Saturday, March 31, 2012

a thrilling saturday night (lyn)

It's the kind of cold that goes right through you.  Damp and freezing.  Not exactly the going-out-like-a lamb kind of end-of-March day.  Zelia and I meet to see an early movie  (The Hunger Games).  The disturbing premise of the film detracts from its enjoyment.  It’s hard for me to praise a movie about the killing off of young kids sometime in the future.  But then, I’m not the target audience.  Alexander and his friends also see it tonight and love it.

After the movie Zelia and I have dinner at Ging’s. We both order shrimp with vegetables.  She’s a good influence on healthy eating.

On my way home, around 10:30, I stop by Fairway and pick up their tomato-basil soup, some freshly ground French vanilla coffee, a turkey pot pie, and some fruit. The store is packed.  It's good to see others taking full advantage of New York City's exciting nightlife.

Friday, March 30, 2012

two years later (lyn)

When I was really on weight watchers, I was totally committed.  I religiously tracked every morsel of food I ate.  I weighed things to insure accuracy of my tracking.  If I weren't sure, I erred on the high side.  I never exceeded my points for the week.  I never went AWOL.  I was the perfect student and it showed.  In exactly 32 weeks, I lost 37.2 pounds, going from 160 to 122.8 (by April 28, 2010). Few things have made me feel as good.   Lucky I wasn’t interviewing for a job then and asked, “So, what are you most proud of?”

I got rid of all my big clothes, and bought (or recycled from my skinny days) skirts and pants in sizes 4 or 6.  I was back comfortably in small and medium tops.  I could easily button all my shirts.  My jeans were again a size 27 or 28.   That was almost two years ago, and all these clothes still fit.  

But I am no longer as vigilant as I once was.  I no longer track.  I no longer weigh foods.  And if I want a big piece of key lime pie for dessert, I just have it.  By doing this, I have been unable to lose the three pounds I’d like off.  Lately, I find myself thinking about food more than I have in the past.  Sometimes my day feels focused on what I’ll be having for dinner.  I attribute this to not being busy enough.  The project I’m working on is moving at a snail’s pace.  I don’t like to aimlessly wander the streets because I know I will inevitably find something to buy. I no longer have a son living at home, which eliminates the mundane, but time-consuming errands I once did for him.

Yes, I know, I could exercise more.  And yes, I know, I could track again for a few weeks.  But right now I don’t feel like doing either.  I just want to wake up, step on the scale, and magically see the number 122 again... a number I haven't consistently seen this year.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

winning the lottery (lyn)

Meredith and I meet for dinner at Five Napkin Burger.  The name references the number of napkins needed to sop up the juice from one of their gigantic burgers.  We’ve had the plan for a few weeks, but as the night approaches, I am still on the high side of what I want to weigh, and I’ll be celebrating two nights of Passover next week.  As much as I want the burger, before leaving home, I scan Menupages for an alternative. 

The restaurant is crowded, but we get a nice window booth.  Seated at the table near ours is a family with three young children.  The baby, about one, is screeching.  But she quickly wins us over with a big smile and an effort at friendliness.  When you are that cute, it doesn’t take much.  Our waiter, though not cute at all, could learn a lot from this one-year old.  He makes no attempt to accommodate, and effortlessly conveys his annoyance at being a waiter.  Clearly this is not his dream job.

I skip the burger, as much as I want it and as good as it looks, and get instead three lobster roll sliders on little brioche buns, with perfectly cooked fries.  The meal is good, but not nearly as good as the fresh lobster I get at Cataumet Fish Market on the Cape ( for half the price).

I talk to Meredith almost daily, but we still have so much to say when we get together.  Among the things we talk about is how we’d spend 640 million (actually 225 million after-taxes) if we win the Mega Million jackpot tomorrow.  Meredith surprises me by saying that whatever plan she’s thought about, it always includes me.  I almost tear-up.  It’s one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me.  The odds of winning are ridiculously low, but in some ways I feel as if I’ve already won, just minus the driver and four-bedroom terraced apartment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

bitch, bitch, bitch (part two) lyn

My handyman is standing outside my building.  I ask him if he can come up and fix something.  It is 10:15am.  He says, “I can’t right now.  I’m watching my car.”  He has to wait until 10:30 until his parking space is legal.  Then he forgets and doesn’t come at all.

My cable box no longer allows me to restart a program.  I call Time Warner cable.  Twenty minutes and a million prompts later I get someone.  “There’s a problem in your area.  We will let you know when it’s fixed.”  A week later and it’s still not working.  I call back.  Again, twenty minutes and a million prompts later. This time I’m told to schedule an appointment.  First one is five days from the call.  And then I have to be around for a four-hour window.  Really!  So I wait.  The guy comes.  He replaces the faulty cable box.  He leaves.  It’s not working within an hour of his departure.  I call back.  Another twenty-minute call and a new appointment for later today.  The new cable guy comes, Pedro.  He’s great.  “Why did the last guy give you an old cable box?  We have newer ones that are better and have twice the capacity.”  No need to wonder why people hate cable.

The indifferent, middle-aged receptionist is on the phone when I arrive for my doctor’s appointment.  She continues talking and hands me a form.  She mimes a scribbly motion indicating I should complete the form.  As I’m filling out the boxes, her phone call continues.  She is clearly talking to a friend.  The other phone rings, and I hear, “Hi, I’m calling from Doctor so-and-so’s office.  I’d like to schedule an appointment for one of our patients.”  “The receptionist says, “Hold please,” and puts the caller on hold.  She then goes back to her friend on line one.  “So,” she begins, “Did I tell you I got my ears pierced in Queens this weekend?  Yup, my kids couldn’t believe it.  Now I have to throw out all my old earrings."  She continues to chit-chat about life, her middle-age adventures, and plans for lunch.  She shows zero concern for the poor person on hold.  Even I’m getting upset for the long wait.  Finally, after ten minutes or so, the receptionist says good-bye to her friend and picks up the other call.  No apologies.  Just, “Yes, hello, you said you needed to schedule an appointment?”  This could be me on the line waiting.  Appalling.

Why do people who speak on their cells in a foreign language seem to talk so much louder than those speaking English?

My last day at Weight Watchers with Steve as leader.  It’s like having your favorite lipstick be discontinued.  I hope I can stay thin while I mourn.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

must-have cosmetics (lyn)

Like most people, I have tons of makeup, even though I wear little.  I remember being home last summer and my mom saying, “Why don’t you put on a little make-up?”  That, after I already had.  My sister is always telling me that mascara is a must “at our age.”  I like a natural look, some might say too natural. 

Over time, I have accumulated all different types of blushes, lipsticks, eye pencils, primers, eye shadows (which I rarely wear), and the can't-live-without specialty items.

I have clear plastic boxes, neatly labeled:  Face, Hair, Lips-Eyes-Cheeks, and Body.  They are filled with cosmetics (many unopened) I think I might someday use, but probably won't.    But there are some items I love.  Watching my weight takes care of part of me; the other part is helped with cosmetics.  So I thought I’d make a short list of my few must-haves.

  • Le Mer crème moisturizer.   It’s expensive but worth the money. 
  • Kate Somerville Quench. Goes on under makeup, feels great, and adds moisture without feeling greasy.
  •  Sarah McNamara’s Miracle Skin Transformer.   I recently discovered this item after watching one of those beauty segments on The Today Show.  It’s described as “an antioxidant hydrating tinted skin enhancer with SPF 20.”   It feels great going on, and provides the perfect amount of coverage.  I'll risk sounding ridiculous and say it really is transforming.
Eye/Eye Area
  • Colorscience My Favorite Eye Cream-that’s its name, and its name fits.  The product is a yellowish cream for under the eyes.   It brightens my face, and is mineral-based (like all the company’s products).  
  • Giorgio Armani's Eyes to Kill mascara.  It’s not clumpy, and looks natural on.  I don’t like a heavy-feeling mascara, and this is lightweight but does the job.
  • Terry Lip Baum.  I have both the little tub (to keep next to my bed) and the wand to throw in my purse.  Love the way it feels, and it really works.
  • Benefit’s Benetint Lip Balm.  Saw Shari wearing it last week and loved it. Not only does it give a nice red tint to my lips,  it’s not sticky at all.
  • Pequi Oil Treatment by Coutour Colour.  This is another product I heard about on The Today Show. It’s a light oil that makes hair behave and shine.
  • Jo Malone Cologne in Grapefruit.  In 2005, the Smell and Taste Institute in Chicago conducted a study that concluded as follows: The scent of grapefruit remarkably changed men's perceptions. When male volunteers were asked to write down how old the woman with grapefruit odor was, the age was considerably less than the women's actual ages.  This sold me.
So these are mine.  Would love to hear about yours.  Write and tell me.

mission aborted (lyn)

I get up early and then, since I’m up, decide to exercise.  I get dressed and go downstairs.  The night doorman is still on duty.  He’s even awake which is unusual for him.  I go outside.  It’s freezing.  Last week it was almost 80; today is about 30.  I return to my apartment. 

At least the thought of exercising was on my mind.  That should count for something.

Monday, March 26, 2012

a lunch too short (lyn)

Abby, Carol, Alice and I meet for lunch.  We last got together in January, so for us, it’s not been that long.  This time, Abby picks the restaurant, Madison and Vine.  Aside from being a little noisy, it’s a great choice.  Everyone is on time, and everyone looks great.  Within seconds of hugging hello, we are in deep conversation.  So much to say and so little time.

I had hoped to eat light, but the menu is too tempting. I order steamed asparagus with a hollandaise sauce and goat cheese for a starter, and an arugula salad with chicken paillard for the main course.  While the food is good, we hardly notice.  We are too involved in all the stories erupting around the table.  We talk about our children, our aging parents, news articles, ethical dilemmas, what if’s, and work.  We get coffee, talk some more, and in seconds, two hours have passed.

I bring my camera and ask the waitress to snap a picture.  She’d probably rather be taking a photo of one of the guys from Queer Eye who is sitting behind us.  He, and his glittery shoes, look more interesting.  But as everyone knows, looks can be deceiving.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

an infrequent boy friend (lyn)

On my birthday I receive an email from John.  I have it memorized.  It says:

Happy Birthday

The last I heard from him was when we went to the Woodstock Museum last November.  We have a slow-moving relationship.  This will be our seventh date in three years.  Here is our 10-step pattern.

  1. I call John.  He sounds happy to hear from me.
  2. I suggest getting together.  He always says yes, without hesitation.
  3. We make a plan. 
  4. John is reliable, and always arrives on time.
  5. He picks me up (in a car) and we drive to a very nice restaurant. 
  6. He is always well-dressed.
  7. I usually wear a black skirt, black pants, or jeans.
  8. We have a great night.
  9. Four or five months later, I call John again. 
  10. Return to step two,
John picks me at 6.  Despite a drive in from New Jersey, John arrives precisely on time. He gives me three choices:  Italian, Seafood, or Steak.  I choose steak and we got to Wolfgang’s.

An omen for the good night to come is the parking space on Park Avenue South that John finds directly in front of the restaurant.  We are given a perfect little corner table.  Dinner starts with my ordering a Cosmopolitan and John, a real guy’s-guy, getting a mimosa, which I find funny.  He looks like he’d be getting a more manly drink.  But he likes champagne and I like that he gets what he wants.  The Cosmopolitan I have is so good, I am sure they’ve forgotten the vodka.  Even the second one I order seems to be missing the alcohol, though my speech suggests otherwise.

For starters, we order the lobster cocktail.  It arrives as a main course entrée disguised as an appetizer.  It’s not a small piece of lobster surrounded by lettuce.  No, it’s an entire cold lobster, shelled, with cocktail sauce.  It’d make a perfect meal, but I still have a strip steak (charred on the outside, medium rare inside) coming.  It arrives sliced, and cooked to perfection.  I have only two small slices and take the rest home.  Dessert is a cup of cappuccino and a piece of key lime pie with a gigantic mound of whipped cream (I leave a little of the whipped cream).

The extraordinary dinner matches the ease and fun of the night.  Before saying goodnight, I tell John I am breaking our pattern and next time we get together  I’ll be taking him to theater.  And that will definitely happen in less than four months.

cholesterol (m)

My annual exam with my doctor--the uber-fit svelte blonde who climbs Mayan ruins for fun.  The one who asked, "Did you lose some weight," after I dropped the first 50 pounds.  I have been avoiding this moment so much that my "annual" exam occurred at a 15-month interval. 

It begins with a blood and urine test, taken earlier this week.  I fasted for 15 hours thinking that might erase the last traces of the bag of Hershey's Kisses I ate in Florida after sending back uncooked shrimp one day and a grilled chicken caesar salad with grilled lettuce but not chicken a few days later.

I arrive stressed, fresh from a fight with another motorist who slowed down at every yellow light.  I sat unnecessarily through five red lights because of this person.  I took deep breaths in the waiting room trying to calm myself down.  There is no real wait as I arrive two minutes after my scheduled appointment.

The lovely Haitian nurse calls my name in a thick French accent.  I go with her and she stops at the scale.  "I don't do that," I tell her.  I never weigh in.  She insists.  I refuse.  She asks if she can at least get my height.  I tell her no.  Of all statistics, the height of a 57 year old woman has to be the least relevant.  Besides, you have to step on the scale to measure the height.  I smell a trick.  She sighs and tells me to come with her to Room 6.

She gives me a johnnie to put on.  It's maroon.  You normal sized people wouldn't know this but they color-code johnnies by size.  The maroon one in my health plan is for normal sized people.  The turquoise (a more flattering color, especially with my tan) is for the oversized people.  I am happy that I get maroon even though it makes me look very dark.  The sleeves are a little tight.  Note to self: work on those arms!

Blood pressure is 110/70.  Excellent.  Must be the biking I'm doing.

Dr. Prep breezes in and extends her hand for a shake.  Really, do I want to shake the hand of a person who has done about 5 Pap Smears already? Not to mention those with communicable diseases like the flu?

My doctor examines every inch of my body and says things look good.  She asks if I'm planning to lose the rest of the weight.  I tell her yes but I've been stuck.  We talk about why.  And then I start to cry.  This is not planned.  She asks why I'm upset.  Good question.  All that comes to me is my friend Anne.  I tell her about Anne, the liver cancer, the brave fight for 2.5 years, the untimely death last September.  I feel better getting that out of my system. 

We review my urine and blood test results.  Urine looks fine.  Blood is not.  Cholesterol--never a problem for me-- is way up.  She asks about what I eat.  Well, since Weight Watchers, I eat alot of fish...shrimp, lobster, oysters, mussels.  She tells me they are loaded with cholesterol and to GIVE THEM UP COMPLETELY.  The one egg four times a week that I mix into my egg whites to make a tolerable omelet is also gone.  All egg white all the way.

She tells me things look perfect otherwise and that she wants another blood test in three months.

I have to completely re-tool my diet in the meantime.

Great.  What helped me lose weight is causing another problem. 

I get up, get dressed and Purell my hands until they are raw.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

final night of break (lyn)

Some fruit for lunch, that’s what I decide.  Alexander and I have plans for a nice dinner.  He’s agreed to dine with me on his last night in town.  Around noon Ellen calls and suggests meeting for coffee that evolves into a date for lunch.  We go to a little French bakery/restaurant nearby.  Calories aside, it’s the perfect little neighborhood place.  I end up getting two mini sandwiches---one tuna and one smoked chicken salad.  Delicious, but not filling.  I am still hungry when we leave. 

Alexander’s day is already traveling at a faster pace than his actions in it.  He gets up late.  He has to work on a paper.  He needs a haircut.  He doesn’t have enough time to see a couple of friends he’d hope to see. He needs to restock on shaving cream.  He has to return a pair of shorts borrowed from a friend.  He'll need to skip our shopping date for spring clothes.  He left his headphones at someone’s house and needs to pick them up.  And, it’s already after one by the time he begins moving.

We  decide on a plan (the movie 21 Jump Street and dinner) late in the day.  The restaurant I’d hope to go to is booked except for a 6pm or 10pm seating.  The burger place we both love (and that doesn’t take reservations) is a twenty-minute wait when we arrive.  We only have an hour before the movie starts.  We leave the burger place and end up seated at a diner near the theater.  It’s so un-special we leave  and go next door to China Fun.  We order spring rolls and two dishes (prawns with vegetables and chicken with broccoli).  Nothing is fried; there are vegetables in abundance; and the food is surprisingly good.  We finish everything and just make the movie.  It’s hilarious.

Tomorrow Alexander returns to Cornell…with, I hope, renewed motivation to do well.  I already miss him.

Friday, March 23, 2012

a new kind of problem (lyn)

Wake up late and hear no movement coming from Alexander’s room.  It’s 8:40 and he needs to be at work by 9.  How does this child manage when I’m not around?  I wake him and he’s out the door in minutes.  Seems he can move quickly when he has to.  This comes as a surprise to me, as I haven’t seen him in action for ages. 

Drink a couple of cups of coffee, and skip breakfast.  Around two, still haven’t eaten, and am starving.  Make a quick little salad, and am not satisfied.  Grab some cashews after and probably ruin my plan for a light lunch. 

Go to the post office to mail a small package.  The line is long and not moving.  Every customer is taking forever.  Are these people re-negotiating their mortgages?  The scruffy guy in front of me takes on the role as leader, and turns to the growing line behind me to explain what is going on.  “The problem,” he announces, “is with the customers.  They are not prepared.  They don’t know what they want to do.  They haven’t filled out the proper forms.  They don’t know the difference between regular mail and priority mail.”  He gets no response.  He pauses and adds,  “These are uptown problems, man.”  Hmmm.  I come home and debate between having a cookie or a clementine.  Another uptown problem?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

oh no (lyn)

I’m relaxing in bed, playing my latest addiction, Words With Friends on my iPhone.  Some of the people I'm playing with are friends I haven’t spoken to in decades.  I hear a ping, notifying me of a new email.  Probably one of the many Groupon-type notifications that seem to stalk me hourly.  Everyone on the planet must know of my other addiction: shopping.

The email is from one of my Weight Watcher friends. Here’s how the email begins:

Hi Lyn, 
Saw you just weigh in and not stay for the meeting on Wednesday.  I just want to let you know the Steve made an announcement that next week will be his LAST meeting.  He's moving to Maine.  

Steve, our smart, funny, empathetic leader is moving to Maine to help a good friend open a bakery.  Love the irony.  Somehow I never pictured Steve leaving us.  I know it's a cliche, but truly, weight watchers won't be the same without him.

cleaning aunt y's house (m)

My brothers, cousins and I have spent several hours each cleaning Aunt Y's home.  Not to tell tales out of school, but she was a hoarder.  Example: 6 coffee pots, 8 ice buckets.  Hundreds of plastic grocery bags she must have lifted off the hook in the store as they were new.  Hundreds of packages of Sweet 'N Low (which she never used).  It's a wonder the restaurants didn't go bankrupt.

My brother, Phil, is the executor of her estate.  He asks if there is anything of hers I want.  What could I possibly want from this house?  Sweet 'N Low?  Outdated cans of tomatoes? I look at Phil as if to say: is this a trick question?  He gives me a little statue of two skiers to add to Misfit Village (my Christmas village where nothing matches which drives him crazy).

During my break, Aunt X asks me to give her a pedicure.  Here we go again.  This is how I tore the meniscus in my knees back in 2007 when I gave Aunt Y a pedicure.  Granted, I was 70 pounds heavier and on my knees at a bad angle for over an hour. 

Looking for the nail polish (almost all of which is dried out), I find a note in hAunt Y's toiletries drawer.  She must have written it just a short while ago as the handwriting is very shaky.  The words don't quite make sense at first.  I put my eyeglasses on (probably should have them on anyway if I'm doing my aunt's toes for the wedding this weekend).

I can see better now.  What's this?  The note reads: "I love M."

Who knew there was something this valuable in this house?

cover up (m)

Trolling TJ Maxx this afternoon, I stumble upon the beachwear section.  There is no way I'd buy a bathing suit here but I am intrigued by the sign that says, "Cover-ups"  My cover-ups that I brought to Florida with me were too big and too casual.  I could spiff up my act a bit so I take a look.

White transparent fabric, black crocheted fabric with holes big enough to put a baseball through.  White lace.  Black lace.

All of them see-through.

That is not my idea of covering up.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

spring is here (lyn)

A CBS weatherman announces the winter just ending as the warmest on record in New York City, with temperatures averaging 41.6 degrees.  And barely any snow.  So disappointing.

But spring is starting off warm and lovely.  I go for a short, two-mile walk, and stop by the weight watchers place, having remembered that I need to weigh-in before the month ends.  124.6. I was 121.6 at the end of 2011.  I do want to lose those three pounds, but have been finding it difficult.  I think 124 is closer to my natural weight.  That, and I guess I haven’t been trying terribly hard either.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

food fight (m)

Last night at the hotel in Florida.  T and Sam were fishing all day.  I was hoping to go out for dinner, but one look at my almost sun-stroked husband convinces me we should stay in.  We decide to watch movies and order room service.  The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and Iron Lady.  A marathon for us given this is as many movies as we have seen in twelve months.  Two in one night.  Big doings.

I check the suite.  No room service menus.  I call down and ask what they have.  We settle on tomato basil soup and a salad for T and I order the "grilled chicken Caesar" with olive oil and vinegar on the side.

Thirty minutes later, the food arrives.  I'm already bored with The Iron Lady.  Meryl Streep was terrific; the movie is another story.

T signs for the food and I clear off the table in the dining area which has been the repository for iPads, cell phone chargers, etc.

The room service person leaves and I lift the covers off the food and....gasp!

Let me ask you a question.  What would you expect a "grilled chicken Caesar salad" to look like?  I think it's fair to say every one of you has had at least one at some point in your lives.  I bet it didn't look anything like what was on my plate.  Picture this:  a full head of Romaine lettuce, cleaved in half, vertically.  Now, put the inside edge of the lettuce face-down on the grill.  Next, flip it over.  Arrange the two halves so that they meet at a point on the bottom of their stems.  Put the chicken (which, by the way, was NOT grilled!) in the middle.  Seriously.

I call down to the restaurant.

Restaurant:  Good evening, Fiorello's (which burns my ass since there's nothing Italian about this place).
Me: Yes, hello, this is Room 639 calling.
Restaurant: (I swear I hear a big sigh.  No, I know I did.  They must remember me as the one who sent the undercooked shrimp back two nights before).  Yes?
Me: Yes, well, I just got a grilled chicken Caesar salad for room service and I don't want it.
Restaurant: Why not?
Me: It's bizarre.  That's why.  The chicken is not grilled.  The lettuce is grilled.  It's hot and it's limp.  By the way, how could you possibly wash the lettuce without separating it from the stem?
Restaurant: I don't know.
Me: Please come and get it and take it off the bill, okay?
Restaurant: What DO you want.
Me: Nothing.  I have fruit in the refrigerator.

Upon check-out the next day, I notice they didn't take the salad off the bill.

Again with the food fight.

Monday, March 19, 2012

not quite a face lift (lyn)

Gorgeous day.  Get up early and take a 3.6-mile walk in Central Park.  Have a healthy lunch, the last bowl of Lady Gaga’s Tomato and Leek soup.  Go for an errand. Pass a salon that is promoting eyelash extensions.  Robyn swears by hers.  I go in to check it out.  $95 for the first visit.  Maintenance, every two to three weeks, $40.  Sounds expensive.  The salon owner, a tiny Asian woman, asks me to remove my sunglasses, then says, “You and me around same age.  Our face now falling down.  Extra lashes on side of eye help lift face.”  It’s cheaper than surgery. I’ll think about it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

home on break (lyn)

This morning I get an email from Shari.  She writes, “I really hope you are having a fabulous day with Alexander!”

I get up around 8:30.  About five empty Poland Springs bottles litter the kitchen.  I go into the living room.  Alexander’s unopened suitcase and backpack are on the floor.  Around 1:30 Alexander gets up.  I asked him if he wants me to make him eggs.  He declines the offer.  I ask him if he wants to do something.  He declines that offer too.  “I may go over to Starbucks.  I have a lot of studying to do.”  I understand, though I was hoping we’d do something today.  I tell him I’m running out for ten minutes to do a quick errand.  I come home and he’s showered and dressed.  His shaggy hair tamed. Reminds me of a photo I have of his dad when he was 26.

“I’m meeting G to see a movie.  I’ll stay in tonight and study,”  Alexander tells me and leaves.  His bedroom, as my mom would describe it, “Looks like a hurricane hit it.

I order in one of Alexander's favorites for dinner (and mine too), sushi.  He gets back from the movie and announces, “I’m starving.  I need to eat now and then study.”  It’s only five.  So he eats, and then leaves for Barnes and Noble.

I have my sushi alone and finish Dead Hour, by Denise Mina. 

So in answer to Shari, “I love having Alexander home.  I bet it will be fabulous if and when I get to spend time with him.” 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

pizza with a friend (lyn)

Shari is taking me out to lunch for my birthday.  On my way to meet her, I pass hordes of people dressed in green.  In a city of so many Jews (of which I’m one), I had no idea there could possibly be so many St. Patrick’s Day revelers.  The bars are overflowing with people.  The sidewalks are jam-packed.  People in absurd get-ups and painted faces are everywhere.  We see one guy walk into a beauty salon and ask if someone there can wax his head.

Shari and I are outcasts in our muted colors.  Not a stitch of green on me.  Shari choses an excellent brick-oven pizza place called Al Forno.  We meet around two and the restaurant is crowded, though not nearly as crowded as Doc Watson’s, the Irish Pub next door.  The outside line is so long, you would think Saint Patrick himself was bartending there.

We eat inside to avoid all the noise, not knowing then that two screeching toddlers would be more offending than the drunken crowd outside.  We split a salad and then order a thin-crusted, amazingly delicious tomato and basil pizza (I shamelessly eat two slices).  We don’t finish the pizza, so I take it home.  I know Alexander will be happy to see it when he arrives starving, later tonight.

getting home (lyn)

Last night I speak to Alexander. Despite my urging, he has waited until the last minute to buy his bus ticket home.  When he went to buy his ticket, he was told the Short Line bus company doesn’t accept credit cards.  He should have remembered this from his last trip home but doesn’t.  Further, he tells me he has no money.  Something about a problem with his bank password.  A familiar story.  I choose not to get involved.  My sister, who is in the cab with me during this conversation, is proud of me.  “He has to learn to take responsibility,” she says, and is right.

So that was last night.  The bus he planned to take leaves at 9 this morning.  I text him.  I call him.  I get no response.  I have no idea if he’s on that bus.  The next bus leaves at 12:05.  Maybe he’ll be on that one. 

I go to the Farmer’s Market and buy some things I know he likes: organic whole spelt (have no idea what that is) bread, granny smith apples, a mini apple pie, and a chocolate croissant (one for me too).

At 12:30 Alexander calls.  “Hi.  I’ll be on the 3 o’clock bus.”  He’s just getting up.  Because I can’t resist, I check the schedule.  There is no three o’clock bus, only a two and a four.  I also check the more expensive, and more convenient, non-stop bus service that Cornell offers directly to our neighborhood. Two seats have become available for the 5:30 bus.  I am about to book it when I think, no, let him do this.  Make him responsible. 

I call Alexander back and tell him about the Cornell bus now having an available seat.  "Great.  Book it, " he tells me."  I tell him if he wants the seat he can book it himself.  “Okay.  Where’s the site?” he asks.  I tell him to figure it out.  He does, and calls me back again. “ You have to set up an account.  Please just use your account and book it for me.  It might take me too long and then I’ll lose the seat (they do disappear quickly).”  “Sorry,” I reply.  He hangs up and calls me back a few minutes later, sounding all proud.  “I did it.” 

Should I remind him to buy something to eat before boarding the 5:30 bus that arrives in New York at 11pm?  Nah, he should be able to figure that one out too.

Friday, March 16, 2012

another year older (lyn)

Aside from representing another year gone, birthdays are a nice thing.  It’s that one day of the year that friends and family remember you.  Today I get many calls, emails, cards (virtual and real), and Facebook posts.  I hear from good friends, people I rarely speak to, and even past co-workers and high school friends I haven’t been in touch with for years.  It helps compensate for now having to say I’m a year older.

I meet Val, Abbey, Adam, Jason and his girlfriend Amanda for dinner at the Post House, a beautiful restaurant that specializes in steak.  (Unfortunately Alexander can’t come because he has to take a makeup test, and will now arrive home tomorrow).  In preparation for this special dinner, I have little to eat during the day, get my nails re-done a pale pink (the red polish I got on Tuesday looks gruesome today), and have my hair blown out (just to feel good). 

I decide to try using the tips I learned last week at Bloomingdales when ordering.  I ask for my strip steak “charred on the outside, medium rare inside.”  I remember the chef from Del Frisco’s saying, “If a restaurant can get this right, then they know how to do steaks.”  They get it right.  But when I ask Jason to ask for “the third cut” for his Porterhouse, the waiter laughs, and clearly has no clue what Jason is talking about.  It doesn’t seem to matter though.  Jason later describes his steak as one of the best he’s ever had.

It’s a superb dinner --- lots and lots of excellent food, and many laughs (as usual).  Amanda brings me a thoughtful scented candle, the boys write a card that almost makes me cry, and my sister hands me a bag that’s “just a little something.”  It’s a jar of La Mer Crème.  Only a user of this product (which I am) can appreciate how great a gift this is. The men at the table roll their eyes at my excitement.

Reluctantly, everyone agrees to let the waiter take a photo.  “Hey, come on, it’s my birthday.”  One snap, one picture.  It helps to have photogenic people.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

spring break (m)

I am sitting poolside, all by myself, in Florida. The weather is spectacular--mid 80's, sunny, a few puffy white puffy clouds. T and Sam went deep-sea fishing. They halfheartedly extended an invitation to me --we know you'll hate it but if you want to come, there's room in the boat for you-- but I chose to stay by the pool and work on my tan.

I get to the pool early, choose a great location...facing the sun now, an umbrella nearby for later, a coveted side table for my stuff and set up shop. My ipad (Lyn keeps asking if I've read her blog), Blackberry (about to become extinct in April when I'm due for an upgrade), cellphone and book (The Flight of Gemma Hardy--it's great). I put on a little sunscreen (SPF 70 on my ears and 45 on my body) and lie down. Ah, bliss. What could be better? I'll tell you what. The guy directly across the pool from me is a jerk. All I can hear is his voice. He is with a bikini-clad blonde who hasn't uttered a word (maybe she's dead?) and he is yakking to the old guy next to him. The cute little 18-year old girl from Minnesota who is next to me and I decide we hate him. Here's a sample:

Jerk: I used to live in San Diego but I've recently moved to Boston.
Old Guy: Boston! Why would anyone leave San Diego for Boston?!
Jerk: I got a big promotion. (Note to self: Look up companies that have offices in San Diego and Boston. This schmuck could not have gotten a big promotion at anyplace impressive).
Old Guy:'s a college town...must be a lot of of young chicks there for a guy like you! (the old bastard says this with the blonde right there! maybe she is dead).

At this point in the conversation I almost yell over, "Hey, hey now, I'm from Boston."  Good thing I don't. Here's what the jerk says next.

Jerk: No way! You wouldn't believe how ugly they are! Lots of fat women, too.

My new friend Micheala from Minnesota and I decide we want to pay her little brothers to go in the pool and hold the jerk's head under water. My guess is everyone poolside would applaud.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

an exceptional return policy (lyn)

Three for three.  My friend and I walk another 3.6 miles today.  It’s 70 degrees and sunny, a gorgeous early-summer day.  Today her son, who is on break from college, joins us.  He’s a brilliant kid who will be the next Mark Zuckerberg.  I’m sure of that.  He’s spending the day building and launching web sites.   Last week he launched a site that got 40,000 hits in the first eight hours.  I don’t think this blog has gotten that many hits in the two plus years it’s been up. He’s fascinating to talk to, and the walk is over in seconds.

I come home and there’s a box from MYHABIT, an aptly named Amazon spin-off that offers items at deep discounts.  I had ordered  a little Cosabella night top in a size Medium, marked down from $92 to $40.  I open the box, try it on, and don’t love the way it fits.  It feels a little snug on top.  I wonder if those three to five pounds I want to lose would make a difference?  No, I decide.  It’s small and easy to return.  I’ll just put it in an envelope and mail it back.  But the instructions that come with it tell me to go to MYHABIT’s website.  I do, and am told that the item cannot be returned.  I am willing to accept a credit but no return at all?  This can’t be right.  I call MYHABIT.  I get a very nice salesgirl.  She verifies that the item says it is not returnable.  I go to the site and she is right.  How did I miss that?

While I am planning my strategy, she comes up with one. 

“Well, we can make a one time exception, “ she says.  I’m expecting, “Go ahead and send it back and we’ll give you a credit on your INHABIT account."  But I’m wrong.  Instead she says, “As a one-time exception, we will refund your American Express $40.  Just keep the item and give it to a friend.”  

Wow.  Okay.  I hang up before she can change her mind.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

celebration postponed (lyn)

I spend the day thinking about the night.  Seven of us are going to T-Bar to celebrate my birthday.  What will I wear?  What will I eat?  If I eat too little during the day, will I just end up eating too much tonight?  I decide on my outfit that includes a new scarf.  I take out my good earrings. The diamonds I wear once a year.  I make sure the battery in my camera is charged.   I get my nails polished an uncharacteristic fiery red.  I’m jolted every time I look at them.  It looks like I’m wearing someone else’s hands.

In late afternoon I get an email from Robyn that she can’t make it.  She's been at the hospital with a good friend of hers whose 92-year old father dies while she is there.  She is exhausted and not in a celebratory mood.  Zelia gets an invitation to an important government dinner and now will have to arrive an hour late, and, she’ll have already eaten. Then Corinne cancels.  Her uncle unexpectedly dies today.

Shari asks if I want to cancel.  She is perceptive, and knows that it wouldn't be much of a celebration with three good friends missing.

I go to Agata and pick up a tuna-salmon sushi dinner, on promotion for $6.99.  It's not much of a substitute for the steak and crème brulee I would have eaten at T-Bar.  But on the bright side, it will be a lot less calories, and I don’t have to wash and blow-dry my hair to eat it.

if only (lyn)

When I came back to New York last Tuesday I had to pay an extra $25 to Amtrak because their price jumped from $59 to $84 as I was waiting in line to buy my ticket.  I didn’t have time to argue then, so I call Amtrak to argue now.  I get Brandon on the phone.  He is eager and courteous and really really wants to help.  But rules are rules and there is nothing he can do

We hang up, and a few hours later I get a message from Brandon. I listen to the message.  Brandon sounds happy and excited.  “Actually there was a glitch in our system and we can refund your $25.  Just send us the ticket stub.”  Well, of course I don’t have the ticket stub, but I figure that shouldn’t be a problem since Amtrak’s system will undoubtedly show my reservation and the $84 I paid with American Express.  I call and am put on hold for almost 20 minutes.  I get Robert this time.  He lacks the charm, attitude, and cheeriness of Brandon.  His response is a short one.  “There is nothing we can do without the ticket stub.”

I call American Express.  I get through right away. They agree with me.  They say, “No problem.  We will issue you a credit and we will deal with Amtrak directly.  You don’t have to do anything more.”  And presto, just like that, my problem is solved.

I was thinking how nice it would be if American Express could extend this service into other areas.  I imagine it would work this way.
  • “Hi.  My cable just went out again.  “No problem…is it working now?”
  • “Hi.  I can’t find a job.”  “Here is one in your field that pays a lot a lot of money?  Can you start next week?”
  • “Hi.  I can’t get myself to exercise.”  “We’ll send one of our fitness trainers to your house.  Let me verify that address.”
  •  “Hi, I need to lose five pounds.”  “No problem…are you thinner now?”
  • “My son never calls me back.”  “Hmmm.  I’ll need to get a manager to help with that one.”

Monday, March 12, 2012

something new (lyn)

The ww meetings didn’t work…even the ones where we listed all the excuses for not doing it.  My low bone density score didn’t move me. It should have.  And looking at my increasingly wobbly skin should be a constant reminder of what I need to be doing.  The weather’s getting nicer, summer is approaching, and soon my heavy coats and sweaters will be replaced by skimpier wear.  I’m running out of excuses; I need to start exercising.

Pam called me on Friday, and asked,  “Are we ever going to walk again?”  It’s a fair question.  The last time we walked was in October, and even that was an isolated event. I tell her that on Monday we’ll walk.

I oversleep, and get up around 8:15.  My phone is silent.  Pam hasn’t called.  She’s given up on me.  I call her, and we make a plan to meet in Central Park.  It’s sunny and 71 degrees.  Walking with Pam is effortless.  Our conversation begins as soon as we see each other, and continues long past the 1.58 miles of the reservoir.  It is so pleasant that I forget this is something I should-but-don’t do.

From start to finish it’s a nice 3.6-mile walk.  I'm hoping this is the start of a new healthy habit.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

a sunday in march (lyn)

March might be my least favorite month.  It's a month that is caught between seasons, no longer winter but not quite spring.  I suppose the same is true of September, but there, you teeter on the cusp of beautiful weather.  March is generally not like that.  It can be cold, but not that crisp, freeing cold of a December’s day.  Or, it can be lukewarm and rainy.  Another bad thing about March is the need to recognize another birthday.  I wish birthdays could be celebrated without the aging part associated with it.  Oh, and you lose an hour of time in March. Regardless of the reason, I don't like the concept of an hour of life disappearing, even if it re-emerges in November.  And finally, because of the weather's volatility (it was almost 70 on Thursday, then  30 on Friday), you never know how to dress. 

Today looks sunny and I choose my black nylon coat, the one I bought at Maxwell’s last summer.  I walk out the door and immediately know I've chosen wrong.  I should have stuck with a winter coat.  But I'm running late and don't have time to turn back.

I'm walking down the street on my way to the subway.  I’m going to see an off-Broadway play, Flight.  Suddenly I hear a tiny voice behind me say, “I like that dress.”  I turn around and a mother is pushing a bundled-up three-year old boy in a stroller.  I smile, thinking he’s commented on a dress in one of the store windows he’s just passed.  But I’m wrong.  The mother says, “He likes your coat.”   Suddenly the day is brighter.  How strange that a compliment, regardless of its source, can make me feel lighter.