Month: May 2016

The Public Intimacy of Private Ink

Spring came late this year, but I can tell it’s here because all of a sudden people are commenting on my tattoo. I live on the Canadian Shield; I spend at least nine — often 10 — months wrapped in multiple layers. Each year, when it finally gets warm enough to wear a tank top, I forget that much of the general public hasn’t yet seen the typewriter inked onto my right upper arm. It’s like seeing the first robin of the season. “Hey, cool! I love your typewriter!” someone will say at a bar or restaurant or on the street, usually followed up with: “Are you a writer?” And I nod and smile and say, “Thank you” and “Yes.” And then there is a bit more smiling, and I pray inwardly that they won’t next ask, “What do you write?” If you write, then you know there’s no worse question than “What do you write?” Particularly if you happen to be, say, the kind of writer who writes first-person essays about intense emotional moments …

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A Healer with a Gun: She Tattoos for Cancer

In 2016 it’s not unusual to find out your co-worker has an elaborate sleeve tattoo hidden under her Ann Taylor blouse. But in 1990, when Amy Justen was a student at The Art Institute of Chicago, “tattoos were still very much part of the subculture of rebels,” says Justen. When Amy’s cousin, a Hell’s Angel fully engaged in the biker lifestyle, invited Amy to apprentice in his shop in Texas, she decided this was “not a career path for a young woman from a good Catholic family.” She stayed in Chicago and completed her art degree instead. After graduation, while Amy was pursuing a career in fine art, earning critical acclaim but not enough cash, two Chicago tattoo artists, Robert Hixon and Wayne Borucki, encouraged her to pick up a tattoo gun. “I was super green and had no idea what I was doing,” Amy says. “Tattooing is an unforgiving art form. I had to put all other mediums aside while I learned. It still blows my mind on the daily that perfect strangers allow me, pay …

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Like Mother, Like Daughter — When it Comes to Tattoos

I present for your entertainment the brief but painful tale of my foray into the world of body modification, and how my seventy-three-year-old mother managed to both steal my thunder and make me feel like a privileged little shit. I got my tattoo later in life, some time around age 41 or 42. It was something that I’d wanted to do for years, but in all that time I had never been capable of settling on an image. There were three basic concepts that scrolled through my mind’s eye, and each one felt powerful, personal and perfect. But three tattoos were two too many for me, and committing to that one-and-only and forever-and-ever was harder — I admit it — than it was to commit to my second husband. I suppose it was because I’d already lived through the pain of divorce, but I’d never experienced anything like laser surgery. The images were simple ones: A ginkgo leaf. A dragonfly. A horseshoe crab. Each represented a time and place in my life and each spoke …

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Day Job: I Work for a Temporary Tattoo Company

Yng-Ru Chen is the head of partnerships at Tattly, a company that makes artful, fun and often elaborate temporary tattoos. (We had one made for our first TueNight birthday party.) Her Tattly partner work even brought her to an easter party at the White House! We wanted to ask Yng-Ru what it was like to work for one of the coolest Brooklyn-based teams, and quiz her, Prosustian-style, on her work essentials and career history.   Tell us in your own words: What are Tattlys exactly? That’s a fun question to answer. Tattly is a temporary tattoo company that adults seems to love as much, if not more than kids. All of the designs are by amazing artists who receive royalties from the sales. What exactly do you do for Tattly? As head of partnerships I work on developing clients for the custom Tattly side of the business, I oversee the events we do, I manage our large licensing properties and I create relationships with partners so that our tiny, 12-person company can have the largest …

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The Living Memoir of My Skin

It began in a high-rise shopping mall in Thailand, in a booth specializing in designer knock-off purses, Hello Kitty swag and tattoos. We were 22 and eager to assert our independence and hipster edge, belied by the fact that we selected nearly identical images. My traveling companion chose the Japanese Kanji character for happiness while I settled on the similarly shaped character for sea turtle. With the help of a dual-language dictionary, I politely confirmed in stilted Thai that the teenaged artist was using new needles and sterilizing his tools. Back in our apartment, we took a series of fresh ink photos with our film camera and waited impatiently for an overnight Kodak shop to develop prints of the very tats we could observe at any time on our right ankles. Damn, we were cool. And I was hooked. Next up, I stuck to my original sea creature concept with a large starfish on my upper arm in celebration of my 24th birthday. I was living in Washington, D.C., and my best friend — ostensibly …

4 Things to Consider Before Getting Inked

If you’re thinking about getting inked, you’re not alone. According to a 2015 Harris poll, three in ten Americans (29%) have at least one tattoo, a marked increase from 21% four years prior. Maybe you’re thinking about getting another? You’re not alone there, either. Among those surveyed who have tattoos, seven in ten (69%) have two or more. Remember when Cher was badass with six? Angelina has 20. If you are a newbie, though, here are some considerations to keep in mind: 1. Think about why you want one. This is not like a piercing that can grow in or purple hair that will grow out. So think about it for a while to make sure this is something you really want. I wish I could say I got my tattoo to commemorate some life-changing experience like adopting a child from Cambodia. Or winning a Pulitzer. Even winning a scratch-off would rate more meaningful that my reason for getting one. Still, I had thought about it for nearly three years, which may be a record …

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Margit’s Note: Tattoo You (Not Me)

I’m on a fast track to 50 and yet… when I half-jokingly ask my mother, as a preface to this issue, how she would feel if I got a tattoo she swiftly responds with a “No.” Okay, Mom. What about a commemorative, post-chemo… “Nope.” Despite Mom’s protestations, I’ve considered it. I just have zero idea of what I’d get. What’s worth a perma-doodle for my forearm? What witty, sums-it-all-up phrase could I see peeking out of a backless dress? (If I wore backless dresses.) There are plenty of tattoos I see and think, “Now why didn’t I think of that??” See this week’s theme image for the perfect example. Yet, nothing has me rushing to get needle and inked. More than likely, I’d get a tattoo, tire of it and end up with a Johnny Depp “Wino Forever” travesty. I have a poor track record with body modifications in general — a heavy, dangling feather earring in 10th grade resulted in a torn earlobe. I’ve been a clip-ons wearer ever since. But never say never. “Never.” …

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Dreaming My Way to The Other Place

“She had always lived her best life in dreams. She knew no greater pleasure than that moment of passage into the other place, when her limbs grew warm and heavy and the sparkling darkness behind her lids became ordered and doors opened; when conscious thought grew owl’s wings and talons and became other than conscious.” ― John Crowley, Little, Big That other place. When I first read these words, I gasped. I have often felt as if I lived my best life in dreams, too. A life that I sometimes believed in more intensely than my waking life. I have always been a dream machine, spinning worlds both wondrous and terrifying. My childhood nightmares came from fairy tales, of trolls under a bridge or witches with eyes the size of dinner plates. These morphed into wartime survival epics, escaping and hiding from menacing men in uniform, perhaps drawn from the Nazis in The Sound of Music. I also have a recurring nightmare in which I am driving a car straight up a vertical road and …

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How to Be Really Good at Insomnia 

Do you look at those of us with insomnia and think to yourself, “They must have so much time on their hands!” or “Think of all the things I could get done!”? Do you wish that you too could have insomnia? There are tons of diet, self-help, parenting and leadership guides out there, but what about those who wish to be good at insomnia? Well, look no further. I’m here to share with you my years of hard work and study in the field through diligent, direct hands-on experience. You’re welcome. Some people are just born with this skill and, honestly, they make it look so easy by staying up for days on end with little to no sleep as their eyes glaze over and they get more and more cranky with the world. But for those who struggle to stay awake and bask in the glory of unproductive hours of tossing and turning or long days of exhaustion, follow my simple rules and you too will be living the sleepless dream. Do identify a …

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Arianna Huffington, a Cyborg and a Bag of Chia Seeds: Or, How I Spent a Perfect Sunday in a Painfully Long Mattress Ad

April 17, 2016 was one of the finest New York Sundays in recorded history. A Sunday so glorious it could’ve actually been God’s very own birthday. The real-life manifestation of “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” Or maybe L.A. had Airbnb-ed New York City for the day, and this was its way of saying thanks. A day lit so artfully Spike Jonze could’ve eBayed his camera equipment and retired forever. The kind of day that launched a thousand High Line Instagrams with hashtag #nofilter. However, I was not at the High Line. Instead, I was indoors at Casper’s’s first “Sleep Symposium.” Casper, the e-commerce company that will ship you a mattress that comes folded in half in a cardboard box. TueNight had asked if I’d cover the event for their “Sleep” issue. Now, why did I answer “sure, why not” as opposed to making up some bullshit excuse? I have no clue. It was pretty out of character considering I’m EXTREMELY lazy, and I like to spend my Sundays in almost complete monastic silence at …

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Ovarian Rhapsody: It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. It’s… Cancer Lady?

I am a superhero. Stronger than a shot of Lovenox into my body — twice a day! Powerful enough to withstand my first surgery ever! (Wait, make that two surgeries in two months.) Able to shave my entire head and utter, “Pssh that tweren’t so bad.” You see, even though cancer, chemo and the ensuing side effects are hellish, there is a bright side: Sometimes, I actually feel like a badass. I strut into Duane Reade, bald head shiny and a-blazing, all sweatpants and felt slip-ons, ready to pick up my meds. I look people right in the eyeball. Yup, that’s me — Cancer Lady. Cape on. Power up the invisible jet. Since my ovarian cancer diagnosis last November, and especially since undergoing chemotherapy, there are things I’ve dealt with things that I never thought I’d be able to withstand. Before, I could barely even give my cat Alice a shot in her little fleshy parts, let alone my own. Now? Hell, I’m a pro. My super powers don’t end there. My sense of smell …

tuenight sleep yellow couch amy barr

Ode to the Yellow Couch and Other Thoughts on Napping

I’m thinking about buying a new couch. The one we have has served us well for a decade or so, but the fabric is faded and the stuffing is mostly dead. Here’s the problem: When I mentioned my plan to my family, they pitched a collective fit. “Noooo,” they whined. “We love the yellow couch. It’s the nap spot.” This couch is not particularly long or deep. Napping on it requires bending your knees or propping your feet up on an arm. Yet, when I brought up the possibility of replacing it, you would’ve thought I suggested murdering Grandma. As far as nap spots go, the yellow couch isn’t my top choice. It’s in a high traffic, sometimes noisy location. You’re on display to anyone traveling from kitchen to bathroom, and, depending on which end you rest your head, your ears could be next to a giant speaker. But my husband and sons love it, so for now I’ve capitulated. The yellow couch stays. Apparently people are pretty idiosyncratic about nap preferences. Some need silence …

Snoring: My Not-So-Secret Crime

Once upon a time, I had to sleep in a bunkhouse on a women’s retreat. As per usual, in a group sleeping situation, I did not sleep well. I sensed rustling around in the room all night. It was hot, and I was uncomfortable — as it turned out, with good reason. When I woke up, one of the women in my group was glaring at me. “Damn Laurie, you snore,” she said. “I didn’t sleep at all last night. Thanks a lot.” My face went red. I felt deep embarrassment. Of course I knew this would happen. I had asked for my own sleeping space, as snorers frequently do, and was shot down. There was nowhere else to put me. I had told the organizers what the problem might be, and they blew it off. They never should have. It typically ends well for no one. This happened again, on a trip to Vietnam after a day-long journey. Again, I’d warned my professors that I might bother my roommate. No one listened. Anger ensued, …

Margit’s Note: Are You Up?

I am too tired to write this editor’s note for our second SLEEP issue. So I decided to delegate. You fancy folks call it “crowdsourcing.” To that end, I posed seven very important questions on Facebook: The respondents numbered 50. Forty-seven women and three dudes. I cut it off there because it’s a nice number and time’s a-ticking. You snooze, you lose. To outsource this even further, I enlisted FancyHands.com to turn my Facebook post into a spreadsheet so I could easily sort the data. Perhaps this issue should have been called LAZY… Nonetheless, the answers were fascinating-ish. Here’s what we uncovered: Favorite Sleeping Position: Thirty-three (66%) of you are side sleepers. Six (12%) of you noted “always on the left,” and four (8%) of you noted “always on the right.” You four might want to read this article because apparently you’re doing it all wrong according to this very reputable site called OMGFacts. Seven (14%) of you are back sleepers, and one of those described her prone position thusly: “Flat on my back arms …

Sleeping Your Way Around The World — No, Really

I used to think traveling for work would be an amazing benefit, collecting miles and points for my personal use later on. While living in San Francisco, I even took a job with a company partially because it boasted offices in 31 cities across 16 countries, and lured me with project collaborations in Paris and Rome. I never travelled further than Palo Alto. Eventually, I moved back to New York and was hired by a company that wanted me to travel quite a bit. That was when I learned a hard truth: work travel is nothing like vacation. It’s more like a series of redeyes to minimize hotel expenses, and thus, sleep. I’ve arrived at many meetings and conferences feeling like one of the faceless cast members of the The Walking Dead. But I’ve also learned that while there’s no substitute for a comfortable bed in a dark, quiet place, there are some tricks and tools that can help you sleep just about anywhere. 1. Pack for Comfort Remember when all airplanes and all the …

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Death of a Salesman’s Samples

Back when I was growing up, we didn’t call it clutter. Or hoarding. It was just “the basement,” and most people thought of it as our subterranean treasure cave. When relatives came over for holidays or my friends visited for play dates, they’d be delighted to be invited downstairs. They’d make their way down the matted, pastel-colored rainbow steps to the lower level of our New Jersey ranch house. This was where my salesman father stacked his towers of cardboard sample cartons. My father would ceremoniously open one of these boxes with a utility knife. The thick strapping tape unfurled and revealed a mind-boggling array of wholesale items wrapped in brown butcher paper. He sold miniature antique dollhouse furniture. Cloisonné jewelry from Taiwan – necklaces with miniature scaled fish in every color. Almost everything came by the gross, which was not gross at all but, rather, the magic number 144 – a dozen dozen. My friends and I dove into grosses of faux birthstone rings, a dollar a dozen. They winked on our fingers, glass …

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Ovarian Rhapsody: The Routine of My Dreams

Sunday morning. Tea. CNN muttering in the background. My husband has made eggs with pesto. I’m going through old mail and sorting it into “recycle it” or “shred it.” The cat is snoring on the couch. It’s a lovely boring day. Finally I have energy. My brain feels clear and crisp; I can do mundane physical tasks, even multitask. Ah, doing too many things at once. I feel like I’m back to my old semi-healthy self — yippee! The reason for my vim and vigor is in part due to a new chemotherapy routine. What was once every week is now every three. My doc decided to switch things up because I wasn’t tolerating the chemo well and the side effects were mounting. More importantly, she was acting on a report in the New England Journal of Medicine — released only two weeks prior —that had determined that my every week “dose dense” treatment wasn’t as effective for ovarian cancer patients as getting it every three weeks. Say what? This is how fast cancer research …

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Cluttered Apartment, Clear Mind

Most people pare down when they move. Not me — I just move my stuff to an entirely new place. The bright side to my separation was that it decreased a different kind of clutter, the kind that lived in my brain. The kind that questioned me every day: “Will today be the day that he foregoes late night TV and comes to bed with you?” or “Will today be the day that you grow a pair and tell him you can’t go one more day without being touched?” Seven years is too long to live in a comatose marriage. I tried envisioning my future if I stayed in this marriage and my future as a single mom. I could see the former very clearly — it was more of the same. The latter, although fuzzy in its composition, showed a riskier but much more rewarding path. I did all the analyzing I could possibly do until I finally felt strong enough to make the decision. I walked out of my old claustrophobia-inducing house and …

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The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mom

My son hands me a form and tells me he needs $10 for a field trip. A client requests a change to their website. The tulips are coming up and the flowerbeds need to be raked. One of my volunteer causes has been patiently waiting — for weeks — for a new logo. We’re out of toilet paper. And milk. And, oh yeah, food. Ten years ago, my 40-year-old brain would have remembered it all, categorized the demands in a mental list and multi-tasked the crap out of them. But over the course of the past decade, I’ve found myself relying less on memory and more on strategy. You know, the little sticky notes, the smart phone apps, the piles of paper strategically placed near the front door. Like most other people my age, I simply can’t remember things the way I used to. Thing is, I’m happy about it. I’m clearing the clutter from my overloaded mind, and it’s such a relief. The decluttering began when I hit menopause at age 47 — and …

Confessions of a Hopeful Hoarder

I love my stuff — my books, my clothes, my jewelry, my art, my notebooks, my giant Hello Kitty pillow that I snuggle up to at night (even though I’m 38). I don’t mean “love” as in the woman who married the Eiffel Tower — my belongings and I are on a strictly platonic basis. But it’s still a love that runs deep and strong, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I should tell you right off the bat that I’m a hoarder. My impulse is to add. I’d say “not like those people you see on TV,” but that would only be half true. My former apartment was right up there in terms of clutter horror stories. I had to shove the main door hard against all the papers, books and assorted items on the floor in order to eke out enough room to squeeze through. I walked over piles of stuff in every room. I lived in fear that my landlord would need to come in and would evict me …

6 Easy Ways to Tidy Up Your Desktop

Got a jumble of icons cluttering your Mac’s desktop? Are the icons themselves too big—or too small? Wish they would just arrange themselves? Read on for six ways to whip your messy Mac desktop into shape, starting with… 1. Arrange Your icons Automatically Want to see your desktop icons arranged in nice, straight columns, and in some kind of logical order? First, here’s the secret weapon you’ll need to use: the View Options tool in the Mac OS X “Finder.” Here’s your secret weapon for cleaning up your desktop: the “View Options” menu. Just right-click your desktop, then select Show View Options. (If you’re fond of keyboard shortcuts, you can also hit Command-J after clicking the desktop.) Next, click the drop-down menu that’s labeled “Sort by” and pick an option, from Name and Size to Date Created and Date Last Opened. Note that no matter which automatic sorting option you choose, your Mac will group your icons by type—meaning internal hard drives come first, then shared and external drives, and finally your folders and files. …

Margit’s Note: What a Mess

Spring cleaning! One of my favorite times of year — no joke. It’s when I go all Kondo on my apartment, roll up my socks, fold them ever so nicely into drawers, parse out items designated for donations or the annual stoop sale and generally de-clutter my world. Of course this year I haven’t exactly felt up to the task, but I’ve enlisted a friend Stormy (aptly named — to tackle a whirlwind of mess) to help me out. Stormy’s been coming twice a week to help me with some basic tasks as I go through chemo (making freezable meals, running to the post office and dry cleaners etc) but on the weeks I feel better we’ve been organizing. It’s truly her strength and something that genuinely gets me focused on the future – and excited. Watching stacks of old magazines get the boot. Witnessing a pantry filled with expired cans of beans get transformed into a thing of useable beauty. “This shelf is for cans, this section for cereal and snacks, here are your towels” …