Tuesday, May 24, 2016


There was a tremor in the force on the day Craig died. A tremor that will reverberate across the Universe unending. When a man such as Craig passes, the time space continuum warps violently and attempts to self-correct the grievous wound from such a loss of generosity, humility and kindness. The truth is that it can never be healed.

Craig and I met in the bookstore where we worked together in 1992. There he was - a tall balding man with ruddy cheeks wearing a sweater vest and a Star Trek pin above his name tag. We became friends over the course of days, talking about books and customers who wanted that new book with the blue cover, but didn't know the title. We survived the Madonna Sex book, Private Parts and the Celestine Prophecy fads. Despite our very different stances on politics and religion, of which we viciously argued, we came to love each other. Here was the Brother of my heart I didn't know I was looking for and I became the sister of an only child whose heart was as big as the sky.

My husband met Craig and we became a family. Craig was at the hospital the same day our son was born to cuddle his new nephew. It was the same when his niece was born a few years later. Uncle Craig was loved whole heartedly by our kids and when we had to tell them he died unexpectedly it was devastating. They looked up to Craig, knew he loved them and they could call him to chat or text about the serious and the silly. One of our favorite memories is Craig sitting in our living room, with nine border collie/lab mix puppies crawl over his broad chest and lap, laughing like a loon the whole time. Soft heart, big laugh - that was our Craig.

We insulted each other. It's what we did, part of what made us...well, US. We shared a mutual love of geekery: Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who. He was the only one I knew who remembered the name of the Japanese Anime show from the 80's I used to watch. I've forgotten the name again and not being able to call him and say "Hey, what was the name of that show again?" is just one of the small simple ways he will be missed. That intimacy of years. I'll never understand his love of all the Zombie things though.

When he met his future wife and introduced her to us, it was one of my greatest joys seeing that she loved him as deeply as he loved her, that they had just been waiting to find each other and were perfectly suited together. Because she loved him, we loved her. She is another gift in our lives from Craig, this new sister.

Words are inadequate to express the true grandness of his heart, the joyousness of his humor, the depth if his generosity. How much we will miss him cannot be defined.

Craig's passing leaves behind memories - of love and laughter, of awesome calorie laden meals, epic weekend games of Risk or Catan, hours of movies and bourbon tasting. These are the true gifts Craig gave to  us - Love, Family, Fun and the deepest Friendship. He made us better people.

May you find wondrous adventures in the Final Frontier of the Heavens, my dearest brother. You will always be at home in our hearts.

You Jerk. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Keeping the Peace

Some items travel with us through time. We keep these items that link us to past iterations of ourselves, of special times in our lives and as tokens that bind us to the people that moved through our space and left imprints that whisper of past times and places. We cherish these items, these totems, and in doing so imbue them with a supernatural that call to us on many levels. Each item has its own spirit, formed from the life events they traveled with us.

These items are lovingly tucked away in jewelry boxes, bottom drawers or closets. Seen fleetingly as we dig through these places for other every day things that we need and use with thoughtless connection. We smile on these totems as we see them, sometimes touching them with gentle finger strokes, as memories flit through our mind on butterfly wings or fell us with the hammer of grief and loss. 

My memory boxes and closets harbour many such totems.  The ring my father received as a baby. My mother's wedding ring. The matchsticks that my husband used to spell out "I Love You" on my front porch when we were dating. Locks of hair from my children's first hair cuts. A blanket my grandmother crocheted and many of my grandfather's and father's woodworking tools. A decanter set from my grandparent's bar. A pair of favorite sweats from my high school days. An odd assortment of Christmas ornaments from every vacation my family has taken. I collect totems, the physical manifestations of memory and times captured. These are my links. 

Some totems are often meant to be passed on to the next generation. Stories shared of their beginnings and what they represent. The passing of a totem bond can be as easy as the giving of a hug and some items have only one connection, the sentimentality a one way bond. 

In previous times, in different cultures, the passing of an important totem would have been a grand ceremony for a family or a tribe. In others it's as simple and as meaningful as opening a closet door and taking a jacket off a coat hanger.

Last night I was rooting through the coat closet for a jacket to wear on a walk with the dogs. My fingers brushed over a black denim jacket tucked far back in the closet. I smiled as I recalled buying it at a flea market that no longer exists, the many hikes I took wearing it, and what it meant to the teenage me wearing it most days. I took it off the hanger, touching the metal buttons with gentle fingers, feeling the worn softness of the denim, fixing the collar. And then I turned it around. There it was. The artwork of a friend, a design he made for me and painted on my jacket. We're still friends, not nearly as close as when this jacket received it's markings, because life choices took us in different directions, but friends none the less. This jacket, those memories, link us. 

But as I held that jacket, standing in the hallway, smiling as the memories danced in my mind's eye like fireflies on a summer night, I also knew the time was right. 

I called for my daughter, this wonderful girl who listens to the Beatles, wants to save the planet and recently called herself a modern day flower child. 

When she came to see what I wanted, I showed her the front of this plain black Lee denim jacket, circa 1983, and asked if she wanted it. She looked at it, frowned a bit. I could see she was unimpressed and about to politely decline my offer so I wordlessly turned it around. She gasped and rushed over to touch it, laughing and asking where I got it. I shared the back story as stroked the paint, looked over the denim and straightened the collar.

She put that jacket on and all those wonderful memories of mine wrapped around my daughter and became hers to build upon. 

Totem passed. 

With Love.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Do we have enough gas to get there?

If there’s one thing I can probably bank on it's that my son will never run out of gas.

He watches his fuel gauge like a mother frets over a new baby that first night home. As a matter of fact, it’s a sure bet that he checks the fuel gauge of any car he gets into within moments of entering the vehicle.

This obsession with proper fuel levels is a result of one of those parenting fuck-ups that traumatize your kid FOREVER.

About ten years ago we were on vacation in a small Adirondack mountain town. Toward the end of the trip our 4-year-old daughter got really sick with fevers spiking to 104 and copious vomiting. We took her to one of those little mountain clinics to have her checked over and this very young, very nice doctor scared the living hell out of us.

After examining Giggles, this very nice, very young doctor told us that there had been several recent cases of meningitis in the area and she recommended we immediately take ourselves off to the local hospital, over an hour away, to have our daughter tested for meningitis.

We all know that the test for meningitis is a spinal tap? This very young doctor was telling us to go to an unfamiliar New York Mountain hospital to have some unknown doctor/facility perform a spinal tap on our little 4-year-old baby.

A SPINAL TAP. 4 Years old. Let’s let that sink in for a few moments.

We did what all rational parents do in these situations. We panicked, called our parents for advice and made the decision. We thanked her profusely and said we were going to drive home right away and bring her to the doctors we knew. She was very frowny at this idea, sternly telling us what a mistake this was as our daughter’s high fevers could cause seizures and she was at risk of dehydration. I’m sure she was thinking we were total buttheads and possibly unfit parents. She was not entirely wrong, but for other reasons.

In what had to be speediest pack up and vacate EVER, we headed south as fast as possible. The trip was fraught with high anxiety - were we doing the right thing, Giggles periodic vomiting fits required a few brief stops for clean up and to coax her into small sips to keep her hydrated and cooled down, and easing our son’s anxiety because he was feeding off of our angst.

You know where this is going, right?

We ran out of gas around midnight. On a very dark NY Thruway. Far from ANYTHING. Because when you run out of gas in these situations, it is always far from exits, rest stops, HUMANITY. Also, 10 years ago = no cell phone.

Look, when you’re really concerned that your 4 year old could have meningitis, it’s amazingly easy to forget to check the gas when stopping to clean up puke and keep the feverish child cool. Also, our seven year old had to eat and pee occasionally.

As the car sputtered to a halt on the side of the road, my husband and I looked at each other. We were both thinking the same thing,  OH HELL NO and WHAT THE FUCK NOW. Both kids were asleep thankfully, Giggle’s fever was down a bit and she had not puked in over an hour. This was a good sign we thought. We also knew that getting help was going to take some time and a minor miracle. SuperHubby grabbed a flashlight and said he was going to walk a little ways down the road to try flagging down a truck or something.

I did not like this idea. But you know, NO GAS. My brain continued to short circuit from anxiety while my head swiveled between watching my daughter to watching my husband. Let me tell you that it is dark as the deepest depths of hell on the NY Thruway at midnight far away from civilization. The only lights were our flashlight, the blinking hazards and the rarely seen passing car or truck. To this day I hate that clicking sound Hazard Lights make when they are used in a silent car. Tick…tick…tick…tick

And did you know that when a large truck soars by at over 70 mph an SUV at rest will shake like hell? Well, that very wind driven rattling is what woke the 7 year old from his slumber to discover himself stranded on a dark road with no gas and his father NOT IN THE TRUCK. He handled it very well for the first ½ hour as Hey! New Adventure! By the end of the first hour he was getting on the anxiety train. When my husband got back in the car and said he was thinking of walking to the next exit, Ace went full on frantic about being left alone without his Dad. We ditched that idea because I agreed with Ace. Dark roads, no knowledge of how far next exit even was, and sick baby in car. We went back to the flashlight alert signal and hoping for the kindness of passing strangers to stop and save our asses.

Thankfully as we were about to head into hour three and rethinking the walk to the next exit, a service vehicle came rolling up behind us. It seems a concerned truck driver had called in a stranded vehicle emergency and they had gotten to us as quickly as possible. A little gas and cash later sent us back on our way. I have never been so happy to see anyone as I was that night. By the time he arrived, Ace was afraid we were going to be stuck there until dawn and that Giggles was never going to get help. It was not our finest moment.

In the first two years after that episode, Ace checked the gas gauge EVERY TIME he got in the car and asked if we have enough gas. Even if we were only going to the supermarket in town. If we took a trip any longer that that, he checked the gas level and asked regularly. If we stopped to pee, he asked about gas. If we switched roads, he asked about gas. EVERY TIME. He has his own car now and barely lets the gas gauge slip below half full before refilling. It’s his very special paranoia.

He’s looking forward to discussing this phobia in his Psych class this semester. And blaming it on his parents.

Giggles did not need a spinal tap or have meningitis, just the flu. She doesn't remember anything but I'm sure we've traumatized her in a million different ways.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This, That and the other Thing

In case you've been living under a rock, THIS happened:

That bitch of a storm Sandy spanked New Jersey leaving us in the dark and chill for four days, of which I’m not complaining since our house is still standing and we have not been displaced like so many others. Nor were we without power for over two weeks as so many others are and uncertain if they will ever be back in their homes. One of our friends had to evacuate his home in Ortley Beach and has not been able to even go back into the town.The damage in some areas here is unimaginable.

My guy and I ran around helping family & friends with issues like heat, firewood, generators, gas, roof leaks, etc etc as YOU DO in these circumstances. Watching people just dive in helping friends and strangers has been an incredible uplifting experience. We were all affected in different ways and knowing the human spirit can just rally to help each other, well, it made me feel grateful. Grateful to witness it, to be part of it and to know that people are still connected and not as apathetic as it seems sometimes. 

This storm wiped out swathes of the town where I lived for the first 13 years of my life and my husband and I lived the year we got married. it just broke my heart to see those images and hear from people who are devastated by this mess. A good friend's parents watched as flood waters devoured their entire first floor. Over 100 homes destroyed and more damaged. Lives totally disrupted.

Say a prayer for Union Beach please, they need all the help they can get as they rebuild. This is a small working class community on the shore that does not bring in tourist trade and seems to be largely ignored by the general media except as a footnote. They need help just as much as Seaside or other places. So please, if you are interested in donating, please read here for more info and where donations can be sent.

The K-8 school that serves the town was entirely flooded by over two feet of water and lost just about everything. There is an Amazon wishlist that ships the supplies directly. Please consider helping. This community is devastated.

Then THAT happened:

I’m thrilled that this team gets another four years. He’s cleaning up a mess that was precipitated by eight years of clusterfuckery by incompetents and it takes some time to fix that shit. Four years is barely a dent. I truly believe that following the ideology the other guy was trying to sell would have been a very bad decision. 

And on that very same night there was this other thing:

Member of the Board of Ed. J     n Twp
Votes Processed - Polling Place/Percent : 34/34 100.00%

Vote Count
- A             n
- M            r
- T             a
- Tracey      

I got my ass handed to me in the Board of Education reelection. It happens because that is the Democratic process. Someone usually has to lose. It was me this time. Am I disappointed? Sure. I think my time there has been productive and I've added value. There is always more to do when it comes to education. Over the past three years I’ve learned a hell of a lot, met some incredibly wonderful, smart, and dedicated people and had to deal with some asshats. No different than anywhere else actually. I’ve also learned that until a person gets involved and becomes part of the educational process, we are all just making assumptions on how it truly works. The bureaucracy of the NJ education system is…complicated. 

Campaigning, asking people to vote for me, going out to meet people at markets/convenience stores/events is...awkward. So while I hoped the networking I had done and the work I had put in would be enough, it clearly wasn’t, so I’ll be that involved parent that annoys everyone from the sidelines. Maybe I’ll try again next year, maybe not. That’s a question for later. 

But you know my name was on the same ballot as President Obama in my town so that’s a whole lot of awesome all by itself! Or it is to my nerdy brain and that’s all that matters.

There was also this other little nor'easter:

A foot of snow not two weeks after Sandy ran amuck. Bitch slapped by Mother Nature. HARD. No power again for days as heavy snow broke weakened trees and undid all the power line fixes. If winter keeps going on like this the kids will be in school until August. And the cold. It was 32 degrees the night after the snow storm and the marble tile in the not warm bathroom was like ice blocks on my toes in the morning. Who let me do THAT?? 

The dogs liked it while it lasted because two days later is was 63 degrees outside! 

Mother Nature needs some mood stabilizers.

Guys, someone should have warned me about the marble.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Druids are sexy

Sometime last year I stumbled across an audiobook called Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles.

I am an unabashed fantasy geek and once upon a time wished with all my tweenager heart that I could be Druid. Travel the lands adventuring while weilding a magical staff and save the world from evil dominion. And of course talk to trees and earth elementals. Pure escapism fiction. Bring it on.

So this looked right up my alley. I am also a sucker for covers, because sometimes you can totally judge a book by its cover.
Here let me show you:
Cover courtesy of Kevin Hearne's website. I think you should buy his books.
See? Cute guy weilding big sword amidst misty backdrop...I had no chance.

Plus there's this:
Atticus O’Sullivan has been running for two thousand years and he’s a bit tired of it. After he stole a magical sword from the Tuatha Dé Danann (those who became the Sidhe or the Fae) in a first century battle, some of them were furious and gave chase, and some were secretly amused that a Druid had the cheek to defy them. As the centuries passed and Atticus remained an annoyingly long-lived fugitive, those who were furious only grew more so, while others began to aid him in secret. Now he’s living in Tempe, Arizona, the very last of the Druids, far from where the Fae can easily find him. It’s a place where many paranormals have decided to hide from the troubles of the Old World—from an Icelandic vampire holding a grudge against Thor to a coven of Polish witches who ran from the German BlitzkriegUnfortunately, the very angry Celtic god who wants that sword has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power, plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good, old-fashioned luck of the Irish to kick some arse and deliver himself from evil.

Atticus is a smart long-lived Druid making his way in today's world. He loves his rare book/tea shop and his dog Oberon, who has a smart mouth and a liking for French Poodles and sausage. Atticus has a fondness for his whiskey tibbling senior neighbor whom he looks after to keep safe.

Mr. Hearne has crafted a fun series with likeable characters, entertaining adventures, interesting conflicts and fast paced action. I immediately went out and got the next three audiobooks in the series. I passed these onto my son because I knew he would enjoy Atticus and friends. He devoured the stories and we're both waiting impatiently for book five, Trapped, to arrive.

The Iron Druid Chronicle books - Hounded, Hexed, Hammered, Tricked - are sit back and enjoy romps. Mr. Hearne tells a great story and makes me wish that I could sit and have a few beers with Atticus to hear his tales. And of course bring some sausage for Oberon. 

We've since introduced these books to a number of Ace's friends and I think they're currently making their rounds on the Rowan Univeristy campus since one of his friends took the books with him to college.

After passing my audiobooks onto my sister, she would randomly text me quotes  she found particularly amusing. Most of the them were from Oberon but she's partial to big goofy dogs.