Tag Archives: Trading Spaces

Worse Than The Mean Girls? The Angry, Angry Adults.

I have been trying my damnedest to turn away from negativity but I’m finding it no small feat.  It would be a lot easier if nastiness wasn’t (accurately) everywhere but it seems it’s become the norm to express anger the moment it’s felt.  Have keyboard, will spew.  It’s insane. And getting worse.

The spewing has been gaining in momentum and rising in vitriol for years.  How have we not managed to reel this in?  How is there still so much bullying going on?

When I appeared on Trading Spaces the producers emphatically warned: don’t go onto the internet.  Of course I did and it was awful.  The message boards were brimming with horrid comments and insults because why, total strangers found good fortune?  What in the actual hell.  That was 2003.  Almost 20 years ago.

I recently watched the amazing Amy Schneider’s thrilling run on Jeopardy (who? give it a Goog).   I just read that she, too, was counseled to do the same and in fact, went so far as to delete all her social media accounts for the duration of her record-breaking reign.  How sad.

Clearly we have not come a long way, baby.

It used to be we worried about our kids being bullied – or worse, being bullies.  My daughter was a victim back in eighth grade.  That was 2008.  Not physical (thankfully) but traumatic all the same.  While I was alerted at the start, the other parents were only brought into the loop days later – after confessions were tied up in a neat little bow and receipts for vandalized possessions were printed.

At the time I thought more about being the other parents and getting that call out of the blue. Can you even imagine?  I would’ve been distraught.

I think about years ago when my husband worked for a real pompous ass (I know…who hasn’t, I digress).  One night we channel surfed onto a national news program reporting on a hazing scandal at a prestigious prep school nearby. It was worse than bad.  (Think locker room, cocky jocks and (sorry) bananas.  Horrific.)  One of the perpetrators was the son of the pompous ass boss. Seriously.  I couldn’t help but feel utter devastation for him.

Our kids have always had the ability to change the direction of our lives on a dime with One.  Stupid.  Move.  One poor choice.  One thoughtless act.  As parents, all we can do is brace ourselves for the unexpected and try to do our best to keep things on the right track and pray that common sense prevails.  We’re not masters of the universe though.  Kids are still being horrible and social media has ignited an entire breeding ground of cruelty.  It’s an anonymous wild west of venom and a whole new playing field of warfare.  We get that (prayers to parents of emergent tweens. Shudder).

But adults are bringing unkindness to a whole new level.

Remember when the worst display of adults behaving badly came from contempt shouted from the bleachers? (*Sighs wistfully) Those were the days.

I’ve written about this before but it’s only gotten worse in the years since that posted.

I had a recent piece published on a national platform (wait, what, you missed all my shameless plugging? Fret not!  It’s right here ). The gist was simple: closing chapters on friends that no longer reciprocate affection or attention. That’s it, nothing earth shattering.  It was a personal essay, not a declaration of my opinion of politics, air fryers or, worse, Yellowstone. Yet – holy fkkking shtttt, – out came the villagers with torches.   Incredibly (in the you have GOT to be kidding me file) most of the naysayers were men who apparently have a lot to say about female friendship.



What in the world motivates grown-ups to be negative and nasty?   Even if a person comes across something upsetting, aren’t there enough kitten pictures out there to ease that temper and turn that frown upside down?

I don’t have a proclamation for my soapbox and I certainly don’t have any solutions (actually if I could brag I’d admit I’m actually in pretty good company:  I just saw my good friend Ty Pennington come out with guns blazing over his body shamers) but I wish more people would just stop typing.

Or at least use a dictionary.

Excuse me while I go find some puppy pics to go with this post.

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and recently was featured in Huff PostShe appeared in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. And @Eyerollingmom on Instagram.  Her collection of essays, A Momoir, can be found  here (agent interest ALWAYS WELCOME!)

I Was On Trading Spaces (and my friends still talk to me)


My friends saw this coming. Hell yeah, they did.

They all knew without a doubt there was no way I was ever getting to the premiere of the Trading Spaces reboot without shouting “I DID THAT!” from as many soapboxes that’d hold me.

The truth is, with the exception of tearing up Nashville on my milestone birthday, getting on that ubiquitous show (gulp) fifteen years ago was THE most significant fun I’ve ever had.  That it threw me into the pop culture spotlight was more than this publicity-whore could ever fathom.

We had the great fortune of coming in at Season 4, at the height of the show’s popularity.  Ratings were soaring so they’d decided to blow out all the stops to keep the momentum steamrolling: with cameras rolling to catch our genuine reactions, we four unsuspecting friends were told our decorating budgets had been increased from $1000 …. to $50,000  (Insert string of disbelieving emojis, which weren’t even a thing back in 2003).    We had been selected for their “Trading Spaces:  100 Grand!” 2-hour special and like Ed McMahon showing up with a cardboard check the size of a canoe, we hit the jackpot.

We spent the weekend listening to Ty Pennington strumming his guitar at night.  We saw just how scripted unscripted television really is.  And we formed favorites in the cast (who was our least favorite?  I’d tell you in person only – winking emoji).

It was quite spectacular.

The episode had been pre-planned with nary a nod in our direction.  To them, we were more props than people but we happily went along for the ride.  Sponsors had been lined up for months and we sat back and watched as trucks of furnishings, appliances, electronics and plasma TVs (again, the year is 2003 so this was a very Jetsons-like moment) just appeared.

I cried into my lapel mic that unless someone in my graduating class had scaled Mt. Everest that summer I was definitely going to be the hottest shttt at my upcoming high school reunion.  I was.

For a full two weeks following the reveal, after we’d moved back in, given away our old furniture to stunned friends and neighbors and tried to resume a normal life (no easy feat since we were expected to keep things under wraps until the our episode aired at the height of Sweeps eight weeks later) I would still come downstairs in the mornings and become overwhelmed with emotion.  I’d look around in disbelief, feeling the adrenaline and exhaustion of the experience come flooding back and sob.  Every morning.  I’d dry my tears before the kids came bounding down and did my best to keep them – ages 2 through 10 —  off of $800 white chairs and a $4500 silk rug and far, far away from a $1600 table lamp. (Side note:  15 years later those chairs, though no longer white (fabric spray paint!)  are still holding up and the lamp has survived multiple close calls (because, boys.  derr.).  Not so lucky for the $5000 plasma.  Hey.  There’s only so much 4 kids can control (and rumor has it they’re blaming me for that one) but all good.

The publicity for the show’s premiere was behemoth.  We were a segment on the Today show, appeared in USA Today and dominated our own local newspapers for weeks.  After the show aired I was stopped in parking lots.  Yes, that was me; yes, I’m still using coupons (laughing emoji).  Whatever they did was lightning in a bottle:  our 2-hours on basic cable garnered the highest ratings a non-network show had ever seen.  And they did it without Twitter.  Imagine that.

To promote the upcoming reboot they’ve been showing lots of old episodes to drum up hype but I know mine won’t be aired.  My episode aired at the height of the show’s popularity and it was the first of many gimmicks they employed to breathe new life into a show that inevitably saw a revolving door of cast changes.  I get it.  It happens to the best of shows (we got over it Mr. Clooney but we certainly missed our Dr. Ross when you bailed).  I know they’ve gone back to basics to give the people what they enjoyed the first go-round (you know, like the simple, original format Roseanne’s currently mining) but that’s okay, I concur with the smart move (and really, I have a VHS.  Again, all good).

We’ve since moved out of our “Trading Spaces” house and have downgraded to rugs from Home Goods but we keep some framed pictures around the place to remember our good fortune.  Plus, I’ve got a killer scrap book from that time.

I’ll likely talk about it forever but I guess a once in a lifetime experience like that gets a permanent hall pass.  My friends know I still find ways to sneak it into random (cough, deliberate) conversations and they tolerate me all the same.  True story:  I was recently sitting at a restaurant bar chatting with a feisty senior next to me, a fellow Friday-happy-hour-early-bird-special-enthusiast.  She was describing where she lived and — not even kidding — OUT OF THE BLUE said her house was “right near where that TV show came to town…”.    I think I may have slapped her shoulder.   My eyes lit up and I stage whispered “That was us…”   My husband actually kicked me but it was for naught; she didn’t even hear me (because, hearing aid) so I let that one go.

I wrote about it all those years ago (check it out here) and due to the statute of limitations that my kids have imposed I probably have to move along from writing about it ever again and simply be content with my memories.  I think I can do that.

But I would tell you anything you want to know.   Go ahead.  Just ask.




Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.



   *     *     *      *      *      *

Read any good books lately?  Start one here:  A Collection Of Eyerolls:  A Momoir


Chapter 1, Click here:   https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Chapter 2, Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

Chapter 3, Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

Chapter 4, Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

 Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/

Chapter 6:  Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/08/24/a-momoir-chapter-6-im-not-always-like-you-mom-but-thats-okay/



A Fleeting Fame




Disclaimer:  My experience on a reality television show, while seemingly a lifetime ago, still makes for a good story.  Since there are no surly teenagers nearby me to screech, “Nooooooo….not again, Mom!” I’m going to share it  Yes, it was a loooong time ago, and yes, I believe Paige Davis may have fallen into a black hole since then, but it was at the height of popularity when our “Trading Spaces: $100 Grand!”  two-hour special aired.  And yes, it was (high-pitched-soprano-voice) AWESOME.



A long time ago in a career far, far away I got into a little skirmish with Geraldo.  I was a publicist, he was, well, Geraldo, and the whole he-said/she-said thing landed on the front page of Daily Variety.  There it was, in black and white:  my name, my title and my quote.  My quote!   Hence, my very first brush with fame.  While it was relatively small-scale (I mean seriously, how many people – especially those of us on the East coast – actually read Variety?), it was a professional feather in my cap that tickled me ridiculously and caused my boss to seethe.  Naturally, I faxed the story to everyone I knew (this being the time when Geraldo was a media presence, of course there was no e-mail), and held onto it for years.


Fast-forward a dozen years, and with the help of a little reality-television show, I found myself in the throes of celebrity again, only this time in a brave new world.  Plucked from obscurity, I was given a spotlight of national attention and enough local publicity to humble a politician.  Still, it had never occurred to me that along with my fifteen minutes of fame came a little thing called, ummm,  opinion. Have I mentioned that everybody’s got one – along with a computer?  Had I known that I could evoke such passionate opinions from people I most certainly would have spent a lot less time worrying about the dungaree shorts I chose to wear for the filming of my television stint.

On the show’s website, throughout its wildly popular message boards were beautiful sentiments from virtual strangers: Raves (loved the show!).  Cheers (loved you!). Kudos (congratulations!).  But alas, like the envious boss who didn’t get acknowledgment, sprinkled throughout these well-wishes was an eye-opening array of not-so-happy campers.  At first it was funny. (Okay, at first I didn’t spot my name).  But after continued reading (equate it to picking at dried glue on your fingers – when does one actually stop?) it became mildly horrifying.

“Get off the computer,” my husband pleaded.  I was addicted.

“Did you read what this guy wrote? That is so WRONG!”   He’d simply shake his head.  He knew I had crossed over.


According to one eagle-eyed viewer, I was apparently wealthy, therefore rendering me unworthy of the good fortune bestowed on my family.  (This perception usually draws great fits of laughter from my family, close friends and the checkout clerk at the receiving end of my mountain of coupons each week.)  One anonymous viewer called me arrogant.  Arrogant?   I won a big prize, had the ever-present camera catch my gratuitous tears, and nearly died from the excitement of the whole experience.  Good God.  Then there was a woman who ranted to all the other message-board posters that I made her want to barf.  Barf?  In fairness, I was completely aware that the humidity that plagued filming had turned my hair into a Farrah-esque flashback for most my age, but barf?  That was uncalled for.


One of the show’s producers warned, “Oh, by the way, don’t go onto the message boards.  Those people are crazy.”  Yeah, we got that.  Too late.


My love/hate relationship with fame has left me far more understanding of the price that is paid by bona-fide celebs, and not just the flash-in-the-pan variety like myself.  It makes me realize how often I’ve become part of a heated discussion about one of the delightfully colorful cast of characters on the “Who Wants to Survive the Average Joe Millionaire” shows I tend to gravitate to on any given night.  It is with heavy heart that I think of all the times I purchased a steamy tabloid solely to gobble up the dirt that poor Britney had to endure this past week.  Now that I know how it feels to be utterly slammed, I am, of course, repentant.

“Were you on that show?”  The hairstylist’s grin has me marked as she escorts my daughter to a chair.  My nod is sheepish, but my alert mind is racing:  Oh, the bad press that could come out of this!  Is my hair combed?  Is my holiday-induced weight gain obvious?  How quickly can she call the newspaper to report a bad tip?


In the end, the five-dollar tip (for a ten dollar child’s haircut) is hidden in my fist as I go to thank her and depart.

“I loved it,” she giggles, and turns away.

For what it’s worth, I was a pretty good tipper before all this.