Archives for posts with tag: daily prompt

My reply to the prompt Unseen

dorothy-2

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.

Advertisements

In response to the daily prompt word, which was Float

girl_floating-ocean-1

Around 10 years ago, we were on our yearly family vacation in Palm Coast, Florida visiting my dad. Our beach of choice while we are down there is Flagler Beach, a) because it’s right down the road from his house, and b) because it’s just an awesome beach.

My girls were young, and were playing in the surf under the watchful eye of their dad, and I decided to swim out a little.

A little.

I was treading water and decided it was time to head back in. I start kicking and paddling, and realize I’m not really getting anywhere. Every time I point a toe down to feel the sandy bottom of the ocean floor, all I feel is ocean.

I looked at a dude on his surf board, who was only a few yards away. I thought to myself, “should I ask him for help?” At this point I was very jealous of his floatation device. He could sit there cool as a cucumber, while I was beginning to feel the warm seed of panic growing in my lower belly.

Was I caught in a riptide?

rip-current

And then I remembered my father, who always said if you can’t get back to shore, swim parallel to the beach and eventually you’ll be able to make you way in.

For the next 5-10 minutes I floated and swam, floated and swam parallel to the shore, but moving slightly toward the beach with each kick and stroke. And finally, I could touch bottom. I lumbered my way through the surf and onto the beach where I heaved an audible sigh of relief.

I was safe, and I did it on my own. I didn’t need to be rescued by either surfer dude or the lifeguard. I walked back to where we were sitting…I was a good 75 yards down the beach…and plopped into my chair, out of breath. I told my sister and nieces what had happened, but seeing that I was back safe & sound, they didn’t make much of it.

But it had frightened me. I doubt either of my girls would have been able to keep cool and figure their way out of it. Now, I repeatedly tell them the same advice my father gave me every single time we are at the beach, and I encourage them to bring a boogie board with them in the water just in case.

And I watch them very closely…from the beach.

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?

In response to the Daily Prompt, Locked

product_header_levers.jpg

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

tumblr_nsf92gnCL41ra11u8o1_500.gif

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

021204_fg10

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.

In response to the one word prompt, Price.

Dunce

My daughter is in her senior year of college at VCU in . Technically she’s still a Junior, but she took a lot of college courses in high school, and now she gets to graduate a semester early. She will move that tassel and toss her hat in December of this year.

We found out last week that VCU is in the middle of a housing shift. They are closing down two rather large dorms, and making several dorms that used to be for upperclassmen, strictly freshman dorms. My daughter, who was supposed to get her housing assignment last Friday, instead found out that she is without housing.

VCU ran out of space leaving more than 1,000 students with no other option than to find an apartment.

That might be fine and dandy for some folks with six figure incomes and shiny Lexus’ in their driveway, but for us, this is not an option. You see, when my daughter lives in the dorm, the fee becomes part of her tuition, so it’s easy to pay for with student loans and housing grants.

Not so with rent. That $500 or more per month would have to come out of pocket. If I had and extra $500 a month I’d be driving a car with less than 275,000 miles on it. If I had an extra $500 a month my youngest daughter would have braces. If I had an extra $500 per month I would have a stove that dated earlier than 1980.

My husband called the housing office and spoke to a manager explaining our financial situation. He made her laugh, and she promised to try and help us find on campus housing. Yet when my daughter spoke to her advisor, she said not to get her hopes up about housing. Chances are they are going to award rooms to students who need them for the whole year, and we only need it for the one fall semester.

Her options are to commute, which she can’t do, because we don’t have an extra vehicle or to take all online courses and live at home.

Now, plan B would’ve been a dream for me when I went to college, but unlike me, my daughter is very active on campus. She shoots video for Rams sporting events, she is in a honors fraternity, and she has a weekly radio show. She loves her life at VCU…and she would have to give all this up if she finished her degree at home.

She’d be paying the price for VCU’s inability to plan. I think that sucks.

All I can do is hope that somehow, she finds housing, because I don’t think she should have to give up all that she loves about college just because we aren’t Rockefellers.

 

hello-my-name-is

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?

Blog art

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.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 12.54.07 PM

This post is in response to If I Could Turn Back Time, where the question was asked, “If you could return to the past to relive a part of your life, either to experience the wonderful bits again, or to do something over, which part of you life would you return to? Why?”

After I graduated from college I landed what would be the best job I ever had.

Dressed in a white sailor shirt and a pair of navy clam diggers (that I bought at a Benneton store in Vienna, Austria) I headed out to my interview at Edrei Incorporated, publisher of Tiger Beat and Right On! magazines to name a few.

My mother was horrified at my outfit because it wasn’t professional enough. But something inside told me the corporate get up wasn’t going to land me this job. With no practical experience, and just out of college, I knew I had to appear funky rather than frumpy. To my relief, the Art Director met me in a pair of jeans and one of those hipster woven pullovers.

I got the job.

I worked there for three years, starting as a low-ranking designer that got all the shit jobs, and finishing as the Art Director for both Tiger Beat and Right On! But that job was so much more than the work.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 1.14.55 PM.png

Typical me is in the stripped bikini top…front and center.

I made friends. Really good friends at the time. I had my first car, a Karmann Ghia convertible. Weekends were filled with parties and trips to the city with co-workers. There were perks too. Sometimes they would have us model merchandise for give-aways.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 1.14.36 PM.png

I am the blonde bombshell on the right. What the hell happened to me?

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 1.13.55 PM.png

Big 80’s hair and hooped earrings. That’s me in the orange sweater with that ridiculous boombox.

 

Other times we got tickets to premiers in New York. I remember seeing “The Abyss” at Radio City Music Hall where I got run over by Eddie Murphy’s body guards. I got a freebie to Rambo III, which wasn’t exciting at all, and a bunch of us went to the 30th anniversary screening of “Gone with the Wind,” also at Radio City, where Butterfly McQueen spoke before the movie.

Sometimes we had famous people in the building. Kool Moe Dee, and Big Daddy Kane visited us once, and Tempest Bledsoe from the Cosby Show came for a photo shoot. That was pretty much it during my years there.

While the money wasn’t great, I was living at home and had few expenses. I gained tons of experience, but it wasn’t all art related. I learned that I could belong to a group…that I could be liked…dare I say “popular?” It was something totally new to me, and to be honest, something I never felt at any job again.

Eventually the magazines were bought by Sterling Publications, and I was offered to stay on as the Art Director to both magazines. I turned them down. I was afraid to go work in the City…see this job was a quick 10 minute drive from my home in New Jersey. Going to work in New York meant busses and extra taxes and long commutes. So I said no.

I’ve always regretted it. So I’d go back to that time…I’d be thin and have fun and drive my Karmann Ghia with the top down.