Archives for category: diary

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As many of my readers know, I tried to walk 1,000 miles last year, but my final tally was only a hair over 900. Even though it was twice as far as I walked the year before, there was little real improvement in the shape of my body.

I mean, I’m not a dope; I know all that walking did my body good in other ways…blood pressure, blood sugar, etc. But it did little to nothing in changing the shape of my body. My legs were still flabby, and the scale only showed a loss of maybe 30 pounds. I realized that just walking wasn’t the real answer.

So I kind of lost my passion for it. Here we are more than halfway into 2016 and I’ve only walked 200 miles.

Monday morning I realized I hadn’t been out to walk for almost the whole month of June. I’d been so busy with jobs and freelance that every single morning was devoted to meeting deadlines and getting work done. But with one of my magazines going to press, I finally had some time.

The walk was glorious, and I scolded myself for letting work get in the way of those cool, green morning walks to my favorite podcasts.

Then on Monday night, I got the call that my father had died. I’ll blog about that later. Now just isn’t the time.

I went out Tuesday morning, but my walk was anything but enjoyable. My legs felt heavy and my head and heart just plain hurt. I took out my earbuds and turned off my ipod and just walked, heading back home.

I thought of my dad, and how this was the first morning in my entire life that he wasn’t waking up to. How he’d never have another morning with the paper, and his slew of vitamin pills, and his breakfast with his wife Gabi.

But I also thought of how when I was a child, my dad would always go out very early and run. He’d drive down to a park in our town that had a long track, and he’d run. When I started walking a lot he reminded me of that, and said something to the affect of being a chip off the old block.

So Wednesday morning I went out again. And again today. I walked not so much for exercise, but more as a tribute of sorts to my dad. He’d want me out there, enjoying the morning, breathing deep and living life.

Both walks were phenomenal…I felt like I could fly. It felt less like a workout and more like a spiritual and physical release. It felt really fucking good.

Yes, there will be times when my walks are going to feel labored and annoying. But for now, with my dad looking over me, they are out of this world.

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A few weeks back my family started a group text message to keep us all informed on my dad, who had gone into the hospital with an infection. I did not even see this initial message until more than 24 hours after my father had settled into his hospital bed.

Then this morning my sister calls me to ask if I had seen the barrage of texts from last night. What texts? Obviously not. After I hung up I checked my phone, and upon hitting the little text icon (with a red 15 beside it) my phone dinged for 30 seconds as all the texts flowed in. I had no clue they were even there.

Why? Because I am not a savvy smartphone user. Not by any stretch.

I mean, I look at my phone when it dings, but it’s rarely anything important; an email I wish to ignore, or some dopey Facebook alert.

But I’m not married to my phone. I don’t look at it first thing when I wake up – that’s what my computer is for. I go to my computer first thing after waking up (and putting the tea kettle on). I don’t even think about my phone unless I have to make a phone call. I’m just not married to it the way others seem to be.

So family, please don’t take my silence after one of the group texts to mean I don’t care. I am just absolutely clueless that the messages are even there.

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I owe Panera Bread an apology. My girls like going there for lunch or dinner, but I always hated it. I find their soups too salty, and their sandwiches are, what seems to me, made from too thickly sliced packaged deli meats. I find them to be generally flavorless. Plus it’s a tad pricey for food that really isn’t that great.

But this past weekend, my daughters wanted to “eat light” for dinner and I gave in and took them to Panera again. I figured I’d try something new, fully expecting to hate it and in return, have a really good, rant-worthy blog post.

I got the green goddess cobb salad, pictured above, I have to tell you, it was really good! I thoroughly enjoyed the entire salad, and so did my daughters, who kept sticking their forks in for another bite.

So, sorry Panera…you’re not so bad after all. You just have to know what to order.

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I know, I know…I’ve been remiss in keeping up with my blog. Shame on me. But in my defense, things have been really crazy this month.

I started my new job as the editorial designer for the Fluvanna Review. It’s a little paper that serves the rural county I live in. It’s no New York Times, but it keeps the locals informed. What I love about it is a) It’s creative, b) the hours are flexible, and c) it’s a 4 minute drive from my house.

My other job, designing for a high-end real estate office, has been a real emotional roller coaster. Before I left for vacation, my understanding was I’d work from home Monday & Tuesday, and be in the office the rest of the week.

But when I got into the office the Wednesday after vacation, my boss handed me a pile of ads to be worked on, and said “oh, I almost forgot. We really need someone here 5 days a week, so we are trying out someone new on Monday and Tuesday.” The gist was, if she worked out, I’d be out for good.

Part of me was shocked.  I mean, they didn’t even try to see if my new schedule would work. The other side of me understood where she was coming from.

The entire office, my boss being the main offender, is very used to me being their little graphics monkey…I am here to perform for them at will. They don’t like the idea of having to wait, or having to think ahead. With me at my desk 5 days a week, they can give me last-minute stuff, and I get it done. But that doesn’t wash if I’m only in the office 3 days a week- this requires them to schedule my time, and they don’t like that at all.

But it turns out they don’t really like this new girl. She’s 100% capable of doing the job – hell she’s even a real tech wiz, which I am not. But her interpersonal skills suck. She’s a bit of a know-it-all, and she has already clashed heads with the boss in the course of two weeks.

My only problem with her is that I’m not even gone yet, and she’s moved a ton of my files around. Now when I open an ad or a postcard, nothing links. If they wind up canning her (and that’s the word that’s going around) I’ll be stuck trying to undo all her crazy reorganizing.

So with all this PLUS my three other freelance jobs (yes, at present I have FIVE jobs), it’s no wonder I haven’t had the time to write about my silly little life. I hope that once the dust settles, I’ll have more time to devote to being Typical Tracy.

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My family and I leave for our annual Florida vacation in a few days. While I’m looking forward to sunning myself on Flagler Beach and sipping wine in my dad’s pool, I am not looking forward to the 12 hour drive. I am also not happy about having to leave our poor kitty alone for a week, but then, coming home to a super loving pet who is so very thankful that you came back to him is nice.

It sort of takes the sting out of the fact that your vacation is over for another year. There’s been a lot going on in my life over the past few weeks, and here it is in a nutshell;

Good News! My oldest is home for the summer and working as a paid intern at a local radio group in the promotions department. With only two cars in the family, it’s been a bit of a schedule shuffler dropping her off and picking her up from various gigs, but she needs the credits in order to graduate, so ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

I love when she’s home. Our family is complete again.

Bad News: Her ex-roommates are a bunch of inconsiderate tools. When we went to move her out of her quad dorm apartment there was a ton of stuff left in the kitchen and one of the bathrooms. When the RA came to sign off on the stuff we cleaned up, she informed us that all the other girls had “checked out” leaving us to clean up the mess.

Left behind was a very large TV, a microwave, a toaster, a fridge FULL of spoiling food, cabinets FILLED with half eaten food and canned goods, pots, pans, a shower curtain, mops and cleaning supplies, NONE OF WHICH were ours. I had my daughter send them a text calling bullshit, and informing them that ALL OF THEIR STUFF was getting thrown out. They knew she was the last to go and left us with their shit to clean up. What total assholes.

Good News! I sort of got a new job. A local newspaper with an office two miles from my home remembered me from a previous interview and called to see if I was still interested in working for them. It’s only part time, so I worked out a new schedule with my current part-time employer(s). They are very flexible on time, which I love, especially during summer when my youngest daughter has little to do at home.

Bad News: One of my bosses isn’t thrilled about this arrangement, but is willing to see how it plays out. I am reducing my in office hours, and there might be times when they will feel the crunch because in essence I am less of a graphic designer here and more of a fall back receptionist. There are days where I just sit here and sit here with little to do but answer the phones. It’s boring. But I don’t want to just quit because with all my salaries combined, our family might not feel such a financial pinch once all the bills are paid, and that’s a very good thing.

Bad News: My “new” used car began sputtering on my way to work this morning. It was then I realized I was on “E” and spent the next 10 minutes white-knuckled and praying that I would make it to the gas station before it totally conked out. After filling her up, I hopped back in thinking “problem solved!’

Nope.

My car was bucking, shaking, and idling very rough, and I was in a full blown panic because our 30 warranty was up 9 days ago. After dropping my daughter off at her job, I limped the car to the dealership. The sales manager hopped in the car to test it, and the dude who sold us the car reassured me that all would be good.

Good News! Less than 15 minutes later, my car was fixed and at NO CHARGE. How often does that happen??? These guys are the best, and I will use Price Kia in Charlottesville for a long as I live here.

Good News! A bit of bonus good news – had to get new blood work done, my doctor called to say everything was normal. EVERYTHING? That was the best new of all.

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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?

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I remember when I first started watching HBO in the 80s back in my living room on Oakdene Avenue. They replayed the same 25 movies over and over again, and “Eddie & the Cruisers” always seemed to be on.

It was pretty lame.

But then they started adding original programming, and HBO sort of changed for me. I think the first show I really watched was “Dream On,” this odd little show where the main character lived his life through a series of one-liners from old TV shows. I related to that because it’s something I also do. I can’t tell you how many times an applicable scene from “I Love Lucy” or “The Brady Bunch” will flash through my head during the course of an average day.

Since that one, goofy show, HBO has kept me entertained; not so much with Streep, Schwarzenegger and Stallone, but with very well-crafted, superbly made original series.

The Larry Sanders Show, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls, Real Time with Bill Maher, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and our new favorite, Silicon Valley. These are shows where I don’t miss an episode…where even watching the re-runs are entertaining.

And I’m not even scratching the surface. Hubby loves Vinyl, whereas I’m like, “eh.” I’ve watched a few episodes of “Veep” and really liked it, but somehow failed to continue watching. I think I’ll have to add that to my binge-worthy list.

And it’s not just HBO. Showtime has some phenomenal original programming as well. It started with me watching “Queer as Folk” back in the early 2000’s. But recently I’ve realized many of their shows are amazing. I sat for weeks straight binge-watching “Weeds” when I was unemployed, followed by entire seasons of Episodes, Nurse Jackie and Homeland.

I think Showtime kept me from going crazy in between jobs.

I’m not sure which network’s programming I enjoy more, I’m just glad that there’s so much there to choose from. Because outside of a few shows on network television, Bravo and the Food Channel, regular TV can really suck.

 

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.”

 

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This past Saturday, I said goodbye to a dear, old friend…the Slovie mobile. I had captained this boat for 13 years, and while she had her problems every now and then, she never left me stranded.

After 255,000 miles, it was time for her to rest. She’d carted our family to and from Martha’s Vineyard, Florida, and New York. She transported every Christmas tree since 2002, she moved a treadmill, a couch and several gas grills. Hell, she moved my first born to college.

She’s the only car my kids have ever known. She was big & comfy, with a fold down seat in the back that faces the rear, and an engine that could blow anyone off the line. But she also had her faults.

Her antenna broke a few years back…I’ve had a wire coat hanger there ever since. She only had a radio…no CD player or Sirius, and a cassette tape deck that no longer worked. Only one speaker still functioned, and in the cold, the driver’s side window was very slow to go up or down. And she was very noisy…you could hear wind, and rattles while you drove…sort of like old bones creaking.

A few weeks ago I noticed a new wrinkle. If I turned on the AC, her engine would get very sluggish…and there’d be smell. Like burning wire. With summer around the corner, it was fix her or see if we could get something newer. But I have to admit, I was tired of putting $500 – $600 of work into her every 8 months or so, because even though she was fixed, I was still driving a very old, noisy car with only a radio and an oil leak.

So we went shopping, which was a nightmare. Let me say this here and now. Car salesmen suck. They are vultures. Our first time out I left the dealership in tears because a loud, fast-talking asshole of a sales manger was trying to push me into a deal I was not comfortable with – a deal that we had to take TODAY or it was off the table.

I tried to explain to him that while this was just a rainy Thursday for him, he was forcing me to make a quick decision on something that would seriously affect me for the next 5 years. But all I got out was a blubbering sob, at which point I ran from the dealership.

So we started again. And we found a great car with a dealership (Price Kia) that treated us like human beings, not as a walking car loan. And you know what? We got a much better deal on a much better car, and I was so glad we hadn’t settled.

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So here is my very orange, very modern Kia Soul, loaded with a CD player, Sirius, a sunroof, and bluetooth so I can answer my phone hands free. While she doesn’t pack the power or have the room that the former Slovie mobile had, she is reliable, and fun and catapulted me into this century – it was my first time buying a car with a “20” in the date as opposed to a “19”. While I detest that black racing stripe, beggars can’t be choosers – everything else was perfect.

Just so you know, as we were signing the papers and I saw them driving my old Slovie mobile away, I broke down. I had to leave the room, find a tissue and collect myself. She served me well – I just hope Slovie II lives up to her memory.

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.

 

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