Try using a nicer tone

Try using a nicer tone

What do you do when you’re in a relationship and the other party will not negotiate, doesn’t understand the word NO, has no respect, a mind of their own, and is difficult to deal with?  Does this sound like your mother-in-law? Well, then I’m sorry for you my friend, but I’m talking about my iPhone.

In therapy terms my phone seems to be “finding its voice.”  But unlike previous tone5parenting skills which seemed to work; the time-outs, the ultimatums, the watch your tone or you will spend the weekend dusting…nothing is working.

Phones these days have no respect.

My phone continually asks if I want to invite Facebook friends to Messenger. I tell my phone, no.  It invites them anyway. It asks if I want to know of Breaking News or tone1notifications from various websites? I tell my phone, no. Do I want to be reminded that a Facebook friend has a birthday? No. And yet, the beeping, singing, flashing, annoying notifications appear on the banner of my phone, regardless.  In Settings, I turn them all off…again. What are my options to let it know I mean business…draining its battery till it’s at 1% and then slowly bring it back to life?

“I told you I don’t want to see that” I yell in the kitchen.  My husband comes in and asks who I am speaking with.  My phone, I say.  He suggests I try using a nicer tone.

My phone doesn’t know its place.

I was recently texting my friend Mike G. while we were both watching Michael Conforto hit a homerun for the Mets.

tone7My first text:   Confirming!

My second text: Confetti!

My third text: OMG Mike. I’m trying to text his name and it won’t let me.

Thankfully, Mike G. knew that I was trying to spell Conforto.  Conforto, Confirming, Confetti. It’s like having a 3rd person in on the conversation.  Me.  Mike G. and my Phone. Please get out of my conversation, I yell at my phone, trying to watch my tone. Notice the word, Please.

My phone does not respect me.

It’s helpful when you spell something wrong and spellcheck corrects it. But it’s not helpful when knowing what you want to say, your phone thinks its smarter than you are.

For instance, I text my cousin, Jackie M. asking if she has a muddler I can use.  I clearly text MUDDLER. My phone asks her if I can borrow her muffler.  I text my daughter: Your Grandparents are going to Disney next month. My phone overrides and texts: Your Grandparents are going to divorce next month.  My friend was asking for advice on whether to send a text to someone.  I texted back, MYOB (mind your own business) but my phone decided I meant, Myocardial. Which I sent. What should I do? Sit my phone in a corner and make it think about its behavior? Who is in charge here?

I yell at my phone.

I do not watch my tone.

My phone has a smart mouth.

The voice on Google Maps is becoming increasingly frustrated with me. It used to be tone4when disregarding the directional prompt my phone would recalculate to what I wanted to do. No more! Now, it instructs me to make a U-Turn, again and again and again, completely disregarding what I want to do. I’m waiting for the day when through my Bluetooth I hear, Jesus, Tracy either you make a U-Turn NOW or I’m taking away your keys!

When that happens my friends, all bets are off.  I will grab my muffler, make myself a drink, turn on The Mets, hope that Confetti hits a home-run, and mind my own myocardial.

A dog, a diaper and a scotch

A dog, a diaper and a scotch

Let’s be truthful…we’ve all been there.  You’re sitting at the gate in an airport waiting for your plane to board.  Standing in a corner is a mother who hasn’t brushed her hair in days, holding on to a toddler who is no longer interested in looking at airplanes.  She’s holding a crying infant…with a cough. A collective prayer is silently being offered up. noah3“Please Lord, let this family sit anywhere except next to me.”

I (not so) fondly remember being in that exact situation; where the daggers were being directed at my kids and my dirty hair.  Those wonderful times at the airport asking my son through clenched teeth to HEEL! When I had to explain to my 10-month-old daughter that no my little angel, I can’t heat up your bottle in the airport just GROW UP AND DRINK IT COLD!  So yes, I do feel for this stressed out Mom, but, please Lord I prayed along with 400 others…anywhere but next to me.

Flying can be such a chore these days, but I knew it would be 5 hours of a little reading, a little writing, and a little listening to music.  Not to mention a movie, gourmet food, a masseuse…wait, wrong dream.

The crowd begins boarding.

We are mostly all seated.

In walks THE FAMILY.  (They didn’t board at the time of the announcement for “those traveling with children.” My Dad would call that a head-fake).

They pass my row.

Thank you, Jesus.

The baby is really crying now, but they are far behind me.  Clearly someone’s prayers were not answered. On a flight, when all else failed, I gave my kids Benadryl…whether they needed it or not. Everyone slept. Sue me.

And then I hear it.

It’s a faint YAP.  Then a YIP.   Then a quiet MEOW.  I realize there’s two dogs sitting behind noah4me on different sides of the aisle. I can’t tell where the cat’s located. It’s quiet for a while and then one of the dogs starts to whimper.  Which makes the other dog bark. And then as if on cue, I hear the cat.

The women next to me begins frantically searching for her pills and mumbling about 5 noah5hours of hives and sneezing. She’s highly allergic to cats she tells me and I notice a raised red welt forming on her forehead. I keep that to myself.

The yipping, yapping, whining, and meowing, continues on and off for about 2 hours. My noise cancelling headphones don’t work at Dr. Doolittle’s clinic in the sky. At this point the baby in the back is quiet and the hyper active 3-year-old is watching a movie. Maybe I can go watch my movie with them.

Having smelled the food carts, the dogs begin whining even louder and I noticed the handler of one of the dogs is on her 3rd scotch. And then the game changer:  one of the dogs decides to poop. Is this Noah’s f#king Ark or a United flight to California?

This is Gods way of saying, be careful what you pray for.noah1

I get the whole comfort animal idea, but what about passenger comfort? The lady next to me? She looks like she’s got chicken pox on steroids. And how much comfort are you really getting from a dog kept in a hand-held cage, under your seat and whining so much you need to drink 3 scotch and sodas because of your anxiety. NEWS FLASH: Ditch the  comfort-animal and go with Ambien. It’s comforting too.

4 hours in to the flight the baby wakes up crying.  The dogs are still yapping, whining, pooping. The friendly skies just ain’t what they used to be.  The mother, trying to nurse her baby lets her 3-year-old out of his seat to wander down the aisle. At first, I start to feel my own anxiety watching a toddler, alone, walking the aisle, but where can he disappear to?  It’s not like he’s walking down the aisles at Walmart, alone.

He spies the whimpering dog and bends down to inspect. The dog stops whimpering. noah2The dog’s handler puts down her scotch, takes her dog out of the carrier and puts the dog on her lap. The dog is cute. The toddler is really cute. We learn his name is Jacob and the dog’s name is Max. It’s a mutual love fest and everyone around is smiling. Relaxing. Enjoying. Scratching. (the woman next to me).

I take out my book.

And then…OMG!

Somebody. Needs. A. Diaper. Change. 

Scotch, please!

For an Italian mother, there’s more to life than weather


The nor’easters that hit NJ this month, remember? Most in many areas of my state were living in the dark without heat, electricity, The Bachelor, and our beloved WiFi for a more to life8week. We were cranky as we donned a hat, then gloves, then long underwear, then a scarf, then started searching for furniture to burn.

Since we were without power, I was dressed for a fun day of skiing without the fun and without the skiing.  I was beginning to sound a bit shrill over not having a generator so my husband decided it would be safer (for him) to get us to my mother’s house.

I texted my mother to say we were coming over and she texted back:

Oh, what fun! One big pajama party. Beds are ready.

Wine is flowing and the larder is full!

Larder? What the hell is a larder? But you get the picture. Her happy meter was a 15 out of 10.

So, in other words, while everybody was cold, miserable, and thinking of ways to exact more to life3revenge on JCP&L, my mother (the 85-year-old, 4’8” Italian, jumping for joy in front of her stove, wearing an apron and holding a wooden spoon to stir the gravy) was wishing for a nor’easter every week. I hadn’t seen her so ecstatic since I left for college.

“Come on over! There’s more to life than weather,” she gleefully said.

And so, it began…my days at Mom’s b&b.

As I walked in the door she had already taken out 5 pots, 4 pans and 18 dishes. She asked what I wanted to eat. After a shower I told her I would make a hard-boiled egg.  I came into the kitchen to find egg salad.  She asked me if I wanted dip. I said no. Spreading dip on a cracker, she handed it to me. I was afraid if I asked for a sweater she would start knitting. My father walked in with a case of wine.  OK, so maybe a nor’easter could work out.

The phone rang.  I thought it must be my brother since the only time my mother smiles so broadly, is for him.  I’m not bitter. But I can see it’s actually my sister calling and my mother NEVER smiles like this when it’s either one of us. What’s up I wonder. My sister is without power and they too are heading over.

She drops the cracker with dip she’s been feeding me and heads for the larder. More are coming and its dinner time! I’ve noticed she’s taken out 3 more pans, 12 more dishes, more to life10water goblets and wine glasses.  And what would a table be without gold charger plates? My mother is clearly on the verge of putting up balloons and plugging in a confetti machine. I’m waiting for her to invite her neighbors.

So, while my husband is worrying about cracked pipes and my brother-in-law is worrying about falling trees, my mother is the happiest person on planet Earth. “Nor’easter, Smor’easter,” she says, grabbing 4 more serving trays and additional serving utensils.

Somehow, she whips up a fantastic Italian dinner for 10 with no planning, complete with cloth napkins and tulips on the table. Tulips? Where the hell did she get tulips? We’re in the middle of a f***ing nor’easter!  Forgetting my paleo diet, I’ve taken my 5th piece of bread to eat with lasagna, my third fried meatball, and added cheese to everything. Paleo shmaleo. Salude!

more to life 9Eating, to Italians, is a varsity sport. Just when we are done with dessert, out come the fruit and nuts…in separate bowls…one for each person.

After scrubbing and drying 167 dishes, pots, pans, glasses, trays, and bowls, my sister and I see the light at the end of the entertaining tunnel. We are full of fantastic food. All of us are warm and happy to be together. We are grateful. Contemplative. My mother is right…there’s more to life than weather.

And then, like glass shattering into a million pieces, my mother asks, “what shall I make for breakfast?

more to life2



Just say, “Huh?”

Just say, “Huh?”

Auto correct has made us dumb. I have texted, I’m heading to the bank, when can I


Enter a caption

experience you? I’ve texted, I love to HIV, instead of I love to give.  And when my frustration elevates into the danger zone, am I mad at myself?  Of course not! I get mad at Auto correct!  duck you auto cucumber!

Auto correct is supposed to suggest corrections in spelling or grammar.  It isn’t there to finish our thoughts with words it thinks we want to use.  We, need to be in charge of it.  Not it, in pumpkin2charge of us. But that means  reading before sending. And based on texts I’ve sent and received, this doesn’t happen that often.

Take this text I received from my sister prior to meeting for lunch: In really pumpkin. Not here. If you’re wondering what she was trying to say, you’re not alone.

This happens a lot. I receive a text and have no idea what she’s trying to say. I look at the keyboard, hoping to think of the letter she wanted press but obviously didn’t. It is close to Halloween, so the word pumpkin, well…maybe that’s a clue?

When all else fails, I simply text back, huh?

Her response…LOL.

We are going on 10 minutes, and neither one of us has moved off the mark.pumpkin6

Realizing all bets are off I trying to mess with her a bit.  I text, bring your pumpkin…really. 

Her response… Huh?

I text back LOL.

2 educated, college graduates going nowhere quickly and one of us is an English major.

I think your phone should be able to flash the word, huh? when necessary.  Similar to when your computer asks you if you really want to delete something. It would be an alert of sorts that we are sounding dumber than dirt. A last chance to sound smart.

Not only are our phones making us sound dumb, they are also making us annoying, and dangerous.  Today you practically need a helmet and certainly a lot of patience to walk from point A to pumpkin5point B. How many times have you needed to bob and weave your way around the mall, the street, wherever you are,  avoiding a collision with an oblivious person, head down and buried in their phone?

And there’s nothing more annoying than being behind a person who is walking and then simply decides to stop short! The pile-up of humanity behind them is akin to a pile-up of cars on the parkway, but without the broken glass.

Huh? How’d that happen I’m sure they wonder.

I remember hearing about a woman in Miami who fell into an open cellar space because she was walking and texting.  Forgive me but when I saw the video, I laughed.  Out. Loud.

Huh? she must have said as she hit the floor.

Did you know that it’s illegal to cross a street in Honolulu if you’re texting? A city council pumpkin4member said, “this is really milestone legislation that sets the bar high for safety.”  My friends, we have melting glaciers, the threat of nuclear war, 300 million guns in the USA, and white supremacy rallies.  Laws are needed to help us cross the street? Seriously?!


In the words of someone who wants to “make America great again” …SAD.

Talk about the dumbing down of humanity.

So back to in really pumpkin not here.

Previously to receiving this text, and because I hadn’t read before sending, I texted my sister, are you interested in tight places? 

When what I meant to text was,  Are you in the right place?”

She texted back in really pumpkin. not here.

What she meant to text was, in the right place. here now.

All together now my friends…. Huh?







There’s way too much Smart in my life

There’s way too much Smart in my life

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to snatch the power back from my Smartphone, my Smarthouse, even those obnoxious Smartkids of mine, and become a Smartwoman.

But now I have a new foe and its proving problematic.

My Smartcar.

smart1This is the fourth time in a week I’m in my garage and standing outside my new car, anxious, a knot in my throat, a feeling of dread. Quite a difference from the love I felt at the dealership. It reminded me of the football players I liked in college.  They looked good on the outside until they spoke. Then I wanted to punch them.

Same for my new car.

I calm my nerves, take a deep breath, slowly place my hand on the door, and get in.

I push a button and the car turns on.

Champagne, anyone?

So far so good.

I hit the menu button and the computer screen lights up asking if I want the menu to smart2appear on the virtual cockpit.  I don’t want to fly over Russia, I want to drive to HomeGoods.

I sign into the car’s WIFI then synch my iPod to my car. I’m killin it here!  But in synching my iPod I can’t figure out how to synch my phone. They both use Bluetooth technology and one seems to be cancelling the other out. I feel like I’m in the car with 2 squabbling kids fighting for my attention. Which do I want more…music or phone?  I choose the iPod because it’s been 20 minutes in the garage, so at least I’ll have music while flying reconnaissance over Russia.  I sheepishly grab my bag of old technology and use the headset to synch to my phone.

My husband walks by and informs me I no longer need the headset.

Think of 2 words, people…I can’t repeat them.

I don’t need a Smarthusband.

Maybe I’ll have more luck with navigation: An alphabet chart comes up. 977valleyroadgilettenj. I’m unable to add spaces so I toggle down and I’m instructed to draw address on optional touchpad.  Excuse me?  Draw? On a touchpad?  What touchpad?!  I. Want. To. Go. To. HomeGoods! Not draw! Grabbing the bag of old technology, I find the Garmin GPS, plug it in, type the address (with spaces), and waa-laa….it calculates the trip. Thank you, Jesus.

smart3$10K extra for technology is so worth it, said no one ever.

My husband walks by, and notices the plugged in Garmin GPS.

This time he says nothing.

Smarter than Einstein, that one.

It’s been 30 minutes in the garage. Maybe I’ll skip Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, synching, flying over Russia, and just drive the damn car. So, I’m off. At a stop light the car turns off. My blood smart10pressure is up to 450. Miraculously I step on the gas and the car turns on, but a green foot with an arrow appears on the dash which means I’m going above the speed limit. My car obviously has a dual personality, morphing into my mother telling me to slow down. How much more did this cost me?

Mistakenly, I hit a button on the steering wheel and a voice in sotto voce asks what I want to do next. What I’d like to do next is punch the car in its virtual cockpit, but instead while pulling out a chunk of hair on my head, I loudly speak, “call smart6home.”  I need to apologize to my husband. Sotto voce informs me it doesn’t recognize my voice.  Then I come to a stop sign and the engine turns off.

My next car will be a golf cart.

Where was I?

Ah yes…HomeGoods.

So, I finally get to HomeGoods.  I buy the dishes I came for and try to swipe my points card which hangs on my key ring and realize I don’t have my keys. My Smartcar doesn’t require keys  to turn itself on or off.  Did I turn the car off?  Cripes, the car is so smart it may be at Burger King having a whopper by now. I leave the dishes and find my car. It is running and I swear its snickering.

I hit the same button I previously hit by mistake and in my own NOT so sotto voce speak, smart9go home. And it calculates the route home.  Cue a crazed woman with a bald spot on the right side of her head, doing the dab dance in the parking lot.

I feel hope.

Over the next few weeks, armed with a 425-page manual, various YouTube videos, on-line tutorials, trial and error, and yes, my friends, screaming at the dashboard/virtual cockpit, I snatch the power from the Smartcar and become a Smartwoman. I learn to synch everything, master steering wheel controls, the start/stop system, the optional touchpad, the instrument cluster, the virtual cockpit, navigation system, voice activation, cruise control, Apple CarPlay, programmed smart7Sirius, set my seats and synch the climate. I am familiar with 87 possible indicator lights.

I put my trusty bag of old technology back into the old car.

I am a Smartwoman.

Now if I can just find the keys to get into my house.









No doubt if you’re from Jersey, baby

No doubt if you’re from Jersey, baby

I’m on a “get healthy” kick which includes clean eating, working with a nutritionist, and working out regularly. I’m feeling good about myself and how I look.  All that came to a jersey baby 2grinding halt last week.  It wasn’t because I was injured and couldn’t work out, or that I gave in to my insatiable and insane craving for bread and cookies. What happened was I took a trip to California.

It all started innocently enough on the plane ride out where it was obvious that most were going home to CA.  Their luggage matched. They had travelling shawls and jersey baby 10hydrating facial mist.  They carried salads. Those of us hailing from the Garden State were dressed mostly in the latest trend from Marshall’s.  Our luggage had duct tape. We carried donuts and coffee. The women next to me had 6 donuts which she happily handed out to everyone around her.  Jersey, baby. We share.

Upon arriving it seemed like every woman my age looked like she considered eating tofu a cheat day.  Skin so tight you could bounce a tennis ball off their cheeks, strange plumped lip lines, hair extensions, and huge enhancements up front. So much upkeep would be exhausting I told myself, trying to erase the fact that my right thigh was as big as their entire torso. From the back, they looked 18. From the front, they looked 58 trying to look 18. Jersey, baby. We look the same front and back.

Sitting around the pool was a 65-year-old guy in a speedo chatting up 2 twenty-somethings with double D’s. But he only spoke to them AFTER he finished with a few jersey baby 3push-ups. I felt like Shamu and I’m the thinnest I’ve been in years. The women around the pool…they didn’t get wet. I put my hair in a bun, put on my goggles, set some gangsta rap on my water iPod, and swam laps.  Jersey, baby. We get in the pool.

I texted my sister describing the scene.  She reminds me I can out swim them, out arm wrestle them, out shop them and out drink them. Which pretty much describes all my Jersey girls. My husband came to the pool, looked at the 20-somethings and started doing push-ups.  Just kidding. Jersey, baby. Husbands only have eyes for us – if they want to live.

Then there was dining out.  Every waiter when taking my order asked if I wanted the gluten-free option.  Was he also asking the starving vegan sitting at the table next to me ifjersey baby 4 she wanted the gluten-free option? Or just asking me, the fat sista from New Jersey? Finally, I said, “Look…go to the kitchen.  Find some Italian bread, and bring me the entire loaf.”  Jersey, baby. We eat.

On the positive side the weather was glorious. Even in winter, Californians hike mountains with the dazzling scent of eucalyptus and gaze at jersey baby 5breathtaking vistas.  Conversely, even in winter, New Jerseyans hike on a treadmill with the scent of that person next to us hiking on their treadmill, while gazing at the parking lot.  It’s spectacularly sunny in California and everything is in full bloom. Who wouldn’t want to live on the west coast.

I often wondered why my grandfather Angelo, made Newark, NJ his home.  Why, upon arriving Ellis Island from Italy didn’t he head to jersey baby 11California where he could have pursued his passion for growing vegetables, fig trees, and flowers all year-round.  The reason?  He had extended Italian family in Newark.  Jersey, baby. It’s never about the weather, but always about the family.

I suppose that’s why I still proudly hail from The Garden State. When my husband retired, he wanted to know, and I quote, “Why are we living here when we can live anywhere?”

Because in New Jersey what you see is what you get.  Because we dive into the pool and swim in the ocean worrying about our hair and make-up later. Because we like to eat healthy but we like spaghetti and meatballs too. Because we have that famous NJ humor which allows me to remain calm while the women sitting next to me spritzes her face with hydrating mist, thereby spritzing my ear.

Jersey, baby. So many reasons to live here.jersey baby 7


To my California friends and relatives…forgive me.  To my girlfriends and sister, you will probably see many of your comments in this article.  Thank you. xo

Ode to my father and the NY Mets

Ode to my father and the NY Mets

The only time in my life that I ever saw my father seriously worried for my future was when I threw a baseball with the wrong foot forward.  Horrified, he made a quick adjustment and all was well in the Roberts household.

Whether they were winning or losing, my Dad and I have been lifelong Mets fans. Being an awesome father with high priorities for me, he suggested I skip school to watch them clinch the 1969 World Series. In a payback, so to speak,  while I was living in Boston, a highlight of my life was getting us mets1tickets to every game of the 1986 Mets-Red Sox World Series at Fenway Park. Surrounded by grieving and oh so silent Red Sox fans we celebrated the Mets win being anything BUT silent and grieving. When Bill Buckner (no relation), first baseman for the Red Sox, watched that ball  go through his legs, along with a city of horrified fans, he became, and will remain my favorite baseball player of all time. And if you’re a Mets fan you know what I’m talking about.

It’s become our tradition that every year I take my father to a home game, hoping for a great pitching match-up.  Sitting with my Dad, a starting pitcher for Rutgers Newark ‘53-‘56, I learned there’s more to the game than meets the eye and the past 2 years were particularly fun because they were a winning team.

This year, for the first time in a long time, sadly, there was no plan to get to a game. My mets485-year old father was very unsteady due to a bad fall and needed a cane. So instead, we watched the games on his big-screen TV.

I’m not sure if it was because the Mets were killing it this year with a rag-tag team of triple A players to make up for a bruised and battered starting line-up, or the fact that there were no kosher hot dogs in the house, but he turned to me and said, “You only live once. Let’s go to a game.”

In the words of the great Yogi Berra, “Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too.”

Off we went to Citi Field.mets3

Arriving at the stadium, I opened the door to where my Dad sat, handed him his cane and tried to calm my nerves. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. The long walk to the stadium mixed with the impatient, rowdy, and jostling NY crowd unnerved me. Ok, I thought, Ya Gotta believe!

Slowly and carefully into the crowd we went. Almost immediately, we were met by a      Citi Field representative who asked, “Sir, what can I help you with?” I looked behind us. Was he speaking to my Dad? He was, and I almost hugged him out of gratitude. Showing him our tickets he escorted us away from the crowd and into a private elevator. I felt like Kim Kardashian without the fake add-ons.

The elevator opened and another Citi Field rep led us to the restaurant where 2 fans offered my father and I their seats. I made a b-line to the station serving kosher hot dogs, kraut and 2 beers, please.  I hadn’t met so many smiling, helpful people in one place since Kindergarten.

Off to our seats where soon into the game another Citi Field rep asked if we wanted to move to cushioned seats and I started to think having an old man with a cane had its advantages. Perhaps I would start an agency… Rent-a-Senior! Avoid all lines by hiring my Dad to be a stand-in at the DMV or Shop-Rite before a storm. He was a walking goldmine! But I digress, back to the Mets and my Dad.

It was a completely wonderful night capped off with a 10th run homer by Yo Céspedis which gave our Mets a win. A final order of cracker jack for me and ice cream for him and I thought life is just too fun. When the game ended it was back to the star treatment and the private elevator.  I offered the elevator operator my autograph as I was now a legend, if only in my own mind.

You need a sense of humor to be a Mets fan.

We got into the car and my Dad looked at me with that gigantic smile of his and said, “that was a great night, kid.” His example to me, one of many in my lifetime: live and enjoy every moment in life. Persevere, even if it takes time, patience, fear, and some pain to do it. But do it.

And make sure there’s a good pitcher on the mound.

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”  ~ Yogi Berra


Reprinted in honor of my father whose birthday is today, September 28. He passed away on September 11, 2018.


“Email, texts, shmexts…what’s the difference”

“Email, texts, shmexts…what’s the difference”

As our parents age there are many things we wish they would stop doing.  Driving, eating too much salt and sugar, or becoming too sedentary seem to be the most prevalent concerns that I’ve heard from my friends. My suggestion to my parents isn’t quite so health textschmexts1related.

I simply want my Mother to place her iPhone under the front tire of her car and then drive over it. Many times. Until it’s pulverized.

First, the calls to me:


No Mom, its Tracy.

“I didn’t call you, I called Delly.”

Mom, you called ME. You’re talking to Tracy.

“Well I meant to call Delly.”

At times I may receive a text with a red pin on a map indicating her current location. According to the map she’s in her house and apparently not lost and hoping I can find her so there’s no need for alarm.

The FaceTime application makes me yearn for those days of the land line telephone. My mother doesn’t know why my face appears on her phone even though she is the one who textschmexts2initiated the Facetime call. It’s difficult to converse; she is too busy laughing and has no idea what to do next. Turning her phone this way and that makes her face jump side to side, up then down on my phone. I get dizzy trying to follow her image. Mom, I ask, what the heck are you doing?!  She replies, I’m LOLing.

Calling her takes patience until she figures out which pocket, which purse, which counter, which chair, which car, which room her phone is in. Then she swipes to answer. Usually she swipes the wrong way no less than 3 times disconnecting me each time. When we finally connect she’s still laughing.  I’m learning to take deep breaths as I count to 10.

When I call, and my mother’s out of the house she puts the phone on speaker and then textschmexts3places it to her ear.   I hear the lawn mower, the check-out girl, a blow dryer, all sounds going on around her but I can’t hear HER. She can’t hear me and I can’t hear her.  My ears are ringing. We’re like walking advertisements for Verizon…Can you hear me now?

Despite my frustration, my dizziness, and the constant ringing in my ears, I’m impressed technology doesn’t scare away this 80+ year old.  My interesting, intelligent mother reads the NY Times on her iPhone forwarding articles on Tesla, hedge fund tax loopholes, and recipes.  So it’s with patience, respect, love, and deep breathing that I explain to my mother that no, I didn’t receive her message in an email, but received it in a text which textschmexts5didn’t include the attachment indicated, and oh by the way the text went to 4 people I don’t know.  From my still feisty mother, “email, text, shmexts, what’s the difference.”  And she inserted a red faced emoji.

But the worst day of my life happened with the inevitable, dreaded phone call.

I knew it was coming, but still not quite prepared for it.

My distraught sister on the line, tearfully saying…

“Mom’s on Facebook.”

STEP AWAY from Facebook, I quickly texted my mother. This is nothing to be LOLing about. She texted back an emoji of a certain hand gesture.

So I accepted her Facebook friend request.facebookheart

It might be easier to get her to stop driving.

Laughter through the walls

Laughter through the walls

This past December, my husband and I took our two twenty-something-year-old kids on a vacation to St. Croix. I love vacationing as a family but the older your kids get the more opinionated they become on what is considered vacation worthy and what isn’t. Fun for laughter1my daughter is a beach.  Fun for my son is anything BUT the beach.  It gets a little heated between those two and telling them to face the wall and think about their behavior and tone doesn’t work anymore. My dream of being The Walton’s had faded long ago.

So in past vacations it usually came down to my husband and son claiming any activity with the word extreme in front of it, and my daughter and I sitting on a beach with an extreme tiki bar.

But this vacation was different. I thought someone had kidnapped my children, replacing them with siblings who could actually agree on something. When did this happen? It certainly hadn’t happened all through grade school when I paid my son to be nice to his sister for the babysitter.  It hadn’t happened when I paid my daughter to play NASCAR on GameCube with her brother. And for all of you who say bribery will get you no where… guess again. I was constantly asking my husband for $20.

laughter2It’s expensive trying to be the Walton’s.

During this vacation we went to tiki bars….TOGETHER! We went to beaches TOGETHER! Both wanted to ride wave runners and ride on ATV’s…TOGETHER!  I was dumfounded.  Was that my daughter covered in mud and laughing as her brother deliberately ran through every single mud puddle? When the Captain on a boat trip to an outer island invited my son to ride up on the bridge, his only question was, “can I bring my sister?”

Turning to my husband wide eyed, I said, “Did you bribe them to be nice to each other? Is that why you’re always searching for your wallet?  Did he really say, “Can I bring my sister”?

OMG we were the  freaking Waltons!

I always pictured a life with my grown children living close enough to drop in whenever they wanted, to come for Sunday dinner.  But my son was switching jobs and had accepted laughter4a position in California and my daughter, who would soon be graduating college, had accepted a job in Boston. Those sweet childhood years would be in my rear view mirror and my role as Mom was changing.  It’s a turning of the page, I guess.

At the end of our vacation both kids presented my husband and me with a thoughtful and generous gift; but they could have saved their money. Their friendship with each other was priceless. Their greatest gift to us was their laughter I heard through the walls long after we had gone to bed.  It filled me up with such happiness it’s hard to describe. Despite their bickering all those years it was evident they were their own biggest fans. My daughter told me it had always been so, that bickering and siblings go together.  Imagine the money I could have saved.

As we were getting ready to leave for the airport to catch our flight home and thinking we should be singing kumbaya, my son looked at my daughter and said, “You are not going to the airport in those shorts.”  And then my daughter looked at my son and said….facebookheart


I can’t really repeat what she said.

I’m not expecting perfection.

After all, the Walton’s aren’t a real family.








Then/Now (back in the day)

Then/Now (back in the day)

I noticed a sign outside a restaurant:

“No wifi.

Talk to each other.

Call your Mom.

Pretend it’s 1993


Normally I would agree.

grumpy1I have made of career of complaining about NOW and how it was better THEN. And based on all the positive responses I get, many of you feel the same.  But it’s like we have become our parents, grumbling and saying things like….

(Back in the day we didn’t need 600 on-line friends.  We had five or six who were from the neighborhood who didn’t need to plug into anything to have fun, and were usually waiting outside to play ringalerio).

There’s a lot of complaining about today’s technology and what it’s done to us on a personal and social level but I’ve started to embrace the fact that there are some real positives to being “plugged in”.

(Back in the day, we didn’t have texting.  Your boyfriend had to break up with you in person)

THEN, there was the telephone. NOW, there’s texting.  Without it I would never hear from my kids as much as I do.  Granted it’s embarrassing when I text something to my son that was supposed to go to my brother but as grumpy2soon as I see, “huh?” I know I’ve done something wrong.  It’s also clear that I’m not quite getting through to my mother (who calls me every day, sometimes a few times a day) on the difference between texting and FaceTime. Patience I remind myself.  It will help me get into heaven. My daughter says, “Nanny’s face keeps appearing on my phone during class”. Practice patience I tell her.  It will help you get into heaven.

(Back in the day we had to read a map).

NOW, I couldn’t live without GPS.

grumpy3THEN, I remember being in a constant state of lost. My blood pressure rising while valuable minutes slipped away. My way around this was 1-800-CALL-DAD but first I had to find a phone booth and hope I had dimes.  NOW, with GPS I’m never lost. My blood pressure remains constant while a sweet voice calmly recalculates without ever once saying “Lady, WTF?”  My husband asks, “Don’t you want to have an idea of where you are going before you head off?” No.  I do not.

(Back in the day we were happy with AM radio and the music was better).

NOW there’s my beloved IPOD. THEN I carpooled to middle school while a friend’s father insisted on listening to opera and wishing I had a pencil to stick in my eye. NOW I never have to listen to someone else’s music; not grumpy4to mention all the great music apps that I don’t mind paying for. And since everyone in my family, including my 84 year old Dad, uses my password to share their music stations it’s very eclectic to say the least. Think the following playlists: John Phillip Sousa, Lil Wayne, Rolling Stones, Judy Garland, Bix Beidebecke,  Country Fitness, Akon, 50 cent, Bruce, Broadway, Glenn Miller and NO OPERA.

But my all time favorite thing about NOW is Google search and my personal assistant, SIRI.  There’s something wonderful about typing the word eschatology on the dictionary app and instantly knowing what it means. (Back when I was your age we had to walk over to the shelf and use an actual dictionary).

grumpy5NOW, I can find a solution to getting oil stains out of a sweater, if it’s safe to freeze chopped liver, how to mix a Moscow Mule. NOW, we can look up a new drug for Alzheimer’s, listen to how a song is supposed to be played on the piano before practicing it wrong for 2 weeks, get a list for the best Caribbean vacation spots in December,  amazing hotels,  what they look like, and some reviews.  We can find the weather in Canberra and pack accordingly, track a flight, find cheap gas, check the NASDAC, reserve a cab, map the stars at night and know how to perfectly poach a chicken, …INSTANTLY!  (Back when I was your age we had to read a cookbook).

And these are just on my short list of what I love about NOW!  So instead of complaining about the disappearance of all that was THEN, make your own list of what you are better for NOW.  You might be happily surprised of all you have gained.

I was.

Then turn off your WIFI and go call your Mom. It will help you with your patience and getting into heaven.