Friday, September 30, 2011

low cost, high activity (lyn)

I meet Penny wearing my Fitbit (well actually, I always wear it now; it’s tiny, easy to clip on, and totally forgettable once it is on).  We walk through the park (as in Central) to MOMA.  I’m glad I have friends who know the NY art scene, appreciate it, and have free entry to all the museums.  Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t go.

We get in without paying the $20 fee.  Penny has specifically chosen the 1:30 tour of Contemporary Art because Agnes is giving it.  Agnes, a wisp of a woman, is a PHD lecturer of the museum, and Penny says she’s great.  By the time we leave, I have a girl-crush on Agnes.    She has very short dark gray hair, is wearing a black dress over black pants and bright orange-red shoes (few people can carry this look, especially while being well over 40).  But Agnes can.  She is naturally and effortlessly cool.  Agnes has a heavy Hungarian accent, but her English is flawless, and she uses it brilliantly.  She is passionate, animated, and knowledgeable.  She is tiny and projects big.  She describes the pieces we see with a historical and sociological perspective.  Even when she uses the C word to describe a piece of art by Hannah Wilke, she says the word in a way that is not objectionable or even shocking.

I walk home, and have a few hours before I have to leave again.  The ever-thoughtful Robyn calls.  “Hey, I know you’re going to theater tonight, and I’m not using my metro card so I’ll drop it over.”  By using Robyn’s card, I save $4.50 in subway fare and it doesn’t cost her anything because she’s paid for an unlimited monthly card.  But really?  I don’t know anyone except Robyn who thinks this unselfishly.

I go to my $4 play.  The ticket sells for $65 but I buy it through Robyn’s Play-by-Play membership. The Judy Show is a one-woman biographical comedy about a 6’3” Jewish-lesbian- mother-of-two seen “ through the lens of the sitcoms of her youth.”  It is nostalgic (her youth is the same time as mine), hysterically funny, and deeply moving.  

I consider walking home from 14th Street, but the rain quickly erases that thought. 

I get home.  Take off my Fitbit, and look at today’s activity.  9.36 miles. 

A visit to MOMA.  Great off-Broadway entertainment.  A combined cost of $4.00.  Lots of walking.  Seeing friends.  New York in the fall.  Perfect.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

not like old times (m)

Upon my return from Romania, I looked ahead to my schedule for this week...big mistake... a board presentation on Wednesday night and a meeting at the medical school on Thursday.  I was only semi-prepared for the med school meeting as I had brought a stack of reading materials with me to Romania and thought I had a few days to collect my thoughts and put a presentation together when I got back.

Instead, I got an email while in Romania from the chairman of the finance committee at the skating club.  The Board wants a full update on spending for the new rink....and he's in Moscow.  I would have to give the presentation instead of him. 

I spend the better part of Monday and Tuesday collecting data for the first presentation.  I'm feeling stressed and fight the urge to eat.  Instead, I take the time to peel apples and get the plain, 0% Greek yogurt and a few walnuts.  That was breakfast.

The presentation was Wednesday night at 6 p.m.  These meetings are notorious for going over by alot.  I made a 5 point turkey sandwich and gobbled that up at 5 p.m. and headed to the meeting.

Came home from the meeting and had the Progresso Light soup.  Went to bed a little hungry, but felt good.

Today, I repeat the yogurt and apple for breakfast and head to the medical school.  The meeting is to start at 1 p.m.  We never talked about lunch.  They have a standing order for me from Panera.  I really don't want to eat while I'm presenting.  On the other hand, I will be starving when the meeting gets out at 3 p.m.

I have a glass of milk and a TLC bar.  That fills the hole for now.

At 3:30, I leave the meeting realizing that despite back to back stressful situations, I managed to stay in control of my eating.

If only I had this self control all those years I was working, I wouldn't be in the mess I am in today.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

start of the jewish holidays (lyn)

Tonight, 13 of us are at Jill’s for Rosh Hashanah.  Michael is in from LA and looks very Hollywood-ish with face scruff and longish hair.  He is filming a movie that he also wrote and directed.  He has to maintain his character’s look in case anything needs to be re-shot.  His brothers tease him that shooting would be delayed several months if he shaved his scruff and had to wait for it to re-grow. 

I make the mistake of eating little today (a scone and some fat-free-cost-free yogurt that was being offered as a sample on the street) and arrive famished.  Jill (Abbey’s sister) has put out a table full of much-loved Jewish-centric appetizers:  gefilte fish, chopped liver, challah, applesauce, and latkes.

I take some of everything.  When I use my hand to take a latke, Valerie says, “Use a fork.”  “But I’m only touching the food I’m eating,” I say. I’m embarrassed and know she’s right.  But her three sons give me conspiratorial smiles and all take a latke with their hands while announcing, “I’m only touching the ones I’m eating."

Dinner is excellent.  I have the matzo ball soup, grilled chicken, rice, vegetables, and cranberry sauce, skipping only the brisket and spinach souffle.   I over-indulge in the cookies and cakes that are offered for dessert.  Again, I mess up by taking a slice of the cinnamon-raisin babka roll without using a fork.  Again, Valerie reminds me. I feel like a barbarian.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I love getting together with my family.  All the teasing is done in jest, and there are always many laughs.  I really think we like each other.

I am not religious and won’t be going to temple tomorrow.  But I do believe in a supreme being, and pray to him that all those I love have a sweet new year, and that everyone gets included  in the Book of Life.

some things do change (lyn)

My Fitbit is inspiring me to move more.  I walk the 3 or so miles to my hair salon on the west side.  I arrive early and hungry.  I stop at the only nearby place I can see to eat.  Joe’s is an upscale coffee shop (as in $2.50 for a tea and a line out the door) that has sugar-free blueberry scones.  I buy and eat one and probably wipe out any benefit of the walk.

I bring a picture of the hair cut and color I want.  It’s a picture of me from 1997.

Tina, my hairdresser, looks at it, and asks, “Is that you?”  Today my hair is a mess of frizz, I am wearing no make-up, and I certainly don't look as good as I did in the picture I've brought.

She then adds, “Well, you shouldn’t really go as dark as you were back then.  First, your gray will show too quickly, and second, it’ll magnify your imperfections.”  A nice way of saying, “You had few then but you have a lot now.”  I tell her she can do whatever she wants. 

At least my size is unchanged from 1997.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

a matter of perspective (m)

Back-to School Night at Harrison's school is tonight.  This is where the parents meet the teachers of every class, hear about the curriculum, ask questions.  There's a reception beforehand with food and drink.  I have some canteloupe and then my husband and I head to the first class.

I won't bore you with the details but I will tell you that I ran into 4 people from my past.  I didn't even know their kids were at the school. 


Here we go.

#1-- "'s me, Colleen!"  Colleen is an acquaintance from college.  I haven't seen her since 1977.  In those 34 years, I have gained, lost, gained, lost.  I figure I'm up a net of 60 pounds since I last saw her. Yet, somehow, she recognizes me.

#2.--(this one has a nasal twang) "Oh, my God, M!  What are YOU doing here?"  It's Jeff, someone with whom I used to work.  Last saw him in 1989.  I'm up 50 pounds since he last saw me.  At first, I thought the weight gain went unnoticed until he saw T and said, "Well YOU look the same!"  Ouch.

#3--"Hi!  How are you?  You look great."  This is the sister of our former next door neighbor.  We moved in 1998.  I'm down about 50 pounds since then.

#4-"Hey...I see you are keeping the weight off."  This from Lisa, a woman who is working on the new rink project with me.  She helped us secure the new site a year ago.  While this would sound good, it reminds me that I've made no progress in a year.

All in all, a kick ass night.

As in, kick in the ass.

weigh-in (lyn)

Zelia and I drive to Brasilia Ville Grill in Queens.  Here, in this non-descript small restaurant, food is priced by weight.  The set up is simple: 
  • Take a plastic plate. 
  • Then help yourself to the food bar.  Picture a salad bar with all sorts of things on it, none of which are recognizable (except for the grilled corn).
  • Next, go to the back open window and tell the guy behind the window the cut of meat you want.  (The sirloin is outstanding).  Specify how you want it cooked (I always get medium rare).  The man then slices pieces off a skewer until you say, “Enough.”
  • Bring your plate to the cashier who then weighs your plate and tells you what you owe.  You can also pick up a drink here (I get the Diet Coke).
Zelia wastes her weight by getting a small amount of the sirloin but adds sausage and some kind of fried Brazilian thing.  Her non-meat items are heavy.  Hers comes to $4.98. I get “lighter” foods (as in they weigh less) and lots and lots of sirloin.   Mine weighs in at $7.91.

We split a slice of flan for dessert and it’s so good I buy one to take home. Under $30 for the two of us, including what we take home --- definitely worth plastic plate-dining and the 20-minute drive to get here.

that time of year again (lyn)

Guys don’t appreciate how lucky they are not to have to go for annual mammograms.  It’s not that the procedure itself is so bad, it’s the waiting that is…the wait before the procedure and the wait for the results after.  A lot can go through one’s head in a little bit of time.

Today I’m having my annual mammogram, sonogram, and bone density test.  I am pretty nervous all morning just thinking about the afternoon appointment.

I arrive early and wait with a few other women in a pin-drop quiet room.  We are all dressed in navy hospital gowns.  My phone rings and breaks the silence.  It’s my favorite caller, Alexander.

Mom, hi.
Sweetie, I can’t talk right now; I’m in a doctor’s office.
Ok, just a quick question.  Can I wear a brown belt with black shoes?
You can, but a black belt would be better.
But I don’t have a black belt.
OK, so wear the brown belt and when you come home next week, you’ll buy a black belt. 
But you just said that a brown belt doesn’t look great with black shoes.

I’m getting a look from one of the women whose eyes say, “C'mon, is that call really that important?”  I tell Alexander I’ll have to call him back.

A technician calls my name.  She is all business as she squishes my boobs into unnatural positions and snaps some x-rays.  I wait and am told that Dr. R will see me.  I always see doctor S and have even requested Dr. S, so this break in routine alarms me. I needn’t have been.  All is fine with the mammogram.

Next stop is the sonogram.  The technician who performs the test looks at the age on my chart and says, “Wow.  You don’t look 60 at all.  I would have thought you were about 30.”  But then she adds, “You look great for your age.”  Ugh, I hate the qualifier.  Dr. S comes in to read the results and again, all is good.  

And finally, the third test: bone density.  This painless procedure used to take 20 minutes, but new technology has shortened it to 30 seconds, literally.  The male tech (my age, he tells me) looks at my chart from my last visit for this test and comments, “Last time you were here, In August 2009, you weighed 155.  What do you weigh now?”  I proudly answer, “121 or 122, somewhere around there.”  I’m waiting for some recognition of this accomplishment.  Nothing.  So I ask, “Don’t you notice a difference?”  “Not really,” he says.  “You were a little chubette then, but you were still pretty and had a nice smile.”  Sweet.

I go to pay and am told there’s no need.  My insurance requires no co-pay.

An all around perfect appointment.  And the next one is a distant twelve-months away.

Monday, September 26, 2011

the kindness of strangers (lyn)

It’s 10pm.  I just finished the arduous task of putting five, recently dry-cleaned covers back on the seat cushions of my sofa.  It's taken an hour.  I’m exhausted from the effort and hot from the heat.  I want to reward myself.  I walk over to 16 Handles.  As usual, it’s busy.  Tonight my two favorite sorbets are on tap:  mango tango and pomegranate raspberry.  I skip the long line for toppings and go to the front to pay, but I have no money.  I switched purses before leaving and forgot my wallet.  I have no cash AND no debit card AND the nearest bank is several blocks away.  I offer to pay with my American Express; it’s the only form of payment I have.  The young boy-cashier smiles and says, “It’s okay.  Just take it.”  And if that isn’t nice enough, he then hands me a loyalty card with a check on it for tonight’s “purchase.”

Whoever said New Yorkers aren’t kind must have been thinking of a different New York. 

fitbit (lyn)

A few months back, someone at Weight Watchers told me about Fitbit.  A couple of weeks ago I order one.  And today, finally, I take it out of the box and set it up.

This tiny little thing, described as a “wireless personal trainer” is, I hope, going to be my fitness inspiration.  I am heavily into keeping track of things, and this little device does it all.

The set up is easy.  Basically, I download the program and charge the device through my computer via a USB cable. That’s it.  I attach the Fitbit to my bra and forget about it.

I walk around doing errands.  Up to Madison, down to 60th Street (from 79th), up to 82nd and home.  At the end of the day I pass my computer and pull up my chart, I see that I walked 13,298 steps or 7.05 miles. I exceeded a 10,000 daily step goal and did better than the average Fitbit user who averaged 3.6 miles.

 I hope it’s accurate and that the novelty doesn’t wear off.

black booties (lyn)

My favorite winter ensemble, now that I am thin, is a black skirt, black tights, and black booties.  I remember this being the same look I loved in 1989 when I bought almost all my clothes at a little store in Soho called Morgane le Faye.  This store has since moved uptown to Madison Avenue and I can no longer afford their clothing.  But it’s their sophisticated downtown look that I still aspire to.

I have the black skirts and tights, but am missing the booties.  So today I go looking for them and find the perfect pair at Bloomingdales.  Well  actually, I find two perfect pair and am deciding between them.  Both are comfortable, and both look good.  And because it’s Friends and Family week, they are 20% off.

I ask a random woman who is taking advantage of the discount and buying about five pair of shoes. “Which do you think are better?” I ask.  “I plan to wear these with short black skirts and tights or bare legs?”  “Can I be honest, “ she begins.  I brace myself for what is to follow, expecting one of two answers.  Either, “At your age, you should be wearing Ferragamo and not little black booties.”  Or if not that, then, “Honey, I think your legs are not good enough for that style of shoe.”  But I’m wrong.  Instead she says, “I truly have no fashion sense at all.  Really.  I am one of those people who cannot judge what looks good and what doesn’t.”  She is safely dressed in a conservative green sweater and beige pants.  It’s true, she doesn’t seem to have much of a style.  But I think it’s so brave of her to make this admission to a complete stranger.

Another woman sitting nearby is buying a pair of boots that are stylish in a seen-in-Vogue kind of way, but are truly ugly.  The cuff folds over and covers the entire boot so all you see is the heel.  The boots look ridiculous.

I am on my own.  I choose the black suede pair by Anyi Lu.  I hope when I wear them they are as comfortable as they were today when I tried them on.  They never are.

the journey home-a gazillion points (m)

Recall that I was just re-gaining momentum with my WW program when I left for Romania.  Not the greatest time to be traveling.

Ah, well, I said to myself--you'll just have to be disciplined.  It's all about control.

All week long, I was good.  No, I was great.  Breakfast was an egg, some cucumbers and tomatoes, tea, and a slice of high grain bread.  I would alternate the egg with yogurt for my protein.

Lunches were a huge pile of lettuce (like Boston lettuce or bib lettuce) with lots of cucumbers, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of olive oil.  If I found a protein like chicken, I'd throw that on top.  Lots of water.

Dinners were virtually identical to the lunches.  Sometimes, I'd have a little rice for my carb.  Two nights, I allowed myself wine.  About 6 points (a point per ounce).

By the time we were ready to leave Romania, I was on plan. I didn't even eat all the WW bars I brought with me, preferring instead to chew sugarless bubble gum.  I studied my reflection in the mirror and convinced myself that my face looked thinner.

Then, all hell broke loose.

First, we have the Last Supper at the traditional Romanian restaurant.  A piece of bread, a salad, some steak and some rice.  And two glasses of wine.  I feel stuffed, even though I know I have points to spare.

Then, we go back to the hotel and pack to leave.  I drink water.  So far, so good.

We leave at 1 a.m.  One A.M!  47 people trying to jam onto one bus with all their luggage....clothes, costumes, skates.  The luggage didn't fit underneath so we had it in the aisles on the bus. People were fighting to get on the bus.  Harrison calmly surveyed the scene and likened it to the crush on the Titantic.

Before we took off, we had to do a roll call.   USA-here!  Russia-here! Japan-here! Canada-here! Phillipines-here! Korea-here! and on and on. Only the Uzbekistani was missing.  We had to wait 15 minutes for him.

We rode through the blackness, down a windy mountain path for three hours.  Harrison took Dramamine and splayed himself across my body.  His head rested on the bone of my shoulder (wishing I had more padding there again, ironically), arm strewn across the front of me.  My legs were on top of my luggage in the aisle. 

A Russian woman was cold.  "Please to turn off air condition" she bellowed.  Great.  I was flashing hot the whole way.

Got to the airport in Bucharest and had to wait two hours.  Huge lines at the check-in.  They rejected the skates for carry-on and we had to pay for extra baggage.  65 euros.  Like $85. 

Two hour flight from Bucharest to Frankfurt.  I ate the eggs on the flight.  Lots of salt, but I needed something at that point.

Get to Frankfurt and went into the Lufthansa lounge.  This is where the WW plan breaks down. 

What are the odds that an airport lounge would be hosting an Oktoberfest celebration?

Okay, you are tired, you are hungry and you have 5 whole hours to just hang out and wait for your flight.
There is food everywhere.  A yogurt bar, fresh fruit, all sorts of breads, a pancake bar (!), liquor, juices, coffee, tea, smoked salmon, capers, onions, bagels, cream cheese, fresh-baked pretzels, ice cold beer, a baked potato bar (!)   What would you do?

I started with fresh fruit.  Then I had half a bagel with a little cream cheese and some smoked salmon.

Three hours later, I had some more fruit and then half a baked potato.

The carbs were calling me.  I drank coffee and had more fruit.

People were stuffing themselves.

I was white-knuckling it and all I could think of were those carbs (pretzels, bread, pancakes, potatoes). 

Mercifully, they called our flight.

Eight hours of flying.  I was in the Twighlight Zone body-wise.  Couldn't sleep, couldn't stay awake, couldn't read my book.  Watched Something Borrowed (surprisingly cute) and ate the in-flight meal (chicken something).

Kept drinking water.  Didn't have to go the bathroom the whole time.  I could see my feet swelling.  Felt like the Goodyear blimp.

23 hours and a gazillion points later, we got home.

Get on the scale this morning.

Up 5 pounds.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

return from Romania (m)

While it wasn't on my bucket list, Romania was better than expected.  Lots of natural beauty.  We had little free time all week, but the drive to the Olympic rink took about 30 minutes each day, down a mountain.  On the way, we passed beautiful fields and lots of animals. My favorite was the herd of sheep, led by one dog.   It almost felt like medieval times.

The competition was excellent.  21 men representing 16 different countries.  Harrison skated his best and was thrilled.  My stomach turned like the spin cycle of a washing machine watching him go into every jump.  I was ecstatic when it was over.

The food was interesting.  Because of the large group of athletes, everything was buffet-style.

Breakfasts offered lots of meats, cheeses, breads, eggs, and salads (tomatoes, cucumbers, cole slaw, eggplant).  Two types of juices, coffee, tea, water.  One fruit option per day.  I tried the eggplant one day to break up the routine of the boiled egg and cucumbers.  It was excellent, but more appropriate for lunch.

Lunches were lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, a few protein dishes (veal, chicken) and some pastas.  No eggplant.  Once, I asked for "eggplant" (which, by the way, is what the sign English).  The server shook her head saying she didn't understand and summoned her manager.  The woman, who did speak English, smiled, nodded and said, "How many?"  How many?  It looks like hummus.  How does one describe how many?  Spoonfuls?  Cups?  I just said, "One," meaning serving.  Well, I didn't get eggplant that day.  I got a soft-boiled egg in one of those little cups.  They must have scratched their heads trying to figure out what I wanted and decided to "plant" one egg in a cup.  Voila.  Egg. Plant.

Dinners were indistinguishable from the lunches except there was a beer keg and pitchers of wine.  I had some wine to settle my nerves on the nights before his competitions.

On the last day, Harrison's coach and his mother and Harrison and I went to tour the old city.  Shabby chic is how I'd describe it.  Grand buildings that had fallen into disrepair.  A church that suffered a fire and never was restored (hence its name, The Black Church).  A marketplace where old and young promenaded with no sense of urgency.  It was like a throwback in time.   Here is a picture of "the girls" --a group of older women just sitting on a bench.  It captured the feeling of the old city.

On the last night, we went to dinner in a traditional Romanian restaurant.  It was the first time all week that we ate a full meal (nerves curb your appetite better than anything else).  I had beef with rice and three glasses of white wine and a salad.

I had my fill of Romania and was ready to go home.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

theater with zelia (lyn)

I convince Zelia to join Rattlestick Theater.  Tonight we are going to the first play of their season, The Wood. The reviews are not great.

Zelia has a car and drives it in the city, something I never did when I owned one. We drive down to the West Village and miraculously find a space a block from the theater.  Our plan is to grab a burger at The Spotted Pig, a popular inexpensive restaurant in the area.

We get to the restaurant (they don’t take reservations) around 6:40 and are told there is an hour and twenty-minute wait.  Our play starts at 8.  Obviously this isn’t going to work.  So instead we chose Philip Marie, a little French restaurant a block away.  The last time I ate there was in February 2009.  I was with my friend Don (who died a couple of years ago) and his friend David.  That time, too, we were going to Rattlestick to also see a new play.  That one was called That Pretty Pretty; Or, The Rape Play.  I think a character actually urinated on stage.

I plan to order a burger and fries but since Zelia doesn’t, I don’t either.  We end up splitting a baked brie salad (amazing) and mussels (good, but not filling, and too much work for too little return).  I leave feeling hungry.

The play is better than the reviews suggest.  Parts are difficult to watch, as one scene shows a graphic re-enactment of the 1997 Abner Louima rape by a New York City police officer.  The play is about Mike McAlary, the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who breaks the story and dies soon after.  It’s not exactly a cheery play to watch, though it is compelling.

We decide to stop at 16 Handles on the way home, but the line is too long.  Instead, I come back to my apartment and finish off the pear sorbet in my fridge, making up for any calories I may have saved during dinner. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

enjoying the wait (lyn)

I’m one of those people who will buy something and then savor the purchase by not using it right away.  For example, here are some things I still haven’t used:

  • The gorgeous grown-up Prada tote my sister bought me for my birthday in March.  I already have a plan to begin wearing it to the family dinners around the Jewish Holidays (providing it doesn't rain).
  • A $50 gift certificate to All Saints that a friend also gave me for my birthday.  I love their clothes and am waiting for the right occasion to buy something from them.
  • A Postcard winter coat that I bought two years ago, exchanged unworn for a smaller size a year later, and still haven’t worn.  This winter I definitely will.  It’s a fabulous coat, and still being sold and coveted.
  • A certificate for a free spa manicure/pedicure and massage that Karen gave me last December before leaving for Ireland.  it was a thank you gift for watching Sam and Rebecca (although letting me watch them was present enough).
  • A pair of black Christian Dior flats that were purchased on sale, two summers ago, after I paid a Shivah call and realized I had no appropriate black flats to wear with black summery pants.
  • Two pair of shearling boots (one black, one brown) that I “stole” at the end of last season for a ridiculously low price.  These I will wear as soon as the weather allows it.
  • An electric salad dressing mixer that I bought at William Sonoma a couple of years ago after eating my sister’s fantastic dressing that she made using a blender.
Maybe this is why I actually enjoyed the process of losing weight.  It took a while to get to where I wanted to be, but I could see the prize the whole time. 

Skinny jeans vs. an order of fries?  Easy choice if you don’t’ mind waiting a bit.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

a night out with julie (lyn)

BAFTA is co-sponsoring a downtown event, Importing the Funny: A Transatlantic Comedy Event with Phil Rosenthal, Creator, Everybody Loves Raymond. Three winning writing teams from the UK are staging excerpts from sitcoms  they have Americanized for tonight’s audience.  I have volunteered to help with check-in.  I dress up, assuming it’s a dress-up kind of event.

I wear a slinky black tight dress and heels.  My hair is completely untamable; I look good from the neck down.

Julie and I get to the event after a long circuitous walk from the subway.  It is humid and sticky and my hair has progressed from bad to horrid by the time we arrive.  Most people have come in jeans.  Oh well. 

The event starts at 5:30 so both Julie and I come hungry, assuming the pre-event reception from 5:30 to 6 will include food.  I end up taking the only thing served…red wine in a plastic cup and a handful of chips and pretzels. 

The shows are all well-written, gorgeously acted, and beautifully staged.  It’s an impressive array of young talent, and I soon forget how hungry I am until the show ends, around 8. 

We decide to skip the cheese-type post-event reception that follows.  I'm not much of a mingler.  Chinese food is the obvious choice since we are in Chinatown.  Julie even knows a place, Amazing 66.  Funny name for a Chinese restaurant, but easier to remember then some of the others nearby (A-Wah, Big Wing Wong Restaurant, Danny Ng Restaurant, New Chao Chow, Kwok’s, Mei Li Wah or Jing Fong).

Amazing 66 is busy, clean, and very well-lit; every facial imperfection is magnified. I am more aware of Julie's lack of wrinkles (she looks the same as when I met her in Chicago over 30 years ago) than I am of the massive menu.  I would never come here on a date.  The lighting reveals too much.  But the food is great, and we order healthy entrees:  shrimp with snow peas and chicken with broccoli.  

I leave feeling the need for a deep-cleaning-wrinkle-minimizing facial.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

lost in the park (lyn)

I’m meeting Corinne for a screening of Moneyball on the westside.  I decide to walk the1.5 miles or so there.

I leave around 6:30 under grey skies.  I enter Central Park at Fifth and 79th and it begins to rain.  It’s a warm, humid night and my hair is now drastically compromised.  The keratin treatment from May is no longer in play.

I get lost in thought as the sun begins to set.  I see a sign that says the park closes at dusk, but the many bicyclists and runners are oblivious to it.  It’s a very busy place.  The drizzly rain has become a steady downpour.  The lights of the park come on as the sun disappears.   After twenty minutes of walking on a very windy road I come to a park exit.  As I approach it, I see a green street sign, Fifth Av.  Five blocks from where I entered.  I’ve walked in a horseshoe.  Twenty minutes of walking and I’m nowhere.

I enter the park again, and soon have no idea where west is (made obvious by the fact that I entered on the eastside and exited on the eastside).  I’m not scared despite the darkness as the park is filled with exercisers.  After asking about five people, every few feet, I get back on track and make it to my destination.

I am sweaty from the humidity and rain.  My hair looks clownish.  But the movie is one of the best I’ve seen all year.   I predict that Brad Pitt will be nominated for best actor and maybe even Jonah Hill for best supporting. 

I take the bus home.

just google it (lyn)

I go to Weight Watchers with Gail, my 5’11” beautiful friend.  She tells me that I’ve inspired her to join.  It’s exciting for both of us.

Gail weighs in with the hope of “being under 250;” she is.  Maintaining weight is not exciting; losing it is. Gail is committed, and I know she’ll be successful.  It’ll be fun to watch her shrink.

At the end of class, we both stay for Steve’s presentation for newcomers.  This includes Gail, a women who “just wants to hear about the program,” and a lifetime member who has come back after years away.  She is confused about the new points plus program. 

“How do I account for the point value of a tablespoon of milk, when etools only provides the value measured in cups?” she asks. “I don’t remember how many tablespoons there are in a cup.”  My advice, “Just google it.”  She looks at me, now even more confused.  “You can do that?  Really?  How?   I thought Google was just for looking up names.”

In contrast to this, when I was home recently, my mom wanted information on my dad’s retirement fund.  She asked, “Can you just google it for me?”  As if by doing a google search, my dad’s retirement account would pop up and voila, there would be his balance. 

I guess my mom’s assumption is closer to the truth than the woman today who thought Google was a search engine for names.  Imagine the fun she’s going to have now that she knows what she can find on Google.  A lot more than 16 tablespoons equal one cup.

met the roommate today (m)\

When I did a rotation in the sales force of my company back in 1983, I got assigned a roommate.  In the marketing department where I came from, we were allowed private rooms on business trips.  I was not happy to have a roommate.

The woman they paired me up with was so happy to see me.  Apparently, every other person she had roomed with had complained about her for one reason or another and so my being "the new girl," they gave her to me.

I met her at a meeting in Cincinnati.  She was expressing milk as she had a new baby at home.  Imagine seeing bottles of some stranger's milk in the jar of the bathroom you had to share with her.  I threw up.

So, I have been avoiding meeting my new roommate in Romania.  I wait for her to leave the room to go to breakfast and I go back at the last possible minute at night.

This afternoon, I went back in the room to get an adaptor to lend to Harrison.  She was there.

Let me describe my new roommate to you.

1. She's gorgeous
2. She's an elegant dresser
3. She is an Olympic silver medalist and three-time World Champion in ice dancing.
4. She's incredibly nice.

Here I was thinking I didn't want to meet her, and she's probably thinking, "How did they pair me up with that American cow?"

I feel so inadequate that I go to my room and eat a Kashi bar.

greetings from romania (m)

Just as I was getting my rhythm back on Weight Watchers, I have to head out to Romania with Harrison for a major competition.

We leave Boston at 3 on Monday to catch the flight to Frankfurt, Germany at 5:20.  I under eat breakfast and lunch knowing the food on the plane will not be the healthiest.  We are flying business class where they ply you with food and drink.

By 8 p.m., we are starving.  There was some turbulence leaving Boston which delayed the in-flight meal service.  I have a glass of wine to help me sleep after dinner.  I also have the smoked almonds.  For dinner, we both get the chicken with orange sauce.  I can't begin to calculate the points.  Is the chicken the size of a deck of cards?  How was it prepared?  In oil?  What's in the sauce?  I give it 6 points and have the roll, too, since I don't know when we'll eat again.

The flight takes just over 6 hours.  We get to Frankurt at 3:30 a.m. their time, and walk forever to get to the Lufthansa lounge.  We are exhausted.  The lounge looks so inviting...nice leather chairs and a bar area with all sorts of beverages--coffee, teas, a big machine to make exotic drinks, juices, etc.  A man comes over with a tray of strawberry and banana smoothies (about 6 ounces).  I have one.  It's phenomenal.

We have a 5 hour layover.  I don't even know what day it is by this point.  At about the third hour, I have a sandwich made of a pretzel-type bread and a little cheese.

I go to my tracking book and try to make sense of the day so far.   Breakfast and lunch in Boston.  Okay.  Dinner on the plane.  Oops ...forgot the petite breakfast on the plane.  So is that breakfast for Tuesday?  Is the snack in the Lufthansa lounge my lunch for Tuesday?  I'm so confused.

We get on the plane for Bucharest.  They serve a meal.  I know I shouldn't but my stomach is growling.  Harrison has the discipline to pass it up.  The meal comes and I ask what it is.  Goulash says the attendant.  What the hell is in goulash?  By now, I'm too tired to think anything, let alone calculate points for goulash.  I just have the fruit and a piece of cheese.  When will we be eating again?  I have no clue.

Get into Bucharest and meet our team leader.  She is trying to figure out when the bus will leave.  She tells us 45 minutes and advises us to go to the bathroom and get coffee.  I go to get some money from the exchange place.  They don't do euros in Romania.  For $100 US, I get 280 whatevers of Romanian currency.  Sounds good until I find the bottle of water costs 9 whatever.

While waiting, I see a sign for my old company.  They are hosting a President's Cup challenge.  I go up and introduce myself as a former President of their company  (not my original company, but the company who took over my beloved company).  Get a chilly reception from the little witch behind the desk.  I wish them well, regardless.

Our coach is pressing the bus tour people to leave.  It's been 90 minutes instead of 45, but they have to wait for a flight of Italians and French people whose flight has been delayed.  We argue to let us on the bus so we can at least get settled.  We succeed.

We leave an hour later and embark on a 3-hour bus ride.  I'm hungry and brought no food with me on the bus.  My Weight Watchers bars are stored in my suitcase underneath the bus in the luggage compartment.  I feel like one of those people who survive a crash only to find out there's no food and have to face the unpleasant reality that cannibalism is the only way out.

I look around the bus and think, "Who would I eat here?".  Most of the Europeans are smokers so I decide I'd rather starve than have nicotine in my system.

The bus ride feels much longer than 3 hours.  Someone from France has brought her baby...a 4 month old this event.  The baby cries and cries for hours.  We nickname it Rosemary's Baby.

By 7 p.m., we get to our hotel.  I am in Room 404.  Harrison and a teammate are in 5-something.   I lug my luggage (so that's why it's called luggage) up the stairs and to the elevator.  Get off the elevator and walk to Room 404.  The key doesn't work.  The key doesn't work and I have to pee.  Do I dare leave my luggage, go down to the front desk and come back or do I bring it with me?  The thought of losing my luggage and having to shop for clothes in Romania is appalling.  Would they even have my size here?  Also, the women I saw on the street on the way in looked like Madame Kruschev.  I'm not shopping here, so I lug the stuff downstairs.

My room is in another building on the premises. "Oh THAT 404," I say facetiously.  A porter comes to my aide.  Just as we are opening the door to my room, he turns to me and says, "Your roommate already is here".

Whoa.  What???  " roommate," I say.

"Yes," he says.  "She is from Russia."

Could this day get any worse?

I go into the suite and Ivanka has already staked out the best room and covered the living room with her stuff.

I creep into my little room and sit on the bed.  Six days.

The coach calls and tells me it's time for dinner.

I haven't been to bed since Sunday night and this will be my 6th meal since dinner in Boston on Sunday.

Ironically, I have no appetite.

lessons from charlie (m)

So, I babysat my brother's dog for 2 weeks.  We got off to a rocky start.  The first evening, I had to get the dog and bring him to my home, feed him, and then leave him there so I could go to the rink to watch Harrison.

I didn't have baby gates to block off the access to the second floor of my home.  When we got home, I heard this ungodly wail coming from the second floor. "Harrison!  I think Charlie is in trouble!  Hurry!  We have to find him!"  I raced up the stairs, and stepped in a huge pile of dog poo.   Barefoot.  I was horrified.


"What about Charlie?" Harrison asked.

"Screw the dog!  Get me the wipes!!!" I shrieked.  Seriously, if I had a chainsaw next to me at that moment, I would have hacked my foot off.

Scrubbing my foot until it almost bled, I wondered aloud how we were going to make it through the two weeks.

The next day, I installed baby gates at all the access points to the second floor.  Then I called my friend, V, to ask for advice.

V loves dogs and has lots of experience with them.  V suggested Charlie go to school to get trained.   V takes this challenge on herself.  She will pick up the dog, keep him at her house overnight and take him to school.  5 nights.  Unbelievable.  Above and beyond the call of duty for a friend.

On the last night, I joined V for the de-brief with the teacher.  I felt like part of a lesbian couple, sitting with the instructor who asked if I were Charlie's "mother."  I wanted to say yes but not his biological one.

The instructor said Charlie is very intelligent and needs lots of stimulation, both mental and physical.  He also needs lots of consistency....consistency with rules, consistency with his daily regimen.

I thank Jinnifer (or, as V points out every time...."Jinnifer with an I") for her advice.

I get Charlie home and implement the plan.  He gets the right foods in the right amounts at the right times (no scraps), goes on long walks every day, and has a bedtime ritual.

By the end of the two weeks, he's a new man.

My brother comments the day after Charlie gets home. "He's calmer and more mature."

And I lose 5 pounds following the simple regimen "Jinnifer with an I" set for the dog.

Maybe I'll write a book called A Dog's Life--The Simple Guide to Losing Weight.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

lessons in networking, literally (lyn)

I wake up and get on the scale.  Somehow (maybe Penny’s party?) I’m back to where I was at the start of last week.  The cinnamon roll I bought last Saturday at the Farmer’s Market still sits in my refrigerator.  I don’t dare eat it.

My day is planned around eating.  I have only coffee for breakfast and a salad for lunch (though I do include half an avocado). I don’t eat until 1 or so, which is good, since dinner is very early.  This way I won’t have time to snack in-between.

I buy some lobster salad and have that, on a full grain 100-calorie English muffin, along with Pringles-light and ice tea for dinner.  But then I give in and eat two Entenmann’s black and white small cookies.   I have dinner at the ungodly hour of five, so I can make a 6:30 seminar that I’ve uncharacteristically enrolled in.  It’s a 2-hour class called The Top 10 Networking Tips for Powerful Connections.  It’s being offered through an entertainment organization I belong to, New York Women In Film and Television.  I go with the hope of being enlightened on how to connect more powerfully.

I don’t want to dress too casually since this is a seminar on how to connect professionally and I assume most people will be coming from work.  In the end, I settle on black pants, white tank, black and white cardigan, and leopard-spotted Manolo Blahniks (that I wear only when I arrive; it’s Merrell on the streets so I can walk). 

I get there on time and the windowless conference room is just starting to fill.  The man leading the seminar is dressed casually in a tight T and jeans.  He looks more like a middle-aged gym trainer than the life coach-entertainment lawyer-television packaging agent that he is.   I guess I could have worn jeans.  The women range in age from 20’s to 60’s, and even a couple of men show up.  I’m not even the oldest person in the room.

Most of the seminar is taken up with introductions.  But surprisingly, it’s a great learning tool.  What do you say?  How do you say it?  How little and how much information do you give?  The attendees are in the entertainment field and include actors, directors, producers, filmmakers, writers and literary agents.  Everyone appears smart and interesting.  Even (maybe especially) the late-arriving out-of-breath documentary filmmaker.  We are asked, “What prevents you from networking at a social event?”   The responses are the expected: fear of rejection, not wanting to be intrusive, lack of confidence.  But then this doc filmmaker seriously answers, “Drugs and alcohol.” 

On the way home, I make a quick stop at 16 Handles.  I re-think how to present myself when networking.  Maybe mentioning a blog about weight loss isn’t the best way.  I’m long overdue for some new accomplishments.  Ah, but where to start?

where in the world... (m)

....have you been?

I've been asked that a lot lately.  I'm sorry I haven't been writing.  I have been too depressed and busy.  Depressed about my friend, Anne, which also rekindled my grief for my mother;  and busy with all the activities this time of year brings.

I will try to summarize the last few weeks for you:

  • Went off my diet and gained 5 pounds, mostly from eating carbohydrates which I crave when I get emotional.
  • Went back to the weekly Weight Watchers' meetings with my husband and lost the 5 pounds.  I feel like I've got my groove back.
  • Took on the task of babysitting my brother Phil's dog Charlie while my brother and sister-in-law went to a wedding in the Azores.  For two weeks.  
  • Welcomed back my 28 year-old nephew who returned to live with us during the same time I took the dog (his dog) in.  My nephew is pursuing a joint JD/MBA and finds Sam's room most conducive to studying.
  • Accepted a board position unwittingly (thought I was in the running but was never informed until someone on the board congratulated me).  Got invited to their annual golf tournament which promises to be a rip-roaring time complete with after-golf drinks at the "cigar bar".  
  • Kicked off the senior parents' dinner.  Got into a huge argument with my co-parent who sent me the nastiest email I've ever gotten.  Had to address the parents, teachers and kids at the dinner.  Walked into a roomful of 300 people and had to go onstage to deliver my remarks.  Not a problem, just not what I was led to expect.
  • Went to a 50th wedding anniversary and sat across from a woman who is, I think, bigger than I am and somehow the conversation got to Weight Watchers. She volunteered her weight which is 30 pounds lighter than mine. Wanted to kill myself until my husband later said, "No way she weighs that." And then added, "How did you even wind up in a conversation with her about Weight Watchers.  That would never happen between two men." 
Oh...and just arrived in Romania with Harrison for a major competition.

I missed you guys.  Feels good to talk to you again.



Saturday, September 17, 2011

penny's party (lyn)

It’s a gorgeous cool, fall day.  I go to the Farmer’s Market and am surprised to see many more sellers than usual. Apparently there’s a one-day fair going on.  Vendors line the entire street, though It’s easy to pass most of them.  The jewelry is costume.  The unstylish clothes look like they’ve been recycled from someone’s closet. And even the hair ornaments look worn.  But the food is fresh and inviting. I buy my usual: corn, fruit, tomatoes, and a pie for tonight.  Penny is having another potluck dinner party.

I go without eating first. The strategy I tried last time of eating before so I wouldn’t be hungry didn’t work at all. 

I want to celebrate fall and wear something new, but I have nothing new to wear.  I look in my closet of forgotten clothes….ones that still fit, that were purchased years ago, and that I still like enough to hold onto.  I find a long black slinky skirt by Irie, a designer who, according to a September 4, 1990 New York Times article, “makes clothes that look skinny and curvy at the same time.”  I don’t think this once hot designer makes clothes anymore.

The skirt  fits just as it should.  Long and flowing, and very today-looking.  I pair it with a white fitted James Perse blouse and lace-up Stephane Kelian boots (also about 20 years old). I wear my favorite little jean jacket and I’m off.

By the time I arrive, the party is in full swing.  I find friends I haven’t seen all summer, grab some food (more than I should), and sit outside on Penny’s beautiful terrace.  We share stories of our kids’ experiences at college, talk about our quieter homes, and enjoy the beautiful night air.

It was a wise decision to eat nothing before coming.

Now that I’ve lost my in-home photographer, I don’t have as many photos to show.  But here’s one from last night, just as we are about to leave.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

starting a business is difficult (lyn)

Last year when Alexander was applying to colleges, I became an expert on the process.  I had spreadsheets so no deadline was missed.  I had the required essays, by school, compiled in one document.  And I helped Alexander come up with strong, compelling answers to the many questions he was asked.  As McCann Erikson has been saying for years, communication is about Truth Well Told.  Everyone has a story to tell, but how the story gets told is what counts.

I decide to enter the large and growing college-consulting business.  I accumulate the names of parents whose children are seniors.  I buy 500 pre-printed envelopes with my return address.   I get a very nice label maker to make it easy to type the addresses.

I agonize over the letter I eventually send out.  I struggle coming up with the right fee structure…. less than my competition because I’m new, but enough to make it worth the effort. I consult with friends.  I read up on my competition.  I do my homework.

In July, I mail out 98 letters; no one responds.

In August, I mail out 75 letters; again, not one response.

I do have one client who was referred through a friend.

Today I will send out more emails.  No response is no response, so there seems to be no reason to do the postal mailings which require a lot more effort and expense.  I'm sure I can find other uses for my new label maker and pre-printed return envelopes.

It’s hard to market with no budget.  I wish making money were as easy as losing weight.  Spending it certainly is.