Archives for category: daily post

My reply to the prompt Unseen

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There was a time back when I was first married that my sister and I played in a volleyball league together. We played every Wednesday night, and many times went out for beers afterwards.

We were in the league for a year or two when I became pregnant with my first child. I continued to play as long as I could, but by the 5th or 6th month, I had to stop. My belly would get in the way more times than not, and it was hard to curb the instinct to dive for the ball.

At the end of the season, everyone got together for drinks and food at a local bar. My sister asked me to come along, and even though I couldn’t really drink, it would be nice to see all my league-mates again and catch up.

At the end of the evening, they gave out silly awards. I clapped and laughed as each person was called up to get a certificate of merit for their particular talent (or lack thereof). With each new award, I thought, “is this me?” Nope. Next award, “is this me?” Nope.

And then the awards ended. I had been totally ignored. Nobody even thought to include me, just because I had missed a month or two of playing. Hell, my award would’ve been easy to come up with…”best setter with baby on board” or “best baby bump.”

But I got nothing, and it really hurt my feelings. l was forgotten. I was unseen.

The rest of the evening I forced smiles and laughs when all I really wanted to do was cry. I thought these people liked me. It felt like high school volleyball all over again; surround by team mates who in reality didn’t want to play with you at all.

I stopped playing with them. I might have gone back few times after I had the baby, but it just wasn’t as fun anymore. I didn’t feel at all like I was a part of this group. It was as if when I showed up to play, they were thinking, “oh, she’s here?”

My sister stuck with it. Where it had started as our league, it finished as her league. Sometimes I’d ask, “What are you doing this weekend?” and she’d mention a party someone in “the league” was having, and I’d feel a twinge of sadness, shame, and anger.

Hell, I spent most of my life outside the in-crowd, and at the age of 30 I was surprised at how much it still hurt to be an outsider.

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In response to the one word prompt; Music

Music sure can take you back to a certain time and place in life – it’s a very personal thing. For instance, anytime I hear Steve Forbert’s “Romeo’s Tune” I am immediately teleported back to my teenage bedroom, while songs like “Nights in White Satin” and “I Shot the Sheriff” remind me of Friday nights driving around New York City with my dad and siblings.

It’s like a song can elicit a snapshot in your mind of a certain time…like a polaroid from the past.

I can’t hear anything off of Van Halen’s 1984 without thinking of my senior year in college. Any song from America’s Greatest Hits or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road will transport me to the living room in my childhood home, hunkered down in front of the hi-fi stereo with humongous headphones on, following the lyrics on the album sleeve.

“My Sharona” and “Betty Davis Eyes” will immediately bring me back to the front seat of my Mom’s Pontiac Catalina, and if I hear “Love of the Common People” by Paul Young or “Feels Like Heaven” by Fiction Factory, I am walking along the Kärntner Straße in Vienna.

More specifically, every time I hear “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes I am reminded of my walk along Mariahilferstrasse in Vienna the day I had to go to the Czechoslovakian Embassy to get my Visa. The video was playing in the window of an electronics store, and I stopped to watch it. Now, every time I hear that song, I am taken back to that long walk during the spring of 1984.

Music is powerful stuff, no?

In response to the Daily Prompt, Locked

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When my youngest daughter was around 4 years old, we took a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, and stayed in the million+ dollar house that my cousin lives in. We wanted the girls on their best behavior so we would neither annoy nor cause my cousins to think we were bad houseguests.

About two days into the trip we were all getting ready to go to the beach, but my 4 year old had to go to the bathroom. There was a powder room right in the foyer, so I told her to go there and to hurry it up – we didn’t want to be the cause of everyone having to wait.

Five minutes later, I banged on the door to see what was taking her so long, at which point she told me she had locked the door and could not get it open.

Fuck.

The doorknob was a lever handle, as shown above, but the lock was not your typical push-button variety. It was a separate lock under the door knob…the type you had to twist right to lock and left to unlock. And for some reason, my baby girl could not figure this out.

There was a window to the bathroom, so we went outside to try and coach her through the window (which of course, was locked). After 10 minutes of us shouting instructions, she sort of gave up and just sat on the floor.

Hubby began to freak out. It had been at least a half an hour, and the crowd was getting restless. This was super embarrassing for him…the day was getting ruined and it was our fault. He told me to call the steamship authority and see if we could get on a ferry today…we were leaving the island.

This, along with the fact that my child had pretty much mentally shut down in a small bathroom, made me lose it. I paced back and forth outside the window chain-smoking and crying.

My cousins had decided to call their handyman, who was on vacation, to come to the house and drill through their very expensive bathroom door in order to free our daughter. The thought of OUR FAMILY costing them money and damage to their new home rattled my husband to the core, so he took action.

He drew a picture of the lock, and then an arrow pointing in the direction to unlock the door, and slipped it under the door. Then he quietly coached his little girl, and within a minute or two, the door opened – and none too soon. The handyman was standing their, goggles on and a drill in his hands.

She’d been locked in there for over an hour, and she didn’t cry once. I wish I could say the same. Then I had to talk my husband into letting us stay – that we would look way worse if we turned-tail and ran.

Because these are the types of things that happen when you have kids. Hell, I got locked in a bathroom the same exact way when I was a kid when we were visiting some friend of my fathers. I had to be rescued through the bathroom window.

One good thing came of the incident…My daughter got a new knick-name. To this day, my husband calls her “Locked.”

 

My response to the one word daily prompt, Giggle

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It’s happened to all of us. You’re in a situation where uncontrollable laughter is neither welcomed or acceptable…and you do it anyway.

But damn it, you can’t help yourself. During class, at a meeting, when your parents have told you to go to bed; when you get the giggles, and you know you can’t have them? It’s just about impossible to stop them.

A few years back my daughter and I were at a seminar at her high school on affording college. She got bored and drew a couple of doodles on her hand. The seminar began, and I looked down at her thumb only to see the most misshapenly drawn face she’d ever doodled.

I pointed at it and mouthed something like, “what the hell?” and we both lost it. She knew it was a shitty doodle, and now she knew I knew, and as simple as that, we were in full, red-faced, trying to hide it giggle mode. We sat hunched over, hands covering our faces, trying to do ANYTHING to stop laughing.

I had to get up and go to the bathroom. I just couldn’t sit there sputtering anymore.

It is one of the worst, and the best feelings ever. I mean, a good laugh feels great. But coupled with the shame of being disruptive, and, let’s face it—childish? That takes some of the joy out of it.

My husband tells a story of when he and his brothers could not stop laughing…at his mother’s funeral. They were standing in a cluster and they heard their grandmother burp- somewhat loudly and unapologetically. And that was it…they lost it. Imagine how they looked…sons in quiet hysterics at their mom’s funeral.

But what can you do? This brand of laughter is so infectious…think of all the times on SNL where the actors fought to keep their own laughter under control. More Cowbell, Debby Downer, Hot Tub Lovers…it makes you laugh more watching them trying to suppress their giggles.

Ah, the giggle…it really is all powerful.

 

In response to the one word prompt, Newspaper

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I always say that my first job out of college was my 3+ year stint at Tiger Beat Magazine, but it really wasn’t. My real first job lasted only a few weeks, and it was at a local newspaper called The Bergen News.

I remember being interviewed by the editor; a smug, older man eating a bagel while peering at me over the rims of his glasses. I had to take a typing test, followed by an intelligence test. All this to make minimum wage.

The only bonus was the job was within walking distance to my house.

I spent my days working along side a designer who looked like a balding Art Garfunkle. His breath literally smelled like shit, and he spent most of his time trying to pick me up despite the fact that I told him I was already dating someone.

My days consisted of pasting down and mitering borders around ads, and searching through the giant clip art books for smiling woman reclining in leisure suits or balloons for a grand opening. For this I spent four years at college?

Luckily the job at Tiger Beat came through and I was able to miter ad borders in a much cooler environment.

The funny thing was, a guy Chris came to work with us a few months later. He had taken over my job when I left the Bergen News. He did not have to take a typing test. Nor did he have to take an intelligence test in order to get the job. He was a man, and was given the position without having to prove anything other than he had a cock and balls.

He also agreed with me on another thing. Art Garfunkle’s breath really did smell like shit.

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In response to the Daily Prompt Say Your Name, where we are asked “Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?”

I am the baby of the family.

My brother was born first, and given every passed down name you could possibly get. First name after my dad (Stefan), and two middle names after both grandfathers (Andrew and David).

Then came my sister Wendy. I don’t know the origin of her name, perhaps Peter Pan, but her middle name is Maria after my father’s mother.

Then came sister Judy. My mom wanted to name her Tracy, but my father said no. “Wendy ends in a “y” and Tracy ends in a “y,” let’s come up with something different.”

And just like that my sister went unnamed for days and days. They just couldn’t decide on a name. When they were getting ready to leave the hospital, they had to pick something. My mom said the name “Judy” was written in at the bottom of one of the baby name lists, and they decided upon that.

Which we all find hysterical because it ends in a “y.”

My mom always told me that when they were expecting me, she told my dad “If it’s a girl, I get to name her Tracy. If it’s a boy, we’ll name him Adam.” But when I entered this world in December of 1964, my father’s mother was dying of cancer. He wanted to name me Mary.

Mary? I’m not a Mary. I know in song that Mary’s a Grand Old Name, but it just doesn’t fit me. Thankfully my mom fought, and won the fight. She finally got her daughter Tracy.

I like my name. It’s not too average, but it’s not far out either. And it’s spelled correctly. No “e” or “ie” – just T-r-a-c-y. I couldn’t imagine changing it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with any other name. I mean, my mom had to fight for my name. How could I think of changing it?

Plus, there’s this groovy song written about me. How could I give that up?

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This post is in response to today’s Daily Prompt, The Stat Connection where the question was asked, “Go to your Stats page and check your top 3-5 posts. Why do you think they’ve been successful? Find the connection between them, and write about it.”

I need to start this particular post with a WordPress gripe. A while back, WordPress changed their stats page, from one that I really liked, to one I don’t particularly care for. While I can see what my top posts are for a certain year, I can’t seem to find a spot where they show stats for all time. So, I can’t really answer this prompt accurately.

Rant done.

That being said, there are two past posts of mine that get views almost everyday, and they both involved nudity. How very Typical.

One post “On the Beach in the Buff” talked about skinny dipping and describes a time in my past when I regularly attended a nude beach in Jersey. That post, by my calculation, has been viewed 2,829 times by folks most likely trying to see some nudies. While I do have a photo posted, I blurred out faces and covered all the naughty bits out of respect for my old beach buddies.

The other post that gets a ton of hits is “The Naked Party.” Gee, I wonder why? That titillating tale has been viewed 1,797 times. It has actually had more traffic than the nude beach post over the past two years, but I wrote the beach post the year prior, so it had a head start.

Everything else falls very far behind these two somewhat provocative posts. A close third is when I attempt to debunk a time continuum flaw in the movie “Steel Magnolias.” That post, “Where Steel Magnolias Goes Awry” holds the record for most comments by far. Folks who have also noticed this serious screw up in the movie keep finding this post and commenting on it.

So why are these posts so popular? I have a feeling the skinny dipping one was shared somewhere on a nude beach enthusiasts page and gets traffic through that. As for the naked party? People are bored and curious. Sex sells. What can I say. I find it both sad and humorous.

 

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In response to the prompt “Happy Endings” in which the question was asked, “Tell us about something you’ve tried to quit. Did you go cold turkey, or for gradual change? Did it stick?”

January 1st marked 6 and a half years since I had my last cigarette. I know I’ve blogged about this before, but since the question was raised in the daily prompt, I thought I’d share my story again.

When I was in high school I thought smoking was the worst thing you could do. My best friend John smoked, and it would make me crazy. But then a few years went buy, and after a bunch of college parties where I’d bum one or two smokes I became one of those “I can take it or leave it” kind of gals.

When I started my first job after college, half the people in the office smoked, and after a few months of grubbing, I began buying my own. And there you have it. I was a smoker.

By the time I was in my 40s I was up to two plus packs a day. My husband hated it, my kids hated it. It was becoming socially unacceptable to smoke. I was the only person in my office who still maintained the filthy habit.

I had tried to quit over and over again, but if your heart’s not in it, it’s never going to stick. I liked smoking…that was the trouble. I actually quit for 9 whole months, and started again when someone offered me a smoke. All it took was that one cigarette, and I was buying myself my own pack.

I finally got a prescription for Chantix from my doctor. But when I went to the pharmacy to pick it up, and found out a one month supply was over $100, I got really angry.

I had gotten myself into this disgusting mess by being weak and lazy, and was not about to let it cost my family $100 a month. So I handed back the Chantix pills and instead got a box of nicotine patches for a third of the price.

I took it one day at a time. I didn’t smoke on Tuesday…let’s see how Wednesday goes. If I made it another day, I’d see if I could make it another. I was only trying to keep myself from having one cigarette. Because one was all it would take to make me fail. I didn’t think of the months and years down the road, because that would make the task seem impossible…I just thought of that one day.

After a week, I said, “gee, I wonder if I can make it to two weeks.” Then a month. Then two months.  And here I am 6 and a half years later.

I see people smoking in their cars or outside their office and I feel so bad for them. I know how hard it is to quit, and they still have that tough journey ahead of them.

I didn’t get off scott-free, though. I put on weight when I quit that I have not really been able to shake off. Not even after 900 miles of walking.

I still can’t believe I was able to do it though. It’s the one thing in my life I can say I accomplished.

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This post is in response to Childhood Revisited, where the question was asked, What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

I think back on this memory from time to time, and have no clue as to how old I was, or why my little baby brain decided to store it in long-term memory.

I’m in my crib in the corner of my parent’s room. I can see the white slats making up the side of the crib. I can hear women’s voices downstairs…my mom is having a women’s club meeting of some sort.

I am content. Maybe it’s because my mom has just checked on me – perhaps she changed my diaper and with the late afternoon sun streaming through the windows, I am happy to just play with my toes and listen to the laughter of the women downstairs.

It’s a memory that is very comforting to me.

Posted in response to Safety First, a prompt asking “Share the story of a time you felt unsafe”

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Once when I was in my early teens, I awoke to hear very heavy breathing outside my bedroom door. I immediately began to frantically formulate a plan to thwart the evil plan of the drooling maniac in our upstairs hallway.

I seriously contemplated options, and envisioned my grizzly demise for a good 5 minutes before hearing a startle, a cough, and my parents bed squeaking, and then silence. I realized that the heavy breathing was nothing more than my snoring dad, whose head was directly opposite mine behind the wall of my bedroom. He’d woken himself up and rolled over to go back to sleep.

I was both relieved and ashamed that I had been so stupid and gullible.

Speaking of being stupid and gullible, another time I felt unsafe was when I stupidly made an appointment with a “photographer.” He had approached my girlfriend and me in New York City, saying we would be perfect for a project he was working on. My friend thanked him and declined, but I agreed to talk with him.

The day of the appointment something was gnawing at me, so I followed my gut and I called to cancel. Rather than being amiable or nonchalant about the news of my no-show, he was furious. He began screaming at me, cursed me out and hung up the phone. I’ve always been thankful that I listened to my instincts…I’m wondering if I would’ve wound up floating in the East River had I not.

I also remember feeling very vulnerable when I would come home late at night. The walk from my car to my front door at 3 a.m. seemed a mile long, and lined with creeps and perverts waiting in the bushes to pounce on me.

So I formed a little strategy. I would talk to a neighbor that wasn’t there. I’d raise a hand and say, “Hey Tony, it’s late to be walking your dog! I’m just getting home myself!”

Or, I’d talk to my mom as if she were sitting on the porch-anything to make a thug waiting in the darkness think that I was not any easy mark. If he tried to grab me, there’d be a witness…in theory.

I can’t imagine what it would feel like to really be in trouble. Like life or death trouble. I mean, I really thought I was a goner that night that I heard the breathing outside my door, but I was just a stupid kid with an overactive imagination.

To know true terror is something I don’t wish on anyone…but it happens every day. Kids abducted, innocent people shot by lunatics with guns, muggings, rapes.

I’ve managed to dodge that bullet for 51 years. And I hope to God my kids learn to dodge it too – or that I’m around to take the bullet for them.