Archives for category: Life

I don’t think it’s possible to be female in the workforce without having a couple of #MeToo stories, especially not if you’ve been a working gal since 1986.

My first encounter with sexual harassment occurred at my very first job. I was a graphic designer for Tiger Beat magazine. It was the 80’s – I was in my 20s and had a good body. Yes, I’ll admit, I wore the obligatory mini skirts and large hoop earrings.

I was in the elevator heading back up to my offices after lunch. There were two salesmen in the elevator with me…one who worked for my company and one who was a stranger to me. The stranger motioned towards me with a nod of his head and said, “I wouldn’t mind a piece of that.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, my company’s salesman said in return, “Believe me, you don’t want any.” Then the door opened and they walked out.

I was furious. While my fear of confrontation kept me from screaming in the face of that scuzzy salesman, I was angry enough to report him to the higher ups. So, I went to my publisher, an older gentleman, and told my story. With a patronizing tone he told me that comments of that sort were to be expected, especially when you wear short skirts and tight outfits.

After hoisting my jaw off the floor, I told him if that was  “company policy,” then I demanded that the men in my department wear pants wth at least 3 pleats. Who knows..I may not be able to control myself around all those good looking men in tight jeans…I may be forced to grope someone.

He laughed it off and dismissed me, but I was pissed. I also gave that salesman dirty looks for the remainder of my tenure at Tiger Beat Magazine.

The second time I felt the workplace ogles was when I had finally landed a job back in my field of graphic design. I had been working as a waitress for a while when I finally got wind of a job at a design agency in Soho. I met with the boss for an interview on a weekday night at a bar in the city.

It didn’t take long for me to realize this guy was a sleaze. He told me during the interview that perhaps he should consider dating me rather than hiring me. I pretty much ignored the red flags for the opportunity to work in my field again.

I worked for this pig for less than a year. The final straw was, as I sat with my legs crossed at my desk, he walked by, ran a finger up my leg and said, “Sweetheart, it’s time for a shave.” I quit that job to work as a cashier in a liquor store in Jersey. From swanky Soho to wearing a blue Bottle King vest in a strip mall off Route 46.

But I never regretted leaving. He begged me to stay. In the end he offered me full health coverage, parking and tolls thrown in. No thanks. I’d rather bag pints of vodka for functioning alcoholics.

It really sucks that so many women have to endure these Me Too moments…times when you just have to suck it up and take it for the sake of a paycheck, or health coverage, or God forbid, advancement.sexual-harassment-at-work

 

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I can recall the day I decided to stop ordering drinks at restaurants. We were at a TGI Fridays, and we only ordered a few appetizers to share trying to keep costs down. Yet when the bill came, it was still super-expensive.

So I looked at the bill. $12 of it was soft drinks….sodas and my iced tea. TWELVE DOLLARS. For that amount of moolah one of us could’ve ordered a burger, and it was only for drinks.

So I turned to my girls and said, “Next time we eat out, let’s not order soda…we’ll just drink water.” And that’s just what we did.

And you know what? Nobody suffered without their Diet Coke, and although my usual beverage of unsweet tea with lemon would’ve been nice, water whet my whistle just fine. The best part? I really noticed the difference in the bill.

My husband is a professional soda drinker, and he’s the only one I have not been able to lure to the water side. He will still order a soda when we go out, but it’s okay. This way if one of the girls DO want to indulge in a sip of sugary sweetness, they just take a taste of Dad’s.

I figure I’ve saved myself at least $500 in the past few years by just cutting soft drinks from our lunch/dinner selections.

It’s an eating out strategy I am super proud of.

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Have you ever heard of the word “snork?” If not, read the urban dictionary definition above.

Yes, it’s that gross sound someone makes when their nasal passages are filled with snot, but rather than grab a tissue and discretely and privately blow their nose, they choose option B…which is to suck said snot up their nose and swallow it. AKA the snork.

It’s a disgusting sound – loud, wet and rattling – a sound that cuts through the air and makes those who are forced to hear it shudder. Or gag.

That being said, let me share a little something with you. I have a co-worker who snorks continually, all day, every day. She’s not sick. She does not complain of constant sinus problems. She just snorks. She’ll be standing over my desk, discussing an ad design with me, and before long I am forced to hear 4 ounces of phlegm travel up her nose and into her throat.

It’s worse after she sneezes. She has one of those stunted sneezes…not a hearty “achoo!” at all. It sounds as if she is swallowing the sneeze, and to make it worse, she’ll “sneeze” about 7 times in a row. And then…then comes the snorking. Over and over again, every 15 seconds or so. *SNORK!*  *SNORK!*

I am certain she has swallowed at least 43 gallons of snot since she began working here.

How does someone develop such a disgusting habit? I mean, she’s a grown woman with children. I don’t know how she has gone this far in life without someone taking her aside and asking her if she’s ever heard of a tissue. Or that foreign practice of nose-blowing.

She did this continual and constant snorking once during a staff meeting, where the entire office was present. It was so gross to hear, and I’m still baffled that not one person called her on it. We have some folks here who can take being snarky to an Olympic level…but not a peep from anyone.

Maybe it’s just me.

Nah…it can’t be. It’s too gross a sound. I guess everyone is too chicken-shit to call her out on it. I just hope I don’t snap one day, stand up and scream…”WILL YOU PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST BLOW YOUR NOSE!”

I really don’t want that to happen. I’ve already snapped at her for being a control-freak-know-it-all. I can’t handle being the snork police as well.

Oh God…she just sneezed….

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Today is my mom’s birthday. She’s been gone for 23 years now, and of course, I still miss her. My mom was a warm hug. It’s really the perfect way to describe her. You never doubted her love for you, unless you pissed her off, and even then, it took very little to get back in her good graces.

As I think about my relationship with my daughters, I can see some parallels between our relationship, and the one I had with my mom.

Mom would wake me up with a song when I would retreat under my blankets on a cold November morning.  Usually it was “Life is just Bowl of Cherries.” I don’t know why she chose that song, but it became synonymous with my mom’s cheerful, coaxing method of rousing us from our beds.

I do the same with my girls…but I use a song I wrote myself. Even at 22 & 15, some mornings my daughters beg me to sing it for them as they snuggle under the blankets for one minute more. I like to think they will sing it to their children one day.

My mom showed a lot of love – and not just through hugs. She was a great cook. Nothing gourmet, but just good, homey food. Pot roast, roast beef, great spaghetti sauce, and soups that I still crave to this day. She was also great about taking us shopping. My dad might bitch at her when the bills came due, but I would rock those new jeans she bought me like it was nobody’s business.

I try to do the same. My girls and I hug a lot, and there’s a lot of “love you’s.” As for the cooking? I’m not in the same ballpark as my mom. I’m not even tailgating in the parking lot of the ballpark. But I can make mean chicken soup, creamed spinach, and palacinke. My meatballs aren’t too bad, and I make a passable ziti. And shopping? I can’t tell you how many times I put off buying new sneakers, or a purse so my girls could get some new shirt or dress.

And they appreciate it. They will hug me and thank me for a good meal, or that pair of shoes. They tell me their friends think I’m a “cool mom.” Everyone loved my mom too. I get tons of Facebook messages from folks who remember my mother fondly.

One difference between my mom and me is the amount of openness about uncomfortable subjects. My mom was not the type to sit you down and tell you the facts of life. I knew about getting my period from girlfriends and movies at school. When my period started, I went to our local pharmacy, charged a box of maxi pads, and that’s how she found out I’d finally joined the ranks of womanhood.

Although she had an interesting life before she married my dad, she rarely shared anything about it. I know she lived and worked in Miami for a while after high school, and that her family life growing up was somewhat strained. Other than that…she was just my mom, with little to no history before she became “mom.”

In contrast, I try to be very open with my girls regarding boys, sex and their bodies. I say “try” because my oldest daughter wants nothing to do with conversations of that ilk with dear old mom. She’s very private.

My youngest? She’ll ask me anything and everything. She’ll talk to me while toweling off after a shower, not caring in the least that I see her naked. I helped show her how to use tampons. You don’t get much closer than that.

I also share my past with my girls. Rarely do we take a half hour drive where at some point I turn the radio down to tell them some stupid little tale from my past. Just this morning on the way to school, I told them about a club I frequented when I lived in Vienna for a semester.

Hell, it’s why I write this blog. I started it when I realized I knew zero about my mom’s history. So I tell my stories, so that they can always look back and see what there dear old mamsh (nickname) was up to in her youth.

So mom, on your birthday, I dedicate this blog to you. Your love, warmth and support showed me how to be the mother I am to my two girls. And I know they really appreciate it. You might not have been here for their lives, but you gave them a pretty awesome gift in showing me how to rock the role of Mom.

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I really dig old movies. Growing up there were many times I would stumble across some movie on AMC or TCM, give it a few minutes and get drawn into the story.

Five of my favorites have one thing in common. Ward Bond. This dude made hundreds and hundreds of pictures…sometimes just bit roles, others major players. I don’t know when I realized that this guy kept popping up in all my favorite movies, but time after time, I’d be like…Hey! There’s Ward Bond again!

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Movie 1 – The Grapes of Wrath
I love this book, and I love this movie. Bond had a bit part as a motorcycle cop giving the Joad family the low-down on work in the area.

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Movie 2 – The Fighting Sullivans
This is one of those movies I stumbled across on a Saturday afternoon – I think I was in my late teens. I got caught up in the story of 5 brothers who did everything together, including joining the Navy in WWII. Bond, in another small role, plays Commander Robinson, who has to deliver the sad news that all five Sullivan boys died in the line of duty. It’s a tissue-worthy scene.

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Movie 3 – Gone With the Wind
Another small role for Bond, but in one of the greatest movies of all time.  In this classic, he plays Tom, a Yankee captain who comes to arrest Ashley Wilkes for leading a raid on a shantytown. His attempts are thwarted when Rhett swears that Ashley was with him at the home of Belle Watling, the local prostitute. Bond leaves without Ashley, and with his tail between his legs.

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Movie 4 – Mr. Roberts
Playing the role of Chief Petty Officer Dowdy, Ward Bond joined the crew aboard a United States Navy cargo ship during WWII, mercilessly ruled by James Cagney. If you’ve never seen it, add it to your list. With a cast that includes Henry Fonda and Jack Lemmon, you can’t go wrong.

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Movie 5 – It’s a Wonderful Life
Good old Burt the Cop…Remember the scene where Burt, Ernie and George are ogling Violet as she walks down the street in her pretty dress? Burt says, “I think I’ll go home and see what the wife is doing.” I don’t know about you guys, but I think old Burt was looking for a little afternoon delight.

In conclusion
I didn’t realize until this morning that Ward Bond was kind of a Hollywood douche. According to IMDB Bond was “perhaps the most vehement proponent, among the Hollywood community, of blacklisting in the witch hunts of the 1950s, and he served as a most unforgiving president of the ultra-right-wing Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. ”

Sorry, in my book, that sucks. I loved you in the movies, but screw you Ward Bond.

thomas_mitchellAn interesting side note…
There is one other actor who shares the screen in 3 of the above-mentioned movies. Thomas Mitchell plays Uncle Billy in It’s a Wonderful Life, Gerald O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, and Tom Sullivan in The Fighting Sullivans

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During my last doctor’s visit, while my numbers still needed improving, he was impressed with the amount of walking I did. Most months I walk around 65 miles, and while I was hoping to keep that up, August happened.

I’m not a fan of August now that I’m older. When I was young it was prime summer vacation time…hot, trips to the pool, weeks spent on Martha’s Vineyard. But now? It’s just hot…too hot to walk other than in the early morning. And add to that equation the fact that my daughter starts school the 2nd week of August, and my morning walks go out the window.

But I really didn’t even walk on the weekends. I’m not sure why. I was being lazy, I guess.

But today dawned cool and rainy…what is left of Harvey is paying us a visit. And while I can forgive myself for letting August slip away, I won’t let that same mistake happen in September. So I grabbed my umbrella and did my morning walk – just a little over a mile and a half.

It felt good.

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Recently I was on Martha’s Vineyard, and my sister, with a penchant for apple fritters, insisted we wait in line at Back Door Donuts. It’s a bakery in Oak Bluffs that will sell hot, fried, sugary delights from the back door from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am.

We had taken part in this new island tradition the last time we were up there, but we did it earlier in the evening and sampled the greasy goods while sitting in ocean park during sunset. I was never really impressed – perhaps I’m just not an apple fritter kind of gal.

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This time we went much later in the evening. I think it was closer to 10 pm and the line was enormous. It snaked back and forth along a roped off path; I’d gamble to say that there were at least 100 people in line ahead of us. I think the line for Space Mountain was shorter.

I was already weary after a long night of walking around town, but my husband and kids wanted some hot donuts, so we decided to wait in line with the family. While waiting we perused the menu they had written out by hand on a couple of sheets of poster board. My brother aptly stated “these better be the best donuts on the planet for this long of a wait.”

After waiting in line for at least 45 minutes, we finally went to place our order, only to find out that 75% of the donut varieties on the menu board were sold out. At no time did any bakery employee come out and announce that they were no longer available, or better yet, place a sticky note or a placard saying “SOLD OUT” over that variety on the menu.

Nope, these greedy mothers wanted to you keep waiting in line, KNOWING that you would settle for any donut because like an ass, you had waited in line for an hour.

Typical of Tracy, I was not amused…especially since I didn’t even want a fucking donut. I got the fried dough instead, which wound up being a total disappointment. I got crispy, over-fried strips of dough that more closely resembled bread sticks. My idea of fried dough is like what you would get at an Italian fair…a zeppole. I gave the bag to my sister who had smartly decided to have a few beers while we sheep waited in line.

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I won’t ever waste my time there again. If hubby and my girls want to that’s fine.  I’ll sit in the park watching the gazebo and hearing the waves crash along the Oak Bluffs beach – let someone else wait in line.

20170606_163147I am not ashamed to admit it…I love my job.

Sure it can get frustrating constantly dealing with deadlines, and clients who get their ad materials in an hour before press time. Sure it sucks when your sales rep gives you the bare minimum of information when designing an ad that you spend an hour on, only to have the client say “it’s not what they were looking for.

But when it comes down to the proverbial brass tacks, I love my job.

Take today…I am working from home. I already work from home every Wednesday, which is our slowest production day, but this Friday our sales team met their goal, and they have the day off. My publisher, the fair and reasonable gal that she is, told us we could work from home as well. So I sit here in my jammies, mug of tea by my side, writing this rather than driving into town to the office.

This happens frequently. On days where she can our newspaper and magazines are in good shape, she’ll send us home early. This is because she knows that when we are swamped with ad builds, we work weekends and after hours to get proofs out. She acknowledges that, and gives us time off when we are slow.

This is something my other bosses never quite got. Hell, at my last job if I needed to leave early because family was coming in or I had a doctor’s appointment you had to SHOW you made up the time. The fact that I came in 1/2 hour early every day, or sometimes never took a lunch break escaped their notice. They were slave masters when it came to hours.

I also love my job because I respect the product we put out. My newspaper is the heart of Charlottesville…the alternative to your basic newspaper, we cover topics that others won’t touch. This was the cover of our last issue of 2016…12_28_2016 CVILLEWEEKpg01It took BALLS to put this out there for all of Charlottesville to see….to boldly show that we do not agree with what is going on in Washington and around the country. We got a lot of flack for this cover. There are still a few advertisers that refuse to do business with us. But that is why I LOVE our product. They are not afraid to tell it like it is.

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 7.42.22 AMThis is another one of my favorite covers from a previous year. Colorful and fun, promoting equality and diversity…and with a drag queen front and center.

My paper sponsors a lot of awesome events in town as well. Not only the Pride Festival, which this cover was promoting, but the Tom Tom Founders Festival, our local baseball team, the Tom Sox, along with a plethora of other community events. They are very invested in our town, and I really dig that.

My company also shows a ton of appreciation for it’s employees. We are fed often…There are always snacks on the table – actually, I’m not sure if this is really a good thing…

My boss is taking my coworkers and I to lunch next week – this after she bought a whole bunch of us lunch just a few weeks back. We frequently have work time-outs where we play games, drink wine and snack for an hour or so at the end of the day. They plan outings for us as well. In a few weeks we will all meet at a TomSox baseball game for a barbecue and drinks.

Yes, there are perks a plenty! Gift cards, free concert tickets and tickets to lots of community events are handed out frequently. During the spring my family got to attend an outdoor barbecue that costs $75 per ticket. I got my daughters free tickets to a Parachute concert a few months back.

Ooops! It’s 9 am! time to log in from home and begin my day. You know what they say…when you love your job you don’t work a day in your life.

 

20170703_105904I just got back from a week on Martha’s Vineyard. The main reason for going was to spread my father’s ashes around the island. You see, my father is the founder of Martha’s Vineyard for our family. He went up one weekend a million years ago with a college friend, and never wanted to vacation anywhere else.

While he was never able to afford to buy a house on the island, he turned my cousins Bob & Carol on to this summer wonderland, and they own two homes – one rental and a large home that they live in during the summer. For 52 years it has been my summer place, and it felt really good to release dad to the beauty of this island.

We began by releasing some ashes into the water during the ferry ride from Woods Hole to the Vineyard. My husband, in a flash of brilliance, let one of the crew members know we were doing it, and after dad’s ashes swirled into the air, he gave the ferry horn a long, loud blast. It was very cool, and very moving.

20170702_195615We spread more ashes on the beach in Menemsha at sunset. It was a beautiful evening spent on the beach with the family, listening to music, sipping wine and noshing from a picnic spread. I think dad would have loved it.

20170703_114816And of course, we had to leave some of dad on Gay Head. My mom’s ashes are here. It was funny…when we spread the ashes by my mom, my sister had trouble with the container, and it was a very clumsy release. It makes me laugh to think of that now, because I think it’s something my mom would have found amusing.

We also walked further down the beach and around the horn of the cliffs to spread dad among the stones, rocks and ocean. It felt right.

The trip itself was pretty hectic. I’ve never seen the island so crowded….things are definitely changing there. I’m just so pleased that there are pieces of both of my parents on the beaches where we spent so much time growing up. I know how much dad loved this place. I am certain he’s resting peacefully now.

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This past Saturday the KKK came to my town of Charlottesville. They were protesting the removal of two confederate statues, one of Robert E. Lee, and one of Stonewall Jackson.

There were several counter protests organized, as well as events celebrating love, equality and acceptance throughout the city. My youngest daughter and I attended the counter protest by the Stonewall Jackson statue.

When we arrived there was a man with a large sign on a microphone screaming that gays were going to hell. There was a man in a green diaper dancing in front of him. People were dancing and playing drums. It was kind of amusing at first…a sort of circus atmosphere.

And then the troublemakers showed up.

20170708_140158I pointed them out to my daughter…two men who have been at every rally of every kind in town carrying signs, and I told her that things were going to get all sorts of nasty now. Within minutes people were screaming at him, and I came very close to having my phone broken.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.11.04 PMWatch the video here

Things escalated after that. Before long I noticed a crowd that had surrounded a woman and her husband, both wearing bars & stars hats. They were being screamed at by no less than 20 people, because they were not in favor of removing the statues.

My daughter and I stood amongst the crowd, watching the woman attempt to defend herself, while a fat woman in a tutu and a push up bra screamed in her ear non-stop. The couple were being protected by police officers, and this enraged another young woman, who began calling them “killer cops” and yelling the names of African Americans who had, in essence, been murdered by police officers.

But this wasn’t why we were here. We were here to denounce the KKK, right? Her rants, while valid, seemed out of place. The police were simply trying to protect a couple from Maryland who did not share the opinion of the majority of protesters.

As the protest continued, I saw some of Charlottesville’s best…folks who were handing out free water, fruit and sandwiches to fellow protesters. It was hot and sunny that day, and if you ran out of water, you were craving some quickly. One man walked around saying “The KKK is hydrated today…are you?”

Other people were gathered in song, or parading through the small park and surrounding sidewalks carrying signs and chanting peacefully.

But I have to tell you, I saw more of Charlottesville’s worst that day. At one point my daughter and I witnessed the same man and woman, now joined by a younger couple, who were obviously statue supporters. They were surrounded by police, but there was a crowd of at least 50 people screaming at them.

20170708_152438Watch the video here

I said to my daughter, “I feel really sorry for those poor people.” It was then that a woman began to argue with me, and my use of the word “poor.” According to her, they were getting what was coming to them, and were not “poor.” I didn’t understand her at first, maybe because her argument sucked.

I turned to her and explained that just because they had a different opinion, it did not give that angry mob the right to treat them that way. We were here to protest the KLAN…were they klan or just some passionate southerners who don’t think it’s right to take down statues of Confederate Generals? In the end, they are human beings and deserved to be treated with more respect than they were being shown.

I also told her that Charlottesville was showing its ugly side and that I was ashamed. She didn’t like that one bit and skulked away.

Perhaps I’m a bit naive, but I think people should be treated fairly…I hate to see anyone surrounded by a mob – I’d have handed them a water, but my daughter, fearful that the crowd would turn on us, begged my not to.

The Klan showed up and we booed and chanted, but in the end, they kind of won. They had complete protection, cordoned off by barricades and a wall of police, and seeing the angry crowd in a complete frenzy probably gave them huge erections…even the women.

The whole day left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m glad I went because it was a very interesting experience, but I’ll tell you…there are some nasty, angry people in this town.