Thursday, September 30, 2010

missing child (lyn)

Alexander is 17, and next year he’ll be in college, on his own.  So he’s old enough to take a bus to Philadelphia by himself to spend the day with a friend going to classes at Penn.  But still, as his mother, I worry. 

Will he get to 34th and 8th by 7:30am?  Will he get off at the right stop (there are two stops in Philadelphia)?  Will he be able to get himself from the bus station to the campus?  Will he be able to do the same thing in reverse when it’s time to return home?  He still is careless so I worry. 

Last night Alexander was washing out his football clothes in the bathroom sink and went in the other room to do something.  He flooded the bathroom.  Maybe there is no relationship between running water and forgetting about it and getting on and off a bus incident-free, but still, I think about these things.

At 3:15, Alexander calls from the bus station.  The day has gone well.  He’s taking the 4pm bus home.  Should arrive at 6, and be home by 6:30.  Oh, “And my phone is running out of batteries, so don’t worry if I don’t pick up.”

I’m meeting 6 friends for dinner at T-Bar to celebrate Zelia’s birthday.  Before leaving the house at 7:20, I leave a note on the table, “Call me when you get home.” 

I get to the crowded, very now-restaurant, and soon everyone arrives.  I’m ignoring healthy-eating tonight.   We end up ordering for the table a bottle of red wine, some salads (I split an amazing Burrata Pugliese salad), strip steaks, steamed spinach, haricot verts, a layered birthday cake, and cappuccino.  We are having a great time when I notice the time.  It’s 8:20, and still no word from Alexander.  I leave the noisy restaurant and go outside.

I text him.  No response.  I call him.  It goes straight to voice mail.  I call our house.  No answer.  I totally freak out.  Now I’m sure something horrid has happened, and I start to imagine the possibilities.

I call Bolt bus.  Was the bus delayed?  It takes me three times to get through and then I’m disconnected while waiting for Ricky in Operations who can tell me if my son made it on the bus.  I’m about to walk out on my dinner and go home and call Bolt Bus again, when I think to call my neighbor Karen.  I doubt Alexander will be home, or he would have called, but I ask her if she’d mind checking.  She leaves her two sleeping children and goes down the hall.  I hear her knocking on the door saying, “Alexander, are you home?  Your mom is looking for you.”  And then I hear his voice in response.  I’m more relieved then angry.

Apparently his phone had died; he arrived in NY around six, but then stopped at his grandparents on the way home to pick up a book he’d forgotten, then came home, and well, he is 17, and calling his mom is not the first thing on his mind.

I return to dinner relieved and enjoy the rest of the 40-point celebration.  Later he asks me, “Are you going to ask me next year to text you when I leave the dorm and then text you when I arrive at my class safely then text you when I go to the library, and text you when I get home for the night?”  If only I could!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

bully mamma (m)

The kids at the club where Harrison skates have names for each of us mothers.  Most have the word "mamma" in them, either in place of the traditional prefix Mrs., e.g. Mamma Gibson or, more descriptively, to characterize some quality about the person, e.g. Yummy Mamma (my friend, the pretty one). 

The mothers sit above the rink in a room with a wall of glass which allows one to see everything going on down below.  I don't know how the kids and coaches put up with a bunch of people watching their every move.  Frankly, I wouldn't allow it.

When I worked full time, I used to get to the rink around 7 p.m. and sit down below, wrapped in a blanket.  I didn't know many of the mothers.   It wasn't until I quit work at the end of 2007 that I ventured upstairs.

The good news was that the room was warmer.  The bad news was that I had to listen to some mind-numbing drivel. Who missed all her jumps today (the despair!).  Who got a new costume with lots of crystal beads (the expense!).  Who got a new boyfriend (the drama!).  Who didn't get her period yet (the worry!). Who is the perfect child (all of them!) etc, etc.

I started bringing my Bose headphones and electronics with me to the rink so no one would bother me.  Harrison said I looked ridiculous in the someone in Mission Control at NASA.  I didn't care. I got away with it until someone pointed out that they were not attached to any device (oops).

So, I took the headphones off and made it a point to engage with the group.

In a roomful of characters (to put it politely), one stands out.  She has a big mouth and talks openly and loudly about other people's kids.  She's a big woman and eats large submarine sandwiches regularly. She goes on Facebook under the guise of her daughter.  She plays mind games on her daughter's direct competitors immediately before they compete ("you know, your double axel used to give you all the trouble--now it's your double lutz").   She spreads rumors about people.  I don't like her.  And she knows it.

Last week, she took on my family.  She spread a nasty rumor about Harrison and Sam (whom she's never met!) and some other kids at the rink.  All of it 100% false.  One of the mothers whose daughter was implicated called me, extremely upset.  I rushed over to the rink and heard the whole story.  Another mother who heard the whole rumor from the horse's mouth told me everything.  I was livid. 

I called "Bully Mamma" (my term) and got her answering machine.  The next day we connected by phone.  She denied everything.  Even stuff I had heard her say with my own ears about someone else.  Just denied everything. How do you talk to someone like this? 

This drama went on for an entire week.  It took a toll on me and others.  Even my mother got involved,  "Imagine that witch saying those untrue things about my grandsons.  I'd like to pull the hair out of her head."

I'm in the process of drafting a letter to the Board of Directors listing a number of grievances we have with this woman.  Ten families are lined up to sign it.  Hopefully, they will shut her down.

And Bully Mamma?  She still shows up at the rink and eats her sandwiches as if nothing happened.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

a guilty snack (lyn)

The fall is a time of new beginnings.  New school year.  New TV shows.  New Year on the Jewish calendar.  And a new screening season.  Shari and I meet to see the movie, The Social Network, about the creation of Facebook.  It’s a fascinating movie, brilliantly told, well acted, and smartly written.

Following the screening, Aaron Sorkin (the writer), and four of the actors (including Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake) participate in a panel discussion.  All seem intelligent, articulate, humble and insightful.  The moderator is good and fortunately no one in the BAFTA audience asks a stupid question.

Get home around 9.  I’m hungry, having had “dinner” at 3:30, a tuna sandwich and Pringle lights (my new standard meal when I’m in a hurry, valued at only five  points).  I see on the counter an empty pint container  of ice cream.  Alexander has devoured it in just one sitting.  Also gone is a new package of cinnamon bread, bought on Friday.  But since I discovered that a slice of that bread was two points, and not the one point I thought it was, it’s been eliminated from my eating repertoire.  I make a salad.  Only two points for the dressing.  So far so good.

But then I continue, as I’m still hungry.  Two small slices of a layered chocolate cake from Zabars (called a pyramid cake).  I give my little snack 10 points, and promise myself that tomorrow I’ll eat better.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

football, game #1 (lyn)

First game of the season, and the day begins poorly.  Alexander oversleeps and blames me for not getting him up on time.

Spend the morning replenishing my weekly staples-bagel thins, cinnamon bread (80 calories a slice), two boxes of grape tomatoes, two pounds of small red grapes, and the $18/pound tuna at Sables, and worth every penny. 

Given Horace Mann’s record last year (losing all the games they played), the team has been moved down a notch to yet another league.  But it’s still a dangerous game.  Four kids on the team are already out with injuries, including one who had a concussion.

Alexander got his favorite number, eleven (he was born on 11-11-9+2 as in November 11th, 1992).  The team is playing the New York Military Academy located in Cornwall-on-Hudson, six miles north of West Point.  It’s a perfect summer day (sunny in the 80’s), and the ride up is beautiful.

At the game there are parents I haven’t seen since last football season.  One of them comes up to me and says, “I can’t believe it.  Only half of you is here.  How much weight did you lose?  You look amazing!”  By the end of the first quarter, two women and one man are thinking of joining Weight Watchers.

I love going to the games, even though I don’t totally understand them.  Fortunately, there are always enough people around who do, and I rely on them to explain some of the calls.   But even without knowing all the intricacies, I know enough to see that the Horace Mann team is playing well.  And the NYMA coach is getting more and more upset at his players, screaming at them by name from the sideline.  We all feel bad for a poor student named Andrew who keeps getting chastised.

The game ends with a 12-6 win.  The after dinner food for the hungry players is pizza from a local place, drinks, and sumptuous-looking baked carrot cake.  With difficulty, I take only water.

It’s a gorgeous day and everyone leaves happy.  I hope today portends the season to come. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

another Linda (lyn)

I don’t mind going out by myself and I don’t mind not going out at all.  My preference, most of the time, is to be out with friends, my son, or maybe even a date (although sometimes that is more effort than fun).  But tonight, when I can’t find anyone interested in seeing a $4 off-Broadway play at the Beekman Theater (a reputable place), I decide to go alone.

I’m trying to eat light this week as I want weigh-in on Wednesday to be no more than 120.  I make a quick egg salad sandwich for dinner and am out the door by 7.

I mention that the theater is reputable because the play being performed there is The Deep Throat Sex Scandal.  Before arriving, I even call the theater and ask about the play.  Specifically, I want to know if it would be too creepy to show up for this play by myself.  They assure me I’d be fine.  It’s what I want to hear so I ignore the fact that they might be biased.

I arrive early and bring a book.  I am comfortably seated, enjoying a mystery, Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay.  Someone sits down next to me, also alone, and it’s someone I know.  A guy who used to date a friend of mine.  He begins talking to me, and I put down my book to be friendly.   Within two minutes I go back to reading my book, and he continues talking, totally oblivious to the fact that I’m ignoring him.  He is stunningly unaffected by my total lack of participation.  Without any prompting from me, he describes in excruciating detail his summer.  His work.  His many different jobs.  His brilliant marketing idea for a new watch.  It’s exhausting.  I can see why my friend lost interest in him.

The play starts and the language is raw and the actors perform, in part, naked.  It is cleverly staged and the women playing Linda Lovelace is good.  But by intermission, I’ve lost interest in the play too and decide I’d rather be home.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

the end of anniversary week (m)

Yesterday was the 26th anniversary of the day T and I got married.  T likes to put thoughts into his gifts for me.  For our 25th anniversary, he presented me with a manila folder with a scanned photo from our wedding on the cover and pictures of Italy inside, segmented into three, coast and countryside--"the Three Cs'" as he cleverly named it.   It was to have been a special trip.

As you may recall, my knee problem started around that time and we decided to postpone the trip until they got better or fixed. 

So, here we are, a year later...another anniversary.  T announces last week that, instead of one big event, my present will be "little meaningful things that add up."  I felt a knot in my stomach.

Here's why.  Ten years ago, when I was in the middle of a huge project at work and traveling around the world and stressed to the gills,  my Christmas present from T was a grouping of treats to take the stress out of my life.  The components of this package were: twice-monthly mini massages at my office; fresh cut flowers delivered every other week and the piece de resistance-two nights/three days at Canyon Ranch.

Sounds good, no?

My secretary at the time, a large no-nonsense woman named Lorraine, shows this braless-hippie-earth-mother to my office one day and announces (with full eye roll) that "Miss G is here for your appointment."  I didn't have a door to my office; we had to search for an available conference room.  While kneeling in that massage contraption she brought with her, co-workers would barge in to use the video equipment, check for cookies left over from a prior meeting, etc.  It was horrible.  As was her breath.  I told her to keep whatever money he pre-paid her and that I would no longer require her services.  Made her day.

The flowers were delivered on schedule...regardless of whether I was in Boston or London.  I would come back to an office reeking of foul water, flowers limp and brown.  I looked at Lorraine who said "Hey, not my Christmas present."  I cancelled the rest of the order and got some of the money back.

And Canyon Ranch?  It took 5 years before I found the time to go.  Abby and I and another college friend celebrated our 50th birthdays there.  I had fun despite the fact that the body analysis indicated I was "morbidly obese."  Imagine paying a king's ransom to hear that crap from some anorexic chick.

Much to my surprise, the anniversary gifts this year were all great.   A "date" to the Museum of Science to see a documentary film about Australia (Sam just came from there so I was especially interested to see it); dinner at a fabulous restauarant named Craigie on Main whose chef has won copious awards (Sam did his senior project there and we got a gift certificate--my mother's favorite part of the story was that we paid nothing) and finally, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from Winston's with long-lasting flowers in beautiful colors.

The note on the card was beautiful.  At the end, T mentions he still plans to take me to Italy. "I haven't forgotten," he says.

I'm guessing I'll be ship-shape by 2012.

a deal breaker (lyn)

So now that I’m feeling good about how I look, yesterday I joined  jDate.  Within minutes of signing up, my in box was flooded.  I decided to be totally honest, and even put down my real age, unlike most, I’m sure.  One of the guys who contacted me is adorable.  Age appropriate.  Even lives in my neighborhood.  He asked for my number and I gave it to him.   He called.  We talked.  It’s a pleasant, flirty conversation.  We decide to meet for lunch today.

We get together around 1.  I’m nervous, and change my outfit three times before deciding on a simple grey linen skirt and a white cotton sweater.  My hair does not look nearly as good as it does on my jDate photo.  Yesterday's rain has made it frizzy and well, not so nice. 

I get to the restaurant and he’s already there.  He looks like his photo.  Very cute.  We sit down and order.  I’m back to tracking again (although my weight situation never comes up; well actually nothing about me ever comes up) so I order just a green salad with some goat cheese and tomatoes.  He’s talkative.  Relaxed.  And friendly.  By the end of the meal, he suggests we get together again.  Had I just said yes then, I’d be seeing him next week.  But that’s not what happened.  No, instead we linger some more.

He talks about his experiences on jDate and mentions a very nice girl he recently went out with.   “She hasn’t slept with anyone in 8 years.  Can you believe that?  8 years.  I’m a very sexual person.  She has to have a screw loose.”  That is why he never calls her again.  Then later, he says, “When was your last long-term relationship?”  I tell him it was about 8 years ago (though it was longer than that).  “So when was the last time you got laid?”  Remember, this is our first date in a  little neighborhood restaurant.  His crassness is unsettling.

Then he tells me that he doesn’t have many male friends in New York (though many in Boston and LA, where he also spends time).  I jokingly suggest that maybe he should create a dual account on jDate where he sets up a profile saying he is a man looking for a man, but just as a friend.  That’s when he says, “I could never do that.  I’m too into p—ssy.”

So, no, there will be no second date.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

a visit to the knee surgeon (m)

Dr. McDreamy blows into the examining room where they put me....he is the personification of kinetic energy.   "How have you been?"he asks.

My coffee spills on my lap, the newspaper flies out of my hand.  "Fine" I lie.  I want to avoid surgery.

He squeezes my knee and I jump.  "Yeah, you're fine" he mocks.

We talk about weight loss, exercise, physical therapy---all of which I've been doing.

Then, to my surprise he says: "Look.  We can always cut you.  Let's see how you look in six months.  Keep up the exercise and the weight loss and the PT.  Let's see each other again in March."

His Physician Assistant, J, is in the room.  I have supreme confidence in the two of them.  J suggests a cortisone shot in my right knee to bridge me until March.  I've only had it in my left knee and it helped a lot.  I get the shot and they bandage me and pull my pant leg down.

As I stand to go, I look up at them and they are just standing there, smiling.

"What?" I say.

Dr. M says "We're having so much fun watching you transform."  Then he grabs my chin (as my grandmother used to) and says "You're a pretty woman...bring her out".

I was so choked up I couldn't speak.

Words can be so motivating.

Find someone today and compliment them on something.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the red bike (m)

I bought a shiny new red mountain bike....21 years ago.  Summer of 1989.  I was pregnant with Sam. 

My red bike got off to an auspicious start.  The first time my husband and I took it on a trip to the Cape, it fell off the bike rack on the Mass Pike just 2 miles from our house.  The rubber on the seat completely eroded from being dragged on the ground.

Over the years, my bike has seen very little action.  Last year, before I even began WW, I had it completely checked out at International Cycle, Inc. in Newton, MA.  The bike specialist smiled when he saw the bike....and me.  I don't think it was because the bike is a "relic" by today's standards.  I just think he thought "fat chance she'll ever ride this bike again."  The bike got new tires, some lubrication, and a bell.  I even bought a new, more feminine bike helmet (the old one had a "flame" on it) and a sturdier bike rack so that we would have no misshaps on the road.

I took the bike home with high hopes.  I planned to ride it frequently.  I planned my routes by going online looking at the top bike paths in eastern Massachusetts.  The Minuteman trail that goes from Arlington to Lexington caught my eye.  Visions of glorious fall foliage, crisp autumnal air.  I could see it.  I could smell it.  I even imagined conversations with fellow bikers.  We would become friends.  If I extrapolated, I might even try the Pan-Mass Challenge a grueling multi-day bike trip that some of my friends do.

It didn't happen.  The first problem was that I had no energy.  60+ pounds ago, I could barely walk without running out of breath.  The second problem was that I had no appropriate biking clothes.  I even went online to look for "plus sized bike apparel."  Nothing.  Oh, I did have sneakers.

So, my trusty red bike sat in the garage yet another year. 

Until last week.  I come alive in Fall...I have much more energy.  Clothes I bought when the bike was new (21 years ago and pre-pregnancy) now fit again (the sneakers still fit). 

I dropped H off at the rink and went across the street to the bike path along the Charles River.  I rode 5 miles that first day.

The next day, I did 6.5 miles.

On Saturday, I dropped H off at the boathouse for crew practice.  It had rained the night before.  I pulled the car into a parking inlet and took the bike off the rack.  I got on the bike and looked for a place to enter the bike path from the parking area.  On the left was a high curb.  On the right, another high curb.  Ah, I see it.  In the middle was a no-curb section, but there was a puddle there.  I built up some momentum by pedaling harder and went straight through the water.

The next thing I know, my tire caught something, the front wheel stopped and I flipped up over my bike--airborne-- and landed flat on my front side.  Mud all over me.  Apparently, there was a large hole in the ground and my tire got stuck in it, unable to budge.

A jogger wearing a Gillette World Cup tee-shirt came by to help.  "Are you all right?" he asked.

"Amazingly, yes," I said.  I got up, spitting some of the mud out of my mouth.

Soaking wet, I rode on for over an hour and a half along the Charles River on a beautiful day with a song in my head:

Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles
That's where you'll find me....

...Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston you're my home.

where have you been? (m)

I got an email from one of my best friends yesterday.  It said "when you don't blog, I worry".

Not to worry, dear friend.

I've actually been busier than ever.  My weight is roughly the same because I took a "break" from the program and, as planned, am re-committing this Friday.

In the meantime, I've been working on two large consulting projects and have resumed a schedule much like the one I had when I worked full-time.  It's only for a few weeks until we get these projects off the ground.

I thought you might enjoy a few highlights from the past week.  They include: The Red Bike, Pimp my Ride,  What's the Point? and Anniversary Week.

I'll send them along now.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

conceptual art (lyn)

Penny’s tour the other day was at The New Museum.  Many of the artists there are conceptual artists.  As I looked at the exhibits on display, it struck me that the concepts were far more intriguing than their physical translations.  The opposite is true of losing weight.  The concept is not at all interesting.  Eat less.  Eat smarter.  Nothing at all interesting about that.  Ah, but the results.  Life-changing.  Really.

I need a plan or two (lyn)

At our weight-watcher's meeting the other day, Betsy (a member I like very much and who frequently contributes astute observations), made this one (although she says it’s not of her origin):

The difference between a goal and a dream is a plan.

I love this line.  It works for WeightWatchers and it works in life.  Losing weight was easy for me because WW had already developed a proven plan.  I didn’t even have to discover it.  Meredith suggested it to me (one day when I was complaining about my weight) and fortuitously, M was thinking of joining at the same time.

Following a good plan is not difficult for me; creating one is.   Right now in my life I should have two goals:  find a man to spend my life with and/or an interesting job that will provide me with financial security (or the very least, income).  I think I may hate being poor more than I hate being without a man.  But I have no plans to achieve either goal.

As for the first, the man, I suppose I could join JDate.   But I had such a bad experience the first time I joined 8 years ago, I am loath to do it again.  I did meet one nice guy, but he wasn’t smart, interesting, funny, rich, athletic, or sexy enough.  Had he been even one of those things that would have been enough, but he was average (or below) on all of them.   Another guy stood me up when I told him I was 51, and not the 48 he thought I was.  There was one man I was attracted to, but after our first date, I never saw him again, despite a few failed attempts.  But the worst was a grammatically-challenged man from Brooklyn, who showed up to our date adorned in a black shirt replete with a gold chain.  We met at Willy’s, a local restaurant, and he was late.  I had already ordered a glass of wine.  He arrived and chose not to drink OR eat.  He sat down at the table, and within ten minutes excused himself, and left.  I stopped JDate that night.  I don’t like bars, never did, so that option is out.  And no one I know seems to know anyone to fix me up with.  So hear I sit, stuck without a plan. 

As for a job, I don’t know what to do.  I am running out of money, so I need to work, but don’t know how to find a job anymore.  My resume and letters never get answered, so sending any out, regardless of how specific and compelling they may seem to me, seems fruitless.  And like a man, no one I know seems to know anyone who is hiring. 

But I do feel much better about the way I look now.  And I do have more confidence than I did a year ago.  Okay, it’s the start of a New Year.  Time to make some plans.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yom Kippur (lyn)

Get to temple by  9:15.  That’s early for us.  Can’t help but wonder if this will be the last Yom Kippur that Alexander and I will celebrate together.  We both fast all day, but more than make up for it at night.  I leave for Jill's (Valerie's sister-in-law's)  feeling and looking thin.  

We get to Jill's about 5:30, and already, people have broken fast.   Last year at this time Jill had given me an extra scale she had, so she's partly responsible for my new look.  She tells me that I'm her inspiration and plans to go on WW soon. 

I totally abandon any constraint and indulge in crackers, creamed herring, and egg salad before dinner.  Then I eat a real bagel (as opposed to the small 100-calorie ones), cream cheese, nova, and blueberry blintzes (which I need to google as I write this to see if there is an R on the end of it or not) for dinner.  For dessert I consume two pieces of 7-layer chocolate cake (my favorite) , watermelon and blueberries.  

I leave feeling like I looked last year.  

Friday, September 17, 2010

an afternoon with pennelope (lyn)

Today I meet a friend who is a docent at a downtown museum.  She is giving a tour and I decide to attend.  I’ve done this before with her, and her knowledge of art awes me.  As well as other things about her.

She’s had a very tough year.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago.  Went through surgery, chemo and radiation and never once looked sick and remained strong throughout.  She is now cancer-free and looks fabulous, still.  Her daughter, with whom she is very close, went off to college this fall.  Her husband of 28 years suddenly decided he wanted to be a free man.  No explanation.  No discussion.  But my friend’s approach is to dive back into life.  She rightfully criticized me for not being active enough.  She has the right.  Within the past few weeks, she’s done the following:  Trekked with her daughter though Sri Lanka (she frequently takes exotic trips).  Took an intensive course at the Landmark Forum which “helps you create a future of your own design.”  Went on a "mystery bus ride" originating in Queens, leaving at 8am, and returning at midnight.  In between the bus stopped at many unusual places (including a Buddhist monastery, an artist’s community, and a man who raises birds, falcons, I think).  Enrolled in a course on astrology.  Went for an organized walk from tip to tip of Manhattan.  So that’s what Pennelope’s been doing in answer to the question, “What’s new?”

Me?  Well, let’s see.  I’ve been writing this blog.  Flirting with an old boyfriend via email and phone.  (Today he told me he had to schedule a two-hour session with his occasional psychiatrist because of me;  I was flattered).  Not tracking, but eating carefully.  Seeing friends.  Helping Alexander (and bugging him) about his college applications and essays.  Hmm, not much.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the difference a year makes (lyn)

Exactly one year ago today I attended my first weight watchers meeting.  Someone pointed out to me in yesterday’s class, “You’re a totally different person.”  And I feel different too.  Aside from the 40 pounds I’ve lost, I’ve changed some behaviors.  I:
  • No longer am afraid to look in mirrors I pass.
  • Welcome the scale vs. avoid it.
  • Know how to lose weight, which before I had no idea.
  • No longer avoid being in front of the camera.
  • Rarely eat fries, muffins and pasta.
  • Am not afraid to see friends I haven’t seen in a long time.
  • Can wear short skirts and skinny jeans (but not too short or too tight; I don’t want to look like someone old trying to pass for young).
  • Do not dread buying clothes; actually I find it exhilarating, perhaps too much so
  • Can put on anything in my closet and know it will fit, unless it’s too big
  • Am not embarrassed being with my thin sisters, one of whom said to a friend of mine last year, “I can’t believe that someone in my family is heavy.”
  • Have more confidence.
  • Am just plain happier.    

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

a very nice day (lyn)

This day starts and ends beautifully.

I haven’t tracked all week.  I’ve eaten chocolate cake and multiple slices of pizza.  Even a big blueberry muffin.  And still, I’m only up point two pounds.

Later, I meet a friend to go with her to an important doctor’s appointment.  The news is all good. 

She generously offers to take me out to dinner.  It’s only five o’clock, but it doesn’t matter.  We are ready to eat, and even to drink (an oddity for me).  We choose Le Magnifique.   The night is cool and breezy, and we decide to eat outside.

We order drinks and decide on kobe burgers and fries for dinner.  (I have six days ahead of me to eat smartly).  Within a few minutes, we are in conversation with the two adorable men next to us.  Both are British.  One is 41, the other 52.  Both are educated, accomplished, engaging, and fun.  Unfortunately, the older of the two is happily married with two kids and a wife who has a very powerful job.  He is breathtakingly charming.

I have two Cosmopolitans; my friend has more.  She is the perfect conversationalist.  In fact, perhaps because of the liquor, she is more revealing of herself than she typically is, and captivates the two men with her wit and humor.  Two more people join our new friends, one is a beautiful but unfriendly woman carrying a tiny dog in her purse and the other is a friend from England who has a major job with a major auction house.  Our dinner lasts almost three hours.

It’s a nice New York day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

and so it begins (m)

Another school year starts.

Monday night...Meet the Deans.  My husband says we both should go.  I don't think either of us has to go.  He guilts me into attending this snoozefest.

As I sat there in the audience packed with parents, I thought back to my own school experience.  In the combined twelve years of grammar school and high school, I think my mother was at my school once per year to discuss my performance.  She came home muttering "waste of time." Why?  Because there were no issues.  Great grades, great kid they would say.  Some other parents might have been pleased.

 My father was there only once in twelve years...Graduation Day from high school.  He had to work nights when I was in the school play, in a lead role.  I know he meant it when he said, "I'm sorry I couldn't go."

Somehow, without all this parental involvement, I managed to get an education and go on to the college of my choice.

By stark contrast, most parents attended last night's event.  They took copious notes, nodded vigorously at non-insightful comments, laughed loudly at lame jokes, sucked up big time to the Deans at the reception.

And I?  I surveyed the dessert table.  Dark, fudgy brownies.  Homemade chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies (without raisins),  blueberry cake.  I had a 3-point sandwich for dinner (turkey, Arnold's flat bread, lettuce and mustard).  The brownies were calling me.  They looked phenomenal.  I grabbed a cup of green tea and got cornered by a mother (whom I didn't recognize but who recognized me) who droned on about her trip with her daughter to Costa Rica where they did community service all summer. No toilets.  No running water.  "You should go sometime," she said.  I didn't even respond.

More people, more conversation that didn't interest me.   I was getting bored and annoyed.  That's a trigger for me to eat.  I know the warning signs.  The brownies were calling loudly this time.

And then, just as I was headed back toward the desserts, I saw it: a bowl of grapes and strawberries.  Like a mirage in a desert.  I grabbed some of each. 

When I was done with my fruit, I left.

I had had enough.

Monday, September 13, 2010

first meeting of the new school year (lyn)

This year, for the first time, our athletic department decides to host a meeting for every sport at the start of the season.  This is a first, and as a result I feel compelled to attend.  That, and the fact that the letter about the meeting is tagged “mandatory.” 

Alexander is playing football again and so, I attend the football meeting.  I get to the room where the meeting is being held, about five minutes early.  All the lights in the room are off and no one is present.  Not an auspicious start.  I go up to the cafeteria that is in the same building as the meeting, and instead of seeing anyone I know, I see a spread of leftover sandwiches and salads and desserts.  I had thought I’d eat after the meeting but I’ve arrived starving.  I grab a bottle of water and a small half sandwich.  Since I’m not tracking this week, I don’t have to guess at the number of points, though I think not many. 

I return to the meeting room just as the coach is showing up.   It is sparsely attended.  Maybe six parents out of a small team of twenty-seven are there.   

The hour-long meeting is a total waste of time.  We review the code of conduct which basically says to act appropriately at all games.  Really?  We talk about the importance of attending every practice.  We know this too.  We learn that there will be no mandatory requirement to buy a package of non-playing team clothes (compared to last year’s $150 required purchase that arrived in early January, after the season was long over).  And finally, we learn that the coaches and players all really appreciate the parent-provided buffet spreads at the end of every home game.

My friends who go to the soccer meetings have a similar experience.  I’m back in the city by 8, and famished.  I eat a slice of pizza and two small pieces of jelly roll for dessert and wish I’d been home all evening, having a nice relaxing dinner (of something healthier than what I ate) with my son.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

uneventful bus ride home (lyn)

No drama.  No threats to throw me off.  No unexpected stops along I95.  All very ordinary except for the blueberry muffin I buy before boarding.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th (m)

Saturday, September 11th in NYC is a special day.  The weather was eerily similar to the weather on that fateful day 9 years ago.  Sunny, mild, not a cloud in the sky.

A pall is cast over the city.  It is palpable.  You don't have to turn on the television to know that the mood is more subdued. 

Catholics give up treats for Lent as a gesture of sacrifice.  I skipped breakfast today as a sacrifice to those who were directly impacted by the tragedy.  We all know someone who was.  A friend of mine lost his brother, another lost his brother-in-law.  I, myself, was scheduled to be on the American  flight to California to shoot a television commercial, but my NYC-based ad agency was late getting the bids from the directors so it delayed the production.  Fate.

Even the rink venue was touched by 9/11.  Chelsea Piers was the designated "morgue" for the victims of the World Trade Center.   Large area, cold interior.  

When we left the rink, we drove around until we could see the beams of light representing the World Trade Center buildings.  We said a prayer and drove on.

Today was not about trivial things like my food journal.

the Y reunion (lyn)

In short, the Y reunion is a major success.  Over 400 people show up, and everyone looks great.  As someone points out, “People who don’t look good don’t’ come.”

Since I barely eat all day, I’m oblivious to what I put in my mouth.  I’m so excited to see people I haven’t since the late 60’s-early 70’s that the food there is inconsequential.  I find the evening amazingly entertaining and uplifting. 

My old friends Ellen (and her husband Mark), Marcie and Cheryl (a former roommate) are there and really, they have barely changed.  Others, too, have aged remarkably well.  One has changed from a brunette to a bright blond with seven-inch nails, but is fit and friendly, same as always.  I see an old boyfriend from the mid-80’s who tells me he came for only one reason---to see me.  I am truly flattered.  But then he makes my night by adding, “You were pretty in high school, good-looking after college, but now you’re a f**cking 10."

Here are a couple of pictures.  One of me alone, in a clingy black dress I bought at Maxwell’s last month, and another with Marcie (left) and Ellen (middle).

The only disappointment of the evening is seeing my uncle whom I haven’t seen in many years.  He is  still angry with my parents over a business dispute that is decades old.  I go to give him a hug and he pretends not to know me.  We were once very close.  I don’t understand holding on to anger for so long. 

There are old pictures everywhere and articles about the Y’s history.  Paul Fireman (a Brockton native and the person responsible for Reebok’s existence in the US) and Kenny Feinberg (another proud Brocktonian who was Obama’s pay czar until yesterday) speak about the town’s history, and the importance of the Y in building community.  At the end of Feinberg’s speech, for the first time, maybe ever, I am proud of my roots.

It is a night of celebration, remembering, and renewed friendships.  I’m so happy it was this year and not last.  Had it been, I would have been a no-show.

drama on the bolt bus (lyn)

I usually take a train to Boston but the $100 price differential between the bus and the train is too great to ignore this time.  Tonight is the Y reunion and I'm staying over at Jean's.  I'm up early to pack my bus food --a mug of coffee, a vitamuffin, and some fruit.  By 9, I'm on the filled-to-capacity bus and we're on our way.

Somewhere in Connecticut, about two hours into our trip, I hear the annoying chatter of someone on their phone.  I'm sitting close to the front of the bus and am surprised to see the bus driver, lost in a deep, animated conversation.  This is not something I’d even considered in my list of reasons for not liking the bus.

True, the bus driver is on a hands-free headset, but I still don't like it.   I pretend Alexander is sitting next to me and I say nothing.       

A few minutes later she gets another call.  Again, the call is clearly personal.  This time I decide to say something.  In anticipation of a confrontation and refusal, I snap a picture of her with my no- flash iPhone.  She doesn't notice and continues merrily along with her conversation.

“Could you please get off the phone?” I ask. "I'm on a hands-free phone, " the driver remarks.  In New York it's illegal for cab drivers to talk on a hands-free phone so I have to assume that the same is true of a bus driver carrying 50 or so passengers on a major interstate.  I tell her (in case she’s not aware) that it’s against the law to drive a bus while talking on a phone.  She ignores me, so I add, “OK, but I have a photo of you on the phone.”

She responds with the same reaction I would expect if I had said, “I’m carrying a bomb.”  She immediately shouts, “You what?  You can’t take a photo of me without my permission.  I demand that you delete it right now.”  I say I won’t, and add, “I was just taking a picture of the trees outside the bus and you must have gotten into the photo.”    An actual photographer sitting near me chimes in that it’s not illegal to take a photo of a person in a public place without their permission;  it's only illegal if I plan to  sell and/or publish the photo.

The bus driver then swerves onto the shoulder of I95.  She gets up from the driver’s seat and turns and faces all the passengers.  “This woman is taking pictures of me without my permission and unless she deletes them we are not moving until the police arrive,” she grandstands to the entire bus.  Of course she makes it sound as if I’m sitting in my seat snapping away.  She doesn’t mention anything about her talking on the phone while driving.  She tells me again to delete the pictures or she will call the police.  I don’t want to anger the busload of passengers, but then someone helps me out by saying, “Don’t erase the pictures.  You have every right to take them.”  So I call her bluff.  “Go ahead, call the police.  I’ve done nothing wrong, “I say (not pointing out again that she’s the one at fault).  I am so glad Alexander is not with me.  He’d be mortified at this point.  Especially considering that I was nearly thrown off the Amtrak train from Providence less than a month ago.

After only a few minutes the driver realizes she can’t sit on the side of the road forever.  She gets back in her seat, and pulls back onto I95.  I hear her on the phone again, explaining to someone (maybe the police) that there is “a passenger  taking photos of me without my permission.”  I don’t know what it is that is said by the person on the other end, but whatever it is, the result is that no police every come to see me and we continue onto Boston in silence.

when in rome (m)

The first thing the kids notice about living in New York is that there are three choices for transportation...walk, take a cab, or take public transportation.  Schlepping around with skating bags makes walking the 1.5 miles to the rink a non-option.  Ditto public transportation.  So, we wait in front of the hotel for a cab.  And wait.  And wait.

"What gives?" we ask the people at the front desk.

"Fashion Week and Ramadan," they say, explaining this combination means lots of people and no cab drivers.


Have breakfast with one of the mothers (the normal one) at Fresh something or other on 30th street.  Egg white omelet, veggies, PAM...$3.99.  It kills me to pass on the home fries and toast, but I couldn't get my rings on when I woke up (Could a small piece of feta from the Greek salad do that? Four Dots?).

When we aren't at the rink, I walk everywhere.  I could be thin in this city.  Walk 2 hours around Canal Street (junk, except for the "Chanel" white "ceramic" watches).  The guy selling them tries to show me with a knife that the bands are real ceramic and how they don't scrape when a knife is put against their surface.  I take the knife from him and try to scrape my finger to show him how the skin doesn't cut either.  He gives me a big discount on the watches--one is for Susan.

Harrison has the skate of his life.  Must have been the peanut butter and banana sandwich beforehand.  Got that at Pret a Manger ("ready to eat") near our hotel.   I could live in this city.  Everything at your fingertips.

Except a cab when you need it.

After the competition, a group of us wait 20 minutes and walk 5 blocks trying to hunt down a cab.  One of the girls is still wearing her short skating outfit so I put her in front of me and tell her to put her hand out to flag down the cab. comes within a couple of minutes.  Nothing like showing a little leg.

Call Lyn to ask for a restaurant recommendation on the West Side.  A steakhouse, specifically, as that's what the kids want (they did not like the Greek restaurant last night).  Lyn does a search and comes up with Abe and Arthur's on 14th and 9th. 

The cab ride is tortuous.  Stop and go.  Stop and crawl.  Traffic everywhere.  People everywhere.  Somewhere on 9th Avenue (I think) we see some men posing in a window wearing nothing but Speedos (or the equivalent)--a promotional opening of some sort.  The kids laugh.    The cab still doesn't move.

One of the kids looks up and sees an Italian restaurant.  I don't want to go because the point count will be high, but I don't want to stay in that cab another second as I am getting carsick.  We get out.

At the restaurant ( I won't give you the name because it was not good) we see a group of transvestites wearing evening gowns.  Our little skater in her little dress goes unnoticed in that venue. 

Some friends who just arrived in New York and are staying at the Hotel Chelsea come to join us.  Sid Vicious murdered his girlfriend at that hotel (Room #100).  They rode up the elevator with Ethan Hawke.

Everything is getting calm (okay, after the white wine sangria I am feeling calm) when one of the mothers says, "Don't scream, just put your feet up off the ground."   A mouse is crawling around under our table.  Good thing because I lose my appetite.  I could've consumed 14 points of pizza but don't.  Leave with just having had a small salad and a sangria.

Get back to my room (apparently, the designated party room) and the kids...and their moms...are there recapping the day.  The room is so small that Harrison and I can barely turn around.  Now there are 6 people. 

At 11:30, people go back to their rooms.  I go to sleep and wake up hungry at 2 a.m.

Friday, September 10, 2010

apple-problem postscript (lyn)

Office 2008 arrives today.  I install it with my fingers and toes crossed.  It works.  Hallelujah.  Nice start to the new year.

going to new york (m)

Skating competition in New York this weekend.  Typically, the September competition is held in Providence, Rhode Island but, this time, the coaches want their kids to do the NYC one

We leave on Thursday.  The trip begins auspiciously as I almost hit Michele Kwan's car in the parking lot of the skating club when I go to pick up H and his friend.  She looks up with a scowl.

Get inside the club and some of the parents ask me how I am going.  "By car," I say.  "No, no...which roads are you taking?" they ask.  I HATE discussing directions with this group because they all have different ways to go and "tips" to offer...avoid the George Washington Bridge, take the Saw Mill, don't take the Saw Mill, take the Henry Hudson...why would you ever take the Merritt, etc.    I have a set of directions and an alternate set in case we hit bad traffic.  I don't need four sets of directions.

The ride to NYC is uneventful.  We leave Thursday afternoon on Rosh Hashanah.  Traffic is light.  I pack snacks for Harrison and his friend and have my own little bag of strawberries and an apple.  I am fine with that until Connecticut.  The smell of Smart Food popcorn (a vomitous odor), pretzels and cheddar cheese flavored Chex Mix are overwhelming.  I have a couple of Dots but they don't make a dent.

I love looking at the GPS mileage guage on the drive.  I love seeing the numbers go down...just like on a scale when you stick to your diet.  When we run into traffic on the Merritt (why did I take the Merritt??), the car barely moves and the mileage countdown slows to a stop...just like on a scale when you stop exercising.

I am at a point where I can switch to another road (Saw Mill Expressway).  I take the detour.  No traffic, but the detour causes the mileage to go UP....just like on a scale when you go off the plan.

I decide at this point that I must be hungry since everything becomes a diet metaphor.  I realize I haven't had lunch but it is too late to stop.

Get to NYC by 6:30 p.m.  Our hotel is on the West Side as the skating event is being held at Chelsea Piers.  Not a place I would choose on my own, but it is in the middle of the flower district so at least there are some beautiful flowers to look at in the windows.

One of the parents asks a fellow hotel guest for a recommendation for dinner.  The guest raves about this Greek restaurant on 8th Ave called Uncle Nick's.  Because it is Rosh Hashanah, the place is relatively empty.  The food is excellent and the prices are reasonable.  I have a swordfish kabob and four of us split a small Greek salad.  The hot pita bread is fresh.  For dessert, four of us split a Greek yogurt drizzled with honey and sprinkled with whole walnuts.  Very satsifying and healthy (if not altogether low in points).  Make a note to go back to Uncle Nick's.

Get back to my room and feel like putting on my nightgown and reading a book.  Two skaters show up at the door to watch Jersey Shore with Harrison.  I go down to the lobby with my book.

Have a cup of green tea and start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Can't concentrate with all the noise.  Switch to People magazine and read about Michael Douglas.

Go back to the room at 11:30 and fall dead asleep.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

rosh hashana services (lyn)

Growing up, the big decision for Rosh Hashana was what to wear.  Everyone liked to show off their new fall clothes.  And, everyone liked to talk about everyone else’s new fall clothes.  I remember last year squishing into some outfit that didn’t look good at all.  Today is different.  I pull out a black dress that I last wore to a friend’s engagement party in June of 1999.  I’ve always loved this dress.  It has a timeless design.  It’s made by Calivn Klein of a silky jersey material and it just sort of hugs the body.  It’s slinky-fitting and feels good on.  (My shoes, however, don’t, and I wonder if  I’ll be spending the rest of my life in either Ugg boots or Naot sandals). 

Here’s me in 1999:

 And today, in the same dress.

Alexander and I get to temple around 10.  It’s already crowded and we can’t find two seats together.  We are lucky to find two seats at all. 

I look at him and think that this may be the last time together for the holidays.  At least for a while.  Alexander went to Hebrew School for six years.  He was Bar Mitzvahed.  He can read Hebrew.  He is Jewish.  As we are leaving temple we bump into one of his classmates.  We talk a bit and before we part Alexander asks, “So, are you having your Seder at home tonight?”

Makes me wonder about the value of that Hebrew School education!