Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Lame Adventure 443: Test Time

Last month I had an annual checkup. I was wondering if my doctor might notice my fifteen-pound weight loss. She did:

My Doctor: You’ve lost seventeen pounds from a year ago!

Me (thinking): I was seventeen pounds heavier last year? That’s like packing a terrier!

My Doctor: This is terrific. For someone your age, it’s not an easy thing to do. What made you do it?

Me (thinking): Feeling like crap and looking like crap.

Me (saying): I thought things were going in the wrong direction.

I didn’t mention that my gastroenterologist had read me the riot act about my weight, prompting me to invest in a spin bike that I strenuously ride four times a week for forty minutes a session. In addition, I eat significantly healthier and do something highly un-American: practice portion control. I steer clear of processed foods. I am no longer on eating terms with cookies, chips and bread.

On my Do Not Eat list: beer flavored jelly beans.

Coincidentally on my Do Not Eat list: beer flavored jelly beans.

All year I have been predominantly eating organic: mountains of whole grain, acres of leafy greens and fields of fresh fruit. Gone are the days when I’d slap together a sandwich in twenty seconds and toss a banana in my satchel for lunch at The Grind. Now I spend over an hour preparing cous cous, sautéing tofu and steaming vegetables for a low calorie, nutritious mid-day meal.

Mid-day meal now: organic cous cous, mushrooms, kale and black beans.

Mid-day meal now: organic cous cous, mushrooms, kale and black beans.

As much as I hate cooking (and the subsequent clean-up), I hate feeling like flab on feet even more. Home cooking fresh ingredients is not only a cheap and healthy way to eat well but it keeps the lost weight off. My formula for staying fit is simple: eat less, eat well and exercise.

But now it is holiday season, a.k.a. eating season. My self-control will be sorely tested. I am not going to be eating less. That pimp, Trader Joe, has brought back one of my favorite seasonal indulgences: Brandy Beans.

Crummy iPhone photo (was not drunk when taking this image at The Grind).

Crummy iPhone photo (was not drunk when taking this image at The Grind).

I bought those the second I saw them — and brought them straight to The Grind. Sharing them with The Boss and my colleague, Godsend, allows me to eat them, but not inhaled in a single sitting, something that could happen if I were alone with them in my sanctum sanctorum.

I will be spending Thanksgiving in New Jersey with my long-time friend, Martini Max. With a name like that, he’s not the type who guzzles sarsaparilla. Max and I spend Thanksgiving Eve at his man-cave and Thanksgiving Day at his sister’s house. She makes a superb turkey basted in bourbon and butter. I am not much of a turkey fan. I think it’s rather bland, but turkey basted in bourbon and butter is quite tasty. If tradition prevails, Max and I will stuff ourselves royally on alcoholic beverages and appetizers. One year we ate so many deviled eggs, by the time dinner was served, they had expanded so exponentially they completely filled our intestinal cavities. I can say with authority that I know exactly what it feels like to be a hen. This coming Wednesday and Thursday are two days that I intend to thoroughly indulge, but I will practice restraint around those eggs.

In the weeks ahead, there will be more occasions when I will ditch my diet in favor of holiday conviviality, but I will still be riding my spin bike regularly, possibly closer to six times a week at five hour stretches. Come Christmas, my spin bike will remain in New York, cooling off, and I will be with my family. My sister, Dovima, who loathes kale, knocks herself out preparing food. She has some great holiday dining traditions.

Kale ready for steaming: nowhere to be found at Casa Dovima.

Kale ready for steaming: nowhere to be found at Casa Dovima.

On Christmas Eve, she bakes a spiral cut ham on the bone. She uses the bone to make a terrific split pea soup. Christmas morning, she prepares pancakes and bacon. Christmas dinner, we have Chicken Marsala, a dish she hit on several years ago that everyone likes. There’s usually a night when she serves fresh cracked crab with incredible San Francisco sourdough bread. She also always has a stash of Brandy Beans on site as well as other candy and a bottle of port we quaff together. When I visit, Dovima gets great wine. My niece, Sweet Pea, bakes her brains out. Her specialty: cookies.

This is one test I am destined to fail, but I don’t mind. This is why I time seeing my doctor before holiday season. The masochism of my healthy habits will resume after the New Year.

New Year's Day breakfast.

New Year’s Day breakfast.

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Lame Adventure 397: Pass on the Appetizers

When I stepped out to run an errand, much to my surprise what did I see lying on the sidewalk but a nose. Upon closer inspection I realized my eyes were playing tricks on me because I had actually mistaken three carrots angled funny in a sandwich bag for a proboscis.

These carrots looked a lot less orange without the flash.

These carrots looked a lot less orange without the flash.

An obvious mistake anyone not anticipating an encounter with stray carrots would have made.

On the topic of food, eating season starts this Thursday,  that time of year between Thanksgiving, or for readers who prefer, Thanksgivakkah (since this holiday coincides with the first day of Hanukkah), and New Years. Due to my gastroenterologist’s recommendation, I’m assigned to start losing the equivalent of a bowling ball and seven bananas in flab. The timing of this advised weight loss goal during the most food-filled weeks of the year creates a conflict for me. But, this Turkey Day, I am determined to practice self-control. I will consciously refrain from duplicating the year when I was a barnacle to the appetizer table where I inhaled a dozen deviled eggs and a glut of prawns washed down with a liter of martinis, prior to entering a coma during the main course, but reviving in time for pie. Forgive me for waxing sentimental.

This is also the season when one has to start thinking about gift giving. I am of modest means so I can afford more thinking than giving, but I have ticked one important Christmas gift off my list for a very dear relation. While shopping in my local Duane Reade for twine I could not locate, possibly because I was wandering aimfully in the pet toy section, I saw a talking Mr. Magoo — the perfect present for my sister’s pooch, Thurber.

"Hello Thurber!"

“Hello Thurber!”

As for everyone else in my family, if I cannot get whatever I’m giving them via the Internet, they’re not getting it from me. This is the time of year when my shopping standards kick in ferociously and I am solidly adhered. You could sooner move the George Washington Bridge with a feather than could you sooner dislodge me from my spending season policy. I only enter brick and mortar stores for the basic tools of survival: food, alcohol and flavored lubricant.

Back to this pressure to de-flab myself sooner than later, it is something I am taking extremely seriously. So seriously that I was compelled to finally remove my spin bike from the shipping box I received it in four weeks ago Tuesday. It was such a surgical procedure; it took one sixth of a day to complete.

Tightly packed.

Tightly packed.

Muscling out heavy duty staplers. Hit self in head twice, but only suffered a single concussion.

Muscling out heavy duty staples. Hit self in head twice, but only suffered a loss of consciousness once.

Sliced open box.

Sliced open box.

Supplied wrench that temporarily went AWOL.

Supplied wrench that temporarily went AWOL.

Three hours later, finally getting somewhere.

An eight of a day later, finally getting somewhere.

End result.

End result.

With my newfound experience extricating such a cumbersome and heavy object, I have likely attained the prowess to dissect an elephant with an X-Acto knife. If that pays better than what I’m currently making labeling tile, sign me up.

Putting my spin bike together took about a quarter hour including the five minutes I spent looking for and cursing at the wrench that went missing when it slipped under my bed.  Later that evening I met Milton.

Milton: You’ve started spinning?

Me: No. But I finally took my bike out of that box the size of Texas and I assembled it. That was a workout and a half.

Milton: It shows.

That compliment bolstered my confidence. In fact it got me through the next three days when every muscle in my body ached horrifically. The pain during my recovery from removing my spin bike from its box also caused a seismic shift in my fantasizing. Gone were the Technicolor dreams of intimacy with blind-folded vixens willing to pick up the tab. My thoughts went completely decadent and I dreamed of being chauffeured to and from The Grind in an ambulance, an expense that was fully covered by my crummy health insurance.

Soon, the spin shoes and cleats I recently ordered from Zappos should arrive. Then I will no longer have any excuses left to delay jump starting my sole New Years’ resolution in December. In preparation, I have read all of my spin bike’s how-to manuals cover to cover. They’re multi-purpose; they also put me to sleep. I suppose there’s no way to get around actually riding the spin bike to achieve the dual goals of weight loss and “ultimate energy”. Cutting back on ultimate eating this holiday season is probably a good starting point.

Spin bike manuals and DVDs. Cookies sold separately.

Spin bike manuals and DVDs. Dark Chocolate star cookies sold separately.

Lame Adventure 253: The Cook, the Bird, the Dog, the Brother

With apologies to filmmaker Peter Greenaway, who I am sure was first and foremost on everyone’s mind this Thanksgiving, I spent my Turkey Day as I do every year freeloading off my dear friends, Martini Max, his sister, Dorothy Parker (DP) and their family.  Naturally, I am thankful for the things that matter most in life – the wheel, fire and stretch jeans.

DP the Cook making deadline.

Da Boid ... dead.

DP's dog Burkey playing dead.

The Brother: Martini Max post-eating dead boid.

Lame Adventure 130: Pre and Post Turkey Day Inanity

Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, my company closed an hour early, presumably so that employees could get a jump on the holiday weekend, but my boss, Elsbeth, took it upon herself to shut every single light on our floor Tai Chi-style with my sidekick, Greg, following close behind, leaving Ling, Under Ling and I waiting anxiously by the door.  I had strained my lower back a few days earlier while auditioning for Cirque du Soleil in the privacy of my own bathroom.  Therefore, I stood waiting in agony, carrying my messenger bag, a bottle of wine, a duffel bag and a month’s worth of New Yorkers to read on my journey to New Jersey since I was doing my usual, spending Turkey Day with my friend, Martini Max, and his family.  Fearing that my metamorphosis into a human pack mule would worsen my injury I delicately asked of my superior:

Me:  What the fuck is she doing?  Let’s get the hell out of here before I end up in a full body cast!

Elsbeth, who is equipped with hearing worthy of a feral beast hunting for prey deep in the woods, got the message and joined us in the doorway.  While staring at me grimacing in pain laden with luggage and gifts, she asked:

Elsbeth:  When are you going to visit your friend in New Jersey?

Me (thinking):  If we can ever get the hell out of here and I can forgo getting a morphine drip, the goal is today.

Me (saying):  Today.

It was evident that it never occurred to my Lord and Master that I generally do not carry an extra forty pounds of luggage and gifts on my person every day.  As for the grimace on my face, she probably assumed it is my natural expression as I approach completing a second full year of 2008 level wages memorably reduced by 20% in the wake of inauguration day 2009, an act of cruelty that could soon turn me into a homicidal maniac.  By the time we walked out the door, everyone else in our company had bolted and night had fallen.  When I reached the Canal Street subway station the A train I needed to catch was pulling out.  Fortunately, another arrived quickly, and I was on my way to Max-ville.

My three-day hiatus with Max and his kin was therapeutic and the food, as always, was excellent, the guests were amiable, the children behaved, and even the dog, gifted with a bone, was mellow.  I was so uncharacteristically relaxed I forgot to take pictures.  Upon returning to Max’s apartment following Thanksgiving dinner, we noticed that one of his neighbor’s got a jump on cluttering his hallway with their Christmas decorating, or as Max said:

Max:  Oh look, Christmas dunce caps.

Christmas Coneheads.