Merry Christmachanukwanstice!

th2!

I know, I know, I’ve been remiss – I’m way behind in my biweekly posts (and have been for a while). Trust me, I feel really guilty (hey, I’m 1/2 Jewish – guilt is my specialty!) I’ve been crazy busy (or, at the very least, crazy). This week’s excuses are all holiday related – I’ve been tangled up in holiday lights, last minute shopping ,  holiday parties/plays/parades (not all at once). Wow. that was a lot of asides. Next year I’m finding a different way to express the voices in my head (I promise).

I’ve also been busy writing and mailing my generic Christmas letters. I know, you hate them. Most people do, but I just can’t stop myself (is there a 12 step program out there?). I started writing generic Christmas card letters when I was in college (too little free time, too many people who wanted to know that college hadn’t killed me). That was a few several more years ago than I am willing to admit to. It’s been so long ago that I’m pretty sure I started the trend (please don’t hate me). Here, for those of you who are interested, is my latest version (for those of you who aren’t interested, try learning how to adult instead).

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Happy Holidays! – To borrow from adequateman (you really need to read his hater’s guide to the Williams-Sonoma catalog) – “2016 has sucked – all the good guys died”. I beg to differ – we’re still here, and that’s what’s important. It has been, with few exceptions, a less than pleasant year – but it’s almost over, and we’re not dead yet, so here’s to not getting on the cart!

It’s been a busy year for our family – my husband continues to heal from his near death experience(s). He is 97% of normal, which is closer to normal than I am, by at least 62% (you do the math). At this point, we are just waiting for the lawyers, and then he’ll be ready to get out and GET TO WORK. It’s been nice having him home (dinner on the table when I walk through the door? Yes please!), but we’ve spent more time together these past two years than we have in the previous 29 😉

Our daughter is enjoying her junior year of high school (with the exception of all the acronyms – PSAT, ACT, SAT AAAGHHH). This year (thanks to summer school) she was able to load her schedule with electives – ASB, choir, dance and Drama2 (as if she needs help Being Dramatic). She’s also finishing her 2nd semester of ASL. She and her fellow thespians are looking forward to getting fluent enough in sign language to produce a “deaf-west” style performance (with performers both speaking and signing). She wanted to raise a steer this year for the fair, but she’s decided to wait until her senior year (if it is anything like raising a pig, I’ll be eating a lot of chicken next year).

As for me, well, I’ve been staying out of trouble (mostly). It’s taken a year, but (one year post-op, as promised) my knee is finally feeling good enough that I can run (Let me be clear. I can run. I choose not to). This year I fulfilled my dream of performing at the Hollywood Fringe festival. I played Gertrude/seamstress in a 30 minute production of A Little Hamlet. I had so much fun that I’ve actually started reading audition notices again. I’ve also returned to writing/blogging –  I actually submitted pieces to two writing contests this year (I’ll get my winning notification in January) and I’m hoping to complete my WIP before I retire die. I’m also looking forward to returning to stand up next year. In short (too late) now that my daughter is 16 and no longer needs me is getting a life of her own, I’m free to return to my BM* life.

WE spent another Halloween volunteering at the best “haunted maze” in Ventura county. If you haven’t been to Deadzone805, you’ve been missing out. But you don’t need to, because NOW THEY’RE OPEN ALL YEAR! (They are running escape mazes for private parties/celebrations). We’ve also been volunteering at the ventura county animal shelter – she walks the dogs, and I schmooze the people. I keep trying to pimp out the pitbulls, but most people refuse to believe that their reputation is just bad press.

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vicious pitbull

 

2016 has been…challenging**…for most of us. I’m hoping that in 2017 we can get off the rollercoaster and board the cruise ship – it’s time for some smooth sailing (just remember – don’t get on the boat marked “3 hour tour”).

Thank you all for you love, support and prayers – and for helping me to find my sanity when I lost it. I made a huge dent in my New Year’s resolution to spend more time with family and friends, but I want to spend more time with YOU (you know who you are). Let’s set a date!

*Before Motherhood

**F-d

May your holiday season be filled with L’s and F’s***

(Love, Laughter & Light and Friends, Food & Family)

***Or chocolate and adult beverages – whichever works best for you

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Happy Holly Daze

th99omay8cSo here it is, the first day of the last month of the year. I would have posted earlier, but I just woke up from my Thanksgiving food coma.

 I don’t know about you, but the year flew by. Not that I’m complaining – it’s easier to deal with all the sh…stuff when it hits you quickly and runs away. Or maybe that’s what you’re supposed to do when you fight – hit quickly and run away. I get confused.

In any case, 2016 has not been my favorite year for a whole slew of reasons. Like the last or least favorite child, I’m not sad to see it leave. Not that I have a least favorite child. I only have one, so I suppose she’s my favorite. Then again, she IS a teen, so some days she’s my favorite, and some days not so much.

Where was I? (told you I’m easily confused). Ah. First day of the last month. I don’t have much to say, but I wanted to take a moment to thank you for following me, and to wish you a safe and sane holiday season. Do me a favor – don’t let the holiday season make you crazy. Yes, there are a ton of things that Need Doing – cards to address and mail, presents to buy, wrap and mail, decorations that need to be put up (Here’s a tip – leave them up and tell your friends/family that you like to celebrate the spirit of the season all year long). OMG there’s so much that needs to get done, why am I wasting time writing? Trust me, it’s just not worth playing demolition derby with your car just because someone took your spot.

 

Be nice to each other, and have a happy holiday season

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Giving Thanks

thks6zppwwTomorrow is Thanksgiving – or, as we call it in my family, Black Friday eve 🙂

Like many who celebrate the holiday, our little threesome (no, not THAT kind of threesome) will gather together to eat too much,  drink too much, and watch too much football (as if there’s such a thing).

Every year, before diving into our loaded plates, each family member is invited to state one thing for which they’re grateful. Because I am a cynical/sarcastic sort, I usually pipe up with something along the lines of “I’m glad I’m not a turkey….”

This year will be different. This year, when it’s my turn to speak, I will raise my glass and tell my family that I am thankful for “almost”. No, you didn’t read that wrong.

al·most

 (ôl′mōst′, ôl-mōst′)

adv.

Slightly short of; not quite; nearly: almost time to go; was almost asleep; had almost finished.

Those of you who know me well (and those of you who don’t, but have been following my blog*) know that this year has been a rough one. TBH the past 2-3 years have been “less than pleasant”. In the past several years, I almost lost my daughter, almost lost my husband (twice), almost lost my house and almost lost my mind (which is bad, because it’s much too small to be wandering around lost and alone).

BUT

As they say, “Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades“. My family has  experienced so many blessings these last few years – we have received so much love and support from friends, family and even casual acquaintances , that I can’t help but be grateful.

They also say “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – and it’s true. We have emerged from this year even stronger.

BUT

Thank you Life, for my lessons. I’m strong enough now.

I have two questions for you, my loyal listeners (I was going to say “readers”, but it doesn’t flow) – Who are “they” and what are you grateful for?

*Thank you for following me! You are one of the many things for which I am very, very grateful

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image courtesy of 28 days of gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

How to Adult

14322559_10208457641376300_3302490184261649212_n1 I don’t know what a dult is, or why anyone would want to be one, but welcome to lesson#1 of an occasional series

My coworker just insulted me. She called me a four letter word, and it pissed me off, but I’m pretty sure the HR director would laugh if I filed a complaint.

She said I was “nice”. If that’s not an insult, I don’t know what is.

I am not a nice girl. For one, at (mumbles quickly) years of age, I am no longer a “girl”, no matter how bad your vision or how low the lighting. And as far as “nice” goes, I am many things (smart, funny, sarcastic, cynical, bitchy and brutally honest*) but I am not nice, no matter what people say.

All of my life people have said “you’re so NICE”.  I’m usually quick to respond with “No, not really”.  What I am is polite. My mother was from the south, and it appears that her southern manners have rubbed off on me. She taught me how to behave in public – to be kind to strangers as well as friends, to say “please” and “thank you”, to hold doors open, and to respect my elders (yeah, that last one didn’t stick). I may know how to behave, but I have always been more Disney Villain than Disney Princess.

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image credit to Hayden Williams

I know what you’re thinking (I do. It’s because I’m psychic. Or psychotic. I always get those two confused) – what’s wrong with being nice? Let’s start by looking at the definition, from Miriam Webster:

adjective \ˈnīs\

Popularity: Top 40% of words

Simple Definition of nice

  1. giving pleasure or joy : good and enjoyable
  2. : attractive or of good quality
  1. : kind, polite, and friendly

adjective po·lite \pə-ˈlīt\

There are, obviously, worse things to be called (I’ve been called those things too, usually by people who have issues with strong, independent, opinionated women). I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being “nice”. What bothers me is the fact that being kind and polite has become so rare that people assume that someone exhibiting those qualities is a nice person**. I am not one of them. I’ve met some genuinely nice people – their kindness is not tinged with any sarcasm or cynicism. It’s weird.

Over the past week (hell, over the past year) it’s become apparent that we need to be kind. We need to treat each other with, at the very least, respect and dignity. We need to stop focusing on our differences and find some commonalities. We need to be less angry and more forgiving. We need to be nice to each other.

Yeah. I said it.

We need to be nice. Especially with Black Friday coming up next week. Trust me, there are worse things you could be.

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*Seeing that I’ve made more than one person cry when I was “just being honest”, I’ve come to the conclusion that honesty is NOT always the best policy

** There’s also this:

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And now I miss my mom, and my Okie relatives:

Hope

 

OnceYouChooseHope[1]It’s been a rough week – on top of everything else, my poor little limping-along Volvo went to the scrapyard in the sky (well, not literally – today it’s sitting in my driveway, like a giant paperweight or car shaped sculpture).

I came across this reminder (huge shout out to Livehappy.com), and wanted to send it out to all who are feeling hopeless this week. Sending love and light your way –

Life! Some things bring you closer & some tear you apart. I've been there, i've walked through the storm. Hope & Love made this Life Stronger than it has been in a long time.  Follow: https://www.pinterest.com/recoveryexpert/:

 

The Game of Life

th5I’ve done it again – allowed the four letter word known as Life to knock me off the writing track. It’s not that Life is a bitch (and not just in a strong, intelligent independent way), or that she cheats when we play her game. Life is a rollercoaster, and getting off track can be bad. Nobody wants to ride the coaster off the rails, especially when you’re rounding the top corner.

My life has been busy, and uneven, but no more so than usual – so why did I stop writing? (And, right on cue, the EIC pipes up with “Because you’re lazy!” Thank you so very little, Evil Inner Critic).

I blame S&H*. Stress and hormones melted my brain and kept new ideas at bay, caused me to lose sleep (boo!) weight (yay!) and hair (boo!). They also caused me to crave beer, salt and sugar, but that’s neither here nor there. Whatever the cause, I found myself spiraling, once again, into the pit of despair.

I spent a long time trying to figure out what “caused” my depression, and then it hit me. My life hasn’t changed, but our world has. I know that change is inevitable, but things do not appear to be changing for the better. This election (don’t forget to vote!) has brought out a level of hostility, racism and sexism that knocked me so far off track I thought I’d woken up in the past and found myself trying to collect green stamps again.

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I used to say that I was raised to be color blind. I’ve been assured by several people that “color blindness” is just not possible, so I won’t say that, but I’m not sure what else to say. I was raised by parents who chose to focus less on the external (race/sex/sexual orientation/religion/career) and more on what type of person the individual was. I was raised to believe that every person is entitled to an opinion, and that everyone’s opinion is valid, even if it differs from mine. I was raised to believe that we should be able to discuss and debate our opinions in a respectful manner. Yes, the debate might get heated, but it should never get ugly.

And it has. Our world has become an ugly place, filled with ugly people saying ugly things to each other. It breaks my heart. I could blame the media – in the race for ratings, they have chosen to focus on images of violence and hatred. I could blame the election – this race this year has been particularly nasty. I know that politicians are human (although it’s entirely possible that they’ve been replaced by the aliens from They Live), but I believe they should be held to a higher standard than most. The name calling and chants of “Make American Great Again” or (mockingly) “Make America Hate Again” do not inspire respect for either candidate. Mostly I blame myself. I blame myself for being naïve.

My parents raised me to believe that the world was becoming a better place – that people were overcoming their perceived differences and uniting in a way that gave me hope. Hope that my mixed-race daughter wouldn’t have to deal with the hatred my mother witnessed as a teen in the south (please note – my mother was Caucasian, so racism didn’t necessarily have a direct impact on her life). The violence and hatred she saw caused her to caution me against having children. I assured her that I had no intention of having children, but that, if I changed my mind, racism was “a thing of the past”.

I am no longer naïve. I am broken hearted, angry and sad, but not naive. The hatred/anger/prejudice that I believed was long dead is alive and kicking, like a cockroach that somehow managed to survive a visit from the exterminator.

Make America Great Again? I agree with Amanda Blanc – Let’s try making America kind again instead (image credit to Amanda Blanc)

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*Stress and Hormones, not the green stamps we collected in the 60’s

So tell me – how do you write when your brain has melted or is filled with fog?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who are You?

images4Today is supposed to be day 7 of the Blogging101 Learning the Fundamentals. I got started late so I’m behind, but you know what they say – “Better late than pregnant” (especially at my age). Yesterday was my day 2, so today I looked at the lesson for Day 3 – Learning to Use the Reader. I’ve been blogging for a while, and I thought I had this one down, but then I came across the section on “Lists”. I read and re-read the instructions, but I can’t quite get a handle on it. I suppose it’s because I’m an old dog.

 

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???

So I did what my teachers told me to do when I was taking a test. I skipped it, and will get back to it “later”**

Which takes me to Day 4: Identify Your Audience

This is a tough one. Before I became an Accidental Mother I was a performer. As an actress and comedienne, I had a hard time identifying my audience because they were (literally) in the dark. I knew they were out there, because I could hear them shifting, coughing, and opening candy wrappers (FYI, after watching Soapdish, I consider myself very lucky that I never tried my hand at dinner theater).

Trying to identify my blogging audience is almost as difficult as trying to see past the footlights to the theater audience. I recognize a few faces, but only those people who choose to sit in the front row. I’m doing to bring up the houselights for just a minute, so I can get a better look.

Wow. I feel a little like Hobo Kelly (for some reason, no matter how close I sat to the TV or how hard I waved, she never seemed to see me)

I see you (yes, you sitting at your computer in your pj’s and bunny slippers, hair still a mess, halfway through your second cup of coffee….) I see all of you – hippies and yippies, millennials and Gen X’ers, suburban soccer moms and PTA presidents, the freaks and geeks, oddballs and misfits, performers and worker bees, mothers (and fathers) to children of two legs and four. We are the ones who color outside the lines – the troublemakers and instigators, the rebels and rule breakers and everyone who refuses to be pigeonholed.

We are here the magic makers, here to create the world we want to live in.

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties,
we build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story,
we fashion an empire’s glory.
One man, with a dream, at pleasure
shall go forth and conquer a crown.
And three, with a new song’s measure
can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying,
in the buried past of the Earth,
built Nineveh with our sighing
and Babel itself with our mirth.
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
to the old of the New World’s worth.
For each age is a dream that is dying,
or one that is coming to birth.

Arthur O’Shaughnessy

*For those of you who thought/hoped this post was about The Who – here you go:

 

**”later” could mean anything from “tonight” to “tomorrow”. See also “soon”.

 

To Twist or not to Twist, that is the question…

I am several days behind on the Blogging101 “Blogging: Learning the Fundamentals” course. I thought about hitting more than one lesson a day until I’m current. I am tired, fighting a cold and have writer’s block, so it sounds like too much work for today. For now, I will work one lesson at a time. It’s nice back here. I’m so far behind I think I’m first!

Day Two: Make Sure You Love Your Title

I thought about changing my blog’s title when I realized that my blog needed a reboot. I considered it for a nanosecond (not to be confused with nana second, the length of time it takes your grandmother to realize that you are Up To Something).

images7My instincts whispered that I should keep my title, and I ALWAYS listen to my instincts.*

In truth, I could have used a guide to suburbia when I first moved here. There are books about what to expect your first year of marriage, what to do when you’re expecting, how to handle the toddler years, but I couldn’t find one on how to survive suburban soccer moms in minivans or how to avoid joining the PTA PTSA.

The suburbs are scary, even if you have some sort of experience with them. I grew up in a small town (the same small town we live in now), but after a few years in the city I was afraid to buy a house in the suburbs, and not just because the houses all looked alike. 

There were too many perfect parents with perfect children living in perfect houses with perfect yards. TBH I spent the first month looking in the closets and under the bed for my Stepford duplicate.

stepford-wives1

The good news is that, with a little bit of detective work, I was able to find my tribe – the suburbanites who don’t quite fit, the parents with a slightly skewed sense of humor, the PTA moms who wear black to back to school night, the parents who go Drink or Treating on Halloween and the suburban soccer moms who drive jeeps instead of minivans.

Suburbia isn’t quite as scary when you twist it to suit you. Trust me.

I like my blog title and tagline, but I am open to suggestions. Let me know if you think of something that would be better suited.

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*I almost said that with a straight face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello World!

 

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I’m participating in the Blogging101 “Learning the Fundamentals” course. This post is in response to “Day 1 – Welcome to your first day of blogging!” prompt.

I have a confession to make – I’m not a new blogger.

I have a second confession to make – I’ve taken (well, started) this course before. I didn’t finish it last time. I think I stopped just after I introduced myself.

So why am I taking the “Learning the Fundamentals” course? First, because (until last week) I haven’t blogged in months, and my skills are dusty and rusty. Second, because I’m lazy. I love writing, but only when my muse delivers a perfect piece. My blogging, like my other writing ventures (fiction/journaling/correspondence to friends and family) has been a series of starts, stops and missteps.  I am cautiously hopeful that taking the Blogging 101 course will give me the tools I need to write more consistently. Last but not least, in reviewing my posts, I realize that my posts have taken a turn for the dark side.

When I began blogging, I planned on following in the footsteps of my heroes – Erma Bombeck, Tracy Beckerman, Glennon Doyle Melton and the like. Women who juggle work, parenting, marriage and everything else that comes with being an adult* with sense of humor (mostly) intact. I wanted to write about surviving the wilds of suburbia and perils of parenting without losing myself in the process.

That was my plan. Of course, you know what Robert Burns said about the best laid plans of mice and men…I made plans, and the universe laughed. As I struggled to deal with the things that life threw my way, my posts became darker and a little depressing (even though I always tried to put a positive spin at the end). My blog needed a reboot.

So I have decided to take a mulligan. I may not be a brand new blogger, but this is a brand new blog.**

Hello, my name is Tracey, and I’ll be your tour guide to surviving suburbia with sanity somewhat intact. The suburbs can be scary, but we can get through them together. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight, a compass and a red solo cup – it’s going to get twisted in here.

So tell me – who are you and why are we here?

erma-bombeck1

 

* What is a dult, and WHY would anyone want to be one?

**Well, newish

The Other “Other F-word”

 

imagespnibp0jmI had a point when I warned you posted about my return to blogging.  My brain, however, is filled with the dust  of disuse (and cobwebs of confusion), and I missed it. I meant to tell you that it’s important that choose your F-words carefully.

When I was diagnosed with PVCs, I panicked. Part of it was due to my overactive imagination, part of it was due to the fact that my brain was overloaded with the pain and adrenaline that came with being in the emergency room with excruciating jaw pain, but most of it was because my mother had a massive heart attack at the age of 57. The closer I’ve gotten to the “magic number”, the more certain I’ve become that I would do the same.

My cardiologist ran a whole slew of tests, which showed that my heart is, in fact, pretty darn close to perfect (which makes the Mary Poppins in me very happy). He also assured me that PVCs are fairly common (around one in 20 normal people will have at least one PVC on a two-minute ECG strip, and a much higher percentage will have PVCs on 24-hour Holter monitoring) and that, as long as I wasn’t having any symptoms, it wasn’t something that needed to be treated with medication.

The incident made me realize that I have spent far too much time letting fear stop me from doing things. I should know better – after all, I read Dune when I was in college.* Even 20+ years later I can hear Frank Herbert’s Bene Gesserit reminding me that “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration….” I know that I’m supposed to “Feel the Fear and do it Anyway” and I’ve been told (more than once) that FEAR is nothing more than False Expectations Appearing Real.

I should know better, but I’ve found that knowing something intellectually doesn’t necessarily mean that you KNOW it (if you know what I mean). I spent time pondering the problem, wondering what it would take for me to let go of fear, and then I realized that all it takes is another F-word. To let go of fear, we must have faith Don’t worry, I’m not going to show up at your door asking if you’ve been “saved” –  I’m talking about the secular definition.

From Miriam-Webster dictionary:

Faith

[fāTH]

NOUN

complete trust or confidence in someone or something:

“this restores one’s faith in politicians”

synonyms: trust · belief · confidence · conviction · optimism ·

Middle English: from Old French feid, from Latin fides.

Fear screams at us to stop before we start, to hide under the covers from the monsters in the dark. Faith whispers that the monsters exist only in our imagination, and that, with trust and a little bit of pixie dust, we can fly.

Today’s F-word is Faith.

F-k

Anxiety

Initiate

Trust and

Hope

 

*I saw the movie, too. Please don’t.

P.S. In an amazing bit of synchronicity, today’s email from DailyOM was “Overcoming Fear & more courses.” In the course description Debbie Ford says that we can learn from fear. I’m not sure what lesson I’m supposed to learn, but I’m open to the possibilities.

So tell me – what has fear taught you?