Friday, March 21, 2014

Racial Change

I’m 22 and a fresh faced Texas gal moving to New York City. I’m a planner through and through and couldn’t bear the thought of moving to NYC, living in the Y until I found a great apartment. That sounded like a horrible idea! 

(Especially because I had already spent a week at the Y on a job interview stint. I’m a very heavy sleeper and usually need at least two alarms to roust me. Apparently the Y walls are quite thin as my mornings started off with the gi-normous former linebacker banging on my door, “Yo, bitch, turn off the dang alarms or I’ll knock this door down and do it for you.” ) 

The guy that I nursed a mega-mega crush on in my PR class was moving to NYC and! he had an illegal sublet in Brooklyn and! he was willing to share. Our rent was $360 – total. So $180 per person. Perfect!  I imagined living on a tree-lined street, around the corner from the lovable Huxtable family.

Roommate and I would fall in love and our bitty apartment would be a story for generations.

Imagine my surprise at seeing stripped cars, figures huddled over oil barrel fires, boarded up hovels. Like Prior Husband, I was a big believer in signs – and the fact that my
new address was once the summer home of the Underwood Typewriter family was all I needed to put on rose colored glasses and try to blend in. (Rose colored glasses were of no use when roommate fell in love with a lithe french ballet dancer.)

Naivete only takes you so far when you are the only white chick for miles. And even harder when the natives see me not as a whitey, per se, but a sign of gentrification and higher rents. 

About a month in, I found the local laundromat. They offered drop-off service,  which seemed like a great idea. But then, surrounded by Queen Latifahesque African American women, suddenly a whitey droppin’ off her skivvies seemed just a teeny bit plantation-ish. (I was living in the Underwood mansion, after all.) 

The change-making machine was on the fritz so I very nicely asked the attendant to make change. 

“Sorry, honey, we all outta black quarters and the machine don’t take your white quarters.” 

Huh. Did not know there was such a thing and, I swear on a stack of allergen-free chocolate chip cookies, I did not catch the sarcasm and/or the racial tension. 

“Okay. Where do I get black quarters then?” 

“You go next door to the bank and you tell Shaniqua that I sent you. Be sure to tell her you’ll need black quarters.” 

Well, that’s convenient … a bank next door. Huzzah. 

And, yes, I really did go into a bank in the heart of Bedford Stuyvesent (home to Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing movie) and say “Hello, I need to buy black quarters.” 

And, no, I never went back to the laundromat. In fact, when my parents flew to New York to help me move the hell out of dodge, they were astonished at all the laundry hanging to dry in the bathroom. 

“You know there’s a laundromat right down the street, right?” 

And as a lovely techno-p.s., I did a google maps street view on my humble abode, 361 Washington Ave. Apparently the gentrification was a smashing success. Still has the green trim around the windows and still has the full sized window above the door, which was super handy for the burglars. 

361 Washington Ave. 2nd floor was my first NYC home. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Little Signs of Love

“Of course I can help you pull out the balloon catheter.” 
(inserted by doctor in an attempt to start labor) 

“I knew you’d be hungry [after an 8-hour dress rehearsal] so I made extra bacon.” 

“I’ll take the day off work so you can go to the Korean spa.”

“Here’s that black quarter you’ve been look for, hon.” 

For whatever reason, most young girls dream of finding their prince. I can’t blame this entirely on Disney since I didn’t grow up watching Cinderella on the telly. Over the years, men have confessed that they, too, have hoped for someone magic to appear. Prior Husband, when pressed about why he was reluctant about marriage, said he yearned for a Big Sign that it would have a happy ending – pink puffy clouds, lilting violins, church bells (the last item being particularly odd coming from a Jewish man). 

I remember BFF Frannie asking me one day, mid-divorce, to summarize my relationship hopes in 20 words or less. She thought it’d be helpful for me to have a sound bite for all those dates I was going to go on. The best I could come up with was: I wanted to be a priority in someone’s life, top dog. And, oh!, I yearned for kindness.

It felt vague and floofy at the time …  and yet I can honestly say that James is the most kind person I’ve ever met. And we are each other’s top priority, hand’s down. When I mentioned that finger puppets were often a good way to express feelings, he jumped on board readily. So much so that when we married, our finger puppets had matching outfits and their own photo shoot. 

And what does your spouse / partner do that makes your heart sing? 

The black quarter? Tomorrow...  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lobster, Foil and Nail Polish All Have This In Common

When I was diagnosed with celiac in 1998 (Feb 18th, 10.30 am to be precise) I remember the doctor being very chipper. "This is a great diagnosis to get. No pills, no follow up, no fatality rate. Just shop differently at the supermarket, voila!, there's your cure."

I don't think depressed is the right emotion -- more of a shell shock. I'd wander the aisles and read labels and then get super mad and sad and then I'd buy foil, find a cute nail polish and pick out lobster tails and go home. Because at least lobster, foil and polish are all gluten free.

I remember, vividly, sixteen years later, calling the pharmaceutical company that made my oh-so-magic anti-convulsant pills to see if they were gluten free. "We've always used potato starch. Especially with the high prevalance of wheat allergy in the epileptic community, the company felt it was the only conscionable way to go. We even built a separate manufacturing facility a while ago."

Huh. When would that have been, mr. chemist? "Oh, golly, back in 1974 or 1975." Alrighty then.

My anger would come out at inappropriate moments. A mother with a rashy child, talking about rashy child's bad bowel problems, buying tater tots that were coated in wheat and my deep desire to help her make a better freezer section selection. Having fantasies of vandalism in the salad dressing aisle. A particularly unpleasant conversation with a pharma rep who informed me that, while, yes she had told me that the antibiotic was technically gluten free that the logo adhesive was gluten. "But it's a pinhead amount, ma'am, it doesn't matter."

So when I got the news that (what are they again, the new allergens?) eggs, soy, yeast and whey needed to go ... and that I'd want to keep carbs under 20g, I wandered the aisles again. Mainly in search of a protein shake and an energy bar that'd travel well in my purse.

Lunch and dinner were do-able. But just as it was with going gluten free, damn!, breakfast was a killer. Especially for those school mornings that feel rushed.

Raw recipes to the rescue!  I have two new favorite breakfast items on the menu.

#1 Coconut Porridge

1 cup coconut milk* 
¼ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened) 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 T almond flour 
1 T flaxseed 
pinch of salt 

Heat the milk in a small sauce pan and add in remaining ingredients, cook on medium heat until it reaches desired thickness. Sweeten with sugar-free jam and/or stevia. 

Nurtitional information: 
270 cal  / 9 g carb  / 26 g fat  / 5 g protein

*I usually use So Delicious Coconut milk as it is lower carb and lower calorie than what you'll get in a can. 

For extra fun, add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of a grain free granola, like Lydia's Apricot Sun Cereal  -- 1/4c adds 7g of carbs, a price I'm willing to pay! 

#2 Key Lime Pie

Grain Free Vegan Pie Crust 
(Heather, this one's for you!)

½ cup almonds 
½ cup pistachios
½ cup cashews
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
4 dates, de-pitted 

I use this to make about 10 little cupcake sized pies … so divided by10: 
142 calories / 9.6 g fat / 4 g protein / 10 g net carbs  

If you are wanting to keep it lower carb, then just use 2 dates instead of four and then add a tablespoon of melted coconut oil … then it works out with this nutritional breakdown: 

124 calories / 9.6 g fat / 4 g protein / 5 g net carbs 

Key Lime Pie Filling 

2 medium/large avocados
6 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup lime juice
¼ cup stevia
3 tablespoons melted coconut butter
lime zest, to taste

Put all filling ingredients into food processor or hardy blender, blend til smooth. Pour on top of crust in cupcake liner. Place in freezer. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and let thaw for about 15 minutes.

div by 10 = 112 calories / 7 g fat / -- protein / 11 net carbs

LOW CARB filling

2 medium avocados
1 T honey
7 T stevia
3 T coconut butter
½ cup lime juice
lime zest, to taste

div by 10 = 81 calories / 7 g fat / -- protein / 2.5 net carbs

Nutritional information: 
Low carb crust + low carb key lime filling = 
205 calories / 16 g fat / 4 g protein / 7.5 net carbs

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bernadette’s Horrible, Terrible, No Good Day

It’s books and TV that say there’s a good twin and a bad twin
But after a day like today, there’s some truth to that fiction. 

It was the first day back to school and Charlotte only ate egg whites. 
Bernadette devoured mushrooms and yolks (and a lozenge stolen out of sight).

Their mum wanted just a few minutes after school to check email, 
10 seconds prior to crime
And, okay, a quick peek on Facebook. That’s when things started to derail. 

First, B stole lip gloss, tarting up her lips and the ends of her hair. 
Then she grabbed nail polish and settled into mum’s favorite chair. 

Mum could smell polish and commanded “Put the nail polish down.” 
“But I’m not using any, just looking,” B said with a frown. 

Mum sighed a long sigh, just ten minutes she needed, why is that such a feat?
“But I want pretty nails,” said B, precisely as the polish spilled all over the seat. 

“Darnit, dangit, you bad little girl! You ruined my chair, you stubborn mule!” 
Said Charlotte, quickly, “Look mommy, I didn’t break the rule.” 

No time for tears as an appointment loomed and there was polish to clean up 
B insisted on bringing – and then losing – her new favorite toy, the talking pup. 

A return trip to the doctor’s and the pup was still there, paws crossed. 
Charlotte said “I didn’t bring my pup, I’d be too sad if he got lost.” 

At snack time, Bernadette furtively stuck icky sticky tape to the table 
“Dear Ganesh, help this girl be obedient for five minutes, I know she’s able.” 

What’s that? Out of cookies? Well, then time to fetch the big mixer
“Remember B, eyes only, no fingers…” too later, the blade had bit her. 

The punishment was severe or well-rounded depending who you asked 
For mum felt there needed to be several parts, to cure the sassy lass. 

First there were harsh words and a fear of not getting some food
And second, B’s day was given to her sister, who was always so good. 

And thirdly, the penalty appearing easy to those who have never tried.
“B, your job is to take this t-shaped cushion and put it in the cover, back inside.”  

They both struggled, the good twin and the naughty one, trying with all their might.
“Remember, if you fail this mission, then for you there’s no dessert tonight.” 

10 seconds after the crime
“This is so hard, I guess it’s no dessert for me,” sighed B. 
“If she breaks a rule again, will you give the day to me?” asked C. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Whey With Words

I keep telling myself, pledging a solemn oath that I will write more. And then, like all those people that don't come and take yoga, I've got a zillion things that get in the way.

More specifically: eggs, yeast, soy and whey. In my (ridiculous? heroic?) ongoing why-aren't-I-thinner-already? quest, I finally found a doctor that was as outraged about my weight as me. I had plumped up 22 pounds in about four months at the end of 2012. I re-upped the calorie counting, went to 5 or 6 days a week of exercise and in six months I had lost three pounds. I had bloodwork done, everything is perfect (which, of course, made me weep) and the doctor (young and thin, no less) smiled meekly and said "This is really common for women your age."

I find a New Marvelous Doctor who is a fellow twin mom and she ordered both a blood glucose test, the fun three-hour one. And a food allergy test. She's a firm believer that once you figure out what you're allergic to, then (direct quote) "The weight just falls off."

For starters, I'm severely hypoglycemic. Most normal people have a blood glucose level around 80. They drink the bucket-o-sugar at the glucose test, the blood rises slowly to about 120 and then bellcurves its way back to 80.  My blood glucose was more like a hockey stick. Started at 80, bucket-o-sugar and my glucose slid from 80 to 60 to mid 40s.

Since my body isn't actually using sugar, it looks around for storage and then just dumps it all into the fat cells. Poor me. Poor James, actually. He can attest to what a barrel of laughs I am around 9.45 when he has to (regrettably) inform me that the chef is running late.

New Marvelous Doctor recommends I cut carbs to around 80g/day. I had been hovering around 120g, so that's sort of shock, mainly a long slow sad farewell to my BFFs, fruit.

But wait, there's more less! A week later, the food allergy test comes back with the news that in addition to wheat, barley, oats and rye, I'm also allergic to eggs, yeast, soy and whey.

Which is exactly how I woulda described my eating pattern if she had asked nicely. Eggs and yeasty GF bread (thank you, Udi's!)  for breakfast if we wake up on time, Designer Whey protein shake for us three gals if we are running late. Miso Soup for lunch. Or those great fake soy noodles with zero carbs.

Now, New Marvelous Doctor strongly suggested I see a nutritionist and I said, pfffft, I use Calorie King and MyFitnessPal and a gram scale to get portions right, I don't need no nutritionist person. But the news of (what are they again?) eggs, yeast, soy and whey going away ... I got the first appointment available.

Admittedly, I had pretty high hopes pinned on this lady. I needed someone to hand me a little booklet with a menu plan and, oh!, a primer on cooking without eggs. I'd also need some tea and sympathy.

Instead, nutritionist wanted to remove an additional 75+ foods to "really detox" me. I just kept having a vision of either A. a ridiculous pointy funnel with pizza and beer and PIMS cookies at the top and tiny dribbles of beans and turkey legs and bibb lettuce at the bottom and B. John Travolta in the Boy in the Plastic Bubble and how very much all I've ever wanted to be was to be normal and this food intolerance pathway ain't normal. Is the Bubble Boy still alive? (answer: no.) C. Prior Husband.

Prior Husband was type 2 diabetic and really struggled with, ahem,  appropriate food choices. Even after I rolled up my sleeves and counted his carbs for him and made him cute heart shaped tuna sandwiches for lunch, I learned that he was actually trading his lunch at work for pieces of chocolate cake. And, trying to not sound sanctimonious, I'd give him this pep talk: "food is just fuel, hon, it doesn't matter what's on the plate, really." I'm thankful right now that he's not still my spouse as I'm sure he'd replay that pep talk. A zillion times.

Anyway, when the Evil Nutritionist gave me my new new  list of the top 6,875 foods to avoid and I saw avocados, bacon, tea, stevia, watermelon, arugula, kale, coconut oil, all nut butters... and <drum roll>  chocolate, I had a little emotional mushroom cloud. And then a few days later, I met friends for drinks. And I ordered a hard apple cider to go with my bacon cheese burger.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Good Cop

Good Cop

The week after the alleged traffic infraction, we came home from the Fishpond and were greeting by two yarking poodles in the driveway. I'm confused and alarmed and a little sweaty. I never, ever leave the poodles out when we’re away. Ever.

I head towards the front door and, yep, the door jam has been jimmied and there’s the lock on the welcome mat. Damn. We head back to the church to call 9-1-1  … lovely, people who answer those calls. So nice!  The police call me when the house has been cleared by them.

The girls have a zillion questions. Why would someone take our stuff? Don’t they have they same rules as us? Is the bad person coming back to take more stuff? When I joke to Charlotte "Don't worry, hon, there's nothing left to take," she gets teary and asks "what if they come back to take me?" 

Then Charlotte, rule-loving Charlotte, says loudly and clearly (yes, the speech therapist is working wonders!) “Mommy, should you tell him [the officer] that you did something bad last week? Maybe he can’t help you since you broke a rule and got a ticket. You should tell him.”

Yeesh. The officer is intrigued and immediately agrees with the injustice of it all. “It’s a bus lane. One lane buses, one lane cars. Everyone knows that.”

There are such odd thoughts that pop up out of nowhere.

Well, I’m glad I vacuumed yesterday.

My laptop is gone. And the cord. I don’t know why, but I’m incensed about the cord.

Thank heavens the kitchen floor cleaned up so nicely. I'd hate for the cops to think I'm a crappy homemaker. 

Alllll jewelry is gone. Brooch from 1890 that survived two world wars and the great depression and the great recession. Poof. Gone. That great planet swarovski bangle that I wore the first time I was on TV in 1991. No more. 

That’s okay, I’ve got the vintage stuff in the box behind the dog treats. 

No more. The entire box is gone. 

The gi-normous desktop computer, the place where I earn my income, that’s intact.

The thief stole a pillowcase? But it was a set of 4 matching cases. Honestly! If you don’t have the tools for your job then you should get a new job.

Charlotte has more questions. With her heart-stopping big brown eyes (and thumbs out of mouth as this is important to her) she asks the officer “Was the bad person a boy or a girl?”

At that moment, I can tell the officer has a daughter. You can see him weighing and measuring his words.

“Well, all men are pigs and they’ll just take what they need, little girl.”

Nope, can’t say that lest Charlotte end up a lonely man-hating reluctant lesbian.

“Probably a girl since she took your mommy’s horsehair makeup brushes that mommy paid too much money for. That’s all girls like… is looking pretty.”

That'll lead us straight to pole dancing, smoking, and early crow's feet. 

Nope, can’t go that route.

He smiles warmly and says “Thieves are boys and girls and I’m sure there are some very good thieves out there that are girls just like you.”

After the police leave, James comes into my office while I am trying, desperately, to remember how to login to my cloud to track my laptop. James is holding a sunglass case.

“Is this case yours?”

Clearly, James has horrible timing. I do not have time piffle around about eyeglass cases, I had logged on to eBay that morning, oh, god, the thief is out there, right now, bidding on things. Maybe not even things from my watch list! Oh cloud, wherefore are thou? 

Crap. Is my eBay account linked to PayPal? Damnit.

“So then these are not your syringes?”

Zoiks and bazinga!

Apparently when Mr. Ill Prepared ThiefBoy was yanking off my pillowcase to steal three decades of my jewelry, he left behind his little let’s-commit-crimes kit: heroin, syringes, band thingy to go around the injection site. Actually, it wasn't the rubber tubing that you saw Christopher on the Sopranos use (before he injected heroin in between his toes). It was a long strip of velcro, like the kind you'd buy at Michael's.  Eww. 

James has impeccable timing … he’s amazing. When I call the officer to give him the news he says, simply, “I’ll be back at your house in about twenty seconds.” Officer is very excited because we’ll clearly get fingerprints from this little gem and hopefully find the bad person and then I can get my crescent moon brooch back. 

The girls spend the rest of that night looking for all their treasures: Elmo, Bubbe, ladybug watch, princess shoes. Phew – all accounted for.

James reports hearing the following conversation as he’s driving them home after work.

B: “I know why they took the laptop – because the bad person likes playing Angry Birds.”

C: “But what about mommy’s jewelry?”

B: “I bet they wanted to look pretty. You know, wearing mommy’s earrings while they play Angry Birds.”

And just for fun, my little snowpeople being silly when we were visting grandma. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Bad Cop!

Bad Cop

Thursday, 2nd day of 2014. We don’t have school, so we sleep late and head into the aquarium to enjoy our gift membership from uncle Roger and aunt Nancy. I always get a little screwy trying to find my way out of Seattle and this day was no exception. 

No worries, I turned on my GPS lady, Agnes.

(Her name, in and of itself, is a running joke. Every now and then Bernadette wants to know why she was Baby A and has a B name why sissy was Baby B but has a C name. Good question. [The first 11 times it is asked.] I tell her, truthfully, that I did try really, really hard to come up with A and B names, but all I could come up with for an A name was Anne or Agnes, and then she always laughs at Agnes.)

I turn on to 3rd Avenue in downtown Seattle and Agnes stops speaking to me. It was her idea in the first place, I would have opted for 4th by the sparkly jewelry store. But, no, Agnes insisted on dumping me onto 3rd and then she’s silent. 

I see a small dinner –plate sized “do not enter” sign twisting it the wind and I think, well, everyone knows that that street is one way. Then I see something red underneath a blowsy tree branch I say to myself, I do, I say “you know, ignorance of the law is no excuse, you should just get off this street.” And then there’s a “no left turn” sign … and then the cop lights blip on.


I had just promised the girls we’d have a special treat at Chaco Canyon, cocoa and maybe a gluten free cookie.

I pull over. Charlotte starts to cry.

I try to sound cool and detached. Mommy maybe broke a rule that she didn’t know about, even though it is Agnes’s fault.

C, tearfully: “But you told us that policemen take you to jail if you break rules.”

Well, there are big rules and jail and little rules and maybe a fine.

C: “But if you go to jail, who will take us to get cocoa?”

At least she’s got her priorities straight.

Policeman is about 19 years old and reminds me of the Nazi youth from Sound of Music, Rolf. Ma’am, passenger vehicles are not allowed on 3rd Avenue.

Crap. This, I did not know. Course, I’m also a teeny bit outraged that A. there are no signs to this effect and that B. I’ve driven about 300 feet (technically 528 feet, for my more precise readers) and C. what about all the other hundreds and hundred of cars? Didn’t all those hundreds of cars in front of me entrap me into thinking I was doing something legal?  Why isn’t he pulling the other scofflaws over too?  Why are the “do not enter” signs the size of a small dinner plate?

Bernadette stars car dancing, shimmying the shoulders, moving the feet, snapping fingers. What the hell are you doing back there Miss Bee?

“I can’t help it. The policeman’s lights make me feel like we are at a party.”