Monday, May 31, 2010

the white suit (m)

I have a closet in the basement of my home where I've stored clothes that no longer fit, are out of season, out of style, or some combination of those three things. 

Today, I tried on a white suit that I bought sometime in 1998.  I wore it once back then because that was when I started my steep ascent weight-wise and it got too tight for me.  It's a DKNY and has a fitted jacket and pencil skirt.

I put on my Spanx and a black silk sleeveless tank top and walked upstairs to check myself out in the full length mirror.  Harrison walked by and saw me.  His mouth dropped.

What? I said

He looks at me again and says: "You look trim.....I'm so confused!"

Is that a good thing?

quiet day (lyn)

Today was more a day of what I didn’t do, than of what I did do.

·    Go into the stores, which are having big sales.  Knew if I did I wouldn’t just look.
·    Go for a long walk-- too hot.
·    Take a drive to the beach-- don’t have a car, and even if I did, I don’t like traffic and Memorial Day weekend is full of it.
·    Visit a museum, though considered it for a millisecond.
·    Go to a movie --nothing playing that I really really wanted to see.
·    Go to theater; actually, never considered it, since I went twice last week and am going again this week.
·    Go to a holiday bar-b-que--wasn’t invited to any.
·    Sit by the ocean reading a book, much as I would have loved this activity.

·    Eat a VitaMufin and coffee for breakfast.
·    Finish my book, The Hedges, and began a new one, Model Home.
·    Nosh on weight-watcher friendly food (cup of grapes, bowl of popcorn, and multi-grain chips with lox) throughout the day.
·    Play Scrabble on my iPhone.
·    Catch up on month-old magazines-two People’s, three Entertainment Weekly’s, one Time Out, and one NY Magazine.
·    Order in sushi.

Looking forward to tomorrow when the city is back in play again.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

silent city (lyn)

In the days following 9-11, New York City stopped.  It was an eerie feeling to be at home and at once feel not at home.  The streets were quiet.  From my home on East 79th Street, I could look south and see a large plume of dark gray smoke, a reminder that the Twin Towers were still smoldering.  Restaurants were empty.  People were sad.  No one could contemplate going out to be entertained.  The trees with posters of missing friends and relatives enveloped us, the lucky, who hadn’t posted them.  The local fire station was filled with flowers, to honor the nine firemen who never returned to their station.  The nation mourned.  But it was a different kind of mourning that happened here.  The kind that gets in your bones and never leaves.

I go outside this morning and the stillness of the city reminds me of those awful days.  But it’s a different kind of quiet.  It’s a holiday weekend and people leave town.

I spend the day reading and relaxing.  I spend the evening having dinner with three good friends.  We are the only diners in the upstairs part of the restaurant, and only a few diners are downstairs.  I abandon any point-counting for a few hours but Zelia convinces me (with a look and no words) to order the steamed vegetable side inside of the mashed potatoes. 

Leaving dinner we all comment on the silent city.  We can cross Third Avenue without waiting for a red light.  We can have a private room in a usually packed restaurant. This kind of quiet is nice.

"did they notice your weight loss?" (m)

My mother asks me this question in reference to the graduation party on Friday evening.

To tell you the truth, not many commented on my weight loss even though I haven't seen most of these people in several months.

Why is this? 

Well, from my career in the packaged goods industry, the designers would tell you that scientific studies show that the way people process information -from a visual perspective- is in the following order:

1. colors
2. shapes
3. numbers (because numbers are shapes, e.g. "3")
4. letters

With this as a backdrop, one could argue my "shape" would still be categorized as on the large, round side.  So, until that changes, I'm not expecting too many comments.

On the other hand, the number one compliment of my night was for my white watch--a knock off of the Chanel ceramic series that I bought on Canal Street in NYC last August.  The real thing costs over $5,000.  This one cost about $40 and has run perfectly since I bought it.

I love it, too.

no news (lyn)

Haven’t written in a few days because I have nothing to say. No major shifts in weight or eating.  No major census stories.  No new job offers, but some new online applications that will likely go unanswered.  No new epic tales.  One tedious play Friday night (a musical about a mining disaster with a bad name-The Burnt Part Boys-should have known).  A corrupted Word document that took about four hours to cut and paste into a new document (now that’s a fascinating story). Some new school-related gossip but can’t write about that.  No major exercise but thinking about it (I know that doesn’t count).  No major purchases, unless you want to count four boxes of VitaMuffins that were $2.50 off at D'Agastinos.  Oh, I did make a new raspberry dressing with the emulsifier.  Alexander thought it was a smoothie and it took two days to convince him otherwise.  

Saturday, May 29, 2010

new laundry equipment (m)

Believe it or not, I have spared you the gory details of the broken clothes dryer.

Here's a quick summary:

1 visit from the fire department
2 visits from Dryer Vent Wizard
1 visit from the gas company
1 fight between the gas company and Dryer Vent Wizard
1 long note of apology and full refund ($318) from Dryer Vent Wizard
3 visits and lots of charges from American Appliance for a new coil that never worked
4 store visits to check out the myriad of options (Lowe's, Home Depot, Poirier, Jarvis and Yale Appliance)
14 phone calls to check on availabilities and pricing
3 visits from the carpenters to measure, prep and build a platform for the new front loaders
2 visits from the plumber to disconnect and then connect the new gas dryer
1 visit from the delivery men to bring and install the new equipment.
1 more phone call to the appliance company to get the rebate they forgot to process
6 visits and 24 loads of laundry to the laundromat (Bubbles, Midnite (sic))

Just when I was in the middle of all this, the washing machine started to go.  It was like those old married couples you hear about where, when one dies, the other dies a few weeks later, much to everyone's surprise ("Can you believe it?  No, she had nothing wrong with her that anyone knew of!").

Rather than go through the rigamarole again, I ordered a matching washing machine.

Today, the new set is up and running. We are back in business.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering if I can count this ordeal as 2 activity points.


from now on, celebrate everything (m)

Last summer, I spent the day with my friend, A, who has cancer.  We had a nice day on the beach, followed by dinner at a cozy Maine restaurant/inn overlooking the ocean, and then we went into the charming little town for some shopping.  "A" had dropped quite a bit a weight from her already trim frame and I helped her select some clothes and shoes.  Because of my size, there was no clothes shopping for me.  Instead, I went into a store with a lot of knick-knacks and bought two "good luck" monkey keychains (one for her to take to chemo and one for me) as well as a sign to hang in my house.  I liked the frame and the fact that the message was in needlepoint on that blue ticking material.  It's the type of thing you hang in a summer home which we don't have.  The message was: "From Now On, Celebrate Everything."

The sign is hanging in our home opposite the boys' rooms.  I pass it about 10 times per day.

Tonight, there was a graduation party for A's daughter.  There was a moment when all the mothers in the group stood around the dance floor, watching A dance with her family.  We looked at each other and all seemed to be thinking the same thing:  how extraordinary this was considering how dire the situation looked last Fall for A.  She was here, she looked great and she was smiling and dancing.  Her kids looked like they did before this all came down....happy, carefree.  I'm sure it's a night they will never forget.

A looked over at us and we all moved onto the dance floor and started dancing.  No partners, just a bunch of middle-aged women, laughing and dancing to the music.  I've never felt more free.

From now on, celebrate everything.  Just don't forget to count the points.

Friday, May 28, 2010

almost (m)

WW meeting today.  Finally, they have the flippin' chocolate pretzels.  I buy three boxes.

I was hoping to cross 60 pounds this week.  Instead, I'm down 59.4 pounds.

For today, "almost" is good enough.

workout #2--back in the saddle (m)

I don't remember much about gym in high school.  I'm not sure we ever really did anything.  I remember bile-colored uniforms and I remember sitting in the changing stall, killing time until I absolutely HAD to come out.

I remember the gym teacher for the girls used to flirt with the boys' gym teacher.  I think one of them was married and so it was quite the topic of conversation.

That about sums up my fitness routine until the time I got to college.

Like most students, college is a time to experiment with new things.  Abby and I tried smoking for a week but it grossed us out.  I decided to try something healthier.  Crew.

Intramural crew is a fun thing.  Practices every day for several weeks, out in the open water of the Charles River.  It was exhilirating for someone like me who--until then-- had been in a boat only once my whole life.

I rowed for 4 years and loved every minute of it.  One night, it was so cold that ice formed on the backs of our sweatshirts where the water hit us.  I remember going into the dining hall for dinner afterwards and several people commenting on how crazy we were to be out rowing so late in the season.  I didn't care.  I felt like an athlete for the first time in my life.

Yesterday, I went to PT as usual.  Merlin tells me "I talked to your trainer....she has a surprise for you today."  The surprise is that Ali wants me to try the rowing machine.  I panic thinking I won't even be able to get my butt in the seat.  In front of all these people.

She laughs (again with the laugh) and says I'll be fine.  I get in.  She explains the motion....legs first, then arms, keep your arms at this level, lean back a little...not too much...there.

I push off with my legs as instructed.

And then it all comes back to me.  I am so surprised that I remember the motion.  I take another stroke.  And another.  Ali is surprised, too.  "'ve got this form down.  It's almost as if you've rowed before."

I feel like an athlete.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

busy wednesday (m)

Wednesday.  Record heat: 95 degrees.  I don't do well in heat, even when I'm not so overweight.

My mother decides TODAY will be the day we put the flowers in the planters and deliver them to the cemetery.  You may recall my very first blog that Memorial Day and cemeteries are big deals in my family.  I tell my mother it's hot as Hades and that we should wait until the weekend.  No go.  The aunties are harassing her about the fact there are no flowers on my father's grave.  As if he cares.

I take H to school, come home and do my usual chores and physical therapy regimen, and make breakfast for Sam who is headed to the beach with his friends.  I wish I could go with him.

Instead, a short while later, I am in AC Moore looking at fake flowers to put in the planters.  I told my mother the specs were as follows:  must look reasonably realistic, must be something that would naturally grow during the summer (no lilacs) and must have enough presence to have impact from a distance vs. the little tea roses she likes.  She looks at me and shakes her head:  I forgot the most important thing: cheap.  They must be cheap. 

So there I am, a former player in Corporate America, on my bum knees, looking at the fake flowers in the mark-down rack at AC Moore.  Just when I thought I hit my all-time low point, a customer mistakes me for a store employee and asks for help.  Just kill me now.

I choose hydrangeas, but my mother likes the geraniums.  She doesn't know if there are enough of the ones on sale to fill the planter.  I hit the wall at this point, storm into the parking lot, lift the wrought-iron planter out of the car and carry it into the store.  I put it on the counter and stuff the flowers in to see if they will do the job.  With a $1.99 bag of Spanish moss, we are good to go.  Oh, and the geraniums were marked down to $1.49 per bunch.  $9.00 filled the planter. Doesn't get any better than this.

After the cemetery, we have lunch.  This is progress for my family.  We used to eat IN the cemetery.  But that's old school.  I tell my mother I only want boiled lobster as it is low in points.  She tells me to drive to Charlestown.  There, under the highway overpass is this dive of a place featuring twin-lobsters for $13.99.  I have that and a salad with vinegar.  It hits the spot.  "How were they?" she asks me.  Good, I say. "See...and you paid $280 for that lobster in Florida.  Ridiculous!"

I take her home and we change to go to a dedication ceremony at the Museum of Fine Arts for a friend's daughter who died tragically last year.  My mother likes to see what I am wearing and then goes into her closet to find a knock-off version.  I wear a white linen jacket, black silk blouse and black skirt with pearls.  My mother also wears black and white head to toe.  She asks how much I paid for my linen jacket and I tell her it cost about a third of what I actually paid.  "Ridiculous.  My whole outfit cost $27."

The dedication ceremony is beautiful.  It is held at the MFA, overlooking a gorgeous courtyard.  The family established a scholarship fund for their daughter who loved art.  What a wonderful tribute. 

I pass up the cocktails (appletinis, etc) and the hors d'oeuvres and even the light buffet.  The dessert table is amazing and I see one of my favorite things: the nougat candy.  I have one bar.  3 points. 140 calories, 3 grams of fat, 9 grams of fiber.

I leave the dedication and head to a political fundraiser for a gubernatorial candidate.  Actually, my husband and I are co-hosts.  The home is packed with people and, while it must have central air-conditioning, the crowd makes it feel like it's 90 degrees in there.  Either that, or I had a hot flash that lasted two full hours.  I run into my husband's cousins, a very WASPy couple who look right at home among the mallard decoys.  We exchange pleasantries and catch up on the last few years.  The only problem is that we are positioned right across from the large, sweaty cheese platter.  I struggled to breathe.

Talk to the candidate for a bit.  Tall, boyishly handsome.  Right out of central casting.  In reality, he's quite substantive and has an excellent track record of fiscal discipline, leading turnaround situations, and streamlining bureacracies.  Everything he's done, he's done well.

Get home and "the boys" are over.  Sam's friends.  They have ordered pizza and are watching the Celtics playoff game. 

I go to my room to stay away from the pizza and just rest.  That's okay, the lobster is still keeping me full.  Protein works that way.

At 10 p.m.,  I remember I have laundry to do.  Sam is leaving in the morning for St. Louis.  We still have no dryer.

I load up the car and head to Midnight Laundry in Newton.  There is only one other customer there...a man in combat shorts, black boots, crew cut, khaki t-shirt.  He's folding his laundry the way they folded the flag at JFK's funeral-- total precision.  I wonder if he thinks I'm as much of a creature as I think he is.

When the laundry comes out, it's 11:45 p.m.   My stomach is growling.

Get home, help Sam pack, clean up the house and have a cup of grapes.

I fall down in my bed and look at the clock.  2 a.m.  In a few more hours I get to wake up and face another day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

a stressful job (lyn)

Weight Watchers meeting in the morning.  Down .4 pounds, to 120.2.   I’m not going to keep losing, but it’s nice to know I’m good at it.

After the meeting, I go back to calling on doors.  It really is an exhausting job.  There’s a lot of talking involved, and my sore throat seems to be getting worse because of it.  I hope there are no points in sugar-free Cold-Eeze as they are the only things that give me relief.

People are interesting in their reactions to, “Hi.  I’m here from the US Census Bureau and I’d like to ask you a few questions.”  Most are nice.  Some are gracious.   And others will put their lives on hold to help.  Like the girl who invited me in and let me conduct the five minute interview, as she stood wrapped in a towel with the shower running in the background.  Or the man today who was in the middle of lunch with his family, but invited me in, offered me food, and kindly let me interview him.  The few who shut the door in my face, or walk by as if I’m invisible while shouting, “I’m too busy to answer your questions” are fortunately the minority. 

Similarly, I’ve noticed a range of reactions from the doormen around the neighborhood.  In large high rises, I’m dependent on the building staff to help me.  Most couldn’t be nicer.  Maybe it relieves them from the monotony of handing out packages or announcing guests all day.   Or maybe they are genuinely helpful, kind people and are good at their jobs because of these traits.  But there are those few.  You know.  The ones that say, “I’m not paid to help you.”  Or the one I encountered today who told me he was too busy to buzz the 29 apartments on my list.  Too busy?  C’mon.  No one is in the lobby.  No packages are being delivered or requested.  No one is moving in.  It’s the middle of the day. How can this doorman possibly be too busy to lift the phone receiver and call up to an apartment, where likely no one is home?  So the super speaks to him and tells him he has to help me.  I should add, the super speaks to him after I speak to the super.    We all agree that I’ll return early evening.

I’m back at 7:30 and I can see from this doorman’s expression that he is not happy to see me.  He begrudgingly makes a few calls, as in, he buzzes a few people’s apartments.  He is hating me and he is hating having to do this.  Halfway through my list, he quits.  Tells me he just can’t do this anymore. “It is too stressful,” he says.  I can’t help myself.  I politely ask, “I’m sorry.  I don’t understand.  What is so stressful about buzzing up to an apartment and letting them know I’m there?”  With that, he turns his back on me and walks away.

I’m going to have a fat-free mango sorbet now, read my book, and think about relaxing on a beautiful beach. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

it's good to pay attention (lyn)

Meredith and I see Collected Stories tonight at Manhattan Theater Club.  I like the play more than Meredith does, but we both stay to the end, which is unusual.  The play started at 7, so by 9 we are saying goodnight.  Alexander’s last day of classes was today (he now begins prepping for his finals and SAT 2’s) so I’m looking forward to getting home early, and maybe finding him available.

I consider taking a taxi, but scratch that idea quickly since (a) it’s early; (b) it’s a nice night; and (c) I don’t have an extra $10.  And besides, the subway is fast and I have plenty to keep me occupied as I ride it.

So I’m on the under-populated N line, reading The Heights by Peter Hedges, a book I’m really enjoying.  I only have three stops before I have to change to another subway line.  When I next look up, the subway doors are closing and we are departing from 59th/Lexington.  The last stop in Manhattan.  My stop. 

The next time the doors open, we have crossed over water and entered the borough of Queens.  My subway ride home has now more than doubled.  And, I’m further away from home than when I started.

In December 2006, I weighed 123. 5 pounds.  And then I stopped noticing.  I was pre-occupied with feeling normal again, after having gone through a very bad summer.  A summer where I actually thought I was losing my mind.  A summer where I was in constant pain from a toothache and a strange but persistent bad sore throat.  A summer where doctors could find no way to alleviate my physical pain.  A summer where I lost my appetite for food.  By December of 2007, I was so grateful to have reclaimed my life that I barely noticed when I got on the scale and it showed 148 pounds. Or when it showed 12 more pounds a year later.

See what happens when you don’t pay attention.  You could end up in Queens.  Or worse.  40 pounds worse.

I hire a personal trainer (m)

Today is my first day with my new personal trainer. 

I first go to PT for one hour with Merlin.  Turns out, he has a personality.  You just have to dig a little, but it's there.    I'm starting not to mind him.   Besides, he's good at what he does. Unlike the fetching Tara from the previous place, I do NO knee exercises.  Instead, he is concentrating on hip strength and I think it's helping.  His massages and stretches are to die for.  A 300-pound older woman comes in after me and I feel like Twiggy by comparison.  This is what I call a good start to the day.

The feeling was short-lived as I headed towards Ali in the workout room.  Ali is 28 years old and you can tell she's wearing a thong under her black Lululemon pants which appear to have been spray-painted on her.  Already I feel fat.

I look around.  Unlike the blimps in PT, here's where all the hard bodies are.  I wanted to shout: "don't you people have jobs?" but I didn't.  I'm really surprised that many 30/40/50 year olds are working out during the day.  Actually, I'm not surprised.  I'm just annoyed that they are my space.

Ali has consulted with Merlin and designed a "circuit" for me.  We will concentrate on core strength and cardio without compromising the knees.  She said she did this for her father (who is one year younger than I am--I asked his age).  Great.  Now I feel fat AND old.  Just keeps getting better.

We spend one hour doing all sorts of things on machines I've never seen before.  My favorite is the torso rotation machine.  My least favorite is something that works your core....on this one I do "flys" and something else.  I had to lift weights sitting on an exercise ball.  I tried like hell not to slip.  I was afraid they'd need a crane to lift me back up.

As we went from station to station, I noticed Ali left a manila folder on the floor.  It had my name on it.  I vaguely remember telling her my weight at our meeting last week.  HORRORS!  "Ali...go get my folder, please, you left it on the floor by the torso machine."  Ali thanks me for reminding her to pick it up, "I'm always leaving these things around."  I explain to her that if she can't remember to pick it up, she should cross my weight out so I don't have to worry that it's "out there" in the universe.  She laughs as if I'm joking.

We agree to meet two-three times per week for 6 weeks and supplement with some deep water aerobics.  I asked if there were harpoons by the pool and she laughed again as if I were joking.

Wish me luck.

rear view (lyn)

I see Christina every couple of weeks, and today is one of those days. She first sees me from behind and says, “Don’t turn around.  Walk.  From the back you look like 20.”  I take the compliment and don’t dare ask what I look like from the front!

Monday, May 24, 2010

thank you luncheon (lyn)

Shari has arranged a lunch to thank all the volunteers for the school Benefit.  About 30 of us meet at Grace’s, a lovely little trattoria on the Upper East Side.  Because we’ve all worked together, everyone knows everyone, and taking a seat anywhere is a good seat.

The menu offers a choice of three great options, and like most, I choose the shrimp salad.  The bread does not tempt me, and though I haven’t eaten all morning, I’m confident in my choice. 

But then, un-ordered food starts arriving and I can’t resist.  First come olives, mozzarella, and roasted peppers.  Then some antipasto.  Next, crispy french fries (I skip these knowing I cannot eat just a few).  And finally,  different kinds of thin-crusted pizza-some with mushrooms, some with tomatoes and goat cheese, but the best, smoked salmon, caramelized onion, topped with crème fraiche.  As I'm eating, I actually wonder how I'll count these points.  I doubt I'll find them listed in my WeightWatchers etools guide.

The company and food are both perfect.  I leave feeling good. 

To make up for lunch, I have only strawberries and whipped cream for dinner. But later eat a 4-point candy bar.  I dine alone, as poor Alexander, exhausted from studying until five this morning, decides to “take a nap” at 6:45 and ends up sleeping through the night.

waiting for sam: 5 points (m)

Sunday night.  Sam is driving home from a championship game in Gettysburg.  Took him 10 hours to get there on Friday night because of traffic in New York.  He's coming home a different way and he expects to arrive at our home by midnight.

My husband climbs into bed and says "good night."    Nothing interferes with his beauty sleep.  His father once called and said his mother had been taken to the hospital and was in intensive care but that they thought she would be okay.  T went to bed on schedule that evening, too.  "What?  My father said she'd be all right" was his rationale.

I decide to wait up for Sam.  I ate an early dinner at 5 p.m.  and by 11, my stomach was growling.  Had a microwave popcorn and a Diet Snapple Iced Tea.  One point.

At midnight, I call Sam on the cell phone to see where he was.  "Stuck in Hartford....lots of construction....down to one lane....go to bed" he tells me.

I can't do that. 

At twelve thirty a.m., I'm starving.  I have a small apple .  One more point.

At one a.m., I'm even hungrier.  I go on Facebook and re-connect with people from business school.   Why did I do that?  Now I'll have to keep in touch.  Went downstairs and opened a box of Special K multigrain crackers.  17 crackers equals 90 calories.  I think that's two points.  Now, I'm up to four points.

The crackers made me thirsty.  Had some water, but that didn't do it.  Got out two Fiber One yogurts.  One serving is zero points, but two servings is 1 point.  Weight Watchers math.  0+0=1.

Two a.m.---Sam arrives home.

Cost to diet for waiting up for Sam: Five Points.

Knowing your kid is safe: Priceless.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

mama nonnie (m)

My brother Phil, the self-appointed family geneologist, calls with BIG NEWS.  "I found the citizenship papers for Dad's parents."

I didn't want to sound unappreciative, but we knew they became US Citizens sometime in the 1950's.  What's the big deal?

"Mama Nonnie was 5'2" and weighed 280 pounds when she was 54 years old."

My father's mother was massive in size.  She died when I was 13 years old.  She was an alien creature to me as she spoke no English whatsoever.  I remember seeing her at Mass once.  I was with my class (we sat by grade) and she was with her ladies' church group and wore a black dress, big black hat, those black old-lady shoes (the chunky ones with the ties), and had some purple ribbon around her neck with a medal on it.  She nodded when she saw me staring at her and then went back to praying from her missal.

That is the only memory I have of her outside her home.

For years, she was confined to a chair by the window where she could view the street below.  The church was directly across the street.  When you visited her, you had to announce yourself like this:  "Hello, Mama Nonnie, it's me, M....J's daughter" so she would know your name and how you were related to her.  It was the most gratifying thing in the world to get a smile from her.  I could tell by her eyes that she was a kind person.

Sometime after that, she took to her bed.  She remained in bed for 5 years, never getting up once.  The aunties took care of her, gently bathing her, feeding her, and turning her from side to side so she didn't get bed sores.  I asked my aunts why she was in bed all the time and they answered, "You ask too many questions."  I tried to point out that that was just one question, but still got no answers.

While she was generally sharp as a tack, there were moments when she got a little confused.

Once, when it was my turn to feed her, she asked me something in Italian.  I had no clue as to what she was asking.  I bluffed.  "Yes, Nonnie, eat," I said.  She got more agitated.  I shoved the spoonful of food towards her mouth and she spat it out all over me.  I ran downstairs to my aunts and told them what happened.  Turns out, she was asking if I was trying to poison her and I said, "Yes, eat."  You'd spit, too.

She had a premonition that her death was coming and would summon her many children to sit by her bed and watch her go.  I remember my father getting a call during our dinner once.  He left immediately but came home a few hours later.  "She's fine," he said.

When she did pass from this life some months later, she went alone in the early hours of the morning. 

I don't think about her all that often and, when I do, I think of her heaviness.  I would guess that's the first thing any of my cousins think about as well.  Her size.

But there was so much more to her.  She immigrated to this country as a young girl, had 17 pregnancies which resulted in 11 live births, 9 of which survived to adulthood.  She lost a daughter to a burst appendix 3 weeks before she was to have been married and lost her charismatic son to a cerebral hemorrhage when he was in his 20's...the result of a work-related injury.  She sent 5 sons off to war--4 were decorated in World War II and one was honored for his work in the Korean War.  All of them returned safely.  She started a business with my grandfather and took in boarders to help pay the mortgage on the house.  She was active in her church group and generous to those less fortunate.  She lost her eldest child when he was 56 years old.  I remember her crying in her bed, the church bells ringing outside her window during his funeral.  It broke my heart.

They say she had a great sense of humor and was a practical joker.  I remember one Halloween when I went to her chair to show her my costume and she turned and...horrors...her face was all contorted.  She had put a nylon stocking over her face and it smushed her features.  I had nightmares for weeks afterwards.

I think it's a shame that we are defined so much by our appearance.   I wish I had been able to see past all of this when I was a kid.  I could have learned so much from her.

One thing I did learn, however, is to not let this happen to me.

I have to find a better way (lyn)

Sore throat made worse by knocking on 115 doors today, resulting in 19 census interviews.  Totally exhausted after 10 hours of doing this. No time for lunch.  Sushi dinner was my reward.   

Saturday, May 22, 2010

sticking my neck out (m)

New England championships today for crew.  My husband drops me off at the entrance to the regatta, laden with a large box of 36 sandwiches, a huge tote bag with my camera and oversized lens, and a beach chair.  He went to park the car.

I looked like a sherpa with all the crap I was carrying.  Passing me along the promenade were women sporting lovely hats like Princess Diana used to wear at the Ascot Race...large brims, flowers.  Because I was unceremoniously dumped along the sidewalk, I left the car without my cell phone.  I had no idea where our school's tent was.  I walked half a mile left and then turned around and walked 3/4 mile right until I found the other parents.  By then, I thought I was having heatstroke.

One of the skating mothers who lives in the area stopped by to watch the race.  When I stood to say goodbye to her afterwards, she looked at me and said " look so good.  Wow."  Up until that point, I was eyeing the chocolate chip cookies on the table under the tent, but that little bit of positive reinforcement was all I needed to get my focus back.  Amazing how that works.

A few minutes after that, one of the mothers from school came up to thank me for taking her son home the other night.  I've only met her once before but she said, "I love your whole outfit...everything."  I didn't even remember what I had on until I looked v-neck t shirt, black capris, long coral beads.  Nothing special.  My husband said maybe it was her way of thanking me for letting her go home to her incontinent mother "just in time" as she said. 

We had a 3-hour gap before the final races and my husband wanted to look for a new car.  He's finally getting rid of his two-seater convertible.  We went to a dealership owned by another skater's family and checked out some sedans and larger convertibles.  The wife was there and looked at me and said. "your face looks entirely another person's."  I told my husband: she didn't say whether she liked this face better than the old face.  He looked at me and shook his head.

Finally, we got back to the races.  Every major New England prep school was represented there.  I saw a tent for Groton at the same time as I heard someone yell, "It's the C's!"  I look up and a good friend and her husband were waving to us.  Their daughter goes to Groton and their son went to high school with Sam and is in college with him as well.  The husband and I went to college together.  Abby introduced us.  The husband is from a very distinguished family (his great-grandfather founded Groton) and the wife is a New York sophisticate.  She hugged me, pushed me away and said " can really see how much weight you've lost."  Really? I said, fishing for more compliments.  You know, this will teach me a lesson about being greedy.  When someone says "you look great, you've lost weight, etc." just take the compliment and run.  No, I needed to hear more.  Here's what I got:

" can see your neck now."

two dysfunctional families (lyn)

Mary (from Chicago) is back in town.  She is such an easy, comfortable friend.

Last night we saw a play downtown (the one I never made it to last week) called Family Week.  It started with promise but ended badly.  The mother is cold and heartbroken (her 16 year old son was senselessly murdered). She has been in some kind of rehabilitation place for the past year, and her self-absorbed family has come to visit.  It is a downer of a play.  Nothing good or happy happens. 

My cold was overpowering me, so it was an early night.

Came home and took Nyquil PM (for what will be the last time).  Wake up feeling drugged.  Still have a sore throat, watery eyes, runny nose, and stuffed head.  All the weight I’ve shed over the past eight months now feels like it’s sitting on my shoulders.

Do a bit of enumerating this morning and early afternoon, and then come home to sleep.  I am not feeling well, but I really want to spend time with Mary.  We decide on dinner and a movie.

Up until dinner, I’ve eaten horribly:  tea, tea, and more tea (that part is ok), A VitaMuffin, a small bag of WW multi-grain chips, and one serving (3 pieces) of Godiva chocolates.  I pack a 6-point dessert of popcorn and junior mints for the movies. The popcorn, which is set to expire in May (that would be now) looks like it expired a year ago May.  Pale yellow except where it’s burnt. 

I thought tonight would be the night I’d finally have a burger and fries, but since I don’t feel great, I don’t want to waste my dream dinner on a night where I can’t fully appreciate it.  We settle on Cinema Cafe, a small restaurant near the theater.  I have a salad, very-rare tuna, grilled vegetables, and half my friend’s mashed potatoes.  I eat this way consciously, as I’d rather have ordered the kobe beef sliders with fries; my fit friend eats this way naturally.  I eat every morsel on my plate; Mary has leftovers.  I eat my popcorn-junior-mint concoction at the movies; Mary eats nothing.  I go on my computer each morning; Mary works out.  But today I am slightly under 120 pounds so I am guilt-free.

We see City Island, a sweet comedy about another family.  But in this one, everyone is kind and clueless, even if they hide a myriad of secrets from each other.   We leave feeling good. 

Next week I have tickets with a friend to see a play (part of a subscription series) about a mommy-dearest type character.  I wonder what it says about this country that so much of art is about dysfunction? 

Friday, May 21, 2010

nice to hear (lyn)

Alexander is stressed out about school.  I’m stressed out about my government job.  But today is a warm and sunny no-coat day, and I receive four-that’s right, four- unexpected compliments.

I’m in my lobby and Allison, a neighbor in the building, sees me.  She’s with her beautiful 17-year old daughter and they are all dressed up for a ceremony at her daughter’s school.  She sees me in a casual skirt and T, and says, “Wow.  You look fabulous.”  I tell her I lost 40 pounds, and she is surprised, adding, “I didn’t realize you had that much to lose."

A couple of hours later I’m on the street on my way to a meeting with Brooke.  I bump into Lauren, someone who used to live in my building but no longer does.  We see each other at Agata throughout the year, but this is the first time Lauren has seen me in a while without a coat.  “I love your hair.  It looks gorgeous.”  I had it cut yesterday with Jennifer, a new stylist, and to make sure I loved her, Jennifer kindly threw in some free caramel highlights to “lighten up” my face.  I guess it worked.  But then I tell Lauren that I recently lost 40 pounds, thinking it must be the weight and not the hair.  “Well whatever it is, you look incredible.”  I don’t think Lauren has ever complimented me before.  She then says, “I love your bag.”  I look down to see if I am carrying my Louis Vuitton Neverful tote (that everyone has but I still love), my white Tod’s, my black Balenciaga Day bag, or my favorite pewter Fendi Sellaria tote.  But I’m carrying none of these.  No.  I’m instead carrying my official black US Census bag (with the identifying name facing toward me).  When I turn it around she says, “No really.  That’s a great bag. I like all the outside pockets.”  Hmmmm.  I may have to discredit her earlier comments.

Now I’m coming home from my meeting with Brooke and bump into Judy, someone who currently lives in my building.  She says, “Did you lose a lot of weight?  You look amazing.”  I tell her yes, and she wants to know how.  By the end of our conversation, I may even have convinced her to come to a meeting.

I get home and as I’m unlocking the door to my apartment, my neighbor Linda (who lives on my floor and whom I see all the time) appears to notice my transformation for the first time.   “You look UN-BE-LIEVE-A-BLE.”  She says it just like that.  As if she is back in elementary school being asked to sound out a word.  And then she adds, “Even your face looks so much better.  You don’t have any bags under your eyes.  And you don't look haggard.  You lost the weight in exactly the right places, but I never even saw you as overweight.”

I know I’m going to miss not being newly thin.  I haven’t received compliments in so long, and I am now getting so many.  And they never ever get tiresome.

Oh, and I almost forgot.  When I got to my meeting with Brooke at Starbucks, Derek Jeter is there getting coffee.  When I later tell this to Alexander, he asks if Jeter said anything about  my weight loss.  Nope; not a word.

me and rules (lyn)

I’m a great follower of rules.  Assuming I understand them. Or more specifically, assuming I understand and agree with them.

I was an all A student in High School and through most of college.  The rules were simple --- study hard and you will get good grades. I did and I did.

At most of the jobs I’ve had, the goals have been clearly laid out.  Achieve these goals and you’ll do well.   If only it had been that easy. Office politics are a big factor in moving from here to there.  When I work for someone smart and talented, I’m a star.  When I work for someone who’s not, I cannot shine.  I question too much, and develop a reputation for being difficult.  Or even worse.  I would never be described as a going-with-the flow kind of person.

WeightWatchers, like any diet program, is filled with rules.  But the rules make sense, are effective, and can be easily followed.  Track your points.  Stay within them.  And you will loose weight.  That’s why I love this program.  Everything has been meticulously and brilliantly thought out and tested.   The program offers flexibility, provides support, and is easy to accomplish.  I follow the rules exactly as presented; I take no shortcuts;  and I’m rewarded with a 40-pound weight loss.

Current Employment
Now we get to the US Census Bureau, a federal agency, with rules for everything.  There’s a hierarchy that’s mind-boggling.  For example, my boss Brooke is a crew leader.  She’s early 20's, adorable, smart, reasonable, cool, and an absolute pleasure to work with.  Her boss, Cody, is made for a bureaucratic job.  Enough said.  The other day I was planning to meet with Brooke.  When I showed up, she happened to be sitting at a table with Cody.  I said to him, “Oh, while you’re here, I want to ask you a  couple of questions.”  In a very serious tone he said, “Direct all your questions to Brooke.”  Yesterday I ended up in a conversation with a peer of Cody’s on the phone.  I found her belligerent and unhelpful.  Not only that, she was giving me information that directly contradicted what I’d already been told.  When I questioned it, she became more indignant, as in, “Who are you to me questioning me?”  In real life, I’d probably be her boss five times removed.  She reported me to Cody as “very rude” and today Cody met with me to discuss this situation.  I offered to quit, but he said that wasn’t necessary (of course not;  I'm probably one of his biggest producers).  The end result, “Please don’t’ call anyone at the main office, and only deal with Brooke.”  With pleasure, I thought and said.

I am doing this job solely for the money.  I would clearly not be a good government worker.  The Codies of the world best perform these kind of jobs.