Archives for posts with tag: blogging

Time Machine.jpg

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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FIVE

WordPress sent me a congratulatory message today – I’ve been blogging for five years.

I was like, “whoa, really?”

So I checked. My first post on my first blog was exactly 5 years ago today. It was a private blog, meant only to record happenings in my life and stories of the past for my kids. But after a few posts, my ego got the better of me – I wanted to tell my idiotic tales to the world!

I was curious to see how many followers I could get, or if anyone cared enough to comment on a particular story. I started a semi-daily blog regarding my diet and weight loss goals, and stuck to that for a year and change – way longer than I stuck to my diet.

Then in July of 2011 I started Typical Tracy with no fanfare or intro blog. I just started writing. While I’m no internet sensation, I have to say I am smugly pleased with myself. I have over 470 followers to date and almost 34,000 total views. Not to bad for an absolute zero from New Jersey.

My most popular post by a landslide is the one I wrote about my years on the nude beach. Go figure. Another popular one was about girls who wear boots with shorts. Not sure how that one marched it’s way to the top of the old blog hit parade.

But there are some posts that I thought were overlooked – ones worthy of more views than they actually got. Here are a few for your re-consideration.

1. The worst camping weekend. Ever.

2. My Biting Habit

3. Driving Miss Tracy

4. Losing One’s Debit Card

5. Getting Even is Sweet

And in case anyone is mildly interested, below is a screenshot of my first ever blog post. Oh, and thanks so much for reading. Here’s to another five years together.

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161-oakdene5

The following tale was my very first real blog post, written on a non-public blog that I only shared with my family. I got the idea to re-post it when my husband drew a diagram of his childhood home for me this evening. I watched without hesitation how he drew every window, nook and cranny from memory. I recalled how I had done the exact same thing while writing this post, and I figured since nobody had really read it, that I’d make it public now. While my childhood home had its flaws, I’d buy it in a second if I had the funds and it was on the market.

I grew up in a 3 story house – what’s known as a four-square – with a big front porch and a backyard big enough to play whiffle ball in. My father being the nature love he is, refused to cut or trim back any of the trees or bushes surrounding our house. The overgrown foliage gave the house a clumsy, somewhat scruffy appearance which embarrassed me as a kid. That one criticism behind, it was an awesome home.

From what I understand, ours was the first house built on the block way back when Leonia was in it’s infancy. It was the farmhouse of the Moore family and my whole block was an orchard. I remembering arguing with a kid who lived on my block about this fact. He claimed HIS house was the first and original home of the Moore family. I was never sure if I was right or not until way later when I saw an old photograph at a Leonia Historical exhibit. The photo showed MY house standing alone with oodles of land around it and a caption stating that it was the original Moore family home. I mentally stuck my tongue out at that kid with smug satisfaction.

161-1st-floor2The downstairs consisted of 4 rooms, and you could walk a complete circle around the entire 1st floor. Foyer lead to kitchen which lead to living room #1, which flowed into living room #2 which lead back into the foyer. The floors were originally wood, but we had carpet installed sometime during my early teenage years. I remember this because I spent most of the day staring at the carpet man’s assistant, who was very cute. The foyer held the piano, a china cabinet, and the main staircase.

Our kitchen was big with formica countertops, knotty pine cabinetry and a huge table with a matching formica top and wooden benches built in around it. I’ll never forget that formica. It was light blue with little boomerang shapes in gray and dark blue. I spent a lot of time staring at that pattern in the formica during dinnertime lectures, phone conversations, or when stumped with a homework problem. The back of the kitchen was made up a long counter which housed the sink and was flanked by our giant white stove, and the back door leading out to the backyard. There was also a little nook which housed a broom closet and our washing machine.

Next to this little nook was the back living room, where we spent most of our time because that’s where the television was. It also had the fireplace, and the long wooden mantelpiece that housed Twinkletown during Christmas, and various other knicknacks during the rest of the year. In this room I first discovered MTV. In this room I served daddy Sanka and cake while he lay on the floor doing leg exercises. In this room I ate the cream out of countless Oreo’s and then threw the cookie parts behind the couch. In this room Mom screamed at me after discovering a small stockpile of discarded cookies. It was where we hung out with our family and our friends.

The front living room was somewhat more formal. It was mostly used for overflow when we had a party or on holidays, and as the place the Bucek kids would talk on the teen phone or listen to music on the stereo. But we never really did much else in there. It may be in part because of THE PICTURE. One wall of the front living room was adorned with fake wood panelling. This was our family gallery where portraits and photos hung, the largest of which was dead center and quite prominent. THE PICTURE was a huge frame which encased my grandparent’s wedding photo. It had a handwritten placard inside with the date of the marriage and above the photo was a crown of dried flowers that you can see my grandmother wearing in the wedding photo. As kids we would horse around in that room or the adjoining foyer and my father would say to us, “God help you if this glass gets broken.” There were times I envisioned a carelessly thrown ball cracking the glass and the contents disintegrating into a fine, grey dust.

161-2nd-floor1Upstairs there were 4 bedrooms and a bath. The bedroom occupants changed over the years I lived there. In the beginning my parents had one room, my Aunt Carol had one of the small bedrooms, Stefan (the only boy) had the other small bedroom, and Wendy, Judy and I shared the largest bedroom. After a while Stefan moved up into the attic, which was semi-unfinished but did have a bathroom. Wendy then got her own room painted hot pink with shelves and a closet with a window. I thought that was so cool. Eventually my Aunt Carol moved to her own apartment and Judy got her own room which she painted orange. I remember Beatles posters and incense when I think of that room. This finally left me with my own room which in later years would be blue with wall to wall Leif Garrett posters.

The basement at 161 Oakdene was a damp, dark cavern that could be scary yet interesting. Dad had a little workshop down there that was always good for an hour’s worth of exploration on a boring day. There were shelves and shelves of jars and boxes with a variety of screws, washers, nails and bolts. We also had a pantry in the basement which consisted of a row of shelves where mom would store extra canned goods and boxes of food stuffs. With the exception of cans of tuna, I believe most of the items on these shelves spoiled before we could use them, which drove my father crazy.

The rest of the basement was crammed with discarded furniture, stuff packed in boxes, holiday decorations and our dryer. It amazed me at times the vast quantities of family junk we had stored in that house between the attic and basement. There were days I remember poking around in the mess to see what was there. Sometimes you found an old toy or a piece of furniture that you would reclaim for your room. Some of the junk was buried so deep you couldn’t even get to it.

There was also a bathroom in the basement. This was the last-chance-I-can’t-possibly-hold-it bathroom. It was a narrow room with a stained toilet and a bare bulb hanging from a wire. One of the walls was the stone foundation of the basement, which didn’t even continue up to the ceiling…there was bare earth towards the top of the wall. It was a damp, dark, scary place to be, and you tried to squeeze out your pee as fast as you could.

I loved this home – loved it. It had character and charm and it fit our family to a tee. I went to look at it a few years back when we were up in New Jersey. I was dismayed to see a very goth looking dude sulkily walk down the front path and up the street. I thought to myself, “that kid has no business living in my house.” He just didn’t seem to fit – to me it’s a house of The Brady Bunch and All in the Family and Bee Gee’s albums. It sorta bums me out that Marilyn Manson may have been blasted in what was once my bedroom.

I’ll let you in on a little secret..I still have a key to the front door of this house. I’m sure it wouldn’t work if I ever had the balls to walk up those front steps and give it a try, but it’s comforting for me to have it. I used that key a zillion times after coming home from school, dates, and late nights in New York City, and somehow just don’t want to part with it. Oh how I’d love to walk through that house again…open closet doors and cabinets and peek at that bathroom in the basement. Who knows? Maybe there’s still a can of tuna way back in the corner of the pantry shelf.

BlogI began blogging back in January of 2010, but it seems longer. A lot longer.

I started with a private blog about my youth; stories about the house I grew up in and my family. Then I started a public blog to help me in my quest to lose weight. I made close to 350 blog posts on that one to a handful of followers who followed me as I lost 40 pounds and then gained 25 back. While the blog wasn’t exactly a hit, it did get me hooked.

I liked sharing stuff with the world. Not necessarily with folks I know; I don’t post or publicize my blog on Facebook, but if someone asks, I’ll send them a link. But I love the notion of sharing my passions and experiences with zillions of random souls from everywhere on the planet.

So I began writing Typical Tracy in June of 2011 – more than two years ago. I share stories of my life both past and present as a diary of sorts for my two daughters. A few weeks back I passed my 20,000th page view, and I was both proud and excited.

And two days ago, I got my 200th follower – that WordPress congratulatory message popped out and I thought, “wow…200 people out there are sharing a piece of my world.”

 

Picture 1200 people know that I swam nude at Sandy Hook. They know that I lost my job of 12 years in December, that I saw Star Wars in a private screening with Gene Shalit’s son, and that I soiled my undies right before the 6th grade play. Those 200 people are also privy to the fact that I got lost in Bratislava, hated gymnastics at Sokol Hall, and was kissed by Bruce Springsteen.

I’m just a nobody from New Jersey/Virginia who takes the time to chronicle her life, and there’s 200 random folks along for the ride.

That is pretty cool.

So, thanks guys. Thanks to all 200 of you who hit that “follow” button. I hope you enjoy the weekly peeks into my silly little life.

Now that the warmer weather is coming around, I am reminded of this fashion trend of wearing boots with shorts. I am so envious of girls that can wear a style like that with ease. I was never very good at being a trendsetter. Anytime I tried to be a fashionista, I failed miserably.

Back in the 80’s my mom knitted me a beautiful pair of leg warmers. I’d seen them in a video (Pat Benatar, I think) and had to have a pair. The first time I wore them to school some girls pointed at me and mocked me. I never wanted to wear them again.

Then I got this cool hair accessory similar to a chopstick used to hold a bun in place. I wore that to school once too. Laughed at again. Yes, there were a LOT of bitches at my school.

As I watch these girls saunter down the street bare legged and boot clad, I think to myself, “I could never pull that off.” For one, I think it’s a rather saucy look. It screams NOTICE ME in a come-hither sort of way. It’s not push up bra and low cut V-neck, but it doesn’t fall into the school-marm category either. I see it as a Julia Roberts hooker with a heart look.

So I stick to wearing boots with pants. Even that is slightly risqué to me…because boots are fetching. They are seductive. You feel like you can kick some serious ass when you are wearing boots, and this meek little blogger doesn’t have the chops to pair them with shorts. Those mean girls from high school may be lurking around the corner.

You know, New Year’s Eve is probably my least favorite of all the “holidays.” There is too much pressure to do something – whether it be dancing at a club or going to a party. And if you wind up being alone or have nothing great to do, it can be a real bummer and a crappy way to end the holiday season.

I’ll spend my last day of 2011 cleaning the house and putting away the Christmas decorations. Then it’s off to Richmond to pick up the oldest kidlet at the last day of her first job as a skating guard. Hubby runs the seasonal outdoor rink and got her on the payroll – it’s good to have family connections. It should be a fun trip out there…the boyfriend is coming out for the ride and so is a friend of my youngest daughters. Thank goodness I have a station wagon!

After that we will hang out at the house and ring in the new year, if I can stay awake, that is. It makes me think back to new year’s eve celebrations as a kid.

My parents had a good amount of friends and usually had a bunch of them over for a party on this last day of the year. When we were really young, they didn’t want us roaming around the house causing trouble and disrupting the “adult’s fun.” So, they would stick us up in the attic with any other kids that were dragged to the party where we would play games and drink soda. I know this is sounding like a bad VC Andrews novel, but it was fun. The attic was a wreck – not even close to furnished or finished – but that was part of the allure of the night. We’d root around old boxes and search out forgotten books, toys or photos.

At midnight, if we could stay up, there was a small bottle of cold duck we could open and have sips of. Yes, my father supplied us with booze. Hell, it was the 70’s and my dad was that kind of guy. He’d let you taste his beer at dinner, and give you a little shot of blackberry brandy before the company arrived. Being the youngest I usually couldn’t stay up till midnight anyway, and the next morning there would be only the empty bottle up in the attic.

Once I entered into my teen years, and even worse, my twenties, staying at home on new year’s eve was utterly dreary and depressing. Some times I’d hang out with my best-est buddy John at his house on the last night of the year. His house was great – always stocked with Haagen Dazs and smelling of fabric softener – and he always had the latest in tv technology. From Wometco Home Theater to Betamax to VCR to HBO, there was always something to watch at his house. Plus his dad kept beer in the basement and always left us with money to order pizza. Nuff said.

And it’s funny – after having grown up a stone’s throw from New York City, I never once went to Times Square to ring in the new year. Kind of like how I never made it to the World Trade Center either. My sister went once, but got bit in the head by some nut during the midnight hour mania. I actually had plans to go watch the ball drop once. I was around 25 and was friends with these exchange students from England who had been working at a local camp. They were supposed to stop by and pick me up on the way into the city, but never showed. I was bummed and went and got White Castles at midnight.

When the year changed from 1999 to 2000, I was hanging out with my sister and her family. We had a great night planned with just our two families…expensive steaks for dinner and wine and fun. On a whim, my brother in law invited his neighbors over for a drink – these are the types of neighbors you never see much of, so we were expecting an “in and out” kind of visit. Well, they came, and drank, and never left. It was truly uncomfortable. My sister kept saying “Mike, we need to start the grill and think about getting the steaks on” hoping these two would take a hint and leave. I mean, these people were practically strangers and they would not get out. At around 10 pm my husband took my oldest, who was then only 5, and put her to bed – and just stayed with her. They stayed until after 1 am. We didn’t eat our steaks until 11 am the next morning as a brunch.

Now I’m just happy to stay at home, make good snacks (pigs in a blanket and potato skins tonight!) drink some wine and try to keep my eyelids open long enough to see the ball drop. I like having my kids around me and tonight we’ll have my oldest’s boyfriend and perhaps his parents. And that is just fine and dandy with me.

Let me start off by saying that there are things about each and every season that I adore. Seasons are the main reason why after two years I ran screaming north with flailing arms from the state of Florida. Seasons mean change. I like change. Change is good.

I can tell you I didn’t learn to really appreciate fall until I was in my late twenties. Up until then, fall meant one thing: school starting. The turning leaves and cool, crisp air was for so long associated with homework and tests that it would depress me. It took quite a few years to get used to the fact that school was over – and autumn slowly grew into a time of magical beauty for me.

I love the cooler temps in Fall. I’m not at my best in the heat. And because I like to walk during my lunch hour, the cooler weather makes it comfortable and relaxing rather than a mid-day sweat bath. I also love that we can leave the windows and doors open on a sunny weekend day. I can also say Sayonara to air conditioning!

I also like raking leaves. I enjoy getting out early on a cool weekend day to rake and bag leaves. Not only is it great exercise, but I love the look of a freshly raked front yard. Granted, I have to be in the mood for this particular chore, otherwise it can feel like you’re an inmate along the side of the road in an orange jumpsuit.

I look forward to Halloween and then Thanksgiving. I like going apple picking. I love the smell the house gets the first time I put on the heat. I like the first time I have to dig a pair a sweat pants out of winter storage. I enjoy making soups and chili in place of burgers on the grill. I love the way my drive home changes subtly every day as leaves get more vibrant – the landscape is different with each commute. I like grabbing the mail in my slipper boots.

Yep, fall kicks ass.

My daughter is growing up.

Sigh.

Over the weekend she went to her homecoming dance – she had gone to the dances in the past, but always with a gaggle of girlfriends. This year she had a date.

For the past few months she has been “hanging out” with this guy Matt. They swore they weren’t boyfriend/girlfriend, but she admitted to me that they both liked each other. I thought that was a tad odd. I mean, if you both like each other and you like to hang out, why not just be a couple?

As the weeks have gone by, they were spending more and more time together, especially on the phone. I had to laugh – she’d be on the phone with him from the time she got home from school until she went to bed at night, with the exception of dinner and homework. But hell, I remember doing the same goofy stuff when I was her age – actually, even younger than her. They spend at least one weekend day together either at our house or his. But this weekend, the weekend of the dance, they spent every day together.

Saturday, the day of the big homecoming dance, we got her all ready. My girl has naturally wavy hair, but I added some more spiral curls and I have to admit, she really looked stunning. Over the past 6 months she has learned how to apply eye makeup and how to take better care of her hair, and it shows. When Matt showed up he had a wrist corsage for her…and he went up 10 notches in my book. My daughter’s first corsage, and her first date to a dance, and probably her first kiss. After taking the required amount of photos, Matt’s parents drove them to the dance, and I basked in the thought that she looked really happy.

And I noticed they were holding hands.

I like this boy, too. He’s cute, and very nice. He’s the perfect first boyfriend for my shy little girl. I don’t believe he’ll try to pressure her or make many moves on her at all. But to be sure, I usually have my youngest daughter “tag along” with them when he’s over.

The day after the dance we had to go to Walmart, and we took Matt along. I noticed while walking through the store, my girl and her guy held hands the whole time. It was cute and sweet and it made me realize that their relationship has moved on to that next level…the holding hands, kissing, can’t live without you level.

And it makes me think I need to have a talk with my daughter.

For instance, she is having a belated sweet 16 party the weekend of Halloween. The plan is for a bunch of her girlfriends to come to our house, hang out for a while..eat some food, goof around, and then I will take them all on a haunted trail walk. This morning she asked if Matt could come along for the trail part of the party. I explained to her that while I have no problem with that, I cautioned her to not become one of those girls who abandons her girlfriends now that she’s got boyfriend. I told her she needs to be able to spend a night out with her friends, and leave the boyfriend out of it.

I’m wondering what she’ll decide to do. In any case, my little girl is growing up. It’s so bizarre – I have to remind myself that she is 16 and not six. It’s about time she had her first boyfriend, but from a parent’s perspective, this is one weird trip.

What the world needs now, is far fewer Biffs

I heard the story of Jamey Rodemeyer today, and it has left me pissed off. Really pissed off. So beware – this post may be harsh.

In case you’re unaware of the story, a 14 year old boy who was bullied for years about his sexual orientation not only in school, but also via social networking sites, killed himself.

To make matters worse, at a school dance a few days after his funeral, fellow students cheered for him during a Lady Ga Ga song, who was his idol. As they tried to remember and honor their friend and fellow classmate, his tormentors chanted “We’re glad you’re dead.”

Who does that? I mean, what sort of soul-less mother fuckers are we creating in this country? How could one person hate another one so much simply because they are gay? Or fat. Or smart. Or odd. When are we going to stop allowing our kids to torture each other?

I was bullied as a kid. There were times it left me terribly depressed. I would not let my parents get involved because I figured it would make me look like a huge weenie. However, I let my older (and bigger and tougher) sister corner the girls who were terrorizing me. She flatly told them that if she heard me mention their names in any way, shape or form, they were going to deal with her and her friends, and it wasn’t going to be pleasant.

They left me alone after that, but for all 4 years of high school they shot me dirty looks whenever we crossed paths and bad mouthed me at every opportunity.

I wonder if the parents of bullies realize what total assholes they have raised. Do they hear them talking on the phone with friends, berating classmates? Do they see that their little darlings post mean, hateful things on twitter and facebook that are meant to torment someone who is doing nothing to them?

A few years back my oldest told me about a new girl at school who was a bit eccentric – I don’t remember if she had pink hair or piercings or what – but she was what I would call “original.” My daughter told me how she and her friends were mispronouncing her name on purpose – giving it a weird accent point or something to kind of tease her.

And I went ballistic on her. Calmly ballistic, but I let her know in no uncertain terms that I would NOT tolerate her bullying or teasing ANYONE for ANY reason. I told her she should go up to this girl the next day, apologize, introduce herself, and make her feel welcome.

The following afternoon she told me that she had done it, and that the girl was nice about it. I’m not sure if they are friends or anything, but at least she knows my daughter has a conscience …and a soul. I don’t consider myself to be a model parent by any stretch, but more parents need to open their eyes to how their kids treat other people. If they find that their precious angels aren’t so precious or angelic, they need to sit them down and make them stop.

Lady Ga Ga is rallying to make bullying illegal, and I agree totally. Every one of those evil little wads who posted nasty, vicious comments on this boy’s facebook or twitter pages should be found criminally liable in his death. Their parents should hang their heads in absolute and total shame.

For one person to devalue another’s life that much makes me sick. In my book bullies are no different from murderers. They don’t kill the physical body with weapons, but they kill the spirit with words and actions. All the teasing I endured in high school has left me with a lot less confidence than your average gal. It changes you.

If we can’t punish these d-bags criminally, let’s take a cue from classic literature, aka The Scarlet Letter, and make these kids wear a neon, hot pink “B” – for Bully. Or Butthead. Or Bitch. Or Bastard.

Addendum:

I found this link on facebook today. Like it. https://www.facebook.com/meanstinks

Ancient, Old, and Really Interesting

Today I took a nice 2 mile walk which ended with an odd detour.

It was a bit muggy, and as I walked and walked, I realized that this particular chapter of “Great Expectations” on my iPod was a real snooze – I hadn’t been paying attention to the antics of Pip in the slightest and I realized the entire chapter had passed and I hadn’t really heard any of it. I switched to music which also got annoying – but that might have partly been because I was in the middle of a fairly steep hill, which once crested lead to a slightly less steep incline.

Who chose this route today, anyway? Walking uphill makes me crabby. And hot. And mad that I’m fat and hot and crabby.

I glanced to the right and saw the Maplewood cemetery and decided to take a detour from the hills from hell. If I cut across the cemetery, my walk will be less steep, and far more interesting. I wandered through the rows of headstones reading names and dates and epitaphs. I passed by beloved daughters, sons, wives and husbands. Some of the stones were so worn and old the writing was impossible to read. Many of those resting in peace were born in the 1800’s – I found one lady who lived to 101, and a boy who didn’t live to see 2.

Many were in their teens or twenties when they died and it made me wonder what had befallen them. Disease, accidents, childbirth – it made me think of how much harder life must have been back then. And here I am pissed that I have to walk a hill during lunch.

I think I’ll visit this cemetery more often. I found it charmingly peaceful, and slightly creepy, but just enough to make it interesting – not scary. There is another old cemetery a few blocks from work in the other direction. Perhaps I’ll wander through there tomorrow, especially if Pip is dull again.