Monday, October 31, 2011

a new skill (lyn)

Shari calls to tell me about a new pop-up store on Madison, Joe Fresh-stylish, good quality clothes that are cheap (cashmere V-necks for $69, jeans for $39, nice cotton T’s for $19).  I agree to go, more to see Shari and take a walk than to spend money.

It’s a big, cavernous store with clothes of all colors and styles.  I try on a couple of things, and then miraculously choose to buy nothing.  But I notice the attentive salesperson who has a flat board, about 9" x 12", and he’s using it to fold some sweaters.  I’m entranced.  I ask him if I can buy one of the boards, but of course they are not for sale.  “Honestly,” he tells me, “You can use about anything.  Even a cutting board.”

After dinner, while watching a DVR'ed Good Wife, I find a clipboard and redo the sweaters in my closet. 

At 58, I joined Weight Watchers and learned how to eat right.  At 59, I learned how to make soup and use an emulsifier.  And now, at 60, I finally learn how to fold sweaters as neatly as the ones I see in stores.  Life is truly thrilling.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

a no-show honoree (lyn)

Alexander was selected to be part of The Cornell Tradition.  It’s a program that “awards 500 fellowships each year to Cornell students who demonstrate significant work experience, a commitment to campus and/or community service, and academic achievement.”  There is a breakfast at 8:30 to welcome this year’s inductees.

“Why do I have to go?  It’s so early, and I’m going to be so tired.”  This is our conversation before I arrive, again on Friday, and once more on Saturday when I say good-bye after dinner. 

I get up at 7, and call Alexander around 7:30, to once again remind him that I’ll be there to pick him up around 8.  “Are you up,” I ask.  He groggily responds, “Ya.  Do I really have to go?”  “Yes,” I say; I’ll be there soon."

I get to Alexander’s dorm around 8:10.  I knock on the door and hear his roommate say, “It’s your mom.  Quick, get up.”  I walk in and find Alexander just as I feared I would: sound asleep.

With some prodding, Alexander reluctantly gets up, throws on some jeans, a shirt and a coat, and says, “Okay, let’s go.  But as soon as it’s over, I’m coming back and going to sleep.”  His enthusiasm to attend this event is impressive, as evidenced in this picture.

By the time we arrive, the big room where the event is taking place is filled. There is a line for breakfast, and the many tables are beautifully set with white linens.  “How long is this going to last,” Alexander wants to know.  “I don’t know, not that long,” I say.  “Are you sure?  I’m so tired.  All I want to do is go back and go to sleep.”

I get a breakfast filled with foods I haven’t eaten in at least two years:  home fries, scrambled eggs, two sausages, a small Danish, some fruit, and coffee.  One more day of bad eating and then I’ll be good again.

We take our food to a large table and sit down.  Our table is filled with very nice people…six other adults and one female student.  Everyone is friendly and impressed that Alexander is there.  One mother says, “My son didn’t come.  He was too tired and I let him sleep in.”  Another mother pipes in, “My son too.  He’s in his dorm sleeping.”  At that, Alexander turns to me and says, “That’s it, I’m out of here.”  

The ceremony is lovely.  I tell him about it later.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

cold day of eating poorly (lyn)

Wake up to a sunless day. It’s thirty-four degrees, with an expected low in the twenties. I definitely brought the wrong coat.  It’s cold and damp and I don’t want to be outside.  Alexander says he needs to study and can’t spend time with me during the day.  We have tickets to a hockey game at night but  we end up cancelling;  it’s much too cold to sit in a rink.

I wander the city-like campus alone.  Even on a grey day it is beautiful.  I take some pictures, and a stranger offers to take one of me. I have fallen in love with this school, and understand why Alexander is so happy here.

I eat poorly:  a chocolate croissant for breakfast and a slice of pizza for lunch.  I go to an exhibit on the history of photography, and spend more time than I should in the bookstore.

I meet up with Alexander and his roommate around 7, and it takes us an hour to decide where to go for dinner.  The problem is timing.  Alexander wants to be back at his dorm by 9:30 “at the latest” in order to go out with his friends.  Finally, we agree to go to Ithaca Commons, and find something there.  We end up at Viva Taqueria, a restaurant that advertises itself as “Fresh Healthy Mexican Food.”  I doubt the accuracy of the second adjective.

We start with homemade chips and salsa followed by “super” nachos.  The super must refer to super fattening.

We all get fajitas accompanied by many more unhealthy foods and flan for dessert.  

It’s a fun dinner. I leave feeling truly disgusted and wondering if the clothes I brought to wear tomorrow will still fit.  Alexander is only worried about getting back to his dorm in time to go out partying later.   Yes, I can definitely see why he loves it here.

how bad is bad? (lyn)

Bad is when your hotel advertises free shuttle service back and forth to Cornell, but when you call at 4, you are told, “I’m sorry but the van is out right now, but we can send someone to pick you up around 5:30.”

Very bad is when you return to your room at 10:30 PM, having gotten up at 4:30 AM, and the door you just opened won’t close, and an engineer needs to come to your room and practically dismantle the entire lock system to get the door to close.

But very very bad is when you plug your phone in at night to charge it, using the outlet next to your bed, and wake up the next morning to a dead cell phone because the outlet near your bed only works when the light switch near the door is turned on.

The coffee, though, is good, and so is the $268 I save when I don’t have to pay for one night.  Next time, I’ll try and book more than five months in advance so I don’t get stuck at a Holiday Inn that charges like a Westin.

Friday, October 28, 2011

hanging with my son (lyn)

Fall is simply gorgeous here. Photo ops are everywhere, and I'm with my favorite (surprisingly willing) subject. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this school.

We decide to walk to my hotel in Ithaca Commons.  It’s about two miles from campus, and all downhill.  We drop my luggage and go to dinner at Mahogany Grille.  We both get cheeseburgers and fries, and agree that it’s one of the best burgers we’ve ever had. 

After dinner we go back to campus and see Jon Stewart; he performs for almost two hours and is hilarious. As soon as the lights come on, Alexander indulges me with one last photo, kisses me goodbye, and runs off to meet his friends.

a hurried lunch (lyn)

I arrive around 10:30 and go to Alexander's room; he's in class but his genuinely charming roommate Ben is there. We talk for a half hour until Alexander shows up.  I make his bed and organize a few things.  

A few minutes after arriving Alexander says,  "I don't have much time; I need to study before my Spanish class.  Let's grab some lunch."  His welcome is a little underwhelming.  He's told me that the food is good, and now I see why. We go to one of the 30 on-campus eating places, and get to choose from sandwich bars, salad bars, hot food area, desserts, and on and on.  

I think when I went to college we ate at the same place every day and there was one line for food.  That was it.  I end up having a chicken salad sandwich, a small green oriental salad, and a sugar cookie for dessert. I'm taking a break this week from tracking.  More than that, I’m taking a break from careful eating.  Alexander leaves me before I'm done.  "Sorry, but I've gotta do some work before class." And he's off.  I'm left with my cookie and an open afternoon.

up to ithaca (lyn)

As I prepare for my weekend at Cornell, I have one dilemma:  which coat should I wear?  I've checked the Ithaca weather and the days are predicted to be in the 40s, although nights are much colder. I've forgotten what 40’s feel like.  It’s still October and wearing a down coat seems wrong.  I figure I can always layer.  I go with my black nylon trench.

I get up at the ridiculous hour of 4:30, in order to make the 6am bus.  I bring a thermos of coffee, my leftover unhealthy cinnamon swirl, and some yogurt with fruit.  I have plenty of food for the 4 1/2 hour ride, and end up skipping the yogurt.  

I pack enough stuff to keep me busy for a train from NY to Tokyo, if such a thing existed.  I have my fully charged iPad, my iPhone, my Nano, a half read novel (Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner) two New York Magazines, two People magazines, today’s Times and today’s Post.

I'm learning to like busses and this one, a charter service direct to Cornell (no stops), is great. Pick up and delivery is walking distance (even with my luggage) from my house; the clientele is other Cornell parents and students; there’s Wi-Fi that works; free water; and even pillows. I drink my coffee, eat my unhealthy cinnamon bun, take down the pillow, and sleep comfortably for the next three hours.  I awake to see a light dusting of snow on the ground.  Neither my book nor my many magazines get read.

We arrive in Ithaca. The colors of autumn drown the campus in a palette of reds and yellows. The driver announces our stop and the weather. Thirty-seven degrees.  And, it’s sunny.  I think I brought the wrong coat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

a pleasant wednesday (lyn)

Walk to/from Costco, a little over four miles.  Healthy start.

End up having lunch there (two samples of lentil soup, a few crackers, three chicken nuggets).  Unhealthy.

Meet Gail at four for late lunch/early dinner at Bice.  Have buffalo mozzarella with tomato salad, shared pasta with lobster, and cappuccino with little tiny cookies.  High points, but only real meal today.

See screening of A Dangerous Method---informative, interesting and slow.

Take bus home.  Lazy finish.

leftovers (m)

Twenty two people at my house last night for a meeting.  Served chili with shredded cheese, sour cream and corn muffins.  Platters of veggies and dip, fruit, cheese and crackers.  Wine and soft drinks.  Homemade cookies for dessert.

The quantities were much less than I have done in the past but there were plenty of leftovers.

I gave the cheese tray to one woman.  The cookies and chili and corn muffins to my aunts, the wine to my sister-in-law and threw the unused dip down the drain.  Kept the veggies and fruit.

That was tough, but I feel good knowing "the enemy" is not lurking in my own house.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

end of an era (m)

My weight increased commensurate with my advancement at work.  By the time I was President of a global business unit, I was at the high end of plus sizes.  I had to dress like the professional I was.  The problem was, there were very few options.

My office was in the Prudential Center in Boston. There was a Saks Fifth Avenue in the complex.  Imagine my surprise...and delight...when Salon Z debuted.  A shop of designer clothes for women sized 14-24.  Donna Karan, Dana Buchman, Eileen Fisher, Marina Rinaldi, Saks' own label and many more. 

Salon Z was tucked discretely away from the petites department and the salewomen were oversized but well-groomed.  It was as pleasant a shopping experience as one could hope for given our sizes.

Over the years, I made friends with the women who worked there.  Maureen was my favorite. She was aggressive and stylish and knew what worked for me and always called me when something she thought I should have became available.  It was a mutually beneficial relationship.

I haven't shopped there in three years since I retired from work.  The clothes I bought there are too big now and many have been given away (my mother had suggested I go to a shelter in some economically depressed area with women who are" big like you were.").

Today, I get a letter in the mail from Saks Fifth Avenue.  Due to declining business, they are closing down the Salon Z sections of all Saks stores.  They offer me a $100 gift certificate to Saks as a thank you for my business.

I hope I didn't single-handedly bring them down.

Monday, October 24, 2011

horns of dilemma (m)

Today is my dear friend Abby's birthday.  Her daughter Mary emailed me a couple of weeks ago to invite me to a surprise birthday dinner in her honor this evening.  I said yes.

Abby emails me to tell me she is coming to town on October 24th....can we get together for lunch? coffee? anything?

Okay, here's what goes through my mind:

-I can't eat two meals in a restaurant on the same day. 
-I can't tell Abby I can't see her even for a quick cup of coffee. 
-I can't not go to her party.

Here's what I did:

-met Abby for lunch at Legal Seafoods in Cambridge. Had the chopped salad with grilled shrimp and an order of steamed broccoli and half a roll. We celebrated with a glass of wine instead of cake (I knocked my wine over when I reached for the balsamic vinegar).

-went home, made dinner for Harrison and T.

-went into Boston at 8:45 p.m. to join the birthday party and bring Abby her present (which I told her I forgot at lunch).  Had two big glasses of ice tea, met some of Abby's relatives and their spouses. Had a nice visit.

-went home and ate an apple.

Life was so much easier when I didn't have to count points.


one meal a day (lyn)

Gail and I are seeing a movie at four, so she invites me to a late lunch at Bice, an upscale Northern Italian restaurant near the Sony screening room. 

The restaurant is bustling with business diners when we arrive at 1:30.  I follow Gail’s lead and order a green salad and branzino, or more specifically, grilled branzino with lemon and pine nut sauce served with brussel sprouts and cherry tomatoes.  I can’t remember ever having a more perfectly prepared fish.  It is amazing.  The bread, champagne, and cappuccino are the only added extras.  By the time we leave the restaurant, around three, the waiters are hanging out at the back tables and all the other diners have gone.

It is only eight by the time I get home, and I am not hungry.  I have a few scoops of Agata’s pear sorbet and call that dinner. 

Before going to bed I weigh myself.  Only 120.  Maybe I shouldn’t tease my parents when they want to eat at three for a combined dinner-lunch.   There may be something to a one-meal plan.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I try reiki (m)

My masseuse, J, is a bit of an Earth Mother.  When she's not giving massages, she is off to New Age retreats in the Berkshires or a yoga class or cooking up a 5-course meal for family and friends from the ingredients she harvested in her garden.  She currently is enamored with the ancient art of Reiki and knows a woman named Kristen (I feel I can name her as you will never meet each other) who practices it.

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also purports to promote healing (I know, what doesn't it do?).  It is administered by laying hands on one's body and manipulating the life force energy within.

I called a couple of weeks ago and set up an appointment for a Wednesday evening.  I was looking forward to it all day.  The appointment was for 8 p.m.  I read a book after dinner to kill time before the appointment.  Got so caught up in the book (V and Heidi recommended One Day...excellent) that I missed the appointment.

So, Kirsten and I made a second appointment for the next Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Or was it Wednesday at 10 a.m.?

Needless to say, I got the day and time wrong and missed that appointment, too.

I was so embarrassed at having screwed up twice that I didn't dare make a third appointment.

To her credit, Kirsten called me. "I feel you really need this.  Shall we try for Sunday morning?" 

Today, I went to my first Reiki appointment.  I lay on the table (fully clothed, thank you very much) while Kirsten placed her hands on my feet, then my abdomen, then my head, then my back.  When I opened up my eyes at one point, I saw her entranced, waving her arms over my body as if she were fanning flames.  I did not want to know what that was all about.

At the end of the session, Kirsten told me that she recommended I come back two more times.

"I feel lots of layers of emotional dust on you.  I tried to remove as many of them as I could today, but there are too many layers."

"You should feel lighter now," she said as I was leaving.

And you know what?  I did feel lighter.  $80 lighter to be exact.

a good plan gone bad (lyn)

So the rules for this Keratin treatment are pretty simple:  Don’t wash your hair for three days and don’t get it wet.

I've barely gone out this entire weekend.  A quick trip to the Farmer’s Market with Robyn on Saturday was my sole outdoor activity.  Today, I’d prefer to stay in again, but Meredith and I have plans to see a play, We Live Here.

The weather is sunny and no rain is predicted.  Walking the two miles to the theater should not be a problem.  The day is beautiful.  Cool, cloudless, and about 60. 

I have an unhealthy breakfast (a cinnamon roll from the Farmer’s Market) so I grab only an apple for lunch.  I walk through Central Park and feel good just to be a part of this great city.

I’m about ten minutes from the theater when I feel something wet fall on my head.  There is no rain in sight, so I am hoping it’s from an air conditioner, even though it’s cool outside and I'm nowhere near a window.  I put my hand in my hair and come away with brown mush on my fingertips.  I haven’t accounted for a pigeon pooping on my head.

Saturday, October 22, 2011's still october? (m)

This is the month that wouldn't end.  I can't even remember where I left off blogging.  I'm down a few pounds but only because I've been too busy to eat.

Let me catch you up:

-two-day offsite seminar with my alma mater.  Dinner at a hotel where the staff recognized me from all the meetings I attend there ( that you?  You went to college here?).  Dessert was created by the Physics Department!  Interesting to look at but entirely inedibleWeight went down during this time.

-Sam came home from mid-term break.  Laundry up the ying-yang. Also, he had a surgical procedure which stressed me out, especially since my husband took him (because I was in the seminar) and, when I called to see how Sam was, my husband said, "How should I know....I'm waiting for him in the car."  Seriously.  My blood pressure went through the roof at that moment.  Ate a box of Special K crackers that day.  Weight went up the next day.

-Harrison turned 18 years old.  Eighteen years gone in a flash...very emotional day for me.  Made his favorite meal for his birthday....steak, mashed potatoes, green beans. Weight went up the next day.

-Harrison is deciding whether to apply early action, early decision, etc to colleges.  He won't let me see his essay.  Weight went down the next  two days from worrying.

-My dentist, also a skating father, roped me into hosting a celebrity skater for three nights last weekend.  She was in town from California to do a charity benefit.  Family had a meeting deciding which room to put her in.   Had to buy a bed frame for the room. Harrison skated in the show with her.  Got all healthy snacks for her and for the family.  Sam decided breads are "wasted carbs."  We ate fruit, veggies, yogurt. We all lost weight that weekend.

-Hosted a dinner for all the skaters that Sunday night.  60 people.  Chicken, fish, greens, salad, apple cobbler.  Drank wine and sat with the Russians who won two gold medals in the Olympics during the 1960s.    Husband recently had a stroke (April) and yet he performed in the show that evening.  Felt like a slug next to him and his wife who had approximately 4 oz. of chicken and four green beans.  Had three glasses of wine at dinner as I was relieved this weekend was coming to an end.  Russian man took my picture.  Looked like Lindsay Lohan on a bad day.  Weight stayed the same.

-Finished a project for the medical school.  Stressed to the gills since I can't understand what they are saying as they are not good with words.  Ate a whole Lindt chocolate orange bar the night I had to put the presentation together.  Face broke out two days later.  Didn't bother to weigh myself.

-Went with my niece, J, to look for wedding dresses.  Found one in the first store we went to.  She's a little overweight.  Went to check the price of the dress and saw that for sizes over size 12, the dress costs more.  Niece shrugged and said, "Must be a fat tax".  We both felt fat.

-Got elected to the Board of Directors for a bank.  Was nominated by the husband of my friend Anne (who recently passed away).  He and I haven't seen each other since her funeral.  Bittersweet reunion.  We sat at the same table for dinner.  I had turkey slices on lettuce and one piece of fudge.  Weight went up the next day.

-Cousin M, the elderly woman who couldn't pee, was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  My brother Phil brought her and the aunties to my house for lunch the other day.  Made them a big lunch and homemade desserts and packed all the leftovers up for them to take home the next day.  Said goodbye to Cousin M and had a good cry.

-Harrison's girlfriend organized a surprise birthday party for him last night.  I dropped off the cake and then my husband and I and 6 parents ate in a nearby restaurant waiting for the kids to finish.  Had salad with just vinegar dressing and baked schrod.  Was excited about weighing in on Saturday morning.

Woke up Saturday morning and missed the Weight Watchers meeting as I overslept.

Looked at the calendar this morning.  It's still October.


Friday, October 21, 2011

housebound (lyn)

I can no longer stand my out-of-control-impossible-to-manage-hair.  This morning I go to my hairdresser’s and have the Coppola Keratin Treatment.  I walk out of the salon two hours later with stick-straight-stringy-hair.  I cannot wash it for three days.  Once I do, my hair will look shiny and straight and require little maintenance.  I know this because I’ve had this process done six times before, beginning in September 2007. I do it about twice a year now; the results are great.   But for the three days after, I look truly grotesque.

I get home and see a neighbor in my lobby; I don’t know her name, only her face.  “Wow.  I love your hair.  You look so much younger,” she says.  I look like I am in costume for Halloween as a leftover hippy from the 60’s.  Trust me, I don’t look younger. 

I pass a mirror in my apartment and I'm startled.  I call Gail and cancel our dinner/screening plans for tonight.   I think of lying and saying I don’t feel well, because saying that I am too hideous to go out seems like such a lame excuse.  But Gail understands when I tell her the truth.  We re-schedule our plans.

Then Penny calls and wants to go for a walk.  I invite her over instead.  It’s okay for my friends to see me in my own home.  I make some tea and we catch up on life.

After Penny leaves, I eat the remaining half of a chicken potpie with a side of spinach. Not exactly the grilled calamari and exotic fish that I could have been having with Gail at a top NYC Greek restaurant (Milos Estiatorio).  But even great food can’t compensate for short-term ugliness.  On the bright side, I bet I saved a ton of points.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

productive day in (lyn)

I bookend the day with activity (morning walk with Pam and evening screening with Corinne) but make good use of my time at home in-between.

I make squash-apple soup (zero points).  It’s delicious, easy to make, and provides an excuse to use my emulsifier.

Jason from North Pole Cooling calls.  He’s the young, competent, very-nice owner of an air-conditioning company.  He and his employee Carleton have been to my home four times since September to check on my faulty new Friederich’s AC that my building finally gave me in June.  After several unsuccessful attempts to fix it, Jason calls with good news:  “We are going to replace your AC with a brand new one.”  I love Jason.

A man from Bloomingdales comes later in the day.  The down and feather cushions on my Ralph Lauren sectional, bought four years ago, are not holding up the way I think they should.  The man inspects them, takes some pictures, and says Bloomingdales will get back to me.  Two hours later I get a call.  “Hi.  We got the report on your sofa.  The five seat cushions have lost some feathers but this is normal wear and tear.  However, we will replace the insides for you.  Should take about 4-6 weeks.”  Wow.  This will be like getting a new sofa.  I love Bloomingdales too.

I get two major new items without spending any money, and I have a healthy, low-point lunch made for a week.  It is a successful stay-at-home day.

who knew (lyn)

My internist calls this morning with the results of a recent bone density test..  I’m showing significant declines from two years ago in both my spine and my hip (less so).  Turns out that I am at a higher risk for losing bone density because of my height and weight.  It’s a disadvantage to be thin.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

nice country doctor in big city (lyn)

Today is weight watchers day with Gail, but the crummy weather keeps us from going.  I have been tracking this week and it shows.  120.6.  I celebrate by eating a chocolate-filled croissant for breakfast.  It is worth every point.

One of the things I have to get done today is to remove the one stitch in my left leg that was put there a week and a half ago by my dermatologist.  I had some kind of ugly-but-not dangerous thing on my leg that I wanted her to take off.   She did and afterwards her nurse showed me, using her shoelaces, how to remove the stitch.  It looked simple.

So today, I go to remove the stitch, remembering to pull only one of the dangling pieces of thread.  “It should just come right out,” the nurse had said.  It doesn’t.  In fact, it feels like I’m pulling my skin tighter.  Given the horrid weather, the time and the cost, I really don’t want to trek downtown to my doctor’s office.  I wish I knew a doctor or nurse in my building.  I don’t.  My burly handyman is great with fixing things, so I ask him.  “Hey, Mike, do you have any experience removing stitches?”  “Are you kidding,” he says, “I am very squeamish about those things.”  My family would of course be appalled. 

Then I remember that there is a doctor’s office right next to my building.  I run over, dodging between the many raindrops that fall.  The office is neat, and the only one there is the receptionist and her boyfriend (at least that’s what the guy wearing a Red Sox baseball cap sitting next to her appears to be).  I explain my problem and ask if it would be possible for the doctor to remove my stitch.  “Hold on a second.  Let me ask him.”  She disappears into the back room.

A few minutes later, a very old man, dressed in a doctor’s white coat, comes out.  He looks to be about 90, maybe older.  I wonder if he can see well enough to remove my stitch, if he agrees to do it.  He is very kind.  He takes me to an examining room.  Puts an orange-colored antiseptic on the stitch.  Looks and finds a sterile package of very large tweezers and scissors.  And removes (with some effort) the stitch.  He then covers the area with a tiny and professional-looking band-aid, and sends me on my way. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

sort of like getting a car fixed (lyn)

I’m answering emails this morning, and in the background I hear a segment on The Today Show about car dealerships and how they cheat customers.  Producers of the show consult with independent mechanics and they create a simple, easy-to-repair problem…one that should take about 5 minutes to discover and less time to fix.  So they have a female producer bring the car to three Jeep dealerships.  They all tell the driver that she has a multitude of complicated things wrong with her car. The cost for fixing ranges from a low of $325 (from a Manhattan dealership) to $1,990 (from a suburban dealer).  It should cost about $100.

Today I go to a new dentist and I am using a $59 Groupon certificate, good for a full set of X-rays, an exam, and a thorough cleaning.  My regular dentist charges $175 for just a cleaning, so it’s a very good deal.  My family thinks I’m crazy.  The consensus over Yom Kippur break fast was, “Are you kidding?  I would never use a coupon for a dentist!  Maybe for a free pizza, but never a dentist.  You’re nuts.”

I skip breakfast as I want to maximize the cleanliness of my mouth.  The office, on the Upper East Side, is clean, professional, and occupied by normal looking people.  I meet my dentist.  He is handsome, well-dressed, and welcoming. He has pictures showing a beautiful family.  I feel I am in good hands.

First, we do the ten X-rays.  Next, I ask for nitrous oxide for the cleaning.  I float away with Hoda and Kathy Lee playing on the 60 inch TV in front of me.  The doctor is doing the cleaning.  In my relaxed state, I first think:  “Hey, this is great.  A doctor doing my cleaning.”  Then I think, “I bet he won’t be as good as the hygienist because this isn’t what he does all day.”  Then I wonder, “Is he doing my cleaning to impress me with his attention or is he doing my cleaning because he isn’t busy enough and therefore can’t afford a hygienist?” 

Suddenly the dentist is speaking to me, the nitrous oxide has turned to oxygen, and he is asking me to look at the TV.  A giant size close-up of one of my teeth has replaced Hoda and Kathy Lee.  It’s the same tooth that caused me a problem in 2006.  The one that caused me immeasurable pain.  The one I nearly had a nervous breakdown over.

The dentist tells me that this tooth is very problematic.  He suggests that I make an appointment to see a periodontist right away, saying he is not sure at this stage if the tooth can be saved. 

I leave feeling I’ve walked out of a Jeep dealership.  But my teeth are very clean and so I eat little the rest of the day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

feeling good about something (lyn)

I spend the morning online applying for seasonal jobs at places like Saks, Bloomingdales, and Bergdorf’s.  It takes hours as each job requires completion of multiple forms.  I even re-do my resume to make myself look more qualified as a sales clerk. One of the stores requires that I take an online 35-minute timed test.  Really, you would think I was competing to replace Steve Jobs.

I have a BAFTA Screening meeting in the afternoon.  I get dressed in fall clothes for the first time this season. My small black favorite Thakoon skirt from last year still fits perfectly, and my Prada boots easily slide over my calves. My fur-trimmed black cape from many seasons back still looks glamorous and chic.  I walk out the door feeling good.  While I may not be a person with an important job anywhere, I can still look the part. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

whole foods (lyn)

I shop here rarely as there isn’t one nearby.  But there is one in Union Square, where I happen to be with some time to kill. 

It’s the most socially relevant grocery store I have ever been in.  Everything about it is well-planned and green.  The foods boast “all natural” on their labels.  The color-coated checkout lines insure fairness (it doesn’t matter what line you are in, an automated sign alternates the first person from each line to one of 35 or so cashiers).  You never have to wait long, despite the crowds.

I buy a bottle of an “earth friendly product” called Fruit and Vegetable Wash.  It promises to “effectively remove soil, dirt, wax and other contaminants.”  I guess water alone isn’t good enough.  Then I find a small bottle of Balsamic Dressing that says things on it like health starts here, low sodium, no oil, and even, a breakthrough new approach to eating smart and choosing right.  I wonder if it cures cancer too?  And finally, I buy some certified organic vanilla-cranberry granola.  Does that mean if it isn’t certified it’s not really organic?

After shopping (and feeling healthy just from ready the labels) I decide to grab a quick lunch at the inviting-looking salad bar.  I carefully choose items of zero points (baby spinach, cucumbers, peas, tomatoes, a sprinkle of almonds) and the balsamic-no-oil-dressing.  I pay and go upstairs to eat.  The up escalator is stationary and the down escalator is working.  I assume this is a deliberate attempt to get people to climb stairs.

I eat my healthy salad and then go to deposit the trash.  I have four options:

Food, napkins, paper cups, salad bar containers

Clean bottles and cans only

Plastic forks, spoons and knives only


I don’t know the difference between compost and landfill trash so I just guess and hope I made the right decision.

a busy saturday (lyn)

The rain has finally stopped.  It’s a sunny, crisp, fall day, and I have lots to do.

I get on the scale and I’m 121.2.  I don’t know if it’s the tracking or if my scale was off on Tuesday when it read 125.4, but as long as I’m 122 or less, I’m happy.  I take Valerie’s suggestion and go online to learn the art of blow-drying hair.  I watch a 3-minute YouTube video and it really helps.  I do a fairly decent job, and my sister is right.  As silly and vain as it may sound, when my hair looks good, I feel better.

I go to the Farmer’s Market and pick up my usual order of corn, tomatoes, a small sugar-free apple pie, red pepper, and lots of apples of different varieties.  I then cave and buy a cinnamon swirl roll and a chocolate croissant, which I wasn’t going to list, but feel I have to.  If I’m not going to be truthful in my own blog, why bother?

I do some errands at home, including returning a book I recently bought through Amazon. I got it for my book club, but it doesn’t appeal to me and there are so many other books I’d rather invest time in.  I go through the necessary online steps to return the book (it cost $11) and then get this pop-up message at the end, “Keep this book.  Because you are a valued customer, we will process your refund and this book does not need to be returned.”  How sweet. 

I clip on my Fitbit and decide to walk the four miles downtown to see a new Adam Rapp play, Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling with Christine Lahti.  The ticket cost $3.50, I have a great seat, and the 80-minute play is highly entertaining.  Still, when the play ends, I feel as if I’ve watched a great bit of absurd theater with no idea of its meaning.  No one around me seems to have a clue either (I know this because I ask them what the play is about, and they are bewildered too).

I have a couple of hours to kill before meeting Zelia for a screening of a new George Clooney movie (The Descendants) so I stop by Whole Foods and grab a zero-point salad for a late lunch. 

There’s a Q&A after the movie with the whole cast and the director, Alexander Payne.  The intelligence of film people always surprises me.  As for Mr. Clooney... well, he seems pretty much perfect (handsome, humble, funny and kind).  Zelia even gets her picture taken with him.

After the screening, we have a late dinner at Steak Frites.  Zelia is a good influence and I have seared tuna, no dessert, and a large glass of good red wine. By the time we leave the restaurant, I fully understand why people like to drink.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

poor reason to say no (lyn)

My sister calls and suggests lunch.  I can’t go.  First, I am already committed on points.  I have the steak I bought yesterday along with the flan for dessert and grilled vegetables.  That alone is 22 points, leaving 7 for the rest of the day.  And I’ve already used 2 of those 7 for the half and half I had in my coffee.  I know I can just eat a small salad but I also know how unsatisfying that would be.  If it were just the points, I would go.  But then there’s the issue of my hair.  It looks horrid on a sunny day and today is humid, cloudy and drizzly.  And yes, my sister would notice, as she always looks fabulous with her thick, gorgeous, blond, hair…the kind people dream of having.  We get in a discussion about how bad my hair looked on break fast (and that was after I had tried blowing it dry and even flat ironing it).  She can’t understand (nor can I, quite frankly) why I can’t blow it out myself.  My sister suggests I use the Internet to figure out the mechanics and then practice.  I know she’s right.  I can’t hide in my apartment because my hair looks bad.  She did say something sweet.  “You have a great face and you can always look good.”  In other words, imagine my potential if I learned how to manage my hair.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

a-maze-ing (m)

My phone rings at 7:15.  I awaken from an Advil-and-Tiger-Balm-induced coma.  I don't have my bearings and my husband is bellowing for me to pick up the phone it's Susan!

"Put on The Today Show," she says.  "Someone from our home town is going to be on."

Okay, this snapped me to attention.  You have to understand, my home town is full of nice people but, well, how do I say this delicately...not exactly Movers and Shakers.

"Why?" I ask.  Why is someone from our town on The Today Show?

Susan can't answer right away because she is snorting from laughing so hard.


My first thought?  Well, at least they had something to eat.

re-starting (lyn)

I call and reinstate myself into Weight Watchers etools (the part that allows me to track what I eat online).  Next, I unwrap a food scale I had gotten months ago and never used (it was a replacement for an old WW scale that had broken).  Once I figured out how to open the battery door, I was armed and ready.

Zelia and I drive out to Queens and go to one of our favorite, and hugely inexpensive restaurants, Brazil CafĂ© Grill.  For $15, I buy dinner for three nights. 

I get home and go through my old routine.  I weigh the pork chops for tonight’s dinner-147 grams for 6 points.  I eyeball the mashed potatoes (no way am I putting them in a measuring container to find out if they really are half a cup). I divide the sirloin into two servings of 165 grams each.  I calculate the points and add them into my dinners for tonight, tomorrow and Friday.  While I am at the scale, I also cut up and weigh some mozzarella cheese that I have leftover from Alexander’s visit.  The cheese I cut up is 8 points.  

I sit down for dinner.  Mashed potatoes.  Pork chops.  And a mozzarella-tomato salad.  I decide the 9 points for the salad isn't worth it, and throw the cheese out.  The tomatoes alone are good enough.

I  meet Robyn for a screening of The Ides of March, feeling thinner already.

big mistake (lyn)

Yesterday morning.  Having made the discovery that I need to be more cognizant of what I eat, I am not in a good mood.  I pick up the phone around ten to call WW to get my etools re-installed so I can begin tracking again.   There is no dial tone.  I check the connection.  It’s fine.  I think maybe my last caller didn’t disconnect.  I wait and try again.  Still no dial tone.  I use my cell to call Verizon.  After 15 minutes I get through to someone.  He quizzes me first (my name, address, account number, and nature of problem) even though I have already given all this information to the automated voice.  Then the rep warns me that because I do not have repair insurance, if the problem is with my phone, I will be charged $75 for a home visit.  “Okay.  I get it.  Just please, get me to the repair department.”  I am totally exasperated and I haven’t even gotten to the right person yet.  Finally, I am put through.  I explain everything all over again (including for the third time my name, address, account number and problem).  Really, why is all this information never passed on?

The call proceeds as follows:

Unhelpful rep (UR): Okay ma’am. There seems to be a problem at the central office.  We will get someone to work on it.

Me:  Great.  When will that happen?

UR:  Well, we can only work on the lines during Safe Time.  (He says this as if I should be familiar with the term Safe Time.  Of course, I’m not, who is?).

Me:  What is Safe Time?

UR:  Oh, that’s between two and five am.  Safe time is the only time we are allowed to work on the phone lines.  That way, if other lines get compromised in the process of fixing yours, there is a good chance the other parties will not notice.

Me:  So are you telling me that the best I can hope for is that my phone will be working by tomorrow morning?

UR:  Yes, ma’am.  Is there anything else we can help you with?

With all the technology available today, I have to wait almost 24-hours to get my phone fixed?  This seems absurd.

Today I wake up and go to make a call.  There is no dial tone.  I call Verizon from my cell, and get a more intelligent rep than the one I spoke to yesterday.  I explain the problem.

Helpful Rep (HR):  Let me check into it for you. (I always love the rhetorical question that comes next).  May I place you on hold for a minute?

Me:  Sure.

HR:  I’m really sorry but it looks like the request was never sent to the right call center.  I’ll send another one through right now.

Me:  You’ve got to be kidding!  So now I have to wait until Safe Time again before they can fix it?

HR:  I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I understand.  What is Safe Time?  (I explain it).  I’ve never heard of that.  But no, they will work on it right away.

Me:  Help me understand.  Are you saying that the first rep I spoke to yesterday send the repair request to the wrong place, and then the wrong place didn’t forward it to the right place?????  That means two people screwed up.

HR:  Well, it’s all taken care of now.  Is there anything else I can help you with?

By 11, my phone is working again.  I call Weight Watchers and re-join etools for three months.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

why chaz bono matters (m)

My brother Phil calls: "Your friend, Cher, is on Dancing with the Stars tonight".  

I met Cher back in 2000 at a sales meeting in Las Vegas for one of my product launches.  Cher posed with a small group of senior executives.  I tried to sneak out of the photo op (for obvious reasons...I hate having my picture taken), but Cher caught me and pulled me in.  It's the only picture she took that night where she's got her arm around someone.

Only in my family does this brush with celebrity qualify one as "friend."

I decide to tune in to the show to watch Cher cheer on Chaz.  The aunties phone while the show is on and I explain what I'm watching.  I don't know why I bothered:

Me:       Okay, well, I've got to go.  I'm watching Dancing with the Stars and Cher is on.
X & Y:  Cher is dancing?
Me:       No, no.  Her son is dancing.
X&Y:    What son?

I know enough to quit while I am ahead (relatively speaking).  I just don't think I have the stamina to explain the whole trans gender thing.

Chaz, if you saw it, danced to the theme from Rocky (da-da    da-da-da    da-da-da-da-DAH!).  I have tears in my eyes when s/he finishes.  Even Carrie Ann is crying (as is Mama Cher).

This surprises me.  Carrie Ann speaks for both of us when she says, "For some reason, you get under my skin."

I think about this for a bit and then it occurs to me.  Chaz is on a transformational journey.  A male who was trapped in a female body his whole life.  He is a work in process.  We are watching him morph, becoming his authentic self.

I can relate.  I feel like a thin person trapped in a plus size body.

So, for the next several weeks, my friend Chaz and I will go on our parallel journeys.

Who knows, maybe I'll call my "friend" Cher and invite her to dinner to see how much I've changed too.

I need to pay more attention (lyn)

I get up this morning and get on the scale.  Is it really possible that I’ve gained 2.4 pounds since my weigh-in last Wednesday at WW, not even 7 days ago?  I review the week.  A big dinner out with the girls on Thursday.  A welcome home dinner with Alexander on Friday (rack-of-lamb, sides and dessert).  A gigantic break fast at Jill’s on Saturday.  Hmmm.  I need to start tracking again, at least for a little while.  The last time my weight was this high was in April 2010.  I know that I am still small and can easily fit into a size 6 pants.  But I want to stay around 121 or so.  Today I am 125.4.  It’s time to be more vigilant.  Too bad being reckless is so much more fun.

Monday, October 10, 2011

you know you need to lose weight when...(m)

....your cell phone goes off and you can't find it.  You hear it (muffled) but you can't see it. It appears to be coming from inside you!  You lift your shirt and it's there...inside the top band of your underwear.


shopping with alexander (lyn)

It’s 82 degrees and sunny.  Summer is prolonging its stay.  I meet Alexander at Bloomingdales; he needs a black belt.  They are having a sale (well, they are always having a sale).  Some clothes are 40% off already reduced prices.  Others are 50% off the second item if you buy two.  And then there is the escalated savings plan: spend $200 and get 20% off, $500 and get 25% off, etc.  There is a dizzying array of options for saving money.  I am not good in this kind of situation.

But my son is the perfect foil.  He has zero patience for shopping.

We start with a search for the belt.  We are told that belts are in several places, spanning two floors. At our first stop, Alexander finds a belt he likes.  I suggest we also check out the belts on another floor.  “Why? I like this belt.  Why do I have to look any more?”  I know I’ll not be able to convince him that looking can be fun, but he humors me and we go to the other floor.  We both like the belt from the first department best, and he wisely doesn’t taunt me with, “See?  I told you!”

We pass a gorgeous baby blue Burberry cashmere scarf. I pick it up and ask him what he thinks.  “It’s okay.  Yeah, I guess I like it.  But I already have two scarves and I really don’t wear them that much.”  I put it down.  I see a winter jacket that would be perfect for those cold walks to class.  “I don’t want to shop for coats.  We can do that over Thanksgiving.”  We pass beautiful sweaters.  He isn’t even tempted. He has a great build and wears clothes well.  There is so much I want to buy him.

I remember being his age and being able to eat everything too.  I was always thin and clothes always looked good on me.  But I don’t ever remember shopping with my mother and her offering to buy me just about anything I wanted.  She probably knew I’d want too much.  Alexander is lucky, though he doesn’t see it that way. He likes dressing well, but dislikes the shopping process.  He needs a personal shopper.  Someone who knows his style and who also owns a custom-fit mannequin of his exact body shape and dimensions (so there is never a need to try clothes on). 

I don’t accumulate enough to qualify for any discounts.  But that’s okay.  I leave Bloomingdales unscathed. I went in for one black belt and came out with one black belt.  And, I walked (according to my Fitbit) over five miles.

next time don't thank me (m)

My brother invites us and my friend, V, to dinner at his home to thank us for taking care of his dog, Charlie, during those two weeks he and my sister-in-law were in the Azores for the wedding/vacation.

Among the many things my brother and his wife are known for, three stand out:

-fat-laden foods

My sister-in-law brings casseroles (casseroles) to Thanksgiving every year.  She says they are vegetable-based, but I defy anyone to identify exactly which vegetables are in there given all the other stuff--four cheeses, butter, cream, breadcrumbs.  Yes, of course, they are delicious.  They also are deadly for a diet.

I had to tell him that V is fastidious about watching her weight and I am trying to shed a chunk more of my weight.

Phil: So, what does that mean?
Me: Just go easy...light fare, please.
Phil: What exactly do you mean?
Me: cheesy stuff.  No butter, no cream.
Phil: Then stay home.
Me: C'mon.  Just steam the vegetables.  No meat.
Phil: What about appetizers?
Me: No appetizers.  We'll have seltzer water and then eat the meal.

We pick up V at 6:15 and head to my brother's house.  V brings some beautiful French wines. "Sancerre," she says in a perfect French accent.

Upon arrival at my brother's house, the dog goes beserk, jumping all over V and then me.  He's beside himself.  It's as if he's thinking, "All my favorite people are here! What a great night!"

I knew we were in trouble when I saw the table setting.  Five utensils per person.  Soup spoon, salad fork, dinner fork, knife, dessert spoon.

We begin with soup--white bean soup with tomato puree and basil.  Outstanding.  I grill them on the ingredients.  I was just about done with the soup when they finally admitted how much olive oil was in there.

Next course, salad.  Lots of vegetables, walnuts, no cheese.  I sidestep the walnuts and use only a teaspoon of their dressing.  Perfect.

My brother takes a loaf of fresh baked bread out of his special bread oven.  V is done for.  This is her weakness.  She succumbs.  I have a slice.  It's incredible.  I could live on this and water for the rest of my life.

Then the heavy artillery--lemon risotto, baked fish, broccoli in garlic and olive oil ("just a touch"...b.s.), carrots with chives and a "dab" of butter, and butternut squash.  Everything tastes so good. 

We brought dessert.  A large bowl of cut up fruit, an angel food cake, a German chocolate cake (for the skinny people) and Haagen Daz 'simple' vanilla ice cream (lower fat, but still...).

We leave feeling so full we are disgusted with ourselves.

Thankfully, my brother and sister-in-law won't be going away for a while so we'll have no more "thank you" dinners to sabotage our diets.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

yom kippur break fast (lyn)

The all-day fast is relatively easy, especially for Alexander who wakes around noon.  We spend a quiet day at home, and leave for Rye around 5.  We are going to Jill’s (Abbey’s sister) to break fast with everyone.

By the time we arrive, everyone is already there and eating appetizers.  I am starving and show zero restraint.  I eat the creamed herring, challah bread, chopped liver, vegetables and dip, and some of Jill’s outstanding egg salad.  I’m full before we even get to the table for the main course.

There is so much food, and I eat much of it.  A take a whole-wheat bagel and then scoop it out. I add to it a layer of cream cheese, a layer of halibut salad, a layer of nova (Jill bought 3.5 pounds for the 13 of us so there is no need to skimp), and a blueberry blintze topped with frosted flakes…so much better than it sounds. The food is great.  By the time dessert arrives, I feel gigantic, yet still manage to eat two pieces of 7-layer cake.

It’s a lively dinner.  I make a statement about Steve Jobs being one of the few (if any) creative and business geniuses ever, and then have to vigorously defend my position against all the other like geniuses in history (Ralph Lauren, Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, and the unknown heroes of industries I know nothing about).  Later I find myself again in the defensive position.  This time  arguing that it’s the little guy ---the one who can least afford it---that is most hurt by the new fee structures that banks are adopting to compensate for decreased revenue from debit cards.  (In June, the Durbin Amendment passed.  This lowered debit card swipe fees that banks have been charging merchants from 44 cents to 24 cents per transaction.).  We all eat.  We all argue.  And then we all eat some more (Post dessert offerings include chocolate covered pretzels, cookies, and Swedish fish).  Food and drink are plentiful as we move from living room to dining room and back again.  And in-between, Adam keeps us all laughing.

We get home around 11.  Ben Stiller is hosting SNL and it’s been awhile since Alexander and I have watched it together.  “It’s on, “ I call out to him.  “I’ll be there in a sec.  I just need to grab something to eat.  What do we have?  I’m hungry.”

Good that Cornell requires so much walking.

another college tour (m)

We tour another college.  A ton of people are here.  We break into three groups.  Do we want the Latin American-sounding man with the very thick accent?  The Low Talker student?  Or the vivacious girl from Atlanta whose chest looked like it had been branded with a butterfly-shaped livestock tool.

We go with the butterfly-girl.  At least I can hear and understand her.  I just won't look at her.

I've been to this school before, when Sam was visiting colleges.  It's a beautiful New England college with a fine reputation.  I know the school fairly well, and decide I don't really need to pay attention.  I focus instead on the other parents.

A blonde woman in tight white jeans and thong underwear is walking beside her bored-looking daughter who keeps twirling a piece of her hair and casting wistful glances at the football game down the hill.  The mother is in her early 40's.  She is wearing a too-tight and too-short tee shirt which keeps riding up, exposing a part of her tanned abdomen. 

If I were that thin, would I ever dress like that?  For a college tour? I decide not.

Next is Schlumpy, one of the Eight Dwarfs.  Pants too big, Keds, dumpy sweater, permed hair.

If I were that clueless, would I ever dress like that?  I decide not.

Then there's the Toni Twins.  Mother and daughter.  Same outfits.  Jeans, LL Bean fisherman shirt, matching Longchamp bags. 

If I had a daughter, would we dress alike?  I decide not.

I'm having so much fun, analyzing the parents, that the tour is over before I know it.