesn't understand English (although the mother is completely fluent).  Sensing my puzzlement, the mother explains that while they are from Bulgaria, the daughter attends a Chinese day care program.  So, she is most proficient in Chinese, then Bulgarian. "I'm hoping she will learn English soon!"  

Later that evening, I am getting ready to meet my best friends from high school for a mini-reunion.  I ask my husband to be home by 6:15 so we can switch cars (driving the bus is exhausting).  He gets home around 6:30, which makes getting there a little tight on a Friday night during rush hour.  I jump in the car and hurriedly plug the directions into the GPS.  I get to the end of my street and hear "droit" and "en suite" and "gauche".  Somehow, the genius I married has switched the language option from English to French.  I'm in too much of a hurry to begin trying to figure out how to switch the settings.

Driving on I-95 North, I am frenetically trying to recall my high school French lessons.  I hear Madame GPS say "vingt-quatre" about something...I think she's talking distance.  Vingt-quatre?  Twenty four?  Twenty four?  I'll never make it in time! My oldest brother Joe once accused me of thinking that I was Dr. Spock--able to manipulate the time-space continuum--because I would leave 15 minutes after an event started, fully believing I would arrive on time.  Even I know vingt-quatre is impossible.  I eyeball the numbers on the screen and then it hits me...the system is in kilometres. Bien sur!  One kilometer is about 0.6 mile. 

I make the restaurant with minutes to spare.  It's a high-end Italian place.  Here, I'm expecting the menu to be in Italian.

It's in English.

my first sexy dress in years (lyn)

I had opened my window last night and when I awoke this morning my room was a chilly 53 degrees.  Karen and I had planned on walking, but with a temperature of 17 degrees, and windy, we decide to skip it.

Around ten, I leave my house and walk the mile to my eye doctor’s office.  The cold, which I always love, is brutal because of the wind.  But still it feels healthy.  The lasik surgery I got in 2000 has not deteriorated as my vision is still 20/20 in both eyes, although I do need reading glasses.  My pupils are dilated, as part of the routine check-up, and I leave wearing dark sunglasses.  As soon as the outside light hits my eyes, I am barely able to see.

I need to return something at Bloomingdales so I stop by after my visit to the doctor’s.  As I'm leaving the store, I spot a dress that would not have caught my eye three months ago.  It’s a form-fitting-very-tight-dress with a square neckline by Roberto Cavalli.  It’s sexy.  It’s a zebra striped print.  And I hope it looks as good on as it does off.

I try it on, and am surprised by how nice I look in it. Even from the back.  I’m thinking I could maybe wear it: to the Horace Mann Benefit in May, a reunion of sorts that I may go to in September in Boston, and on a date (if I ever have one again).  It also packs well, is good for any season (it’s mostly cotton-with some spandex), can be dressed up or worn down, and is priced reasonably.  My mother is always telling me to dress more sexily, and this is definitely a sexy dress.

But my pupils are still dilated and I’m not seeing all that clearly so I need to be sure.  I step out of the dressing room, and the saleswoman immediately tells me how much she loves the dress on.  But because she is, after all, my saleswoman, I search further for assurance.  A youngish man happens to be mulling around, so I ask him.  “It fits beautiful,” he says.  (You mean beautifully, I want to say but don’t).  I’m so thrilled with his answer.

The dress makes me feel good.  It reminds me of how I used to look.  It tells me that my shape is coming back.  It says I can be sexy again.

I come home and eat a few seedless grapes for lunch.

costco with my mother (m)

Imagine you are on some game show on television where the sole objective is to see how much money you can save while shopping for basics.

That's what it's like to go to the store with my mother.

I took her to Costco yesterday.  All I needed was bottled water.  I buy the 35-packs of Poland Springs.  When I'm alone, I can be in and out of Costco in 20 minutes these days.  I get my cart, pop in 3 cases of water, steer clear of the food samples, spend a few minutes in the book section, and then head to checkout.

I have learned over these 50+ years on this earth that, when I am with my mother, the best coping strategy is to abandon my own agenda.

My mother is almost 85 years old.  She looks younger than that (I color her hair), is in reasonably good health (we're watching her heart), but has bad knees.  Give her a shopping cart to lean on and she can fly!

She takes off the minute we get past the guy checking membership IDs.  I know her route--straight to the baked goods section.  I slow down by the books and she scowls "you have enough books."  Seriously.

After she's sampled everything they offer (including things she knows she hates, like the hickory-smoked pulled pork which she spits out and declares to be "terrible" loud enough for everyone in a ten-mile radius to hear), she zeroes in on the sale items.  Next thing you know, my cart is filled with 6 cases of water (I can barely move it), Bounty paper towels, Scott toilet tissue and Bounty paper napkins (you save another $3.50 per pack with the in-store coupon).  By this point, not only can I not move the cart, I can't see an inch in front of me.

Thinking we're done, I move forward.  It is like driving a car during a whiteout.  I can't see, but I keep moving for fear if I stop, someone will crash into me.  CRASH.  Don't I bang into her?

She has stopped for samples of David's cheesecakes.  Sweets are her weakness.   After she's sampled three of the flavors, she tells me to "get some."  Basically, she wants seconds. "Absolutely not...I can't eat that stuff on my diet,"  I say.   I keep moving past her.  She's not happy.

After we load up on ketchup (it's on sale and, apparently, "summer's coming" she says), Lysol disinfectant (a two-year supply) and Tide detergent (enough to launder the sheets for an entire hotel) we pass by a four-pack of Satin Care shave gel.  It's a good price if you are 16 years old and shave your legs everyday.  These days I shave when I get a pedicure or see my gynecologist.  I calculate it will take me 4 years to go through the four cans.  My mother pops in my cart a huge pack of Crest toothpaste.

Looking like a sherpa, I labor to push my cart to checkout.  Once through, we load up my car.

I turn to her and say, "where would you like to go now?"

We end up going to her favorite bakery where I let her pick out her birthday cake (strawberry shortcake) and buy her an apricot pie and a couple of pastries for the week.

Now she's happy.  It's amazing what a little sugar can do to sweeten one's mood.

At home, I unload the stuff from Costco.  I have floor-to-ceiling industrial-strength storage racks in my garage which you-know-who made me buy at Home Depot.  Their sole purpose is to store the surplus staples.  They are bursting with paper goods, plastic utensils, and cleaning agents.  I broke a sweat trying to fit everything in.

My mother surveys the racks.  "See, doesn't it feel good to save money?"

I mumble, walk past her to the front door where a package from awaits me.   It's my new book.

Now I'm happy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"beat the winter blues" cocktail party (lyn)

A few years ago I splurged and bought the perfect party skirt.  It’s a long handkerchief black-on-black silk skirt.  I justified the purchase with the rationale that it would never go out of style.

Last summer I wanted to wear it and I couldn’t get it up over my thighs.   I was so heartbroken I moved it to the back of my closet, as its very existence made me sad.

Tonight I am going to a party and decide to try it on again.  Not only does it easily slide past my thighs, it fits perfectly.  I match it with a beige cashmere top that I haven’t worn in two years and leave for the party.  I have dinner before going so I won’t be tempted by all the home-cooked food that I know will be there.  I plan to eat nothing and drink only one glass of red wine.

I say hello to the hostess and see not one other familiar face.  I am always intimated when I walk into a room filled with people I don't know.  I wait in line to get a drink, and then find myself standing alone while everyone around me appears to be in deep conversation.  I try to appear comfortable in my oneness.  As if anyone is watching.  Then I see someone else standing by himself and decide to walk over and make conversation.

I’m glad I did.  Brian is delightful.  Interesting, easy to talk to, married with three young boys, and knows the people hosting the party because he lives in the same building.  Most everyone else there is connected through Horace Mann.  When the conversation with Brian moves into so what do you do?  I find myself telling him about my blog.  (When I later tell this to Alexander he is justifiably appalled).  I don’t know if Brian is just being nice or if he really is interested, but when I give him my card, he takes it and promises to read the blog.  So Brian, if you are reading this, please comment as you said you would.

I recognize someone I haven’t seen in five years.  Our kids went to elementary school together.  And then some other people arrive from Horace Mann whom I do know, and soon I ‘m no longer standing alone. 

Great conversations.  No mindless eating.   One glass of red wine.  Time well spent.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

book club at my house (lyn)

Tonight I am hosting book club.  I agonize over what to serve, as it’s not really dinner, but some people come hungry and others eat before. I finally decide on the following, all bought yesterday at Costco:

I eat:
Pita bites
Tortilla chips (multigrain)
Fruit platter
Chicken salad from Costco’s rotisserie chicken

I skip:
Salsa peach dip
Cut up celery, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and red peppers
Chocolate chip cookies

I much prefer a meal, as the parameters are clear.  Munching is too dangerous.  I overestimate and assign myself 23.5 points just for dinner; 31 points for the day.  I’m allowed 18.  And tomorrow I have another potential munching disaster  --- an open-house cocktail party. 

As for the evening itself, everyone arrives by 8; we socialize for about an hour, discuss the book for 10 minutes, and then decide to watch Obama’s State of the Union address.

Tonight’s book is one I had previously chosen and no one really likes:  In Pale Battalions by Robert Goddard.  I had read it in 1988 when it first came out.  It was published by Simon and Schuster, where I was working at the time.  It became one of my most-loved books, and Goddard became one of my most-loved authors.  I was excited to re-read it and fall in love all over again.  But unfortunately, that doesn’t happen.

I don’t know why.  Someone in the group suggests that whatever was going on in my life at the time must have influenced my feelings about the book.  I believe she’s right, so I try to reconstruct the basics of my life during that time, compared to today.   This is what I remember:

THEN:  I was living in NYC.
NOW:  I am living in NYC.

THEN:  I was in a job that held much promise-big office, big title, great boss-bored to tears every day.
NOW:  No job, no office, no boss, no income, but rarely bored.

THEN:  I felt dumpy at 135 pounds, and was at my highest weight ever (soon after I started working out, got in the best shape of my life, and lost 25 pounds in the process).
NOW:  I feel thin at 131.8 pounds, know I have to up the exercise portion, and hope I can lose another 10 pounds or so.

THEN:  My middle sister had been married for 13 years and my youngest sister got married in October;   I was in no meaningful relationship.
NOW:  My two sisters are still in the same great marriages and I am in no meaningful relationship.

THEN:  I worried constantly over money.  I was earning $78M a year and had credit card debt of $5M.
NOW:   I worry constantly over money.  I earn nothing, but have zero debt.  On my credit card, that is.  But college looms ahead.

THEN:  M was one of my closest friends. 
NOW:  M is one of my closest friends.

THEN:  I was 37 and feared growing old without a child.
NOW:  I am 58 and grateful every single day for having such a spectacular son.

I don’t really know what it was about my life in 1988 that may have influenced such positive feelings about the book.   Maybe the answer is a simple one.  My tastes have changed.    Just not in everything.  I mean, I still like "Sweet Child Of Mine," by Guns 'n' Roses, but think I’d not watch Murder She Wrote if It were on today.  Law and Order is just so much better.

done for the day-the sequel (m)

Here's how I spent the hours from 3:00-9:30 p.m.:

-took a nap (until one of the "aunties" woke me up asking if I called even though I know she has caller i.d. and was looking for an excuse to talk)
-drank a vat of herbal tea
-made Harrison dinner (egg, cheese and onion omelet plus a bagel and soup)
-checked in on my nephew (who is staying with us while at law school and felt sick tonight)
-did two laundries
-wrote up an interview report for a prospective Harvard student
-took the recycling out; found a dead mouse in the garage (again); got a shovel to take the mouse outside
-helped quiz H for his AP History exam (Modern European History...I don't remember anything but the Renaissance.  He says the test will be like the Apocalypse)
-ate two graham crackers with my second vat of tea.

Now I'm taking my Benadryl and going to bed.

done for the day (m)

It's 3 p.m. and I've eaten all my points for the day.  I can't go into my 35-point surplus because I ate those points over the weekend (and then some).

So here are my options:

1. eat some more later (like dinner) and go over my limit
2. drink herbal tea, water, etc and "white knuckle" my way until bedtime
3. take Benadryl and go to bed now.

Stay tuned.

a good wednesday morning (lyn)

Karen and I walk at 6:30 this morning.  It’s amazing how many more people are in Central Park at this hour, versus our usual 15 minutes later.   It takes us 1:04 hours, which is about an 18-minute mile.  I want to be below 15.  Something new to strive for.

I arrive at Weight Watchers in my Lululemon black pant/white T uniform.  As soon as I take my coat off, I get inspiring comments from three different people along the lines of,  “I can see a difference in your shape.  Your hips are getting smaller.”  I definitely think that walking more is helping.  

I get on the scale and am down two pounds.  I’m thrilled.  That's now 28.2 pounds in 19 weeks.  I just hope this is not a fluke and that next week I am up again.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

taxi ride from hell (lyn)

Since tomorrow is Wednesday, I eat light today.  A Vitamuffin and tea for breakfast, a cup of blueberries for lunch, and an early dinner of rice pilaf, roasted vegetables, and left over pork chops from last night.

I rush to meet Meredith for a 7 o'clock curtain of a new Broadway play, Time Stands Still, by Donald Margulies (one of my favorite playwrights).  The 4-person stellar cast includes Eric Bogosian, Brian D’Arcy James, Laura Linney, and Alicia Silverstone.  It is the kind of play I most prefer:  a tight drama, lots of tension, beautifully performed, and no boring moments. 

I plan on taking the subway home but when I see a cab magically appear in front of me, I can’t resist.  I get in and see that the driver is talking on his phone, something that is illegal to do in NYC.  He is speaking in a language that I don’t understand.  I interrupt and ask him to please hang up and he does.  We travel a few blocks and his phone rings again.  He says something into the phone, which I don't understand but am guessing goes something like this:  “This bitch in the back seat won’t let me talk.  But don’t worry, I have a little plan to get back at her.”  For after he hangs up from that call, he proceeds to:

1. accelerate
2. locate and hit every pot hole he can spot
3. weave in and out of traffic
4. ride the break
4. stop at every red light at the last possible moment

And finally, the pièce de résistance, he sneezes into his right hand. 

I begin frantically looking for singles in my purse so I can pay without asking for change.  I find only tens and twenties.  Now what?  When the meter reads $7, plus the $1 surcharge.  I screech, “Stop.  Right here is good.”  So what if I'm four blocks from my house on this very cold night?  I find a ten dollar bill, hand it over without our fingers making contact, and jump out of the cab.  I should have taken the subway. 

it's a miracle (m)

My friend, "A", called today.  She was so excited I could barely understand her.  She just got back from Dana Farber Cancer Center and her tumors have shrunk to the point where her liver function is normal.

It's not my business to divulge someone's personal health details, but suffice it to say, this is nothing short of a miracle.

Last summer, A and I spent a memorable day on the beach at her summer home in Maine.  I remember wondering then if we would be able to do that again this year.

Now I believe we will.  Only this time, there will have occurred two "miracles".....hers and the fact that I will be able to sit at the beach and not have to worry about someone coming after me with a harpoon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

avatar (lyn)

I debate about going to see Avatar.  It’s not my style of movie:  futuristic, with alien-type beings.  But because I vote in the British Academy Awards, I feel obligated to see all the important, award-worthy movies, and this is the only one I haven’t seen.

Yesterday I emailed eight friends who are available during the day, asking who would like to see Avatar.  I’m using my BAFTA membership card so I can get in free, and bring a guest.  Seven of the eight people I wrote to had absolutely no interest in seeing the movie, and the eighth was unavailable.  It’s raining in multiple directions by mid-day, so I am inclined not to go.  I like being home while it storms outside.  But I do want to see Avatar this week so I can finish the final round of BAFTA voting. 

I spend the morning doing a variety of things.  I start by making tonight's dinner. It’s a weight watcher’s recipe that both Alexander and I love.  It’s easy too.  Honey mustard pork chops----4 teaspoons of heated honey, then add ¼ cup of wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  Put in a plastic bag and marinate overnight or all day.  Then cook on each side for 6-7 minutes.  Each pork chops is only 4 points, and so good. 

Then I make some calls, research and order a couple of things Alexander needs for school, plan some trips to colleges for Alexander to tour, and become totally discouraged by Weight Watchers (I get a response from a corporate affairs manager who informs me that the ONLY way to be considered for a job or interview is through the WW website;  "there are absolutely no exceptions," she tells me and I feel like crying).  

Suddenly it’s 1 o’clock; I’ve only had tea, and I need to leave in 15 minutes to take the bus crosstown.  It’s a rainy Monday.  I figure since the theater will be empty (kids still in school) I’ll just make my lunch and eat it there.  I pop some popcorn, grab a Diet Snapple, and make a tuna sandwich on a challah roll (I don’t like the Arnold thins untoasted).  The IMAX theater seats 600 so I figure I’ll sit somewhere with no one around me to notice.

I get to the theater just as the movie is starting.  I grab my 3-D glasses.  I enter, and aside from the first two rows, it appears that almost every seat is taken.  And most surprising, the seats are all filled with people like me, and older.  I manage to find a single seat (where someone was previously resting their coat).

Sitting in a full theater, with 500 other middle-aged people all wearing enormous 3-D glasses is rather comical.  But everyone seems so engrossed in this two hour and forty minute movie, no one seems to notice how silly they look, and, more importantly, no one seems to notice that I'm eating a tuna sandwich.

I hadn’t expected to like Avatar as much as I did.  It’s a big movie, with big music, a big story, big battles, and stunning visuals.  I’m glad I went. 

pigging out (m)

If you've ever seen Deborah Winger in Legal Eagles (she stars in this movie with, of all people, Robert Redford) there's a scene where she's home alone one night, smitten with Robert Redford and emotionally distraught.  She pigs out.  Pizza, hot dogs (she eats them uncooked, taking them straight out of the package, wiping the juice off with her hands).  The whole scene is disgusting.....and familiar.

I recognized myself in this scene.  It was a moment of truth.  I haven't pigged out in a long time, but I did this weekend. I think it was a release from all the stress of the holidays, the competitive season in skating, the traveling, etc.

While my family was appalled that I ate pretty much non-stop this weekend, I see progress in what I ate.  Here's a comparison between my pig-out list pre WW and what I eat now.


Ruffles Cheddar Cheese Flavored Chips (the orange ones)
Pizza (extra cheese of course--if I wanted to be "healthy" I'd get extra cheese and mushrooms)
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Brigham's Chocolate Ice Cream
Haagen Daz Chunky Monkey (I used to love this until I saw one of the fat lawyers from my office with a container of this at the grocery store in our town.  He died of a heart attack two years later. That's when I took it off my Top Ten list)
Grilled cheese sandwich (for a snack...they have like 15 points)
Smart Food popcorn
Bagels and cream cheese (again, just a "snack")
Lindt Dark Chocolate with Orange (one whole bar)


Special K whole wheat crackers
Rice Cakes (plain, unsalted) with a smear of low fat, low-sugar peanut butter
Weight Watchers candy bar (dark chocolate raspberry)
100 calorie microwave popcorn bag
Low sugar popsicle
Angel food cake
Weight Watchers chewies (the semi-soft candies that give you the runs)

I know I went overboard this weekend and blew my points, but I'm giving myself a "bravo" sticker for at least making decent choices. 

I know how much worse it could have been......

a walk in the rain (lyn)

I get up at 6:30 and look out my window.  It looks wet, but people are walking without umbrellas, and the temperature is 50, according to the TV.  I text Karen and say let’s go; she replies ok.

We meet outside my door at 6:45.  What looked faintly drizzly from my window looks different once we leave the building.  We get to the corner and the wind is very strong; we feel like those weather people in the news who are standing in the mist of a hurricane describing the conditions to viewers.  We decide to turn back.

After a few steps we think it would be such a waste to have gotten up and out and still not go, so we agree to proceed.  We put the hoods up on our weatherproof jackets and forge ahead.   Between the rain and the wind and our hoods, talking is difficult .

The reservoir is covered in puddles, and we are the only people there.  It’s a little eerie.  We decide to walk around the bridal path which is slightly longer.

We arrive home in 1 hour, 5 minutes, and 26 seconds. Yes, I decided to use the stopwatch again.  I think Karen thought I was joking when I suggested we could use the stopwatch as a gage to increase our times.

I get in the apartment, soaking wet, but glad I walked—that’s five times this week.  But then I see a large formation in Alexander’s bed.  It’s 7:50 and the bus comes at 7:38.   Looks like I may need to go to college with my son to insure he gets to class on time.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

attempting to act (lyn)

This afternoon I go to theater to see Memphis, a Broadway musical with two friends.  It always amazes me how much talent there is in NYC.  Even the unnamed singers and dancers that are back-up to the key actors are phenomenal.   

Although I could never dance or sing (in Hebrew School choir my friend Vivien asked the teacher if I could please just mouth the words because I threw everyone else off-key), I thought I could act.

When I was about 10, I was the only child actor in a local community play called Dirty Work at the Crossroads; I played Little NellDuring our last night of dress rehearsal, the play’s villain was carrying Big Nell across the stage and tripped.  Enraged, he dropped Big Nell, quit the play, stormed out of the theater, and sped away on his motorcycle.  I loved the drama of his exit.  But on opening night, the major role of the villain was played by the director, who had to read his lines on stage; there were no understudies.

In sixth grade, I joined Boston Children’s Theater.  One class assignment required “bringing” a favorite person to class.  I channeled Mr. Collins, my social studies teacher, and brought him.  He was funny, youthful, and irreverent.  I don’t think my impersonation did him justice.  When it became too difficult for my mom to drive me to Boston (which was 20 miles each way from where we lived), I had to quit.

But once I got to college, I tried out for (and performed in) some plays.   A group of us created what we thought was a brilliant piece of improv theater.  We called the play FUBAR (which cleverly stood for Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition).  We costumed ourselves in tie-dyed one-piece long johns.  We looked absurd, but maybe that was the point. 

Here’s a photo from February 1973. 

I look at it and think, I want to be thin like that again.  I was probably about 117 pounds or so, and wonder now if it’s possible to even reach that weight.  But even if I can, is that I good weight for me?  Probably not.  My face would look gaunt.  But I did like the way it looked then.

I also took an acting class.  It was my lowest grade at Tufts.  That, plus my inability to ever get a starring role, led me to the belief that I did not have enough talent to be an actor.  But sometimes, still, I wonder.  After all, when I was very young, I could cry real tears on cue, which did allow me to think for many years that I possessed a real skill.