Tuesday, August 31, 2010

some friends stay over (lyn)

Cynthia and her daughter Elizabeth are visiting NY.  They are spending the night here, as in here, in my apartment.
My apartment is barely comfortable for Alexander and me, so when two more people are added, it becomes overly cozy.  But these two people are like non-guests.  As much as possible, they make themselves invisible.  They want nothing to eat and only water to drink.  They don’t want me to set up the Aerobed, insisting, instead, that “we like sleeping on sofas.”  They dispose of all their stray papers and empty bottles.  They are the perfect guests.
They arrive this morning.  Drop their bags before leaving for a day at the US Open.  But before leaving, they tell us the plan for dinner.   “We’re taking you both out, so pick a place.  Anywhere you want to go.”  And they leave.
I always feel pressure when picking a restaurant.  Especially if I’m the guest.  I want it to be fun.  New-Yorky.  Not so old that the kids will feel like they are dining in a nursing home.  Not so young that I’m the only one who needs glasses to read the menu.  Not too expensive.  Good food.  Lots of options, including some that are not too fattening.  Easy walking distance (especially since it’s 96 degrees today).  I choose Bella Blu, a local Italian restaurant, described as being like “a trip to the Mediterranean.”  Perfect.
We get to the restaurant around 7:30 and it’s appropriately crowded.  Enough people there to suggest its popularity, but not so many that we have to wait.  We get a nice little corner table.  The menu is large and as we are perusing it, the waiter brings over a bread basket with a side of something that looks good, but no one has any idea what's in it.  I eat two pieces anyway, even knowing that tomorrow I have weigh-in.  
The waiter comes over and we all order.  Alexander and I split a “frisee’ salad with caramelized walnuts, shaved blue cheese and sherry vinaigrette.”  Then I order “pan seared free-range chicken in mustard sauce with mashed potatoes and string beans.”  The food is excellent.
We get back late.  The kids talk college.  Cynthia watches some tennis.  I read the paper.  It's comfortable and nice.  I’m happy they came.  Suddenly my apartment feels as if it has grown.

Monday, August 30, 2010

3 little discoveries (lyn)

When I was on the Cape, I made three inexpensive purchases of small items that I just began using.  They are all under $10, and each I’d highly recommend.
A small digital kitchen timer by Polder 
I love this little gadget.  Yes, I have a timer on my microwave, and yes, I have a pretty (and costly) analog timer, but none work as well as this little baby.  It is very simple to use.   I could toss the instructions without reading them.  I use it for cooking.  For timing the white strips on my teeth.  For calling back a friend who has requested a “wake up call” from her afternoon nap.  I’m sure I’ve yet to find all its many uses.
Himalayan Salt
I use this in everything.  Apparently it has health benefits and can even be thrown into a bath (though I can’t remember the last time I took one of those).
Madhava Agave Nectar
Love this stuff.  More healthy than sugar and easier to use than honey.  And it tastes great in salad dressings and on roasted vegetables.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

boots (lyn)

Last year, around this time, I decided to go shopping for a pair of dressy knee-high leather boots for the fall.  It had been a very long time since I’d purchased a pair, once I got hooked on UGGS (which I discovered in Australia in 1997, long before they were popular here).

It was not difficult finding the perfect boot.  Supple black leather, a two-inch heel, and a rubber sole is an easy-to-find combination.  What was difficult, however, was finding a pair that fit.  I was mortified to discover that I could not find one pair of knee-high boots that I could slip over my calves.  

My favorite pair was by Gravati.  I found them at Bergdorf’s and fell in love.  But it was a short-lived romance.  When the salesperson at Bergdorf’s brought these boots over, I struggled to zip them up.  The salesperson told me of a place where I could bring the boots to be stretched.  Did she really think I’d buy a pair of boots that didn’t fit in the hope that maybe they could be stretched enough to fit over my calf?  She must have seen desperation in my eyes as I actually considered her suggestion.  In the end, I was too devastated to look at more knee-high boots, and settled instead on a pair of ankle-high Fiorentini-Baker motorcycle boots.

So now I’m looking again.  Today I go back to Bergdorf’s, and again ask for the size 8 1/2 knee-high black leather Gravati boots with a two-inch heel. 

This time, I put them on and they zip up easily.  They look gorgeous.  I imagine wearing them over a pair of black legging jeans, or a short black skirt.  They are sexy and luxurious.  And expensive.  I walk away without buying them.  Knowing that they fit is good enough. Well, almost.

for peet's sake (m)

Saturday morning.  Had an appointment at 9:30 a.m. to meet a friend's daughter at Peet's Coffee in the next town.  J is applying to business schools and wanted to discuss the process with me and get some input.

I see J for the first time in about a year and she looks great.  She's lost about 15 pounds.  She's tall, pretty and has dark hair and large almond-shaped brown eyes.  She went to Smith and did well majoring in neuroscience while playing 4 sports.

J gets a table for us while I order the drinks: a soy vanilla latte for her. Green tea for me.  Simple, yes?

Mia is our "server" at the register.  The line is long and the man in front of me is taking forever.  So many questions are being asked of him and he's taking his time answering them with an "um" in front of each answer.  Who knew there was so much to ordering coffee?

Now it's my turn.  I ask for a medium vanilla latte with soy milk for J.

Mia: Did you say medium?
Me: Yes, medium.
Mia: Hot or cold?
Me: Hot (doesn't one normally say iced when they want it cold?)
Mia: Sugar free vanilla syrup or regular vanilla syrup?
Me: Regular (J can afford the calories, plus I don't know if the sugar free would taste good to her)
Mia: For here or to go?
Me: (now I'm annoyed) What difference does it make?
Mia: Well, if it's for here, we don't put a lid on it.
Me: Don't worry about the lid.  I'll put it on myself.
Mia: Will that be all?
Me: No, I'd like a green tea for myself.
Mia: We don't have that.
Me: Okay, I'll have a medium vanilla latte with skim milk and the sugar-free syrup.
Mia: Hot or cold?
Me:  Hot! (now I'm frustrated as hell).  A HOT, MEDIUM Vanilla latte with SKIM milk and SUGAR-FREE syrup.  In a cup, with a LID.  For HERE.
Mia: (Seemingly sensing no irony or anger on my part...smiles broadly). Thank you!

I turn around, the line is even longer now.  I'm exhausted. 

This is why I go to Dunkin' Donuts.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

perfect day (m)

Friday.  Sunny, dry, high 70's, gentle breeze.  A great day for a drive to visit Sam at school.   H decides to stay home and skate all day and do driver's ed in the afternoon.  My husband and I rarely have time alone together.

We stop at Dunkin' Donuts where I get my standby: egg white and cheese breakfast wrap, green tea (black) with lemon.  T spills his entire cup of coffee before we even get on the Mass Pike.  We turn around so he can go home, clean the car and change.

Halfway through the four-hour drive (car reeking of coffee), my knees start to throb.  I haven't been to physical therapy in two weeks (my vacation, therapist's vacation) and my legs are tight.  We stop at a rest area and switch sides.  I stretch out on the passenger side, legs up on the dashboard, sunroof open.  I fall dead asleep in minutes.

Two hours later, we arrive.  Harrison's friend from skating is touring the school with her parents and we meet them in Admissions. We sit on Adirondack chairs, overlooking some mountains.  Co-eds pass by in various athletic gear.  The parents look at each other and sigh....we say it aloud, "Wish we were back in college."

Sam joins us and leads us on a tour of the school.   I see the school from a new perspective.  I liked it before.  Now, I love it. We walk everywhere for almost 2 hours.  He takes us up to his dorm room and it looks amazingly like my senior year dorm.  It's deja vu all over again.  Sam shows us a letter.  He's won an award for academic achievement (Sophomore year) and contributions to the college community. I'm so proud of him.  I must have gushed too much because he calls me "Mrs. Seinfeld" (Jerry's TV mother who thinks he's perfect).

T, Sam and I go to dinner at the local Italian restaurant.  I inhaled a plate of gnocci.  Definitely over budget points-wise, even though I had no lunch.

By 8 p.m., we say goodbye to Sam and head home.  My knees are shot.  I drive halfway and then switch to the backseat where I lay down to stretch my legs.  I'm trying to read People magazine (Elin Woods!) while lying on my side, seat belt not on.  T complains that he can't keep his eyes open and asks if I'll drive the rest of the way.  We pull over at another one of those service areas and I buy a bottle of water to take Advil.  For good measure, I throw in a bag of red Twizzlers.  He looks at me and says, "Stop eating."  I give him the bag of Twizzlers and they are gone in 5 minutes.

An hour later, we are home.  Despite a few mishaps (coffee spill) and aches (knees) and guilt (gnocci), this was a pretty perfect day.

good news from a friend (lyn)

Got an email from Hazel today.  In part, this is what she wrote:

Now my other news:  I have lost 32 pounds and want to lose at least 35 more.  I went to my doctor yesterday.  I had blood work done in anticipation of this visit and I no longer test as a diabetic… So thank you because I would not have joined WW without your encouragement and example.  You can put in your blog that you cured a diabetic!!

dinner with friends (lyn)

Zelia wakes me when she calls this morning at 10.  Normally I’d have been up for at least two hours, but last night I awoke around two, sick to my stomach.  I think I was being punished for what I’d eaten a few hours before.

Zelia, Shari and I got together for dinner last night, something we hadn’t done since May.  We decide on Le Magnifique, a little French restaurant we all like.    

I decide I’m thin enough, and order what I want.  A Cosmopolitan to start.  Although I rarely drink, every now on then I like the feeling of being a little high.  And for me, that can be achieved with just one drink.  Next, I have one and a half pieces of the crusty French bread.  I order Branzino (my new favorite fish) as my main course with a lemon butter sauce and a side of fries (despite the influence of my friends who order vegetables).  For dessert, the three of us share two (an apple tartin and some kind of chocolate delight, both with ice cream) and I order a cappuccino with skim milk.  I later calculate the dinner at 33 points.  Considering I’m allowed 18 a day, that’s almost two days worth of eating.

I think that my maintenance strategy is not going to be to increase my daily points by up to 4, which I’m told I can do.  Instead, I like the idea of just splurging when I want, providing the when can be controlled.

It’s 3:15 now, and I’ve only eaten a VitaMuffin, coffee with half and half, and some small tomatoes.  I think I’m suffering residual guilt.

Friday, August 27, 2010

on a mission (lyn)

Much as it may seem otherwise, I am not an impulsive shopper.  At least when it comes to furniture.  About ten years ago, I was at a friend’s house.  Her to do list for the day included buying a table, right below picking up cleaning, and dropping off shoes to be re-soled. For her, it was just one more thing to do that day.  She would go to a couple of stores, find a table she liked, and that would be that.  It amazed me, as it could take me (and did take me) years to find the exact dining table I wanted.  I am the same way about chairs and lamps and dressers.  In April, Zelia and I went to the lighting district and she bought a few lamps for Rodrigo and Victoria’s rooms, all within an hour.  I’d probably still be looking.

My current quest is to find a small side table, no more than 15 inches round and 17 to 18 inches tall, to go next to a chair.  My specificity makes it difficult to find.  I recently saw one at ABC Carpet and Home that would be perfect, but it was much more than I wanted to spend. 

Yesterday I see in the paper that ABC has in outlet, and they are having a big sale, “up to 75% off.”  Unlike the store which is in Manhattan, the outlet is in the Bronx.  The South Bronx, to be exact.  Wkipedia describes the South Bronx this way:

It is situated in the poorest congressional district in the country…almost 50% of the population lives below the poverty line…drug trafficking, gang activity, and prostitution are all still common throughout the South Bronx…Its precincts record the highest violent crime rates in the city.

I decide to go anyway.  I print out walking directions from the subway, and I leave, with visions of finding the perfect little table for next to nothing.

I emerge from the subway station and begin walking.  I feel like Sherman McCoy in The Bonfire of the Vanities.  There is graffiti everywhere.  On buildings.  On trucks.  On walls.  The only commercial industry I see is automotive.  Body Shops are in abundance.  I ask someone if it’s safe to walk here and am told, “As long as it’s daytime.”  I imagine myself getting murdered, and my friends asking, “What was she doing walking around the South Bronx?”

I get to the ABC Outlet and find nothing.  I leave and hurriedly walk the streets to the subway station.

I make it home just in time for lunch.  A salad and a bowl of grapes never tasted so comforting.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

cousin patty's no good, horrible day (m)

A couple of years ago, I was sitting at my computer doing work at night and got an urge to call Cousin Patty.  We talk about once a week now, but while I was working full time, we spoke only once per month.

I called and she answered, clearly upset.  Her beloved aunt had passed away that morning.  I didn't know.  It was a coincidence that I called.

Last night, while sitting on the chaise lounge in my bedroom waiting for Law & Order SVU to start, I got another urge to call Patty.

Turns out she had a hideous day.  While driving home from dropping her husband off at work at the GE factory, she got caught in a flash flood.  She was trapped inside her Cadillac, water rising, engine stalled.  She couldn't open the door to get out.  She had to call 911 to help her.

Then, when she got home, she made lunch for herself.  She took the last square of  lasagna out of the pan in the fridge, heated it in the microwave and, when she went to take it out, she dropped the plate, ruining the lasagna!  All over the floor, sauce on the walls.  Couldn't save the lasagna.  What a waste, she said.

To hear her tell the story, she was more rattled by the lasagna incident than by her near-drowning experience in the car.

And that, in a nutshell, is my family.

perfect invention (m)

Of all the inventions I've encountered, used and marveled at including: the phone, the internet, penicillin, television, etc, there is one that stands out:  a treadmill with a built in fan..  I used it today at the gym. 

I'm in love.

life again, as usual (lyn)

It amazes me how much money I can spend doing nothing.  I returned home on Sunday, and since then, I’ve:

  • Ordered Alexander’s books.

  • Bought school supplies online from Staples (I once forgot and went in person over Labor Day weekend; I remember waiting in line for over 45 minutes).

  • Bought Alexander a new backpack (his current one is taped together).

  • Spent time at the Post Office:  mailing out some books I sold on Amazon; shipping clothes back to my mom’s to hold for me for next summer; and buying stamps.

  • Refilled Alexander’s Metrocard, as he needs to be up at school every day for Football practice.

  • Replenished our food supply:  lots of fruit, VitaMuffins, water, orange juice, bagel thins, salad stuff, vegetables, etc.…if you opened the fridge door it would now shout, “well-stocked and healthy.”

I think I’ve already spent more money in the four days I’ve been home than I spent all of the previous days in August.  

competition on the cape (m)

Harrison's summer competition is on Cape Cod.  Sounds idyllic and that was the whole premise.  A summer skating competition amidst the dunes on the Cape!  Come, stay awhile!  Make your family vacation plans around this event!

The reality is that we were stuck in a rink for two days....the nearest hotel was in Hyannis, right next to the airport where small planes come and go all hours of the day and night.  No other guys showed up in his group, so he was the only skater.

Practice began very early.  So early that after a night of hearing planes and getting no sleep, I put ketchup on my oatmeal.  Then he practiced.  Lunch was at the rink.  I ordered one of those big pretzels.  They put butter on it and cooked it.  It took four napkins to wipe off the butter and salt.  I ate half.

In the afternoon, he competed.   He skated well even though he said, "It's difficult to motivate yourself when you are the only one." Dinner was at a "pub" nearby.  The only non-red-meat-non-fried-fish option was something with almonds and honey baked on a piece of white fish.  Vile.  So, I ate the onion rings.  Was disgusted with myself for doing that.  First fried food in a long, long time.

Went back to the hotel lounge (such as it is) and one of the other mothers who arrived later that evening asked me to join her at the bar and keep her company while she ate her dinner.  A pizza from the brick oven at the hotel bar.  I white-knuckled it as I watched the cheese drip from her pizza.  She ate half a pizza and offered me some.  After the onion rings, I knew it would be all over if I ate the pizza so I drank diet Coke.  No pizza.

Went to bed hungry.  Talked to Sam on the Blackberry messenger.  He and his friend, J, were about to climb the bridge in Sydney, Australia.  They had to wear harnesses.  J's afraid of heights.  I was up all night waiting for them to text me that they were okay.  At about 5 a.m. I got a message they were fine and the climb was "amazing...best experience of my life."

Same drill on Saturday.  Practice, competition.  I ate yogurt for breakfast and turkey for lunch.  After a carb-heavy day, the protein was a welcome relief.  During a break in the activities, I walked over to the nearby flea market.  Bought some MAC cosmetics (waiting for my eyes to fall out) and a "Burberry" eyeglass case for $1.  The lining had to be glued back in but it's holding up well.  Also bought some spoon chimes for Lyn's father.

My husband brings my mother down from Boston for the afternoon event.  Harrison skates to Jesus Christ Superstar and scores over 100 points....his personal best.  He comes over and hugs my mother and thanks her for coming.  She's thrilled.  The parents all fuss over her and inquire about her health.  It's amazing how a little attention to someone goes a long way.  Especially with the elderly.

After a long day, I send Harrison off to go with some skaters to a party and Six Flags on Sunday.  My husband takes my mother back to Boston.

And I head to Lyn's parents for my annual visit on the way home from the Cape.

At this point, I've consumed only 10 points.  I feel good knowing dinner is a low-point lobster.

But first, I stop off at the Mashpee Commons to buy some things to bring to Lyn's parents house for dinner.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

eating smarter (lyn)

Weigh-in went well…down a pound from Saturday (now that I’ve off my Cape eating plan).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

every picture tells a story (lyn)

I go to my annual mammogram and take my IPhone so I can play Scrabble while I’m waiting.  It helps divert my attention from why I am here.

I’m done with the mammogram and am waiting to be called for the sonogram, when the technician comes in and tells me she needs to take one of the films again.  It makes me nervous but I’m told it’s routine.  The technician re-takes the mammogram, I have the sonogram, and then I wait for my doctor whom I see once a year.

She walks into the sonogram room carrying my mammogram films.  The first thing she says, before even looking up at me, is, “Did you lose a lot of weight?”  “Yes, 40 pounds,” I respond.  “I can tell from your mammogram.  That’s why I asked for one of the scans to be taken again.  Your breasts have changed size.”

Interesting what a mammogram can show.

Monday, August 23, 2010

home again (lyn)

Get up early.  Open my front door and there’s the New York Times.  Turn on the TV and see Matt and Meredith.  Start the Keurig and make some coffee.  Turn on my computer to check my emails.  Soon I’ll go over and visit Becky, Sam and Karen.  I like the familiarity of my life.

Alexander begins football practice today.  In two weeks school will start.  I think I will most remember this summer for our many college trips, the heat, and how enjoyable our time on the Cape was.  No major fights or dramas.   Just a lot of laughs and good times.

So now that I’m home, I find myself doing things I haven’t done in over two weeks:

  • Watching TV (saw none while away)
  • Reading the NY Times every morning (didn’t do this at all while gone)
  • Getting on the scale in the morning (again, this has been absent from my morning routine); today it read 120.2
  • Tracking what I eat (will begin again on Wednesday, the start of my ww week)
  • Seeing money evaporate as soon as I walk out the door
  • Being more social (for the most part, I’m happy at the Cape doing nothing)
  • Not walking in the morning (a habit I want to change as soon as school starts; it’s still too hot here)
  • Planning dinner for 7 or later
  • Facing my dire financial situation
  • Hearing myself only being referred to as Lyn (never Linder or even Linda)
  • Having everything I want to do right outside my door (except, of course, the beach).

Wherever I am, it always feels good to come home. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

the ride home (lyn)

Let me say right up front, I detest people who, with a little bit of power, think they own the world.  And, I’ve never been good at following rules that don’t make sense to me.  I’d have never made it in the military.

Here’s the plan for the trip home:  My mom will drive Alexander and me to Bourne, where we’ll catch the 7:50 bus to Providence, arriving there at 8:05.  We’ll then take a cab to the nearby train station, where we’ll take a 9:20 train to New York, arriving around 1pm.   It’s a fair deal.  My mom always picks us up at the train in Providence when we arrive (about 70 miles from her home), and we always take the bus back to the train.

My mother is never late, and she gets manically nervous when she has to be somewhere at a certain time and there are others involved who do not share her obsession for timeliness.  Last night we agree to be all packed up with our suitcases at the door before going to sleep.  I tell her to wake me at 5:45, as we have agreed to leave at 6:15.  It only takes 15 minutes to get to the bus station, although my mother insists it takes 20 (it actually took 12).  “And don’t forget,  I have to buy the bus tickets,” which takes all of 3 minutes. 

At 5:30 my mom wakes me.  “What time is it?” I ask. “5:30.”  “Remember, I told you to wake me at 5:45.”  “Oh, I thought you said 5:30.”  She does this every time. 

Our suitcases are all packed, but now we need to fill a shopping bag with food for the 3.5-hour train ride back to New York.  First is the lobster meat I took from last night’s claws.  That’ll be dinner tonight.  Then the insulated mug filled with coffee (that later spills).  Then a bag of pretzels.  Then some grapes.  Then the cinnamon bun I had bought at Dana’s (the pie place) two days prior.  It’s my only one all summer (last summer it was a bi-weekly event, maybe more).  We have enough food packed to take us to Newport News, Virginia, in case we forget to get off in New York.  We leave behind the cooked pork tenderloin my mother made for dinner last night but then didn’t serve when everyone opted for lobster instead.

Alexander and I sleep on the bus to Providence.  Wait an hour at the train station.  And finally board the quiet car (as in no cell phones allowed) around 9:20.  The train is empty, so we have our choice of seats, and decide to sit separately so we can spread out.

I pull down the tray table and place on it my coffee and cinnamon bun.  I put my purse on the seat next to me, take out my book (Little Bee) and settle in for my trip to New York.  I love taking the train. It’s peaceful.  It’s a smooth ride.  I like passing through the small Rhode Island and Connecticut towns.  And I like having concentrated time to read and write and overall relax.  I continually rebuff my mom’s attempts at getting Alexander and me to ride the less expensive, more convenient bus (it stops only 12 minutes from her house).

A few minutes into our train ride the conductor comes by to collect our tickets.  When he gets to me he says, “I’m sorry ma’am, but you’ll have to put your tray table up and remove your bag from the seat next to you for the other passengers.”  If he didn’t look so serious I’d think that Candid Camera had been put back on the new fall schedule.  I look around at all the empty seats and tell the conductor I will happily oblige if the train becomes crowded.  He insists, telling me the train is “Sold out,” and adding, “Besides, you cannot take up more than one seat unless you pay for it.”  I tell him that I will absolutely comply, when and if more people board the train.  He gets angry and tells me that if I don’t comply now he’ll remove me from the train at the next stop.  Alexander is of course appalled by my behavior.  I ask to see the manager.  He tells me there are no managers on the train, just conductors, and walks away.

A few minutes later two more conductors, along with the first, approach me.  Unlike the first, they are polite.  They explain that it’s intimidating to passengers coming on the train to ask an existing passenger to move stuff.  I understand this logic and propose the following:  I promise to close the tray table and remove my purse from the seat next to me right before every stop, so anyone who wants to sit next to me can.  But between stops, I can leave the tray table down and my purse on the seat.  The two nice conductors agree to this plan.  The original conductor is not happy.  I’m sure he wishes he could throw me off the train entirely.

We continue on to New York.  Hardly anyone else boards. I remain seated alone.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

the last supper (lyn)

The final day of our trip is usually spent in the same way.  Gorgeous beach weather.  Some time actually in the water on an inflatable float.  Talking with my summer friends.  Saying good-bye and wishing everyone a good winter.  And a two and a half pound lobster dinner.

Tonight, just like last summer, M joins us.  Before arriving, she calls and asks if we need dessert.  “No.  We are all set.  Don’t bring anything,” my mother tells her.  She totally ignores this response and arrives with a stunning set of place mats for my mom, an exquisite and unusual set of spoon chimes for my dad, a small makeup case filed with La Mer sample products for me, and a box of six cupcakes, each beautifully decorated and different from the next, for dessert. 

Without prompting, my mom immediately notices the change in M since she saw her last summer.  And I cannot help but notice her all over again.  She really looks sensational.  

Finally, a picture of the two of us:
My mom makes a fabulous dinner.  Two and a half pound lobsters for everyone (except for Sally who’s allergic to them), crab stuffing (not exactly healthy, but worth the points it’s so good), salad, orzo, and baked mixed vegetables.  My dad is in awe of M.  He could just sit and listen to her hilarious stories for hours.  M can find both heart and humor in the mundane.  Even the two teenagers at dinner are in no hurry to leave the table.

It’s the perfect end to a perfect vacation.  

another up week (lyn)

Since I weighed- in last Saturday, my dinners for the week have included:

  • two slices of birthday cake on Saturday
  • an order of fried clams and french fries on Sunday
  • baked stuff shrimp and two chocolate covered ice-cream bon-bons on Tuesday
  • pizza (too many slices to count) on Wednesday
  • Chinese noodles in duck sauce and a large spring roll on Thursday
  • and a 10-ounce (I’m guessing at size but it looked big) rib eye steak with potatoes and a wild berry pie for dessert on Friday
I decide to go to a WW meeting this morning just to weigh-in.  I'm not surprised that I've gained two pounds in a week (and now weigh 120.8).  Just a few more days and I’ll be back on track.  But in the meantime, I've enjoyed this food vacation.

Friday, August 20, 2010

a one-time event (lyn)

I'm startled by Alexander's agreement to go on an early morning walk with me.  

We’re out the door by 7, on our way to the nearby bike path.  My mother, who worries a lot about food, traffic, and weather, has already tried to convince us to just walk in the neighborhood as “it can be dangerous on the bike path with so many bicyclists.”  She also reminds us that “however far you walk along the path going out, you’ll have to walk the same distance to get back.”

We drive the 10-minutes over to the bike path.  It’s pretty deserted when we get there.  We hear only an occasional, “On your left,” thereby negating my mother’s traffic report.  We decide to walk 1.8 miles in each direction.  

It’s overcast but humid.  While I’m enjoying the walk with my son, he’s (a) not happy to be up so early, (b) displeased with the sticky weather,  (c) not in the mood to be exercising, and (d) finds the scenery of mostly trees less interesting than looking at houses.

At about the 3-mile mark, Alexander says, “This is the worst of everything.  We are walking just fast enough to be sweaty, but not fast enough for me to be getting any kind of workout.  Don’t bother waking me tomorrow.”

what to eat down under (m)

Sam is in Australia, visiting his friend J.  He sends this photo from a grocery store.

Fresh kangaroo meat.  98% Fat Free.  The picture shows it cooked, sitting on a bed of what appears to be french fries.

Even I'm not tempted.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

the golden palace (lyn)

Everyone’s been so easygoing about meals that when my mother says, “Let’s have Chinese for dinner,” I say fine, even though I rarely eat Chinese food.

In previous years when we would visit, my parents frequented a place called The Hong Kong House.   While the food wasn’t bad, Alexander and I both had an aversion to the place.  First, the waiters were mean.  We were there once when the owner started screaming at a man who was complaining that his pick-up order did not include the right things.  Another time my parents placed an order and wanted to change it, but were afraid they might offend the waiter and didn’t, even warning us not to intervene on their behalf.  And the d├ęcor was pretty tacky.  A large plug-in velvet painting covered one wall of the dining room.  

A few years ago there was a fire at The Hong Kong House so my parents switched their allegiance to The Golden Palace.  This restaurant is in nearby Bourne, in a little strip mall.  Whenever we go there, we are one of maybe three tables occupied.  My mother claims they do a big takeout business.

Tonight we arrive and are immediately seated;  only one other table is occupied.  A sweet waitress who appears to speak no English comes to take our order.  My mom tries to convey to her that she would prefer her usual waitress, Susan.  (Apparently, Susan "understands what we want, and always remembers to bring extra noodles and duck sauce.")  But our waitress just smiles and continues to stand in front of us ready to take our order.  My mother politely asks again for Susan.  The waitress again seems not to understand.  After a few back and forths my mother finally is able to get across her point, and our sweet waitress leaves.  

We now have to wait about fifteen minutes for Susan who is "busy on the phone."   Alexander and I are convinced that this is punishment for requesting her. 

Uncharacteristically, everyone orders their own meal, since we all want different things.  My dad gets the Hunan pork, which he alone prefers spicy.  My mom gets fried egg foo yung which neither Alexander nor I would consider eating.  Alexander ties with my mom for the unhealthiest meal and gets the sweet and sour (fried) chicken.  I order from the diet section of the menu and get the steamed shrimp and vegetables (which are delicious).

We are the last table to leave, and it’s only 8 o’clock.  

lyn drops in (m)

Lyn and I have been talking about getting together for a while.  She's eager...I'm not.  I'd like to be down 100 pounds for dramatic effect (and to be sure it's noticeable).

On Tuesday, Lyn calls to tell me she and Alexander will be in my neck of the woods touring Tufts....can we get together, she asks?

I think about this.  Why not?  Who knows if I'll even make the 100-pound mark (yeah, I know, be positive). "Great," I say.  "Let's do it."

Lyn and Alexander arrive just ahead of us as I had to get Harrison from the rink.  I beep the horn as I come down the driveway, announcing our arrival.  I tell Harrison to make sure he notices Lyn's weight loss.

They come to the front of the house from around back.  I feel like I'm on The Dating Game where you get to see the contestant who won.  I'm startled by Lyn's weight loss.  It's pretty dramatic.  She's not thin...she's skinny.  Her stomach is concave.  Her arms are very thin.  Her face looks great...smooth, tanned, happy.  Even though Lyn has posted many photos of herself on the blog...it's very striking to see in person.

We have a mutual admiration moment (Harrison rolls his eyes...he's sick of the obsession on dieting and weight loss).  We go in the house and talk for a little while, catching up.  Lyn asks me to take a look at a mole on her back and lifts her skirt (in the bathroom).  Her legs are like a teenager's.  Skinny.

How thin is Lyn?  Angelina Jolie thin.  Hollywood thin.  She'd look great in any outfit in the world thin.

Now, let's back up for a minute.  All the way to 1981.

Lyn was one of six interns at Gillette that year.  V and I were two others.  Lyn was striking. Thin. Dark curly hair, big smile, upbeat.  Fun.  A head-turner everywhere we went.  (By the way, V is very attractive, too, but doesn't like to call attention to herself).

In fact, one of the great practical jokes of all time was when another one of the interns, G, wrote a letter to Lyn on corporate stationery, posing as an HR person, and telling her she'd been selected as 1981's "face of Gillette" to be featured prominently in the annual report.  The rest of us had to suffer through a month of Lyn's preparation for the photo shoot...outfits, hair, make-up.  The beautiful African-American woman next to me was pissed and threatened to sue for discrimination ("Why couldn't they have picked a person of color?" she lamented). The spoof wasn't revealed until the day it was supposed to have happened.

Through the years, while my weight kept creeping up, Lyn managed to stay thin.  In 1989, she added fitness to her life.  She had one of those George Costanza jobs where she had plenty of free time...so, she worked out all the time.  She visited me in the hospital right after I had Sam.  I remember being in the hospital bed....huge and sore from the C-section.  Lyn was in tight black jeans and a light pink sweater.  The smallest I've ever seen any adult. Incredibly fit.  I looked like the Goodyear blimp.  I took Polaroids of all the visitors for baby Sam's scrap book.  Lyn happily posed (I'll find the picture and post it later so you can see, too).

Since that time, Lyn has put on a few pounds.  A couple of years ago, I visited Lyn in New York and she had gained a noticeable amount of weight.  Still, not fat by anyone's definition.   If she had stopped there, you would think she was perfectly fine.  However, she did gain some more weight.  Last summer, in August, I stopped by her parent's home on the Cape on the way back from a nearby skating competition.  By then, Lyn's weight gain was too much.   It wasn't Lyn.  One of her sisters even commented to me that she was surprised that someone in her family was heavy.   I think it was the first time I was grateful for having been born into my family.

I give Lyn alot of credit for the discipline she's exercised in getting herself back to where she wants to be.  She's played a big role in keeping me on track and motivating me to stick with it.  Without this blog, without the pressure of having a friend who's so successful at the program, I might have given up a while ago.

Thank you, Lyn.

a walk with the girls (lyn)

I’ve not been going on many early morning walks this summer, but today I do, remembering the many slices of onion pizza I ate last night at Charlies in Buzzards Bay (among the best I’ve had anywhere).

My mom leaves at 6:40, and wakes me before going.  She’s meeting the girls, her friends June and Dorothy, 75 and 78 respectively. I slip on a pair of running shorts, sports bra, old T-shirt, sneakers and shoes, put my hair up in a pony tail, wash my face, brush my teeth, and within 10 minutes, I’m out the door.

Last year when I was here I bought two pair of running shorts, from the previous year’s Falmouth Road Race.  So instead of saying 2009, the logo read 2008, and the price dropped from $20 to $5. .  I bought an Extra Large, both in grey and royal blue.  They were made by New Balance, and were the best deal of the summer.  When I tried them on this past spring, they of course didn’t fit, so I sent them to my mom along with some other clothes.  They didn’t fit her either, so she passed them along to my brother-in-law.  This year, there was no such deal, as the 2009 shorts sold out last summer.

I like the early mornings here.  A lot of people are already out jogging, bike riding, or walking their dogs.  The birds are happily chirping.  And today, the sun is out, promising another beautiful beach day.

I catch up with the girls.  They are already in mid conversation, discussing their grandkids.  Not in, “my grandkids are so amazing,” or “listen to what Ava did?”, but far more intriguing stuff.  For example, one has a daughter who lives in LA, and is head writer for a top five TV show.  She has two kids (a boy and a girl) with her ex-partner, and they share custody...four days with one and three days with the other one week, and the reverse the next week.  The arrangement works well for everyone.  The older child, a girl, is looking at boarding schools in New England.  So the discussion this morning is about the impact this might have on the boy, who would continue living in LA.  My mother and her friends are all interesting, contemporary women, and their conversations reflect it.

As we are walking, June asks, “So Linder, did you get your shots this year?”  I have no idea what she is talking about.  “My shots?” I query.  “”Yes, like the ones you got last year?”  The only shot I got last year was a flu shot and I doubt J is referring to that.

My mom interprets.  “Shorts,” she says, “from the Road Race.”

Perhaps Alexander can claim fluency in understanding a foreign language on his college applications.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

finally (lyn)

It's 7:15,  the phone rings and it’s M.  “Why are you calling so early,” I ask, thinking it may be an emergency.  “I knew you’d be up.  You always get up early on the Cape.”  I am up, as Alexander and I are rushing to be out the door for our 15th college trip.  This time to my alma mater, Tufts.

Since I've been on the Cape, M has resisted getting together.  “I’m just not ready yet,” she’s continually told me, and I don’t want to push.  

But today, at 7:15, unplanned, I suggest we get together since I’ll only be a half hour from her house.  She surprises me and ever so casually, as if this is something we do everyday, says, "Great."

I dress in an outfit I know we’ll be slim-looking.  My jeans, a tank, and a light sweater.  My mother sees me and tells me I’ll be too hot, as it’s supposed to be in the 90’s today.  So I reluctantly change into a linen skirt that is not as form-fitting as my jeans.  We're on the road by 8.

While going on all these tours and info sessions is arduous, both Alexander and I enjoy them.  It's been immensely helpful in focusing his search.  While Tufts is perfect on paper (pretty campus, great programs, smallish but with the benefits of a large university, close proximity to Boston), neither of us feels a visceral connection.  But we do like the Tufts apparel and end up buying our favorite brands, Banner 47 and League, in:  grey sweatpants and a heather blue T-shirt for Alexander, and a navy blue zipper-hooded sweatshirt and brown sweat cut-offs for me. 

By 2, we are on our way to M’s.  We get to her house a few minutes before she does, and we’re waiting in her Eden-like backyard, when we hear her drive in.  She’s just come from a massage and picking up Harrison, so she’s warned me that she’ll be covered in oils and dressed sloppily.  Still, I’m prepared to tell her she looks great, regardless of how big or little a difference I see.

What I see surprises me.  A new person bounces out of her car.  First, I notice that M looks and moves about 10 years younger than when I last saw her, a year ago.  Her skin is flawless (she swears it’s the 2 to 4 fish oil pills she takes daily).  Tan. Unwrinkled.  And glowing.  She has beautiful thick dark hair and she’s wearing it in a stylish, chic cut.  I’m thinking that my hair looks a little too 60-ish (as in the era, not the age) and that maybe I should get a new look.  For maybe the first time I notice the shape of her face and its many angles.  She looks sensational.

The 60 plus pounds she’s lost shows everywhere.  It’s interesting that the first thing both Alexander and I notice isn’t the smaller outline of her body, but rather her movement, her overall healthiness, and how pretty she looks.  Yes, she looks a lot thinner.  Her legs, even through her black pants, look toned and strong and slim.  And yes, you can absolutely see that there is so much less of her.   It is the best I’ve ever seen her. 

We decide to have dinner at Legal Sea Foods, and M generously insists on treating Alexander and me.  She orders steamed shrimp and broccoli with the sauce on the side.  I am not as good and order their stuffed shrimp which I love (that’s my excuse, anyway). 

My whole family adores M and considers her their friend too.  Prior to my arriving, she talked to my mom and plans to come down the Cape for dinner on Saturday.  My parents love seeing her.  Alexander is as comfortable with her as he is with his own friends.  And though we talk on the phone all the time, seeing her, and especially the new her, is really special.

In the car on the way to dinner, we talk about some of the choices we’ve made in life and why.  She recalls how she almost worked for American Express after business school, and while it of course would have changed the course of her life, it would also have affected mine.

I am so glad she chose Boston and Gillette at the same time that I was choosing the same.  She is a remarkable person.  M has a gigantic personality, is generous and warm and funny and kind. She’s the person that everyone wants to be seated next to at a party.  But I’m one of the lucky ones.  I get to call her one of my closest friends.

M, you shine now, inside and out.   Finally, your looks have caught up with your personality.  Bold and beautiful.  I can’t wait until Thanksgiving when I'll see even less of you.