Fine. I admit it. I CARE about the royal wedding. Sue me! Abdicate me! De-knight me! Why, I cannot not tell you. I’m not British. I don’t like scones. I find the Windsors to be largely unfortunate-looking. I can only imagine that it feeds into my fantasy of becoming famous for doing absolutely nothing. But yes, I plan on being among the 2 billion televisual wedding crashers.

Given this, you may or may not understand the following. But when I saw footage of Kate and her sister Pippa driving from Buckleberry to London in advance of the big day, I couldn’t help myself. Uncontrollably, I envisioned my sister and myself in the same situation. Because – and ONLY because – I am older, I will play the Kate role and Jamie will channel Pippa.

Setting: Interior of a luxury sedan as it moves painfully slowly through the British countryside.

PippaJamie: Uch can you drive ANY slower?! You’re going to miss the wedding!

KateTraci: Sorry! I haven’t driven in 10 years and they seem to have moved the steering wheel to the other side. Do you think I’m going to throw up?

PippaJamie: You are SO annoying.

KateTraci: I have a stomachache. What if it’s Ebola?

PippaJamie: You ALWAYS have a stomachache. It’s not Ebola. It might be Fifth’s Disease though.

KateTraci: [tearing up] I’m sorry! I’m nervous!

PippaJamie: I’m sorry. I know it’s stressful. But just think, after the wedding, you’ll never be allowed to poop again! So, how do you think I should wear my hair?

KateTraci: Half-up. Seriously, do you think that pub has a clean bathroom?

PippaJamie: No. Just crap in your wrap dress. Do you think my butt looks Large Marge in that acqua Valentino dress?

KateTraci: No. Do you think my head looks Large Marge in that fascinator?

PippaJamie: No. Will I get fat if I eat that clotted cream?

KateTraci: No. Do you think Jan will be on time to the hair appointments?

PippaJamie: No. She’s still ranting about how the Queen of Sweden only gave you $1000.

KateTraci: I know, I know. But that was real nice of Elton John to offer to perform, right?

[Car phone rings]

CaroleJan: No. It wouldn’t have killed him to cough up a gift. He’s loaded. And you know something? It was a slap in the face for Diana not to show up to your shower. [insert unintelligible Yiddish]

PippaJamie: [very excited] Omigod be quiet I LOVE this song.

KateTraci: I hate this song. It’s so grunge. You’re so bossy.

PippaJamie: [turns up volume and sings along to Nirvana-esque lyrics performed at 78 decibals: I hate myself I hate my life I kill mahself I kill mah wife …]

KateTraci: That is so not fair! It’s my wedding! In any other family I would pick the driving music!

[Fatherly voice on car phone]

MichaelLew: Relax, both of you! I am not getting in the middle of this! Do you have cab fare?

PippaJamie: I’ll take a twenty.

KateTraci: [sighs] Yeah, okay, I guess I’ll take one too.


Haiku for the Plains

Long road home, or road to nowhere?

Another post inspired by Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop. Many thanks, Mama Kat, for the inspiration.   

Its name will fool you
Luring you off the highway
Sounding like idyll

Old school bakery
Corner Store that does not change
Ferris wheel of fame

An author lived here
She once asked, “Are you there, God?”
And a Smithereen

An Olympic champ
Guy who wrote “Can’t Buy Me Love”
And a baseball pro

But really, not much
Between it and any ‘burb
Except that it’s mine

Strangers now reside
In the house where I grew up
My keys do not work

But I can still smell
Nineteen-Seventy-Six Sears
And ah … Fruit Stripe gum

I still feel the itch
Of lumpy, greasy pigtails
Courtesy of Lew

The horror of lunch
Haunts me to this very day
But hello, last bell

I am both repulsed
And strangely intrigued by it
Home, bittersweet home


Haiku for the Plains

There are No Words

I’m telling ya right now, this post may not be for you. Indeed, it targets a very specific audience with a very specific palate.  My dear friend, the talented proprietress at No Shoe Left Behind, is one person in particular who, I trust, will appreciate its contents.  How can you tell whether or not you are part of the required demographic? Take the handy quiz I’ve provided below, and then scroll down for my assessment. You are welcome to read on whether or not you fail the quiz, but you do so at your own risk.

Question 1
In a blind taste test, could I differentiate between Nestle and Hershey chocolate?

  • DUH! That’s like asking a wine connoisseur if he could distinguish between two-buck chuck  and a $259 bottle of Chateau Frenchy McFrencherstein
  • Um … there’s a difference?
  • Chocolate is the devil.

Question 2
Rainbow cookies are:

  • Vile
  • Toxic
  • A multi-color bite of heaven
  • What the fuck are rainbow cookies?

Question 3
I avoid all:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • Carbs
  • Food

 Scoring:  You’re among the target audience for this blog post if you answered Question 1 with Duh; Question 2 with A multi-color bite of heaven (also acceptable: A multi-color bite of heaven AND Toxic); and then ignored Question 3.


This morning, a close, warm, personal Facebook friend alerted me to what may be the most breathtaking piece of junk food ever created. EVER. We’re talking Seven Wonders of the Processed World.  We’re talking Grand Canyon of baked goods. It is truly, in the words of Dave, a foodgasm. Ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I present to you this masterpiece by Zoey Cakes (image from the Cadbury Creme Egg-filled chocolate cupcake.  There are simply no words to describe a masterpiece of this scale.  

The Sistine Chapel of Cupcakes
There are No Words

Bag It

The innards of pocketbooks have always fascinated me. Much like strange pantries and medicine cabinets – neither of which I have EVER snooped in, of course – pocketbooks are a window into the soul of their owners. Did the bag contain prescription bottles? Tissues? Pens? Paper? Snacks? Was it well-organized? Messy? What was the nature of its edible contents? Grandma Ethel kept Velamints in her bag, for instance, while Grandma Hannah carried fruit-filled hard candy from Israel – who knew what exotic treats lurked in someone else’s grandma’s bag?! Jan carried a wallet and a change purse, but some moms had wallets with special change compartments attached. Some ladies pulled ornate silver mirrors from their bags and applied bright pink lipstick. Some kept plain plastic mirrors stashed inside and still others used the mirrors on their compact, which was just about as faaancy as you could get. The wonders never ceased to amaze me.

I remember how thrilled I was to pack my pocketbook for the first time. I was about three and Lew was taking me to the zoo. My “bag” at the time was a round pouch made of two pleather discs that zipped together, slightly lighter than smurf blue, with a clear plastic “window.” Creepily suspended in that window, somehow, was a tiny plastic doll. She was purdy. What does a three-year-old put in her pocketbook, you may be asking? We’ll I’ll tell you: the yellow-bunned Fisher-Price mother, who served as faux lipstick; an empty change purse covered in hideous orange and yellow beads; and a spare pair of Carter’s (it’s just good practice).

Even at my (ill-fated) bridal shower, this bag fascination came into play. The highlight of the afternoon was a rousing game of purse bingo, during which contestants had to produce from their bags such items as an authentic Louis Vuitton wallet; a Bobbi Brown lip gloss; a photo of a grandkid; and a Snausage, which we pre-planted for humor purposes.

And just last week, I could not have been happier when Loren told me she had ordered herself a Kangaroo Keeper – and one for me as well. How lucky could I be?

So it isn’t suprising that of all this week’s writing prompts from Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop, the one about purses called out to me. What’s in my adult bag? I’ll tell you, US magazine-style.

I carry no fewer than two kinds of gum and a tin of Altoid Smalls. I’m annoying enough. I can’t risk bad breath on top of that.

Paging Dr. Dermatologist
Some part of my epidermis is always itchy and red, so moisturizers and lip balms are vital. Right now I’m using Smith’s Rosebud Salve (thanks to my friend Katy) and Aquaphor (thanks to my friend Kiki).

Germs Stink
I get colds every other week, no matter what I do. But I try to be as careful as possible without adding a new obsessive ritual to my day; Purell, take me away.

Cosmetic Whore
Despite evidence to the contrary, I still believe there is one beauty product out there that will change my life. This week, those beauty products are a MAC lip gloss in Wildly Lush and a MAC, Wonder Woman-themed compact that is a bronzer, blush and highlighter all-in-one. It’s a three-toned powder with a delightfully creamy feel and while it hasn’t yet changed anything, I’m confident it soon will.

Ward Off Low Blood Sugar
You never know when starvation may strike. That’s why there’s always a semi-nutritious granola bar or other snack in my bag.

Technically Speaking
I am not addicted to my Blackberry. I can quit anytime. I can quit now, in fact, as soon as I send this one quick text …

The Key to My Heart
I carry my keys on a Louis Vuitton key- and change-holder that Keith gave me for Valentine’s Day.

CVS to Go
After getting stuck in Atlanta for two days with no luggage or toiletries, I started carrying around a pouch full of essentials. It contains, among other things, an eyeglass kit; nail file; contact lens rewetting drops; a mini-toothbrush; Advil; Tylenol: generic Imodium from CVS; little white pills; little blue pills; Band-Aids (for picked cuticles); toothpicks; boob tape; facial moisturizer; and Breath-Assure.

Et Al
Other items of little or no interest include sunglasses (Marc by Marc Jacobs); tissues; two Metrocards; an iPod and/or iPad; Marc by Marc Jacobs wallet; business cards; bank register; pen and Wite-Out (for crossword puzzles); stash of Lifesavers.

Bag It

90 + 11 = 90?

The other day, a friend and I were analyzing the strange behavior of another girl we know. We came to the conclusion that this individual possesses absolutely no ability to grow as a person. At first I felt very smug about our assessment. Then, suddenly struck by a relapse of anxiety symptoms, I started to wonder whether I myself had the ability to grow as a person. After years of therapy and self-loathing, I feel better about myself than I ever did … but how much is that saying? I decided to investigate. And that meant picking up the journals I kept meticulously in high school.

A few things that struck me instantly:

  • My childhood bedroom obviously reeked of guinea pig chips
  • I had the handwriting of a lunatic
  • I ate a lot of candy
  • My flair for the melodramatic was truly unparalleled – clearly taking inspiration from the ABC After-School special and too many young adult novels

I thought you might appreciate some excerpts from these journals, written roughly this week in 1990 – my senior year of high school (class president: my husband). Please note that the views of 17-year-old me do not necessarily reflect the views of 38-year-old me.

4/2/90: Did I mention I got into Brandeis? Notice how thrilled I am. I am crazy, I know, to be miserable after getting into all five schools, but Washington is screaming for me. [This is where my high school boyfriend, B, was going to college.] I envy B because I know he will make it one day. Most people like B a lot more than my parents – they make him nervous. They make me nervous. They ARE nervous. Today was the first day of the last marking period I will ever spend in high school. We picked our gym classes 1st period – I got tennis and frisbee. Taxi driver killer LC is back in school – and guess when she has gym? [Please Google for more info – I don’t feel safe providing it.] I’m still thinking about that movie “Threads” and nuclear war. Today had no characteristic trait. It will blend into my memory and I will never know the difference between it and any other day. It sucked.

4/3/90: A [unrequited love of my high school life] looked so sad today. I asked how he was and he said “mediocre.” I asked if there was anything I could do and for a second, he looked like maybe there was [I can assure you the thing I could do was to shut the fork up], but he shook his head. On his way out of class he stopped at my desk and stared down at me with a weird look on his face. [I can assure you the weird look was his way of saying, “For the love of GOD you freak, stop writing about me in your guinea pig-scented diary.”] Being nice gets you nowhere except shit on, life is shit. The people who are vicious and cruel are a lot happier. B read me 25 characteristics of a disorder termed “anxious-neurotic.” I fit every single one. Nicole and Bob came over. Bob and I hate half a pint of Heath Bar Crunch. I feel sick.

4/6/90: Yesterday we signed in late to miss two gaywad senior assemblies [CRINGE! DOUBLE CRINGE! And note that the emcee at both asssemblies was … my husband.] Mr. O [menacing vice-principal] saw us come in and bawled us out. Like we were the only seniors who did it. Like I ever did ANYTHING wrong. Nicole and Jay weren’t in school today – they were down at Rutgers DJing. There is this thing called Derby Days Bob’s fraternity is involved in. It’s a fundraiser with sorority help. Sam, Jess and I went to Bridgewater [mall that opened circa 1989 with awe-inspiring food court]. Sam tried on this gorgeous peach prom dress – oh she looked so beautiful.

4/8/90: If only “if only” could alter the world. Sam and I had sundaes at Friendly’s, then went to the A&P for popcorn, Pringles, and dip [no, sadly, we were NOT stoned] and came back here and watched “When Harry Met Sally” again, my 8th time. Jamie had her friends over, they were being so loud and Sam told them to shut up. Tomorrow I’ll be lectured. Mom, Jamie and I had lunch at the Diet Works, and looked at some prom dresses at Doris Amster, pure tack. I did get 3 Cadbury Creme Eggs at Walgreen’s. I was thinking it would be so fantastic to keep a journal in college – can you imagine how priceless that would be years later [literally price-less]? I feel doomed – every time I do something I think it’s the last time I’ll ever do it. I can’t stop wondering if I’ll be okay, and not just okay, but happy? How hard will it be to get that way? I wonder if people outgrow neurosis? [Ha!] I can’t see it getting any better, only worse.

4/9/90: I really hate Passover. I know this is sacreligious [sic], but the seder drives me crazy. I believe in God, but I have my own image of God [impressive]. Some of these rituals are so silly. And who are we to say we are the chosen people? I feel so lonely. I wish I had a car. I have this new song onbsession. It’s called “Cigarette” by the Smithereens. Their lead singer is from Scotch Plains. The town was actually mentioned in Rolling Stone once . [This September, I heard the once-famous lead singer perform at the annual Italian Festival in the parking lot of St. Bart’s, but had to leave in haste due to an irritable bowel episode.]

4/13/90: This has been a miserable week. It all started Tuesday morning. Grandma is in the hospital. She was going to drop Jamie and D off in Westfield, then go home and pick up a few things. I was really rude to her. She kept nagging me to come with her and have lunch with her but I blew her off so she left, and she was gone a long time. I thought she was sulking at home and waiting for one of us to call and beg her to come back (she did that on July 4th). Usually when someone’s late I start to have scary thoughts, but this time I didn’t. In the middle of “General Hospital,” she called and said not to get excited, but she’d blacked out and had an accident and was in the hospital, Overlook. I got hysterical – I cried so hard – just the way she said it, and I kept picturing the accident, this old lady all by herself, she must have been so scared, and she kept saying thank god I didn’t go with her. I felt guilty somehow, like somehow I could have done something if I’d been there, and I felt guilty for being so mean – I kept crying, I didn’t know what to do. She said she was fine but that they didn’t know why she blacked out [this was probably an early and unrecognized sign of the problems that started to plague her four years later], and her chest was bruised from the steering wheel. I kept crying. I called my father’s office but the service answered so then I paged him. I was crying so hard he thought I was Jamie. That night we went to see her. There was no room available, so she was in the emergency room. Her clothes were all smushed into this little silver basket on the bottom of the bed. Her coat. Her Reeboks. When we left I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to stay with her. B thinks he is smarter than me [he isn’t]. He said I wouldn’t have gotten in to Penn [probably not, thanks to my stellar test-taking abilities]. Even while I knew that, it still sounded like an insult [uh … maybe because it WAS?]. It’s 2 weeks and six days til my 18th birthday and I must figure out a way to let A know. These are such troubled times. I wonder if I’ll ever feel okay again.

In closing:

  • I am much funnier now – does that count as personal growth?
  • Given the amount of junk food I ate then and continue to eat now (although after 35, I had to draw the line at Pringles), it’s a huge miracle I didn’t experience MORE personal growth
  • I made a lot of mistakes.
  • I could not write to save my life.
  • These are always troubled times.
  • I actually do feel okay.

Have I grown? I’ll leave that to the people who knew me when!

90 + 11 = 90?