Marathon Ready

November 30, 2010

December is a marathon and Christmas is the finish line.  To gear up, I decided that I need a better fuel than Diet Coke.  That has been my go to energy source for the past 3 years, and honestly, I think I’m starting to flatline.  I guess my body has built up a tolerance, because it doesn’t seem to work quite as well as it used to.

 

One day, three years ago, I was sitting around a conference table at a lunch meeting and I was about to open my mouth to say, “Yawn, I’m soooo tired!” when I stopped myself and instead started a conversation with myself (yes, it was out loud).  It went something like this: “Oh, shut up Renee.  You’re always complaining about how tired you are. ” “Yeah…I am!  Why is that?  I don’t hear my coworkers complaining about how tired they are all the time!”  Then I looked around the table and realized that everyone at the table had either a Diet Coke or a cup of coffee in front of them.  And I had an aha moment!  Caffeine is the answer to all my problems!

 

Before that day I rarely ingested caffeine.  I didn’t drink soda, had never had a cup of coffee in my life, and only sometimes drank tea.  And I was always tired.

 

So I started drinking Diet Coke and seriously, I felt so much more focused and energized.  And then I adopted Rahul and my Diet Coke intake tripled.  I know it sounds awful, but I really don’t think I could have made it through without it.  I’m down to 1-2 cans per day, but I know its evil and rotting my stomach lining and giving me all kinds of diseases.  And please don’t tell me how horrible it is for me unless you want to hear my rant about all the things I abstain from in life and how this is truly my one and only vice and you’re prepared to lay all your vices out on the table, because that’s the kind of conversation it would be.  I’m very defensive.

 

Then the other night I was thinking about December.  I’ve got a lot to do this month.  Lots of work, lots of holiday stuff.  And that on top of an already full life/schedule.  And my financial situation is such that one bout of illness could wipe me out completely–I can’t miss a day of work.  So it occurred to me to get a better plan than Diet Coke.  So here’s my plan: 1. Go to bed earlier.  2. Get up earlier and work out in the morning (its about time I incorporate that into my routine).  3. Drink lots more water.   4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. 5. Drink less Diet Coke.

 

Pretty good, right?

 

I’ve actually done it for two days now and both days have been insanely full from morning to night.  But I’ve had energy to get through the day and I haven’t felt the urge to take a nap while I’m driving or anything.  So I guess its working so far!

 

Wish me luck:)

Rahul and my sister after running an actual race last week
Advertisements

It all started with the turkey.

 

The restaurant where I was working when I was, like, 24 years old gave us all free, frozen turkeys as a Thanksgiving present.  So my roommate, Kara, and I decided to make a night out of setting each another up on dates, eating said turkey in the context of a fancy dinner, then going out to Lincoln Center for a concert.  I had always wanted to attend a Handel’s Messiah concert, so we got tickets and we got dates.  Then our friend Mike (and neighbor–he lived one floor above us in our apt bldg) heard about our plan and wanted to join us.  He got his own date.

 

My job was going to be preparing the turkey/stuffing.  Kara (who was a vegetarian, BTW) was going to make soup–a family recipe.  That left Mike in charge of dessert.  Kara and I were unsure of Mike’s comfort level with baking, so we looked up a few recipes and offered suggestions.  We thought something light and fruity would be appropriate pre-concert.

 

He chose to make a Betty Crocker chocolate cake.

 

The day of our event I woke up and went to the freezer to take my turkey out.  That’s right. I hadn’t thawed it.  It was frozen solid.  And our guests were coming over in about 8 hours.  In a panic, I read the packaging on the turkey and it said something about a “quick thaw” method that involved soaking it in a cold water bath.  Whew! I thought. Crisis averted!  I put the turkey in a cold water bath, then left to go on an audition.  When I came back 2 hours later, the turkey was still frozen solid.  I chipped ice off it and tried to scrape the gizzards out of the cavity, but my fingers were getting frostbitten.  I was beginning to think the turkey miiiiiight not be ready to serve in 6 hours.  So I called Kara at work to alert her.  She worked in a wall street office and offered to go around to the executives and pilfer bits of fruit and crackers from the Harry and David gift baskets they had all gotten from their clients for Christmas.  Then she told me she would have to work late and would only be getting home in time for the dinner.  Uh, what?  What about your soup, Kara?  No problem, she assured me.  She said all the ingredients were in a grocery bag and all I had to do was open all the packages and dump them in a pot on the stove.  I said, Uh, Kara?  I can’t cook. (Obviously.)  So when you say, open the packages and dump it in a pot, that is LITERALLY what I am going to do.  I don’t have any method of discerning if I should perhaps add some water or some other soupy ingredient.  I’ll try not to burn it, but at this point, that’s all I can promise.  She was OK with those odds and said goodbye, leaving me again to my turkey dilemma.  I set up another cold bath for the little guy and went about preparing the table.  I had place cards, floral arrangements, china…table setting was my strength and really, I should have just stuck with that.

 

Then there was a knock on the door and it was Mike, stopping by to show me that he had purchased his Betty Crocker cake mix and was heading home to bake.  Uh, Mike, don’t bother me.  I’m thawing a turkey.  After he left I went back into the kitchen and searched through my cookbooks looking for some miracle cure for the chunk of ice and flesh taking a bath in my sink.  Then I saw it.  At the bottom of the page in one of my cookbooks it read:  Questions about cooking your turkey?  Call the TURKEY HOTLINE!  It listed a 1-800 number and I ran to the phone to call it.  Unfortunately the lady who answered my call was moving at a non-New York City pace.  I think she was from, like, Alabama.  Even the way she said hello was slow: Heeeelllllllllloooooooooo-oooooooooo?????  Before she even got to the lll’s I had screamed hello!!!! In about 2.7 seconds I detailed my crisis to her and awaited instructions.  She paused.  For a long time.  Then she said, Sooooooooooo.  Yyyoooooouuuuu’rrrrrrreee ffffrrrrrooooooooommmmmm  NNNNNeeeeewwwww YYYYYooooorrrrkkkkk CCCCCCiiiitttttyyyyyyyyyy????????  Another long pause.  I edited what came to my mind so that what came to my mouth was, Yes.  And I really need some help.  RIGHT NOW!  Then Super Slow Turkey Hotline Lady came through and told me that I could actually cook the turkey while its still frozen, I would just have to add a half hour of cooking time for every pound.  I quickly did some math in my head and realized that if I put the turkey in the oven right then, it would be ready at 10:30 pm, just about the time we would be getting back from the concert.  I was elated!! I thanked SSTHL and got off the phone.

 

Then there was another knock on my door.  It was Mike again.  Renee, do you have a bowl I can borrow?  I was about to criticize him for not having a bowl when he was making a cake, then I remembered that my turkey was still solid as a rock.  Sure, Mike.  Let me get you a bowl.

 

I put the turkey in the oven and called Kara again to check in when there was another knock and the door.  It was Mike again.  Do you have a measuring cup I could borrow?  Ran through my own cooking failure in my head again and edited my comment to, Sure Mike, Let me get you a measuring cup.

 

Then I set about finishing up the cleaning and opening all the packages for Kara’s soup, when there was another knock at the door.  Mike.  2 eggs?  Oil?  I gave him a look that said everything my brain was thinking and after I silently passed him the eggs and oil I slammed the door in his face.

 

Our guests were about to arrive, so I went in the bathroom to get ready and Kara came home from work just in time to greet them with her pears and crackers.  She stopped in at the bathroom to see how I was doing and I was just sitting in a heap crying.  I was so stressed out and felt like such a failure. She talked me through it, gave me a hug and got me on my feet again.  I asked, Did the soup come out OK?  She averted my eyes and said, No, it hadn’t, and quickly exited.  A few minutes later she came back in the bathroom.  She had tears in her eyes and she was holding back a huge laugh as she asked me to come out into the kitchen.  I followed her out and greeted all our guests, who were pretending to like their Harry and David castoffs.  And when I got to the kitchen, she gestured to Mike’s “cake”, which was sitting on the counter.  Actually, it was kind of sliding off.  He had attempted a layer cake.  And I’m pretty sure he was waiting at the oven door for the cake to finish baking with a spatula full of frosting.  Because the cake was still steaming hot and the frosting had turned to “icing/liquid” and was running down our counter.  The top layer of the cake had slid off and was at a 45 degree angle.  And cake was on a cheap Kmart plate.  I loved it.  I laughed so hard that I had to sit down on the floor.  Our elegant dinner was such a flop and we were all losers in the kitchen, but it really was starting to strike me as incredibly hysterical.

 

After our hors d’Oveures we set off for the concert, with the plan that after the concert we would come back and sit down for our “feast”.  The turkey remained in the oven, causing approximately 7 fire hazards.

 

The concert was very nice.  But I have a bit of a sensitivity to people making noise around me in theaters.  I can hear someone sucking on a hard candy across a room full of 300 people.  And unfortunately, the women behind me had just purchased some fascinating opera glasses at the gift shop.  And unfortunately, they were wrapped in what sounded like 13 layers of crinkly, plastic wrap.  And UNFORTUNATELY, they chose the very quiet, sad, alto solo, “He Was Despised”, about Jesus’ crucifixion, to unwrap their new goggles and chat all about them loudly right in my ear.  Kind of wrecked it for me.

 

Anyway, after the concert we went back to my place, where the turkey STILL was not cooked.  It was now late and we were all cranky and starving, so we decided to eat the only piece of food in the house.  The cake.  We sat down at the fancy table I had set up and set the “cake” in the center.  Then we all grabbed our forks and just started hacking away at it.  It was too lopsided and slippery to actually cut, and we were too tired to try anyway.  So we just ate like pigs in fancy clothes.

 

Then Mike left to take his date home.  And my date went home.  Then Kara said goodbye to her date and went to bed.  At 2:30 am Mike returned.  He was hungry and the turkey was finally done.

 

So we carved it up and the two of us ate, what I swear to this day, was the most delicious turkey I’ve ever eaten.

The Green Monster

November 16, 2010

Four years ago I bought my dream car.  Ever since I was little and I would see the neighbor’s yellow jeep whizzing down Thrall Road I loved Jeep Wranglers.  And when I bought it I had just said goodbye to my very boring Ford Something-or-Other car.  Does anyone else (besides my family) name their cars?  I’ve had a “Chuckie”, named after the Chuckie movies, because that car was a little possessed.  Then of course I had the famous “Putt-putt”.  I bought that car for $100 from a friend and it was a 20 year old Audi that had no working air/radio/odometer/radiator.  It made the putt-putt noise whenever I drove it.  That boring Ford was named Bruce.  I don’t know why–it just seemed like a Bruce.   (Sorry to Libby who’s Bruce is nothing close to boring!  If I’d known him then I would have name my car something else.  Like Bob.)

When Bruce died I was in a bit of a pickle because my job at Aveda required me to drive to salons every day and I was suddenly renting cars and taking long bus rides to the Hamptons to do my job.  I had a boss at the time who was, like, oh, How can I describe him?  Totally incompetent.  I tried to explain to him that when I had been hired, owning a car was not in my job description; over time I had inherited some accounts that I was able to take because I happened to have a car.  I was trying to argue that Aveda couldn’t force me to buy a car and instead should rent me a car twice a week.   He didn’t buy it.  He told me to go buy a Jetta.

Instead, I decided to buy a car that would make me happy.

I named it The Green Monster.  I was on a bit of a Red Sox kick at the time.  (My nephew Jack, who was 3 at the time and is a premium member of the Red Sox Nation was a bit scared of my car because it was a “monster”, but imagining the Green Monster running over Yankees in New York made him feel more comfortable around it.)  The Green Monster really makes me happy.  I LOVE driving it and my hearts swells every time I see it.  I paid it off before I adopted Rahul and when times have been lean I’ve thought of selling it, but I could never bring myself to do it.  And I was juuuuust saying 2 weeks ago that it has never given me a day of trouble.

Then it suddenly developed 5 separate and expensive problems, and it has spent the last week in the shop.  The repairs cost a large chunk of dough, but thanks to Don Glo Auto (if you need a mechanic in NYC, I highly recommend them) it was a much smaller chunk of dough than the first place was going to charge me.  When Rahul and I went to pick up TGM last night, I hugged the car when I saw it on the street and when I got in I scolded it and told it to never do that to me again.  I was so busy last week and my business revolves completely around my car (I’m a mobile hairdresser).  Sans car I was lugging about 30 pounds of hair stuff all over creation, and although I didn’t miss one appointment I was late for about 75% of them.  I was late coming home every night and I missed 3 church services.  And I was pooped.

Rahul on The Green Monster

This morning I had to take Rahul to the doctor, and although the office is right in our neighborhood, we usually drive there.  As we walked past the car, Rahul asked why we weren’t driving.  I told him I had learned the value of walking last week.  And I told him he needed to train for a race he’s running.  But I realized that in actuality I had some unresolved feelings toward TGM that were making me reluctant to drive it.  So this afternoon I took it for a spin and we made up.  It runs so much better now.

And I know its really sorry for inconveniencing me.

Unsolicited Advice

November 6, 2010

When I first considered adopting, I had a “pro” list and a “con” list about becoming a mom.  One of the biggest “cons” was that I dreaded having to be in the “Mommy club”.  You know, those moms who know it all and are always trying to out-do one another with the best kid; and who always made the uninitiated (non-mothers) feel less-than.  I never had to deal with these women in any other way than to perhaps wait on them in a restaurant or cut their hair.  Becoming a mom meant I would have to deal with them daily.

 

Well, the pros won out against the cons, and now that I’m a mom I see its really not that bad.  I live in a neighborhood where there are only a handful of these types of moms and most of them don’t send their kids to my son’s school.  And in my business now, most (95%?) of my clients are moms and I can’t think of a single one of them that are in the Mommy Club.  I think I was blowing it all out of proportion.

 

 

 

But every once in a while I get knocked out by some unsolicited advice from one of these types and its all I can do to hold my tongue.  Actually, its funny, but one of the biggest congregations of the Church of Perfect Parents is this listserv I belong to that is all parents of older adopted children.  I only look at it now when I need a laugh.  Its so insane.  Here’s what its like.  When I first adopted Rahul I joined the group and they were in the middle of this bizarre discussion about bathing children from Asian countries and what type of soap worked best on their children’s skin.  My first problem with their discussion was that it seemed that none of them had ever MET and Asian person before they adopted one, they were so completely shocked and disturbed by the fact that people who aren’t white or Japanese don’t bath every day because their skin can get dry.  Deal with it white people! People who have a different color skin than you may need to care for it in a different way than you do! Ai yai yai.  (I didn’t even want to think about what was happening with their Black children’s hair!)  My other problem with this discussion was the immense length of it! I mean parents were writing pages and pages of blah, blah, blah and I was like, This is at best a 2 sentence conversation. (Q: My child’s skin is dry, what do I do? A:Bathe less and moisturize.)  I didn’t get (a) how they had so much time to write all this stuff and (b) how they had so much to say about it. I mean, really, people!  Start a blog!

 

There were a couple of times, though, that I posed a question to the group, when I was really desperate for information.  One time I was looking for a children’s book that addressed money (spending, saving), but would be sensitive to children who had grown up in poverty.  Well, I never did get a book recommendation, but I sure did get lots and lots of stories from people about anything having to do with money, poverty, or children.  Another time I asked whether anyone had expereinced thier sons being violent.  I gave no details (nor will I now), but asked that anyone who had that experience contact me offline.  Well I did get a bunch of emails with assumptions (but no actual questions) about what was going on with my son and I got a whole lot of stories about their own heroic journeys with violent children, but no actual helpful connection was made.

 

And that’s my problem with unsolicited advice.  It never does address an actual problem you are having and because its always out of context, it only serves to cut you down, not build you up.  And I guess that’s the motivation behind it anyways.  Like my neighbor who didn’t like seeing my son walk the dog by himself and told me about how her teenage son wasn’t allowed to leave the house alone until he was 13 and then he had to call home when he got to school (literally ONE block from our building).  I smiled and nodded and told her how responsible Rahul is, but what could I say that wouldn’t just be more unsolicited advice right back at her?

 

One thing I know for sure is that we as parents need all the help we can get.  But I think the best help comes in the form of listening and telling each other that we’re doing a good job.  We tell ourselves all day how terrible we are as parents and lots of times our kids tell us too.  The last thing we need is another parent telling us the same thing.  I do make it a point to tell my clients who are moms what a great job they’re doing.  And I find at least one strength in their parenting that I can encourage them about and take with me to use with Rahul.  And they are so generous to me, always giving me presents or offering encouragement.  And, you know what? It really makes my day.

 

This is what unsolicited advice looks like–oh, no! It just my son in his Halloween costume.