Author Archives: Tracy Buckner

About Tracy Buckner

The author contributes to the Observer Tribune Newspaper of Chester, New Jersey, and also blogs for the Erma Bombeck Humor Writers Workshop, http://humorwriters.org and for The New Jersey Hills Newspaper, serving Morris County, NJ.http://www.newjerseyhills.com/observer-tribune/blogs/. She enjoys writing about the slow decline and vows to go down kicking and screaming.

Ode to my father and the NY Mets

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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, he suggested I skip school to watch them clinch the 1969 World Series and 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 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. 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 hotdogs 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 Citifield.mets3

Arriving at the stadium, I opened the door to where my Dad sat and tried to calm my nerves. 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 Citified representative who said, “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 to a private elevator. I felt like Kim Kardashian without the add-ons.

The elevator opened and another Citifield 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 and kraut. I hadn’t met so many smiling, helpful people in one place since Kindergarten.

Off to our seats where soon into the game another Citifield rep asked if we wanted to move to cushioned seats and I started to think having a senior 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. 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.

That night my father set an example for me, (one of many in my lifetime): live and enjoy your life. Persevere, even if it takes time, patience, fear, and some pain to do it. But do it.

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

LETS GO METS!mets5

 

A special shout out to Mike G. and Elise P. who were sitting next to me during every game, even when they weren’t. Wait till next year!

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

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“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:

“Delly?”

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

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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

Well…

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)

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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

Live”

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.

grumpy7

 

 

 

 

Beach bag bell curve

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Beach bag bell curve

beach1Show me a bag anyone is bringing to the beach and I’ll tell you how old they are.  It’s like looking at a bell curve of your life: the bag starts small, becomes larger until it’s bursting then slowly tapers off.

Like your life.

During the teenage years I carried a very small beach bag.  All I needed was a bikini, baby oil, a chair, and Cousin Brucie on the radio. My Italian mother supplied lunch for the entire beach whether she knew you or not.  Back then I wasn’t worrying about what I looked like from the side or behind. I sat upright in my chair because I could.  Because when I looked down I wasn’t wondering, “how the heck did that happen?”

The dating years come; the bag gets larger.  You are still in a bikini and haven’t yet had children, who destroy your life,

…I mean your body.

The chair remains upright.beach2

My mother still supplied the lunch but only if she liked my boyfriend. No lunch delivered, I knew he was history. When I brought my future husband around she delivered breakfast and lunch to the beach and my dad carried down gin and tonics.

…Subtle like a sledgehammer, my parents.

During the years I was raising children, getting to the beach required a large bag busting with shovels, pails, sunglasses, flip-flops, trucks, diapers, sun screen, hats, and diapers , along with beach4strollers, small tents, umbrellas, and chairs.  Attempting to cross Ocean Ave to the beach with 2 kids in tow required an act of God.  By the time I had survived the crossing, unpacked, the cramp in my bicep finally subsiding, it never failed that one of my kids needed to go back to the house to use the bathroom. The bikini has been traded in for a mu-mu. And that chair?  My sister, 8 years my junior with a tight stomach and no kids now sits in it…upright.

Currently my bag is considerably smaller, my life quite different.  This was apparent when I spent a few days with a girlfriend at the beach. She used to remind me to bring my ingredients for margaritas, now it’s my heart meds, gluten free wraps, probiotics, and vitamins. I used to remind her to bring sauvignon blanc, now it’s microwaveable quinoa, green tea pills and bee pollen for our metabolism.  We lined everything up on the bar and took a picture of our “stash” to send to friends remembering how we used to send pictures of cosmopolitans. The sun is no longer our friend so our hats are large enough to carry a small child.

I’ve ditched the mu-mu and am back in a 2-piece but that chair needs to be at a very specific back-angle so that it appears I have a flat stomach. One notch up in the wrong direction and it’s all over.

Now about that bag… Sometimes I forget the bag. Sometimes I forget the book.  Sometimes I have the book but forget the beach3glasses to read the book.  I wish my kids were around so I could send them back to get whatever it is that I’ve left behind. It would make me feel like I had gotten my money’s worth for giving birth to them.

And when I finally make it to the beach, unpack, grab my hat, unfold the chair, put up the umbrella, get out the book, apply sunscreen, what’s the first thing I do?

I face the beautiful ocean.

Grab that small bag.

Turn around and head back for the bathroom.

I’m scrolling…

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I’m scrolling…

facebookWhen I first activated my Facebook account I loved everything about it because it provided me with opportunities not otherwise available.  I could connect with relatives from Italy that I had heard about my whole life but hadn’t met.  I could follow my brother as he traveled the world. I could see what my friends from high school had been up to for the past 30 years.  I could follow my kids in pictures wisely spending my tuition money.

Today, however, I think Facebook is so annoying that I find I am yelling at myself for even looking at it. I decided it was time kick my ridiculous habit.

I had a plan.

I started off checking Facebook once a day and not every single time I had a down moment.  I wondered if I would I miss out on all that useful information like “50 things lemons are good for,” (how come mixing with vodka wasn’t on the list?) and advice that I “should create something that inspires someone”. (Does making dinner suffice?). I’m now down to checking it every few days.

After a week there is quite a bit of useful information that I missed…said no one ever.facebook2

So I’m scrolling.

A lot.

Am I at a disadvantage because I don’t know what the color of my personality reveals, what the first letters of my name mean, if I’m a vocabulary genius, a medical savant, what my name means in German, what I would have been in a previous life, what the first word I see in a word gram means, who my sweetest friend is, (none of my friends are sweet, that’s why they’re my friends), and if I want to tell my brother and sister they’re the best?  (I do, but I don’t need Facebook).

I’m scrolling.

Why is there so much food on Facebook?  If you have cooked it yourself and are including the recipe, I’ll read it and sometimes prepare it. If you sipped an awesome drink and have the recipe (Hippie Juice was one of my favorites), I’ll print it out and try it. But if you’re taking a picture of food just served to you while sitting in a restaurant… I’m scrolling.

And then there are the incredible amounts of selfies.

There’s a reason Disney has banned selfies-sticks from their theme parks.

Thankfully I have friends who post selfies that I LOVE: in a salon getting color put on their hair hoping for that natural look (hilarious), selfies with muddy and bruised bodies from an arduous bike race (love it), sweaty and sunburned from a workout (perfect), camping in the rain, (not a good hair day but posted anyway…(brave because you look so bad!), bleary eyed from studying around the clock, (brings back memories), a melt-down selfie after your favorite team has lost…again (priceless) .

For these, I stop scrolling.

But when I see perfectly coiffed and made up selfies of only one person, and that’s YOU…I’m scrolling.

facebook3What exactly is the rule for posting your face everywhere on social media?  If you Like it on Facebook, do you also need to Heart it on Instagram? If you get 55 Likes on Facebook but only 15 on Instagram of the same picture does that mean people changed their minds or does it just mean they find you annoying?

Why, I ask, do you need people to say that they love your face (stunning!), your make-up (so pretty!), your eyelashes (to die for!), your lipstick (amazing!), your hair (gorge), your brows (so full!)?

I don’t know why!

I’m scrolling.

And those words of wisdom that I don’t know how I ever survived without.  Did you know that a mother is always a mother, she never stops worrying? (really?) Did you know you should treat someone like you want to be treated? (OK, I’m still facebook4working on that), Did you know that you shouldn’t take anything personally? (I’m Italian…I take EVERYTHING personally),  Did you know that God is there for you in your darkest moments?  I didn’t know any of this!

THANK YOU Facebook!

I’m scrolling.

However…

If your posting pictures of your family and life events, grandchildren being born, graduations, engagements, weddings, first day of kindergarten, last day of high school, the college drop-off, first drive behind a wheel, flags on Veterans Day, a loved facebookheartone remembered, vacations taken, sunsets, sunrises, how to do a proper plank, nature shots, pets, pictures of grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents, family reunions, weight loss, personal journeys, mountains climbed and conquered…

For this I will stop scrolling.

Because I said so!

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I was standing in line at Dunkin Donuts behind a mother and her pre-school son, Thomas. They were discussing the family dinner plans. Thomas, like most kids today, was under the impression that his vote counted. Oh, I thought to myself, this should be interesting.

Mother: We will discuss what we are having for dinner when we get home and can include your sister in our decision.
Thomas: Jessica got to pick dinner last night; it’s my turn to pick dinner.
Mother: Yes, that’s true but we will discuss it as a family so everyone is happy.

And there is the first mistake…the discussion and subsequent negotiation over dinner plans made between a
40-something-year-old and her 5-year-old son.

When I was growing up my mother gave me two choices when it came to dinner: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. My takeorleave1happiness didn’t come into play. If I had friends over she never asked if they wanted curly macaroni or flat, crusts on or off, or this….which I swear one of my friends asked….do you want the napkin folded in a square or a triangle? If my mother had ever asked me how I wanted my napkin folded I would have run out of the room screaming thinking an alien had taken over her body.

One thing has become abundantly clear to me. From the time children are in pre-school, they are seasoned negotiators. We foster it. We allow it. I never negotiated with my parents. Their way or the highway? You betcha.

I didn’t learn how to negotiate until I was married.

Do you ever remember asking your parents “why” when they told you to do something? WHY? My mother would say. Now, let’s repeat all together people of my generation…WHY? BECAUSE I SAID SO! No negotiating, no family consensus,takeorleave2 no family hug. If my face showed that I wasn’t happy about the decision I would be told again folks, lets repeat together…STOP CRYING OR I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT.

I remember actually asking my kids what time was fair for a curfew. Are you kidding me, my mother who always sits on my right shoulder was frantically whispering…Who is the parent here? While growing up, my curfew was never up for negotiation. Was yours? There was one choice only: be home by the designated time or, or else. No negotiation or consensus necessary. Was I happy? No. Did my parents care if I was happy? No. Was I home by the designated time? No. But that’s a different article.

When did we get to the point we are today where everyone needs to be happy or you feel like you have failed as a parent. Kids today don’t know what it’s like to be unhappy. They barely ever hear the word N0 and they feel they deserve the last word, or a word, in the ever-present family negotiations.

takeitorleave4Nothing was discussed with me or my siblings and guess what? We had awesome childhoods! We had plenty of our own decisions…kid decisions. Like, would I ride my bike to school or walk? Would my brother play baseball or soccer? Would my sister play with Sandy or Doreen after school? We weren’t asked our opinion on dinner, on where we went on vacation, or what color should our next car be. We heard the word no and lived with it. We expected it. And if you asked me to name one adjective to describe my childhood, it would be the word HAPPY with a capital H.

We were better off and better prepared for life’s disappointments.

So if I could have interrupted that mom I would have told her that her child isn’t quite a lawyer yet…that she can say no.

And that when she got home she should use another line from my awesome, happy, and filled with the word NO childhood….SOMEDAY WHEN YOU ARE MY AGE YOU WILL UNDERSTAND.

NOW EAT WHATS IN FRONT OF YOU.

BECAUSE I SAID SO.

IF AFTER READING THIS YOU HAVE ANY CLASSIC COMMENTS FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD, PLEASE LEAVE THEM IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW. I WOULD LOVE TO PUBLISH A LIST!

takeitorleave5

CLAP, CLAP, CLAP

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CLAP, CLAP, CLAP

too busy 1I spent an afternoon with a few girlfriends and one of them asked me to help her load pictures from her camera onto her computer. I said, “Don’t you have 3 kids at home who can upload, download, share, and/or tag anything faster than you can say the word help?” “They have no patience for me,” she responded. Another girlfriend, “they only want to show me something once.” Then, “they are always putting me off…too busy.” Seriously, I thought? No patience? They’re too busy?

I’m wondering how these kids would have responded if their mothers had the same impatience when it was time for potty training. Can you imagine as they cried because they needed a diaper change if we rolled our eyes and
said ….Really? Again?

When it was time to teach them to ride a bike without training wheels how about if we said, “are you kidding me? too busy 2Didn’t I just show you this yesterday? Don’t you have a friend you can ask?”

I’m sure you fondly remember making yourself available to teach them how to throw a baseball, a football, a frisbee, to ice skate, swing a racquet, a golf club, do a cartwheel, a forward roll. Just imagine their faces if we had said, “does it have to be done right now?”

The list goes on and on of what we did with patience and smiles. We spent weeks explaining how to tie one’s shoelaces, sip from a cup, and then when it was finally accomplished we clapped like they had won the Pulitzer. You put your own socks on?! You pulled your pajama pants up?! YAY! Clap, Clap, Clap! I clapped so much I had calluses on my palms.

I can’t remember ever once rolling my eyes at my kids, can you?

I didn’t think so.

A friend had the best retort when her son complained about helping her with her iPod. “Look, she said, it took me months to potty train you. Sit down and show me this.”

Right on, girlfriend.

I admit, technology issues do need to be explained a few times before I understand enough to be proficient. But once I have it down I’m pretty good at remembering how to do it. And sometimes, after getting impatient waiting to be shown how to do it, I figure it out. Our kids must think that if they just ignore us, maybe we will have to figure it out on our own. Maybe it’s their way of showing us tough love?

too busy 3Maybe we should have tried the tough love approach when they wanted us to teach them to parallel park.

But what a feeling when on my own, I do figure it out.

Hah! I want to shout. I did it! I did it!

Who needs those uber-busy, hyper connected, impatient and oh so brilliant, incredibly fast texting children anyway.

After realizing nobody was coming home from college or driving 900 miles from Michigan to show me how to make an on-line photo album, I researched, did a few trial and error uploads to my computer, Photoshopped all the photos so that nobody looked better than me, got rid of red-eye, tagged people, I even added music! I cropped photos, made an album cover, and allowed people to post and share comments. Then I sent all the photos out electronically for printing to Snapfish.

All on my own thank you very much. too busy 5

As I hit SEND I secretly wait for someone to clap, to say YAY, to give me a prize, a ribbon, a trophy, anything as I had done for so many years.

So I called my mother.

And she clapped.

(Thank you DL for the inspiration, and for my Mom who always clapped the loudest)

I need to find something to complain about ~ fast

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I need to find something to complain about ~ fast

happy8I’m happy. No….really, it’s not good. There is nothing worse for a writer who has made a career out of complaining.

Acceptance is the key to my happiness. I’m still juggling, still busy, but without kids at home to suck the life out of me, I’m busy with things that I choose: volunteering for 2 non-profits, cooking classes, piano lessons, writing…you’re bored already, aren’t you? I’m not complaining, but are you laughing? I didn’t think so.

To find the humor I decided to go back to when the complaining started.

happy3Remember 16? You complained about your mother, complained about best friends who liked you when they were in your company but talked about you when you were out of sight. You complained about boyfriends who liked you on Monday but then suddenly liked your best friend on Tuesday. Good times!

25-30 and humor is easily found. Complaining is front and center. You’re on your own and happy to have a career. Maybe you’re married to your soul-mate (the most ridiculous description ever), possibly you have a family. But let’s be honest as we reminisce…you have a few days when you think; maybe I’ll just change my name and keep driving. Smiling? I thought so.

At 40 you’re tired, stressed, and the bathroom scale lies. I was the Queen surrounded by a court of willing and friendly participants who excelled in taking complaining to an art form.

At this age you complain about who spends more time driving, complain about practices and competitions, complain happy9about the college process. It’s been years since you wanted to wear heels, you wonder why you ever thought he was your “soul mate” in the first place, and you’re worried you are becoming your mother. Nobody you know is happy. Its side-splitting hysterical.

And then even though you’re worn out, slightly blind, slightly forgetful and slightly lumpy, the complaining just stops and you’re suddenly no longer tired and remarkably happy.

Which totally ruins the image I have worked decades to achieve.

I’m happy that I’m well past the age of 16 and don’t need to act as though I like you if I don’t. At first it was happy5thrilling to have 650 Facebook friends, but then I accepted that if I didn’t like you in high school, college, or at work I don’t need to like you now.

I accept that no matter how hard I work out I will never be a size 2 and I’ll never look good in neon. I’m suddenly happy wearing black or gray. It’s a timeless look I’m after now: elegant, sophisticated. If I have a craving for lime green, I’ll mix a margarita.

I accept that no matter how much I spend on face products, no pore reducing, line eliminating, plumping, firming, puffiness extinguishing, bleaching, peeling, hydrating concoction will change that fact.

I accept that according to most beauty experts minimal make-up is the way to go at my age. I’m happy with this advice, but not because I read it in a magazine: I simply can’t see well enough to put it on.

I’m VERY happy and VERY accepting that it’s been proven dark chocolate and wine are good for the aging process. That it’s better to be a little overweight and with higher blood pressure then to lose weight and have lower bloodhappy6 pressure as we age. I kid you not….read the 90+ study (http://www.mind.uci.edu/research/90plus-study/). All these years worrying…who knew I was on the right track?

I’m happy and no longer complaining because with child rearing in my rear view mirror I can go out to dinner and a movie during the week, every station on my car radio is mine, my mascara is where I left it, and as long as I avoid looking at myself from the side there isn’t much to complain about.

I LOVE MY LIFE!

Am I happy? Yes!

Is it funny? NO!

My writing career might very well be over.
happy7

Isn’t it time for your nap?

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Isn’t it time for your nap?

I recently wrote about vacationing with your kids and how it’s not a vacation unless you leave them home, (http://tracybuckner.com Vacation? Not So Much, 12/13) so my husband and I decided to try vacationing without them. We left everyone to fight over the last loaf of bread and gallon of milk in Shop-Rite before another impending storm.

jamaica2There’s nothing like Jamaica in February. Sun and rum drinks. We booked an all-adult resort which meant no teenagers texting in the hot tub, and no 2-year-olds in the pool in their swimmy diapers which promise to “keep it all in.” Trust me, “keeping it all in” is a myth.

After boarding a 6 AM flight and not arriving at the resort until that evening thanks to a brewing storm, I was ready for a glass of wine, a fabulous dinner, and a beautiful sunset. My husband lovingly looked at me, took my hand and said, “Do you want to play ping-pong?”

The next morning…Do you want to paddle board, go snorkeling, we could scuba dive, hit the gym, ride a wave runner, why don’t we take a kayak out? Me to him: Why don’t you take a nap?

We set ourselves up under an umbrella and as I longingly looked at my yet unopened book, we walked to the activity jamaica3hut. Wait…aren’t activity huts for kids? All these years I was under the misconception that my kids needed us for a successful vacation, when in reality it was my husband who needed them even more.

While other couples were being served drinks as they relaxed beach-side, I was being outfitted with flippers and a face mask. We spent the first morning snorkeling. That afternoon – kayaking. That night – ping pong, again.
Marriage is all about compromise I told myself. My time would come. Perhaps there was a giant shovel I could find so he could dig a hole. Or I could use it to hit him over the head. Or perhaps I could fly my son down.

The next morning I left my book in our room. We went paddle boarding. Then, while my husband went wind surfing it was my chance to sit on the beach and summon that waiter. I didn’t have my book but I didn’t have my husband either. My vacation had begun.

But just as I was relaxing on the beach I realized I couldn’t spot him on the water. It was like having a lost child. Where is he? I stood up, nervous, heart racing. I paced the beach scanning the horizon ready to call the National Guard or whatever they have in Jamaica for tourists gone wild. Then he appeared, happily riding a wave in. I felt like that mom who loses their child and when reunited wants to hug them and throttle them at the same time. WHERE IS THAT WAITER? WHERE IS THAT SHOVEL?

jamaica6That afternoon was spent on a wave runner. I gave my book to the maid. “Isn’t this great?” he screamed to me over the roar off the engine. My hair whipping across my face. Surgery imminent for my neck. I gave him a thumbs-up. Isn’t marriage grand?

I am never traveling without my kids again.

Then, a miracle. We met a couple from Manitoba, Canada. She also had that dazed look on her face like she was looking for a playmate for her husband. It was a match made in rum heaven. She liked to read and apply suntan lotion. He liked beach volleyball and anything except sitting on a beach. Soon it was like putting our kids on the bus. “Play nice with each other,” we said as we waved goodbye to them every morning.

Finally, we could vacation as we wanted and our Ladies Group had grown. Apparently I wasn’t the only one looking to do damage with a shovel. I borrowed a book since the maid was enjoying mine.

Reunited with my husband in the late afternoons, I was happy and he was tired. At night there were sunset sailboat cruises, a disco, and a piano bar where everyone was expected to sing, and believe me you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Born in the USA sung with a Jamaican accent. With our new friends all around us, it was a fun and memorable adult-only vacation. Happiness can be found after your kids are grown up and gone!

On our last night we enjoyed a wonderful romantic dinner while sipping wine and watching the stunning sunset. My husband lovingly looked at me, took my hand and said, “wanna go down the water slide?” jamaica8