Sunday, February 28, 2010

coffee break (lyn)

Around 5, my friend Pennelope calls and suggests stopping over. I tell her that Alexander is studying and taking up the entire living room (my son, with his papers and books, can expand to fill any imaginable space). “That’s ok, we can sit in your room and have our cappuccinos.”  I hang up and think of the mindless things I still want to finish before dinner: read a few more pages of my book; talk to Alexander’s grandmother about taking him on some college tours; investigate summer programs for Alexander; and other inconsequential things. I almost call her back to cancel but decide not to.

Soon after P arrives I realize how much better spending time with her is than doing any of the other activities I had planned. I make the cappuccino and we take it to my room. There we sit and talk about all sorts of things. Some frivolous, others not.

P stays about an hour. As she is leaving, she casually says, “Coming over here is a little gift I give myself.” I almost cry. The true gift is what she gives to me.

wake-up call (m)

My brother, Phil, wakes me up at 8 a.m.   I had just fallen asleep from a night of pain with my knee.

"Your name is in the paper."

Apparently, I'm on the list of people with unclaimed property.  The list is put out by the Treasurer's Office of the State of Massachusetts.  It says it can be from uncashed bonus checks...forgotten bank accounts...unclaimed refunds from credit card companies...or even, I could be the beneficiary of someone's estate or life insurance policy.  The article has a section of testimonials where people are quoted saying they have used their money to pay four years' college tuitions or to take that long-awaited vacation.

I don't know how much is there or where it came from.  The Treasurer's office doesn't open until Monday morning.

Meanwhile, I've already planned what I'm going to do with my newfound inheritance:  buy a proper red wrap-around dress by Diane von Furstenberg.

RICE (m)

Lyn goes on the internet, searching for remedies for my knee injury.  Some site suggests a treatment plan with the acronym of RICE.

R...Rest, she says. need to apply Ice. 4-8 x per day for 20 minutes.  This will get the swelling down.
C..Compression.  Wrap something around your knee.  This should make it feel more comfortable.
E..."Eat?", I ask, hopefully.  No...Elevation! she says.

Too bad.  Except for that "E" thing, I thought I had a treatment plan tailor-made for me.

a memorable game (m)

Saturday.  Sam's team is in the hockey play-offs and the quarter finals are being played in Massachusetts, about 2 hours from our home. 

I usually drive on these trips but my right knee (formerly, the good knee) has been killing me all week.  I don't know what I did to it.  Maybe it just quit on me as punishment for making it bear the brunt of the left knee injury which happened in September.  Maybe it's a ligament strain from driving 8 hours for each of the past two weekends.  Regardless, I decide I can't drive today and my husband reluctantly takes the wheel.

I pack a dinner for us:  turkey sandwiches, Fiber One yogurts, apples and some bars--WW for me, Balance bars for my husband.  Water for both.

I was supposed to make cookies for the team but decided the temptation would be too great.  I bought several dozen at the bakery.  I thought I would have to re-finance my house with what they charged.

Driving out along the Pike and it starts to snow.  My husband puts the wipers on manually and shuts them off.  This goes on for about 45 minutes.  On...and off...manually. I'm trying not to break into the cooler for another half hour and I'm getting cranky.  I tell him to put the wipers on "automatic...intermittent" but stop doing it manually and waiting so long.  What's the big deal? he says.  The big deal is I feel like I have glaucoma because you let the windshield get so snowy.

 Screw it.  I eat my dinner.  It's 5 p.m. and I'm finished eating for the day. 

We get to the rink.  It's packed and the air is electric.  Playoff time.  I hobble up to the bleachers and we sit with the parents we know. 

The game is very tight all along.  At the end of the third period, the score is tied 1:1.  My stomach is growling.  All I've had at the rink so far is a cup of hot green tea.

We are not supposed to win this game, but we do look strong.  Sam is playing and I look up...he's in the overtime period.  My stomach is in a knot...nerves?  No.  Hunger? Yes.

Just then...we score!  I jump up from my seat and hear a POP! in my knee.  I fall back down.  I try to get up and can't move.  My husband says let's go.  I tell him I can't.  He says of course you can.  How does he know this?  He doesn't.  Some women help me down the steps.  I feel ridiculous.  I can only go two steps and then I have to stop. How the heck am I going to get out of this building.  Somehow, I pull myself along the boards of the rink and make it to a bench.  My husband, realizing I'm in trouble, calls the athletic trainer over and he applies an ice pack and tapes it on my knee.  I throw on my long down parka and hope it covers my knee.

Sam comes out of the locker room, gives me a hug and kiss, looks down and says "you're kidding me."  He gives me his two hockey sticks to use as crutches.  I make it out of the building and into the car.  Many parents kindly offer to help.

Get in the car and call Harrison to let him know we'll be home in two hours.  He asks how the game went and we tell him.  And about my knee.

"So, basically, you're telling me I can't apply to either of these great colleges since you made such a scene."

sunday brunch (lyn)

Today I’m having brunch with Jean and Glen and their very-hip 24-year-old daughter who’s in law school outside the city.   We last got together exactly a year ago.   They live in Bangor Maine, but make it to New York at least once a year.  

Jean and I met in 1972 when we were both college juniors and lived in the same dorm.  It was backgammon that sealed our friendship.  We were introduced to the game by a Turkish friend of ours, and soon became addicts.  We used to keep an ongoing scorecard, posted on Jean’s dorm wall, and over two years of playing almost daily, ended up about tied in number of wins.

After Tufts, Jean returned to Maine, went to law school, met and married Glen, had two great kids, and now owns her own investment company.  She is a fabulous skier, an accomplished sailor, a creative writer, a painter, and the consummate professional.  Jean’s conservative appearance belies her true character.  She is liberal, open-minded, and embraces beliefs that many would shun.  A few years ago, she hired a feng shui consultant to help improve the negative energies in her immediate environment.  And it took a paranormal expert to rid her home of a young girl ghost who’d been living there for centuries.   

We decide to have brunch together.  My dreams of blueberry pancakes or eggs benedict are replaced with the image of an unspectacular egg white omelet.  Something I’ve never before eaten.

We end up going to a little restaurant near Grand Central.  I order a 3-egg white omelet filled with smoked salmon, onions, and tomatoes along with coffee.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m really hungry, because the company is so good, or because an all white omelet, if filled with the right ingredients, can be truly satisfying.  Whatever the reason, the omelet is delicious.

One of the many topics we discuss over brunch is Alexander's junior year, and how tough it is.  There's his challenging curriculum;  the pressure of thinking about, and visiting, colleges;  SAT prep for the March 13th test;  ACT prep for the test on April 10; extra-curricular activities; social pressures;  community service;  thinking about what he can do this summer that is meaningful;  two AP exams in May; preparing for the subject SAT tests in June;   and finals at the same time. "I feel so sorry for him," I say, to which Jean quips, "This is just the beginning of feeling bad."  I'm hoping my wise friend is wrong.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

tonight i'm gonna party like it's 1999 (m)

Missed weigh-in yesterday.  Went today instead.  Down 2 pounds.  Haven't weighed this since 1999.

a new follower (lyn)

I log on and see that one of the women that was at Shari’s birthday celebration the other night has become a follower of this blog.  Let me tell you a few things about J.

First, she is stunning.  Dresses and accessorizes to perfection.  Never over does it.  Is amazingly fit.  Smart.  Intense.  Married.  Has two children (one is a classmate of Alexander’s).  Is a doctor.  And delivers several babies a month (what could be better than that?). 

The night we had dinner, this is what J did during the day:

·     Had office hours until 1 or so
·     Came home, and swam for an hour
·     Returned to the hospital and made rounds
·     Came home and ran 6 miles

By comparison, that same day, this is what I did:

·     Updated things on the computer while watching The Today Show
·     Did a couple of puzzles and watched Chuggington with my two little neighbors while their mom went to the dentist
·     Read the paper and a little of my book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
·     Answered some ads for jobs
·     Did a little work for the school benefit
·     Talked on the phone
·     Finalized air travel and researched hotels for our trip south during spring break to look at colleges
·     Marveled at the snow

Not much of a comparison.

And now J has become a follower of this blog.  I’m in awe.  

a light and airy dessert (lyn)

One of the things I learned when I first started weight watchers is this:  a slice of angel food cake is only two points.   And, it contains no fat and no cholesterol.  To put that in perspective, I get 18 points a day.  A slice of apple pie is 10 points, and cup of chocolate mousse is 12 points.  So even if I account for frosting, a slice of angel food cake is still only 5 points (assuming each slice is the equivalent of two Tablespoons of “frosting, store-bought, regular”).

I used to love having different desserts after most dinners.  So did Alexander.  My favorites included a slice or two of Schick’s 7-layer cake or chocolate roll (that I could only find at Zabar’s),  a cupcake from Crumbs  ( an intimate little bakery on the eastside), or a slice of Agata’s opera cake or tiramisu.  But all that stopped on September 16th when I became serious about losing weight.

Every Wednesday when I go to my Weight Watchers meeting, I stop by the nearby Corner Café and Bakery.   It is there that I pick up two slices of angel food cake:  one with a lemon frosting, the other with chocolate.  I make those two pieces last the week.  I even over-count the points.  For example, If I split a slice in two (which I typically do), I count each half as ¾.   It compensates for the fact that a slice from a bakery may be bigger than normal, and that bakery-made frosting may be more points than store-bought.   A few months ago, I’d cut off and toss all the frosting.  Now I scrape every last piece off the thin paper wrap.

This morning, the snow has finally stopped falling and the sidewalks have all been cleared.  I go to the local supermarket and buy Alexander a gallon of mint chocolate chip ice-cream.  As he's been reminding me, my dessert-sacrifices needn’t be his.

Friday, February 26, 2010

bm in the p.m. (m)

Friday mornings are my time to weigh in at WW.  I worked extra hard this week and was anticipating good news on Friday.  All week long, I ate lots of filling salads, chewed celery sticks, did  light veggie stir-frys and drank lots of water and iced herbal tea.

Just one problem.  Nothing was coming out the other end. 

By Thursday night, I felt like a dirigible...all blown up.  Something had to break.

Friday morning....woke up at 6 a.m.  No action.  Took H to school and came home...nothing.  By 9 a.m., I had to make a call.  Do I go in feeling like the Goodyear Blimp or do I wait for relief to come?

I decide to wait.  There's a class at noon.

My mother calls.  Why aren't you at WW now?  I wonder why she called when she thought I wouldn't be there.  I explain.  "That makes sense," she declares.  How can this be?  Now, I'm checking the schedule for Saturday.  I'll go then, I say to myself.  I can't take this stress of waiting to have to go to the bathroom.  I feel "lighter" just having made that decision.

Finally, at 7 p.m. on Friday, the stomach gurgles and I rush to the bathroom.

It took 5 days...but it happened.

Too bad there's no late evening class.

bum wrap (m)

H drives home on the Mass Pike in rush hour traffic.  I make a mental note to wear those adult diapers next time we do this.  He does a good job but the Pike is stressful, especially on Friday nights.

We pull into the driveway and the UPS man is just pulling out in his van.  I thank God my mother isn't here to see me get yet another package.  I don't think she's ever ordered anything that had to arrive via the mail.

I take the package inside.  What can this be?  Gasp!  It's my new wrap dress (in black and in my new size).  I first apply fresh lipstick and then slip the dress on and turn to face the mirror.


V-neck is too high, length is too long, too much material around the hips, and it's not even a proper wraparound's a faux wrap where the front folds as if it were a real wrap dress.  I'm devastated thinking the red one...the dress of my going to be a bust, too.

I look in the mirror again.  I look like one of my Italian aunts at a wake.

Wrap dress?  Bummer.

looks good to me (lyn)

Alexander has become fastidious about food being anywhere but in the fridge, a cabinet, or the breadbox.  Motivated by his fear of mice, Alexander takes no risks with uncovered food.  Everything edible is hidden.

For lunch I take out a bowl of the zero-point Italian-influenced soup I made earlier in the week.  It’s on the counter, about to go into the microwave, when the phone rings. I go in my room to take the call.  Soon I hear Alexander shouting, “I don’t care that you left your food out.  Even a mouse wouldn’t eat that!”  That being the lunch I love.  

a tip from the waitress (m)

Busy morning.  Pop into Dunkin' Donuts for a cup of tea and some breakfast.  My friend, Mary, is talking to me on the cell phone.  I ask her if she thinks I should get one of those low calorie wraps at Dunkin' Donuts or eat later.  She reminds me how important it is to start your day with a good breakfast.

Get to the counter and order the Wake Up wrap...egg white.  I ask if they can not put the cheese on this.  The server asks the person making it to skip the cheese, then turns to me and asks if I don't like cheese.  I tell her I do, but I'm on WW and every little bit counts.  She then tells me she did WW last year and lost 27 pounds.  Then she says she stopped going to meetings and lost another 47 pounds on her own.

Her secret?  Green tea.  At least two cups per day.  She went from a size 22 to a size 14 in less than one year.  I thank her for that information, switch my order from Earl Grey to green tea, and leave a generous tip in her jar.

I turn around to go...the line behind me is long.  The men are pissed.  The women ask "What did she say about green tea and losing weight?"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

shari's birthday (lyn)

Tonight eight of us are going out to celebrate Shari’s birthday.  It’s been raining and then snowing all day.  The snow is supposed to continue through tomorrow.  After school programs are cancelled.  The school announces that it’ll be closed tomorrow.  In view of the weather, Shari sends an email around saying she’ll understand if we want to cancel.  As a testimony to how loved she is, not one person wants to cancel, and eight of us later show up, at 7:30, at Accademia di Vino.

I had requested a circular table and what the restaurant provides is even better.  The table we get is in an alcove. We are separated from the noise of the other diners, but not isolated. We are going to have our own private party.  Which, as it turns out, is good for the restaurant, as we are not a demure group of women.

Our little party includes a doctor, a lawyer, a college professor, an ex head of economy for a major country, and four other equally smart and articulate women.  It’s a dynamic group.

Shari orders for the table, and we share.  Three different kinds of salad.  Charred brussel sprouts.  Tartares of salmon and tuna.  Thin crusted pizzas of:  prosciutto and arugula; mixed mushrooms and sheep cheese; and everyone’s favorite, an amazing black truffle pate.  We order another truffle pizza and eat the whole thing.  Each piece of pizza is small, but still, I have four pieces, plus a small salad, a little of each tartare, a small piece of bread,  two brussel sprouts, and who knows how much red wine, as my glass is always being filled.  We later order two entrées of pasta: spaghetti alla carbonara and another one with just olive oil and cheese.  I only have a forkful of the carbonara.

The dinner begins with benign chit-chat:  Have you been watching the Olympics?  How’s your son liking college?  Do you plan to visit any schools during spring break?  Where can you take bridge lessons in the city?   But by the time the pasta is ordered, we’ve escalated to more controversial subjects.  Is Obama doing a good job?  Where does life begin?  If a child cheats at school and another student knows, should they report it?  Does the school really care?  How naive are our sons (we all have at least one)?  Who is to blame if a girl willingly poses nude on an ichat, a boy records it, and then a third boy distributes it virally?   No one is afraid to speak up.  Some are more vocal than others.   Most are liberal.  Two are not.  It gets heated.  We get louder. 

The waiter comes for dessert orders.  We order a cheesecake, a honey panna cotta with dried apricots (so good; I had about 3 spoonfuls), and some gelati (I have another 3 spoonfuls or so).  

Around eleven we decide to leave.  By then, we are all laughing again.  Everyone is happy.  Hugs all around.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the red dress (m)

A couple of years ago, I tried losing weight by going to a top-flight nutritionist.  One of the exercises she put me through was "visioning" whereby I would envision how I would look when I reached my goal weight. "Be very specific," J said.  "What are you wearing?"

I haven't given it any thought, I replied.   I was debating what size I thought was realistic to target given where I was.  I hadn't planned my wardrobe.

"No, this will work better the more specific you are.  You're meeting some old friends who haven't seen you in a while.  You are wearing jeans and a white shirt with a nice belt," she said.

No belt, I said.  I'm short...that will cut me in half.

J sighs. "Okay, so no belt.  Jeans and a white shirt."

I don't do sleeveless.  Is the shirt sleeveless?

"You need to take this seriously.  Wear whatever shirt you want."

J...  the problem is... I don't want to wear jeans and a white shirt, okay?  I want to wear a red wrap dress with a v-neck.  I want the dress to have some lycra in it so it is slenderizing.  I want to have on one of those Spanx things underneath and I want to wear a jet necklace.  I look best in red and black.

And that's what I envisioned. With a tan, of course.

Today, I got a catalogue in the mail.  The dress was in there!

I called immediately.  First, I ordered it in my new black.  Then I thought about ordering it several more sizes smaller --and in red--but I thought that was too frivolous.  Then again, I may not find this dress in this color in that size when I need it. 

Jerome was the customer service rep on the line.  He suffered through my thought process.

Okay, Jerome, we're going for it.  I'll take the dress in red ...three sizes smaller.

I hear the keyboard clicking in the background.  Jerome comes back on the line and informs me that the red dress is on backorder in that size.  It may not be available for a couple of months.  Do I want to wait?

It's fine, Jerome.  I don't need the dress for about a year.

points of a pound (lyn)

Every morning I wake up and step on the scale.  Despite eating out four times this week, I’m doing well.  I’ve been thinking that this could be a big week.  I envision Robin with an astonished look on her face saying, “Congratulations, you are down two pounds.” 

But this morning, when I weigh myself at home before going to class, it seems as if someone has tampered with my scale overnight.  Are mice that smart?

I arrive at class and step on the official ww scale.  I still get Robin’s smile (she is always cheery), but instead of being down two pounds I hear, “Congratulations.  Point eight pounds.”

Okay, I know; this is still good.  Almost a pound.  It’s harder now.  I should be focused on toning and not losing.  But still.  Point anything is not as good as the whole thing.

what matters most (m)

Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette's mother passed away suddenly this week of a massive heart attack while at the Olympics.  If you just watched the women's short program, you would have seen a rare moment of humanity, with all countries joined together, lifting this broken-hearted skater's spirits by giving her a standing ovation.

To her credit, Joannie--an only child--held it together when she came on the ice and all throughout her program.  It was only after she finished that she broke down.

I mentioned to Harrison that she probably felt she could let it all out now that she had finished her skate.  He looked at me and said, "No.  I don't think that's it.  I think it's that she's looking at all those people in the audience and realizes that the one who matters most is not there."

He turned to me and said: "That's what I do.  Look for you."  Then he said "I'm really happy you decided to get healthy."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

for my son who can eat anything (lyn)

Most nights, around 10pm or so, Alexander comes into my room and wants to go over to Sedutto's, the local ice cream store.  It doesn’t matter how much he’s eaten for dinner, he is always “starving” within two hours. 

Awhile back we came to an agreement.  For every A or A- he achieves in school, Alexander wins an ice cream from Sedutto’s. I know this sounds a bit juvenile, but otherwise I'd be spending over $100/month  on ice cream.

Last week was a good week.  High scores in Spanish and Math earned Alexander a couple of trips to Sedutto’s.  Tonight he comes in to claim his prize.  But the weather is horrid.  It’s been raining all day, and tonight is even worse.  It sounds great from inside, but not exactly something you’d like to be walking around in.

I offer Alexander some alternatives.  “What about having one of my weight watchers ice cream bars?  Or my chocolate chip cookies (also from ww, implied but not stated)?  Or maybe one of those chocolate-raspberry bars (again, from ww)? “  He rejects all my offers.  I then try a different route.  “How about some of the fresh blueberries or cut up strawberries that I bought today?”  Again, the response is a negative one.

 “How come I don’t get to eat good desserts anymore just because you’re on Weight Watchers?  Now you only have healthy foods in the house.  We don’t have anything good.  I liked you better before.”

His sentiment is real;  his delivery not.  But he’s right.  Tomorrow I’ll buy him some fattening foods.

an unwanted guest returns (lyn)

I’m on the phone with Shari, talking about the school benefit, sitting at my desk,  in my bedroom.  In my bedroom where I sleep.  All of a sudden a small grey furry thing scoots along the floor near my computer wires.  It’s a baby mouse.  I freak.

Shari reminds me of the time that she had a massive mouse problem that started with a baby mouse.  “Trust me, if it’s a baby you’re seeing, then there are more.”

Alexander is back to wanting a cat.  My super is just going to tell me to put down more glue traps.  But that’ll be tomorrow since he doesn’t work past 6pm.

The chicken I bought at Costco today is tasteless.  So are the brussel sprouts and tomatoes.  I’m too focused on the image of a mousse climbing into bed with me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

the sisterhood of ww (m)

My husband calls mid-day to remind me to book a hotel reservation for our upcoming trip to Florida in March.  We are going there to watch Sam play baseball.

I research hotels in the city we'll be visiting and select one I think looks great.  I call the 800#.  They are booked solid.  I've been told by friends not to accept this answer at face value.  "Well, I do have a preferred guest membership from when I used to stay at your hotel in the Mid-West.  I was there twice per month for two years.  Can you look me up, please?"

The woman-Anne-finds me in the computer.  "Okay, I found you.  Let me see if I can find something for you.  I'll have to put you on hold."

I was put on hold for 7 minutes which was long enough for me to forget who I was talking to.

Anne comes back, informs me that we have a room.  She tells me that we have two double beds, no ocean view and no real discount on the room.  Should I take it?  Something makes me press on.  I explain to Anne that I really would like the room with the exercise equipment (it's shown on the website) as I'm on WW and I would like to work out while on vacation but am not ready to join the Spandex crowd in the hotel gym.

Long pause.  "Anne--are you there?"

"Yes, I'm here.  I was just thinking I know how you feel.  I just lost 27 pounds on WW and I've got a whole bunch more to lose.  I'm diabetic and my blood pressure is high. "

We start talking about dieting...WW...our favorite recipes...strategies for avoiding trigger foods (Anne suggests allowing yourself a bite or two of cheesecake, for example, and then spraying the remainder with Windex to destroy it).  I give Anne some encouragement and tell her if I can lose weight, anyone can.

Fifteen minutes later, Anne asks if I belong to AAA.  "Yes, I do, why?" I ask.  Next thing you know I have a room with an ocean view, exercise equipment and a substantial discount.

Anne tells me she hopes I have a wonderful vacation.

"I will now," I say.

tax time (lyn)

Once a year, around this time, I see Janet.  She’s been my accountant for as long as I can remember needing one.   Or more specifically, since my father’s best friend and CPA stopped doing my taxes.  So about 30 years.

At this point, I probably don’t even need to see an accountant, as I have no income.  There's no longer even a reason to itemize as I can’t get back more than what I’ve paid in.  Needless to say, my historical two hour meetings with Janet have been reduced to about 30 minutes (and that includes the non-tax questions about kids and life).

When I walk into her office, it looks as it always does.  Papers piled everywhere, and a couple of glasses on her desk.  This year, one glass is filled with ice tea (that looks good) and the other is filled with a watery brown-colored liquid that looks ghastly.  The drink has been made from the 1.5 pound bottle on her desk labeled 'NutriBiotic Vegan 80% Rice Protein Powder'  (in chocolate, no less).  I’m so grateful I don’t have to drink something that looks like that in order to stay healthy.  Maybe it tastes better than it looks.  It would have to for anyone to drink it.

As we do my taxes, Janet stays focused on the task.  She barely looks up as she asks the requisite questions about income, interest, health costs, etc.  I answer her questions, and am done so quickly that my NYC transit Metrocard allows me to get a free subway ride home and count it as a transfer.

As I am about to leave, Janet looks up and seems to notice me for the first time.   “Unemployment agrees with you.  I'm telling you;  you're glowing.”  And just like that, my lack of work turns into a benefit.  At least for a short moment.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

out for sushi (lyn)

Alexander and I are going out for dinner.  We prefer ordering in, eating at our coffee table (Alexander uses our dining table more for homework than eating), and watching an episode of 24.  It’s always exciting to see how Jack Bauer is going to untangle himself from an impossible situation and then kill fifteen terrorists single handedly after he’s been shot three times and left for dead.  What’s amazing is that it rarely seems absurd, despite the fact it is.  But I have a $25 coupon to a Japanese restaurant we like, and it’s expiring tomorrow. 

I decide to wear a pair of black pants that I bought in July of 2007.  They are a D&G size 44. (I later check an online conversion chart; Italian size 44 translates to a size 8, but I’m sure that’s a big size 8).  When I last tried these pants on, I couldn’t breath in them, and I remember looking in a full length mirror and seeing a scary-large tush.  When I try them on tonight, they are a little baggy and my tush is not protruding.  They don’t look good on me at all.  I take them off, put on my new favorite Lucky jeans, and wonder when it was I should have worn them and have them look good.  Probably around Thanksgiving.

Armed with our $25 coupon (I feel a little like Jerry’s parents going for the early bird special somewhere in Florida), Alexander and I go to Amber, a local Japanese restaurant.  We order the sushi/sashimi dinner for two.  We are sitting at a small table, and when our platter arrives, it is so big that the water glasses have to be removed from the table so that it can fit.  The couple next to us looks over and says, “You two are so small, how are you going to finish that?”  I think I disappoint Alexander when I don’t launch into my recent weight loss history.

Except for a foreign looking grayish-colored fish that neither of us wants to touch, we finish the whole plate.  The couple near us is impressed.   Alexander and I talk about college; about school; about girls; about life.  And while Jack may be off saving the world, I’m happy just to be sharing a quiet meal with my son.

big! (m)

This afternoon, I started the process of cleaning my closet.  It's a large walk-in closet loaded with clothes spanning four seasons and at least five sizes.  If I had the room, I would install one of those racks they have in the dry cleaners where, when you present your ticket, they advance the rack automatically until they come to your number.

I was overwhelmed with what I saw in my closet.  Clothes stuffed together with no air in between the hangers.  My family suggested I just take a section of clothes and try them on.  It became a game.  I would go into the bathroom, try something on, come out and whoever was there in the room would shout "BIG" if something was too big.  Yes, I know I could do this myself, but it was gratifying to hear a chorus of "BIGs".

This went on for two hours and I only made a dent in my closet, but the pile of BIGs was much, much bigger than the pile of KEEPs.

Then came the decision.  What to do with the big clothes?  Normally, I would keep them, assuming my weight would go up again.

Not today.  The family weighed in saying "Get rid of them.  We never want to see you that size again."

And so, they went into boxes and bags. 

I feel a little "exposed" not having clothes in case I gain weight.  On the other hand, I know I can never go back to where I was.

a slice of heaven (m)

Surprised my mother by picking her up and taking her to the North End (Italian section) for lunch.  For months, she had been carrying around in her purse a clipping of a pizzeria that reviewers say makes "the best pizza" in all of Boston.

We drive down narrow, crazy Hanover Street in "the bus".  It would be difficult to park one of those mini-Coopers in this neighborhood but, here we are, plowing our way through all sorts of congestion with the Yukon.  Now I have to find the equivalent of two consecutive car spaces to park this beast.  The gods must have heard me plead, because we found the ideal spot right around the corner.  If I didn't hit the parked Saab, it would have been perfect. 

I leave my mother in the car and run across the street to get some take-out for her.  She said the place looked like a "dump" and didn't want to eat inside.

I get there.  It's 11:30 in the morning and the line is out the door.  I'm standing in the long line which is moving ever-so-slowly.  This nice-looking middle-aged guy  behind me in line starts talking to me.  "Best pizza, don't ya think?"

I dont know, never been here before, I say.

His eyes light up.  "No? No?  Do you mind if I tell you the story of this place?"  I feel he will do that regardless of my answer, so I say yes.

"The owners wake up every morning and are in here at 5 a.m. to make the dough.  They squeeze the tomatoes with a foley mill so they are fresh.  No canned pizza sauce here, sister.  They get the best olive oil, four fresh cheeses and crushed salt and pepper along with fresh basil.  They start making the pizzas by 10 a.m.  Whatever they make in the morning is it for the day.  When they sell out, they close the shop for the rest of the day.  Usually by 1:30 in the afternoon."

He continues.

"You know Zagat?  They rate restaurants (I'm a little offended as I'm wearing my diamond studs and he thinks he needs to explain Zagat to me).  A perfect score is a 28.  This pizza gets a 25!!  25!  The Ritz doesn't get 25!!  The Four Seasons doesn't get 25!"

Line barely moves, he's still talking.

"I've been coming here 3 days per week since 1981.  I swear, if the FBI is ever looking for me, I tell my friends they will find me here because I can't keep away from this place.  I have a vision that I will eat my pizza and come outta this place and they will be there...the FBI...and shoot me, Dillinger-style.  I don't care, it'll be worth it.  What a way to die!"

Wow. I say, lamely.  When is this line going to move? I think.

"See up there?  On the wall? The photograph? Ted Kennedy ate here! (I tell my mother this later and she says 'where DIDN'T he eat?').

I look at this guy more closely.  Light skin, blue eyes the color of the sky on a clear day.  Pleasant face.

Do you live around here?  In this neighborhood?

"I'm from Charlestown.  I'm Irish.  I am an honorary Italian, though."

Then he tells me to get the arancini (fried ball of rice, meat) , a panini, and the pizza.

"Look...look at the prices.  So cheap.  In 1981, the slices were 30 cents.  Now they are $1.45.  Not bad at all.  The panini is only $2.00.  What a steal.  You can eat like a king for NUTHIN."

I finally make my way up to the head of the line.  My Irish friend is on my heels.  He orders for me!  "She'll have four slices, an arancini a calzone and a panini."   I tell him I want the spinach panini (WAIT..why am I tell him anything?).  The total bill comes to $12.00.  No tips (my favorite part).

I say goodbye to my friend.  I get to the car.  I tell my mother the whole story.

My mother tries the panini with spinach.  "This is very good," she declares.  I tell her it was only $2.00 and she moves her rating up from "good" to "excellent". 

I wait until we get home.  I saved my points so that I can have half a slice of pizza, which I estimate to be 5 points.  I bite's like a slice of heaven.

I now have every confidence I will see my new friend sometime in the future.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

typical saturday (lyn)

Wake up.  Have tea.  Check mail.  Discuss possible trips to colleges during spring break in a few weeks.  Talk on phone.  Have a nova, whipped cream cheese and Arnolds thin sandwich for lunch with iced tea.  Read.  Spend more time on computer.  Then more time on phone.  Too much time on phone.  Look at costs for various combinations of college trips.  So expensive.  Lack of money reminds me again that I can’t do what I want to do.  Also reminds me that I need to do something, and soon.  Have a tomato-cucumber-lettuce salad for an early dinner.  Had planned on adding half an avocado but decide to forego the 4.5 points.  Meet a couple of friends to see Shutter Island.  Eat my pre-planned fat-free popcorn and 1.7 ounce Nestlé Raisinets mix.  We all dislike the movie.  Too ambiguous.  Too dark.  Come home.  Talk to Alexander about his day spent interviewing his paternal Italian grandfather for an oral history project conducted by StoryCorps (each conversation is recorded, and then preserved at the Library of Congress).  Have a small cup of Ciao Bella blood orange sorbet.  Interrupt Alexander who is doing another practice SAT test.  Talk a few minutes more. Work on the NY Times Crossword Puzzle from a few days ago.  Watch some Olympics.  Day done.  Evening too. Good night.

Friday, February 19, 2010

a renewed friendship (lyn)

I primp for my dinner with Mary as I would an exciting first date. 

It’s been a long time since I last saw Mary.  Over sixteen years.  We were very good friends when I lived in Chicago.  Somehow we lost touch, but over the years, I’ve often thought of her.  

One day around Christmas, with Alexander at his grandparents, and the world pretty silent, and me pretty bored, I went online searching for Mary, and found her.  She had started a temp-agency when I last saw her.  Today, she runs an analytic search firm with offices in Chicago (where she lives) and New York (where she often comes).  And from her picture, she looks exactly the same.  I sent her an email;  she wrote back;  and tonight she is in New York and we are having dinner.

I recently had bangs cut and am not sure I like them.  But it’s what I have tonight, so it’s too late to change that look.  And besides, in the early 80’s, when Mary and I were young and crazy, I wore bangs, or at least a version of them.  I found this picture taken on June 19, 1981.  It’s a picture of Mary, a good friend of ours, and me.  It was a Friday night, weeks before I was leaving Chicago for Boston, and we were bored.  And so for no particular reason, we decided to put on lots of makeup, take some pictures, and then go out for a late night snack at the corner diner, a place we frequented often.

Tonight we are meeting at Revel, a restaurant in the very-hip meatpacking district.  When I am deciding what to wear, I realize I have no appropriate clothes.  I’ve become too Upper East side.  Where are the downtown clothes I used to wear?  I try on a pair of black pants that were impossibly tight last time I tried them on.  Tonight they are too baggy.  I missed that short window of opportunity where they fit.   In the end, I settle on a short black skirt, a thin white long-sleeved cotton shirt, layered under a grey V-neck cotton sweater.

I get to the restaurant and see Mary already there.  She looks incredible.  Fit.  Pretty.  And unchanged from 16 years ago.  We give each other a big, warm, jumping-up-and-down bear hug.  There is nothing tentative in our embrace.  Immediately we are friends again.

We have so much to say that food is insignificant.  We order a glass of wine, and it’s maybe a half hour before we can even think of ordering.  Our waitress is very patient and sweet.  She seems to understand.  I notice that Mary is a very healthy eater.  She skips the bread and passes on dessert, making it easy for me.  We split a salad, have two glasses of wine each, and order fish for an entrée (she tuna and me grilled prawns).  All is delicious, but it’s the conversation that sparkles.

Mary doesn’t notice my weight, as I look as I did when she last saw me. In fact, when I tell her of my recent weight-loss, she is stunned.  “Lynnie, I can’t even picture you heavy.”   I’ve always loved that she calls me Lynnie.  We talk about the past, but we don’t reminisce.  I like that we don’t waste a lot of time with remembering whens.  Instead, we catch up with each other’s lives and talk about the current.  It’s an effortless night, and a good one.