Tuesday, January 31, 2012

a light-eating day (lyn)

Because I have three big-restaurant dinners and a Super Bowl party in the next five days, I decide to eat light today. 

Breakfast: coffee with half and half

Lunch: small yogurt with fruit

First Snack (this is bad):  large serving of chocolate covered pomegranates

Second snack:  a pear

Dinner: tuna fish on 100-calorie bread with about five Pringles Light.

I meet Zelia at the theater to see a powerful, but devastating play, WIT starring Cynthia Nixon.  Come home starving but only have Pellegrino. 

Am already looking forward to tomorrow's breakfast.

Monday, January 30, 2012

on second thought ... (lyn)

Decided I didn’t need an aspirational dress…even one that’s beautiful and 92% off.  Zelia said, “It’s not just that it’s too small and doesn’t look good on you.  At our age, we shouldn’t be wearing anything that tight.”  That did it.  I can change my weight but not my age.  I’m returning the dress.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

eater beware (lyn)

Gail sends me an email telling me she discovered that her favorite order-in sushi place got a C rating by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene:   http://a816restaurantinspection.nyc.gov/RestaurantInspection/SearchDetails.do

She suggests I check out mine.  I do, and then get carried away and end up spending about an hour on the site.  

Most of the places where I regularly dine earn an A, including Ging restaurant, my favorite go-to sushi place.

I used to like ordering pizza from Giorgio’s, but not after I see their C rating for these violations, plus a few more:

  1. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
  2. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
  3. Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
  4. Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.
I’m probably better off eating at home, but who wants to do that all the time?  And besides, would I even get an A if my kitchen were rated?  Gosh I hope so.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

a night out alone (lyn)

In early January,  Meredith and I are scheduled to see a play at Manhattan Theater Club, where we both are members.  Neither of us feels like going so we don't.  We say we will re-schedule, and figure it shouldn’t be too hard given the reviews.  Here are three; there are many more like these: 

“The clunker title isn’t the only non-working part of Close Up Space---NY Times

“David Hyde Pierce (the show’s star)…should have demanded that Close Up Space go through a heavy edit.”---NY One

Close Up Space becomes awfully wearing for a one-act running a mere 80 minutes.”---Hollywood Reporter

Shockingly, when we decide to re-schedule we find the play is sold out.  And, it’s closing this weekend.  Meredith can’t go, so I get a single ticket for tonight.  I still have no interest in attending, but feel, as a member, I should.

I grab my go-to dinner, a pre-made salmon and tuna sushi from Agata.  I then give in to temptation and eat a slice of Schick’s 7-layer cake.  I'm out the door by seven.

The play is a nice surprise... much better than the reviews make it sound.  In fact, the first scene is so perfectly written and acted, it’s worth seeing this short play for the first ten minutes alone.

I’m home by 10.  Before getting in bed, I decide I’d feel better if the 7-layer cake can’t tempt me anymore.  (Think Donna Karan silver dress).   I toss the remaining 1/3 of the cake, and go to bed feeling better.

Friday, January 27, 2012

friends with benefits (lyn)

A week ago I invite eleven friends over to help brainstorm ideas for the new business I have begun working on. I try to lure them with the promise of food.  I am lucky that I can honestly say my friends are all smart (some with strong creative skills, some with strong business skills, and some strong in both).  I am lucky.

But in the end, only four of my invites can come:
  • 2 have other work obligations.
  • 2 have other social obligations.
  • 1 is out of town.
  • 2 candidly tell me they really, "don't like doing these kinds of things."
In total, five people come:  four friends and a young and talented employee of the company with whom I'll be working.

I make an agenda, copy handouts, sharpen half a dozen pencils, set up my computer to give a product demonstration, and even clean my bathroom.  The only thing left to do is figure out the food.  It has to be easy and simple.

I decide on pizza and salad, the many cookies I already have, and real dishes (as in, no paper).  The salad is simple: romaine lettuce, goat cheese, tomatoes, portabella mushrooms (cooked), and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Ordering in pizza is easy.  But deciding on kind and size is tricky.

16 inch or 18 inch?  One serves six and one serves eight.  But how many will each person eat and how big is each slice? And then what kind?  I like anchovies but I can’t assume anyone else does.  In the end, I choose two 18 inch pies, one a margherita (“fresh mozzarella, homemade marina sauce, virgin olive oil, and real parmigiano-reggiano on every slice”) and the other, onion. 

I think the meeting is a success. I gain valuable information, the group is creative and insightful, and all the food is eaten, with compliments even.  Plus, I have only one cookie for dessert.

Money aside, I really like working again.

back to that dress that makes me look "sex" (lyn)

At Bloomingdale’s 90% off sale yesterday, I came across another Donna Karan dress I absolutely loved. This one started at $895 but I bought it for $71.60.  It is simple with a luxurious soft, drapey jersey material.

This dress is the same size Small as the other two items I tried on and bought.  But it felt much tighter.  I think it should have been sized as Smaller, not Small.  The tag on the dress describes it as being part of the Infinity System, same as the other two pieces I bought.

“Each piece is a day-into-night system.  Twist, wrap, drape, tie, or knot for an entirely new look.   Sexy, sophisticated & ready to travel your world.”

Who would have thought that a simple dress could be so many things?  

I buy it and then try it on at home and ask for opinions.
  • Gail thinks it would be fine with the right control top panty hose.
  • Robyn thinks it’s a bit tight but maybe with proper undergarments it could work.
  • Robyn’s boyfriend thinks it’s fine the way it is.
  • And Zelia, predictably, thinks, “It’s too tight and your arms don’t look good.”
I agree with Zelia but have two thoughts:

  1. I’ll wear it with a wrap, thereby taking care of the arm problem.
  2. If I lose about five pounds, I bet it will look fine.
Now losing five pounds, at this point, would not be easy, but I believe I could do it.  And I figure that for the right occasion where I really wanted to wear this dress, I’d have at least a month’s notice (it’s pretty dressy).  So I think I’ll keep it.  It’ll be my aspirational dress…everyone must have at least one in their closet.  This will be mine.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

dinner at the water club (lyn)

It’s a miserable, rainy night.  Not conducive to getting dressed and going out.  But I have a date with Gail, and she is picking me up in her car, a rare occurrence in New York, where most people don’t even own one. She is taking me out to celebrate our anniversary (we re-connected a year ago, after not being in touch for 27 years).  But really, tonight is just a great excuse to have an amazing dinner together.

We are going to The Water Club. According to its own website, this restaurant “serves wonderful classic American cuisine in a beautiful waterside setting against sweeping river views.  The last and only other time I was there was in May of 2004.  I took Alexander to celebrate his graduation from elementary school.  It amazes me how recent that still feels.

Gail commands attention wherever she goes.  She’s almost six feet tall, has long, beautiful blond hair, and engages with everyone.  We are given our choice of tables (we pick a booth with a beautiful view of the East River), and before we are even seated, Gail orders some champagne.  Neither one of us is much of a drinker (she even less than I) and one glass is enough to make her slightly tipsy (I need two).  We toast our friendship and future business hopes. 

I never see a menu.  Gail orders a dozen oysters, telling me that six are only two points.  I slurp mine from the shell, having once read that this is totally acceptable behavior (maybe even preferred) for eating oysters.  They are perfect.   Gail doesn’t tell me how many points are in the Maine stuffed lobsters we order next, or the butter (so good I’m sure it must have cream or something else in it).  We consciously decide NOT to order any sides, but then the restaurant surprises us and brings a big bowl of mashed potatoes sprinkled with scallions.  We can’t offend the restaurant’s generosity, so we eat these too. 

Lobster is my favorite food, and I have eaten a lot of it.  But tonight’s lobster ranks up there as one of the best I’ve ever had.  First, it’s shelled, which must affect the taste.  It is perfectly cooked, succulent, and absolutely delicious.

We finish the meal with cappuccino and a banana-based dessert that is flamed and served with vanilla ice cream that tastes so much better than ordinary ice cream.  The dessert alone is probably my full day’s allotment of 26 points (that is, if I were tracking, which thankfully I’m not).

But the best part of the night is the most expected…the great conversation.  For over four hours, we talk about everything…sometimes funny, sometime serious.  It is never boring, repetitive, or uninteresting.  I always learn something, whether it’s about myself (Gail thinks I have two conflicting traits…being smart and being sensitive-each alone is fine but together can be tricky); her (Gail knows a lot about a lot of things, but it surprises me to learn tonight, for example, that she knows a lot about big boats and airplanes); or the bigger picture of life.

It’s a perfect night.   

signs of aging (lyn)

I call a friend on her birthday the other day.  She’s 61.   “Lyn, we are old.  If we were described in the paper, they would describe us as elderly.”  

A man disappears in New York and he’s 61.  I subscribe to a New York City email notification system that tells me about street closings, emergency detours, subway changes, and apparently missing people.  Notification of a 61-year-old missing person comes as a Silver Alert.

I have something in my left eye.  I thought I was seeing a snarl in my hair until I realized that my hair was nowhere near my eyes.  I go to my ophthalmologist whom I haven’t seen in two years.  My eyes are healthy and yes, I do have a small floater.  He tells me not to worry, over time my brain will adjust to it and it’s likely that it will be “pushed down” and I won’t see it anymore.  “What causes floaters?” I ask.  “They're mostly related to age,” I’m told, “ and about 70% of people will, at some point in their lives, have them.”  Now I’m one of them. 

So, feeling old and blind (my pupils are dilated and I can’t see), I leave the doctor’s and stop by Bloomingdales, which is nearby.  It is the first day of their final winter sale-an additional 50% off. I can’t resist.  The prices are ridiculous…over 90% off.  I end up getting a gorgeous, form-fitting black jersey dress by Donna Karan, marked down from $1,995 to $179.55. 

 Then I see a spectacular $798 taupe jersey ruched skirt reduced to $62.55.  Here it is in red:

As I am debating if yet another dress may be too tight, a customer passing by says, “You have an amazing body.” Still not sure, I ask a foreign man in his late 60’s or so, and he offers his opinion of the dress:  “You look sex,” he says.  I think he means sexy, but I'll take either.

My eyes may be old, newspapers may refer to me as elderly, the city may describe me as a “silver” person, but at least somewhere I feel young again.  Another good reason to stay thin.

quick trip to weight watchers (lyn)

As a lifetime member I need to get weighed at least once every month.  I am measured against the weight I was when I earned the lifetime status. That was on May 19, 2010 and my weight was 120.6.  Today, I am 122.4.  That’s not bad, as I’d be happy around 121, but still.  This is the tough part.  Staying the same.   

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

to the hospital with a friend (lyn)

It’s still dark out when Gail picks me up.  She is having out-patient surgery and is the first one on the doctor’s schedule.  I pack up enough stuff to keep myself occupied for three days:  the new book I’m reading (The Accident by Linwood Barclay), two newspapers (I never got to yesterday’s), my iPhone (with Scrabble if I feel like playing), ear buds (in case I tire of reading), a large thermos of coffee, and a porcelain cup (coffee tastes so much better in porcelain than paper).  We're at the hospital by six.

Gail checks in and within minutes, we are whisked away to a small curtained off room.  Three different sets of nurses come by to ask the exact same set of questions.  They do this as a precaution to insure they get the right patient.  This proves to be a good idea since they mistake the dark-haired-Spanish-speaking woman in the cubicle next to Gail for Gail (who is tall, blond, and Nordic-looking).

Gail is taken off to surgery, and I go downstairs to get something to eat.  While she is enjoying the benefits of conscious sedation, I am paralyzed by the calories next to each bakery item at Au Bon Pain.  Everything I want is 440-660 calories.  As I am developing a rationale for why a 660-calorie croissant filled with raspberry may be okay, I spot a plain croissant listed at 180 calories.  I don’t know why a little jam would be 480 calories, but I don’t want to question it either.  I imagine one of the workers saying, “Oh gosh (though of course they’d never say oh gosh), that croissant is mis-marked; it should be 500 calories.”  And then what would I do?  A woman near me senses my anxiety, and apropos of nothing says, “Eat what you want.  You’re probably stressed enough just being here.”   I heed her advice and buy the plain croissant.

I‘m barely through two papers when I get a call that Gail is ready.  I go upstairs to meet her. Her hair looks great, her skin is glowing, and she looks well rested. The last time Gail was consciously sedated, she came out of it all happy and giddy and repeating the words, “Whee.  Whee.”  This time she only smiles, but a smile is good enough.

the party that isn't (lyn)

After watching the Patriots and Giants win in the thrilling final minutes of their respective games on Sunday, I decide to throw a small Super Bowl party.  My two favorite teams will be playing, and I don’t want to be home alone watching, especially if the Patriots are winning and I’m getting taunting calls from my large contingency of Boston-based friends and family.

I speak to my sister Jean who throws parties of 50 or more all the time.  She has a big, perfectly designed party-house, and she is a great cook.  She offers some suggestions for the food.  “Why don’t you make chili and corn bread?  I have some great, easy recipes. You can ask your guests to bring a dish, sort of like a pot luck dinner.”  I like her idea, and it relieves me of the pressure of what to make.  I will also bake a dessert of some kind.  I go out and buy a tin baking dish in anticipation of needing one.

I invite 19 people, and soon hear back from 12…all but two have been invited to other parties.  The two who have not been invited to other parties provide excellent reasons for declining.  This is from Gail (Max and Harry are her dogs, Greg is her husband):

Hi, Lyn --

The Super Bowl over here is a deeply spiritual holiday, spent with Greg cursing at the TV, me feeding The Men’s Club (Greg, Max and Harry) and me taking a huge nap.

So, unfortunately, I already have “plans.”  

And this, from my dear friend Zelia, who is a no-nonsense kinda girl:

sorry, no interest

In the end, I speak to Penny who gets me invited to the party she is going to (I know the hosts, but not well, and they are kind enough to invite me.  Many of the people I included are already going to this party).

I send an email out canceling my event.  At least now I won't have to worry about all the fattening leftovers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

sort of like a blind date (lyn)

Last week, I hear of a play I want to see (The Fall To Earth).  I send an email to Robyn and Penny, asking them if they want to go, and to let me know if they hear of any $4 tickets (we all subscribe to different theater sites).  Penny writes back and copies me and Robyn and someone else:  just went ...it is assaultive & devastating....well acted...not fun.

Next, I get an email from the someone else saying she can get tickets and do I want to go.  Thinking the someone else is another someone else, I say yes.  We make plans to meet at the theater.

I eat a quick, unhealthy dinner of mashed potatoes, chicken drumsticks, and a modified Brazilian chicken potpie followed by four cookies.  The only other thing I eat today (aside from coffee) is a 16 Candles combo of three different sorbets with a few nut sprinkles.

I arrive at the theater early, and I’m waiting for the person I think is coming, only to be surprised when the person who is coming shows up.  I know her, but barely.  We’ve briefly met once or twice at one of Penny’s many parties. We immediately connect and are quickly trading stories.  I wish I could meet men as easily as I meet women.

And the play?  Just like Penny said...assaultive, devastating, well-acted, not fun...but  definitely worth seeing.

question to our readers (lyn)

A friend of mine recently asked, “Why do you still write a blog?  After all, you’re no longer doing what the blog name states…being on a diet.”  It made me think.  Why am I still writing, and should I be?

I know that many of my posts stray far from topic.  I’ve reached my goal, and now I’m not even tracking.  But as I told my friend, maintenance is harder for me than losing, because there are no rewards.  Congratulations; you’re the same, is the best I can expect.  But that’s what I want to be---the same.  And the same is hard to write about. 

I’m maintaining not for accolades; I’m maintaining because I’ve always identified with being thin, and thin is what I want to be.  I like wearing small-sized clothes.  I like not having a double chin.  I like being healthier.  I like making my mother happy.  I like being near in size to my two  sisters.  And I like looking younger.  There are many benefits to being at the right weight.

I committed to being on a diet for a year and writing about it.  I did that.  But then I found I liked writing.  It’s a discipline that keeps me focused and committed.

I’d love to hear from you all.  Please leave comments on this question, and it’s a serious one: 

Now that I have reached my goal, should I stop blogging?

I await your responses.

Monday, January 23, 2012

maintenance (lyn)


I know that’s not much, but that is still about two pounds higher than I’d like.  This is what maintenance is about.  It’s boring.  But to keep the weight off, it’s important to stay vigilante.  Especially since a ridiculously high number of people who lose weight, gain it all back.  I won’t be one of them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

on to california (m)

Friday. Headed to California for the National Championships. After paying a small fortune for that trip to Romania back in October, I decide we can stick it out in economy. I spring for "economy plus" which means a little more legroom. Basically, what it really means is that you get to sit by the bulkhead where everyone stands to go to the bathroom. H and I are seated three across. I get the middle, H is in the aisle and the young Mr. Lane (as the attendant calls him) is seated by the window. We heard from several of our friends who took an earlier flight on Jet Blue that the weather on the West Coast is bad...rain, wind, fog. Three Jet Blue crafts made unscheduled stops to refuel. Since fuel is the most expensive line item for air travel, planes these days are economizing by carrying only what they think they need, not a drop more. Hence the need to drop down and fuel up when going against bad weather which burns more fuel. Net/net: air travel is getting worse and worse all the time. 

Our United craft has seen better days. Everything about it is tired. The seats, the carpets, the body of the plane (lots of touch-up paint) and, the attendants themselves. Old, tired, cranky. We sit on the ground for an hour, strapped in our seat belts. I don't know what it is about flying but I always fall dead asleep before take-off, mouth open. It's a lovely sight, I'm sure. Just as we get the all clear to go, I spring to life. I'm bored already and we've got 6 hours and 41 minutes ahead of us. I'd take out a book to read, but as there is no overhead space, my Kindle is stowed away somewhere in First Class. I look around. 6 hours and 39 minutes to go. A video comes on. Why it's the CEO of United Airlines telling all of us about his vision for a bright future for United Airlines. He waxes enthusiastic about international flights and shows computer assisted designs of flat beds with goose down pillows. Meanwhile, I can't even get a glass of water from my grumpy attendant. I try to put myself in a positive frame of mind. I think back to the days when I couldn't even buckle my seat belt on the plane and had to carry a seat belt extender. I remember the humiliation of being on a private jet for my company and not being able to buckle up and not having had my extender with me. The steward came over with an extender and told me I had to buckle up.....in front of my new boss. Awful. Awful.

Within an hour, the carts come out and they begin serving food....in first class. They announce that they have some snacks available for sale in steerage. They direct us to the in-flight magazine to look at the "menu."  I can't reach the magazine as it is on the cabin door in a pocket. I can't get my purse because it is in an overhead compartment in First Class, with my Kindle. I imagine my purse and my Kindle talking to each other.

Kindle-She's gonna have a fit! She can't read, she can't buy snacks.
Purse (my Baggalini, the one Lyn thinks is beneath me): Poor M! Can't we do something to help her? She's been so nice to me, rescuing me from that cheap store.
Kindle-Maybe I'll download another of her romance novels for when we land. That always makes her happy.

The cart of food bypasses us because I don't have money. I feel like Oliver begging for food (Please, sir, can you spare some porridge?). I try to think positive thoughts. Maybe I'll lose weight by not eating lunch or dinner today. That would be great. The cart comes back our way an hour later. I ask if there is anything left. One chicken teriyaki wrap. I grab it and give it to Harrison. He is starving. He splits it in half and offers me some. I'm famished and take a bite. It's great. I can't eat it while he's hungry so I give it back to him and tell him I'm fine.

Think positive thoughts. I am losing weight. I fit in my seat without spilling over onto the young Mr. Lane. My seatbelt fits with room to spare. I will survive this flight. I look at this as an opportunity to practice self-control. I don't eat.  I watch A Dolphin's Tale, and I don't complain. I am a model of discipline.

After we arrive in San Francisco, we rent a car and drive to San Jose. We get to registration and the attendant announces that there are some packages awaiting our arrival. I look at the bags. My friend Abby left them for us. A bag full of healthy treats--fresh fruit, peppers and lemon hummus, clementines, apples, mixed berries, melon and pineapple. Some cookies for Harrison and Weight Watchers bars and low calorie jello for dessert. It was the most thoughtful welcome gift we ever got. Like finding a pot of gold at the end of a long journey. What a great welcome after the long flight. We had some fruit and slept like babies. Full, but on plan.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

a bar mitzvah (lyn)

Jill’s son is being Bar Mitvahed today. And it is snowing, for the first time this winter.  I abandon my plans to wear little booties and a nice shearling coat in favor of snow boots (not as bad as Uggs) and a more practical winter coat with a hood. 

The service is beautiful.  It’s held in an intimate chapel, and the cantor and rabbi, both women, captivate the audience with their beautiful voices.  Jill’s son does a masterful job of reading his Haftorah, and then gives a personal interpretation of its meaning.  His speech is laced with humor, and we are all impressed with the presence this young man commands.  After the ceremony, we all head over to DUMBO (in Brooklyn) where the party is being held.

Jill has chosen a very cool, non-traditional place for the celebration. The music, the food, and the company are all great.  I don’t dance because everyone who is dancing is so good.  Jill’s son is a professional dancer and it shows.  He dances like I dance in my best dreams.  I eat too many of the little hamburger sliders and fries, and can’t resist the shot-glass milk shake.  Then there are the turkey meatballs in some kind of exotic sauce, and shrimp.  The only thing I say no to are the mini mac and cheeses.  And that’s all before the main course of salmon skewers, mashed potatoes, and vegetables.

There is entertainment, heartwarming speeches, more dancing and more food.  There is a montage of Jill’s son, showing him from birth until now.  It’s maybe ten minutes long, and that’s about how fast it feels in real time.

You take them home wrapped in their little blankets, and poof, they are being Bar Mitvahed, and the next minute they’re off to college.  Hold onto them while you can.

Friday, January 20, 2012

a recent poll on body image (lyn)

Fitness Magazine recently conducted a poll, and found that:

More than 50% of women think they look fat, and
The body part that women hate most is their thighs.

I don’t think I look fat any more; in fact, if I am wearing the right clothes I think I actually look thin.  But my hips still overlap my jeans.  Why is that?

I wear a size 27 jean, down from a 30 or 31 in 2009.  But still, my hips don’t fit snuggly inside my jeans.  Is this age?  Lack of exercise?  Or something else?

Tonight at book club I have a little bit of everything-vegetables in dip, a mixture of crackers, cheese, saltines, and chocolate.  I feel like the only one eating.  And I know I’m eating just because it’s there.

Maybe that’s the something else. Since I’ve stopped tracking, I give myself more liberty to eat.  When tracking, it’s easier to skip the snacking or the unfamiliar foods than to try and calculate their point values.

As for the body part I hate most…. I’m not thrilled with my thighs, but then again, I’m not too fond of my upper arms either.  It’d be hard to decide which I hate more; I'm glad I wasn't polled.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

a new food discovery (lyn)

For a while now, Zelia has been telling me about the salad bar at Fairway, so this afternoon I go there.  For $7.99, this is what you can get:
  • A good size serving of greens (I choose romaine)
  • Six toppings (I struggle to find six I want, but eventually end up with beets, kidney beans, artichokes, peas, corn, and tomatoes)
  • One cheese (I like goat)
  • Chopped or not chopped (I get a version in-between)
Then, for a dollar more, you can add a protein (beef, shrimp, or chicken; I choose chicken).

As my salad is being semi-chopped, a Fairway employer returns two bins of cranberries and mushrooms. I get a little of each at no charge.

I ask for the dressing (balsamic) on the side, and have a $9 dinner for two nights.  I doubt I could buy the ingredients for less.

I get home around seven and feel like sushi.  I’m sure the salad will be just as good this weekend.  At least I hope so.  A $9 dinner is only a good value if I eat it.

an unexpected gift (lyn)

The doorman hands me a package as I’m coming in the building.  I’m not expecting anything.  I open it and inside is a book, Food Rules, an Eater’s Manual, by Michale Pollan, with illustrations by Maira Kalman.

It’s the most adorable book, dropped off by Gail.  In total-Gail fashion, it’s wrapped in a red ribbon and inscribed with a touching message.  I start skimming through it, and immediately am drawn in.  It’s a nice respite from the harrowing and gruesome WWII survival story I am currently reading for book club (Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand). 

And, if I wanted to put off reading it for a year (which I don’t), I could read the entire book while waiting for my gynecologist! 

a class action suit waiting to happen (lyn)

A month ago Alexander and I both get new iPhone 4S's.  I settle on the 200MB monthly data plan of $15 per phone.   I don’t know how to measure data usage (as it turns out, no one does).  I use the only tool available to me…my own history.  Before my new iPhone, I had an iPhone 3G.  For the past three years, I haven’t exceeded 90MB a month except for one month when I was traveling.  So purchasing a plan that offers 200MB feels right.  I even cancel my unlimited data usage plan of $30/month that is no longer being offered.

Within 16 days of having our new phones, Alexander has used 198MB and I have used almost 100.  Something is wrong.  I call AT&T, and explain the problem.  Larry appears to understand and advises me to go to the nearest AT&T store, bring my phone, and there, “A technician will be able to analyze your usage in detail and see if there is a problem with the phone.”  Sounds like reasonable advice to me, and so I follow it.

At the store, Robert greets me with a big smile, and says, “How can I help?”  I answer with, “Oh, Robert, you are probably going to regret getting me as your next customer.”  Before I leave, I’m sure he does.

Robert helps me as far as he can.  He calls an iPhone specialist; she’s not helpful.  We speak to an escalation person.  He is the least helpful, suggesting that maybe I just use more data than I think I do (even though my texts, internet and emails prove differently).  Robert’s manager gets involved.  She is nice but offers no answer (but does give me a $30 credit for my time).  After ninety frustrating minutes, this is what I learn:  AT&T cannot verify usage data.  If they say you use two billion GB of data in a month, there is no way to refute it.  And, you must pay for it.

Imagine if the food industry operated that way. 

Me:  How could I gain 10 pounds in a month from eating an entire Entenmann’s Chocolate Fudge cake every day? 

Entenmann’s Rep:  I’m not sure, ma’am.  The nutritional labeling says it’s only 1 calorie per slice, or 8 calories for the whole cake. 

Me:  But how can that be?  I’ve gotten so fat from eating it! 

Entenmann’s Rep:  I’m sorry ma’am, but the label says its only 8 calories. 

Me:  But what if the label turns out to be wrong? 

Entenmann’s Rep:  The label is NOT wrong.

Me:  How do you know it’s not wrong?  How do you calculate the calories?

Entenmann’s Rep:  I can’t tell you that.  All I can say is that the label says its 8 calories, so that's what it is.  Labels don't lie.  You probably had a Big Mac and Large Fries for lunch every day and just forgot!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

drop-in surprise (m)

Years ago, a woman named S worked for me.  Very smart, very ambitious.  She met and fell in love with D.  They were perfectly suited for each other.  They both liked clothes and shopping.  I think you catch my drift.

Their wedding was phenomenal.  It was in New York and I stayed at my friend Susan's in Wesport, CT. for the weekend.  I am in their wedding video, dancing up a storm. 

Years later, they moved to a large house on my street where they began to raise their four beautiful, athletic children.

Then all hell broke loose.  D left S for another man.  They had to sell the house.  We were so sad when they left our neighborhood.

Since then, S has opened a great store in a nearby town.  Very hip, edgy clothes and accessories.  It was written up in Daily Candy.  I've bought a few things there, mostly scarves, bracelets and purses. 

The other day, I had a meeting with someone who is starting a business and wants me to join her.  She chose the restaurant.  It was right across the street from S's shop.  I was early, so I went in.

S was working that day and I was so happy to see her.  Her jaw dropped.  She hadn't seen me since I lost weight. 

I wanted to give her some business, so I instinctly went to the scarves.  She laughed and said, "I think you can look at the clothes now!"

Not quite.  But it was nice that she thought so.

veggie egg white (m)

On the go all day today.  Getting ready for our trip to California on Friday.  Hair cut, manicure/pedicure (mostly because I will have to take my shoes off at security in the airport and I don't wear socks-ever) and teeth cleaning at the dentist.

No time for breakfast.  Between appointments and errands, I stop for something to eat at Dunkin' Donuts.  I am so hungry, I want to order two orders of hash browns, a bagel with cream cheese and some chocolate munchkins for dessert.  Instead, I order green tea--black--with lemon and I debate which protein option is the leanest.  I decide on one of the egg wraps.  The staff in this Dunkin' Donuts is all-Vietnamese.  A family, I think.

Here goes:

Man: What else I get you?
Me: Ah, I'll have an egg and cheese breakfast wrap.
Man: Egg and cheese wrap?
Me: No...I changed my mind.  I'll have an egg white veggie flatbread sandwich.
Man: No egg and cheese wrap?
Man: No bread?
Me: No bread.  Oh, and no cheese, either.
Man: No bread no cheese?
Me: Yes, that's right.
Man: You change mind.  Bread and cheese now?
Man; (hollering to the "cook" at the microwave) (in Vietnamese).  #$$#%^veggieeggwhitenobreadnocheese.
Cook: $%$#*&^&*%veggieeggwhitenobreadnocheeseHAHAHA!

I get my order and look at it.  Wrapped in paper is a saucer-shaped white thing with speckles of green and red --presumably the peppers.  It looks like something the Jetsons would eat.  I sit and eat it --with my hands.  I feel eyes on me.  I look up and the man and the cook are snickering behind the counter.

I suppose it is a pretty ridiculous sight.

paula dean (m)

My Cousin Patty lives to eat.  Everything she does or talks about involves food.  She has Type II diabetes and her blood sugar level is in the stratosphere.  We're talking mid-400s.

I'm not telling tales out of school here.  She would tell you herself within five minutes of meeting you. 

Patty is on vacation in Hilton Head this week.  She is stunned to discover it's for golfers.  She doesn't play golf.  It's 59 degrees there and 50 degrees in Boston.  A long way to go for a 9-degree difference, if you ask me.

Patty: Did you hear?  Paula Dean has Type II diabetes!  That's what I have.
Me: I know, I heard.
Patty: What do you think?
Me: About what? Paula Dean? I don't care about Paula Dean (honestly, I can't stand her and her chubby hands and her trailer park cuisine).
Patty: Well, it's too bad, don't you think?

No.  I don't think.  I have always believed you have to be prepared to take the consequences of your own actions.  I have no sympathy for Paula Dean.  I don't wish her ill but I'm not surprised that a lifetime around fats and sugars resulted in an unfortunate, but manageable condition.

No.  What's too bad in my opinion is my friend, Anne, dying of liver cancer at the age of 48 after a lifetime of clean living.

the waiting game (lyn)

I have an appointment this morning at my gynecologist.  I’ve been seeing her for at least 13 years, probably longer.  She can be prickly and narcissistic, but is smart and competent.

By the time I shower and check emails, it’s time to leave, and I haven’t eaten breakfast. I’m at the bus stop by 8:30, and again marvel at all the people who routinely are up and out and starting work at this time.  I can’t believe I used to be one of them. 

I stop at a Dunkin’ Donuts near my doctor’s office for coffee, and see all the calories listed next to the menu items.  I splurge and have two donut holes for a combined caloric intake of 150 calories.  I know these are empty calories, but I’m hungry.

I arrive at the doctor’s office by 9:05, for my 9:15 appointment.    First, I am handed an electronic note pad and asked to update all my information.  This high-tech approach is incongruous with the low-tech, slightly shabby office.  After checking-in, the waiting begins.  This three-pronged waiting process is the most annoying part of my visit.  Here’s how it works. 

Phase One:  Wait upstairs with many patients until you are called and handed your physical file (mine is huge as I have been coming for many years; too bad this isn’t digitized like my much smaller contact info is).

Phase Two: Proceed to lower level, file in hand, where you wait with fewer patients.

Phase Three: Enter exam room, strip naked, put on a paper dress (open in the front) and await the arrival of the doctor.

So, I’m still upstairs waiting, when I decide this is ridiculous.  45 minutes and I haven’t even progressed to phase two yet.  This happens every time I come.  I think it’s insulting.  Doesn’t my time count?  What, are three patients all scheduled for the same time slot?  Why does this seem to only happen here?  I even suggest to the billing clerk that if I am charged $25 for cancelling, they should pay me $25 for waiting.  She probably thinks I’m absurd; if she is, she would be right.

Finally, I am led downstairs, and phases two and three pass quickly.  But not before I mention to my doctor’s nurse that this will probably be my last time here, as I hate waiting an hour or more every time I come.  She just shrugs and continues with her paperwork.  Someone probably said, “There’s this anxious b***ch upstairs, could someone PLEASE see her?!” 

After 65 minutes of waiting, I finally get to see my doctor.  I notice right away that all the weight she lost last year appears to be back.  She doesn’t comment that mine is still off.   But she’s friendlier and chattier than usual.  We talk about kids (mostly hers, but that’s okay), how expensive college is (she tells me that she only has $1,000 left in savings), and my health (which is fine).  By the time my exam ends, I have forgotten the wait, and realize that I both like and trust my doctor.

Before leaving, I apologize to the billing clerk and the nurse.  I mean really, what’s an hour of waiting once a year?  I just hope I remember this next time I'm here.

polish thinner (lyn)

I get an email from Gail.  I’m her weight watcher’s buddy and track her performance weekly.    It begins,

Bwaaaaaaahhhh!  I am UP 1.6 pounds.  Hate that.

A few minutes later I get another email from Gail.

Just opened a package from Sephora.
They send along “gifts.”  

Today they sent me these three tiny bottles of nail polish: Sephora by OPI in a base, a color, and a top coat.

The name of the polish (it’s a purple color)?

“Iris I Was Thinner”


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

lunch at dovetail (lyn)

I moved to New York in January of 1985, and soon after meet Carol.  She is my first friend here, and that summer, we share a house with 20 others in Westhampton. 

Then I meet Abby; here we are in 1989.

And soon after, through Abby, I meet Alice (this was taken in 1992).

All three were-and are-accomplished, bright, interesting, and fun.  By the early 90's, Abby and Carol had moved to Westchester, married, and had three children each.  Alice and I stayed in the city, she living downtown and me living uptown; both of us had a child.

In March of 2009, we all get together for lunch, the first time in too many years to count.  We have such a great time that we decide to make it a monthly thing.  We set a date for our second lunch for sometime in April.  Something comes up and we need to reschedule.  Things happen and life continues and now, here it is, almost three years later, and we are getting together for our second lunch.

The next 20 days in NYC are restaurant week (it must have started as 7-days)….many of the best restaurants are offering 3-course lunch and dinner specials for $24.07 and $35 respectively.  It is a great deal, and a nice opportunity to visit new restaurants.  Carol chooses Dovetail on the west side, and we all eagerly agree.

I spend time on my hair, washing it and blowing it out.  I wear one of my little black skirt outfits.  I get to the bus stop across the street and it is steadily raining, thereby erasing my hair effort. 

The bus slowly meanders its way crosstown and I arrive late.  I am not exaggerating when I say that each of my friends looks prettier, healthier, thinner, and more vibrant than when I first met them in the mid-80’s.  As we are talking over each other to catch up, Carol looks across the restaurant and sees, like us, a table of four women.  They may not be much older than we are, but they have that senior look….grey hair in a I'm-not-young-anymore style.  Carol asks, “Do you think we will ever look like them?”  We look over and all agree that no, never.  Despite our ages, we will always be youthful, though our kids would probably disagree.  I try to sneak a picture of this other table, but am unsuccessful at getting all four.  One of the women looks at me with knowing eyes; I feel like a stalker. This is all I am able to get:

 Meanwhile, Carol announces her two goals for the new year.
  1. To give up eating only kosher foods.
  2. To learn how to drink a martini.
Her family is encouraging of the former (perhaps of the latter too), but she is finding it difficult.  We assure her that someday, if she tries really really hard, she may be able to eat a non-kosher hot pastrami sandwich and enjoy it.

The food at Dovetail is amazing and interesting.  The braised lamb appetizer (in a puff pastry with beets and mint) is excellent, and beautifully presented.

The salmon (with brussel sprouts, parsnips, and grapefruit) is also good.  I get lost in the conversation and forget to snap a picture.  Besides, the four women at the other table are still glaring at ours, expecting me to try and grab another photo of them.

Dessert is almost too pretty to eat.  I get the “bittersweet chocolate cremeux tangerine, olive oil crumble, cinnamon ice cream.” 

All the servings are small and exquisitely plated.  It is an elegant dining experience, except for all the laughter.  Two hours sneak by, and too soon we have to leave.  We still have many more stories to tell and news to relate.

We schedule our next lunch for March.  I hope nothing gets in the way, as today’s lunch was an astonishingly delicious treat.