Saturday, October 30, 2010

snack-mom (lyn)

This week is my turn to provide snacks after the football game. Well, me and two others.    Snack is probably not the right word.  When I think of snack, I think of a few little, easily thrown together things, like candy or chips.  Snack after football games is nothing like that.  It’s more a smorgasbord of unhealthy, highly caloric foods.   Early in the week we, the snack-moms, decide on Kentucky Fried Chicken, as it was such a hit a few weeks ago.

We leave at halftime and miss the first of two 40-yard touchdowns.  The Horace Mann Lions still lose, but it is an exciting game (32 to 40, the most we’ve scored in one game in two years).  We arrive at KFC and it’s the first time I’ve been in one since enactment of a NYC law requiring chain restaurants to post calories.   What a great appetite-suppressant that is.  The numbers are staggering.  I think a fried chicken breast was 440 calories (but I later check and see that it has 27 grams of fat, that’s 11 ww points).  I had planned on having one, but after seeing the calorie count decide to settle instead on one biscuit.  .  We purchase dozens of buckets, some with grilled chicken (but mostly fried), french fries, and biscuits.

The food is a big hit.  The boys always come out of the locker room, regardless of the final score, with smiles on their faces and an eagerness to eat.  I enjoy the camaraderie of the parents, but like the other moms, I’ll be glad when the season is over.

finally (lyn)

Everything about applying to college is different today.  From the intense focus on testing (including months of prep and tutors) to the Common Application to electronic submissions.  The process is easier than it was when I was doing it, but the stakes feel higher and the competition more intense.  The Early Action and Early Decision applications are due on Monday, November 1st.  I’ve never filed my taxes on April 15th, and I told Alexander that he was absolutely not going to be finalizing his essays at five of twelve on Monday evening (as some of his friends no doubt will be doing).

Everything else is secondary this weekend. Even the delicious weight watcher’s chicken parmigiana recipe I make for dinner. 

But at 2am this morning, the submit button is hit and three applications are sent. 

And now we wait.  We wait until we hear in mid-December.  But in the meantime, I’ll be pushing Alexander to submit his remaining 10 applications that are due January 1st.  Just in case.

Friday, October 29, 2010

my bi-annual visit to the dermatolgost (lyn)

I love my dermatologist.  I've been seeing her now for at least six years. If I had met her at a party, she'd have become a good friend.  Over the ten minutes or so that she examines my skin, we catch up on each other’s hair (she does the keratin-blow out too) and kids.  It often feels more like a social visit than a medical one.

Last week I awoke with three dime-sized red itchy welts on my back. Two days later I had three more similar marks on my right wrist.  I must have done a lot of scratching because now the top of my right hand is sporting a raised red rash.  My biggest fear is that these are bed bug bites. Robyn and I checked out my bed (including underneath the mattress) and found nothing that was moving, but still.  I was hoping my doctor would tell me that it was hives, brought on by stress (Alexander’s early decision application is due Monday, and it’s is still not submitted, despite being “almost done” for weeks.  With Alexander, the space between done and almost done can be enormous).  Instead, my doctor tells me that basically there is no sure way of knowing if my bites are from bed bugs.  “If you wake up with more, you’ll know.”  Not exactly the scientific analysis I was hoping to get.

Before leaving, my doctor’s assistant comes in.  The last time I saw her was in February, or, 12 pounds ago.  Lisa says, “You look wonderful.  Just wonderful.  I love your hair.  The highlights look great.  They’re lighter.”  I tell her it’s probably not the hair, but rather my weight.  “That too.  Really, you look gorgeous.  And so much younger.  I’m not kidding, I had to do a double take when I first saw you.” 

Maybe I shouldn’t wait six months to go back.  Who knew that a visit to the dermatologist could be so uplifting.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

a zero point snack (lyn)

So I walk a mile to my Weight Watchers meeting in a light misty rain with 100% humidity.  It’s about 70 degrees.  Ideal frizzing weather.  But my no-volume hair remains unfrizzed.

I get on the ww scale and Robyn smiles kindly.  “Down point six,” she says.  I’m within my ideal weight, which I’ve decided is 120 pounds, plus or minus one.  Today I’m 120.2.  Perfect.

Today’s meeting is about 1 and 2-point snacks.  A woman who is a professional cook, and who has written actual cookbooks, presents the most novel idea.

·      Take a sheet of nori (aka, dried seaweed, or in more colloquial terms, the stuff encasing sushi rolls)
·      Coat lightly in olive oil, or pumpkin oil (just a finger’s dab worth)
·      Add sea salt (optional)
·      Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes

“As good as french fries,” she says.  “And, my teenage kids love them.”  With that recommendation, I decide that tonight I’ll make this as a pre-dinner snack.

Alexander gets home around 7.  I was supposed to go to a screening with Zelia, but because I’ve been out the past two nights, I decide to stay home.  I surprise Alexander with this new dish.

I follow the instructions exactly.  After 20 minutes, I retrieve some scary looking black thing from the oven. Maybe it tastes better than it looks.  Wrong.  It tastes like burnt paper.  Horrible.  I must have done something very wrong.

I have nine remaining sheets of nori.  Now what?

Monday, October 25, 2010

dating is a lot of effort (lyn)

First, you have to put on makeup.  Even mascara.  I prefer a natural look, but every date deserves some blush and lipstick.  Next, you have to think about what to wear.  I could never have done this a year ago when nothing fit.  At least I have options now.  And then there’s all the wondering.  Will he like me?  Will I like him?   If I don’t like him why do I still want him to like me?  I’m immediately transported to my high school self.  I wish I could just magically find someone, fall in love, and live happily ever after.  A part of me still believes that that can happen. 

So tonight I’m having dinner with, let’s call him Jack, because I like the name.  He seems nice on the phone, has a college aged daughter, and even knows someone I know.  From his picture, he does not appear to be my type though I’m no longer sure what my type is.  I guess it’s someone who can give me butterflies.  That covers a lot of territory.  I know he cannot be fat.  Unintelligent.  Or too serious.  A sense of humor is critical.  And at this stage in my life he needs to be financially secure.  At least one of us should be.

I wear my size 4 black pants, a size 4 black leather short fitted motorcycle jacket, and my favorite new purchase-fur-lined suede clogs with 21/2 inch heels that are surprisingly comfortable.  I feel tall and thin and hip.  It’s amazing what a few inches can do.  

Jack is already seated when I arrive at the restaurant.  He is perfectly nice.  We talk.  He tells me about himself.  He asks me about me.  We have a few things in common.  He has good manners.  There is nothing about him not to like. When he tells the waiter we’re in no hurry I think, oh no, this is could be a long night.

I decline the offer of bread and Jack says, “Why?  You certainly don’t need to worry about your weight.”  He doesn’t know how I’ve spent the past year.  We split a salad of hearts of palm, avocado, and tomatoes, with a citrus dressing.  It arrives and we both notice its size, or lack thereof.  It is miniscule.  I order a veal scaloppini with peas and olives and spinach which is great.  We skip dessert and coffee.  Dinner is excellent.

But not even one little butterfly accompanies me home.

1960's hair (lyn)

Last week my hair looked like it had died, so I let Stanley convince me to get a Brazilian blow-out.  “Trust me, “ he said, “You’ll love it.  It will make your hair shine.  It will give it volume.  It will fall straight, but not too straight.  There will be no frizz.  You’ll be able to blow it dry in minutes.”  I was waiting for him to add that it will find me the perfect job and get Alexander into his first choice school.  How could I say no?

We negotiated a price, and last Tuesday I went and had my hair blown out, the Brazilian way.   True, it felt silky.  And yes, it was shiny.  The frizz was gone.  But so was the volume.  It just hung.  I left feeling like I should be on my way to Woodstock (longish, straight hair, with an off-center path).

Next time I wash it the body will return.  This is what I tell myself.  So on Friday I washed it.  Yes, I could blow dry my hair in minutes.  I’m one of those people who is physically incapable of using a blow dryer for anything beyond drying.  It actually looked nice.  But still pretty flat.  Okay, next time I won’t blow it out and see what happens.

So that’s what I try today.  A little better, but still, I look like Morticia of the Addams Family.  I would be thrilled if this were 1966 and I could give up ironing my hair.

I’m finally happy with my clothed body and now I have to worry about my hair!  

Next week:  I've already made an appointment for a new hair cut.  Maybe bangs and layers will help.

pumpkin stew (m)

Fall is my season.  It awakens my senses.  I love the sights of the leaves turning color and falling ever so gently from their branches.  The smells of fire coming from people's chimneys.  The sounds of kids playing soccer or football.  The feel of a stiff breeze on my face.

When I was a kid, my mother couldn't get me inside for dinner.   That's how much I liked playing outdoors in the Fall.  My favorite thing to play was "Pilgrim."  I would pretend to be a Pilgrim wife, making stew for my family.  I had an old, large pot and a used wooden spoon.  I would add sticks, twigs, dead flowers and rocks to my stew and stir while singing a made-up Pilgrim song ("Twas the night before Thanksgiving").  I would have made a fine Pilgrim, living the simple life.

On Saturday, I went to WW class.  I usually go on Fridays, but I had a meeting Friday morning for a project I'm working on and couldn't go.

I weighed in...down 3.5 pounds.  I took my usual seat in the back of the room (near the door in case I get bored and want to leave).

Today's recipe tip was How to Make Pumpkin Stew.

The leader, Barbara, holds up a freezer bag  with stuff inside that looked like seaweed and cans and in a very loud voice says, "Everything you need is in this bag!  How simple is that?  Huh?  How simple?"

Here's the recipe:
2 cans of chicken broth (like College Inn)
1 can of pumpkin (get one that is just pumpkin, not a bunch of other ingredients)
Trader Joe's salsa with sundried tomatoes and flaky peppers
Trader Joe's packet of spices (sundried tomatoes and more dried peppers)
1 bag of frozen broccoli (this is the seaweed part....the broccoli looked overcooked and nasty)

Throw everything together in a large pot and stir frequently.  It will be good to eat in 30 minutes on medium heat.

Honestly, I think I would rather eat my Pilgrim Stew.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

quiet weekend in (lyn)

I’ve gotten lazy on the weekends.  In the fall, the weekday evenings are busy.  Between screenings, theater and school events, I’m out an average of three of four nights.  So by the time the weekend rolls around, I’m quite content to stay at home.

What I should do and don’t is make some nice dinners for the week.  Especially for those nights that I am not at home and Alexander is.  Or, I could use my time at home to clean closets or do laundry.  I don’t do that either.  I definitely should be walking or doing some other type of exercise.  Lately that, too, has been absent from my weekend routine. 

It’s not that I don’t have options.  Penny suggested a walking tour of Wall Street, but I declined.  Robyn wanted to go to the Museum of the City of New York.  I went so far as to meet her, and then changed my mind.  I felt I needed to be at home to make sure that Alexander stayed focused on his homework and college applications.  I act as if he wanted me home!

This weekend I saw a screening on Friday night, helped Alexander with his college essays, watched some TV, read, went with a friend to look at a dress for her daughter's upcoming wedding, caught up with friends, and little else. 

We ordered in pizza for dinner on Saturday night and I made steaks tonight.  Not much really happened, just a quiet weekend it.  It was very nice.

what they ate (m)

The alumni recruiters from my college came to my home last Thursday evening for a meeting to discuss the upcoming interviewing season.    We discussed logistics, specs for what the college is looking for (I would never have gotten in if I were applying now), how to conduct a great interview and how to write a meaningful report.  We review past cases and debate whether or not the kids should have been admitted, wait-listed or rejected and then get the "answer" as to what really happened. 

It takes two hours to cover all of that and we don't want to end late in the evening, so we set a start time of 7 p.m.  Some people will come directly from a long day at the office, so I had food that would be substantial enough.  I also wanted it to be healthy.

I got a platter of grilled chicken breasts from Whole Foods with dipping sauces (honey mustard, barbecue and Thai peanut), a large bowl of seasonal cut-up fruit,  a tray of European cheeses and crackers, a plate of carrots and hummus, bowls of cashews and almonds and I made a crock pot full of bourbon meatballs (140 meatballs, cocktail sized).  For dessert, I made 24 large chocolate chip cookies and had Haagen Daz lemon sorbet to go with the fruit or eat alone.  Lots of bottled water, seltzer water, white and red wine and some Diet Coke.

The meeting was very productive, people were animated and engaged.  At 9 o'clock, everyone left.

I turned to the kitchen to clean up and took inventory of what was left.  Maybe it's easier if I tell you what was consumed:  the meatballs, the chocolate chip cookies, and the wine.

Now, I can cope with leftover grilled chicken, veggies, and fruit, but the cheese platter was too much.  There must have been 1000 grams of fat on that tray.  A large, soft white cheese oozing in the middle of the platter topped with fresh fig jam looked particularly inviting.  Ugh, I thought-- I can't eat it, I can't waste it.  Just when I was stressing out about this, the doorbell rings.

It's one of the guests who left a little early to pick up her kids from their fencing lessons.  She came back because she wanted to see the DVD of Harrison skating in New York in September.  She is one of the nicest people I've ever met.  I really enjoyed her company and we talked for about 2 hours.  At 11 o'clock, she got up to leave.  As she passed through the kitchen, I saw the cheese tray and offered it to her.

You'd think I gave her a new BMW.  She was ecstatic.

 So was I.

Friday, October 22, 2010

and the winner is.... (lyn)

I was anxious all morning waiting for the email from QuestBridge to hear if Alexander was a finalist in their 2010 Match Program.  He was and we are thrilled.  Next big step is for him to complete his applications.  No small feat.  And I thought junior year was tough!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

youth revisited (lyn)

Amy and I have known each other since we were six.  Her family owned The Bootery, the most popular shoe store in Brockton.  And that's saying a lot, given Brockton's reputation as the shoe capital of the world.  The Bootery was on Main Street, and it was where every girl in town bought her multiple pairs of colored Capezios.  

From a young age, Amy and I were part of the same social circle.  This included everything from dance class together to make-out parties in 7th grade to Hebrew School to Y dances.  We graduated from the same High School and even went to the same college for a couple of years.    But somewhere around 1971 we lost touch.  No falling out.  No reason that we can think of.  Just life.

Last month, when the Y reunion was being planned, we reconnected.  Amy is a published author of children’s books, and I found her through her website.  We’ve been in touch for the past six weeks or so, and had planned a get together for today. 

We meet at Bobby Van’s, a great midtown restaurant.  As soon as we see each other, the years melt away and we embrace in a warm and welcoming hug.  Our 39-year absence immediately evaporates.  Aside from having shorter hair, Amy looks the same.  She’s still a very pretty blond, whose face shows no sign of aging.  The maitre d’ is accommodating when we tell him of our reunion, and he seats us in a small room off the main dining room.  It is perfect. 

We sit down and immediate start catching up.  As good as the lobster salad sandwich is, the conversation is better.  Amy even comes armed with memorabilia. 

She has brought a printout from the Y dated Sunday, December 8, 1957.  We are listed as part of the same club (the name of the club is not readable).  Interestingly, neither Amy nor I have any recollection of knowing each other at age 6.  She also brought a program from a 1964 talent show at the Y in which we both starred, and a program from the same year of our roles in The Wizard of Oz.  Amy starred as the Tin Man, and I was both The Announcer and Glinda, the Good Witch. 

We went to Hebrew School together, along with Vivien.  I’m the smiling one with a hideous haircut and looking very unattractive, at about age 13.  Amy is the only blond (front row, second from right), and I am sure Vivien would prefer to go undiscovered:

I looked better the next year when Amy, Vivien and I graduated from Hebrew High.  We are the only three who show no glimmer of a smile.

All three of us were star students and part of a small group of scholars from West Junior High.  Vivien is in the front row, second from left, and Amy is second from right, also in the first row.

Before leaving Bobby Van’s almost three hours later and long after all the other lunch diners have gone, we ask our very nice waiter to take a picture.

Our next stop for the afternoon is touristy, and not exactly cultural, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum.  It isn’t as good as we’d hoped, but we do enjoy the illusion of having only half a body.

We feel young, and enjoy being playmates again.  We find the ancient instruments of torture gruesome, but there is something fascinating about the bearded woman, the three-legged man, and Robert Wadlow, who Amy’s son was obsessed with when he was a young boy (he’s now 30).  Robert Wadlow, was born of normal sized parents but grew to be almost 9 feet tall. 

Like most museums, we are forced to pass through the gift store on our way out.  Amy asks the very nice 20-something salesgirl if there are any T-shirts of Robert Wadlow, as she wants to buy one for her son.  The sales girl considers the request and then kindly responds, “No, I’m sorry, we don’t.  Why, did you know him?”

Did we know him?  He was born in 1918 and died in 1940.  Did we know him?  We leave the museum no longer feeling young, but still feeling great.   We are once again permanent  playmates and friends.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

returning pizza (m)

We ordered pizza on Sunday afternoon while watching the Patriots' game.  My mother had one slice and said it "sucked."  I took a look at it.  Definitely undercooked.  Sam didn't eat it, neither did my husband.  Harrison was at crew practice.

That left me.  All alone, in the kitchen with 7/8 ths of a pizza.  It smelled wonderful.  The cheese was dripping, the box was stained with oil. It would not have bothered me to eat it.  Much as I was tempted, I didn't succumb.  Instead, I wrapped the slices up in tin foil and placed them in the refrigerator.

Yesterday, I picked up my mother and brought her to my house.  She saw the pizza in the refrigerator and said "You really should return this.  You can't let them get away with this."  She thinks everyone is in a giant conspiracy to get her.

Of course we went to the pizza place in the next town.  We pull up to the joint and my mother says, "I'll wait in the car."  Nice.  She throws me under the bus.

I walk in with the pizza in a Zip-Loc baggie.  The woman at the register looks incredulous.  I place the pizza on the counter and explain that I would like a refund. 

Cashier: When did you say you got this pizza?
Me: Uh, Sunday afternoon.  During the Patriots' game.
Cashier: Really?  And you want to return it now?
Me: Uh, yes.  Please.
Cashier: What's wrong with the pizza?
Me: (gaining confidence).  As you can see, it's clearly undercooked.
Cashier: Well, why didn't you call us right away?  We would have delivered a replacement immediately.(the cook comes over to take a look and shakes his head.  A new customer comes in and is staring at us.  I decide THIS is the low point of my life).
Me: (losing confidence).  Uh, I was too busy.  (How am I going to tell this girl my mother made me do it?)
Cashier: (thinking I'm a mental she's speaking slowly to me).  Okaay.  I will give you a credit for a new pizza for when you call next time.  Would that be all right?  Are you okay with that? (she's speaking to me as if I'm a 4 year old).
Me: (I can't even speak at this point I'm so humiliated).  Yes.  Thank you.

I crawl out of the store and get in the car.  I make a vow never to go there again or order pizza anywhere for the rest of my life.

My mother asks, "Did you get a refund?"  I tell her I got a credit and I'm satisfied with that.

As we are driving away, I hear her mumble in the back seat, "You should have gotten a refund."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

pick your poison (m)

Yesterday, I consulted to the medical school where I serve on the board.  The meeting was with the Chairman of one of their "star" departments.   

I arrive on time and at the appointed meeting place.  The Department Chairman arrives 5 minutes later, a bit dishelved and white as new-fallen snow.  Not just light-skinned or even pale but Casper-white.  He looks like he hasn't seen the sun his entire life.

We start to head towards the door to the long hallway.  He puts his passkey in the slot and the door won't open.  Then he turns to me and says we have to go downstairs and back upstairs through a security checkpoint.  Actually, it took him ten minutes to tell me just that.   I'm hoping at this point that he can string together a few coherent sentences or this interview will be painful.

We go through the drill at security.  It's a pain in the neck and seems to be over the top.  The Chairman explains that even he, the head of the department, can't access certain floors directly and his colleagues from the hospital have to go through the same security rigamarole when they come to visit him which they do often.

Now, I've been doing this with the heads of the other departments for the past few weeks and never have I had to go through such security.  I wondered why but didn't ask since I imagined the explanation would take us into January.

The meeting is scheduled for 90 minutes.  You have no idea how long that is when the person across from you is explaining alleles, mutations and DNA sequencing and telamerases. 

I discretely checked my watch.  Did the battery die?   How could I have been here only 10 minutes.  I must have grandchildren by now.

There's no way I'm going to get through the rest of this session without coffee.   I think I need some intravenously at this point.  The Chairman is talking away.  It's as if I put a cassette in and pressed "play."  I am completely irrelvant to this discussion.  It's like watching My Dinner with Andre.

I have to stop him.  I ask for coffee.  He stops dead in his tracks.  "Uh, uh, well..." he says.

Well what? I ask. 

As it turns out, the lack of coffee is tied directly to the intense security.  Last spring, someone INTERNALLY poisoned the coffee and almost killed people!  Since they never found out who did it and believe it was an inside job, no one drinks the coffee anymore.

Instead, I die a slow death over the remaining 80 minutes, listening to "fascinating" stories of mutations in mice.

Next time, I'm stopping at Starbucks and bringing my own stuff.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

sunday dinner (lyn)

A few years ago I was on vacation with someone I had recently befriended.  We were having dinner when she asked, “Why do Jews always have Chinese food on Sunday night?”  I took offense to the question.  Maybe because it followed another remark my non-Jewish friend had made earlier in the evening when she labeled a particularly loud and obnoxious fellow-diner as Jewish.  

But the truth is, Alexander and I were once one of those Sunday Night Is Chinese Night Jews, although not anymore.  Not since Weight Watchers.  Except for a rare indulgence, I almost never eat Chinese food.  We’ve replaced it with a healthier alternative, sushi.

Our go-to sushi place is a small, non-descript Japanese restaurant that Zelia introduced me to about a year ago.  If you order by four, you can get the lunch special:  soup, salad, and three rolls.  It’s a great deal (only $11) and we always order the same three rolls:  salmon avocado, yellowtail with scallion, and tuna avocado (for Alexander) and eel avocado (for me). 

Poor Alexander allowed himself only 20 minutes for dinner.   Toni Morrison and college supplements beckoned.  It’s not easy being a high school senior.

overeducated (m)

My father used to have an expression:  the more educated you are, the dumber you get. 

On Friday, I went to an all-day meeting at my college to discuss the upcoming interviewing season for alumni interviewers and prospective students.

There was a Nor'Easter blowing through.  Heavy rain and winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour.  I arrive 30 minutes before the meeting.  There is a continental breakfast.  Coffee, bagels, pastries.  No fruit.  I would have thought that the menu would have been healthier.  I had stopped at Starbucks and gotten an oatmeal beforehand so I wasn't hungry (well, I could always eat) but, still, when was the last time you saw pastries for breakfast?

I took a seat in the second row.  A very pleasant, very attractive Asian woman sits next to me and peeks at my nametag which says which geographic area I represent.  "Oh.  I used to live in that area."  We started talking and I learned that her kids went to the same elementary school as mine.  They were 7 years apart so I didn't know her.  She said they left because they had to move to Nevada to find a school challenging enough for her "gifted" son.  As I turned to look at her, I notice her two front teeth were smeared with red lipstick as if she had directly applied it to her teeth instead of her lips.  She looked hideous as she prattled on about his genius IQ.   She implied he gets his high intelligence from her.   Seriously, who cares if you score well on achievement tests if you can't even apply lipstick correctly without covering your teeth?

Lunch was on our own.  They sent us into the storm to forage for lunch.  Wouldn't you have gone to Plan B and asked people if they wanted to order in?  My umbrella broke from the wind.  I ended up at a market and got a salad which I had to carry back to the meeting.

For the afternoon break, they had plates of brownies and cookies.  Again, no fruit, no healthy bars.

By 5 p.m., we were done.  A woman I hadn't seen in a year (and who is in my group) sat next to me and never said a word about my weight loss.  I really don't think she noticed it.

I got home at 6 p.m.   T got Chinese food for dinner. I had brown rice and hot and sour soup.

I have 20 people coming to my house for a reception on Thursday evening.  I think I'll plan a more enlightened menu.

a very long, very good day (m)

Day 2 in New York.  Wake up at 6 a.m.  I have a complimentary breakfast coming at 7 and want to be dressed and showered and packed by then.  The complimentary breakfast is to shut me up since I complained alot the night before at the "fabulous" Trump Soho hotel (subject of a separate blog...I'm still waiting for my apology from The Donald).

Breakfast arrives...egg white omelet with spinach.  Fresh fruit.  A piece of dry, rye toast.  Green tea (black). 

A friend of mine is in town (Hoboken) visiting her daughter who just had a baby girl.  I go down to the concierge and ask how to get to Hoboken.  The nearest subway is "just" 11 blocks away.  Then I have to take the subway and  find a cab once there.  Fugeddaboudit.  I take a cab to Hoboken.  Fifty bucks.  Done.

I arrive 30 minutes earlier than I said I'd be there.  My friend, Betsy, and her daughter Emily (the new mother) are on "new baby time"...they are disheveled, unprepared for my visit so soon, and look exhausted.  Emily says, "'re half the size you once were!"  I suppose I do look good to a lactating, sleep-deprived young mother.

The baby is 9 days old and exquisite.  I hold her almost the entire visit, kissing her little head which smells of new baby.  The spirited 2 year-old sister wants me to have "tea" with her.  I pretend to drink from the small toy cups and eat the plastic cupcakes, all the while praying the little straw chairs don't break under my weight.  I'm greatly relieved when they don't.

After an hour or so, I bid farewell and climb into a cab back to the city.  Lyn tells me to go straight to some sample sale for scarves.  My cab driver doesn't know the city well and has tremendous disdain for it, "Look..look at this traffic!  I ask you, is this any way to live?"  He drops me off at some unnamed building and I pray I'm in the right place.  I think I'm in the garment district. 

Lyn shows up, looking great.  All decked out in tight jeans, motorcycle jacket, newly done hair.  I feel like Sr. Mary of the Rosary next to her in my black and white outfit.  I buy some scarves for Christmas presents for friends and a bunch of $5 silk scarves to give to my sister-in-law for her Church's auction.

I asked Lyn to bring a backpack for me to put my shopping purchases in since it would be easier to carry on my back.  She brings me this diarhhea-colored Eastpak she got as a freebie when she worked for the Discovery Channel.  Not exactly the image I was trying to cultivate while in Manhattan.

Next, we take the subway to Soho.  What a production.  Through the turnstyle, down the stairs, across a large area, up the stairs,  across the uphill ramp and down the stairs.  It took almost 12 minutes to get to the train. 

We get seated on the train and Lyn asks some guy to take our pictures.  She's never met a camera she didn't like.  This is torture for me to have my picture taken.  I smile for the stranger and make a note to destroy Lyn's camera later.

We shop for hours in Soho--leather goods store, furniture stores, lighting stores, street vendors, women's boutique.  I'm satisfied with my great bargain scarves and buy a couple of cheap (but nice-looking necklaces) from a street vendor.  I'm fascinated by his gold front teeth.  Lyn thinks he likes me.  That's who I attract.

By 4:30 p.m., it's starting to pour.  I whip out my royal blue LL Bean nylon windbreaker with the hood, strap on the brown backpack and catch sight of myself in the mirror of the chic boutique.  I am a vision. 

We meet Sam and his roommate at a nice Italian restaurant.  Sam looks great in a French blue shirt and gray suit.  Since we skipped lunch and I skipped dinner last night, I threw caution to the wind and enjoyed dinner (some pasta, some proscuitto and melon and a chicken dish followed by fresh raspberries and a little whipped cream).  I'm stuffed.

At 7:45 p.m., we bid farewell and head out into the pouring rain.  No cabs to be had.  We walk a little, and are getting soaked.  Sam says he can't believe I wore that casual jacket and asks "what's with the backpack?"   He's laughing. We start walking some more, this time faster.  Sam's roommate is almost 6'4"-- I can't keep up with his long legs.  Sam set a collegiate record for bases stolen.  I'm dying trying to keep up with them.  Ten minutes later,   no cabs.  Sam's roommate tries to hail a cab but he's such a polite WASP that we get nowhere.  I decide to make the decision. "Let's just hoof it to Grand Central."  Sixteen blocks later, we are soaked, my right knee buckles under and we are in the station.

Sam gets me seated in the train. He and his roommate go to the next car to find seats.  The train is packed.  I am with two women, one of whom produces the Garnier ads for L'Oreal.  We talk about that for awhile.  The other women is nice, too.  I make new friends with them by the time we get to Stamford.

At Stamford, I change into dry clothes in the ladies' room.  Sam and I drive his roommate to New Canaan and by 9:30 p.m., we head home in the Yukon.  It's raining so hard, I can barely see out the window.  Sam and I split a bag of peanut M&Ms which I bought on the train to Stamford from some stranger raising money for the Boy Scouts (the nice woman said, "You're brave").

We get home at 1:05 a.m.  The house looks like it was broken into.  Mail strewn about.  Tons of catalogues piled on the kitchen counter.  Campbell's tomato soup cans in the sink.  Dishes in the sink.  Dishwasher empty. 

I clean up the kitchen, sort the mail, throw out the catalogues and go to bed.

It's 2 a.m.  By now, I'm hungry again. 

I force myself to go to sleep.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

another day of football (lyn)

Before the day even starts, everyone knows it’s not going to be a good game. The quarterback is out injured and there is no back-up.  The star player is at his brother’s Bar Mitzvah.  And several other players on our already-tiny team are out.

It’s Saturday, so I start the day as usual, at the local Farmer’s Market. It’s already cold, even with the sun out.

I buy the usual:  a big box of cherry-vine tomatoes (hoping they are better than last week when two days after purchase they started oozing a disgusting white pus-like substance), some adorable baby brussel sprouts, four ears of corn (I can’t believe how good the corn still is), fresh sourdough bread for Alexander, two homemade blueberry muffins (I’ll maybe eat a half), a gallon of fresh cider, and a gigantic head of romaine lettuce. 

By 12:30, I’m in a car with four other Horace Mann parents, on our way to Litchfield Connecticut. There, the boys will be playing The Forman School.

It’s a gorgeous two-and-a-half hour ride.  The road is accented with bright reds, yellows and oranges.  It’s hard to imagine a more gorgeous place than New England in autumn.

It takes longer to get there than planned, and we arrive at the beginning of the second quarter.  The score is already 20 to zero, and then it gets worse.  The Forman team is a sea of green, about 35 big players.  The Horace Mann team is small in comparison, both in girth and numbers (only about 17 kids).  We get slaughtered, 32 to 0.

 But the boys always seem to be in good spirits.  The after-game spread is again a feast of unhealthy, tempting foods:  Dunkin’ Donuts, mini-fried hot dogs, tortillas, chips, salsa, and sushi with purple rice.  Everything gets devoured.  I eat too many chips, one awful fried hot dog, a small tortilla, and a few pieces of sushi.

We don’t get home until after 8.  Alexander is exhausted (he was at school this morning at 9:30 for pre-game practice).  We have pizza for dinner, and we are both grateful for not having made evening plans.

Football requires an inordinate amount of time (practice every day after school until 6, and all day Saturday).  Between academic demands and college applications, it leaves no time for anything else.  And I still worry about injuries.  At the end of every game, I silently count down the number remaining.  Just three more.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

m visits nyc (lyn)

Should we go to theater?  What about museum-hopping?  Maybe just a nice walk through Central Park?  As we consider these things, we know we’ll do none of them.  M is in NY and we’ll do what we always do and most enjoy:  shop around and have a nice dinner. 

I have coffee and a Vitamuffin before meeting M around 11.  Our first stop of the day is a sample sale for Bindya scarves in mid-town.  M looks even better than when I saw her in August.  Her hair looks great (it always does) and her face looks more sculptured.   I shamelessly ask one of the salesgirls to take a picture.  As the day starts, I think it’d be nice to document our activities in photos.

An hour or so  later, we take the subway down to Soho.  I pretend to be a tourist when I ask the young man next to us to take our picture.  

Our first stop is my new favorite store, M0851.  It’s full of gorgeous leather goods, as well as stunning coats (in both leather and canvas).  Here's me in one of them.  A big size two!

We are in this store for about two hours.  By the time we leave, M is best friends with one of the sales guys, to the point where he is interested in seeing pictures of her house and she’s on his computer giving him a tour.

We are starting to get hungry, but we have more stores to visit and we plan on a big dinner.  Our next destination stop is the Flos lighting store, where we fall in love with lamps of all sorts.  Along the way we go to a flea market, stop at a street vendor who is selling artsy jewelry and who falls in love with M, and a few more stores.   Before we know it, it’s almost 4, and we are now starving, but it’s too late to have lunch.  M’s son Sam and his roommate are meeting us for an early dinner at Il Tinello’s.

As we exit a hip-clothing store, it starts to rain.  Heavily.  We make it back to M’s hotel in Soho, where she gives me six packages of one-point Weight Watchers' mints, which are sold in Boston, but I can’t find anywhere in New York.  I eat two, but M shows more restraint and is satisfied with only one.

M checks out and we slowly make it uptown.  The rain and traffic turn a 15-minute cab ride into a 45-minute one.  I’ve abandoned my interest in documenting the day in photos.  The rain has not been kind to my hair.  We get to the restaurant around 5:45.  Sam and his friend are already there. 

Dinner is amazing, as is the company.  Sam is no longer the adorable young boy I watched grow up.  He’s now a thoughtful, kind, funny, and thoroughly wonderful young man.   He’s exactly the type of kid that any parent would be proud to call their own.

I eat a week worth of points in one night, and have no regrets.  Playing with M is one of my most favorite things to do.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

back on track (m)

Sitting on an Amtrak train, headed to New York.  The train is bouncing around at high speeds and I feel nauseated.  I try to pass the time by getting back to blogging, but am having a hell of a time getting the cursor in the exact spot with all the jostling.

My weight is down since last we spoke but, honestly, it's been like the stock market.  Up, down, up, down.  Today it is down and I feel re-committed to the program after a bit of a hiatus this summer.

I took H to school this morning, came home, did a laundry, made the beds and ate an egg-white omelet.  Packed my bags, then packed a lunch for the train ride--turkey, tomato, lettuce, a smear of avocado, a smear of mayonnaise (not the reduced fat kind....I'd rather have nothing than that).  One Macoun apple.  On track, baby.  Literally and figuratively.

I'm excited about this trip to New York.  Sam initiated it as he is on mid-term break and job hunting for summer.  Would I like to meet him in the City?  Absolutely.  I'll do anything to spend time with this kid.

Business class on the Acela is tolerable except for the constant swinging of the train from left to right.  Just when I was thinking I wanted a bottle of water, an attendant (!) comes by with a cart of products for sale....drinks, cheese and crackers (can't have that), chips (ditto), candy (ditto).  I get the water and am grateful I didn't have to walk the two car lengths to get it.

Arrive at the Trump Hotel Soho at 3 p.m.  I have the rest of the afternoon and the whole night ahead of me.  I'm on my own and free.  So many choices.  Lyn calls and suggests I do spa things since it's spa week in NYC...lots of deals.  I do need a pedicure since I destroyed my last one by putting my shoes on early and the polish smeared all over my toes.  It's been that way for a month.

Get to a spa in Soho.  Place looks run down even though the website said "top rated."  I get taken to a room that looks like the basement of my mother's house.  An old Chinese woman is there to do the reflexology on my feet (50% off).  She doesn't speak a word of English and points to a basin that looks like it's full of dirty water.  I shake my head.  She points more emphatically.  I won't put my feet in it.  She summons one of the guys there.  He tells me the basin is full of "Chinese medicine."  I tell him I only signed up for reflexology, not a foot detox.  He has her empty the basin.  She's pissed.

I think about leaving, but she grabs my feet and plasters them with generic brand Vaseline.  Then she begins the reflexology.  I feel my sinuses clear.  Heaven.

After that, we do the manicure/pedicure.  I bring my own polish.  The woman (different one...younger) goes to massage my hands with some sickeningly sweet peach/lavender lotion.  I shake my head "no."  She sighs and gets the unscented lotion.  Much better.

She notices the smeared nail polish on my feet from the previous pedicure and forbids me to put my shoes on.  I have to buy a pair of bamboo thong sandals.  $3.  In a size smaller than what I take.

I leave the salon in the flip flops and try to flag down a cab but am not fast enough given that the too-small-bamboo-flip-flops are constraining me.  I feel like a rickshaw driver.  I get to Thompson  St. where I buy baby gifts for my friend's daughter's baby whom I am seeing in the morning.

I see Spring Street (amazingly, since I have no clue where I am) which is where the hotel is located.  I am happy I can walk to the hotel and not have to deal with a cab.  I'm still wearing the flip flops.  I stop at a nearby restaurant that has a very European feel to it.  I peruse the menu and see salad and fish.  I go in and order  a simple green salad with grapefruit and Chilean Sea Bass.  First, I ask the waitress if the fish is skinless, boneless, headless, tail-less.  She's says yes to all of the above.

A basket of bread comes.  Uh-oh.  I have a piece, ask them to remove the rest and the butter and ask for a little olive oil.  No problem.  I ask for unsweetened ice tea.  It's ridiculously sweet.  The waitress insists it's unsweetened.  I drank it anyway but there's no way that was unsweetened.  The salad was fine.  The waiter takes away the salad plate and spills the olive oil all over the paper table cloth.  The stain is quite prominent.  It's the tablecloth equivalent of the Scarlet A.  They change the tablecloth for me.

The fish arrives.  I am stunned.  The tail is sticking up like Cameron Diaz's hair in There's Something about Mary.  Is this a joke?  Am I on Punk'd?  I try to ignore the tail and start to cut a piece of the fish.  There's skin on the underside.  I call the waitress over.  "I thought we talked about this," I said and reminded her of the specs.  Now she's telling me there's no skin on the fish (now I know there was sugar in the tea).  I tell her I can't eat it that way.  She takes the plate away rather abruptly and asks what I want.  "The check," I say.  She slams the check down on the table sans the sea bass cost.  I pay, leave a tip and walk out.

I go to bed hungry.

So much for my big night out.

a morning visit (lyn)

I decide not to go to my Weight-Watcher’s meeting today.  Too much stuff to get done at home.  Since I’m not going, and Karen rarely gets to go, I call her and offer to watch her two gorgeous kids.

Sam and Becky arrive around 9, accompanied by enough toys and food to last a month.  They plop down on my bed and within seconds have become totally immersed in the exploits of Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go.  I only hear from them during commercials when they say, “I want that.  I want that,” referring to the latest Disney offering.  At two and four, the world is all theirs.  Anything is possible.

After a couple of shows I turn off the TV and suggest some Lego-building activities.  We gather on my living room, dump out the box of Legos (reminding me of Alexander’s young-boy mastery in this field), and begin creating our structures.  Soon after, Karen arrives back.  We talk a bit and then she suggests putting the Legos back in their carrying case and leaving.  That’s when Sam casually says, “I think I’ll stay awhile more with Lyn.”

I love the innocence of kids, and their total oblivion to what others may think.  This is what I want, is basically their mantra.  And on kids, it can be totally endearing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

a derailed plan (lyn)

This morning I enter all the food I plan on eating today on etools.  Tomorrow is weigh-in and I want to be down slightly, especially since I tracked this week, something I no longer do every single week.  When I do track, my expectation is to show a modest loss, and then not track the following week.  It’s probably a stupid strategy, but I like it, and it’s working.

Up until mid-aftrnoon I’m eating exactly as planned.  But then life takes over and my plan falls apart.

There’s a 3:15 college meeting at school, and they are serving snacks.  I have already accounted for two homemade chocolate chip cookies (they always serve them).  Upon arriving, I grab two cookies and a Diet Pepsi. 

About an hour into the meeting, one of the college counselors is discussing the merits of how colleges view the SAT vs. the ACT (no difference) and I notice that my Diet Pepsi is missing the word Diet.  I stop focusing on the presentation and become focused instead on how many points are in a 12-ounce can of regular Pepsi (something I haven’t had in years).  I later learn it’s 3 points.  Three wasted points. 

The meeting ends at 4:30 but Shari needs to stop at Target on the way home.  And then we run into traffic.  I have theater with Meredith at 7, and don’t arrive home until 6, just enough time to grab a two-point Weight Watchers bar, some grapes, and run out the door.

The play, The Pittman Painters, is interesting and mildly entertaining, but it lacks drama.  At intermission we leave.  Besides, I’m hungry.

Get home around nine and have dinner: a pork chop, spinach, and two pieces of jellyroll. 

My 18-point plan ends up being almost twice that.  It reminds me of my ringtone for Alexander, John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

lucky jeans (lyn)

Another perfect fall day.  I take out a pair of pants I had bought last March.  They are a size 28 /6, Lucky Brand straight jeans.  They look great, but are a bit too big at the top.  The tags are still on.  I wonder if I can return them?

I walk to the Lucky Brand store.  I explain the situation simply (these pants fit in March but are now too big) and am surprised when told that exchanging them won't be a problem.  How refreshing.  I try on the size 27/4.  They look fantastic, though my sales guy thinks they are a tiny bit too big, and, “They will stretch.  You should try the size two.”  I have never been a size two.  I resist, but he convinces me.  I try on the size 26/2 and they fit perfectly, even when I sit.  I remember trying on jeans a couple of years ago, when nothing fit, and wondering if everything had been made smaller.  How else could I explain that only the size 31 fit without hurting. 

I can’t bring myself to buy the size two.  I’d constantly be worrying that I am one bite away from the pants not fitting.  But I gotta tell ya, it sure feels good to know a size two fits!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

food and football (lyn)

When Alexander was much younger, he joined the local youth sports' teams.  He played soccer as part of Westside Soccer, and baseball, as part of CYO.  Neither was an athletic success.

Alexander’s two years of soccer, at ages 7 and 8, culminated in his scoring a goal for the opposite team.  It was the one and only goal of his career.  CYO baseball, at ages 8, 9 and 10, was not much better.  When Alexander wanted to quit, rather than discourage it, his coach at the time was all in favor, thus ending his chances with the pros.  While Alexander showed a serious lack of interest in the games themselves, he did enjoy the snacks that followed.  Every week, two moms were assigned to bring post-game snacks.  This typically involved bringing drinks, maybe some cut up fruit (that only the parents ate), and boxes of Dunkin Donuts, or their equivalent.

Now Alexander is older and plays a varsity sport.  And still, we have a food schedule.  Last week at homecoming, the parents responsible “ordered-in” the following:  the whole set up  (table, serving pieces, etc.), three large platters of lasagna, one large platter of salad, 100 garlic knots, drinks, and an extraordinary cake for the team, decorated with a photo from last week’s game and the names and numbers of all the players.  It was an impressive spread, by any standard.  And as tempted as I was, I only ate a couple of garlic knots.  It helped that we didn’t stick around, as Alexander wanted to get home quickly.

Today’s game is at Riverdale, a big-rival school for Horace Mann.  As I’m walking in, I bump into Scott, someone I dated before Alexander was born.  Our last date was seeing a play, The Perfect Crime.  Following dinner, I surprised Scott by blurting out (with a total lack of finesse) that I didn’t think the relationship was working.  I remember him sending me home in a cab alone.  But all is forgotten as we smile and quickly exchange hellos and answer the inevitable what have-you been-doing-for-the-past-20 years question.   Like my relationship with Scott, today's game ends badly, with Horace Mann losing, 34 to 8.

After the game, the parents follow the players back to Horace Mann, which is only a few blocks away.  There, the parents responsible for food this week have already set up the spread, which is less elaborate than last week, but more enticing.  The only thing forgotten is a sign that could have read: Nothing here is at all healthy or in any way good for you.  Buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Homemade brownies with frosting.  And carrot cake that everyone is raving about.  This time I can’t resist.  I eat one fried chicken breast (amazing, especially the highly caloric very-bad-for-you skin), one big brownie, and a small piece of carrot cake, deserving of its reputation.  My big concession:  a salad for dinner two hours later.