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For the past year, my daughter and I have been carpooling to work every day. We work a short distance from each other, and until she could figure out the means to buy her own car, this was our only option.

It worked out well, with the exception of our schedules. I work from 9:00 – 4:30. She has two radio shows; one from Noon – 2:00 and another from 4:00 – 6:00. Our usual daily routine was, she accompanied me to work, and sat reading at a local coffee shop until 11:30 or so, and then she’d take the keys and head to her job. At 3:30, we would meet at my office, and I would drive her to the station for her 4:00 show, and then return to my office for the last 45 minutes of my day.

That 3:30 shuffle sucks. The lot I park in for my job is 2 blocks away from my office, which may sound short, but in heat, rain or snow, that walk turns into a tiresome trek. And then, when I’m done at 4:30, I had the pleasure of waiting 1 1/2 hours for daughter to be off work. Most times I would grocery shop, but other times, when money was low, it was harder and harder to find creative ways to pass that time.

A favorite of mine was to spend a half an hour at our local animal shelter petting cats and kittens. Or sometimes I would just walk around the mall and “window” shop. For the most part that hour and a half would go by fast.

An additional burn? Sometimes our boss would let us out early.. like at 2:30 if there was little work to do. Then I’d be stuck in town for hours and hours when I could’ve been home with me feet up in front of Food Network. It also was not convenient for meals. We would not get home until 6:30 or so, and the thought of starting chicken piccata at that late time was a tiresome thought.

For a year I did this. My husband would pitch in when it worked for his schedule, but his schedule is ever changing, whereas ours was set, so most times it was me.

The commute itself would be great. We would usually spend the time talking. Sometimes we played music, but the commute was typically spent discussing a variety of things; upcoming vacations, plans for work; and it was really nice.

It all ended this week. Our children recently came into a small sum of money through the passing of a relative, and my daughter knew…this was the opportunity to buy her own car. She test drove quite a few, but in the end we decided to buy the same make and model as my car, which she was very used to driving.

I’m so happy for her. What a sense of independence this must give her. I remember when I owned my first car…you felt the world could be yours. You could go anywhere. But I’m also happy for me. While I really miss driving with her, it’s really nice to be able to just come home after work.

I’ll can always pet kittens on Saturdays…

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Something wonderful has happened in my 53rd year. My uterus, which has plagued me my entire adult life, has finally decided to throw in the towel.

I hear lots of women complain about menopause…heat flashes, moodiness, night sweats. But I have have zero complaints. Do you know why? BECAUSE I HAVEN’T HAD A PERIOD SINCE JANUARY. And that is the best thing to happen to me ever.

At the beginning of the year, I was actually looking into a hysterectomy because my uterus was going haywire. It began to bleed in October, and didn’t stop until December. Heavy, non-stop bleeding. I had a consultation with a surgeon, and then, just like that, it stopped. It’s as if it wanted to torture me for one last time before Mother Nature shut her ass down.

I’m not sure if she’s done for sure and for certain, but I’m optimistic. To have not had a period for 6 months has been a blessing the magnitude of which you can’t realize.

I’m free.

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I love TV. I am unapologetic about it. I don’t understand people who “don’t watch TV,” just like I don’t understand vegans. To each their own, but I love it…always have.

Food Network is my go-to channel. It is the first channel I check when I am looking for something to watch, and it is the channel I usually drift of to sleep watching.

A month or so back, my husband and I had to reconfigure our cable package. The sweet deal we had for the past two years had run out, and to keep all the same channels we had would’ve boosted our bill to over $200 bucks per month.

Uh, no thank you.

So we reworked things to give us a lower bill, but in the crosshairs were a lot of channels our family really loved…Nickelodeon, all the sports channels, and *gasp,* Bravo. I watch A LOT of Bravo programs. A new season of Real Housewives of NYC had just started, as well ad a new season of Southern Charm. I was sick about that, but bit the bullet.

We invested in a Roku and got a Hulu subscription. I thought this was the perfect solution – I could still enjoy Bravo and a plethora of other TV shows. I binge watched “The Handmaids Tale”…worth the subscription price alone. Hubby fell back I love with “Hill Street Blues,” and my daughter and I began watching “Top Chef” back from season 1.

However, Bravo? That was a problem. They don’t carry the current season of RHONY, and they don’t carry Southern Charm at all. The high price of cable had cock-blocked me from watching two of my faves after all.

Yesterday I switched on the TV to see what Food Network show I was going to indulge in when I got an error message on the screen. That channel was not available.

WHAT????????

I immediately called our cable provider, who proceeded to tell me that their plans had shifted over night. We had lost Food Network, The Weather Channel, and a few other who-gives-a-fuck stations.

I flew into a panic….This was too much for me to bear. Food Network on Hulu only runs specific shows. Ina and Giada? Gone. Pioneer Woman? Gone. Brunch at Bobby’s? Gone.

I was not going to take this lying down.

So I called back and thankfully got a really nice woman on the phone who helped me pick a package that was in our price range, and restored ALL our channels.

Bravo? Got it. Food Network? Got it. Nickelodeon? Got it. The Weather Channel? Got it. ESPN? Got it. I feel human again.

I spent all last night catching up on season 10 of Real Housewives of NYC last night, and Friday night I will binge Southern Charm and America’s Next Top Model.

We are still going to keep our Rokus and our Hulu subscription, because in my opinion, the more TV the better. Old episodes of The Brady Bunch and I Love Lucy are now at my disposal. And there’s no way I can do without seeing what happens to June and the other handmaids.

Thank goodness they cut Food Network yesterday. That cloud definitely had a silver lining.

This is an encore publishing of my 2012 blog post “My Star Wars Experience” in honor of May 4th.
When I was 12 I saw a commercial for a new movie that was coming out, and it looked really bad.

It was for Star Wars.

If you’ve ever seen the original trailer/commercial for the movie, you might know where I’m coming from. It looked BORING. You can view the trailer here if you’ve never seen it. So with no plan to spend my allowance on that movie I put Star Wars behind me. But it wouldn’t be for long.

When I was a kid, I was pretty good friends with Andrew Shalit, son of NBC’s film critic Gene Shalit. While having a dad with connections must be a grand thing, having a friend with a dad with connections is nothing to sneeze at either.

Andrew invited me and roughly 6 other friends to come into New York City to see a private showing of, what else? Star Wars.
While I was not thrilled about the film we were going to see, I was pretty excited to hang out in the city with my friends. I was not going to miss this just because the movie looked a little dull.

We took a van into mid-town Manhattan and were let off at a large office building. Hmmmm. I was expecting a theater. We took the elevators to an unknown floor/office where we were then ushered into a little tiny theater.

It had a big screen, but only 4 rows of seats, and maybe 6-8 chairs in each row. This alone was worth the trip to see the boring movie. I’d never been in a private screening room. I’m not sure if I even knew they existed.

Before long the lights went down and the movie began. 121 minutes later I emerged from that little theater in love with Luke Skywalker and wanting to be exactly like Princess Leia.

Except for the hair.

We were each given a T-shirt that had the Star Wars logo or the phrase “May the force be with you.” I chose the one with the Star Wars logo. What a great bonus to an already awesome day.

When we were dropped off back in our home town, my friends and I played jedis vs. stormtroopers on the walk home, using sticks for light sabers and rolling/running over people’s lawns and across streets. I don’t think the movie had even hit the theaters yet, and I was already hooked.

I bought a few movie stills to hang in my room and spent that summer falling in and out of lust for both Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford. I think I saw the movie a few more times in the theater as well. But, that’s where the love ended. I saw Empire Strikes Back along with the rest of the world, but hated the ending. How dare they cliff hang me with at least a year to wait for the outcome.

Return of the Jedi was good, but neither that or Empire Strikes Back grabbed me in the same way Star Wars did. I also did not like any of the prequels. Jar Jar Binks was fucking annoying as hell, and the story didn’t interest me in the least.

I never jumped on the Star Wars saga bandwagon. You’ll won’t find me at Comicon dressed as Darth Nihilus (Stern fans may giggle at that), and I don’t collect the figurines. But if that wonderful, original, innovated film from 1977 is on television, I’ll grab my kids, pop some corn and plop on the couch to escape in to space for 121 minutes.

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I pack my lunch almost every day, and even if I buy, I usually eat at my desk. This leaves me open to every single person I work with seeing what I have for lunch, and even worse, seeing me eat it.

Ugh.

I have a few co-workers who are fairly obsessed with what anyone and everyone is eating for lunch. Every day, one of them will come up to me with my food spread before me and ask, “What’cha got there?”

It’s an innocent enough question, but it kind of irks me because I’ve always been a private eater. I don’t like eating in front of people at all. The beauty of my last job was that while the room my office was in was home to several agents, they were almost never there, so I could eat in relative privacy every day.

My office now? I’m surrounded by coworkers at all times, and my desk is small. So, my food has to sit to the left of me (because my mousepad is to the right of me) and is in plain view of every person who walks by. I don’t know why I should find this bothersome, but I do…especially if I’m eating soup.

So I’ve toughened up, and become used to people looking at my food, and looking at me eating said food. It’s a fair price to pay to work at one of the best companies I’ve ever had the to honor to call my 9-5 home.

Soup

One of my all time favorite foods is soup.

I have loved soup since my childhood. My mother made a killer beef vegetable soup. She would leave a pot of it on the stove along with a bowl of noodles. Our method was to fill your bowl with noodles and ladle the hot broth over the top. After adding copious amounts of black pepper, I was in heaven.

Nowadays, chicken soup is my favorite by far, and I make a giant pot of it at least once a month. I don’t even follow a recipe anymore. I’ve made split pea from my leftover Easter Ham, I make potato leek soup, and my girls really like my mushroom soup – a pot of that doesn’t last too long.

I love having soup for lunch. We have a store up the street from my office that sells containers of soup during the winter months, and I am addicted to their chicken noodle. Yesterday they didn’t have any, so I settled for brisket & butter bean soup, which was also good, but I have to admit I ate it begrudgingly.

We also have a place close by that makes a really good Pho…I try to order it every few weeks. Today for lunch I am trying a Thai beef noodle soup. I hope it’s good. (PostScript it WAAAAASSSSS!)

My one rule for soup is I like it brothy. I don’t mind if a potato soup is on the thick side, but if your spoon doesn’t sink into the soup, it’s not soup…it’s pudding.

I also love how soup is a meal that lasts. It seems to take a long time to polish off a big bowl of soup, and it you want seconds??? Big deal…there are worse things you could be eating.

My next soup move is to branch out from the 4 or so varieties I cook. If anyone has a great recipe, be sure to share a link to it! Anything but seafood…Tracy doesn’t do seafood.

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Today is the March for Our Lives. Across the country millions of kids, moms, fathers, sisters and brothers who are sick and tired of being mowed down at school by crazed gun men with semi-automatic rifles are going to march nationwide in support of sensible gun control laws.

And where will I be? Hosting a sweet 16 birthday party for my daughter at a trampoline park. When I booked the party I totally zoned out on the fact that it was the same day as the march. By the time I realized it, I couldn’t reschedule.

So here I am, a mother in the Resistance, buying balloons and cutting birthday cake when I should be carrying a sign, while fighting the NRA and this shit-show of an administration.

Ugh.

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This past weekend my youngest daughter spent the night at a new friend’s house. I asked her to text me the address so I could familiarize myself with how to get to the house. I wrote down the directions, and at the very end wrote the address.

As I drove to pick her up on Saturday morning, with my other daughter as my co-pilot, we arrived at the correct street and went about trying to find the house. From the map I’d looked at, the house appeared to be one or two houses down the street. But the address I’d written down took me to a cute little house a bit further down the road.

It had a blue door and a flag post with the American flag and a US Marine flag flying. I went to the front door and rang the doorbell. A nice older gentleman answered the door, and I said, “Hi, I’m Sasha’s mom.”

He replied, “Well, hello! Won’t you come in?” He called to his wife, who he said was in the kitchen making soup. I exclaimed that I love soup, and I was greeted by a pleasant woman. We shook hands and I said, “I’m Sasha’s mom.”

She looked bewildered and said, “Sasha, Sasha….who would she be?”

My heart sank. I asked her, “please tell me there was a sleepover here last night with your daughter and my daughter.” She laughed and said no.

I was at the wrong fucking house.

I apologized profusely, totally humiliated at having made the error, but they were so nice, and said no apologies needed. I skulked back to my car and admitted my error to my daughter, who couldn’t stop laughing for quite a while. After checking my phone I realized I’d managed to Google Map the correct address, but wrote down an address 10 numbers down the street.

Typical Tracy.

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My 16 year old daughter just experienced her first real Valentines Day. And it’s largely in part to a conversation my husband and I had at the grocery store.

We were checking out, and as I saw a package of crab cakes scan up at $5.99, I turned to my husband and said, “$5.99 for crab cakes?” This started a rather lively conversation with the cashier, a handsome, tall fellow, about the quality of the crab cakes, and whether we should even bother purchasing them.

My husband then asked him if he were working while in college, and he informed us he was a junior at our high school.

This adorable boy is a junior at the same school my sophomore girl attends? So, I asked him if he knew her. When her name sparked no recognition I said, “you might have seen her on ‘In The Know,’” which was the school’s news program.

He said, “Oh, is she blonde?” To which I replied, “yes.”

We paid for our groceries and left, and I thought to myself, why can’t cute guys like that ever show an interest in my daughter? Well, little did I know that this small exchange would lead to my daughter falling head over heels a week later.

Because when we got home I mentioned our conversation with my girl, and asked her if she knew a Chris who was a Junior and worked at the local grocery store. She knew who he was, and the next day at school approached him at lunch to apologize for her crazy parents. Apparently this sparked in interest in young Chris, and they continued to talk the entire week.

The following Saturday, my daughter accompanied me to the store, and Chris happened to be working. He spotted her and immediately shouted out a hello to her with a wave. I did a double take and said to her, “Hey, that’s the guy I was telling you about! Are you friends now?”

She admitted they had been talking, while blushing profusely. By the time we were ready to check out, he was out rounding up shopping carts, but they managed to exchange a few words (and a few hugs), and I thought to myself….hmmmm…could this be something?

They texted all that night, and the next day, he came over to “hang out.” He greeted me with a hug, which I have to admit, I liked. They played ping pong and looked at yearbooks, and after a few hours they were hooked on each other. They’ve been dating ever since.

Chris is a super sweet boy, and so far, mom approves of him. He’s extremely kind to my girl, shows her tons of attention (which none of her past crushes seemed to do), is very affectionate, and hugs us all whenever he comes and goes.  I’m so happy that she finally found a guy worthy of the title “boyfriend.”

For Valentines Day, he gave her roses, a stuffed fox, some chocolates, and had his dad, who is a professional chef, cook them dinner. She said the food was amazing, and so is his family. Everything is like a fairly tale. So far.

I really hope this romance lasts for her. She’s given her heart to him, and I don’t know how easy she would get over a bad break up. But, I don’t think I have to worry. I don’t read him as a player – I think he’s more a steady, one girl type of guy, which is good.

Sometimes she will turn to me and say, I can’t believe this all started because you guys were arguing over whether or not to buy crab cakes. Love works in mysterious ways, that’s for sure.

Footnote:
Like most boys, this one turned at to be a dud and a douche. Right at their 4 month anniversary, after days of texts proclaiming his love for my daughter, he went to a party and texted to her “I think I want to be single.” He had ignored her for more than a week now, and friends tell her he’s been asking out another girl. My girl did nothing wrong. All she did was love him.
Just wait until I get in his line next time…..

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Back when I was unemployed in 2013, the dentist told me my youngest daughter would need braces. Gee, thanks. I’ll hop right on that.

She has been begging for braces ever since she was in 6th grade. One of her front teeth is crooked, and she’s positive that one singular tooth is the cause of every miserable thing that has ever happened to her in school.

Problem is, braces are like a car payment – I took her to 3 different Orthodontists for consultations and prices, and  braces, it seemed, just wasn’t in our budget.

Until now. We were able to pay off my car, which freed up some money, and we decided to invest in our daughters future, and her smile. This past Wednesday, even though most  of her friends have already had their braces off, my little girl got some metal in her mouth.

She was excited, but also really nervous. Her dream was coming true, but she had just started dating a new guy at school. A guy she is really crazy about. And my poor little dear was afraid he’d take one look at her braces, and hit the bricks.

The first time I saw her with her new mouth, I was relieved. They were so little! I kept envisioning these giant metal Marsha Brady type braces that covered the whole tooth. She didn’t see it that way, though. She was in pain, and adjusting to the fact that her lips were going to look different for the next two years.

That evening her boyfriend came over. And you know what? He loves them. Her whole school loves them too. She got a lot of encouraging remarks her first day back with her new braces and I think it was a real relief for her.

I’m just relieved we are finally getting her tooth, and eventually, her massive overbite corrected. Although I have to admit…I’m going to miss my little Beverly D’Angelo lookalike.