Month: October 2013

Dressing the Part: My Slacks-and-Blouse Costume

Because I work at home, my everyday wardrobe is dominated by t-shirts and jeans. But a few times a year I travel to conferences for work, and each time I have to wear a costume: my professional one. To me, the words slacks and blouse are cringe-worthy. They aren’t as offensive as moist, because slacks and blouse are missing the dreaded oi combo, but I still feel compelled to say the words in a nasally voice, making it clear that these articles of clothing — if not the words themselves — are undesirable. A few years ago, as I squirmed uncomfortably in our conference booth, tugging at my collar and re-tucking my shirt, a male colleague pointed out that I wasn’t required to dress so formally. Many of the other conference attendees and exhibitors wore t-shirts, and wearing one of our company-branded short-sleeve shirts was always an option. I explained that I didn’t want anyone to see my tattoos, one of which now goes from my left shoulder to my elbow. “Why do you hide them?” …

When Lou Reed (Nearly) Beat Me Up in Tai Chi

So let me tell you about the time Lou Reed roughed me up — a little. It was in 2004 or so. A colleague, who’d worked in the music biz, happened to mention that he took a regular Tai Chi class and that the rock-and-roll superstar was a regular attendee. “Excuse me? Repeat that?” “Yeah, he’s a Tai Chi expert, been taking the class for years. You should try it sometime…” Um, where do I sign up? I feigned interest in the martial art of Tai Chi; I’d seen the older Chinese women practicing in the basketball court near my apartment — it looked way too slow for my impatient monkey mind. But the idea of sweating aside one of my rock and roll heroes seemed like either the coolest or strangest thing in the world. I had to do it. Lou Reed and his first band, the Velvet Underground, were the soundtrack to my college years. My roommate dragging on a cigarette on a “Sunday Morning”; dancing with 20 sweaty people in a dorm …

Why I’ve Stopped Wearing Black

I grew up in Oregon, where folks wear a lot of color. It’s pretty natural to match your surroundings, and on the left coast of my childhood, you’d see a lot of browns (earth), greys (sky) and blues (water, which is everywhere). So it makes sense to me that New Yorkers also want to blend in. Their shiny skyscraper windows are black. The wet pavement is black. And as we transition from fall to winter, the night sky becomes blacker then black. I’ve lived in this city for almost 20 years now, and like my fellow urbanites, I’ve started to blend in, to reflect my environment. But each year when I pull out my winter clothes, I get a little depressed. It could be the leftover habit of back-to-school anxiety, could be related to September 11, could be that I just hate cold weather. But I think there’s something else a little… grey. Actually, darker than that. It’s black, and I don’t like it. I don’t like black and I’ve decided not to wear it …

The Disappearance of This New York Icon Made Me a Little Sad

I was so sad — quite disproportionately sad — when I read that after 42 years, the Metropolitan Museum has decided to discontinue the use of its medal admissions tags. The price of the tin got too high. I’ve always loved those metal admission buttons; I loved their changing colors, the nice feeling of bending the tin in my fingers, the feeling of satisfaction I got when I put the button in the special receptacle on the way out of the museum. And now they’re gone! An icon of New York City — finished. My mother is visiting from Kansas City, and she visited the museum, so I just saw her wearing the newfangled admissions sticker. “It’s just not the same,” I told her. The end of the buttons is a good reminder: appreciate the little things while they last, because even things that seem as though they’d never change, will change. Feel grateful for those tiny pleasures that are so easy to take for granted. I’m reminded of Robert Frost’s poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay“: …

My Big ’80s Pink Prom Dress: A Love Story

At the ripe young age of 17, I fell in love. With a dress. While shopping for the prom, this pink sateen confection wooed me in the couture department at Saks Fifth Avenue in suburban Philadelphia. I can’t remember the designer, but in my mind’s eye — which may not be accurate due to my affinity for revisionist history — it was of a Christian Lacroix poof vintage Everything about the dress said “Big ‘80s” sophistication: the above-the-knee length, the strapless, heart-shaped neckline, the shimmery fabric that unfolded in soft layers like petals on a plump rose. Plus, it was pink, my favorite color — and the only color I could imagine myself wearing to the prom. I was never much of a “girly girl,” but I always loved iterations of pink. It might be because someone once told me that it complimented my complexion. But I also think pink is a happy color. (Plus, it’s said to have a calming effect.) [pullquote]“The Dress.” I had to have it. There was just one problem: My single mom couldn’t …

8 Women Share Their Longstanding Lipstick Shades

Lipstick is the greatest beauty product there is when it comes to color. In an instant, we can add a bright pop of pretty to our entire face, without having to do anything else at all. And the shades we choose say something about us — from bold, blood reds to light purples or pinks, what we wear on our lips most certainly make a statement. If you’re anything like us here at TueNight, you probably have a “signature shade” — one color that’s been your go-to since your early 20s. Even if that shade is very subtle, perhaps a natural-looking gloss or a lightly tinted stain, it still gives people a peek into your personality. Of course, there are those moments when it’s fun to mix it up, try something new, pick a color that matches an outfit, for example, or try out one of our favorite brand’s latest limited-edition hues. But for the most part, we tend to stick with what works, what makes us feel pretty, confident and — most importantly — …

A Life Too Red: Flirting With a Dangerous Color

I was eight years old when I first heard my mother attack the color red. We were in Macy’s shopping for an Easter dress, and I pulled out a bright red number, one overlaid with white voile and sprigged with daisies “No, honey,” she said firmly. “Blonds can’t wear red. It makes them look like tarts.” At that age, I thought my mother was talking about pastry tarts, which she often baked with raspberry jam. While I loved jam tarts, I understood that you wouldn’t want to look like a piece of pastry. So I accepted my mother’s judgment , pushed the dress back on the rack and settled for the pale blue piece that she thought was more suitable. Her dismissal of red continued, unabated, as I grew up, but my acceptance of her clothing dictums did not. It became clear to me that my mother not only disparaged red, she disliked any color that drew the eye. Her favorite color was beige. It went with everything, she said, and it was always suitable. …

My Passion for Purple: Prince, Donny and Me

 In Europe and America, purple is the color most associated with vanity, extravagance, and individualism. Among the seven major sins, it represents vanity. It is a color which is designed to attract attention. Purple is the color most often associated with the artificial and the unconventional. It is the major color that occurs the least frequently in nature… (“Psychologie de la couleur: Effets et symboliques” by Eva Heller) Back around the time I turned double digits, in 1976, I changed my sign-off from “Dori” to “The Purple Princess.” My signature on letters to real and imaginary correspondents, for example, was now Love Always, or Sincerely (or whatever), The Purple Princess. Or even more often, was written over and again and with calligraphic flourish on the myriad scraps of paper also doodled with flowers and hearts and such. This newly-imagined identity was a quiet, pissy rebellion on my part. If I wasn’t going to have a popular name that could be found on pins and belt buckles at roadside gas stations or gift shops – like, …

A History of My Life in Diets

It’s time. Or at least that’s what I’ve said every time, since about 1982. It’s always time and never time to lose weight. There’s always a new artisanal grilled cheese shop waiting for me to experience. Damn you, Brooklyn. But this time it’s different. This time I’m in pain. You mean vanity hasn’t prompted me to try and lose weight? Nope. The fact that I’m a fashion hound and can’t shop anywhere but tasteful and drape-y Eileen Fucking Fisher? Nope. That I do my best to afford a first-class ticket so I don’t have to worry about oozing into my neighbor’s seat? Nope. The fact that my little niece likes to giggle and say to me, “You’re fat!” and then slap my belly with her pint-sized paw. Nope. And funny, that thing called love. My husband and I like to tell each other, “Every day is not a celebration.” Because sometimes, happiness is yet another great excuse not to worry (or care) about losing weight. How did I get here? Years and years, my friend. …

The Truth About Fitness Trackers: How Well Do They Really Work?

Last spring, I participated in my first triathalon. While I was training, whether I was in the pool, running, or on the bike, I began to notice some very fancy-looking fitness trackers that fellow workout fanatics were wearing. And I decided that I, too, wanted to track my progress as I prepared for my first major fitness milestone. But what kind of tracker did I want? A Fitbit? The Nike Fuel Band? A Jawbone UP? I began to ask around to see what people liked and why. I knew that I needed one that worked in the water because I love to swim, but I also didn’t want to spend a fortune. Luckily for me, soon after I started my investigation, I ran into a friend at a party who was wearing a very sleek-looking, modernistic watch. But it wasn’t just a watch! It was the $120 Misfit Shine — an attractive tracker that works in water AND doesn’t look like an aircraft-to-land satellite tracking device. Eureka! I had to have it. A depressing fact …

Just a Moment: When I Met Richard Simmons

It’s my first trip back to NYC after having my first baby. I am meeting a friend on West Broadway, hoping to squeeze in half an hour of shopping to feel, you know, somewhat like the pre-baby version of myself. I pop into a consignment store and find a fun pair of shoes for $34. As I bring my find to the counter, I pull out my wallet and hear, “You. Are. Beautiful.” Sleep deprived, sans make up, stringy hair. This person can’t be talking to me. I turn to see a familiar face, but it takes me half a minute to place him. The hair has thinned, he’s a smaller version of his former, fit, self. But the voice is undeniable. It’s him. And he’s not talking to me. “You are gorgeous,” he says to my friend. She laughs. I can tell she doesn’t register who he is. He turns to me, “You’re pretty, too.” Ah, the consolation… but nice of him, nonetheless. “I need a picture with you two! C’mon, let’s get a …

You Spin Me Right Round: The Benefits of Finding a Workout You Love

I approach my workouts as a chore, like doing the laundry. When you hit middle age, not exercising is not an option — at least not if you cringe when see the widow’s humps on little old ladies and swear you won’t let yourself look like that as you age. So you stretch and you sweat and you check the clock on the gym wall, hoping you’re not spending too much of your day on this nonsense. But sometimes you get lucky and find a fitness outlet that you not only enjoy, but actually even look forward to. I discovered Spinning in the ’90s, about the same time that I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It was a great fitness alternative to the treadmill when the joints on my hands and feet swelled up and I could barely walk. I got on my stationary bike and followed the instructor up and down imaginary hills, making like Lance Armstrong (before we found out he was doping, of course). Spinning is more of a team sport than …

The Tribe of Shared Experience: I Think it’s Called Family

We gathered over a photo: a simple mobile snapshot of a house. A stately stone and shingle suburban colonial once owned by my grandparents. In the picture, it’s a beautiful, blue-sky day. Sun glistens off the shutters. Shadowy elm tree branches appear to intertwine like figures on the windows. A row of thick green hedges seem fuller than I remember. Two flower pots sit on the walkway and welcome you with bright red begonias. Last month, my cousin had driven past our grandparents former home in Hatfield, PA, the place where my dad grew up, a place that held so many memories for all of us. He snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook. Within minutes, another cousin posted: “Lots of memories there.” And so sparked a litany of comments: moments, quirks and random stuff that existed in — and only in — that house in Hatfield and in our collective brains. One thought would trigger another. “Do you remember the Plexiglass game pieces we’d play with?” “We still have those Plexiglass game pieces!” “The …

The Best Part Of Divorce? My Ex-Wives Club

When I was newly separated from my husband of seven years, I met a woman who was in the process of getting divorced. We were at our local watering hole — I’d met her through a few mutual friends, so we struck up a conversation. At first glance, she couldn’t have been more different than me. The kind of woman that was intimidating. The kind of woman that all men looked at and bought drinks for. Tall and blonde with a sexy German accent, she was the opposite of my short, mousy brown American self. But we started talking about what we had in common: our soon to be ex-husbands, what had happened to our marriages, and how the divorce processes were going. I asked her how her little kids, who were the same ages as mine, were handling living in two separate places. She said it was going okay except they always came back to her house bedraggled. Tired. Teeth unbrushed. Hair slightly matted. I guess I shouldn’t have been so shocked but wow, …

Online Dating: You’re Doing it Wrong

Perhaps it’s because I met my man of nearly a decade online, or maybe it just appeals to my lazy nature, but I’ve always been a fan of internet dating. Why go out to a bar when you can sit home and order potential penises from the comfort of your couch? Incredibly, I still have friends who balk at the idea of looking for love (or sex) via the interwebs. Perhaps it’s just short-sightedness on my part, but I don’t see any downside. I mean, I’d never had much faith in love, but shopping for dates was more fun than shopping on Zappos or Etsy. Sure, for a while I pursued it with the vigor that others invest in activities like Bikram Yoga or a methamphetamine addiction, and yeah, it cost me a couple bucks (and occasionally my dignity), but after more than 500 or so fruitless dates, I met someone really great. So since I was already proselytizing my face off about this issue to my friends, and had a veneer of legitimacy due …

Park Slope, Brooklyn: A Mom’s Defense

I never intended to be here. I mean, I explicitly did not want to be here. When my husband and I were looking for apartments, we instructed our real estate agent to show us any neighborhood near downtown Brooklyn: Carrol Gardens, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Ft. Greene, DUMBO, basically anything but Park Slope. There’s a ‘Park Slope’ neighborhood in most cities with hip, urban centers, but the birthplace — the ur-destination — of obnoxious, yuppie parenthood is this neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. Picture expensive SUV-style strollers blocking the sidewalk. Picture mommy bloggers with yoga mats drinking imported teas. Toddlers named Henry and Sophia taking advanced Mandarin classes. That’s the rep. No individually minded person with street cred would get anywhere near it. And yet what happened next is that I moved to Park Slope. My husband and I have two children. We both work full-time jobs. We spend more than a firefighter’s annual salary on childcare. (This is true.) And I have become a Park Slope Mom. When my husband, my 1 1/2-yr-old daughter and I moved to our …

How I Broke Up (and Eventually Got Back Together) with AA

I’ve always had enormous respect for Alcoholics Anonymous. Just the idea that, nearly 80 years ago, two guys, both desperate to stay sober, found a way to help each other, then help others, then write a book and start a life-saving movement — one that now has more than two million members worldwide — is astounding. AA’s history is fascinating, and I will always be inspired by it, regardless of my own relationship status with the fellowship. Because it’s been a bumpy one. Since 2005, AA has been like that boyfriend you love, then leave, then run back to for all the wrong reasons, then leave again, for a long time. Until one day, years later (if you’re lucky), you reunite once more, but only after both partners have had the life experiences they needed to change, to grow, to sort out whatever stuff was getting in the way of a successful relationship in the first place. That, in a nutshell, sums up what my love life with Alcoholics Anonymous has been like. AA is …

How Working on a 100-Year-Old Boat Gave Me New Life

If you’ve ever driven on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway between the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Gowanus Canal you know that construction is an ever-present reality. The deck of this elevated section of roadway is being replaced with new reinforcement bars, concrete, wooden timbers and metal sheeting because it’s basically falling apart. I know this not because I’m an engineer or a construction worker, but because I collected piles and piles of scrap wood from the site as part of a volunteer job I had for five months. After being unemployed for the better part of a year, I was desperate to work and engage with people again. Searching through New York City’s government volunteer website I found a museum on a barge docked in Red Hook, Brooklyn that was looking for a museum docent. As a lover of that neighborhood and boats, it felt potentially like the perfect place to be. On top of that, I had recently been raped and needed to normalize my life. The water felt like a natural healing environment so I …

Is It Ever Ok To Be Foolish with Money?

A regular series wherein we discuss deep topics via instant message. This week Margit Detweiler and Stacy Morrison discuss their “spendy regrets” on a Friday afternoon at 6pm while multi-tasking. So, my friend, how are we defining this thing called “spending foolishly?” I have a hard time with the word foolish. Underneath it all, foolish often means FUN and who doesn’t want that? But yes, I’ve had my spendy regrets. Spendy regrets. Love it. Give me an example. I just made a foolish purchase today. I absolutely could have found a perfectly fine piece of furniture for about 1/10th of what I paid. But I fell in LOVE with an aged-wood credenza. The masterful handiwork! The crossed-iron base! And I have to say, the love I give to that piece, I will get back for decades. So no regrets. So that’s not really foolish then? “If it makes you happy…” to quote Ms. Crow. What are the things you will *always* spend money on? Like for me, it’s a comfortable seat with a great view. On …

Money Don’t Mean a Thing When it Comes to My Sobriety

It’s the horror of all horrors, and it’s happening to me: It looks we’re going to have to give up cable. And our cleaning lady. Even worse, I think I’m going to have to wait out the winter without getting my hair highlighted, which as a beauty writer is as shameful as not taking a shower. Because right now, I’m pretty effing broke. When I left the world of glossy mags almost three years ago, I wasn’t a fool — I knew I was giving up a pretty sweet paycheck, along with a host of cool perks. But I had just spent two weeks watching my dad die, and was so run down and emotionally spent, I really didn’t care. Suddenly, stressing over the factual accuracy of a lipstick price or a lotion ingredient seemed insane to me. And my dad was always the one who told me to do what you love (he was a writer, too), and to take serious chances when you need to. Otherwise, you might never get there. So I …

Manage Your Money, With Feeling

A few years ago, I dreamed of quiet, tree-lined streets, quality neighborhood public schools, a car, a dog, and a yard. My husband and I had had it with city life, so we began hunting for homes in New Jersey. We must have looked at fifteen homes over the course of a year. But after all that, we decided to move just a few neighborhoods over in Brooklyn, where we could get at least 80% of the things we wanted. (We still don’t have the yard or dog. Some day, perhaps.) I always find it interesting to hear why people make homeownership decisions. Some people do a cost analysis and decide that it may be cheaper to own than rent, or predict that it will be a better long-term investment. Some people buy simply because they like the idea of home ownership and they’ve always imagined themselves as a homeowner. Unlike many other types of financial decisions, such as how much to contribute to a 401(k), owning a home is a deeply personal decision since, …

Unlikely Treasures: A Few of Our Favorite Things

Here at TueNight HQ, we all share a bit of an obsession with stuff. Lovely stuff, ephemeral stuff, goofy stuff, that we pile and store and cherish. Old magazines, beautiful shoes, nostalgic action figures, scraps of meaningful scribbles. Maybe we’re all just weird and that’s why we work together, but I think there’s something about our generation (Xish, we like to say), that’s wont to hang on versus let go. Even while we become more virtual and cloud-y (as of last weekend my CDs no longer exist in their jewel cases; next step, digitize!) we still have trouble tossing the mementos. Curators, collectors, packrats, call us what you will, but we treasure our unlikely treasures. Here are just a few: MARGIT MoMA Bubble Necklace A present from my husband. If I could wear this necklace every day, I would. Cowboy Boots I’m no cowgirl, in fact I’m a bit a-feared of cows. But I do have a mini collection of cowboy boots from Austin, TX. Austin was one of the first “work” trips I took as a …