Tracy Ortlieb

My name is Tracy Ortlieb. I've lived in Seattle since 2000, and now specifically live in Ballard, home of commercial fishing boats, elderly Scandinavians, and the best place in town to get a Bloody Clam at Sunday brunch with the kids.

I grew up in St. Petersburg, FL, home to power boats, everyone's grandparents, and some asshole Devil Rays fan who chooses one opposing team member to heckle during games and then screams at him like a cracked-out douchebag for nine innings. It's also home of the St. Petersburg Times, which gave me my first real job and first real bylines, thus condemning me to many years of squandering those sterling credentials at lesser, crappier newspapers.

I spent a few years in D.C., worked for a nonprofit, dated a succession of asshats and made some terrific friends. Then I followed my heart to Salt Lake City, where it was summarily stomped and ground under a Lowa bootheel, and 18 months and one new Paxil habit later, followed my then-boyfriend (now best friend) Daron to the Emerald City.

Here, I've been in charge of Seattle University's magazine, won some awards and literary nods, freelanced and published some outraged letters-to-the-editor, and generally become a proud Seattleite. I also dated another army of assclowns, and several truly lovely men, until the waning days of 2004, when at my Sunday local, I met Michael. Four months later, we crazy lovebirds was all knocked up, and in the three years since have produced two tiny liberal atheists, because someone has to.

That makes me the opposite of what my college degree presumably prepared me for: a "Mad Men"-era stay-at-home Mommy to two tiny girls, cooking and cleaning and retrieving sippy cups and wiping a ceaseless parade of buttery, pink asses. (Though to be fair, I did go to a pretty shitty college.) Michael makes and manages the money, I spend it on hippie diapers and a nice cut of black cod, and we're both obnoxiously happy with the whole arrangement.

With one caveat: that with coupledom and pregnancy and parenthood, I had somehow lost myself, little pieces of the me that was that had, along the way, spiraled away in imperceptible tendrils until I was just. . . "Mama." (And yeah, at bedtime and naptime, "Hot Mama.") But either way, no longer just mine, free to read and write and create.

Since 2007, this blog has served to remedy that.

Also, I like vodka, Seattle Mariners games, my dog Moses, all things TiVo and Apple, novels and media, and my touch-it-and-I'll-burn-your-hand Star subscription.

Because It's Only Forever: Uniformity in School Pics Is Overrated Anyway

This week the ladies had class portraits taken at school. Not individual portraits, which are taken at the beginning of the year, but a picture of the entire class with the teacher, and which are infinitely cooler than the ones taken when we were kids. The girls love having photos taken and I wouldn’t have otherwise given such a pro forma event a second thought were it not for the small fact that last year, my eldest photobombed her kindergarten class portrait....more
@Caroline Poser Thanks so much! Isn't it remarkable how, even as infants, our children are so ...more


Five-year-old: “Mama, can I help open Ellie’s medicine?”Me: “Sure baby, just hold it upright. Don’t let it spill.”Five-year-old: “Mama, I can’t open it. The cap just spins!”...more

Mrs. Beeton, and the beginning

 It was during a phone call a year or so ago when my best friend Daron mentioned he had a book, that the octogenarian English matron who once employed him as a personal chef had given it to him years before as a cookbook, and he'd come across it while cleaning out the basement. ...more

When a bumper sticker isn't enough

So I was driving around today and happened to stop at a red light behind this fella, at the corner of Ballard and Forehead/Steering Wheel. That’s one big-ass truck, but the devil is always is in the details, n’est pas?...more

Holy wooden anniversary

As of last Saturday, Michael and I turned the humongous clock hands to FIVE YEARS OF TOGETHERNESS. Apparently, the traditional gift for a five-year anniversary is “wood”; I was gonna give him a wooden ship in a bottle to symbolize our relationship’s stultifying entrapment and corking of his freedom, but then I figured he’d just respond with, “Baby, I already gave you wood today,” so fuck it. On the up side, I can’t imagine anyone else I’d actually be having this conversation with five years later:...more

Jingle Hell

Later this week, Michael and I will have our five-year anniversary, and a week after that, Eliot will turn four. (Yeah, go ahead and do the fucking math, Smugley. We were in love, that socially acceptable form of insanity.) So what that means is that after several years of catastrophic missteps, this year we have officially BENT CHRISTMAS OVER AND DECLARED IT OUR BITCH....more

Please sir, may I have some more?

So last weekend, I was at a baby shower where one of the grandfathers-to-be read my palms. This wasn't some kind of baby-shower game -- although Tom was really good and also really earthy. I imagine if it <em>were</em> a baby-shower game and we'd all gotten a lot more sauced up on the delicious rum punch, we could've ...more

Swine flu changed everything

When it comes to flu shots, as parents, Michael and I are THOSE PEOPLE: the ones who refuse to immunize their children....more

Getting an early start on Christmas

So when I came across these today on the interwebs, I didn’t see a matricidal Sally Draper at an AA meeting in 1977, I saw THE MOTHER OF ALL LAMINATED PLACEMATS: ...more

If you touch a hair on her head. . .

With Eliot, I had few sentimental attachments to her babyhood — it was as though infancy and each stage after was something to be endured and raced through on the way to the next (presumably easier) stage. Baby clothes and toys were packed away, bottles were sanitized and stowed in boxes, the Co-Sleeper folded into its case and stashed unceremoniously in a basement closet — all of it with nary a second thought from me that with them meant the permanent passing of her babyness, that all-too-brief and ephemeral time....more