Month: June 2016

Why I Don’t Need You to “Mansplain” It to Me

As I walked to my seat at a gathering last week, a male acquaintance grabbed me by the elbow, spilling my coffee. “Whoa,” I said. “What are you doing?” “That’s what you get for not saying hello to me,” he said. “You spilled my coffee,” I said and kept walking. I could focus on the details here of how I know this person casually and that he has previously told me out of the blue that I’m “intimidating” and that I don’t speak to him as much as he’d like me to. I could get into how I get nervous in groups and how I generally need to locate a safe spot and/or a safe person in the room, and in that process I can skip acknowledging people accidentally. And God knows I probably don’t smile enough at anyone, especially men, based on feedback I’ve gotten whether I’ve asked for it or not. I can note how I was walking to that safe spot the other night with my too-full coffee when he interrupted me …

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In Praise of the Midlife Crisis — on a Motorcycle

The author on her Harley. (Photo credit: John Livzey) We should avoid excess risk as we age. So says conventional wisdom. After all, it takes longer to heal a bone broken learning to ski in our 50s than in our 20s. There won’t be time to regain a financial loss suffered past our early 40s if we become too aggressive with our investments. Going back to school later in life to embark on a new career seems a waste of time and energy. And don’t get me started on those folks who leave long-term marriages for the greener pastures of a new relationship. I believed all these things. Until, at age 48, I fell in love with a matte black, brawny beast of a machine. I took a motorcycle safety class as research for a book I was writing and surprised myself with the depth of feeling that burbled up. My father was dying at the time and I felt entombed in a marriage that, after 25 years, had lost all its verve. I had …

I Left My New York Apartment For Life on a Boat

Victoria and her husband on the Scallywag (Photo: David Freid ) Three weeks ago, I sailed away from New York City. I cast off the lines from our 37-foot sloop and left New York harbor for the East River, along with my husband and dog. In that moment, and without much ceremony, we were no longer New Yorkers. The moment we left the dock, we became full-time sailors with no homeport to call us back. This wasn’t a longtime dream. We’re not lifelong boaters. Nor did we come from wealth or retire early on some startup exit. My husband, Jon, and I are simply wanderers. We spent years wanting something else. This is our else. Before moving to New York two years ago, Jon and I met through our love of travel. After a couple of years of dating, we each began working without an office, for a total of about five years, sometimes running a business together, sometimes working separately. This wasn’t gig economy work but rather leadership positions for traditional companies that were …

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Ovarian Rhapsody: Pop a Wheelie and Ask for Help

I was sweating and cursing under my breath as I wheeled my suitcase through 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Maybe it was early in my post-chemo life to be taking a trip to D.C. I might be jumping out of my pants to be my old go-get-‘em self again, but my body is definitely not so sure. You ain’t ready yet sister, it alternately whispers and shouts to me. Patience, butterfly. Just a month out from the end of cancer treatment, I’m still weathering various side effects — leg clot, infected toe, a fuzzy brain and big-time fatigue. But when a friend invites you to the first United State of Women Summit, a gathering that is essentially FLOTUS’s power-packed swan song, meant to shine the spotlight on the challenges and opportunities women and girls face around the world — violence, education, healthcare, workforce issues, family care, entrepreneurship — you go. Amirite? So I decided to do it. I just needed help getting there and getting around. Help? Help? HALP! Asking for help is hard. But …

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Learning About Bravery from My 10-Year-Old Daughter

Aliza’s daughter sliding into the water with a huge splash. (Photo courtesy Aliza Sherman) I watch my daughter come out of a long, twisting water slide, arms thrown out triumphantly, eyes and mouth wide open, soaring for a moment through space before crashing into the pool with a loud splash. We are on a two-week family road trip and are at a hotel pool. She turned 10 just a few days into the journey. And she is brave. I’m afraid of water slides and afraid of this one. I marvel at how one moment, my daughter can be fearless, climbing to the top of a water slide and jumping into it without a second thought, laughing all the way down and going back up and down again. Then the next moment, she wants to be held, comforted and protected. At one truck stop on the trip, she strides into the convenience store, insisting that she can go to the restroom on her own. My eyes dart vigilantly about as I try not to follow her too …

The 3 Things You Need to Be a Vanner

Ashlie Atkinson outside the log cabin van (Photo: Leon Chase) Our vacation home has four wheels. And no bathroom. It’s not all that nice to look at. There’s not a lot in the way of furniture. But we have had some of the best times of our relationship in it. And we are just one couple of many. We call ourselves “Vanners.” Though local events started cropping up in the decade prior, the first National Truck-In was held in 1973, bringing together members of the custom-van subculture — a crew that would hold together through schism, aging, tragedy, astronomical gas prices and countless rounds of Bucket (a devastatingly yummy alcoholic brew passed around in a wooden bucket for all to drink; that’s the short explanation, anyway). For the past six years, my fiancé and I have fought our demanding schedules in Brooklyn so we can get away from city life and hang out with these rebellious, warm-hearted, frequently intoxicated friends, soaking up as much of their attitude as possible. Yes, we’re camping with electricity supplied by …

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Margit’s Note: Ms. Independence

Writing about independence is no easy task. I’ve written this little note to you three or four times, scrapping each edition and littering the page with words like “Liberty” “Freedom” and “Inalienable Rights.” It’s like Thomas Jefferson is all up in my grill. Come on Tom, back off. I’m trying to explain to my readers about we women of a certain age and independence, that the word means something particular to us because we’ve cultivated it over the years — and we fight for it every damn day. We can’t take it for granted. The point is, we need to light the sparklers and fist pump to Freedom — the freedom that a woman earns over the course of her life, that guides her decisions and allows her to forge and determine her own crazy, sexy path. As we see this week on TueNight, our path might be on a boat, on a motorcycle, in a van or even in a wheelchair. Yeah, I found independence in a wheelchair for a day. Go figure. I …

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Here’s Why Brunch Is the Absolute Worst

Brunch is cancelled until further notice. (Photo: Mac Premo/TueNight) What I’m about to say may sound indelicate, impolitic or even impure, but here goes: fuck brunch. Brunch is the absolute worst. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, brunch is the least important, most overhyped, overblown and overindulgent meal of all time. It combines two of my least favorite things (sitting too close to other New Yorkers and paying too much for eggs) into one undeservingly grandiose food event. Brunch doesn’t need the foolhardy pomp and circumstance and gratuitous excess of a Monster Truck rally. It’s just a plate of eggs, y’all. Let’s all calm down. Now, don’t go befouling your boy shorts. Just know that I truly believe that brunch is for sucker emcees and basics. It’s easily the biggest racket of the post-industrial modern age (next to thigh-firming creams — might as well rub a half-dozen hot glazed Krispie Kremes all over your legs because same/same.) Why spend $18 on two eggs when you know how many eggs $18 will …

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My Half-Baked Life and the Pastry Job That Saved Me

Lani Halliday of @BrutusBakeshop (Photo courtesy of Eater.com) Last summer, two coworkers and I left our jobs running a hip and lauded bakery in Brooklyn to start our own catering and cakes company. The plan had come together organically: We shared mutual affections, bonded over grueling workdays and were all possessed by a deep desire to pull ourselves out from under the never-ending task of producing someone else’s dream to ride high on our own vision. We conspired over margaritas how we together would take over the world — or at least the New York Slow Food scene. The “plan” lasted a solid two months and eventually fell apart when a project shaped distinctly like something bigger than we could chew, coupled with an epic no-sleep, Adderall-fueled prep session flushed out our deeper natures. We pulled it off and the client was thrilled, but I was deemed both too soft and too harsh to enter into a long-term relationship with. The other partners pushed me out. My ego was left battered, but — oh god …

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Ovarian Rhapsody: Wait, What? We’re All Done Here?

  My chemotherapy is always on a Monday. This particular Monday is May 2. No balloons. No fanfare. Just me and my husband and the final infusion needle affixed into my vein. Yes, it’s my very last chemotherapy appointment. There it is! We’re at the finish line! Whee! Whee? I should be excited, but, frankly, I’m just tired. It has been 18 weeks since we started this mess, and now it’s come to a halt. It’s hard to know how to feel. Like 18 Mondays before, my journey to the hospital began at 7:45 a.m. A brisk 55-degree chill in the air; my blue-and-white-striped tote pre-packed with mints, hand sanitizer, tissues, Zofran anti-nausea medicine, my water bottle and the same granola bar I’ve had in there for the last three chemo sessions. I don’t even have to think about what’s in there. I usually wear black yoga pants, a t-shirt and a comfy sweater of some sort, but this time I figured I’d dress it up a little and wear this purple tunic dress thing …

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Eating My Way Through the World

A Hong Kong street vendor. (Photo: Stocksy.com) When I travel, food is a focus. Friends who travel with me know that I leave all cultural points of interest to their choosing, but I take charge of the meals. Restaurants are booked in advance of hotels, and there may well be multiple lunches and “snacks” in order to squeeze additional samples into the itinerary. I don’t visit countries as much as eat my way through them. And it’s not just because I love food – I love the experience of it. Many stories begin with the hunt for a local specialty or with a hidden gem stumbled upon unexpectedly. I’ve crossed busy, signal-free intersections of Ho Chi Minh City with motorcycles passing close enough for me to touch the three or more passengers – all in search of the “best” pho. I’ve haunted side alleys and street vendors in Uruguay on a quest for the perfect Chivito, a sublime sandwich of thinly sliced beef with cheese, tomatoes, fried egg and bacon. That alone was worth the …

Bad Street Food Nearly Killed Me Until Celine Dion Saved My Life

So this is how I die: assassination by brunch. Murder by poop. Wrung dry yet drenched in sweat. Alone. Cheek pressed against the cool tile floor. Whoever finds me won’t know who I am. I carry no identification. At the moment, I’m not even wearing pants. I miss my parents. I don’t want to die here. I want to hug my best friend. I want to see Nebraska again. I want to have sex again. (But maybe not in Nebraska.) Hours pass. I try to stand but can’t. With my fingertip, I seek my pulse. Still alive. I check my watch and calculate the hours until my bus leaves. The bus that will take me to a city, to an airport. Home. I am not going to make it, I tell myself. I’m not sure I’ll even make it out of this room. This is how I die. And then she comes to me. Hazy at first, a swirl of colors before my eyes. Soon enough, I can make out her angular face, the little …

Food and Sex: Should We Give In To Our Cravings?

Taste. Lick. Suck. Bite. This thing we do, every day, all day long, is a driving desire in life. We work for it, think about it, crave things to consume. The innocent act of eating can sound so lustful. And, eating food is, at its core, incredibly sexual. Birds and bees pollinate flowers, the sexual organs of fruiting trees and plants, and we eat the results of these unions. In fact, eating is the most intimate thing we do with other people…in public. We humans are pleasure-seeking machines. And there isn’t a dang thing wrong with that. We take nourishment into our bodies at every meal, just as we take another person into us when we have sex. (Or enter into another, or just rub against each other like furtive bees on the hunt for more pollen.) We humans are pleasure-seeking machines. And there isn’t a dang thing wrong with that. But we often experience debilitating perfectionism, guilt, shame, heavy judgment and downright fear around food and our cravings for it, our bodies, desires for …

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Margit’s Note: Take a Bite

Digging in. (Photo: Stocksy.com) The word “Foodie” is super annoying, right? You imagine a person obsessed with the cultivation of cuisine — how it looks, smells, is plated, is grown, is sourced, is, of course, chronicled for social media. A foodie doesn’t eat to live; a foodie lives to eat… that avocado toast donut mash-up. (It’s a real thing.) Credit for the term is hotly debated, but most cite Gael Greene as first to coin the term in a 1980 New York Magazine article. She writes of a character who “slips into the small Art Deco dining room of Restaurant d’Olympe … to graze cheeks with her devotees, serious foodies.” Since then, the word has spawned three million Instagram accounts and a smattering of Portlandia episodes. Is there room for a much less discerning foodie? I’ve been known to entertain that day old slice of pizza or the questionable street cart egg sandwich. I was in Philly this past weekend, and whenever in my hometown, I must acquire a hoagie. A Wawa shortie to be …