Dirty Heads Concert & Meeting the Prophet of Washington Park

by Christine on August 27th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Exercise

TGIF Revolutionists!

What a busy day I had yesterday! Here’s a sampling of what went down!

Finding food

After work, I had plans to grab dinner with my friend Peter, then go to the Dirty Heads concert with him. We have similar tastes in music, and he loves concerts (my hubby does not), so Pete and I try to see as much live music as possible.  When I arrived at his house, our first question was: what do we want to eat tonight?

I didn’t want to go out to dinner; I wanted to have a picnic because the weather was so nice.  I didn’t want to go to the grocery store to pick up food, either. Wasn’t there some kind of local deli in the area that might have hot food and salad fixings?  After a little searching we found a little Italian deli called Cardona’s on Western Ave. It was newly renovated (by my architect friend, too! Lacey Covertino Architects) so it was a good excuse to check it out. What a delightful little store! There must have been easily 30 varieties of olives soaking in baskets, and another 40 or more varieties of Italian cheeses. There was a gentleman there offering samples of his middle-eastern fare (falafel, hummus, tabouleh) so we sampled some yummies and had some samples of cheese. It was so much fun exploring the store, and everyone was very nice there. We’ll definitely be back!

Picnic in the Park

We took our bag of food, plus a cooler of beer, to Washington Park in Albany.  Now Albany, NY is a very curious place architecturally. The downtown area is a strange mashup of concrete nastiness and some awe-inspiring gothic architecture. Near the state offices (Albany is the capital of New York, after all) is Washington Park. It is purported to have been designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who was the landscape architect that designed Central Park in NYC. Indeed, the park has the same Central Park feel to it, although it’s much smaller. It has “neighborhoods” and sections within the park. There are lots of shady trees and lots of areas to relax on the lawn. There’s a playhouse and bandshell, a pond, sculptures, fountains, beautiful sculptured gardens, playgrounds, and so much more! It’s surrounded by beautiful brownstone buildings, so even walking along the periphery of the park is a joy. Here is one nearby building, a firehouse designed by famous architect HH Richardson. (In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I find architecture really interesting and joyful!)

We busted out our food and chowed down. We had chicken marsala (white wine sauce with mushrooms); tomatoes and mozzarella with tomatoes in pesto sauce; some pasta fazioli soup; Blue Moon beer. It was all very yummy! Here’s how much I ate (nope, I don’t eat much):

Meeting the Prophet of Washington Park

While we were relaxing in the park, this older gentleman kept waving to Peter, and eventually hollered over to us, “I really just want to talk to you for a second. Can I intrude and stop by?”  Amused, we said, “Sure, why not?”

He comes over to us, and starts with the story, “I’m an old man, and I’m having surgery next week,” and immediately I think, “oh dear. He’s going to ruin our picnic by asking us for money.” How cynical of me, right? I hate to remind myself sometimes that not everyone is a criminal or panhandler or whatever. People are, after all, people. They deserve respect and love and kindness, regardless of their walk of life, gender, skin color, sexual preference, whatever, right? Mental check.

I’m glad that we took the opportunity to welcome him over. He starts telling us his mini-life story, how he grew up in NYC and worked for a valet parking garage for 35 years, and oh, he didn’t want for anything while he worked there, hallelujah! He told us about his wife and kids. He told us how life goes by so quickly, and to just enjoy the moments because they just go by so quickly. He told us how important it is to love one another, treat everybody with the same respect that you’d treat your own family.  My favorite story, he told us how he was picked on when he was a kid; all the neighborhood boys would tease him, call him names, beat him up. “Oh, I thank god every day that I was teased,” he said, “because I grew up spending so much time with my elders. My parents. My grandparents. I would have missed out on all that if I weren’t teased. Oh lordy, I miss you SO MUCH grandma,” he said, crying right there. (Yes, I believe it’s that kind of perspective that Sean was talking about in his blog yesterday.) “All those bad experiences, and isn’t life just full of them? They just make you stronger and stronger,” he said. “Me, I’m going to live to 500, I’m so strong!”

Oh, this guy kept talking and talking. And some of it was just rambling. I think the man was lonely and needed someone to talk to. But a lot of what he said really was quite profound. Afterwards Pete and I laughed that we met the Prophet of Washington Park. Indeed, I think we did. I’m glad we took a few minutes to listen. My only regret is that I didn’t turn my video on to record it for later. (I thought of it, but thought it would be rude.)

Dirtyheads Concert

After the sun went down, we picked up our mess up and drove to Northern Lights to see the Dirtyheads play. Oh, what a tremendous concert! We had SO MUCH FUN! We danced a little bit, waved our hands in the air, jumped around, and drank more beer. Their music is so much like Sublime (in fact, they are touring with the reincarnated Sublime band) but with their own sound. It was a great time! If you like the Dirtyheads, I can definitely recommend that you check out a show next time they are in your town.

Here’s a video if you want to hear their music:

Stand Tall

Sports Bra

The other day, Dr. F recommended a sports bra. Her recommendation came from yet another blogger that recommended the same one.  The claim: The bra doesn’t pull on over the head: it hooks like a real bra in the back. Also, it doesn’t squish you down and give you the uni-boob. It gives you two real breasticles. BUT they don’t move. And the sports bra has an underwire.

That doesn’t sound like a sports bra at all! I was definitely curious. Now, here’s where I’m coming from. I’m a TWO SPORTS BRA kind of girl. When I jog, I don’t want my shit flying all over the place and wacking me in the chin.  I also prefer not to disturb the poor people jogging next to me. I strap my ta-tas down with two sports bras to ensure maximal control.  Now, having lost 88 pounds…I’ve lost a lot of boobage. I’m not entirely sure what my biggest boob size was because I never really got measured for a proper bra, but I suspect I was something like a 42 DD.  These days I’m a 34C. So I really don’t NEED to strap them down so much, but I do, mainly out of habit.  (Okay, my brain hasn’t wrapped itself around my weight loss quite yet.)

The bra is a Moving Comfort by Maia. And it works. Check it out. It’s a little expensive at $46, but so far I declare it worth it. I wore it last night to the concert, and I danced around a bit…and no moving. Two separate boobs; NO MOVEAGE. Astonishing.

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138.8 pounds (86.2 pounds lost): Bachelorette Party #2

by Christine on July 26th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Exercise

Good morning Revolutionists!

I apologize for not writing over the weekend, but what a busy weekend it was! I had my second bachelorette party to attend, and it was down in NYC. I had lots to pack and plan for!

On Friday I left work early to go to the doctor’s office. I didn’t get to see my super-amazing Dr. M, but her co-doctor in the office is a really nice guy. He told me (1) that I was cleared to go to NYC, because (2) I wasn’t contageious. (3) As for my underlying condition, if I still feel gross by the end of this week, then call him again.

(4) While he was making me cough and breathe and take my temperature, he was pressing on my abs and said, “Yikes, is that your port site?” He said he has several patients that have had the gastric banding surgery, and not a single one has a port site that wiggles around and sticks out like mine. He told me to call my surgeon and get it fixed. I really need to get on that, don’t I?  He also said that of all the patients, he’s never had one as “enormously successful as you.” He said he would never guess by looking at me that I’ve had weight-loss surgery!

Saturday I woke up bright and early. We picked up Danielle (the bride-to-be) and Sue, because we’re all neighbors and live in the same street. My hubby took us to the train station to catch the MegaBus down to NYC. ($40 tickets…much cheaper than taking the train. And Megabus often has $1 tickets!)  Most of the ladies slept on the bus, so I got to read my book.

Checking into the hotel

We checked into our hotel at the Midtown Hilton, which was nice and spacious by NYC standards, but perhaps a little more run-down than I thought it would be. Maybe I just have high standards, I don’t know. We wandered down the street to a little Irish pub for some food. I had a bowl of French Onion Soup and a diet coke.  Not the healthiest choice, but I knew I couldn’t finish a whole plate of food, and I didn’t want to take leftovers home. Nor did I want to dish out $15 for a healthier meal option that I wouldn’t finish.

We walked around a little bit, to digest lunch. We wandered over to Rockefeller Plaza. Holy smokes it was hot and humid out! One thing about Rockefeller Plaza: once you’ve seen it, you’ve pretty much seen what there is to see.  I’ve been there maybe four times now. (Snore!)  But there’s a lovely swiss chocolate store there, so I took Danielle in and bought us each a chocolate with Dom Perignon champagne inside of it! Decadant, and well worth the treat! I only bought one candy piece for us, a piece, rather than a box of them. Built-in portion control!

Ha ha, the feathers were so silly!

(Debi from “Hawaii Bound Bandster”…check it out! Diana Gabaldon’s “Dragonfly in Amber” is on the desk behind me!)

We went back the hotel and got ready for our evening on the town. We met in the other hotel room (we had 2 rooms, with four people in each room) and had champagne and shots to start off the evening Ole!

The Bachelorette Party

We headed off to our first venue: LIPS, a drag queen show!  It was gaudy and over the top and totally a lot of fun! I ordered a “Buttery Nipple” shot that was pure deliciousness! I need a recipe for that! I also got a frozen cosmo.  For a meal I got the fish dish: filet of sole with crab topping. A side of rice and a side of veggies. I ate about 1/5th of the plate. I didn’t want to over-do it and feel stuffed all night long!

(The absolutely funniest part of the evening was after the show, and all eight of us had to use the bathroom. There was a line a mile long for the lady’s room, so we all decided to use the men’s room. Well, Sue ended up…literally picking up the toilet seat on the men’s room and tried to give poor Karen a halo! We were shrieking at the top of our lungs and nearly peed ourselves from laughing so hard!)

We caught a cab and went to a lovely rooftop bar at on 5th Avenue. There were flowers galore, palm trees, and beautifulness! But holy-expensive-drinks-batman!

From there we wandered off to find a 90s dance club. We took a taxi, but discovered that the club had closed down! We took another taxi to a salsa club, but the Maid of Honor wasn’t keen on the $20 cover charge. We asked the bouncer for a recommendation for an 80’s or 90s club, and he sent us to this club. Another taxi ride there…and the line was ten thousand miles long, wrapping around the block. No way were we going to stand in line! We needed to regroup, so I found a little Irish pub on the corner of the street. We had such a fun time there! It was quiet so we could actually talk, and we found a group of absolutely adorable, genuinely-nice guys to banter with.  Our group separated for a bit. I was in charge of liquoring up the bachelorette (easy-as-pie!) and the other group went off in search of another dance club. They called an hour later and said, “It’s great, come by!”

The Bride and Me!

The Canal Room was pretty awesome! When we got there, the first group had reserved us a VIP table up top, so we had LOADS of room to dance around and not get squished by the floor crowd. The band was great! The 80’s music was terrific! And we danced and danced and danced!  We had to order full bottles of alcohol (1 vodka, 1 rum) plus some mixers. We all got totally trashed. We danced with some guys at the adjacent VIP table. I ended up stealing another table’s Red Bull (they had left, so it wasn’t a terrible theft, I hope) so I could caffinate myself. We danced for maybe 5 hours…I burned off OODLES of calories!

At a little after 4 p.m., we caught some taxis to get back the hotel. By accident “Group B” ended up in a limo, and the driver took us to a pizza place. We bought a whole slab of cheese pizza and took it back to the hotel. I gobbled up the cheese on one slice of pizza (and then promptly puked it all up…ate WAY too fast. I was starving!) Then they all started passing out around the room. I put them all into bed, tucked them in, and took their pictures. I was getting anal retentive about having dirty feet, so I washed my feet in the tub, then curled up to sleep around 5 a.m.

Yesterday everyone was so hung over, but not me! I don’t know how I got out of the hangover. The bus ride home seemed incredibly long. I read my book on the way home and watched over the group.  When I got home, I had half a can of tomato soup, then went to the gym (!!!!) and then took a nap.  For dinner we went out, and I had some kind of weird greek soup (lemon, chicken, orzo in a cream sauce) but I barely had a third of it. I filled up way too fast.

This morning I had lost a pound! 138.8.  Terrific!

NSV this morning at work! One of our Ph.D. students asked me shyly, “Have you lost weight? I mean, a LOT of weight?” I told him that I had, and he said, “I can totally tell. It’s really obvious!”  NSV!

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Bachelorette Party #1

by Christine on July 18th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Whew! What a weekend! Saturday I spent all day cleaning my house and decorating for a bachelorette party for my friend Stacey.  The Maid of Honor came over at 5 to prepare a few more things, then the party kicked off at 7 p.m.  We spent two hours drinking and eating and playing silly games like “Match the Hot Man to the Hot Body” and “How well do you know . Then we had an instructor come in to teach us how to belly dance! That was super fun, and my girlfriends were fantastic belly dancers! Of course, the best part were the belly dancing costumes! It’s fun to get dressed up!  Then we drank for another hour (I started to clean up the house) and the girls busted into the penis-shaped rice cookie sculpture.

Then the limo came to pick us up for a night of dancing.  The limo ride was everyone’s favorite thing of the night. It was just us being silly and goofy!  Then we all went dancing. Everyone had fun, but I HATE HATE HATE crowds. I get very clausterphobic when people start invading my personal space like that. I got bumped and jostled so much that I was literally wearing more of my cosmo than I had to drink from the glass. I was so pissed off, so I just went outside and waited for the group on the street. I was MUCH happier outside than inside. (But really…my style is much more to find a nice quiet jazz club with a bartender that knows how to make a good drink. Quiet place….quiet enough to have a conversation. THAT is my style! But it wasn’t my party now, was it?)

I eventually made it home at 2:30 a.m.  The damage wasn’t that bad…in the morning the scale was only up 0.5 pounds, but that means that I haven’t yet made my middle digit rollover (MDR)!! ARUGH!!!

Next weekend we are having Bachelorette Party #2 down in NYC! It’s going to be a blast, but I sure hope I tolerate the crowds okay.

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Music weekend and youthful generosity

by Christine on June 28th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Me at Jazz FestWell, this weekend was Jazz Fest, and we had a really good time! I went with a good friend of mine that has a solid appreciation of jazz music. As for me, I was just looking forward to reading my new book and hearing the Afro Cuban All Stars play!

Saturday was a bit rainy, but it didn’t hinder our fun.  Fortunately for Jazz Fest they let you bring food and drink (yes, even alcohol) into the park! We stopped at Subway and I got a 6-inch sub. I hadn’t had a sub sandwich in perhaps a year? It was rough and slow-going. The bread was really hard on me. I only ate half of the sub for lunch, then I ate the rest of the sub for dinner. Mostly I just picked at it. I also had some wheat thin crackers and hummus and a few slices of cheese as a snack. Overall, not bad. Most of my calories came from alcohol, but I didn’t even have a lot of that.

Sunday was the best day: the weather was better, the music was better, the fun was better! We camped out at the small stage and heard a group called the Trio of Oz play. They were wonderful! They did jazz renditions of popular songs (Death Cab for Cutie; the Police; Stone Temple Pilots, etc.) I really enjoyed them.

After they played, my friend wanted to get their CD. There were two lines — one line to purchase the music, and one line for autographs with the band. I held a place in the autograph line while my friend bought the cd.  He grabbed the last CD off the shelf. Boy, was the guy behind him disappointed! The gentleman asked the Borders rep if there were any more CDs in storage, but he shook his head. They were all out.

There was a young kid standing behind me in the autograph line. He had dark, moppy hair and was maybe as tall as my shoulder. He was maybe 14 years old at best, if I had to guess.  He had two CDs in his hand. He went up to the gentleman without a CD and said, “Here, take this one.” The guy said, “Are you sure? Oh, that’s really nice of you! Thanks!” and got into line to buy it. The kid said, “No no, I already bought this. It’s paid for…enjoy the music, man!” The guy was flabbergasted. Okay, we were all a little flabbergasted. He pulled out his wallet and the kid pushed his hand away. “No, it’s free. Just take it. You gotta pass the music on, you know.  It’s for the music, man.”

It was so cliche that I had to laugh, but really, the kid’s generosity really touched all of us. The man ran off to find some money to pay the kid back with (his wallet was empty). In the meantime, I told the kid what a great thing he did there, and offered to buy him an ice cream cone. He said no. He said that he was learning to play guitar (acoustic and base) and really just enjoys jazz music, and this band was really good and wanted to pass the music on. What a great kid. With an attitude like that, he’s really going to go places. His father must be terribly proud of him.

afrocubanallstarsFeeling pretty good after this wonderful act of generosity, then came the Afro Cuban All Stars. They were great! The whole place got up and danced to the salsa and merengue music. I was grinning ear to ear to see so many people moving their bodies, smiling, and dancing with each other! Everyone was dancing — old and young, black and white, guys and girls, good and the bad dancers…everyone! It was a giant celebration! My favorite was their Buena Vista Social Club tribute, but the other stuff was super fun too!

Afterwards the band had an autograph signing. Being the autograph hound that I am, I decided I had to get Juan De Marco’s autograph.  So I sucked up my shyness, bought a “Live at Carnegie Hall” cd, and stood in line.  Here’s a pic of me with him and his two beautiful daughters. They were all very nice!

Juan de marco

On Sunday I had a salad with tunafish for lunch, some chips as a snack, an ice cream cone while listing to the AFAS, then had some French Onion soup after the show. Plus two beers over the course of the day. Not a low-calorie day, and very high in salt. Today I’m bloated as all get-out…no surprise as to why. I shall counteract the salt-bloat by drinking a lot of water today!

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