Friday, March 30, 2012

TGIF: So Here's What I Did Today (3.30.2012)

I got up at and went to see my Endocrinologist. I'll tell you something: one thing about Endocrinologists is that they run a tight ship. I had a pre-surgical appointment on Monday and found myself waiting to see the family practice guy for two solid hours. Thank God they had an issue of People Magazine that I hadn't read. Don't get me wrong: LOVE the family practice guy. He actually sees Sam too. But without exaggeration, I spent more time waiting for him for my pre-surgical consult than my actual knee surgery will take. That's just wrong.

So anyway, my Endocrinologist. Big surprise: the guy is gorgeous and a skier. But more than that, my appointment was for 8:40 am and guess what? He was in the room by 8:43 which is late by his standards. You can say anything you want about Endocrinologists being kind of bloodless (ironically) because what they do is all TSH levels and chemistry and whatever else. But I would rather go to one of their appointments anytime.

OK, so I come out of the doctor's office and head to the parking lot. I can't believe I'm writing about this because this is not something I'm proud to admit. And the fact is, I don't think I have ever done something like this is my life. But here's what happened: someone parked their car so close to mine that I truly thought I was going to have to call the fire department to tow their car so I could get into mine. I really didn't think I could do it. My SUV (X3) has a center console and I just didn't know how the heck I was going to be able to get in my car without doing an impersonation of a gymnast.

So I hold my breath, shimmy in, and by God's good graces, get into the driver's side. At this point, I am just completely annoyed. Since I have made it into the car, I decide to push my luck and (just like yesterday) give this person a piece of my mind. So I leave a note under the windshield wiper of their car:


"You are a big asshole and left me no room to get into my car. Learn how to park!"

I'm really not a mean person and thought long and hard about leaving such a note. In the end, I realized that I thought much longer and harder about leaving such a note (and bumming someone out) than they thought of me having to skydive into my car.
So I drive to work, get there about 9:30, knowing I am walking into a full-blown Friday fire drill. It seems that one of our proposals has made it to Stage Two, which means we need to prepare a second response. By Monday. A meeting I managed to arrange the evening before with about five or six people morphs into a Webex with 15 people. I am leading. Luckily I only have to be coherent for 30 minutes and it works out fine. I spend the rest of the afternoon following up on a few promises and actually putting my feet up on the little mini file cabinet next to my desk. My boss, who I've known for 10 years, laughs at me (Thank God). We are all pretty toasty from today's fire drill.

(For Position Only.
Not really my feet.)
Later in the day, one of my Subject Matter Experts who works out of Virginia and who has just invited me to have dinner with her when she's in town next week, asks me who wrote the sucky (not her word) response to Question 21. I think for a second and tell her, "I did." Then I ask, "Can I still come to dinner?"

I finally leave work around 4:45 and go to pick up Sam. On the way, I finally find time to stop by National Camera Exchange and buy the macro lens I've been jonesing for for a long time. A little gift to myself. Then I go pick up Sam who is all smiles. Our plans are to go home and hang out tonight and then go to the Minnesota Zoo tomorrow. When we get home, I ask him to help me with the grocery delivery. He starts to say no, but I do that thing that all parents do: beat them at their own game.

"OK, here's the deal: you told me you are a grown man. And that's great. But your Mom just asked you for help. And what grown men do is suck it up and help their Mom." He laughs and does an extraordinary job helping me. It's like he can't do enough.
Picture of the pizza using my new macro lens.

While he is upstairs doing guy stuff in his man cave, I start making a pizza. Like, really making one from the dough up. Feeling creative, I also find time to make myself a Cosmo. I know Cosmos aren't cool, but I still enjoy them. And I make enough that if Hadley happens to show up, I can split it with him.

The pizza is done and the Cosmo is starting to make me feel invincible. It's the perfect end to a perfect day.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"And another thing...": Giving NY Times Readers a Piece of My Mind (3.29.2012)

Top of FormThe story today in The New York Times "Autism Diagnoses Rising, Study Finds", reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had determined that the likelihood of a child being given a diagnosis of autism, Asperger's syndrome or a related disorder increased more than 20 percent from 2006 to 2008. The story went on to cite a few important facts from the report:

  • In 2008, one child in 88 received such a diagnosis compared with one in 110 in 2006.
  • Researchers cannot agree on whether the trend is the result of heightened awareness, an expanding definition of autism, an actual increase in incidence or some combination of these factors.
  • Children with such diagnoses often receive extensive state-financed support and assistance -- which some experts believe have contributed to the increase
  • Doctors are working to update the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and it is expected that they will make significant changes to the definition of autism, which could reduce the number of children with this diagnosis.

I thought it was a very interesting story, but it was nothing compared to the "story" in several of the reader comments. One person hypothesized that the increase in children with autism was the result of young, unwed mothers doing drugs; another suggested that achieving, overactive parents were eager for a diagnosis of autism so they could get extra services to help their child advance; yet another referred to autism as a "designer disorder".

Oh no you didn't.

And here was my comment:

And yes, I am very proud that out of more than 220 comments, I was one of The Times Picks. Prouder still to be Sam's Mom.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Miss Tennis Camp! (3.27.12)

Tennis Camp - 2009
And I miss the slopes. And being able to run without wanting to hold onto the sides of the treadmill. I hate having to walk on ice like I'm 75 years old and should have a little friggin' button around my neck in case I fall. In short, I am damn tired of this torn ACL (left knee)and I'm getting it fixed on April 6th. No more Gumby Knee! Yea!


Torn ACL - 2010
For anyone who might have been paying attention to my life in the past 2-3 years, it's been a little complicated. I tore my ACL in a very dumb skiing accident in February 2010. You don't want to know: the first run of the first day of a one week ski vacation. I caught an edge, crossed my skis and it was all over. And I don't mind saying that I am a very good skier. (That's what they all say when they are sitting on their butt in the ski lodge with their third martini in their hand, on crutches.)

I was all set to get it repaired and then three weeks later I got diagnosed with breast cancer. Good Lord. So one surgery got replaced with another. And well, you probably know the rest.
My Orthopod
My orthopedic surgeon (who is so good-looking it's almost completely ridiculous), is going to perform arthroscopic surgery on my knee and will even be adding a piece of cadaver to repair the tear. How cool is that? I only wish I got to pick the cadaver he pulled it from. A friend of mine reminded me today that Andre Agassi is still alive, so that's not going to be an option.

But honestly, at this point, I would just be happy to get back to the normal Activities of Daily Living without feeling like I have fragile knee syndrome. As long as the good-looking orthopod sews me back together, I'm good. I'm really good.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Battling the Demon of Success (3.26.2012)

I have been battling a demon for the past few days. So hard to put into words and yet so recognizable to most mothers: my son is growing up.

It hasn't escaped my notice in the past few years that Sam is now taller than Ben. That he has his own point of view. And that he has a unique set of likes and dislikes. That part of the growing I always expected. What I am battling is the feeling that I am no longer Sam's primary frame of reference. I am no longer the primary audience, if you will. I've been replaced by the guys at the group home and the new friends at work. Now I'm just "The Mom".

Me and Sam at his first
swimming class (6 months old).
Don't get me wrong: this is what I have always wanted for Sam. I can remember a day about 14 years ago when, after a very rough week at school (aggressive behavior), and a very rough week at home (having to be carried kicking and screaming on and off the school bus every day), I had a blinding moment of reality: Sam is not successful at home or at school. How will he find his place in the world? What will become of him? I will never forget it. And that thought stayed with me as a kind of  touchstone over the years. Something to go back to in terms of how he was doing and what we were doing to help him find his place.

I'm sure many of you mothers out there are thinking, "Yeah, and what's your point? Kids grow up." And I guess the point is that I've been spoiled for so many years beyond where most kids -- young men especially -- would have naturally detached. I have always recognized that I had way more control of Sam's life than any typical young man of the same age. And there was a legitimate reason for that. But it's clear to me now that Sam is truly growing up and into the world. And good for him.

And tonight, from his own mouth, he sealed the deal. When I suggested that he might want to go to bed earlier this weekend because of some plans he had with his dad, he said to me, "Don't worry about me. I a grown man."

Yes, indeed you are my little Sammy.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mission Possible: Buttermilk Donuts (3.25.2012)

Lately, Sunday has become baking day in the Taylor household. Knowing that Sam loves donuts almost as much as he loves Nintendo, I decided to give it try. It was super easy and the donuts were good! I think Krispy Kreme has nothing to worry about, but it was fun to make my first batch ever.

 Step 1: Follow and Mix.

Step 2: Panic.
(OMG, these look awful! Is this going to work???)

Step 3: Relief.
(OK, these look more normal.)

Step 4: Viola and Mom Rocks!
Let them cool and then decorate them
with sugar glaze and the sprinkles picked out
by the Sprinke Expert on Saturday.*


* I haven't included the sugar glaze recipe because I didn't think it was that great. It was a donut glaze recipe from Alton Brown (Sorry, Alton).
In my opinion, it was average.
I would recommend finding a better one.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

1-800-JUNK-THERAPY (3.24.2012)

In my opinion, there is nothing more perfect than a business that is essential for its time. When you, as a consumer, feel that great click between what you need and what a company delivers. And even better when the click equals less junk in my life, magically removed by two exceedingly polite, funny, helpful young men who drive up to my life and haul it away.
I made a deal with Nick (left) and Caleb (right): I would let them take a picture of the elliptical trainer in my garage for their scavenger hunt, if I could take their photo for my blog.
Meet Caleb and Nick, the two junk therapists from
1-800-GOT-JUNK who drove to my house this morning to help me recycle and otherwise move forward in my life. For me, getting rid of stuff is pure therapy. And today was especially therapeutic: today was the day I finally said goodbye to several items that belonged to my Mom. Like Mom's antique sofa. I restored it once and her Newfie puppy, Stanley, put his own finishing touches on it using his incisors and canines. And a raccoon coat that was beyond revival or repair. Understandably, I just couldn't bear to make a decision about these items back in August, and they had taken up a semi-permanent residence in my garage. Not really a good look.


But it wasn't all Mom's stuff.

There were the Department 56 Christmas houses -- which in the past two years had moved from closet to storage to garage -- and which this morning assumed their Final Destination in the truck. But they were not alone: a bizarre collection of baskets, part of a fence and only God knows what else, also found a new home in the truck.

One of the best things about 1-800-JUNK is their commitment to recycling what you give them. The Department 56 houses will go to a place that will resell them and donate any proceeds to charity. The same for the sofa: it will be sold as is or possibly refinished so it doesn't end up in a landfill. I love that. To me, that is the feel-good equation of the century: I get big pieces of junk out of my life and someone else who digs this stuff gets to enjoy it and give it another life. Cool.

My garage still needs some work, but I have the chance to make progress now that the ghosts of objects past have been eradicated. Which reminds me: I totally forgot to tell Caleb and Nick that I have a storage locker (blessedly, a small one) full of furniture from my Mom's old apartment. It needs to be cleaned out. So I guess I'll be seeing them again soon.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Things I Love (3.23.2012)

Sometimes when I am eating lunch at my desk, I escape into reading The New York Times. Reading The Times feels like visiting an old friend. The pages of The Times are familar to me from back in the day when I lived and worked in New York. This includes 13 years  spent in marketing and advertising sales at The Times and where the business side routinely drove the editorial side crazy by refering to The Gray Lady as "a product". Ah sweet memories.

So anyway, as I was tooling through the pages of the Style Section, I found this great coat. Fabulous. Not quite the thing to be wearing around Minnesota, but absolutely something that you could wear in Manhattan and never turn a head. 
Sonia by Sonia Rykiel leopard-print trench, $630 at Kirna ZabĂȘte; kirnazabete.com.

 Couldn't you just die? The trench coat for the woman who has a wardrobe of trenches.
Love it.

To see more fabulous takes on
spring trenches
("Teaching an Old Coat New Tricks")
here's the link to The Times slideshow:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Weekend Festivities (3.22.2012)

A good friend of mine asked me today what my plans were for the weekend. Since this is my weekend with Sam, I can pretty much recite chapter and verse exactly what we'll do. You see, my Sam is a planner. He likes to leave nothing to chance. Sam will ask me about the weekend festivities weeks before he's going to be joining me and after 21 years, I'm still not sure if this has something to do with his autistic spectrum diagnosis or the fact that he's my son. Or maybe it's a little of both.

So here's the rundown for the weekend:


I will pick Sam up at the group home (after my work and his) at 5:30 or 6. Usually the conversation goes something like this the Wednesday prior: "You pick me up at 4:30?" "No, honey. I can't. I'll pick you up as early as I can. Around 5:30 or 6." "You pick me up at 5?" "Saaaammmm...."

From there, we have plans to go to McDonalds Medicine Lake Road. Not McDonalds Bass Lake Road, mind you, but very specifically, McDonalds Medicine Lake Road. Apparently there is a very big difference that completely escapes me, but that is where we will go.
Sam is always very interested in the McDonalds PlayPlaces -- the locations that have the constellation of interconnected tunnels for kids to play in. He is fascinated by these and always asks me (still) if he can "see" them. I always tell him, "Yes, you can SEE them. But you are too big to go inside." [And this is our favorite part of the conversation and probably the reason he always brings it up:] At this point, I always say, "We don't want you getting stuck like Winnie the Pooh when he went to visit Rabbit -- a bear wedged in a great tightness* -- do we?" This always makes him laugh. And now that he is 6'1" and about 190, I add, "And besides, you are a man now. And if you tried to start climbing around in those tubes with all the little kids, people would just think you were creepy." And this seems to make complete sense to him too.



Saturday will be spent seeing "Target France Avenue". Once again, the Target near France Avenue has a distinct draw for Sam that is completely different than any other Target any place else. I don't doubt there is a significant difference for him. I just don't know what it is. I humor him just as he humors me most of the time.

When we get to "Target France Avenue" Sam will want me to drive around the building so he can see the fire doors on the outside of the building. He will marvel and note "fire door" at each one. Then after we park the car and go inside the store, he will say, "Can I see the WHOLE store?" And I reply, "Yes, except for what?" And he'll say, "Except for areas that are for TEAM MEMBERS."

At this point, he will start at the entrance and walk the entire perimeter of the store. Along the way, he will match up the outside fire doors with the inside fire doors. He will say hello to people. And he will look into every doorway along the way. If he stops too long, we say, "Remember: there's nothing back there for you." And he will repeat that, knowing that it helps him remember to keep moving and not get stuck.

As for actually shopping, we have a system now: if we need to deviate from the store's perimeter to buy something, he comes with me. Then we go back to the spot we left to continue the inspection of the perimeter. This probably sounds a little goofy, but it hurts no one. I just put on my Fitbit and get my walking done.


After "Target France Avenue" Sam wanted to go to Wendy's but I put my motherly foot down. "Sam, if I'm going to drive all the way to France Avenue (it's a few towns away), I don't want to end up at Wendy's. No way." We agreed -- or rather I bullied him -- into going to The Cheesecake Factory. Not the most low-calorie choice, but at least I'll have a fighting chance of having a few food choices. I think.


Ginger Taking a Sunday Afternoon Cat Nap
Sunday is typically our planned hang-out day. It's a day for baking, watching TV, hanging around in our jammies, or maybe even taking a nap. It's wonderful to see how much Sam enjoys being a homebody all day and he just savors the free time to play his video games, check out his favorite YouTube sites (within reason), or watch NetFlix. I wonder who he gets that homebody stuff from? Best of all, we get to have a recharge day, together. That is, until we start planning our next weekend.

 * The actual line is: "Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness?" but we have adapted it over the years.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fitbit: One Friggin' Miracle (3.21.2012)

Two weeks ago I bought myself a Fitbit. In case you don't know, Fitbit (www.fitbit.com) is a wireless activity tracker. Kind of a pedometer on steroids. It's super-small, super-easy to use and comes in pink. Need I say more?


Ever since joining the fitness challenge at work I have been obsessed with using it. It tracks my steps, my activity level, my stair climbing (yes, I actually use the stairs now) -- it even provides information on my "sleep efficiency" so when I wake up in the morning I know that I've really been sleeping. 
It's really the coolest thing.

Fitbit is an instant gratification monster. As long as I'm doing my part by staying active and logging my foods, it will tell me how I'm doing. One day at a time. Slow and steady. And I like that.
I need that.


I've just started my fitness journey with Fitbit, but I'm already seeing some nice results. Like many women, I find that my body takes it's own sweet time to respond to a new fitness regimen. But I know I feel better already, have more energy, and by some friggin' miracle, have actually started taking the stairs. Every day.
It's going to be an interesting spring. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

mud, feelings, hope, heart, spring. (3.21.2012)

It's the first day of spring.
Indulge me with a few mud-luscious and
puddle-wonderful poems from one of my favorites:
e.e. cummings.


And since there's been some talk (from my lips)
about writing and spelling and love,
let me share with you an example of how it's done.
Again, from mr. cummings.
Boy oh boy, can that guy spell.


I have saved the best for last.
One more, which positively moves my heart.
(And yes: it makes me swoon.)


<><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><>

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
by E. E. Cummings
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands


Monday, March 19, 2012

eDisharmony (3.19.2012)

It's Monday and it's been a long day. The fact that it's a Monday and the fact that I had to be in the office at 7 am makes it a little more challenging than a typical Monday. So it's possible that I'm a little tired, and being a little more sensitive than I normally would be. I mention all this because I came home tonight and after dinner, checked my eHarmony account. The "match" I had been in touch with through the eHarmony Q&A process finally responded to my questions in the open communication segment of our courtship.

After today, I may start to think of this as the English As Your First Language part of the communication process. There were misspelled words in response to each question. There seemed to be no regard for spelling or responding in English. From the brevity of the responses, I thought it seemed pretty clear that he knows this isn't a strength. My hearts goes out. It really does. But I just find it painful to try to communicate with a man who doesn't value expressing himself in even a very basic way.

Don't get me wrong. I am no Dorothy Parker. And I realize that not everyone writes for a living and then comes home and writes some more in a daily blog. I get that. And I can accept a lot. But maybe what I realized tonight is that when I get to this point in the communication, the getting to know you part of the game, I want the big finish: I want a man who can spell. The fact is, I once fell head over heels in love with a man simply from a brief, beautifully written birthday note (not even a card) that he sent me. It was all of three lines and it had heart, humor and class and it made me swoon.

Sigh. I guess this is a good thing to know about myself. Maybe I need to compromise less as I am getting to know someone so I can save all my compromises for the spelling test. Or maybe I just need to add to my profile: "Must love dictionaries."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I-Did-It-Myself Cinnamon Bread (3.18.2012)

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread.
OMG. I did it myself last night.



I had some for breakfast. I think it was good. Here's why:

1) I could lift it myself and didn't have to call for help.

2) I had two slices and it was actually edible.

3) I'm actually thinking of eating more of it later
(and put one of the loaves in the freezer for next weekend with Sam)

As you can see from the photo, this loaf has an unsightly wart.
It didn't seem to affect the taste. I'll just use some Compound W
on that baby and see if I can get it to disappear.

Shocking. I feel like friggin' Betsy Ross or something.
Next I'll be sewing my own clothes.
(Well, maybe not.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Survivor Albertville: The Coach Sale (3.17.2012)

Today was a beautiful day. Weather in the 70s. Just gorgeous. In honor of the great weather, I de-cluttered my garage. That's a lie. It had nothing to do with the weather: Last night I saw a centipede with 700 legs near the garage door opener mounted on the wall and was apoplectic for about 20 minutes. Those are the major times when I wish I were married. Or had a boyfriend living upstairs with a gun. I am not much of a bug person as you can probably surmise.

After I cleaned up about 35 percent of the garage, I got cleaned myself up and headed off to one of my favorite places: Albertville. Albertville, MN is the home of the Albertville Premium Outlets. Lots of fun stores out there. They have a Coach Outlet which is one of my favorites. I've been shopping there so long, I'm a little blase about it. But it's still fun to find something cool at a great price whether you truly need it or not. Like the two items below that I had to have and couldn't live without.
As I was about to make the turn into the outlet shopping center today, I thought about what a Martian might think about all these people driving their cars to a huge place to acquire stuff, put stuff in their car, and then bring it home and put it in their house. When I got to the Coach store, this thought was even more prominent in my consciousness: there were so many people there for the St. Patrick's Day Sale, they had rope lines set-up outside the store.

Once I got inside, it was Coach bag monogram mayhem. There were several walls filled with bags marked "Additional 50% Off". Much jostling, much yelling back and forth in several languages, several men anchoring places in the checkout line with a forlorn, I'd-rather-be-watching-the-game look in their eye. A few Minnesota Nice elbow-checks to get at the best bags. 

As I was looking for a new wallet, I noticed a young woman in a wheelchair beside me. She was sitting there so quietly just a foot away from me. The look on her face said loud and clear that she anticipated being invisible in the crazy hubub of the sale. I think for that reason, I started talking to her. She was so delightful. She was about 25. She had speech very similar to Sam's and she was quiet and gracious. She had long red hair that was patchy at the top, as if she was losing it. Something about her -- her sweetness, shyness, her wheelchair-ness -- touched me. Her friend or caregiver moved her away after a few minutes but she stayed on my mind even after I left the store.

One of the things I always taught Sam is to demand answers to his questions. Any questions, because he deserves them. Sometimes that's a hard rule to live by because he'll drive me crazy too asking a million questions. But I'd rather have that than have him be ignored. And I guess that's what I worried about for that young woman. I worried that she was too comfortable being invisible. And as I left the store, I hoped she was there to find herself a great Coach purse. Something that would make her day just a little bit better. Because every woman, no matter who you are, enjoys a good deal.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Tattoo Diaries (3.16.2012)

5:48 am: I didn't sleep well last night. Not sure why. Maybe it was the 2-hour nap after I came home. Just a little more tired this week. Sitting here in my fuzzy pink bathrobe and realizing that I've been waiting for this day for a long time. No one would believe -- unless you've been through it, that is -- that getting diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2010 means that you are still dealing with the shrapnel in March of 2012. At least for me, that's not any kind of awareness I ever had. Granted, I thought that two weeks after chemo I'd be ready to get back to my life in full. But its taken a little longer than that. And it still surprises me that I even talk about it, or at least write about it. I've decided that writing about it and acknowledging it are like a form of exorcism for me. And maybe that makes sense since it not only follows me wherever I go, but will never go away. Like the tattoo I am getting this morning, having breast cancer feels like another kind of indelible mark that never quite leaves you. But the fact that I am healthy, able to write about it and able to see Sam smile whenever I am lucky enough to be in the same room with him, makes me feel lucky on every count.

So this morning, I have a 7 am appointment to complete the final stage of my reconstruction. The pink icing on the cake, as it were. Because at 7 am, I am having a medical tattoo done on my new breast. (Or is it my old breast?) Whatever it is, it's still me and it still feels like the completion of a journey. It's the journey to feel like both a "girl" and a woman again. In a very healthy way, it's like cancer camouflage, allowing me to look in the mirror and feel whole, complete, maybe even sexy on my good days.

This will be my second tattoo. My first tattoo is on my right ankle. I got it on my 49th birthday at St. Sabrina's Parlour in Purgatory in Minneapolis. I did it for a whole host of reasons. I was newly divorced, and wanted to spread my wings with shenanigans suitably appropriate for a free woman. Most importantly, I wanted to celebrate my purely amateur career as a triathlete which was a passion for several summers. Irongirl it says in small script, above a blue and green hibiscus flower. I have never regretted getting it, which is part of the joy of getting a tattoo when you are old. Since most of my work career has been spent being more of a suit than a creative-type, it's always been humorous to me that people were shocked when they saw it. It didn't seem to fit with the heels and pearls. But maybe dubbing myself Irongirl was a more prescient statement than I could ever have imagined given my journey since then.

Back to the present. Time to throw on my jeans and see what the future brings.

9:07 am: I am back from the doctor's office after gaining some new color in my life and running a few errands. It only took about 30 minutes. The worst part was the injection of the Xylocaine -- not an area of my body I really want someone poking syringes into. The tattoo part wasn't bad at all. I've known the nurse (Kim) who did the procedure for almost two years. Right before the procedure started, Kim began looking for something in the cabinet mumbling something about wanting to make a marking of the general area and outline it. I said, "If you pull a quarter out of there it's gonna freak me out." Luckily she didn't. It was more of a small cookie-cutter shaped circle the size of a pfefferneuse cookie.

From there, it was pretty simple. The tattoo tool looked like a mini version of an orbital sander with six tiny needles. With colors, of course, custom-color matched to my other you-know-what. Kim gave me a chance to take a look midway and I was really astonished by the result. I mean, I should know, right?

Luckily for you, that's all I will say. And also lucky for you, I will not be posting photos. If I am lucky enough to meet the man of my dreams in the near future, that will be the only tattoo tour I will be giving. But suffice to say, it was good. It's all good. And God-willing I'm done. I'm really done.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Move It or Lose It (3.15.2012)

On Monday, the national Move It or Lose It program kicks-off and I will be participating. Apparently this is the brainchild of Dr. Oz who I am kind of vaguely aware of -- his reputation and his TV show. The company I work for always makes a big push in the spring to provide employees with organized opportunities to improve their health. This particular one seems to be pretty cool -- and has some neat interfaces for participants to interact with trainers, health experts and each other. I'm actually kind of excited about it!

In preparation for the big Monday start, I've been trying to mentally prepare myself (like going into battle...lol) and doing what I do best: 1) blogging about small changes I can make each day to make a healthier me; and 2) trying to put healthier food in my mouth when I decide to eat. Below are some of the things I did to get ready for next week...

3/13/2012
Health Action #1: Take the Stairs. So here's what I did DIFFERENTLY today to get myself healthier: I started taking the stairs. Shocking. I have a friend who rides his bike 11.3 miles to work when weather permits. He said his goal was to ride his bike to work MORE than he drives his car in the course of a year. Hmmm... Interesting. It made me think about a similar goal: using the stairs MORE than I use an elevator. My office is on the 6th floor. I can only make it up to the 4th floor without needing an ambulance or making a scene (LOL), but I will get there! Good luck to all of us!

3/14/2012
Health Action #2: Water. Today I made sure to STEAL a bottle of my son's flavored bottled water so I would have enough water to keep hydrated all day. The worst of my past hydration challenge is over: in February of this year I cured my Diet Coke addiction by going cold turkey. I have largely replaced DC with water, so now it's just about drinking more. Here's an embarassing fact: I am actually sore from taking the stairs yesterday. Embarassing or what! Wow, I'm in worse shape than I thought -- but I guess when you are using new muscles that's what happens. Not sure what muscles you use in an elevator??? But then, my fingers don't really need to tone up.

3/15/2012
Health Action #3: Fitbit. Ok, so I went out and bought a Fitbit. It's a wireless activity tracker. Kind of a souped up version of a pedometer except that it will track your stair climbing, your sleep patterns, your steps -- and will also allow you to track nutrition, weight etc. It's pretty cool. And very small. I looked at a few other such devices but this seemed to be the simplest and most straightforward. I don't really need any flashing green lights to tell me that I have been active as opposed to PARKED at my desk all day.
Stay tuned!

If you're interested in finding out more the program, you can Google Move It or Lose It, or check out the central website at http://www.sharecare.com/.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Facts About Lip Gloss (3.14.2012)

Looking at the number of tubes of lip gloss I have either in my purse or my makeup bag at any one time reminds of a totally crazytown (more than usual) episode I saw of Hoarders last night.

One of the more pathetic hoarders I've ever seen was confronted by the professional organizer about the double sets of pictures or clothing or some such object she had in her house. The hoarder calmly replied, "Well, I have a TWIN SISTER and you see, I'm keeping this stuff for her." Suddenly, her husband appeared in the doorway and said: "I heard what you just said. I've been married to you for 25 years and YOU DO NOT HAVE A TWIN SISTER. YOU HAVE NO SISTER AT ALL."  

Like I said. C-R-A-Z-Y-T-O-W-N.

So whether or not I am a lip gloss hoarder, I should hardly be pointing fingers considering how much shiny goo I own to put on my lips. And looking at it, displayed in the photo below, one just has to ask: what's the deal? What do I really think I'm getting when I buy a tube of lip gloss?


So, here's what I think. I like to think of it as
Facts About Lip Gloss:

1. A new tube of lip gloss can be
a fast path to a whole new you.
Clearly, I have yearned to be a whole new me lately.

2. Much like shoes, lip gloss always "fits".
Your lips rarely gain weight, unless you've made a visit to your favorite little plastic surgeon.

3. Lip gloss is like SPANX for
women with skinny lips.
After a certain age, and unless you are Angelina, your lips may need a little help. The right lip gloss blinds onlookers making my thin little lips look perky.

Just a few thoughts on a Wednesday night. Oh and don't forget to watch for me on Hoarders: Lip Gloss Edition coming soon on TLC.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How To Bake Bread in One Easy Invitation: Joe (3.13.2012)

Sunday was bread baking day. My good friend, Joe, who has been baking bread for nearly 20 years, came over to give me a bread baking lesson. He made a lot of appropriate noises about wanting to help me learn the right way to bake bread when I know the truth is that he wanted to try out my new stand mixer. Whether his true motivation was teaching or road-testing my new KitchenAid, I was just happy to have the smell of fresh bread in my house and the good company of Chef Joe and Sous Chef Sam (quite a pair in the kitchen).


This was absolutely the easiest recipe ever invented for baking bread:

Step 1: Make sure you have flour, water, salt, butter and yeast.
Step 2: Point Chef Joe toward the stand mixer.
Step 3: Send in Sous Chef Sam to help.
Step 4: Pour glass of wine and wait for bread to be done.


Although I didn't really do much other than observe, it was fascinating to watch someone who really knows what they're doing when it comes to baking bread.

I've made yeast dough twice, ever. Both times my eyes were glued to the recipe. But the end result of both attempts did not compare to the transformation of ingredients that Joe accomplished. As Joe said, "that's because it comes from the heart... that and 20 years of experience baking bread."

Watching Joe wing it when it came to adding the proper amounts of flour and water was pretty awesome -- especially when the dough was formed. It looked like nothing that had ever been in my kitchen before. I'm sure of it. (Wait! Maybe one other time: the first time Joe came to my house wearing his chef's hat and toque and made bread for me when I was going through chemo. A nice memory.)



The result was two wonderful loaves of hot, steamy, home made bread. I should have taken a photo of the loaves after they came out of the oven. And I should have taken a photo of the butter, buckwheat honey and blueberry jam that we slathered on top. But truthfully, we were too busy eating it at that point to worry about photos. And in case you're wondering: it was delicious!

Thanks Joe!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Genius At Work (3.12.2012)

This is a photo of Sam in his Man Cave.
He had a day off from work today so we had a
Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon weekend together.
It was great fun.

I did have to work today so
I worked from home which made me feel like
I was really rockin' the work/life balance big time.

I may have lost an hour on Sunday
but I gained a whole day with my son.
 And that can't be bad.

The Well Equipped Man Cave:
Video games of all description
Laptop
Food and Water
No Mom to bother you
(except to take your picture)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Confronting Buddy (3.11.2012)

I am originally from New York State by way of Poughkeepsie and later in my life, New York City. My little Italian grandmother, who worked at a major department store in Jamaica, Queens for most of her life, used to make sure that my brother and I came into New York several times a year. The timeline on these visits usually coincided with some Rockettes spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, and was usually followed by a lunch at the French restaurant in Rockefeller Plaza where my brother and I would insist on only eating cheeseburgers.

I have a vivid memory of being treated to lunch one day at such a place and ordering a cheeseburger. In reply, one of the French waiters told my grandmother, "We do not serve le cheeseburger, madame." Whereupon, my grandmother promptly gathered us up and we went to an establishment that did serve le cheeseburger. I suppose that would be one way to deal with confrontation -- with either me or with the waiter -- by avoiding it.  

But when I think of confrontation, I think of living and working in New York where confrontation is pretty much a daily occurrence. Of course, in New York, we don't think of it as confrontation. We think of it as speaking your peace, kibitzing, or stating the facts as you see them in a live and let live kind of way. Riding the subway, getting your coffee, walking down the street, answering the phone -- all of it is pretty much civil but when things go wrong and you need to hold forth, these euphemism are your ally.

So in this regard, I did a funny thing the other day: I actually tried to speak my peace, state the facts as I saw them, hold forth and otherwize kibitz wantonly with someone on TV. For some reason, Kitchen Boss was on TV. This is the brand extension from the same folks who brought you Cake Boss about the baker-guy from New Jersey. I don't usually watch this show as this guy is nearly too Italian for me to watch. He had a DIY segment featuring an expert cheesemaker on How to Make Mozzarella. I was gobsmacked. I didn't mind that he was featuring the segment, but it seemed ridiculous to me that he was watching and shaking his head and saying things like, "Really? Is that right? I never knew that." I couldn't restrain myself from yelling at him in my best New York accent with impressive tinges of Mob Wives (I'm half-Italian). Here's what I said:

"OH COME ON! WHAT ARE YOU? IRISH? TELL ME YOU NEVER MADE DA MOOTS BEFORE. I KNOW YOU'VE MADE DA MOOTS BEFORE! YA GOTTA BE KIDDING ME THAT YOU NEVER MADE DA MOOTS BEFORE! COME ON!"
And it really made me crazy watching this guy pretend that this other guy was showing him something new. He was probably making moots-sa-rell when he was seven.

I know it was a little crazy (O.K., it was a lot crazy) but I really felt better when I was done yelling at the TV. I really gave my Sony Bravia a piece of my mind and held forth (past tense of hold forth) pretty impressively. Since I haven't had the chance to get back to New York in quite a while, it made me feel better that I am keeping up my skills in such a meaningful way.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Guthrie, Rainbows and I Love New York (3.10.2012)

Last night Sam and I went to The Guthrie Theatre to see Tracie Bennett in End of the Rainbow. And this blog was supposed to be about how much I love going to The Guthrie, and how much fun it was to show it to Sam for the first time. All that is still true. We had a fabulous time. I must have said to Sam about 20 times, "Oh my God, I just love being here."


It reminded me of how I felt about Lincoln Center when I lived in New York, which I did for about 18 years. I would do just about anything to end up in that part of the city and as near as possible to the Lincoln Center force-field. Ask people who knew me at that time (like my poor, sainted, ex-husband) and he will recount to you the many dinners he suffered through while trying to balance his main course on a tray-sized table, situated outdoors over a subway grate, at a little restaurant across from Lincoln Center. I remember one time when we were still in the "we are both perfect" dating phase when he finally lost it after paying $18.00 for a hamburger and $7.00 for a beer while our table wobbled over the subway grate and the exhaust fumes from the traffic wafted in our direction as a kind of city digestif.

And that my friends, is what this story is really about. It is about seeing this photo of the End of the Rainbow marquee going up at the Belasco Theatre on West 44th Street and having my heart hurt because I miss New York so much. I don't miss it every day, and I am smart enough to know that I have changed and the city has changed in the 16 years since I made it my home.    
           
Sam on the escalator to heaven at The Guthrie
In those 16 years, I have gone back to New York to visit as often as it has been practical, but not often enough. And I am getting very, very close to planning a New York theatre trip and bringing Sam with me. Truth is, he would probably behave better on the plane than I would. We talked about that last night and he was completely cool with the idea. For my part -- (and as I remarked to him): "I still think of you as that little kid who hit someone in the head by throwing a box of raisins backwards over your head the last time you were on a plane." I will just need to get over that and book the tickets. Now that Spiderman is finally out of previews, that might be a good first show.

Beware, New York. Here we come...