Archives for posts with tag: news


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!’


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.


Old News

This morning while watching the Today Show they did a story about boys who insist on wearing shorts to school in the dead of winter.

I turned to my husband and said smuggly, “Hmph! I blogged about that two years ago.”

And if you go on the Today Show’s website, the story is “trending.”

My husband, while supportive of my blog, thinks it’s boring. He’s not alone. I had this comment from some asshole who I hope is an ex-reader a month or so back…

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I answered with the typical “If you find it meaningless, then don’t read it (shithead).”

And the things I wrtie about? They’re not meaningless – not to me. They are my thoughts and memories and observations from my little corner of the world. And I was tickled pink to see that a social phenomenom that I had blogged about in the past made it to the main stream.

And is trending.

Kids Knees


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The other day we were talking about crime filled areas, and somebody mentioned that I must have experience with that coming from Northern Jersey, and having lived so close to New York. Actually, my town had very little serious crime at all. Until January 8th, 1975 that is.

I had been at the next door neighbor’s house playing, and walked across the driveway to the back door. I found it locked and banged on the glass to be let in. My sister, peeking through the door, quickly opened it up, pulled me in, and locked the door behind me.

Then she said, “There’s been a murder in town.”

What? IN LEONIA? To make matters worse, it had happened just a few blocks away. And I had just been out in the near dark alone…with a murderer on the loose.

Over the course of the next few days we’d all hear the gruesome details of how Joseph Kallinger, a shoemaker from Philadelphia and his son, forced their way into a house in my town and murdered a young nurse, Maria Fasching, in the basement.

After the murder Kallinger and his son had walked down to a park in our town that is literally a few houses from where my husband grew up…they probably walked right past his house to get there. They had washed off in a puddle in the park, and Kallinger discarded his bloody shirt there, which was a dopey move because the shirt had his name imprinted in it from his cleaners in Philly.

He was caught days later.

Maria Fasching’s face was plastered on the cover of every newspaper for days, and I remember feeling so sad for her. She was young, and was going to be married. And she just happened to stop by that house to check on a patient at the wrong time.

Oh, and that house – it scared the crap out of me for years and years. If I had to walk past it in the daytime, I’d try to not stare at the basement windows. But at night? I kept my eyes on the sidewalk and walked very, very fast.

There was a book written about Joseph Kallinger and his life leading up to the murders called “The Shoemaker.” I’ve read it, and let me tell you, this guy was really wacko. It amazed me that someone so mentally ill could slip through the cracks and live right out in the world with the rest of us. It scares me to think of how many similar characters are out there now…

Yesterday marked the 40 year anniversary of that murder. It really changed our little town – it smudged it. Made it seem less of haven and slightly haunted.

Short and sweet, I’m pissed off. There will be language in this post…fair warning.

What kind of a soulless shit turns a gun on little bitty kids? Kids whose life consisted of animal crackers, Dora the Explorer and Thomas the Train. What did they do to you, you mentally unstable worthless fuck?

I don’t care what your political views are, something has GOT to be done to prevent sociopaths from getting their hand on guns that can take out entire classrooms in seconds.

Just days ago some cock sucker killed two innocent people in a mall. Over the summer folks were killed at that movie theater. Another turd killed a bunch of people outside the Empire State Building. And those poor people gunned down in the Temple.

I bet I’m not even naming them all. What the fuck? What the fuck is happening in this country? Am I missing something? Why don’t I hear of this happening in other civilized countries in the world? Why is it only OUR country?

People need affordable access to mental health care and we need to buckle down on who we hand guns out to. Fuck the second amendment – if you want to stand behind that then arm yourself with a musket, not an assault rifle.

I thought this shit would’ve ended after Columbine. And then after Virginia Tech. And yet more and more people are getting killed.

It’s getting so that life in the USA is a game of Russian Roulette. You never know if today is the day where you will run into a lunatic who was able to buy a gun at Walmart.

Yesterday my co-worker said that her husband started a paper route. At first, I have to admit, I giggled. Then she did too. We joked about her big, burly husband riding a bike with a basket flinging papers.

Nowadays most paper routes are mainly a gig for grown ups – a way to make some extra dough in the wee hours of the morning. But back when I was a wee lass a paper route was THE way for a kid to earn a dime.

When I was about 13 or 14 I delivered The Hudson Dispatch. There was another paper, The Bergen Record, you could work for as well, which oddly enough, my husband delivered. But the Dispatch, unlike the Record, required that you tend to your route in the early morning, and I preferred my afternoons off.

I can’t recall how in the world I obtained that route, but I remember meeting a girl on the corner in front of the Banner Deli in good old Palisades Park, NJ to be shown the ropes. After we walked the route once, she handed me the ring of collection cards and bid me a fare-thee-well.

For some reason I was petrified those first couple of days. I obsessed over whether or not I was skipping someone’s house by mistake, but within a week or two, I had my rhythm down and delivered my papers with confidence and ease.

It was a great route – very convenient to my house and an easy walk. My brother had had a route back when he was a teen, but his took him up and down steep hills, and he had to be driven or ride his bike – it was too far away for him to walk it and be home in time for school.

I had a lot of apartment buildings on my route. It’s amazing the smell an apartment building can acquire – almost like a finger print. Each building had it’s own unique aroma. Some buildings smelled like cooking; I can recall the smell of cabbage that wafted through the lobby of one brownstone.

Each Wednesday I would go collecting. This was when you actually met the residents of the dark and quiet homes you deposited a paper at each morning at 6 am. I remember one woman who was pregnant. She wore a shirt that said “baby” and had an arrow pointed to her belly. I’ve actually thought about her from time to time over the years, wondering if she had a boy or a girl. Whichever it was, the child is older than 30 now, and here I was a skinny little girl staring at it in it’s mom’s belly each Wednesday night. Weird.

There was also an old couple that lived on the 4th floor of an old apartment building. By the time I was rounding the stairs on the 3rd floor the smell would hit me. Perhaps their apartment didn’t have running water. Or maybe they didn’t have any soap. In any case I dreaded collecting from them because once the door opened a very acrid, pungent cloud would float out into the hallway and go clear up my nostrils.

The husband/man would always be in his undershirt and slacks. He was always smiling, and always paid. The wife/woman would be sitting at the kitchen table laughing. Ok, it was actually more like a cackle. The hallway was always dark and always deserted with the exception of these two. Really fix that scenerio in your head for a minute. Bad smells, cackling old woman and a dark, damp hallway on the 4th floor.

Creepy. I’m glad I hadn’t read any Stephen King books yet.

One fine Wednesday evening, I was treated to the experience that is the hallmark of paper boys/girls and mail carriers alike.

I was bit by a dog.

In the ass. Which made it humiliating as well as painful. It was just a nip. Nobody was home, and I guess the homeowners had left the dog in the yard. He was not happy that I had entered his fenced-in domain and snapped his teeth right through the seat of my Levi’s. I was mortified, but thankful that there didn’t seem to be anyone around to witness this dishonor to my dairy aire.

I had that route for less than a year. Once winter came those early morning treks up and down the blocks of Pal Park became more of a chore than my $20 a week was worth. Come to think of it, most of the jobs I had as a kid didn’t seem to be worth the crappy money you earned. But how else was I going to afford the latest issue of Tiger Beat?

Ah, a great segue into a new post…my first real job. Stay tuned!

Yesterday, life strapped me in and took me on a roller coaster ride of a day.

President Obama was scheduled to hold a rally not only in my town, but a mere two blocks from where I work. His campaign offices are just about catty-corner to mine, so it was easy for me to get tickets to the rally just in case my family had any interest in going.

It would mean taking the kids out of school, a thing that hubby – despite all his years of cutting class back in the 70’s – frowns upon. Yet we both agreed that seeing the President live and in person would be an acceptable reason to miss a day of school. We just had to figure out if we wanted to go through the hassle of the lines and security. It would be a long, hot wait if we decided to go. In the end, realizing that neither child would be missing anything vital that Wednesday, we opted to attend.

The day dawned sunny and bright. With no kids to ready for school, I got out of the house early which was a necessity – parking around my offices was going to come at a premium and the early bird catches the parking space! During my drive in the local news was reporting a murder/suicide where 4 people were killed, and news about the President’s visit, street closures, etc.

My plan was to get as much work done as possible before noon, meet up with hubby and the girls at my offices, and walk up to the rally to spend 3 hours in line. With Howard Stern on vacation, and not really digging his “best of” special this week, I did not have my headphones on as I usually do and could hear all the typical office banter as I did my work.

The head of the sales department was giving her usual pep talk to her team and a few times had mentioned the absence of a staff member, Beth. She had been out sick the day before, and having not heard from her yet that morning was worried. I remember her saying “It’s not like her to sleep in, even if she’s sick.” I heard her leave a voice message on her phone.

At around 11 am my family arrived. I was in the middle of building an ad that I wanted to finish before I left for the day, so I told them to busy themselves for 15 minutes or so. A few minutes later my boss entered asking if we could circle up. I was expecting to get a speech about the President’s visit and taking time off and parking and what’s to be expected of us.

Instead he says, “I’ve never had to do this before. Last night Beth was killed.”

Killed? Not died. Not passed away. Killed – which implies intent and malice. And violence.

I know I audibly gasped. I know my hand went to my mouth. I know I didn’t hear anything else my boss had to say.

While I did not work closely with her, she was a living, breathing soul who my living breathing soul passed daily on the way to the bathroom or in the kitchen. I remember just last month totally botching the signing of her birthday card.

We have two Beths in the office, and I was lead to believe the card was for the other one. Not wanting to write something lame like, “Happy Birthday, Beth!”  I drew a little picture and wrote something appropriate for Beth number 2, not realizing the card was for Beth number 1. When I realized my blunder, I approached her and said something like, “you must think I am a total numbskull” and explained the mishap. I even thought of making her a little mini birthday card of her own as a funny little apology, but didn’t.

Now I wish I had.

It turns out she was a part of that 4 person murder-suicide that was reported on the morning news. All the details aren’t out yet, but my coworker and her 3 children, are all dead.

I left the office and met my family for lunch, where my husband, in his usual wishy-washy fashion, began to waffle on our decision to take the kids out of school. But I couldn’t concentrate on that, and I have to admit I got annoyed.

We walked up to wait in line, and once our tickets were ripped and we took our place amongst the thousands of other spectators we had 3 hours to stand around and think.

It’s hard to keep a 16 & 10 year old occupied on a hot August day where all you can do is stand in one place for an hour. We played a few rounds of 20 questions. I had my daughter tell me in great detail about the last episode of “Pretty Little Liars.” President Obama owes me big time for that one.

And I thought about Beth. I thought about how scared she must have been, and it made me really sad. I thought about her last few weeks at work – they were tough ones. Our sister publication just put their biggest issue of the year to press, and it’s particularly rough on the sales reps. I know that she had been one of the top sellers, so she must have worked really hard. It was over and behind her, and now she’s just gone.

The hour finally came where we were ushered into the Pavilion and phase two of operation hurry up and wait commenced. We were put through metal detectors, our bags meticulously searched, and our bodies wanded. I was surprised the Secret Service didn’t confiscate my eye-liner sharpener that I had in my bag. I was fully expecting to have to give that up for the cause.

After that we made it to the inside of the Pavilion and staked out our spot. Our vantage point was fantastic – we were around 30 feet from the podium where the President would speak from. And we still had 2 hours to wait.

We sat on the concrete floor for a while, talked about this and that, texted a friend or two, and then the urge hit me. Quite typical of Tracy, I had to pee.

This wasn’t going to be an easy feat. While there was a barricade directly to my right which separated the throngs from the handicapped section, they wouldn’t let you jump the barricade – even though it gave you easy access to the bathrooms.

Instead, I had to take my daughter by the hand and weave, pardon, excuse me and sorry about that my way through THOUSANDS of people packed like sardines. I tried to be as kind and apologetic as possible, but there were still a bunch who grumbled. And if I thought getting to the bathroom was hard, getting back was even worse.

However, once that little chore was over with, the waiting went relatively quickly. We had to suffer through 30 minutes of a banjo playing quartet…I don’t mean to disparage the banjo, but it got tedious after that long. Then came out some folks to talk about volunteering, followed by speeches from former governor Kaine, and former Congressman Perriello.

Then came the big man himself. After a short speech from a UVA student, President Obama was introduced and out he walked. In the flesh. Right before my very eyes.

I think between my husband, my 16 year old and I, we took about 160 photos and a bunch of video of the rally. Being so close, and having a decent zoom on my little Canon, I was able to get some decent shots. Unfortunately, many of them show the President’s face contorted in speech, or with closed eyes, but this is why I took so many.

He spoke for about 40 minutes, and it was truly thrilling. For 4 years I’ve seen him on television, and in print, but here he was right in front of me. I wish my dad, who is a robo-democrat, could’ve been there. He would have truly cherished that moment.

Afterwards we joined the throngs of people trying to leave the venue which in itself was a sight to see. I’m sure the businesses on the Downtown Mall appreciated all the money they made yesterday – lines for ice cream at all three locations were out the door.

And I’m really glad we took our kids. They got to see what it’s like to rally behind someone or something – to join forces and cheer for what you believe in. I saw later that day that my oldest had joined the “Students for Obama” page on Facebook. I “liked” that in more ways than one.

My day started with a tragedy, and ended with some hope for the future. There is so much political bashing on Facebook and in the media – both sides are guilty of it. But yesterday all I could really think about was that I was grateful to be alive and breathing, plain and simple. I thought of my co-worker, whose life was senselessly extinguished for reasons unknown.

You never know when that hammer is going to fall. Yesterday I had my family with me, in the sunshine, listening to the President. All the rest is bullshit.

My landscape, forever altered

On the morning of September 11th, 2001 I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest daughter. I readied for work and turned on the Today Show. The top story was Michael Jordan coming out of retirement…again. I remember thinking to myself “there is nothing more important going on in the world than that?”

I recall that for weeks the news leading up to that day had been filled with much of nothing. There really was very little of great import going on in the world. We were treated to a lot of stories about lost dogs finding their way home over the span of many states, and the world’s largest ear of corn. That’s why Mr. Jordan was the top story.

I was at work in Charlottesville, VA when I got news of the first plane. I had grown up right across the Hudson River from NYC, so a co-worker thought I might find it interesting that a plane had hit one of the twin towers – his wife had seen the report and called him. I immediately figured it was a Cesna or some other small aircraft. I remember trying to get online to read about it, but my internet connection was slow to nonexistent.

So, I called my buddy John in NYC, and he confirmed the news to me that it was much more than a Cesna. I can’t recall every detail of that morning. I just know that my bosses set up a television in one of our conference rooms, and we all watched the day unfold in stunned silence. I also called my husband who worked in an ice rink and most likely had not heard the news. I told him to get to a TV now.

One co-worker had a cousin who worked in one of the towers, and she was visibly upset, trying to get news on her family member’s whereabouts. I was crying as well. A co-worker asked me why I was so upset…did I have friends or family in the towers? I looked at him and said, “No, but that’s my backyard. That’s my skyline. That’s the landscape I call home, and it’s totally fucked now.”

I remember looking at those smoldering towers, and thinking they didn’t look quite straight. I voiced my concern that they might fall over and said, “do you realize how many thousands of people are going to die if they fall over?” I never imagined they would implode..I pictured them falling over like a tower of blocks.

Later that afternoon, I noticed something very eerie. The area I live in is a heavy airline traffic zone. Planes from Washington DC, Richmond, Atlanta, NY and NJ constantly fly over my town. On a clear day, our sky was rarely free of the criss-crossing pattern of plane trails – there was always a ghostly grid in the sky. But by 3 pm on 9/11/01 the sky was totally void of any trails – it was totally clear, and it stayed that way for days. It was really creepy.

That night we went to my sister’s house to watch the coverage. We were all in shock, we were all talking about what we had heard, who had known anyone in the towers, and listening to the news. My oldest daughter was only 5 at the time…she doesn’t remember too much about it – just that we were all at Aunt Wendy’s and that everyone was sad.

Two days later we signed the closing papers on our first home. Our agent asked why we weren’t happier…we had just bought a house! We pointed to the small television in their office, still playing 9/11 news and said, “how can we possibly feel any joy about it?” Everyone was scared. Everyone was waiting for another attack. Nothing seemed important and everything seemed important.

Three months later, to the day, my youngest was born. She’s 9 now, and knows that the towers fell when she was in my belly. Every year I watch as many programs as I can that commemorate that day. I know there are people who cannot bear to watch them, but each time I watch, I remember all those poor people whose lives were changed that day. I get sad, but I also get angry.

And I feel proud that NYC and our country brushed ourselves off and got back up. And, I’m thankful for every day where is there is very little news.