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I Am Tracy Turnblad

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Who is Tracy Turnblad?  I am.

Tracy Turnblad is the perky, pudgy heroine of “Hairspray,” the 1988 John Waters movie and the Broadway musical.

I saw Tracy last night–played to tuneful perfection by Kate Zaloumes–at the Titusville Playhouse.

The show is set in 1962.  I was six then, not 16.  Chubby Checker was popular, but not chubby girls like Tracy.  Or like me, who wore “Pretty Plus” clothes from Sears.

Tracy loved to dance and watched the “Corny Collins” TV show to learn the latest steps. When I was young, you couldn’t drag me away from “American Bandstand” either.  I was having too much fun.

Tracy boldly auditioned to dance on the TV show.  She didn’t let being ridiculed by thin people didn’t stop her dreams.

Nor did it stop mine.  I entered myself (!) in a pageant at age 10.  Mama, although mortified that her 100-pound daughter would embarrass herself, bought me two lacy, swirly dresses worthy of a princess.  My short-and-stout status didn’t prevent me from acting in school plays and joining our high school’s first dance team.

In the show, dancing Tracy won the heart of Link Larkin (handsomely played by my amazing nephew Alex Browne).  Without skipping a beat, she banished segregation on the dance show, too.

Seeing Tracy’s triumph encourages me to get off my ample rump and take on the world.  But first, let’s turn up the music and dance.







Joy Journey

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Today’s note to self:  Find joy.  It’s playing hide-and-seek these days.  I know you’re out there, joy.  I will find you where you’ve been all along–in a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning, a beautiful sunrise, a smile.  Hiding in plain sight.

Welcome back, old friend.

Another “Tequila Sunrise”

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We’re still reeling from losing David Bowie last week.  I just learned that Glenn Frey from the Eagles has passed away.

The first time I heard an Eagles song, I was 17, lonely and mad at the world.  From our home on the Florida coast, my family moved to the ugliest place on earth–I truly believed–the California high desert town of Palmdale.

My life was over as far as I could tell. Being 3,000 miles away from my friends and the boy I loved was bad enough, but the local high school didn’t give a rip about my straight As. Instead of letting me start college, (and getting the hell out of there), they saddled me with PE and California history.

Except for letters and phone calls from my boyfriend, only one thing eased my teenage angst.  That was driving my ice-blue 1964 Pontiac GTO on the dusty desert roads.  I turned the radio full blast, sang along and cried.  Lots.

As I drove to school, “Tequila Sunrise” by the Eagles quickly became my favorite driving-and-crying tune, a potent musical cocktail that numbed the pain.  “It’s another tequila sunrise, starin’ slowly ‘cross the sky, said goodbye…”  The song’s sweet mournfulness and the spectacular desert sunrise in front of me permanently fused in my memory.

Because of your song, my lonely heart found peace and healing. Glenn Frey, I give you the best of my love.


Only Seven Days

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Hard to believe New Year’s Eve was only seven days ago.  Sure felt like such a long week. Going back to work.  Packing up holiday decorations. Tossing out the eggnog and leftover turkey.

Seven days ago we were still enjoying my daughter’s visit, although she planned to celebrate that night with her Florida friends before flying home on New Year’s Day.  All made it home safely, by the way.

Like a sip of champagne, the holidays quickly bubbled away and we all went back to our pre-holiday, routine lives.

Lucky us.

Fourteen days ago on Christmas Eve, a family my family knows received heart-stopping news about their 19-year-old son .  As they rushed to the hospital, they found out that he was still alive, but the prognosis was grim.  The young man–still in a coma–did not improve.  I don’t know how his mother found the strength to breathe, to eat, to somehow convince herself that this nightmare was unfolding in real time.

Now only seven days into the New Year, this family is saying goodbye to a beloved son.

Their holidays will be wreathed in heartache, perhaps forever.  No Happy New Year, no Merry Christmas.

So on this seventh night of the new year, all I can do is pray for them.




Milestone Year Ahead

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This is a milestone year for our class of 1974.  We hit the big 6-0 in 2016.  Hard to believe, but true.  Most days I feel pretty young, but the mirror tells a different tale.

Then I think of our classmates who didn’t even make 50 or even 30.  My best friend would have been 60 today had she lived.

Sixty’s not 16, but’s it’s still good.  I may not pop out of bed so quickly, but I am still rarin’ to go.


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Never thought I would be whipping up a batch of roasted veggies for my company’s Thanksgiving lunch.

No, I haven’t gone vegetarian since Christmas past.  But these days I cook breakfast and dinner five or six nights a week (if I cook seven days straight, you can bet that the End Times are nigh).  Cooking is not a pleasurable experience for me.  But having my husband around is.  That’s why I’m learning how to make kidney-friendly meals to help keep him alive.

I used to joke that my cooking would probably kill him.  Now I’m trying to save him with it.

Renal diets are horribly limited, as my cheese-loving husband and I discovered. I found a recipe for “mac and cheese,” which proved to be a most vile concoction  even when prepared correctly. Gag!  Everything else was tasteless–white bread, white rice, etc.

Fortunately, I discovered the good folks at Penzey’s Spices and the tasty recipes of  “Big, Bold Flavor” Chef Aaron McCargo Jr.  And my husband discovered vegetables from the low-potassium spectrum.

It’s almost nine and the delicious aroma of curry fills the whole house.  I started late on this slow-cooking project.  The reason:  I didn’t have enough cooking chutzpah to pull off dinner and veggies for a crowd.  So we had (forbidden) home cooking at Cracker Barrel.

That’s my confession, and I’m sticking to it.


Three Years on a Roller Coaster

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We’d been married five years and two months when it happened–my husband’s hastily scheduled surgery and the devastating news that he had cancer. The surgeon said he couldn’t get it all the first time. A second surgery was scheduled in a month’s time. Infections followed, the first of many. By October we were seeing another doctor who said the cancer had advanced and the only alternative was radical, life-altering surgery. That happened in December.
We made the first of many runs to a hospital ER on New Year’s Eve. A lot of 2013 is a blur–so many hospitalizations for a week at a time–for infections that almost destroyed his kidneys. Stent replacements came every few months. Sometimes the stents blocked and I’d try to clear them with IV “butterflies” and saline flushes. It worked most of the time. When it didn’t, it was back to the hospital for a week.
We feel pretty good about 2014–only two hospital stays. And we made it all the way to May 2015 before making the ER run again for yet another infection.
Difficult as these up and down months have been, we are happy, as odd as that may seem. Holding on for dear life, we are holding tight to each other. Our old life is gone, so we are redefining normal.
I said goodbye to the old me somewhere along the way. There’s a much better woman in my place. My amazing husband–who gets up and goes to work like any other man–deserves no less.