Monday, February 28, 2011

big reasons to stay small (lyn)

Get up late.  Go on blog.  See a new comment.

Anonymous said...
I just wanted to add that although it may seem insignificant, the whole issue of maintaining weight loss is a big deal and I am very interested in hearing how "L" manages this part of the process. There has been so much written on this topic which is very discouraging (Gina Kolata comes to mind) but here we have a great case study for how to do it right. Just as her weight loss inspired so many of us, I am routing for "L" to continue to be a role model in what many describe as the most difficult part of weight control. By the way, if "L" weren't so honest about herself and was perfect in every way, who would want to read this blog?

Whomever you are, thank-you.  Can’t tell you how good this makes me feel. 

Then I get an email from a friend.

Just want to let you know, since you have been my inspiration…I became a lifetime member at WW on Friday…now I hope I can keep it off…

What a great way to start the day.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

oscar night (lyn)

Last year I invited a few friends over to watch the Oscars, and this year, I am complimented when Shari asks if I’ll do it again. Everyone offers to bring something, and since I am not comfortable in the kitchen, I say sure.

I clean the apartment.  Buy some flowers.  Fluff up the living room pillows.  Scrub clean the bathroom.  Put away any random things lying around.   Ask Alexander to help out by vacuuming.  His response, “Kivell (his friend) was here last night and he didn’t mention anything about our rug being dirty.  We don’t need to vacuum it.” 

I dress casually in a lightweight top from All Saints, which, when I look at the pictures later, is unflattering and adds about ten pounds.  It is comfortable though.  Probably a good top for staying home alone in, or wearing on the Cape.

Shari, an outstanding cook, arrives around 5:30.  She’s created a lasagna masterpiece and brings it here to bake.   With her help and suggestions, I make a salad of arugula, cut up sun dried tomatoes, and portobello mushrooms that I would have simply sliced.  But Shari suggests that I sauté them first in a little olive oil, then add balsamic vinegar, and let them cool to room temperature.  My salad goes from ordinary to extraordinary (well, not quite, but almost) with Shari’s suggestion.

It’s about 6:45 now, and all is under control.  Alexander is about to leave to meet some friends to watch a basketball game when he says, “Hey, there’s no sound coming from the TV.  I don’t know what’s wrong but I’ve gotta run.  I’m late already.”  And with that, he leaves.

For the next 45 minutes, Shari and I plug and unplug every connection from the back of the TV.  I can remember when there was only one.  Nothing is working.  Finally, we try playing a DVD and that works, so it’s not the TV.  It’s the cable box.  But the TV in my room is fine.  I’m thinking that worst case scenario seven of us can squeeze in my bedroom.  But then Shari re-boots the cable box .  Guests start arriving.  And we have sound.  Evening saved.

Pam arrives with two bottles of wine.  Corinne comes with marinated roasted peppers in a pesto sauce that she’s made.  “It’s so easy,” she says, then describes a recipe that is way beyond my abilities.  For starters, I never realized that skins could be peeled off of peppers.  Janice arrives with more wine and six gigantic gourmet cupcakes from Crumbs, all decorated in variations of black and white. In New York, it's not just the people who dress predominantly in those colors.

Then Robyn comes with a cake she made, worthy of being featured on the cover of Bon Appetit.

Even Zelia shows up for a little while, despite her thinking she wouldn’t come as she doesn’t like award shows. 

Last year I would have just had the salad; but not this year.  I eat one and half slices of lasagna, salad, roasted peppers, a small slice of the cake, one chocolate-covered strawberry, and a third of a cupcake.  I'm pretty sure I can be good the rest of the week.

We all put $10 in a bowl, and there are three winners:  Janice, Pam and I.   But truthfully, at the risk of sounding all gushy, I feel like the big winner, to be friends with so many smart, fun and nice women.  It’s a great night.  And with Alexander’s permission, I send home the leftover desserts.  

colonscopy results (m)

My letter came yesterday.  "Dear M," it begins.   It goes on to say that, as we discussed, right after the procedure, the exam showed two polyps which were removed and sent for further analysis.

I had this happen five years ago.  That time, it was one polyp and the results showed it had no potential to be malignant.  I was expecting the same thing this time.

Not quite.

These polyps were adenomas which, while benign today, could become malignant in a 7-10 year span.  I am officially on a "watch" list which means I have to have colonscopies every 3 years assuming no other symptoms (abdominal pain, bleeding, etc).  At the end of the letter, it said to advise my direct line relatives (parents, siblings, children) so they may talk to their primary care providers and determine if they need to be tested.

I have two siblings.  One has had similar results.  The other refuses to have a colonscopy because it is "undignified."  I called a cousin and asked if she's  ever had a colonscopy.  "No way," she said.  "I think you are better off not knowing some things."  When I told her my results and that, left untreated, the polyps could become cancerous in 7-10 years, she laughed and said, "I'll be dead  then anyway."

My illiterate grandmother used to say the most profound things.  One of her oft-repeated lines was "When you have your health, you have everything you need."

I just wish some of the educated people around me would see the wisdom in Nonnie's words.

How do you get someone you love to get a colonscopy if they refuse?

Meanwhile, the letter ends with some advice: eat more fruits and vegetables and less red meat.  Exercise more.

Another benefit to being on Weight Watchers.  It helps prolong one's life.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

alexander makes a steak (lyn)

When Alexander asks me if he can go to the Bahamas over spring break, and offers to use some of his Bar Mitzvah money, I say yes.  Why not?  He'll be with more than 50 classmates, all unsupervised.  I of course would prefer that he not go, but I trust him, and soon he’ll be on his own anyway. 

Surely if he can travel 1,000 miles with a bunch of 17 and18 year olds, he can make a steak.  I am going out tonight and this morning Alexander says he'd like steak for dinner.   I take a gorgeous12-ounce prime rib-eye from Zabars out of the freezer, and teach him the basics.

I don’t want him using my “new” cast iron frying pan from Le Creuset, for fear he’ll burn the bottom, so I teach him the simple method. His steak will just be on the stove top, not the stovetop-to-oven method that I sometimes use. I go through the basics. 

  • Leave the steak on the counter until it’s room temperature.
  • Coat each side with a small amount of olive oil.
  • Sprinkle each side liberally with sea salt and pepper.
  • Put in frying pan for about 4 minutes per side.
  • Let sit for about five minutes.
  • Eat and enjoy.
His questions are not the ones I’d expect.  He doesn’t ask the obvious, like, “How will I know when the steak is done?”  or, “What if it’s undercooked?” or even, “What if the smoke detector goes off?”  His questions are of a more mundane nature:

  • “Where do you keep the olive oil?” (as if I hide it).
  • “Where’s the salt?”
  • “Where’s the pepper?”
My mother always gets annoyed when I visit in the summer and don’t know where something is.  She’ll impatiently say, “See if you can figure it out.”  I loathe that answer, so I take the ingredients out, and show Alexander where they come from.

I arrive home and the kitchen is spotless.  Everything clean and put away.  Alexander tells me the steak was perfect.  Is this the first step of letting go?

Friday, February 25, 2011

comment on comments (lyn)

I love reading the comments we get.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote, “Fresh Direct is the Zappos of food delivery.  Great products, great variety, and great customer service.”  Someone from FD responded with: 

Wow! Love the first two sentences of this post!

 Would you be willing to let us use that? 

If so, drop a line and let us know.

At first I thought it was a joke, but then realized it wasn’t when they wrote to me directly from a Fresh Direct address.  

When I wrote about my wonderful brother-in-law, on his 60th birthday, a friend I’ve known for 30 years wrote:

As I was reading about your brother in law I couldn’t help but think. Hmmm. If she could have had the “perfect” husband way back then would she have taken him. and the honest answer “NO WAY”. The chaos and the uncertainty of your life is what you relish and what has made it so much fun. Predictable is just not you.

And today I see an anonymous comment from a reader who wrote in response to my recent weight graph:

In reading your blog it seems as though you have far more important things to focus your attention toward than tracking how many ounces you've gained. Perhaps it's now time to shift gears and find a new goal that will make an equally important difference in your life...

First, I really appreciate the comment.  And second, Anonymous is absolutely right.  Now that I know how to lose weight, it is something I can do and feel good about.  But at this point, I shouldn’t be focusing on miniscule weight gains.  I know that I will always stay within two pounds of 120, so really, I shouldn’t even bother writing about it.  It actually sounds silly (and self-involved) to stress over a few ounces.  And yes, I do have more important things to stay focused on.  Most importantly, I need to find a job.  The problem is that I don’t know how, because whatever I have been doing isn’t working.

I’ve exhausted my requests to friends and colleagues.  I answer ads online and never hear back.  I reach out to companies I am interested in and write them detailed, compelling letters and get pat “thank you for your interest but” letters back from someone in HR.  Constant rejection is hard to stomach.  I’m open to more junior positions (but companies want junior people in junior jobs) and the more senior positions go to people who are currently doing the same job elsewhere and who are younger (I need to be realistic; I may feel and look younger, but I will be 60 in a few weeks).

I wish there were a proven plan that I could follow for getting employment.  Helpful friends have suggested jobs in retail (they now all pay on commission), and real estate (which I’m just not at all interested in).

I have impressive credentials that someone have been made invisible.  I don’t write about this often, but it is something I live and breathe. 

If I were on Weight Watchers for a few months and not losing weight, I’d figure out what I was doing wrong and fix it.  I have to think like that about getting a job. 

Thank you, Anonymous, for caring.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the. men. swim. (m)

Sometime around 1984 or earlier, I saw a coat I loved and had to have....a long, black shearling coat.  Black leather on the outside, black shearling inside.  Shawl collar and cuffs.  I LOVED this coat.  It was in Ann Taylor in Boston and I absolutely coveted it.  The price, if I recall correctly, was $1,200.  To me, that's alot to pay for a coat now and it was even more outrageous (to me) back then.  I couldn't pay that.  I just couldn't do it even though I was gainfully employed and had no children.

I couldn't get that coat off my mind. I envisioned walking into restaurants wearing it and heads turning and women whispering, "Where'd she get that coat?  It's FABULOUS!"  I imagined wearing red lipstick and diamond stud earrings.  Very sophisticated.

Still, I couldn't bring myself to pay full price.  Instead, I enlisted my friend Heidi and together, we stalked Ann Taylor.  "Heidi," I'd say, "want to go for a walk at lunch?"  She would roll her eyes and say, "I'm not going to Ann Taylor AGAIN.  Buy the coat already!"

Sometime, just before Christmas that year, I overhead a clerk saying that there was going to be a sale soon.  My head snapped around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.  "A sale...will this coat be marked down?," I asked.  The saleswoman looked at me as if I were pond scum.  "I don't know," she sniffed.

Heidi and I came up with a plan.  I would put the coat on hold in one store location under my maiden name and at another under my soon-to-be married name.  We watched the prices everyday as if we were on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. 

One day, the Newbury Street location announced a sale.  My coat was half price!  I flew out of the office, bought the coat and wore it back to work.

On the long walk back to the office, I noticed the coat was very heavy and difficult to move in.  I was sweating by the time I got back to the Prudential Center despite the fact it was 20 degrees outside.

A few days later, on Christmas Eve, I wore it to my brother Phil's house.  My mother said it made me look "like the side of a barn."  I guess it wasn't flattering.  Or comfortable.

I wore it a few more times after that.  I had to move the steering wheel in the car to accommodate the extra bulk when wearing it while driving. 

My coat had become a royal pain in the ass.

I still have it.  I can't give it up.  I worked too hard to get it.  So, it sits in a storage closet at home.  It does, however, still fit.

A few days ago, I saw another shearling coat.  This one was soft, supple, shorter, lighter.  It was magnificent.  My friend, Penny, was wearing it.  Along with her new, 5-carat diamond ring.  All I noticed was the coat.  I decided THIS was the coat for me.  I deserve this coat, I thought.  I will buy it as a present to myself for losing so much weight. 

Penny gave me the name of the store where she purchased the coat.  Of course, the store is in Italy. Nothing is easy.  I checked out their website and left a message under the "contact us" section.

I couldn't wait for them to get back to me.  I planned to get the same style and color as Penny.  I even went through Lessons 1-3 of Italian on my Rosetta Stone program (a Christmas present from T). 

I was ready to make my dream come true.

The other day, my phone rings.  It's Giacomo, from the store in Florence, Italy!  His English was not so good.  We spoke basic conversational Italian.  I described the coat.  He knew what I was talking about.  I asked him the price.  He gave it to me in Euros.  I did some simple conversion of the currency.

NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS.  That's what the coat cost.  My dream coat.  After all these years, I find it and it costs as much as a down payment on a car.

I was so flummoxed, all I could say was "Gli uomini nuotare."  The men swim.  That's what I said.  Giacomo bid me "arriverderci" and hung up.

I took my old coat out of the closet and decided to get it shortened.

another celebration (lyn)

Nine of us get together to celebrate Shari’s birthday.  We choose Capital Grille, as restaurant week is still on.  As expected, the food is outstanding (I have a glass of red wine, small onion roll, the green salad, rib-eye with a porcini rub, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, and crème brulee for dessert). Probably totals the points for the week, but all worth it.

A man who is leaving the restaurant walks by our table and says, “Every guy in this place wishes he were at this table.” Ya, but we wouldn’t want him.  Tonight we are having too much fun just being girls and celebrating a dear friend’s birthday.  And how nice that we were all so color-coordinated by accident for this photo.

need to reverse upward trend (lyn)

Until the past week, I’d been tracking.  Everything.  While I’m technically on maintenance, I have never lowered my points so theoretically I should still be losing weight.  I’m not.  I take a look back over the past six weeks and see the following:


I am happy with my current weight, but for all the diligence I’ve been putting into the tracking, I would expect some decrease but see none.  Although I’ve been staying within my points (including bonus points), I’ve been going out a lot.  Tonight will be no exception (10 of us are going to a steakhouse to celebrate Shari’s birthday). 

When I weigh myself this morning and see I’m 122.6, I decide to skip my Weight Watchers meeting.  After tonight, I’ll be more careful.  Oh, but then Shari’s making her famous lasagna for a little get-together I’m having this Sunday for the Oscars.  I want to get back to 120.  It make take a few weeks but I think I know how to get there.  Track more and eat less.  Sounds easy enough.  We'll see.

interview today (m)

With a bank for a Board of Directors position.

Fell asleep reading the materials last night.

If it were a Bored of Directors job, I'd get it hands down.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

a meeting (lyn)

I recently became a member of the BAFTA screening committee.  I’ll be assigned a studio and will be responsible for securing films (and talent) for BAFTA members to view.  Tonight I host a small meeting (me and two others) at my house.

Since the meeting is planned for 6pm, I assume my two guests will be hungry. So the big question becomes, “What do I serve?”  I am not a natural hostess.  In fact, of all the rooms in my house (or more precisely, in any house), the kitchen is where I am most awkward.  So I need to plan.

Here’s my strategy: 
1. Buy food that Alexander (or I) will eat if any is leftover.
2. Buy food that I mostly can avoid.
3. Buy food that is easy to eat, since part of the meeting will involve working on a computer.

I go to Agata and buy two kinds of cheeses, some pate, a French baguette (cut up), and about two pounds of red grapes.  I arrange everything in the appropriate serving pieces, and put it out.  Melinda and Susan arrive, separately, exactly at six.  It’s a very punctual group.

“What can I get you both to drink?  I have wine, water, apple cider, diet coke, tea or coffee.”  “Water would be fine,” they both chime in.  “You must be hungry,” I say.  Melinda answers first with, “Oh I'm fine.  I ate a late lunch." Then Susan adds, “I’m meeting my sister for dinner after our meeting.”  Neither eat a thing, but as consolation, they both love my glasses  (which I fell in love with, too, at Corinne’s in December 2008.  They are the 12-ounce Bodum Pavina Double-Wall Thermo Glasses.  They are lightweight, made of glass, can be used for hot or cold drinks, don’t require coasters, and look great).

The meeting lasts about 90 minutes.  My guests consume two glasses of water.  That’s it.  Not even a single grape.   

Monday, February 21, 2011

a celebration (lyn)

Alexander finished his second trimester on Friday.  In his mind, he’s done.  Colleges will look at these grades to help make their decision, so it’s important that these grades be good.  But final trimester grades, unless royally messed up, are not nearly as important.  Alexander has worked hard and is well-deserving of a celebration.

So tonight, along with Zelia and her kids, Rodrigo and Victoria, we go to Fishtail by David Burke, a new restaurant where none of us have been before.  Again, we are taking advantage of the $35 fixed price for restaurant week.  I arrive hungry and immediately eat two warm rolls.  The mini taco starter of crabmeat, raw tuna and raw salmon is adorable and excellent.  And the swordfish steak with fries is also good.   A million calories get added for dessert but the apple tart is worth it.

This is a group who is not shy about expressing opinions, arguing, complimenting, and laughing together.  There is always at least one child-parent disagreement, with the child thinking the parent is one of three things: clueless, a nagger, or unfair.  In good humor, all of these surface tonight.  The conversations are never boring, and always full of live.  It's a great night.

sushi as incentive (lyn)

My MacBook pro, iPhone, and DVR are among my favorite possessions.  And though I hate it whenever something goes wrong with any one of them, I am usually pretty good at figuring out how to make it right.

Not my son.  His way of fixing things goes something like this, “Mom, my printer won’t work.”  Or, “The internet is out.”  Or, “I can’t attach word documents anymore.” But now that he is 18 and will be leaving for college soon, I have relinquished my role as computer geek.

About two months ago, Alexander’s laser printer stopped working.  I ask the obvious, “Is it plugged in,“ and get an eye-rolling response, “Of course.”  I sit down with him and show him how to go to System Preferences and delete the printer and then re-add it.  But there’s a problem.  The computer can’t find the printer.  I tell him to call Apple, and let the two of them figure it out.

Weeks go by. Alexander has found an easier solution than calling Apple.  He just uses my printer.  I get frustrated and intervene with a  punishment that I hope will be incentive:  “I am not paying for anymore sushi dinners until you make an earnest attempt to fix your printer.”

Three weeks with no sushi.  “I just need to get through this trimester.  I promise.  As soon as I’m done, I’ll fix my printer.”  Three more weeks of Alexander coming into my room hours after I’ve gone to sleep, and waking me with the whirring sound of my printer.  “I’m sorry, I just need to print something out.  Go back to sleep.”

Finally, on Friday, Alexander finishes the trimester.  “Okay, remember, this weekend you need to fix your printer.”  “I know,” he says on Saturday morning.  “I promise to do it today.”  I leave a little to-do list for him as a reminder.  It is ignored.

Sunday afternoon, before leaving for theater, I remind him again.  “Please fix that printer.  I’d like to order in sushi tonight.”  “Okay, I promise, I’ll have it done by the time you get home.”  This doesn’t happen either.

So this morning, Monday, I say, “You are not leaving the house until you fix that damn printer.  I’ll even sit down with you and help.”  I go again to System Preferences and the printer doesn’t show up.  “Are you sure it’s all connected?” I ask.  “Yes, I already checked.”  “Well check again.  I don’t understand why it’s not even showing up.”  “Okay, but I told you, I already checked.”

The cables connecting the computer to the laptop sneak around the inside perimeter of Alexander’s bed onto his bureau where the printer sits.  The printer lights are on so that’s plugged in.  The cord to the printer is yes, plugged into the computer.  “Wait, let me check one more thing,” Alexander says.  He then follows the cord from the computer to the extension, and says, “Oh, maybe this is it.  Try it now,” as he connects a plug to the previously disabled extension cord.

The familiar purring starts up.  The printer of course now works.  We can have sushi together again. 

I imagine if Alexander will say to his roommate next year, “Hey dude, can I use your computer?  Mine won’t print.”  I doubt it.  That’s probably when he’ll miss me most.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

two plays (lyn)

Robyn and I get $4 theater tickets for both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The play on Saturday, dis Oriented, is about three generations of a Korean family.  It is much better than we anticipate.  It’s always nice to be surprised by good theater.  We part around 6, with the intent of eating separately and meeting up later for a movie.  That never happens.  I end up eating leftover steak (still breathtakingly wonderful, albeit small), and then staying in and doing nothing. 

Sunday Robyn and I go to another matinee.  This off-Broadway production, The Apple Cove, sounds promising. We get to the theater and while the location of our seats is excellent, our neighboring audience members are not.  The woman directly behind Robyn, who must weight close to 300 pounds, is slumped in her seat coughing ferociously without covering her mouth.  The man to my left is about the same size as the woman behind Robyn and he is uncomfortably overflowing into my chair.  He smiles pleasantly but makes no attempt to respect the boundaries of our seating.  Before the play starts, I hear an usher approach the woman behind Robyn, who appears to have dropped her playbill into the aisle.  “Oh here, ma’am, I think you dropped this,” she says as she hands the woman her playbill. “I DIDN’T DROP IT,“ she screams.  “I DON’T WANT IT.  THAT’S WHY IT’S THERE.”  Okay, now I know there must be something wrong with this woman as no one could be that rude naturally.  My observation is later confirmed when she burps loudly and sporadically throughout the entire, mind-numbing play.

Aside from its appealing length and some nice performances, Apple Cove is exactly the theater genre I most loathe:  part absurdist comedy/part farce. Robyn and I are both happy when the play ends. 

I get home and have a relaxing, unhealthy dinner of pizza and apple pie with Alexander while watching The Disappearance of Alice Creed.  No coughing.  No burping.  No rudeness.  No constricted seating. Intriguing movie.  Great company. Perfect.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

blind date (lyn)

A few months ago, a friend of mine from Boston tells me that a good friend of his is moving to New York in December.  “You two should go out,” he says.  “You’ll really like him.  I know how picky you are.  Give him a chance.  He’s a great guy.”  “Sure, I say, “I’m happy to meet him.  He gives this guy my number and he never calls.

In early February my Boston friend calls and says, “David is not going to call you.  I think he’s shy.  You should call him.”  I surprise my friend and tell him I will.  Why not?  And so I do.  We speak briefly on the phone.  He sounds nice.  We set a date to have dinner together.

David calls yesterday to confirm our plans for tonight.  “You’ll recognize me.  I’ll be the short Jewish guy at the bar.” I picture someone about 5’ tall.

After last night’s big dinner, I want to be more careful with what I eat tonight.  I prepare by going to and reviewing my options. David tells me that Lusardi’s (the restaurant we are going to) is one of his favorites. Plus, it’s right around the corner from me.  I can’t believe I’ve never been.  The menu looks great.

The duck breast sounds amazing, but so does the Branzino Mediterranea, described as fillets of mediterranean sea bass cooked in white wine with grape tomatoes, baby artichokes, pearl onions and cerignola olives. This is what I’ll order.

I wear a black pencil Wolford skirt, a white top under a slinky light blue cashmere V-neck, and boots.  I leave feeling hopeful, despite a slightly achy drippy right nostril.

I recognize him immediately.  David has a welcoming, friendly face, is dressed well, and is immediately likable.  I join him a the bar and have a Metropolitan.  I have another one at dinner so now I’m pleasantly drunk.  David is easy to talk to, a good and attentive listener, and very nice.  I like him.  We split a raw tuna with tomato appetizer and I skip the bread.  Good so far.  But then he orders a pasta dish to split (gnocchi with a meat sauce) that is big enough for a meal and spectacular.  We both order the Branzino, and then I have a couple of bites of the cheesecake he’s ordered for dessert and a cappuccino.  

We are the last ones to leave the restaurant.  I guess that answers the question, "How'd the date go?"

get up (m)

Last night, the skating community went to the premiere of a new movie called "Rise" which is a documentary about the U.S. Skating Team that went down in a plane crash en route to Prague for the World Championships.  This week is the 50th anniversary of the crash.  The movie was shown last night in over 500 movie theatres across the country.

The day began with Matt Lauer of the Today show interviewing Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Evan Lysacek, and Scott Hamilton.  Matt Lauer said it was "the most under-reported sports story of all time."  For perspective, imagine the entire NFL...players and coaches...going down in one plane.

Most of the skaters and coaches were from Boston.  Yesterday, the rink was somber.  I talked to one of the older gentleman there, a man named P, who has worked at the rink over 50 years.  He recalled a young female skater coming to the rink in February, 1961 saying she forgot her plane ticket.  P was working behind the counter in the office that day.  He was the one who handed her the plane ticket and wished her luck at the World Championships.  His eyes still mist when he talks about it.

Virtually the entire club went to the movie last night.  Parents met in small groups for dinner beforehand.  I went to Fresh City with my husband and another couple (the salad roll-up made me ill but was only 400 calories).

I have to say I both anticipated and dreaded the movie.  I wanted to learn more about the history of these people yet I did not want to cry in front of everyone (and we know how easy that is for me these days).

Not only did I not cry, I was inspired.  The movie does a great job bringing the athletes back to life, telling their stories of struggle, achievement, demanding parents, crazy coaches.  It segues seemlessly to athletes who succeeded those who perished, re-building the sport, bringing honor to them and to the U.S.

In the end, the stories all blended together.  Whether an athlete was part of the 1961 team or a former champion (Peggy Fleming, Dick Button, Michele Kwan, Scott Hamilton, etc.) or a current champion (Evan Lysacek) or an aspiring skater (Harrison is in the movie, but not identified), the stories are all the same.

Hard work.  Discipline.  Focus. Sacrifice.

Scott Hamilton summed it up beautifully.  "Skating is not about falling.  It's about getting up."

I need to "get up" from my slump.  This might have been the motivation I needed to get going again.

my nose (lyn)

Get up early,  skip coffee,  go to my scheduled appointment with an ENT specialist.  I tell him about my nose bleeds and he says it’s probably nothing (he’s right), but to be sure, he wants to stick a scope in my nose and look around.  He numbs the inside of my nose.  Easy.  Probes around.  Unpleasant.  Cauterizes a capillary.  Uncomfortable.  Gives me a prescription for some ointment.  Tells me to come back in a week.  Stop at Starbucks on the way home.  Don't understand it's allure.  Maybe if the seats weren't all made of wood.  I miss the big comfy chairs they used to have.  I think better seats make the coffee taste better.  Either that, or coffee tastes better when you can smell it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

del frisco's (lyn)

Growing up, my mom used to make steak regularly.  This was all before too much red meat was deemed unhealthy.  It seemed like we had a lot of it.  The meat was probably sirloin (I didn't know that different cuts even existed), picked up at the neighborhood BPM (short for Brockton Public Market).  I don’t remember it being anything special.

I would never order steak when I went out.  I used to think, “Why order steak in a restaurant when it’s so easy to make one at home?”  I guess I imagined all steaks coming from the BPM and tasting, well, just okay.  At some point that changed.  I’m guessing my love affair with steak began after eating at a Peter Luger’s for the first time, but I can’t be sure.

I meet Gail around 7, for dinner at Del Frisco’s, one of New York’s premier steakhouses.  She looks radiant. She arrives at the restaurant a few minutes before I do and already she is best friends with the maître d.  You can’t help but be attracted to Gail’s very large and welcoming personality.

Gail notices and comments on the plain white top I’m wearing.  “Is that Wolford?” she asks.  Coincidentally, both of us are dressed almost all in in a white long sleeve top and a black wool skirt, she in a black long sleeved bodysuit and black pants.   I like getting dressed up, as I do it so rarely.

We both order one glass of red wine (enough that we feel it by the end of the meal) and split an excellent tuna tartare appetizer.  But the real standout is the steak we each get, with a side of some of the best creamed spinach I’ve ever eaten.  I want to savor every bite of my perfectly cooked medium rare 16-ounce prime strip steak (I take home only a third, if that).  The difference between a very good steak (like the kind I can make at home) and a great one is so vast, it barely tastes like eating from the same food group.  We end up sharing a 7-layer lemon cake, which Gail hardly eats and I almost totally consume. 

It’s a warm spring-like night.  After dinner, we walk over to Rockefeller Center and watch the ice-skaters.  Between the food and the company, if Gail were a guy, I might just have fallen in love tonight.

carrie fisher bugs me (m)

I liked her in When Harry Met Sally.  I never saw Star Trek.  Not one movie.  Not my genre.  So, my net impression has been positive.

Until now.

She depresses me.  Forget the fact that she put on alot of weight.  Happens to the best of us.

Watch her Jenny Craig commercials.  What a downer.  She looks like she's 70 years old, talking through dentures.  I thought it was a Poli Grip commercial.  Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, looks better.

Who would have thought that I would long to see Kirstie Alley again?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

seeing red (lyn)

Skip weight watchers in anticipation of a busy day. Cynthia has invited me to go with her to a taping of Dr. Oz, a show I never watch.  But I like seeing Cynthia (whom I rarely see since she moved to New Jersey), and going to a TV show taping will be fun at best, different at worst.

We skip lunch as Cynthia has a late breakfast. I grab a tuna salad on a sandwich thin and meet Cynthia a little after noon.  The taping is at 3, but we need to arrive by 1:30.

We decide to walk.  It’s less than two miles, and it’s a beautiful winter’s day.  Cold, but sunny.  We cut through Central Park, and arrive at Rockefeller Center early.  We get in a 30-minute line to register.  Once that’s done and we get our Dr. Oz paper bracelets (like the ones you are given in a hospital), we are told to come back in 40 minutes.  Not enough time to go anywhere, but too long to just hang around.  Fine, we’ll just go to the bathrooms, two levels down.  Another long line awaits us there.  

On our way back to the studio my nose starts to bleed.  This is the third time in the past ten days.  It’s a mess, and Kleenix is ineffective.  We go to a little convenience store in the lobby of 30 Rock where a helpful salesgirl lets me take her whole roll of paper towels.  Who cares that my hair looks good (thanks to Sara at Aveda), when I’m holding a paper towel to my face as blood drips ferociously from my nose.  Finally it stops. 

We rush to the next line where we wait another 20 minutes or so before we are allowed into the Dr. Oz designated elevator.  By 2:45, we are finally seated.  We are instructed to place our coats and purses under our chairs (one woman refuses) and then given a mini-lecture on audience etiquette.  The show is moderately interesting, but I sit clutching a paper towel through the entire 90-minute taping, just in case.

Before dinner, my nose bleeds again.  And then again, two hours later.  I’m worried about going to sleep tonight on my just-changed clean white sheets.

ladies who lunch (m)

When I worked, I rarely, rarely went out for lunch.  I'd say 90% of the times I did were when I was single, living in the Back Bay of Boston.  I'd grab a friend or two and we'd go to the cafeteria or, occasionally, to a little place near the office.  Once the kids came along, I barely made it to the cafeteria every day, using the time instead to catch up on work to make sure I could get home at a decent hour to be with them.

I still feel guilty about taking time in the middle of the day to sit down and eat.  How decadent.  I often catch myself standing up at the counter in my kitchen rushing through a sandwich of deli flat bread, turkey, lettuce and mustard and swilling it down with a diet Ice Tea.  Sometimes, I eat in the car, waiting for H to finish in the rink.

In this past week alone, I have eaten lunch with people on three separate occasions.  Here are my experiences:

1. Lunch with Mary--venue was Legal Seafoods in Chestnut Hill (where else?).  Mary likes the scene there.  She knows who's who and what they are doing.  All business-related or temple-related.  I am merely the backdrop to her one-act play.  She drives the waiters crazy, listens in on people's conversations, orders for me (e.g."WE will not be having any bread") and always forgets who paid last (usually me but she remembers it as she paid last).  We deliberate over the menu as if we were going to order something new (we don't).  We each get a bucket of steamers (no butter), followed by a salad, low-fat dressing on the side.  No dessert.  Tea.  This ordeal takes 2 hours, costs about $60 (for both because it was my turn...again). 

2. Lunch with old friends--Friday.  Went to get a manicure/pedicure at a nice salon where my friend, M, works.  High-end place.  Our friend, Susan, and her mother were prepping for a trip to St. Thomas.  The rest of us were going nowhere.  After the salon, we went to a nice restaurant for lunch.  The chef made his special Mongolian vegetable stew (jasmine rice, yogurt, stewed vegetables in a low-fat broth).  Another friend, J, joined us.  The company was wonderful.  The food was great.  This, too, took over 2 hours and was $25 per person.

3. Lunch with the Pot Luck Club--this one was a surprise.  Had a meeting in Boston and got a call from Cousin Patty saying she made a banana chocolate chip bread for my family.  I was 15 minutes away so it was an easy trip.  Get to her house and there's a party going on at 1 p.m.  Five women around a table filled with food--shrimp cocktail, salad, tuna fish, cold cut platter with 5 types of meats and 3 types of cheese, pepperoni, cheese and crackers, potato salad, 4 types of breads, 2 Edible Arrangements (fruit in the shape of flowers) and a tray of assorted cookies and a dish of black licorice.  The occasion?  Absolutely nothing.  This group gets together once a month.  I had to pick up Harrison at the rink in 30 minutes so I had the turkey on flat bread with mustard and left with a bag full of food for Harrison (turkey sandwich, quart of Powerade, banana bread, cookies).  Cost: zero.  Time: 15 minutes. 

I called Patty tonight to thank her.   At 9 p.m., the women were still there!  There was laughter in the background.  Patty said the women want me to join them every month.

This is a shock to my system.  As fun as all these luncheons were, I can't get anything done when I spend so much time eating in the middle of the day.  I think I'll stick to my house for a while.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

tuesday evening with meredith (lyn)

I meet Meredith for dinner at a little Italian restaurant on the westside before going to theater.  She agrees immediately that Sara has done a fantastic job. 

Meredith is taking me out to dinner, for no reason other than she is generous and nice and wants to.  While waiting for me, she sits at the bar hoping to be able to have a drink.  She is disappointed that the bar is out of most alcohols, including Grey Goose.  Their meager excuse?  ”The other night was the Grammys so we ran out.”  Really?  A bar running out of alcohol?  In NYC where there are liquor stores on every block? 

The three-course $14.95 dinner somewhat compensates.  I order mussels with a butter/wine sauce that is so good I take a piece of bread to soak up all the excess.  The chicken picatta is delicious, and my big concession is ordering lemon sorbet for dessert, rather than the  tiramisu that I really want.  Both the food and company are excellent.

Meredith and I have been members of Manhattan Theater Club for a long time.  We’ve dropped most of our other theater memberships but this one we’ll probably keep forever.  There are three reasons for this:

  1. Their plays are consistently good.
  2. Our seats (for their two theaters) are about the best in the house.
  3. We are among the youngest in the audience.
Tonight we are seeing The Whipping Man.  Despite its good reviews, neither of us is particularly interested in the play’s topic:  Jewish slaves in the South after the Civil War having a Seder.  Often we don’t stay for the second act (our new favorite is the 90- minute-intermission-less play).  This one is two acts, two hours, and a questionable theme.  Before even going, we’ve already discussed not staying.  In fact, Meredith even suggests skipping the play entirely.  But we do go.

Within the first 15-minutes of the play, a man’s leg gets sawed off in realistic detail.  A while after that Meredith asks me for the time (a good reason to leave my iPhone on).  It’s 7:36.  The play started 30 minutes ago.  Now I know for sure that Meredith will be leaving at intermission (she does).

I’m on the fence.  So I ask the usher about the second act.  40 minutes. More of the same with some revelations (I ask what they are and he tells me).  I leave confident in my decision.

tuesday afternoon at aveda (lyn)

Beauty maintenance is expensive.  Weekly manicures.  Monthly pedicures.  Facials and massages (I wish).  Monthly leg waxes (less often in the winter).  And of course, hair.  Because I wear my hair long, I can go about eight weeks between cuts, which run about $80, exclusive of tax and tips.  I know when my hair needs cutting when one day it’s fine, and the very next day I think, “OMG, I need to get my hair cut NOW!”  As for color, I really should do it every three weeks, but I push it to five, unless something big comes up in between.  That’s another $80 (single process).  According to Valerie, hair coloring is something I should do BEFORE it’s desperately needed, because (and she’s right about this), “If you ever expect to meet anyone, every time you leave your house you should look your best.”  Maybe that’s why in 26 years of living in New York, I’ve never once met anyone just by leaving my house.

Robyn gets her hair done in Soho, at the Aveda Institute.  It’s where stylists become stylists in seven months.  First they practice on wigs, then they invite in their friends and family, and during their final phase of training, they practice on real people.  I book a single process ($45), a cut ($20), and a gloss ($10).    

Upon arriving at 1pm, I am offered a small cup of Aveda's Comfort Tea.  It’s 100% certified organic, a soothing herbal infusion, and naturally sweetened with licorice and peppermint.  I never realized a tea could be so many things.  And still, I don’t like it.  It’s too sweet. 

Around 1:10 I’m introduced to Sara.  Robyn has warned me, “You want a stylist who works in the front; they are closest to graduating.  The ones in the back are more junior.  Book more than one service and you are guaranteed a stylist in the front, because the ones in the back can’t handle multiple services.”   Sara leads me to the back.

Now what?  She is very nice, and I don’t want to offend her, but I also don’t want to leave with purple hair in a mohawk.  So I ask Sara when she’s graduating.  “April,” she says, “Just a couple of weeks behind the stylists in the front.”  I wonder if she can read minds too.

Sara is very conscientious.  Even if she weren’t talented (which, as it turns out, she is), I’d forgive her anything, as she is so nice.  She colors with care, washes with detail, and cuts methodically.  At the end, I am more than pleased.  My hair looks great.

The only downside is the time.  It takes three and a half hours.  But double the time for half the price is definitely worth it.  Especially when you have much of the former and little of the latter.

25 lbs by june (m)

That's my new target.

Ready, set, go!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

a credit for not being cool (lyn)

Fresh Direct is the Zappos of food delivery.  Great products, great variety, and great customer service.

Earlier this week I placed an order and scheduled a delivery for this morning, between 10 and noon.  Fresh Direct is one of the few companies that offer a two-hour window.  Imagine how much better life would be if cable companies would do that.

Around 12:30, I still haven’t heard from Fresh Direct, which is unusual.  They are pretty reliable. I call down to my doorman who greets me with, “Oh, we have some Fresh Direct boxes here for you.”  Huh?  I go downstairs to get them and of course ask why no one called to tell me.  “I did try calling but no one answered the buzzer,” says Aziz, our dependable doorman.  “You did?” I ask.  “But I was home all morning.  What time did they come?”  “Around seven.”  That means that my food was delivered three hours ahead of schedule, and worse, it’s been sitting in a closet for five and a half hours.  Can yogurt, fruit, Kansas City baby back ribs, and some other perishables even survive that long without refrigeration?

I call Fresh Direct and get a very-nice Stanley on the phone.  I tell him what happened and he says,  “I’m really sorry about that.  What I can do is either have all the items that needed refrigeration re-delivered to you tomorrow, or give you a credit toward your next order.”  I opt for the credit.

Stanley then totals all the items on my list that potentially could have been harmed, and even includes some things that I would not have counted (baby carrots and a French baguette).  The total comes to $63.91 plus another $5.79 for delivery.  Much better than I would have given me.  I was hoping for maybe a free delivery on my next order. 

I still plan to serve the $22 ribs for dinner tonight; I hope they’re as good as they look. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

humping the hand that feeds you (m)

I don't own a pet.  Have never owned a dog.  I have, however, heard that kids and dogs have good instincts about people.

For example, during the famous murder case in Boston of a pregnant woman, the Boston Police brought the husband home from the hospital.  The husband wasn't a suspect in the case, yet the police noticed that the dog growled at his owner when the man went into his home.  Come to find out, the man did kill his wife.

Dropped by Cousin Patty's to give her a belated birthday present.  Would have seen her on her birthday but she was stuck in Vegas because of snowstorms in Boston.  The Snap-Loc container set from Costco was a huge hit as she feeds an army of people and her containers are out on "permanent loan."   Also gave her a nice purse but I know it will get less use than the food containers.

Also visiting was a friend and the friend's dog.  A cute little shih tzu.  The dog had been well-trained, but 30 minutes at Patty's house undid years of table manners for little "Gizmo".  He was eating out of Patty's hand, literally. 

After the first few scraps, the dog licked Patty's hand.  "Aw, he's saying thank you Aunt Patty," said the owner.  More scraps, more licks.  After the roast beef slices (London Broil, no less) the dog paid Patty the ultimate compliment.

He humped her arm.

I think little Gizmo is in love.

dressing thin (lyn)

When I buy a new piece of clothing, I save it for some good reason to wear it.   Sometimes, the  savings goes on too long.  For example, right now, sitting in my drawers/closets, are:
  • a Karla Colletto bathing suit I bought last spring and haven’t worn
  • a Postcard winter coat that I bought last April
  • a Prada trench coat I bought in November 2006 (and then gained weight quickly after)
  • a Jil Sander navy skirt and pant suit that I bought in March of 2006, just before I lost my job
Alexander is the exact opposite.  As soon as he gets something new, he wears it immediately.  Even if all he’s doing is sitting around the house and reading.

This past August, I bought a pair of washed black, size 28, Current Elliott “leggings” at Maxwells.  They are tight with a low rise. Today I wear them for the first time, and wonder what has taken me so long.  They are surprisingly comfortable and look great.

I remember how painful it was to get dressed when I was heavy.  No pant looked good on, so I wore mostly skirts.  And if I did wear pants, as soon as I got home, I changed into more comfortable elastic-waisted sweats. I had no go-to jeans.  They all looked bad.  But the most discouraging thing was to go through several sweaters and t-shirts and find that none of them looked good on.  Even some coats were un-wearable.  I couldn’t even buy new boots as they wouldn’t go over my calves. It was all very distressing.

As silly as it sounds, I love getting dressed now.  Everything fits.  Everything looks good.  And I feel so much younger.

This morning I wake up and put on my Current Elliott pants, short Ugg boots, and a white T, then head over to the local farmer’s market.  At 9am, it’s already busy.  I buy eggs, but hesitate as they are $4/dozen.  “These are fresh from the farm.  Trust me, once you try them you will never go back to store-bought.”  I’m sold.  I next buy some granny smith apples,  and a big bottle of fresh apple cider for Alexander along with a loaf of peasant bread for his grilled mozzarella sandwiches.  But then, while I’m at the vendor who sells the fresh breads, I can’t resist also buying a cinnamon twirl and an apple tart (one each for both me and Alexander).   I would have bought an apple pie, too, were it not for this conversation.

“I wish you had the nutritional content on the packaging.” (Note: These are homemade pies.)
“Well we do have the ingredients.”
“No, I need the nutritional content.”
“Why, do you count calories?”
“Not exactly; I count the points.  I’m on Weight Watchers.”
“Oh, I see.  Well, in that case, this is what I think you should do.  Don’t buy it.”

As I'm sitting with my coffee and cinnamon pastry, I need to remember how much I like these Current Elliott pants.  Either that, or remember how good the cinnamon buns were on the Cape and how horrid I looked after a summer of eating them. Here's proof.

Me in December 2008:

And me a few minutes ago:

Friday, February 11, 2011

bad theater with a good friend (lyn)

Alexander was up most of last night finishing a Spanish paper.  He comes home from school exhausted, exhilarated and hungry.  Two slices of pizza later and he’s good for the night.  I quickly down ½ of a lobster pot pie that I had bought from Fresh Direct.  It was good, but not worth the $14 and 11 points a serving.

Meet Jill at an off- off-Broadway theater on a deserted westside street.  Two other theaters are in the same building, and as we watch the play, we are also entertained by the loud music from the theater on the floor above.  The play is sparsely attended, but even so, a tall couple sits directly in front of us.

When I was at Tufts, I remember one my favorite courses was on playwrights.  We probably read a play every two days or so.  That’s where I was introduced to Luigi Pirandello, an Italian dramatist.  I honestly don’t remember the content of his plays, but the name of one of his more famous works is Six Characters in Search of An Author.  I think of Pirandello’s play tonight as I watch The Director.   It’s a 6-person play about a Svengali-like director who pushes his actors to perform by playing questionable mind-games on them. Six Characters in Search of an Audience comes to mind as I look around and count 13 theatergoers along with Jill and me. 

Even at $3.50, bad theater isn’t worth it.  But spending time with a good friend is, at any price.

compliments (m)

Friday morning.  Meet a man for coffee who offered me a job back in 2007 when I first retired.  One of the reasons I gave for turning it down was that I wanted time for myself and planned to use the time to lose weight and get in shape.

He emailed the other day and said he wanted to touch base.  We meet for coffee at a Starbucks.  I walk in and he looks up and then looks back down at his newspaper.  Odd, I think.  Not very friendly.  I walk over to his table and he looks up again, does a double-take, and says, "It IS you!  I wasn't sure.  You look so different. Boy, when you say you're going to do something, you do it!"

You know, I'm so used to being at this weight (which is still not a good number) that I sometimes forget where I started (which was a hideous number).  His comments are both a nice reminder of how far I've come and good incentive to spur me the rest of the way.

I turn the job down again.  I want to finish what I started.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'd rather have a colonscopy (m)

It's over.  They found 2 polyps which they sent to the lab for assessment.  This was my second colonoscopy; they found 1 polyp last time which was five years ago  Not a problem then.  Not anticipating one now but not taking anything for granted.

My husband drove me to the hospital for the procedure and left me off at the main entrance of Beth Israel Deaconess.  Got up to the third floor and checked in.  Got my yellow paper bracelet with my name on it.  Next stop: Waiting Room.  Full of people, waiting to be called.  An elderly woman with a shaky voice comes in and identifies herself as a volunteer and asks if we have any questions.  Some wise-ass asks if we can eat.  The Volunteer says, "Oh no, dear, not yet."  Obviously, they aren't trained to spot humor.

They call us in in batches...five at a time.  We each get taken back to an area that looks like the ER and get assigned a room and are told to get into the johnnies and put our belongings in a plastic bag.  You probably don't want to hear this but I had a flashback to the night I brought my mother into the Emergency Room.  My legs were shaking and I felt like crying (but didn't).  The nurse came in to take my vital signs, hook me up to an IV, stick an oxygen thing up my nose and ask a bunch of questions.  This exactly mirrored what my mother went through in the ER.  I started to lose it.  She reassured me that the procedure wasn't that bad.  I didn't get into the real reason for my distress.

Tried to take my mind off everything and opened my book: Cutting for Stone.  Wouldn't you know that the page I was reading was about a bowel obstruction?  Put the book down and tried to nap.  Thirty minutes later, I got wheeled into the procedure room.  I told the doctor and nurses that I didn't want anesthesia (I don't like meds; don't like feeling out of control). They started without and it felt like I sat on a garden hose so I begged for a hit of something.  Felt "tugging" but no pain.

Thirty minutes later, I was wheeled into the Recovery Room.  Still hooked up to blood pressure cuff, IV drip and oxygen nose thingie.  Called the nurse and told her to unhook me so I could get dressed to go home.  She said I had to pass gas first.  I'm sorry, but I would rather die than do that in front of someone.  She waited with her arms crossed.  I promised to tell her when I was "ready."  Is there anything more degrading?

Got unhooked and dressed.  T was there, behind my curtain waiting for me to come out.  He hates hospitals and had that "stricken" look on his face that he gets every time he's in a hospital.  He holds his breath and won't eat for a day and washes his hands over and over like Lady Macbeth.

He asked how it went but prefaced it with, "No details, please!"  I told him, "Fine."  You know more about it than he does now.

Got to the skating rink to pick up Harrison who said the battery died in the car.  I'm still loopy from the meds and I'm jumping a car in the parking lot.  Beautiful.

Get home and the boys want to know what's for dinner.  Made chicken stir fry and rice.

Reflecting upon the day, the colonscopy was the highlight for me.