Friday, April 30, 2010

odd-hour eating (lyn)

Either I have dinner at 4:30, or at 10pm, like I just did.  Tuna on a 100-calorie bagel tonight with Pringles light, and a mini Edys chocolate chip ice cream for dessert.  I feel so drained from the night of training that eating is almost an afterthought.  This has been a truly dreadful week.  And, for the 7th day in a row, I get to accumulate more work-hours tomorrow.  

Thursday, April 29, 2010

the cashier at Shaw's supermarket (m)

This morning, after I dropped H off at school at 7:45 a.m., I headed towards the supermarket to get my shopping out of the way.  We're hosting 30 kids from his crew team for dinner at our home tomorrow night.

It's a great time to shop, by the way.  The shelves are freshly stocked and the aisles are empty.  I look at my watch once I've placed the last item in the cart:  8:10 a.m. What a jump start on the day.  This is the new me!

I have my pick of the check-out registers as there are three cashiers ready to lines.   I head for the aisle labeled #8 because 8 is my lucky number.  I used to have a crush on Carl Yastrzemski from the Red Sox and I took his number as my own.  I thought it brought us closer together.

The cashier is new to me.  I know the old Italian guy, Benny (whom I call "Bene" as a play on words).  I also know the crabby fat lady who begrudgingly says "hi, how are you?" as if she could not possibly care less.  But this guy today is right out of La Cage Aux Folles.   I imagine sand bags around his ankles to keep him weighted and in place.

He turns and gives me a very cheery "HELLOW!".  I give him my Shaw's card and line up the groceries on the belt.  Because it's early in the day, there is no one to help him bag the groceries.  I pick up US weekly and thumb through the latest news on the celebrity "putanas" as my mother calls them.  I put the magazine down and look up.  Something very weird is going on here.

He is bagging my groceries by category.  Picture this.  The stuff is on the belt...he's standing there with his hand on his chin like the statue of The Thinker....and then he starts putting clusters of items in a bag.

What are you doing? I ask.

"Well...anyone can just put things together and balance out for weight, but I like to put them together so when you get home, they are already organized for you!  It's a special service I offer to my customers.  Here....are your pantry items.  Over here... are your refrigerated items.  This bag is refrigerated produce; this one refrigerated meats." 

Then he showed me another bag.  Some things were to be refrigerated...others I would have thought he would have put with pantry.

This one doesn't make sense to me,  I said.

"Oh...that's diet stuff.   I put your skim milk, bran cereal, veggie burgers and Arnold Sandwich Thins and deli turkey slices there.  But we don't have to say diet.  We'll call this Mom's Private Collection!"

Abraham Lincoln once said:  "Whatever you are, be a good one".

I don't think I've met anyone who elevated the status of a mundane job to an art form.

I could have hugged him.

another excruciating evening of training (lyn)

I’m up at school all morning helping to prepare for the upcoming Benefit.  The work I’m doing is pretty mindless (seems to be a common theme of late), but at least I’m doing it with other parents, all of whom I like.  The highlight of the day is lunch.  A WeightWatchers member must have done the ordering.  Either that, or one of the stick-thin-totally-fit moms who seem to come by it naturally.  Lunch is a buffet of:  mixed salad with tomatoes, a large choice of grilled vegetables (onions, asparagus, red and yellow peppers, and zucchini), grilled chicken, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert (these are hard to resist but I do).  I have two, guilt-free healthy servings of everything. 

I leave early and am home by three-fifteen.  Just enough time to visit my neighbor and her two kids, do a few emails, and return some calls.  A quick hour later and I'm already thinking about dinner.  Something I usually don't do in the middle of the afternoon.   SInce I need to leave by 5:15, I opt for easy and fast:  tuna on a brioche roll (again) and 14 Pringle-lights.

I get to class and again, more forms to review and more examples of situations that might happen in North Dakota but would never happen in Manhattan.  Our leader begins the evening by saying, “Tonight we are going to be discussing WOO-EES.  That is, Whole Household Usual Home Elsewhere.”  This leads to a mind-numbing two-hour explanation on the subject.  Our husky, ex-lawyer-ex-Wall-Street-baritone –voiced leader doesn’t even smile when he has to say WOO-EE.  Even a grown man has to know how ridiculous this sounds. 

Around eight, break time is announced, “Ten minutes, and I’m going to begin my stopwatch now.”  Finally we get to put the forms aside and ready ourselves for a discussion on safety.  This is an exact quote from our employee handbook:

“Wear comfortable walking shoes.  These shoes may come in handy should there be a need to run.”  Really.  Who is writing this stuff?

Before things have a chance to get too dull again, a woman raises her hand and asks, “What if we get stuck in an elevator?  Do we still get paid for that time?”

I come home and want to cry.

the 7 highly effective habits of a thin person (m)

I've always loved to observe people without them knowing it.  My favorite tv show growing up was Candid Camera.  My father and I would sit and laugh until our sides split.  My mother called us "the two hyenas" when we did that.

Lately, in an effort to not just shed bad behaviors (my own), I'm paying closer attention to those of the really thin people, hoping to acquire some new, healthier habits.

Recently, I targeted my sister-in-law, a former beauty queen.   She is about 5' 5" and weighs about 116 lbs. Here's what I've observed:

1. She weighs and measure her cereal AND her blueberries every day.  She's done this for years.  1/2 cup cereal, skim milk, less than 1/2 cup blueberries
2. She can eat just HALF of an English muffin, one half sandwich, one half a slice of pizza.
3. She double-layers her Spanx for extra control
4. When she buys anything, she gets the smallest possible quantity, even if it's on sale.  Last week, she went into Walgreen's and came out with ONE roll of toilet paper.  My mother was in the car, looked at the single roll and said "What...are you trying to quit?"
5. She takes forever to eat a meal.  Cuts her food into the smallest pieces and chews each bite thoroughly before she moves on to the next bite.  The first time we saw her do this, when she was dating my brother and came over for dinner, we were stunned.  The second time, we just ate at our pace, cleared the table and set dessert out while she was on the main course. 
6. She likes chocolate and good red wine.  She has a little of both every day.  She can make a piece of Dove last 2 minutes (you bite a little at a time versus pop the whole piece in your mouth).  She alternates a sip of wine with a sip of water.  Takes twice as long that way.
7.She gets a full night's beauty rest.  Goes to bed by 9:30/10 and wakes up at 5:30/6 a.m.

The question is, which of these habits will I incorporate into my daily routine?  So far, the only thing that I could see me doing is getting a little more sleep and upgrading from Hersheys to Dove...oh, and maybe buying less in bulk at Costco.  My garage will look more spacious at least.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

and I reach a goal too (lyn)

Census training has prevented me from eating regularly, and in fact, I’ve been eating less, as I don’t really have time for much of a dinner. 

I arrive at WeightWatchers and decide, today is the day.  I’m declaring myself at goal.  I step on the scale and Robyn smiles broadly.  “Two pounds,” she almost shouts.  She looks as happy as I am feeling.  Today I weigh in at 122.8 pounds, or 37.2 pounds less than 32 weeks ago

Steve calls me up to the front of the class and yes, I am beaming.  I feel thin and healthy and good.  I know that maintaining this weight won’t be as much fun as losing it, but I am thrilled to be where I am.

I wish I could celebrate over a good burger and fries with Alexander at PJ Clarke’s.  But no, tonight instead I listen to a three hour lecture by my FOS on NARFU’s, D-308’s, EQ’s and more.  I learn what to do if I call on a “home” and there is a “recreational vehicle parked in the driveway where someone is living.”   While I’m trying to picture this happening on East 77th Street, our instructor (who is totally humorless) informs the class that this scenario “rarely happens in Manhattan.”  But now I’m prepared just in case it does.  Census Training is so much fun. 

alexander reaches a goal (lyn)

Alexander took the SAT’s in March and got exceptional scores in Math and Writing, but only a good score in Critical Reading.  He had planned to take them again.  In fact, he’s registered to take them this Saturday.

In April, Alexander took the ACT, which is also a standardized test accepted at all colleges.  A student can submit either the SAT or ACT.  The other day he received his ACT score and was thrilled to see that he was in the 99th percentile for English, Math, and Science, and the 97th percentile for Reading. 

He’s now done!  No more SAT or ACT tutoring.  He doesn’t have to spend six hours on Saturday taking the SAT’s again.  (He will still be taking SAT subject tests in Physics and Math2 next month, but at least now he can focus on those tests, his finals, and his three AP exams, without being distracted by more SAT/ACT prep.)  Based only on his ACT scores, my son is now competitive for any school in the US.  Of course there are other factors to consider (most importantly, his GPA), but as his college counselor said yesterday, “He’s done with the SAT’s or ACT’s.  His scores would not give any Admissions Officer a reason to pause.”

I am so proud of him.  He’s worked hard for this, and has done great.  And with all there is to do to prepare for college applications, this is now one box he can check as done!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

lunch with m.e. ...priceless (m)

M. E.  calls yesterday and invites me to lunch today.  I look at my calendar.  I can do that as my meeting in town is over by 10.

"Okay...I have a hair appointment at noon in Newton.  Meet me at Legal's in Chestnut Hill at 11", she tells me.

Eleven a.m.   It has come to this.  We are eating lunch... with the old people... at 11 a.m.  Needless to say, I did not eat breakfast as I did not want a Vitamuffin to bump into a salad in my stomach.  I imagined that would be an unhappy pairing.

I arrive at 10:30.  The parking lot is virtually empty so I can see that M.E. has not yet arrived.  I killed some time in City Sports and then walked over to Legal Seafoods. 

I take a seat on the leather bench next to a sweet-looking senior citizen.  She looks like one of the Irish nuns from my elementary school. 

I take a pamphlet from the counter titled: Recipes for Shrimp. Too many points in each dish.  Someone should talk to the executive chef about designing leaner options.

Just as I'm reading the Recipes for Crab--which I hate--I hear someone yell:  "WHERE'D YOU PARK? I DIDN'T SEE YOUR CAR!"

The old woman next to me jumps five feet.  I thought we'd need a defibrillator for her.  M.E. apologizes "Sorry, dear, didn't mean to scare you."

I look up.  She is standing in the doorway, hair soaking wet...not a speck of make-up on.  The only plausible explanation for her appearance was that she was taking a shower and the Fire Department ordered everyone to evacuate the premises immediately.  But I know better.  This is vintage M.E..  We had to cajole her into wearing lip gloss and blush for her wedding.

M.E.  leads the way into the restaurant and decides we should sit at the bar today.  We can watch the Goldman Sachs people squirm on the flat screen television during the hearings in Washington, D.C. "Scumbags" she declares.

Suddenly, she spots a woman sitting by herself across the bar.  She points at the woman and says very loudly "I know're Jill Finkelstein!"

It wasn't.

That did it to me.  I couldn't stop laughing.   I laughed until I cried.  Somehow, we managed to order. 

M.E. explained to the waiter that she had to get her hair cut at noon and that her hairdresser didn't like for her to be late so we would need our food pronto.  It came at 11:35 and we wolfed it down in 15 minutes so she could leave by 11:50 to get to her appointment.

We said goodbye and headed to our respective cars.

I was exhausted by the whole thing.

Got home and took a nap.

PS.  M.E. wants you to know that she's a little crazed these days because she's working full time and driving her son all over 3 states for soccer tournaments.  "Every minute counts...I probably stuff too many things into my day for the time I have."

a dose of reality (lyn)

My first meeting with Alexander’s college counselor (Beth) is today.  I arrive early, so I pick up some coffee for us at the Dunkin Donuts near the school.  The little cup full of assorted donut holes looks too good to pass on, so I buy that too.

I’m impressed with my new will power.  I present the coffee and donuts to Beth, and I am not even tempted when she offers me one.  I think I may be a little anxious too.

Beth is lovely.  Warm, experienced, knowledgeable, and realistic.  She doesn’t sugarcoat.  Getting into top schools is harder than it’s ever been, and highly unpredictable.  Great grades and great board scores are no guarantee.  It could be that the school you want most needs more student fencers. Or more German majors to boost their language department.  Or even more Montanans.  Alexander has good grades and fabulous ACT scores.  He’s chosen a rigorous schedule at one of the toughest (and best) schools in the country.  I know he could do well anywhere.  But the big question will be:  how does he measure up to his classmates who will also be looking at the same top schools?  It’s a very competitive environment.  I just hope he can enjoy his last year of high school.

There are many wonderful schools, and I have no doubt that my son will get into one of them.  I just want what every mother wants, for him to be happy.  It’s too bad that the process has to be such an arduous one.  And one oozing with so much emotion.

Monday, April 26, 2010

a wasted evening (lyn)

My eating schedule is totally thrown off by my census training.  I now have to report every night this week for training; I feel like I’m in the military.  Six to nine, Monday through Friday.  But this morning I get a message asking that I come at five to complete the fingerprinting requirement.

Yesterday afternoon, 21 of us were sitting around waiting to be fingerprinted.  Our lofty leaders had already informed us that they would not have enough time to fingerprint everyone.  That’s when I made the following suggestion:  Since you know that everyone will not be able to be fingerprinted today, why don’t you figure out approximately how many you will be able to fingerprint, maybe increase that number by a couple to be safe, and let everyone else go home?

I then end up in this conversation with Cody, one of the leaders:

Cody:    Why do you care?  You’re getting paid.
Me:  I know, but for the $15 or so per hour that I’ll net, I’d rather be doing something that I want to do.
Cody:  But isn’t that what work is?  Having to be at one place, but wishing you were somewhere else?

I actually thought that was pretty clever, though I never viewed work that way.  I’ve mostly been quite lucky to have good-paying jobs that I actually loved doing. But maybe this is my new reality.

Anyway, so now my eating scheduled is totally messed up.  I have a late breakfast/lunch of leftover honey mustard pork chops and some roasted vegetables. I then pack up my dinner of one tuna sandwich.  I grab my newly acquired five-pound (maybe ten, I don’t know, but it’s very heavy) Census Bureau soft briefcase, an umbrella again, my little lunch box, and I’m out the door by 4pm.

I arrive by “five sharp” as instructed. Coty is about five minutes late.  He tells me, and two others, to sit tight.  He then returns and tells us “we are going on a little trip.”  Turns out that his fingerprinting partner is at another location.  I left my home early to get to this location, put up with the rain while carrying a heavy load, skipped eating with the hope that I’d be able to do that sometime between 5:30 and 6, and now I’m being told to forget everything, we’re packing up and heading off to another location. 

I am not okay with this.  I know I want this job, but at the same time I also resent having to do it.  And with the myriad of mix-ups, I find myself reacting poorly to yet another one.  At one point, I really think I am going to be fired.  But somehow, Cody finds a solution and we get to finish the fingerprinting process at the current location.  I'm sure he must really hate me by now.

We finish at 5:55 which gives me five minutes to gobble down my sandwich. 

It’s another boring evening of spending three hours on stuff that should take three minutes. Half the time is spent learning how to complete time sheets.  Come home exhausted and discouraged.  BA Tufts.  MBA Kellogg.  Senior VP at a major ad agency.  How did I to end up here?  Even being skinny is no compensation.

mitchell's sister (m)

Mitchell is a coach at the rink.  He is uber thin, eats next to nothing, and wears dark-colored, simple cut Prada clothing.  When he diets for televised events, he eats Tic-Tacs for lunch.

His sister sometimes comes to the big competitions to watch Mitchell's students.  She also coaches, but in another state.  I met her last year and was surprised that, unlike her brother, she is quite large.  The only thing they have in common besides coaching this sport is that they both are stylish.  D, the sister, was wearing head to toe Burberry which puzzled me greatly because I didn't think they made clothes in that size. Trust me, I would know. 

The last time I saw D was in August, at the big summer competition on the Cape.  She complimented Harrison's progress and said she loved my Tod's shoulder bag (G-bag Easy Sacca Grande in white with brown straps).  She looked even bigger than the first time I met her.

Today, I went into the rink and sat at a table to do my bills.  A woman at the next table smiled and said "hello".  I smiled back.  She looked familiar.  I did a double-take.  It was D...minus 60 pounds!

She noticed my weight loss, too.  We gave each other some tips and lots of encouragement.

I can't wait to see her progress by August.  This is incentive for me to keep up with her.

a good day (m)

The first time I wore my Spanx underpants was at an aunt's funeral.  They were so tight, it took two full minutes of wrestling with the contraption to get them on.  I felt as though I had a bad case of asthma as I couldn't breathe properly.  As I sat in the church, the damned thing rolled down, creating a second stomach.  Not comfortable ....definitely not attractive.

Only after I lost about 25 pounds did I dare wear them again. They were tight--which I suppose they must be to do the job-- and they didn't fall down.  I remember being very happy that day.

Today, I wore my Spanx to a meeting and noticed, by the third slide of my presentation, that they now are too big.

This is how I've come to define a good day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

dinner with v and chuck--part two (m)

Where do I begin to describe my friend, V?  She is an Original.  Like no one I've ever met.  Brilliant, witty, erudite.   She is attractive, thin and has a neck like Audrey Hepburn which she showcases with her pixie hair cut.

One of the best things I like about V is that she and I share a concept about personal space.  We both operate with a 2 foot "invisible fence" around us.  Despite the fact we are of Italian descent, we do not like to hug or be hugged.  

Right before I gave birth to Sam, V came to visit me at home.  When she stood up to go, we looked at each other.  We both knew that the next time we'd see each other our lives would be different.  I would be a mother.  She was taking a major step in a relationship.  We compromised on an "air hug" when we said goodbye.

I see V about 5 times per year.  I most recently saw her at Harrison's ice show.  She did not comment on my weight loss, but I was in a full-length down coat with a turtleneck and scarf that evening.

On Friday, I picked her up for dinner with Chuck.  My choice of wardrobe was influenced by what the woman on the board of the medical school said to me the day before.  You remember:  "I used to dress like you."  I scoured my closet for something less loose.  I found a new fitted shirt which I wore with slacks and a turquoise necklace.  I felt a little "exposed" but I did it.

Got out of the car at Chuck's house and he was standing in the driveway.  I went over to hug him (Hey, he came back from the dead...I will make an exception for that).  Just then, I heard V gasp: " look amazing!  I haven't seen you without a jacket or sweater or coat in years!  I just want to give you a hug!!" 

Either my weight loss is becoming noticeable or the Apocalypse is right around the corner.

weekend review (m)

Weekend was crazy busy with the boys' activities.  Got up early on Saturday to take Harrison to school at 8 a.m. for "paste up".  This is where the newspaper takes form and he is an editor.  After 2 1/2 hours, he ran across the street to the boathouse for his crew race.  I went home, meanwhile, to pack for a trip to New York for Sam's doubleheader and the baseball team dinner/awards ceremony.  Went back to Cambridge just in time for H's race.  Stood on the riverbank and cheered him on.  Even without binoculars, I could see him shoot me a dirty look because I was "the loudest parent there."

After the race, my husband and I ran to the car and headed to New York.  Four hours straight through in record time.  Ate a 3-point thin bread turkey and mustard sandwich and drank a bottle of Diet Snapple (I like the raspberry one).  Dessert was a 1-point WW chocolate mint made by Russell Stover/Whitmans.  Excellent.  Better than a York chocolate covered mint.  They sell them in grocery stores and drug stores.

Got to the game and schlepped up the hill with my Coleman chair from Costco.  It even has its own table and cupholder.  Very official.  We missed the first game and got there midway through the second.  Apparently, our absence brought Sam luck as he hit two home runs in the first game.  Thought about not going to the rest of his games since he did so well without us. Just kidding, Sam.  The parents put on a spread for lunch.  Heard the nuts were great.  Here's the recipe:

-walnuts, almonds, cashews--roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 350
-mix olive oil, rosemary, cayenne pepper and kosher salt in a bowl (not too much oil, just enough for a light coating)
-add nuts to the bowl
-add Craisins

The parents were raving about these.  I had to pass them up since we had to go to the dinner and I was saving points.  By the way, the mother who made this grows her own cranberries. 

After the game, we went back to Sam's dorm to change into nice clothes for the banquet.  The room is extremely small and stuffed with furniture and hockey/baseball equipment.  One person could barely turn around in there, yet there were three of us.  I think I would have had more room if I had changed in the car.

One hour cocktail party.  One whole hour of chit chat which I hate.  No food.  One whole hour of nursing a club soda.  It was a cash bar and it cost me $2.00 for that club soda and I was determined not to pay for another one.  By 7:30, I was dizzy with hunger. 

The buffet table looked to me like one of those mirages in the dessert.  Food, steaming up from under their silver domes.  I couldn't wait.

Just then, one of the parents--a writer for ESPN--introduces the keynote speaker.  The President of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Now?  Now?  Before dinner?  Who planned this? What non-food-involved-thin- person planned this?  I took the pitcher of water that was just placed upon the table and drank 4 glasses and chewed the ice.  Thirty minutes later, we were summoned to eat.

Had grilled chicken, salad, skipped the roll and butter. Wanted the fish but it was stuffed with scallops which I'm allergic to, got some beef (prime rib) but it was so rare even I couldn't eat it (noticed Sam didn't eat his either).  Got some steamed mixed vegetables, skipped the roasted potatoes.  Was feeling virtuous until I saw something.  Rigatoni.  Sorry, I can resist a whole desert table, but not a good rigatoni.  I put 4 on my plate.  Odd...they were stuffed with cheese!  Never knew you could do that.  Sat there wondering how they got the ricotta in the little rigatoni.  A pastry filler?  They were good, not great, which limited the potential damage.

Dessert was strawberry shortcake.  Had one tablespoon and called it a night.

Woke up Sunday at 6. Headed back to Boston.  Stopped at McDonald's for a cup of tea so I would stay awake (my turn to drive).  Took 3 people and 6 minutes to get the tea order right (large hot tea, skim milk, one Splenda.  What is so hard about this?)  I screamed at them "I JUST WANT A SIMPLE CUP OF TEA!! DO YOU THINK YOU CAN MANAGE THAT?"  Turned and looked at my husband who calmly said "Was that necessary?"

Drove 4 hours straight and got to the rink 5 minutes before Harrison went on for his big test.  He's moving up to the Junior level. This is like watching someone take an oral exam.  4 judges, Harrison and a bunch of spectators.  You could hear a pin drop.  He passed.

Got in the car, went home and ate a bowl of Progresso Light Soup (2 points, but alot of sodium...I just drain out the broth and eat the vegetables) and half a turkey sandwich.

Did some work around the house, finished a presentation for a meeting tomorrow and grilled chicken for dinner and made a salad with alot of vegetables.  Put a large serving of vegetables on my plate with 5 oz of chicken and balsamic vinegar.  Had a glass of cold water.  Just when I finally relaxed for the first time this weekend, I look up and my mother and Harrison are staring at my plate.  "Isn't that alot of food?"

I understand now why some people choose to live alone.

no wait, the job that is (lyn)

Around 10 last night I discover a call on my iPhone from the Census Bureau.  It had been left earlier in the evening.  Training is starting on Sunday at 9 am.  No mention of why it didn’t start on Saturday.  And, instead of being in the neighborhood as promised, it’s very far downtown, where the streets have actual names.  Before leaving my sleeping son, I grab an umbrella and a couple of WeightWatcher snack foods.  I’m ready for my new job.

I arrive on time for class, and am relieved to see 21 normal looking people, all of whom live on the Upper Eastside, and all of whom were contacted late last night.  

Had we been given an agenda, it would have read something like this.

Opening Remarks
Introductions, and then apologies for how disorganized everything is.

Swearing in Ceremony
We are all asked to stand, raise our right hand, and take an oath of confidentiality.  All information cannot be revealed to anyone, under any circumstances, or, I could be fined up to $250,000 and imprisoned for up to 5 years.  This is serious stuff.

Form Completion 
One of the four leaders goes through the five forms we need to complete, line by line, in excruciating detail.  I could have filled these out in 15 minutes at home with no explanation. 

Another leader reads about 10 pages from a manual about the importance of confidentiality and our role in insuring it is kept.   This could have been done in about 30 seconds.  DO NOT REVEAL ANYTHING YOU LEARN ABOUT ANYONE INTERVIEWED FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES.

Lunch (not-paid)
I was worried about this part of the day, but am relieved to find open a little coffee place across the street that serves sandwiches and salad.  I have a salad with free foods like tomatoes, olives, peppers, and cucumbers with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Mostly everyone else goes to MacDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts which are nearby.

Doing nothing (and getting paid)
This is the unproductive part of the day where I sit in a cold room, and wait my turn to get fingerprinted. I read over 200 pages of a big-print trashy book by Stuart Woods (I ordered big-print by mistake from the library), two New York Magazines, two People magazines, a magazine from Kellogg (as in graduate school, not cereal), and a Crate and Barrel Catalogue for outdoor furniture.


So for the entire afternoon, I am simply waiting.  When I get restless reading, I text.  Or, I eavesdrop on conversations of others nearby.  That’s how I learn of the person who works for a “cheap” group of lawyers and hates it so much that she comes to work everyday without makeup and the same pair of black pants (the exact same ones she is sporting today).

Three hours into waiting I get hungry.  I am so glad I brought a couple of WeightWatcher snacks.  Once I take them out, two women near me ask if I’m on WeightWatchers and we discuss that for a while.  They never comment on my weight (or lack thereof).  

Finally, at 3:45, my name is called.  I go up to be fingerprinted, but the woman doing it is a novice and smudges my thumb after successfully fingerprinting my other four fingers.  So we have to start over.  Twice more my prints are smudged and twice more we start over.  It’s now 4pm, and the building is unexpectedly closing.  A janitor has come up to the training room to tell the surprised leaders.  They thought we had the room until five.  I'm told that I'll now be fingerprinted tomorrow.

What a great job I have!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

the job that wasn't (lyn)

I was a freshman in college and taking a Philosophy class.  The professor, a very cool guy, came into class one day and wrote on the blackboard, "Life is a pig." Then without saying a word, he walked out.

I sort of felt like that today. Or rather some derivative, like, "Life can be unpredictably difficult."  Not as punchy, maybe, but true.   I didn’t train for my new census job as no one ever called to tell me where it was.  Not much more to say.

dinner with v and chuck -- part one (m)

I've known V and Chuck since we started working together in 1981.  We became fast friends and have kept in touch since.

Chuck, in V's words,  "is the most 'relevant' person I know."  I guess today you'd call him a "cruncher"....nature lover, eater of whole foods, avid jogger.  How he came to hawk razor blades and deodorants is beyond me.  Before there were Casual Fridays, Chuck would walk around our uptight office with his jacket off, sleeves rolled up and a pocket knife attached to the back of his pants.  "What the hell is he doing in the office with a knife?" someone asked when they first met him.  Turns out, he would slice his apples during meetings and eat them.

If you walked into his office, you would swear you were at a spa....lots of pictures of faraway places to help you escape the madness of driving market shares for women's shave preps.  There was a bowl of raw almonds for his "guests" which he bought at the food co-op, and then there was the fan, stirring up a gentle breeze to conjure up a feeling of the great outdoors and purring in a manner that helped drown out the ambient sounds of Corporate America.  Bliss.  I made daily stops to Chuck's office.

While we've kept in touch over the years, our interactions were infrequent.  A few months ago, I got a call from V saying she heard Chuck had suffered cardiac arrest and almost died.  "He's okay now.  We should go see him."

Tonight, we saw Chuck again.  He looks fact, he looks exactly as he always has...very thin, fit, and handsome.   

Chuck told us about that awful day.  He was jogging in a park, felt something in his chest and fell to the ground.  He doesn't remember anything else.  A woman came running by and saw him.  She had taken a CPR class 25 years before and worked to revive him.  Initially, he had a faint pulse and then "she watched it slip away."  Frantically, she kept working on him.  Within a couple of minutes, another female jogger came by.  This one happened to be a physician.  She called 911 and immediately began working on him, too. Together, the two women brought him back to life.  The doctor directed the ambulance to take him to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston because she happened to know they had special equipment to deal with this type of cardiac situation.  The nearest hospital, just down the street, is an excellent hospital by the way.

Because he had no identification on him,  the hospital gave him a name, "Vlad, the Jogger."  He was literally put on ice to minimize damage to his brain function until they could determine the nature and extent of the damage.  Meanwhile, his family was calling hospitals and police stations desperately looking for him as he had been missing for hours.

To this day, they don't know why it happened.  It was an "electrical malfunction of the heart" with no pre-existing underlying cause.  95% of those who suffer these episodes die. 

Yet, on the day he died and was brought back to life, two coincidences converged to save him.  The first jogger who knew CPR and the second, a doctor, who also knew CPR, had a cell phone, and knew where to direct the ambulance. Amazing how it all came together to save a life. 

V and I teared up as Chuck told his story.  He ended it by saying:  "I must have been brought back for a reason, but I don't know what it is.  I keep thinking about how I can make the most of this second life."

How often do any of us think about the purpose of our lives?  If you were asked, what would you say about your own life?  Have you made the most of what you've been given?

I can't answer those questions either.  What Chuck made me see, really see, is that we are given many gifts that we don't fully appreciate or fully utilize. 

I thought about this as I limped down the street to the restaurant with V and Chuck.

I had a perfectly formed, healthy body when I was born.

How did I let this happen to myself?

Friday, April 23, 2010

employment update (lyn)

Tomorrow is the day I am to start training for my new census job. When I was “hired” on April 14th, I was told that I would receive a call a couple of days before my training begins with details on the location of the training.   By now, I should have heard from someone.  Since I haven’t, I call the Census Bureau around four to try and get some information on tomorrow’s location. I call the number I’ve been given and get a recording that goes something like this:

“Hi.  You have reached Donald C- at the US Census Bureau.  If you have been selected to begin training on April 24th, please be assured that your supervisor will call you by April 22nd to tell you where to report.  If you have not heard from your supervisor by April 23rd, please leave your name and contact information at the sound of the beep.”  BEEP.  “I’m sorry, this mailbox is full.”

So I call another number and reach Jack.  I tell Jack my story.  He is unsympathetic.  But he does assure me that someone will call me tonight with my location information.  I suggest that at the very least Donald C. should change his outgoing message to say, “This mailbox will not take messages.  If you are scheduled for training on April 24th, your supervisor will call you this evening with the details of where to report.”  That’s when Jack tells me that even though he and Donald C. work in the same office, he (Jack) only makes $14/hr. and is just there to answer phones.  He says of my suggestion, “It’s a good one.  Maybe we’ll use it next year.”

new shoes (lyn)

I’m helping Zelia make a photo book for her mother’s upcoming 90th birthday.   For someone whose first language is not English, she comes up with a great descriptor for my role in developing this book; she calls me her Memories Manager.  I like that.  So this morning she stops over and we sort through about 200 digital photos of her mom, going back to 1920.  She must be a remarkable woman.  I mean how many women still wear a bikini at age 87, and more importantly, look good in it?

Zelia leaves around two.  I grab a handful or two of grapes for lunch and leave my apartment.  I need a pair of black shoes that I can walk in and that look good.  Not an easy combination.  I have plenty of black shoes that fit one of the two criteria but none that fit both. 

I go over to Harry’s, a popular store on the Westside that specializes more in comfortable shoes than fashionable ones.  But surprisingly, I find three pairs I like, all in my size:  a black wedge by Robert Clergerie in a stretch fabric, a black wedge by Dana Davis in the same fabric, and a luxuriously soft leather wedge by some Italiian designer I’ve never heard of.  None are perfect, but all are close.   I think the Clergerie make my feet and ankles look fat.  The Dana Davis look better on my feet but aren’t as comfortable.  And the Italian ones are the highest, the sexiest, and the least comfortable.  I look to the salesgirl for advice, as I've exhausted the opinions of the store's customers.  And this is what she says.  Really.  “I don’t think you need to worry about what’s on your feet.  Your have the most perfect shape.  Thin with no stomach. Trust me, no one will be looking at your shoes.”

I end up end up buying these Dana Davis shoes.
It’s a sunny, cool New York day.  Street vendors are everywhere.  It’s the start of the weekend.   A stranger just complimented me.  And she didn't compare me to a previous version.   Life is good.

destroy the temptation (m)

Some people in my WW class say that if some food is "calling you," destroy it!  How?  Pour water on it! Toss it into the wastebasket!  Pour a ton of salt on it!  Spray Windex on it!  I never saw my WW class get so militant.  Destroy the enemy at all costs!

I don't know...I could never waste food.  My family would say that was "sinful."

Yesterday, after staring at a candy dish for 3 hours and not succumbing, I looked around for healthier options.  The only thing to eat besides the candy was a huge platter of assorted cheeses.  Not great.  I sat there, eyeing the tray wondering which was the lesser of two evils....the salty hard cheeses or the creamy cheeses?  I decided that the creamy cheeses were out. 

I planned to get up at the next break and grab a couple of pieces of cheese.  Just before that, however, a man walked over to the cheese tray, looked at the selection and......SNEEZED!

Needless to say, I had no cheese.

candy + 3 hours +1 pt = willpower (m)

One of the Board members at the medical school owns a major American candy company.  Each meeting, there are bowls of candy placed in front of the meeting attendants. Chocolate mints, chocolate covered caramels, chocolate covered cherries, gummy things, lollipops.  It's the most incongruous sight I've ever seen....the candy in the foreground and the straight -laced serious business people and doctors in the background.

I usually sit next to a man named Chuck who is a brilliant management consultant.  While Chuck is slim, he could keep up with me eating the candy.  We even found that we liked the opposite colors in the box of gummies.  I like red and orange and hate green and yellow, he would eat the green and yellow and give me his red and orange ones.  I believe the scientific term for this type of complementary relationship is symbiosis.

Anyway, I sat in front of the candy bowl yesterday for three hours and only had one small dinner mint.  I magnanimously awarded it one full point, though I know it was less.

I felt good that I was able to demonstrate such willpower.

"i used to wear clothes like that" (m)

Busy week this week.  Presentation to 15 hedge fund managers asking for $10 mm for a project I'm working on and then the two-day Board meeting with the Medical School.

I'm down about 30 pounds since the last meeting a few months ago.  I wore the most slimming outfit I own and adorned the black suit with a beautiful new red print scarf from the dreaded Hermes.

After 3 hours of very technical presentations (financial review, update from the neurobiology department) we had a break.

I went to the ladies room where I ran into one of the other women on the Board.  Tall, slim, older, hugely successful, very stylish.  She asked about my knees which, by the way, were brutal yesterday after my extra long walk the day before.  She's the woman who advised me against surgery based upon the latest literature on the subject.  I gave her the grim news that, despite intense physical therapy, they are killing me.  She looked me over with a disapproving look and said, "You've got to get that weight off you."  I felt a stab wound to the heart.  My face turned red and I started to tear up a bit and said, "I know....but I've lost 55 pounds since Fall.  Do you not notice it?"  She replied "Yeah, sure, but you're not close to being done.  You know, with that outfit, it's hard to tell exactly what your body looks like.  I used to wear clothes like that....when I was NINETY pounds heavier."

I wanted to crawl into a stall and die.  I know I have to lose weight, but I thought my outfit was nice.  In fact, I thought it was something a "normal" person would wear, not some costume for the overweight.

She offered to put me in touch with her physical therapist in "the city" (aka New York....why people say that is beyond me.  We have a "city" in Boston, too).

I thanked her for her support and went back into the meeting feeling like a whale.

it's not all about me (m)

I'm not a selfish person.  In fact, I've been told I need to be more self-serving.  "Put yourself first," people tell me.  It's not how I was raised and it's not how I'm raising my sons.

However, I've found that being on a diet requires a good deal of self absorption.  Those who are most successful at these types of programs are very adept at putting their needs ahead of others.  Even in the Weight Watchers classes they tell you to cook for yourself first....make other people eat what you are eating or, better yet, have them cook for themselves if they want something different. 

It's like being on an airplane when it's going down...put your oxygen mask on first, then you can help others.  Survival.

So, I've adapted. When I see people, I not only ask what is going on with them and how they are doing, but I wait for recognition that I've lost weight...55 pounds and counting.  When they don't notice, I'm disappointed and discouraged.

Last week, I went to the wake and funeral of the sister of a woman whom I adore and who worked for me for 20 years.  D started right before I got pregnant with Sam.  She is the most observant human being I have met.  D said she noticed several changes in my appearance even before I announced my pregnancy.  She was the only person who noticed.

Through the twenty years together, D and I have watched each other's weights go up and up... and down a little... and up again.  I could pinpoint her weight to the nearest pound.  I'm sure she could do the same for me.

A few days after her sister's services, my husband asked how she was doing and I said "You know, she never said anything about my weight loss."  My husband turned towards me with an appalled look on his face and said, "She was overcome with grief!!  This week was not about you!"

He's right.  I think I'll go back to being selfless.  I like myself better that way anyway.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

bad news, good news (lyn)

Two weeks ago I apply for two jobs at WeightWatchers.  A few days later I receive a phone call from an HR manager at the company.  She’d like to schedule a phone interview.  We set one up, and I dress appropriately (i.e., in anything I want).   I do an exceptional job of presenting myself.  I convey my passion, my skills and experience, and a couple of strong ideas for growing their business.  I would have hired me.  

Today I receive a standard reject letter, not even from the person I spoke to, but from her supervisor.  I am so deflated.  If I can’t get a job at WeightWatchers, a company I unconditionally believe in, I feel I can’t get a job anywhere.  Unemployment is an awful way to live.  It affects your reality as well as your psyche, both in ways that are horribly unhealthy. 

But while I was rejected today, Alexander was not.  In late March, he applied for a college prep scholarship through an organization called QuestBridge.  Today he got an email that said, in part,

Dear Alexander,

On behalf of QuestBridge and the Edward Fein Foundation, we would like to congratulate you on your selection as a QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship Fein Fellow award recipient for 2010. You were selected from a large pool of Jewish high school juniors based on your academic excellence, leadership potential, and financial need.

As a Fein Fellow, you will receive the following awards:
·    A laptop computer
·    An invitation to attend the QuestBridge College Admissions Conference at Yale University on Saturday, June 19, 2010.

We have also nominated you to be considered for an all-expense-paid campus visit to one or more of our partner colleges.

This good news is more good than my bad news is bad.  I think we’ll celebrate with turkey burgers.