Thursday, February 23, 2017

I Am Colorful And So Is My Food!

            I swear, I’ve been told I’m colorful. I’m not bragging or trying to sound like I’m the best thing next to sliced bread. (That spot is already held by my mother anyway.) People have used all sorts of words and phrases to describe me—vibrant, feisty, a spitfire, a ball of energy… Sometimes I wonder if it’s just their way of saying I’m a WEIRDO. But whatever the case may be, I know that I like to live life to the fullest and interact with as many people as possible. Everyone you meet is a chance to learn something new and possibly change your life as a result.

            Speaking of life changing experiences, I recently joined Weight Watchers. Yes, Oprah, “We’re doing it!” That woman sure is inspiring! I'd love to be invited to one of Oprah’s member parties. I want to sit in the woods with Oprah and sing “We’re having it all!” But all kidding aside, I think it’s the best eating program I’ve ever tried. Truly. However, I’m not really here to tout the wonders of Weight Watchers. It’s more to do with what I’m learning about food and myself.

            Weight Watchers assigns point values to the things you eat. And you only get a certain amount of points per day. I am on the strictest plan and only get 30.  A tablespoon of peanut butter is 3 points – 10% of my daily allowance! When I think about how I used to dig my spoon into a jar of peanut butter as if it were instead a container of Chobani non-fat yogurt… well that fantasy is over. The bottom line is this program has really made me stop and think about what I am putting in my mouth and whether or not I should be doing so. And what I’ve noticed is that I like eating colorful foods! Asparagus (even though it makes my pee smell funny), spinach, sweet potatoes, beets, tomatoes, eggs, salmon… I could go on, but don’t worry, I won’t. My friend offered to cook me dinner, and insisted on white potatoes and white rice as the side dishes. The white foods? Not so good. They had tons of points and little nutritional value. It’s the colorful foods that offer the best value for your points and your health. Okay, that’s not a total hard and fast rule, but a lot of the white carbs are super bad if you want to stay within your daily point allowance. Sweet potatoes are a way better bang for your buck than Idaho. And in my opinion, have a lot more flavor!

            I’m finding that as time goes on, I reach for the colorful foods, in my fruits, veggies and proteins. They make me happy and feel satisfied. And they don’t clog my insides, if you know what I mean. (And I’m sure you do.) And perhaps the people in our lives, like me, need to be colorful too! It takes all kinds of food to make a person feel content, and the people we interact with should be no different. My friends come in all shapes, sizes, colors, religions and sexual preferences. They all provide me with something valuable – humor, adventure, wisdom, love, inspiration… Each has their own color that they add to my life and it’s such a blessing to have that diversity in my life. Perhaps we all need to step out of our comfort zones and choose to try new things… both in our eating choices and the company we keep. Variety is the spice of life, after all. And Oprah, if you’d like me to be part of the company YOU keep, I’m available to eat at your dinner table anytime!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

In My Next Life, I Want To Come Back As The “Bones” Lady

            I’m speaking of Temperance Brennan, in case any of you are wondering. Don’t know who that is? Well for the last eleven plus years, Temperance Brennan aka “Bones” has been the protagonist on the TV series of the same name.  She has a super cool job as a forensic anthropologist. Truth be told, I don’t fully understand what that is, but I know she examines bones and helps the FBI solve murders. Doesn’t that sound like something you would wanna do? Or is it just me?

            Now that the 12th and final season of “Bones” is in full swing, I decided I HAD to watch every single episode and get caught up before the series finale airs this spring. Sounds easy, right? WRONG. There are over TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY episodes of “Bones” to date (yes I said 240) and I am only on season 7 now. (Spoiler alert: I just found out Bones and her “partner” Booth finally got their timing straight and are having a baby. Woohoo!) Only a hundred PLUS more episodes to go… whoa. That’s a lot.

            But what I have discovered on my “Bones”-watching-frenzy is how much I love the title character. And how much I wish I could be more like her. For starters, she is smart as hell. I’m smart, but this woman is beyond anything I could ever hope to be. Half the time she doesn’t even sound like she’s talking English. Note this nugget of spontaneous brilliance when Bones appeared as an expert witness during season 1: “And the placement of wrist restraints coupled with her hyperparathyroidism would account for the stress fractures on the distal anterior surface of both the radii and the ulni.” Huh? Hyperparathyroidism? Radii? Ulni? All I know is that it has something to do with being tied up. Other than that, dunno. Bones’ words just sail right over my head. And I kind of love her for that. (Feel free to read my blog entitled “It’s Science… You’re Not Supposed to Understand It” for further clarification of my lack of science knowledge.)

            But besides being super smart, Bones can kick some major ass too. She is a very skilled fighter to the point where I wouldn’t want to run into her in a dark alley if she was pissed off at me. At least once an episode she decks a guy. And she can fire a gun to boot. Don’t cross her. She’ll take you down, even while six months pregnant. Or perhaps she’ll just shout: “Stop, or I’ll kick you in the testicles!” at the top of her lungs. (She actually said that in the season 3 episode “Death in the Saddle”.)

            Did I mention she’s also a best-selling author too? When she’s not solving murders or cataloging thousand-year-old bones from some unknown civilization, Bones also writes murder mysteries. These books apparently sell so well that she never has to work again. She works her job at the Jeffersonian Institute (think the Smithsonian in the real world) for the sheer love of the work. Wouldn’t that be nice? To work for the pure love of it instead of the money? Sign me up! (Side note: I wouldn’t mind being a best-selling author either).

            And if all these wonderful qualities weren’t reason enough to want to be reincarnated as Bones, what about Booth? Oh… Booth. You sexy, sexy man, you. He is the perfect counterpart to Bones. Like me, he may not understand all the science mumbo jumbo, but he DOES understand who Bones is to the core and their banter is just priceless:

BONES: Why would a gang leader cooperate?
BOOTH: I'm gonna ask him really, really nicely, Bones.
BONES: You know that book I'm reading about getting along with your co-workers? It says that sarcasm is never helpful. I can lend it to you if you want.

Throughout the series, Booth has kept Bones on her toes. He has also taught Bones to use her heart, as well as her mind, in solving cases. And not coincidentally, she has become a much nicer person along the way thanks to her partner-in-(solving)-crime.

            Finally, Bones has the best coworkers a gal could ever ask for! How could you not want to go to work if you got to listen to people like Booth and Angela (Bones’ best friend) exchange these bits of dialogue:

BOOTH:    God doesn’t make mistakes.
ANGELA:  Mmmm, I don’t know. Putting testicles on the outside didn’t seem like such great idea.

Wow, I just talked about balls twice didn’t I?
             I still have some time (translation: over ONE HUNDRED episodes) before I have to bid a fond farewell to my beloved “Bones”—the character as well as the show. Until then, I will continue to dream about what it would be like to embody this gorgeous, smart, strong and funny goddess:

BOOTH:   You're a smart ass, you know that?
BONES:   Objectively, I'd say that I'm very smart, although it has nothing to do with my ass.

Yup… if I come back as Bones, I’m definitely bringing Booth with me.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

If It Says “Don’t Walk”, Then DON’T WALK!!!

            I am a driver. I am also a pedestrian. It’s hard for me to switch gears and have empathy for the one when I am playing the role of the other. It’s equally difficult for me to sympathize with the current group I am a part of whether it’s as a driver or a pedestrian. When I feel someone is engaging in an inappropriate action, my Jewish Italian rage cannot be contained in my five-foot tall body. It is as if the offender has slapped me right across the face and I must defend my honor. But the question is… am I equally guilty of these same behaviors? Let’s take a look.

            As a driver, nothing makes me crazier than the pedestrian who leisurely crosses the street when the light is green in my direction. Excuse me… Yes, you crossing the street with the toddler in one hand and the baby stroller in the other. Do you not see that little box with the red hand lit up in it? Does the red hand not make it clear that you are NOT SUPPOSED TO WALK?? These people brazenly assume no one is going to hit them. They have this cocky attitude as they stroll across the street. I can practically feel them taunting me under their breath, “I’m the pedestrian. I have the right of way. You can’t hit me.” Wanna bet? Just kidding. Perhaps I might step on the gas pedal… just to scare them… make them put a little pep in their step and think twice before doing it again! But then I remember when I was recently late for an appointment (something that happens to me often) and the light was green while a car was headed toward me. I took one look at the vehicle and said, “Screw it! I can make it!” And with that, I dashed right into the crosswalk. In my defense, at least I had the courtesy to sprint across the street. No lollygagging from this gal!

            Fellow drivers commit atrocities as well. What about the person that drives UNDER the speed limit? Seriously, it’s dangerous. (That’s what I like to tell myself as I continuously honk my horn and shout expletives at the offender in front of me). In my mind, if you can’t AT LEAST drive the speed limit, you have no business driving. Or perhaps you should consider moving to Florida. In the meantime, pull over and let everyone pass, grandpa!! However, just the other week, I was in my car looking for the correct street address of someone’s house, and my speed rivaled that of a snail.  Extenuating circumstances in my case? Perhaps, but how do I know grandpa didn’t have his too?

            As a fellow pedestrian, nothing annoys me more than people’s ignorance of escalator etiquette. Anyone ever been to London? Those people know etiquette. They live for it. They eat, breath and sleep it. These folks know that when you are on an escalator, if you are pausing to enjoy the ride then you move to the right so that those in a rush can pass on the left. No different than driving, really. But why don’t people know this in New York?? Why do people spread out all over the escalator with their bags and personal belongings blocking my path? This is not your personal luggage carousel, people. Move the hell over, cause girlfriend has places to be and people to see! Yet do I obey that same etiquette as I saunter down the middle of the sidewalk, texting my bestie or looking at photos of dogs? Nope. I don’t even notice that someone is behind me trying to get somewhere or that I’m about to collide with some guy holding 10 bags of groceries and his dry cleaning. He might’ve been my knight in shining armor. Don’t know. I’m too oblivious staring at my phone to even see what he looks like.

Is it just me or is there a definite pot/kettle scenario going on here? It’s time I faced facts. I’m a hypocrite when it comes to transportation—whether in a car or on my feet. It’s amazing how we are very often guilty of the same things that drive us bonkers when witnessed in others. Food for thought. But do I think I’ll stop honking my horn at annoying drivers or secretly wanting to terrorize pedestrians who are in my way? Absolutely not. A girl’s gotta have some fun, after all.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Dog or Baby… Which Way Do I Go?

I love dogs.

I also love babies.

When I see a dog or a baby, my face lights up brighter than Times Square at night. I am filled with delight, marveling at these tiny creatures. Yes, I know… dogs and babies are different creatures. One is the human kind and one is… well, the furry kind. (NOTE: I’m not completely convinced that dogs aren’t human in their own ways.)

Throughout my life, friends have had to tolerate my compulsion to stop and say hello to every dog or baby I meet in every random place imaginable. Conversations get interrupted; schedules get delayed in my fervor to snuggle up to both of these small wonders. But it wasn’t until my latter years that a friend actually asked me what I would do when faced with the ultimate dilemma… running into a baby AND dog simultaneously. Which one would I go to first? Ummm… I hadn’t thought of that.

It’s almost impossible to say. Babies and dogs both love me. Seriously, they do! When babies see me, it’s like they know I’m a friend. Maybe it’s because being all of five feet tall (on a good day), I’m closer to their size than most adults they encounter. Or maybe it’s because I’m willing to play peek-a-boo with them in the middle of a crowded bathroom or sing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, complete with hand movements, in a busy restaurant. I don’t care about looking foolish, and neither do they, and possibly there’s a camaraderie in that. Dunno. But babies truly dig me. They often pull away from their parents so I can scoop them up in my arms. Oops – sorry to all you moms and dads out there. I do not want to run away with your child, I promise. I have enough trouble taking care of myself!

Dogs equally love me. It’s like I speak their language. I can be walking down the street, see a dog, and all I have to say is “Hello, Boo!” and the dog instantly snaps his/her head toward me. Dogs always know I’m talking to them. It’s the most uncanny thing. Years ago, I was running around the Lake in Central Park, and I saw a woman walking a black Lab. Labs are one of my favorite dogs, so it was excruciatingly difficult for me to keep running, but I resisted the urge to stop and simply stated my traditional Hello-Boo-Dog-Greeting and kept going. As I circled back around the Lake, I saw the owner trying to drag the black Lab away. The dog was not budging. No matter what the owner did, the dog would not move. To my surprise, the owner looked in my direction and called out, “I’m really sorry, but my dog won’t leave until you come over and say hello to him.” (You can’t make this stuff up. At least I can’t.) My animal magnetism was so strong, that the dog refused to leave the Lake until he got a piece of me. Remember my post the other week where my friend Drew told me to take the time to stop and smell the flowers? This was one of those times. I don’t remember the dog’s name, but I will never forget that moment. It was beautiful. And simple. And full of love.

And that’s what dogs and babies are to me. Sure, both need me to pick up their poop, clean and feed them, but the love they give me in return is just enormous. Besides love, we are a source of comfort to one another. Dogs and babies let me be the person I am. I don’t need to dress up or put on airs. In fact, such behavior turns them off. Babies and dogs can smell dishonesty like a stinky bathroom. And they don’t like it… anymore than I do.

Over the weekend, I walked a dog I hadn’t seen in a while, and when I came into the apartment, the dog in question (an adorable Cocker Spaniel named Lady) came barreling from the back room to shower me with love. It was amazing. However, there was a new addition to the household—a baby girl named Liliane. I walked in the nursery to meet the baby for the first time and fell instantly in love. She was gurgling and smiling and a bundle of cuteness. I immediately knew we were buddies. Well, Lady was not having it. She started climbing my leg and scratching to get my attention. Since I speak dog, I knew what she was telling me: “Not you too, Dina! You belong to ME!” I felt so conflicted. Lady was my longtime love and Liliane was my new romance. It was bittersweet. Loving these two wonderful beings but knowing one of them was not happy about my love for the other one.

Which leads me back to the question… which way do I go first? Dog or baby? Let’s imagine … I am walking down the street and I see someone with a dog and someone else with a baby. WHAT DO I DO??? Should I run away and ignore them both? How do I choose??? All I can do is hope I am never faced with this situation, but IF I am, I will probably stop dead in my tracks and yell at them both: “I’m sorry, but this human refuses to leave until you come over and say hello to me.” Think it might land me in jail, you say? I don’t know about that. After all, it worked for the black Lab, didn’t it?