Saturday, July 31, 2010

a million points (lyn)

We get to the University of Chicago by 9am and both Alexander and I are starved.  While not true, it feels like the day is almost over and we haven't eaten a thing.

We have a few minutes before the info session begins so we go to an on-campus bakery that is highly recommended. 

Without much thought, I forego all thoughts of eating healthy.  Alexander and I both get cinnamon buns and take them, with more coffee, over to the admissions office, just in time to make the start of the info session.  As soon as it begins, Alexander whispers to me, "I think this is the best cinnamon bun I've ever had."  I would have to agree.

The school is more beautiful than either of us had imagined.  Ivy on every building.  Gorgeous flowers on the many walkways throughout the campus.  Lots of green.  Incredible programs.  If only it were a more fun place.

Both the lecturer and the tour guide reinforce the intensity of the place.  It's for the true scholar who is attracted to learning for learning's sake.  Everything else is secondary.  I'm pretty sure it's not the right place for Alexander.

The tour finishes and with difficulty, we make our way back to downtown Chicago via a slow city bus.  We end up having a late lunch at one of those food courts in Water Tower Place.  Alexander opts for pizza.  I'm still feeling so guilty from the cinnamon bun that I think I'll be satisfied with the bag of grapes I'd packed earlier in the day.  I'm not.   I eat half of Alexander's pizza.

We finally get to my friend Hazel's about four, and it feels like midnight.  We hang around her apartment for a bit, and then it's time for dinner. Didn't we just finish lunch?

Hazel's chosen a Columbian restaurant that specializes in steak. So that's what we all order.  It's delicious.  But food-wise, I feel like I've regressed ten months.

airport adventure (lyn)

Up at 4:30.  It's still dark outside.  I pack something for the plane, figuring I may as well start the trip with a healthy breakfast.  Hard boiled eggs for Alexander.   And lox, with a smear of cream cheese and a 100-point bagel for me.  Grapes and blueberries for whoever wants them.

Last time I flew was in March when we went to Durham.  I remember following the airport-hype and getting to the airport hours early, then checking through in minutes.  I did not want to make the same mistake this time.  And besides, who'd be flying to Chicago in the summer, on a Saturday morning at daybreak? 

We're at LaGuardia by 5:30am, and it looks like the rest of Manhattan is also there.  Throngs of people all over the place.  Fortunately, I had printed out our boarding passes so we could skip check-in.  But getting through security was also a mess, or as my mother would say, a "real horror scene."  The line snakes around so many times that from the back of the line it is impossible to even see the security scanners.  It takes over 45 minutes to get to the head of the line, and the girl in front of us misses her flight.

We take off our shoes.  Put our carry on bags on the conveyer belt.  The phones go in another bin.  And then we both are asked to open our bags.  Alexander has to relinquish his shaving cream and I lose my new tube of toothpaste.  Then one of the joyless check-in people nicks the back of my foot with a big rolling cart. She totally lacks remorse.

With five minutes to spare, I grab a cup of coffee and Alexander gets some juice.

Finally, we're on the plane.  I had booked seats 16D and 16F assuming no one would then choose 16E.  I hadn't counted on a totally booked flight.  So we sit down, and the guy between us is on his phone, which prompts me to take out mine.  Except it's not in my purse.    I look again with the same result.  Nada.  It must still be in the security bin.

I call a flight attendant over and she lets me get off the plane.  The person at the gate tells me I have 5 minutes.  I feel like OJ Simpson in those old Hertz ads, as I run through the airport, back to the check in. 

I see another bored-looking smileless guard and ask him if he's found a phone.  "What color?"  "White," I say.  He hands me my phone.

I run back to the gate, board the plane.  An eventful day already.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"what's michael going to eat there?" (m)

Meet Michael, my 23 year-old nephew.  He's the younger son of my brother, Phil. 

In a family of food-involved people, Michael is an outlier.  He's the only one who eats solely to live.

His repertoire these days is comprised almost exclusively of the three P's--pancakes, pizza, and pasta.  All white in color and/or round in shape.    My mother shakes her head when she thinks about it.  "No fruit, no vegetables....I don't know where the hell he came from."

In high school, his go-to snack was Andy Capp's hot fries, chased down by a quart of skim milk.  He usually bought these himself at the local Store 24.  Once, my sister-in-law (who wears dresses, make-up and nice jewelry everyday) did a run for him at the store.  The clerk behind the counter saw the items and said excitedly, "I know this man!  I know this order!"  My sister-in-law took a photo of Michael out of her wallet and said, "Is this the young man?".   "Yes!" Please tell him I say hello!"

Michael has joined us for a few of our family vacations.  Once, in Provincetown, my husband paid him $10 to try swordfish.  He gamely accepted the challenge, took a bite, swallowed it and collected his money.   That was his first, last, and only experience with seafood.  At the Gritti Palace in Venice, he ate only pasta with a little butter and grated cheese.  They charged $25 for that meal.   Every meal every night for ten days afterwards was "pasta con burro e formaggio".  Pasta with butter and cheese.

So, you can imagine our surprise when Michael announced he is going to China for a year to teach English to Chinese students in a city just outside of  Hong Kong.    The first question out of everyone's mouth was not Why? but What's he going to eat there?

Last night, the family gathered for dinner in Michael's honor at his house.  Everyone was two sons and husband, my brothers' families, my mother, and Aunts X and Y and the little demon dog, Charlie.  My brother and his wife cooked up a storm...chicken parm, ziti, breadballs, side dishes of vegetables, fresh Italian bread,  Caesar salad. Three types of cakes (coconut, gold, Boston Cream).

We asked Michael about the travel logistics (gruesome... Boston to Seoul, South Korea... to Beijing, China... and then a 26-hour train ride to his city).   Aunt X asked if the capital of Beijing was Tokyo. We then asked about his teaching schedule.  Then about the climate.  Then about his travel plans during his free time.  And then....the obvious question:  "Michael...what are you going to eat there?"

His answer: "I'll be fine. I'll adapt,"  he said as he lifted another slice of the custom-ordered pizza with extra light sauce from the box from Regina's Pizzeria.  The rest of us were eating his mother's food (I saved all my points for the day and had tiny portions and then helped out with the dishes to take my mind off food).

This next year should be a culinary adventure for this kid. 
Meanwhile, as I write, he's probably stuffing protein bars in his suitcase.

6 items (lyn)

Last week I read an article in The New York Times about a shopping diet.  It was about a female sales executive who decided to basically fast from fashion.  She chose six items from her wardrobe (not including shoes, underwear and accessories) and only wore those items for a month.  Ironically, her husband didn’t even notice.

I decided that for my 4-day trip to Chicago and St. Louis, I’ll do the same, or at least close to same.  OK, I know, it’s not a month.  Still, I usually pack a lot of contingency clothes.  But this time I have limited myself to:

  • 1 short grey linen skirt
  • 1 pair of jeans (to wear on plane in case it's cold)
  • 1 throw-on purple skirt
  • 1 light blue blouse
  • 3 white tops
  • 1 light grey and white top
  • 1 short white sweater
  • 1 short grey sweater

I’m a little over the self-imposed-six-item allocation, but still not bad.  Perhaps I will try and use this as a fashion-barometer when I travel (which I rarely do anymore).  I think I’ll like the freedom of packing little.  I'll keep th number six in mind.

So yesterday in my Weight Watchers class we talked about the word Choosing.  What it means and how we apply it.  It made me think that perhaps I have found this program easy to follow because I have chosen foods I like, and then I eat them over and over.  Sort of like the fashion diet.  While my breakfasts and lunches vary little, dinner is important to me and it’s where I use most of my points.  But within say, a 10-day period, I have my six or so staple items that I eat every ten days.  I know their point values, and more importantly,  I really like them.  These include the following dinners:

  • Sushi-either 3 rolls (tuna/avocado, salmon /avocado, and yellowtail/scallion OR sushi (3 salmon, 3 tuna, 3 yellowtail and one roll). 
  • Grilled salmon-usually with a salad or vegetable and mashed potatoes.
  • Prime strip steak-usually with a salad and/or vegetables (and I never skimp on the size of the steak;  it's usually about 8 ounces or so).  While I could eat a great cut of steak every night, I only eat it every two-weeks or so.
  • A big salad with shrimp or grilled chicken.
  • Fish or seafood (scallops or shrimp or grilled tuna or sea bass).
  • Grilled chicken (or some other kind of chicken, like the weight-watchers chicken parmigiana recipe that is so good)  with vegetables.

I think it helps that I really do like fruits and vegetables and fish.  And I’m still eating the same dessert most nights:  a small cup of sorbet or a slice of jellyroll or a piece of angel food cake with frosting.

I can be reasonably content with the same basic foods week after week, but they have to be of a very high quality.  Beyond that, I’m satisfied with redundancy.  At least as far as foods go.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

another new low (lyn)

So I get to WeightWatchers this morning and get on the scale.  I’m shocked to learn that I’m down another 2.6 pounds from last week.  That means I’ve lost 5.6 pounds in 3 weeks, and I’m not really trying.  But again, I’ll be out of town for a while and I won’t be tracking so I’m happy to be below my goal weight, which frankly, I’m not even sure what it is anymore.   Maybe 122?

Anyway, I now weigh 116.2 pounds.  I think I haven’t weighed this little since college when I weighed about 115.  I go to enter my weight on my iPhone (the etools on my computer is again not working) and I get this message:

        The weight you’ve entered is below your healthy weight range of 117 to 146 (for my height of 5’4”).

When I started this program on September 16 I was 14 pounds above the healthy range.  And now, hard as it still is for me to believe, I’m  a pound below the low end of the range.  I like being thin.  But no more than I am now.  

Next step?  Toning.  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

first love (lyn)

Mine was Robert Briggs.  (If you don’t count James Garner as Brett Maverick).  

I’m not sure if Robert Briggs ever knew how I felt.  That I couldn’t eat if he were around.  That I planned for weeks which Valentine I would give him when I gave Valentines to everyone in my class of 36 students as a cover for giving him one.  That I’d get nervous standing next to him in class.

Bobby Briggs lived near me and we used to have playdates.  I remember going to his house and sitting at his kitchen table.  I don’t remember much more than that.  Were we eating?  Were we finger-painting?  Or was I just so happy to be near him that sitting at a table doing nothing was activity enough? 
I recently found a picture from my third grade glass at Whitman School.

 Bobby is the cute boy to my left, not the heavy one.   Me?  I’m the gawky-looking one in the bottom row, third from the left; the one with the very short bangs.  Growing up, the biggest fights I had with my father were over the length of my bangs.  Clearly in this picture I was wearing bangs that conformed to my father’s preference.  As I grew older, and more independent, my bangs grew longer and the fighting became more intense.  “You have such beautiful eyes, but who would know with your hair hanging in them?” was a constant refrain in our house.
I look at this picture and can name everyone in it, both first and last names.  Fifty years ago and I still remember.  And I’m sure that’s not unusual. The young boys wearing suits and ties.  The girls all dressed up for their class photo. 
I still see Marcie W (2nd row from bottom, 4th from left), although infrequently.  Her gregarious personality the same now as it was then.  Marcie and I were frequently called out for talking in class and put in the “Chatter Box.”  Two checks next to your name once it was written into the Chatter Box meant five minutes after school.  Marcie stayed after school a lot.  Or Kristina N (2nd row from bottom, last photo on right) whose dimples I envied, and whose grandfather was the Brockton superintendent of schools.  I was always a little nervous around Tina, fearing that if I misbehaved she’d report me to her grandfather.  Or Ann Marie B (2nd row from bottom, 2nd photo on left) who lived in my neighborhood and whose much-older father used to drive us to school in his Rambler, on mornings when we didn’t’ walk.   And the two pictures on the bottom right are Candace J and Johnnie G.  I read in May that Candace J, a noted Preservationist, suddenly died.    We, too, were neighbors.  She had a big aboveground swimming pool and would selectively invite people over to swim in it.  I would get an invitation on a Monday, and if on Tuesday she decided she didn’t like me anymore, the offer was rescinded.   My mother thought she was a mean little girl.  I think my mother was right.  And Johnnie G.  The second grader who was introduced to my first grade class one day, mid-year, and re-installed there.  He wasn’t yet ready for the rigors of second grade.  Each face has a story and strangely I remember them all.
But Robert Briggs was the one who made my heart flutter.
Alexander is a summer mentor at his school through next week.  Everyday he comes home with new stories about his bright third-grade students.  One of Alexander’s tasks is moving the kids from one building (or classroom) to another.  He’s working at the lower school of Horace Mann and is not familiar with its layout.  His first week there, one of his outspoken charges said, “You’re not a very good mentor; you keep getting us lost.”
Recently Alexander came home and pulled a piece of paper from his backpack.  It’s a card, of sorts, from another one of his students, a young girl, around eight.   When you’re in love, even handwriting can make you swoon.

I wonder if when Tatiana is my age, she’ll remember my son as I remember Robert Briggs.

Monday, July 26, 2010

guilt trip (m)

Somehow, despite careful planning, I end up making about 3 trips to the grocery store every week.

I start with the standard list, I then check the calendar for special events like birthdays or guests coming for meals, and I finish off by soliciting requests from family members.  I am generous on quantities and try to buy on sale so I have inventory (especially if my mother is with me....ketchup, anyone?).

Yet, there I am again, 2-3 days later.  We've run out of Lactaid milk, we need turkey for lunch, etc.

Last week, having returned from a week of hotel living (even the place where we stayed was a welcome break from chores like laundry and groceries) I prepared yet another list and went to the store.

I knew I was on the threshold of a big week weight-loss-wise, so I made sure to have my WW products.  I got WW ice cream, Skinny Cows, Vitamuffins and Fiber One yogurts in addition to normal healthy food.

Two days later, in the middle of this heat wave, I went into the freezer to get my WW ice cream.  Gone.  Hmm.  Skinny Cow bars....gone.  My husband, T, was at it again.  And Harrison ate all the low fat English muffins and Vitamuffins.   Sam just eats out whenever he can.


My husband looked at me and said "Want me to go to the grocery store for you?"

Note the wording: "for you".  As if it's a favor.

How about the concept of penance?

Just for revenge, I gave him a two-page typed list and he left without a word.   He later objected to what he said was the "idiot-proof commentary" such as grape tomatoes....these are the small tomatoes; not grapes...make sure.

He came back with a 95% accuracy rate (wrong English muffins), but hey, the guilt trip worked. 

I think my stuff is safe for awhile.

Groceries—Roche Brothers, Wellesley


  • One head of Bib lettuce (ask if you don’t know)
  • Red onion-1 large
  • Bag of white onions
  • Broccoli crowns.  This is broccoli without the stalks (stems).
  • Grape tomatoes-1 or 2 packages (these are small tomatoes, not grapes…make sure!)
  • Corn on the cob-6 ears (preferably husks off.  They have a barrel there, do it there if possible)
  • Bananas (part green, part yellow)
  • Celery-one or two large bunches (Harrison goes through these like water)
  • Strawberries—only if they look good.  I’ll wash and slice them.  The kids put them in their yogurt


  • Sarah Lee Honey Roasted turkey (or whatever is close) -3/4 pound sliced thinly
  • American Cheese-Land O Lakes—white!-1 pound (sliced regular)


  • 4 pieces of steak for the grill tonight
  • Bell and Evans boneless chicken breasts…4 pieces (4 half breasts).  Tell them to trim all the guck off.  Half breasts.  Don’t come home with 8 breasts.


  • 2% Milk-one quart
  • Lactaid-2 gallons, whole or reduced fat
  • Yogurt-get the Stoneyfield Farms low fat (not non-fat) French vanilla—two quarts
  • Eggs-get 2 dozen of the Land O’Lakes extra large.  Omega 3 if they have it.


  • Deli Flat Bread—Pepperidge Farm or Arnold Brand.  Multi grain, or whole wheat,-2 packages
  • Thomas’ Reduced Fat English Muffins—2 packages.   The color on the package is blue.  Make sure.  These are only 1 points.

Frozen Food

  • Vitamuffins (the muffin tops like we have in the freezer)—see if they have the corn muffin variety and get 3 packages (Harrison eats these all the time)
  • Weight Watchers ice cream sandwich bars (you know what these look like!)
  • Skinny Cow fudge bars (ditto!)

Dry Goods

  • Plastic Bags—freezer bags.  Hold about a quart. Get a package or two.
  • Reynolds Wrap-one roll.  This is tin foil.

I’ll go to Costco tomorrow and get water and bulk items like paper towels and toilet paper.

try something new (m)

Karen, my WW leader, has challenged us to try a new fruit or a new vegetable this week.

Any suggestions? 

My friend V thinks I should try a "hybrid fruit" (pluot...apricum, peacotum, plumcot).  My friend Mary says "spaghetti like like squash...".

Solicitations welcome.

I need to try this and report on it by Friday's class.

a good deal (lyn)

The heat has broken.  No humidity at 9am.  Beautiful.  I walk to my favorite corner fruit and vegetable stand and buy:
  • Two small boxes of perfect grape tomatoes
  • 4 bananas
  • 3 boxes of delectable blueberries

All for $8.  If it weren't for real estate (and a few other things), New York City would be such a bargain.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

working on sunday (lyn)

It’s another brutally hot day.  

I awake early and make some coffee.   Later, I create a new open-faced sandwich combination---100 calorie bagel thins, a thin layer of tuna fish, topped with 1 ounce of nova.  I figure about 4 points.  

The humidity has made my clothes wrinkled before I even leave my apartment.

I walk 7 blocks to the subway and already I’m dripping wet from the heat.  No one seems to be out.  The city is quiet.  Most people are probably at the beach.  Either that, or in air-conditioned places.  I walk down 68 stairs to the lower level of the subway (at least that's some exercise) and board the train to Roosevelt Island.  Only one other person is in my subway car.

I get to Roosevelt Island.  Walk to two buildings.  Call on 3 apartments.  No one is home at any of them.
I take the train back to Manahttan and walk over to 65th Street.  It’s afternoon now and the sun is at its strongest.  Four more buildings, 13 apartments, and not one person is home.  Sweat is dripping down my face, my chest, and even my legs are wet.  It hardly seems worth the $75 or so I’ll earn today. 

By the time I get home, I've probably lost 3 pounds of water, but still.  There has to be a better way to earn some money.  I just can’t seem to find it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

a steamy saturday (lyn)

We are in the middle of another heat wave.  Every day is over 90 degrees.  NBC says of today,

                City Sweats as Stifling Heat, Humidity Make It Feel Like 105

Zelia comes over this morning.  She lives seven blocks from me.  A ten minute walk, at most.  She drives here.  And Zelia, being Brazilian, loves the heat. 

She teaches me about puts and calls.  I show her how to do some basic video editing (I only know the basics).  It’s nice sharing skills with a friend.  Although learning how to clip a video is far less useful in life than knowing how to invest smartly.   Sometimes I wish I’d pursued a career in Finance and not Marketing.  It has a longer shelf life.

Alexander and I go to the AT&T Wireless store.  His phone no longer works; a 3rd grade student of his (he’s mentoring this summer at a Horace Mann summer program) decided to turn on a shower as Alexander was standing near it.  A wet phone is a ruined phone.  On our way back from the store, and just two blocks from our apartment, we see that the Farmer’s Market we discovered this past fall is back.  I buy some homegrown NJ tomatoes and corn.  As an answer to, “”How’s the corn?” the seller responds, “It’s very sweet.  Here, taste it.”  I had no idea you could eat raw corn.  We both taste it and confirm the seller’s assessment.  Four ears sold.

Tonight I meet Shari and her husband to see the movie Cyrus while our kids see Inception (Alexander for the second time).   I grab a slice of spinach and mushroom pizza with a side of broccoli before going, and then bring my fat-free popcorn and 24 Junior Mints to the theater.  Not exactly the most nutritious meal. 

Oh, and as if by magic, my etools is up and working again.  Glad that it is, or I may have eaten more Junior Mints than I did.  

girls' luncheon (m)

Was supposed to take my friend, Susan, out for lunch on Friday to celebrate her birthday, but she called to re-schedule.  I was looking forward to a nice lunch at this great restaurant owned by a top chef.  Healthy food, too.

Since I had a "slot" in my calendar, I called my mother to see if she wanted to go out.  We're trying to keep a close watch on her as she had a bad week last week.  Maybe the heat, maybe the heart.  We're not sure.

She said "yes" and to ask my aunts if they'd like to join us.  If you've ever read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie you would understand the slippery slope you are on when you begin anything with my family.

I call the aunts.  Aunt X took a bad fall at a cousin's wedding on Sunday.  She's out of commission....and she's the healthy one.  Aunt Y, however, would love to go.

I show up at their home at 12:35 (five minutes late and they let me know it).  Aunt Y is dressed in grey slacks and a purple top.  A great outfit for Fall, but it was almost 90 degrees and humid.  She is standing in her driveway, clinging to her walker for dear life.  Draped over her walker is a sweater.  She's always cold.

Aunt X is standing there with several bruises on her knees and wrists.  She looks relieved that her older sister has a "playdate" this afternoon so she can nap.

We get Aunt X in the car (step stool, big push, belt her in, fold the walker and put it in the back of the car).  She asks for the seat heater to be turned on.  My mother, who always sits in the back and is always hot, asks me to blast the Air Conditioning because it's "hot as hell back here."  We haven't even left the driveway yet and I'm exhausted.

I let them choose the restaurant.  It's the one that smells like a nursing home.  We arrive at 1 p.m.  Aunt Y hands me her handicapped parking sticker, which I was uncomfortable using.  "I can walk fine; I'll let you off in front.  I'm okay to walk a bit," I said.  No, she insists, thinking it's a privilege for me to have the sticker.  I turn to park and all the handicapped spots are taken.  About 10 spots.  That's the crowd this joint attracts.

We go in and the place is packed.  "Ugh.  This place is crawling with old people," my 85-year old mother complains.

They give us one of those devices that buzzes you when your table is ready.  I give it to Aunt Y to hold.  10 minutes later, we're up.  Aunt Y hands the buzzer to the hostess.  "That's the most excitement I've had in a while, holding that vibrating thing," she says.  The hostess bursts out laughing.

I sit them down at a table (they refuse the booth...."we don't want to get stuck").  We begin with strategic placement.  Having taking them to the audiologist last year, I know my mother's good ear is her right ear (her name begins with R so I used the alliteration trick to remember) and my aunt is the opposite...her left ear is the good one.  I sit them at the corner of the table at a 90 degree angle so their good ears are near each other.  I place the walker off to the side, put their purses on the extra chair, take out the spare pair of eyeglasses (my mother always borrows my glasses even though she has 5 pairs) and read the menu to Aunt Y.

We all get fish and salad. Mine is broiled, theirs is stuffed sole. Aunt Y has a glass of wine.  My mother has lemonade which she said "sucked."  I have 3 glasses of unsweetened ice tea.  They talk about old times and of my grandparents.  I don't know how we got on the topic, but I did learn some things.

Aunt Y pulls the bread in the middle, leaving the crust, which she can't chew.  The loaf looks like a cave.  I picture little pre-historic figures in there like some Flinstone diorama.

We split a dessert, 3 ways.  I have a teaspoon of the pie.  I pretend to want it knowing they would think it extravagant to get dessert for lunch.

My mother and aunt only finish half their lunches.  My mother takes the leftovers and combines them and asks the waitress to box it up and add more bread.  Aunt X will have this for dinner they decide.  The waitress smiles obligingly.  She sees this all the time.

After lunch and a 20-minute trip to the bathroom (it was down a ramp and around the corner, you needed a passport to get there), I load them back up in the car.

We are headed home and Aunt Y asks if we can stop by the cemetery to visit her husband's grave.  We go.  Then they ask me to drive slowly so they can check out the flowers on their cousin L's grave.  Her son is gay and does a "beautiful job."

Their respects paid, they are ready to leave.

We get to my aunt's home and escort her in.  She declares this a "memorable day" and thanks me profusely.

I'm glad this worked out.  I treasure this time with them.

I need to rant (lyn)

I love the Weight Watchers program.  Everything about it works for me.  I like the fact that it’s not really a diet…you can eat anything you want.  You just need to manage your points.  I love the meetings.  I look forward to going.  I love Steve, our charismatic leader.  I love Miriam and Robyn, the always-smiling women who do the weekly weigh-ins.  I love the people in my group.  They’re smart, supportive, informative and nice.  There’s not a single person in the group who dominates or talks for the sake of talking.  I love some of the WW food.  The chocolate covered one-point pretzels are so good that even Alexander likes them. And most of all, I love that the program works.  I’m a true believer.

But I’ve discovered something I don’t’ like.  Once you venture outside the walls of the program itself, the bigger world of WeightWatchers is a mess.  

Take, for instance, getting a job there.   I’d love a Marketing position at the company. I have the skills, and many ideas.  I begin by writing to the President and work my way down from there.  Long, detailed letters about how I can help them, and how they have helped me.  My letters should, at the very least, have elicited a response.  But I get nothing.  Just a call from someone’s assistant telling me to apply online.

So I try that.  Again, no results.

I write to the magazine when they are looking for success stories.  I have a good one.  Okay, I didn’t lose 200 pounds, but maybe my story is more typical.  Again, no response. 

And finally, I apply, with Steve’s encouragement, to be a WeightWatchers’ leader.  I write to the person in charge of the area where I live.  I call.  I use Steve’s name, as he says I can.  Not even the courtesy of a reply. 

Perhaps live people don't really exist outside the meeting rooms.  Maybe somewhere there's just one big Oz-like room with a single wizard controlling everything.

And now another problem.  The online etools that I use for tracking are not working correctly.  After I logon, and get to My Plan, the screen is blank.  I cannot track.  This is serious.

I call Customer Service regarding my problem.  I’m on the phone for a while.  I explain my problem in detail.  She listens patiently.  She asks the right questions.  When I’m finished, she tells me that she can’t help me with online problems.  She instructs me to WRITE to Customer Service.  A separate group handles online problems and they can only be reached via email.  Already I know this story is not going to have a happy ending.

I write and detail my problem.  I even send screen shots.  Dexter (a Customer Service Associate) emails me back two days later and asks me a long list of questions about my Operating System, Browser, etc.  I answer all of them.  I tell him I use a Mac, that I only use Safari, and then I provide him with specifics of the versions I use.    Two days go by and then Geoff writes back.  He never got the screen shots.  They are on my copy of the email I sent, but not on his?  Oh well, I send them again.  Next I hear from Sarah, the third Customer Service Associate.  Her email lists several things that might be causing the problem, not one of which pertains to be.  She tells me:

  • How to create a new password if I lost mine (I never said that that was a problem)
  • How to erase cookies if I’m using Internet Explorer Version 6
  • How to erase cookies if I’m using Internet Explorer Version 7
  • How to erase cookies if I’m using Internet Explorer Version 8 (she must have skipped the part in my email where I say I use a Mac)
  • How to erase cookies if I’m using AOL as my browser.
  • How to erase cookies if I’m using Firefox -2 different versions (did she also skip the part in my email that says I only use Safari?)
  • And finally, how to reset the date/time on my Mac (why is that thrown in?)
I’m surprised Sarah didn’t walk me through the shortcuts for cutting and pasting, just to make her solution list even longer.

Finally, someone named Jean (a Team Lead) writes back with instructions so technical that I would need to be an MIT grad in Computer Science to even begin to decipher what I am supposed to do next.

Perhaps Jean and her crew should intern at Apple and learn the right way to offer technical support.

Meanwhile, I guess I won’t be tracking for a while.

Friday, July 23, 2010

milestone achieved today (m)

September, 1994.

A young working mother drops her spirited first-born son off for his first day of kindergarten.  In her left arm, she is holding her toddler second son.

A loving aunt who takes care of both boys while the mother works, suddenly says "Hold it right there.  Let's take a picture."

The older son mugs for the camera, the younger one--still in his Hanna Anderson pajamas and hand-me-down slippers and Land's End jacket (from Abby)--looks a little perplexed by all the commotion.  The mother secures one son with her right hand and holds the other with her left... and smiles.

Here's the photo of Sam, Harrison and me.   It's one of my favorites.

It's been almost 16 years since this picture was taken.    Sam is now a junior in college, Harrison is a junior in high school and about to get his driver's license.  The loving aunt has since passed away.

Today, for the first time since this picture was taken, I weigh the same as I did then.  This was my interim milestone and I achieved it.

My buddy Elaine at WW weighed me in this morning and got teary-eyed.

I got home and told the kids. 

Harrison scrutinized the picture, then me.

"You body doesn't seem the same as it did then," he said.

"What do you mean," I asked.

"You seemed alot taller to me then."

I suppose to an 11-month old, I was.

it happens again (lyn)

It’s early morning, and I decide to stay home and make census-related calls.  I put on a long white flowy skirt with a grey fitted tank.  I’m tan so I wear no makeup.  My hair is pulled into a ponytail.

I get in the elevator and bump into a neighbor.  Someone I see regularly in the building and on the street, but our conversations never extend beyond the weather and hello. We don’t even know each other’s name.  But this morning, she looks at me and says, “Did you loose a lot of weight?  You look very glamorous.”  As soon as she says it I feel it.

I worry that this gets tedious to read, though it never gets tedious to hear.  It had been such a long time.  It's good to be noticed again.  

The less of me there is, the more of me that's seen.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

meet the parents (m)

I think my husband and I had been dating three years before we introduced our parents to each other.  It felt like the run-up to a colonoscopy...lots of careful, uncomfortable preparation.

Where should we meet?  What time of day?  Will there be a meal involved?  Finally, after much deliberating, my future in-laws took the initiative and invited my parents and aunt to their home in a small seaside town north of Boston.  They decided to serve dinner...outdoors.   I told my family to eat beforehand.  Good thing.  What was served wouldn't count as appetizers in my clan.  I still have the picture of all of us sitting in the Adirondack chairs with our gins and tonics, smiling awkwardly. 

While it took me that long to merge our tribes, it took my son, Sam, no time to extract an invitation for us to meet his girlfriend J's parents who recently invited us to their cabin in Maine for a fun day of waterskiing, tubing, boating, and swimming -- none of which I do.

Sam said that J's parents wanted to know if we would be spending the night.  The cabin has one bathroom.  I used to be able to hold my bowels for four days to a week.  Now, with fiber in everything I eat (deli flat bread, Vitamuffin, Fiber One yogurt, raw veggies, etc), I would blow up like a dirigible if I tried to hold it in.  We declined the generous offer to spend the night.

The next decision point was what to wear.  I scanned my newly-cleaned and organized closet.  Let's see, I have a business casual section, dressy clothes, city casual and, finally, rink clothes.  Nothing for "cabin wear."  I chose some DKNY capri jeans, a navy t shirt and an Eileen Fisher Irish Linen blue jacket with red Cole Haan sandals (I sound like Lyn now).  I was totally overdressed.

We arrived around noon at the cabin.  It was pouring cats and dogs.  I was relieved to not have to rush down the dock in my plus-sized tanksuit with the skirt. 

We met the family...three daughters, a son, a daughter-in-law and two of the cutest little boys.  J's parents are lovely.  Sam said the mother's like T and the father's like me.  One Beta, one Alpha personality.

We toured the little town and had lunch.  T and I split a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce and mustard.  We were saving room for the Maine lobsters at dinner.

Just when I was getting comfortable with the rainy day program...didn't the sun come out?  Sh.t.

We all headed to the dock where we saw a fleet of watercraft...tubes, kayaks, power boats, rafts.  The father asked if I wanted to tube.  I just laughed.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw "Shamu", head down the dock.  T had already put his suit on, stomach hernia protruding, and did a cannonball in the water, displacing about half of the entire lake.  I looked at the least they found it amusing.  I was appalled.  Sam just shook his head and smiled.

T raised his hand when they polled the group to see who wanted to go tubing.  I was assigned the role of "spotter" in the boat.  I had to tell J's father (who was driving the boat) if anyone fell off the tube.  I was just settling into my role and enjoying the view of the lake when I saw something go up about 5 feet and then down and then up again and finally, Splat!  It was my husband.  Sam was on the tube with him and looked stunned that his father was there one minute, gone the next.

We reeled T in and headed back to the cabin.  T was a bit shaken up and still looked a little "off."  Dinner was Maine lobsters that the family ordered from some place that cooks them, wraps them in newspaper and serves them piping hot. Those, plus three kinds of salads and corn on the cob made the perfect Maine dinner, served outdoors on the deck overlooking the lake.

The kids toasted giant marshmallows and made S'Mores.  We talked for a bit and then bid farewell around 8 p.m.

On the drive back to our home, I did a quick recap of the day:

Points consumed- 2 less than the allotted total
New friendships formed -7 (already had met J and one of her sisters)
Mild concussion-1

A pretty good day all around.