Ten.

I was always one of those people who was effortlessly thin until about five years ago. Somehow, I blinked, and I was ten pounds too heavy. Well, I was ten pounds heavier than I felt comfortable. If I caught myself at the wrong angle in the mirror, I saw a stranger.

So, I decided to do something about it. I moved the scale from a box in the basement into the bathroom. No more denial. I started counting calories on an app on my iPhone. I also switched my gym schedule.

I used to go to the gym in afternoon after I got some work done. I did a little treadmill action, while watching Kardashian reruns. That wasn’t good enough, so I’m taking morning spin classes instead. I need a professional to kick my ass. I’m not sure I’m losing weight yet, but I’m definitely stronger.

This new routine has thrown me into the gym culture big time. In the afternoons, the gym is pretty much empty. It’s me and one 70-year old woman who reads People magazine on a bike. The mornings are packed. After three weeks, I’m starting to recognize the regulars. I know which guys are the projectile sweat-ers in my spin class. I know which instructors play the best music. I also know who has exercise-anorexia.

There are a few women in my spin class, who after doing ten miles on their bikes, will get on the eliptical machine for an hour, and then come back in the evening for another class. Three hours at the gym per day. That’s a little weird. There are a few hardcore cases that require professional intervention and a brownie sundae.

I need to get to that place in between chubby girl in the mirror and gaunt woman in the spin class. That place is ten pounds.

To lose this weight, I’ve made several tough changes. Pasta and bread are gone — not easy, but necessary. The leasurely Kardashian workouts were tossed. I’m going to give my body another month before I take more drastic steps, but wine and cheese will be the last thing that I’ll fling off this boat.

Too Big To Fail

As Jonah and his friends are entering into junior of high school. This is the year that will determine which college they attend, what kind of jobs they’ll have, whether they’ll have a cushy job at a law firm or whether they’ll be living in the basement in their 20s. Their whole future is boiling down to the next 12 months!

Of course, that’s not true. But that’s what everyone tells me. I’m particular fond of those conversations with other parents, where they subtly brag about their kids and poke to find out tidbits about Jonah. What colleges is he looking at? What honors classes is he in next year? Is he on the varsity cross country team? These comparisons — the weighing of the kids — is all very subtle, but it’s there.

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SL 663

I have exactly 30 seconds to spit out a few links. I want to retreat to a coffee shop for an hour before Ian gets back from camp. I’m not really working for the next six weeks, but I sorta want to finish off a couple of lighter pieces.

Yesterday, I spent an hour reading through the New York Magazine article on Cosby, and checking out the accompanying interviews. Very powerful work. Top notch journalism. This was the best article that I’ve read in months.

#TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter

Check out Manute Bol’s son.

The University of Pennsylvania girl who committed suicide last year was a local. It touched home for many of us, not just because she grew up about 10 minutes from my house. We all know about the pressure cooker of perfection.

Getting Google

Here on the East coast, we’re not quite plugged into the tech job section. There’s some growth in that area in some areas of Manhattan, but it’s certainly not like the NW. So, I found this whole thread on Quora totally fascinating.

A guy got turned down for a position at Google and asked the people of Quora if that meant that he was a loser. Most commenters said that he wasn’t a loser and then rattled off all the people who were turned down by Google and then made billions elsewhere.  Others had more info about the hiring practices at Google and talked about the interviewers methods for finding talent.

I’ve never worked for a place as large and competitive as Google. From the discussion on Quora, their Human Resources department sounds creepy and pseudo-scientific. And some of the Google employees who piped into the conversation talked about the company like members of a cult.

Autism and ESL

On the way back from church, Ian piped up from the backseat, “Do you know what ‘Spill the beans’ means?” They he started rattling off other expressions, as he calls them. “Rumor has it.” “Spit it out.” “You’re killing me.” He had about a dozen more.

He had a huge smile on his face as he quizzed us. “Does ‘spit it out’ mean spit on the floor?”

Idiomatic expressions are a common problem for kids on the autistic spectrum. They understand language very literally. When typical kids come across an expression for the first time, they might be puzzled, but they can usually figure out the meaning from the general context of the conversation. They are comfortable with the grey areas of language and the play of words. Even when somebody like my dad says an expression that was popular in the 1955, they effortlessly understand him.

Ian can’t do that. Instead, he memorizes them and files them away in a folder marked “expressions.”

Ian’s speech is an acceptable zone these days. He stutters when he’s trying to say something complicated. He searches for words. When he’s tired, he won’t always use full sentences. But he doesn’t have the mechanical, robotic speech that other autistic kids have.

He’s always listening to conversations around him, even if he appears to be glued to his video game. When he overhears a new word, he’ll repeat it three times. Transmission. Transmission. Transmission. And then we’ll explain the word to him. A transmission is a part of the car, Ian. He never forgets.

He still needs work on more pragmatic language skills, like staying on topic. If other people are talking about a soccer game at dinner time, you can’t suddenly discuss an online Monopoly game. Yes, the unnamed dinner table members are boring me to tears, too, but you have to wait until they’re done before bringing up something much more interesting, like the need to paint the downstairs playroom.

Jonah is memorizing idiomatic expression in his German class. He plugs his words and phrases into Quizlet for memorization. Ian has learned English like an ESL student. I suspect that English wasn’t his first language. I often wonder what his first language was. Was it images? Was it written words? Was it emotions and feelings and senses? I hope that someday he’ll be able to tell me. I hope he’ll spill the beans.