When I first started blogging I got involved with the Women of Midlife Facebook Group. The group formed after a BlogHer Conference in Chicago more than 10 years ago. There are many talented writers in the community, including Tracy Beckerman, who I am pleased to feature on my blog this week. Tracy writes the popular syndicated column LOST IN SUBURBIA and is the author of multiple books. She lives in the ‘burbs’ (as she calls it) of New Jersey.
Tracy Beckerman from suburbia
This interview is focused on Tracy’s newest memoir Barking at the Moon. It’s about her early days as a young mom and how she and her family adapted to having a retriever pup in the house (and other assorted animals and reptiles).
If you’ve ever raised a puppy or have a dog, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s written in a similar style to the memoirs Marley & Me and A Dog’s Purpose. I could totally relate after spending the past summer with my grand puppy O and my daughter A. I found myself chuckling and shaking my head in affirmation as I read Tracy’s memoir. It also reminded me of the recent review I did of the book Pet Nation, about the pet industry.
I was curious to learn more about Tracy and her life as a writer. Hope you enjoy these excerpts from our chat. Be sure to read to the end and enter a giveaway to win a copy.
Tell me a little about your background and how you became a syndicated writer.
Tracy: “I started my post-college work life delivering singing telegrams in a gorilla suit. The pay wasn’t bad, but I got hives from the fur, so I had to look for another career. Fortunately, I was able to segue quite seamlessly into writing and producing news promos for CBS. We lived a happy, carefree, rent-controlled life in NYC until my son was born, and then I decided to stop working, we moved to the suburbs, and my daughter arrived. Then I found myself in a strange land, surrounded by large terrestrial vehicles (minivans), and unable to have a meaningful conversation with anyone about anything other than diaper wipes. This is when I realized I was geographically and existentially lost. Somehow, I had the presence of mind to find the humor in the situation and parlay that into a new career writing a column called Lost in Suburbia. I’ve been writing that column since 2001.”
What made you want to write a doggie memoir?
Tracy: “The dog wanted to write it, but he couldn’t type so I wrote it for him. I guess, then, it’s more of a biographical memoir than an autobiographical one.”
Why are retrievers your favorite dog?
Tracy: “I grew up with retrievers and I think once you go retriever, you can never go back. I believe they are the perfect family dog because they are the perfect mix of loyalty, exuberance, goofiness, and lovableness. Is that a word? I don’t know.. it’s not like I’m a writer or something.”
Anything you wish you would have done differently with your puppy Riley (or kids) when you were raising them?
Tracy: “I wouldn’t change a thing except maybe, I would have done away with all area rugs. It would have saved a lot of time and money cleaning them when the dog and the kids both got sick on them. Repeatedly. Never on the floor. Always on the rugs. God bless ‘em.”
How different do you think your life would have been if you didn’t have Riley (and some of the other interesting animals and reptiles)?
Tracy: “I can’t even imagine my life without Riley. He was my third child. No, wait, my husband was my third child. Okay, Riley was my fourth child. Not only was he such a joy to have around (the dog, I mean Riley, not my husband), but he made everything we did together so much richer. He filled a hole we didn’t even know was there until he arrived. He also brought so much humor into our lives, which, as a humor writer, was great for me because he gave me a lot of great stories for my column. The other animals weren’t quite as meaningful to me, but my kids wanted them, so we thought, why not get a chinchilla that bites and a giant lizard that required us to keep 500 crickets in the house at all times? What could possibly go wrong with that? (hint: you have to read the book to find out).”
Do you miss the Beckerman zoo now that you are an empty nester?
Tracy: “I miss all aspects of having the kids and the pets around. I wasn’t one of those people who was like, “I can’t wait until the kids move out and the dog dies so I can get my life back.” They were my life and I had to go through a real mourning period when everything changed. So now, instead of being lost in suburbia, I’m lost in midlife, and instead of cleaning up dog fur everywhere, I’m plucking chin hairs everyday. My crystal ball neglected to show me that.”
I know you recently had to put down your dog. Do you think you’ll get another dog at this point in your life?
Tracy: “The dog you are referring to was our dog Monty who was our empty nester dog. He was also our therapy dog though the pandemic and really helped us get through that difficult time. His passing was completely unexpected and I was bereft for months. I’m starting to remember him now with laughter, instead of sadness, because he was also a big goofball, like his predecessor. Monty was very well known on social media because he had his own fan page and Instagram account which had more followers than mine did, naturally. I mean, who would you rather see pictures of – a beautiful white Golden Retriever romping through the pristine snow in the mountains of Vermont, or a middle-aged 57-year old woman with spinach in her teeth? In terms of getting another dog… I haven’t made up my mind yet. I can’t see myself without a dog, but Riley and Monty are two hard acts to follow. Of course, I could always use more fodder for my column… !”
Giveaway for a copy of Barking at the Moon
To enter the giveaway for a copy of Barking at the Moon, share your favorite dog breed or other comment about what you like about having a pet. Or, enter the Rafflecopter below. Note if you would like to download a Kindle version the book is on sale on Amazon this month for $2.99.