Month: September 2016

11 Women Who Started Brand New Careers in Midlife— and Never Looked Back

Big changes in career, vocation and lifestyle in midlife or the years leading up to it are more often an evolution than a radical change. I went back to journalism school at 35 because the writing degree I’d started at 18 — and never finished —nagged at me for years. Going from full-time college counselor and teacher to graduate student was intimidating — financially, intellectually and emotionally. It was also one of the best, richest experiences of my life, and, no matter how many zeroes got added to my student loan balance, I have never regretted it. I traveled to Vietnam to cover business growth there. I was a reporter in the arena on the night Barack Obama accepted the nomination for President of the United States. I helped to run a student digital newsroom and emerged as the de facto den mother of several classmates a decade or more my junior. I now have a degree that means I can teach writing if I want to (because I loved teaching too much to leave …

train tracks, transition, transgendered

40-Odd Years Later, I’m Finally Who I Want to Be — a Man

I got a phone call last week from someone at my endocrinologist’s office. He asked to speak to Jennifer. “This is Jennifer,” I sighed. After a moment of confused silence he said, “I’m sorry, is this Jennifer?” My voice is getting deeper. He wouldn’t have been so confused if he had actually thought about the message he was calling to give me: My new prescription for testosterone was ready to be picked up. The first time I thought I knew who I was, my name was Jennifer and I believed I was a lesbian. I was born in 1971 and came of age before the internet, so give me credit for getting that close to figuring shit out. Back then, there were few words to describe the feelings I was having, and they weren’t used around children. The words themselves were considered too adult. No one on TV admitted to feeling like me, but I found my trail of breadcrumbs. Buddy on Family. Jo on Facts of Life. Martina Navratilova. That cute girl in Dragonslayer …

tuenight do over amy barr

You’re Never Too Young to Trust Your Gut (Lessons Learned from Making a Terrible Decision)

At age 17, my life was unraveling. My mother was dying, and my father was undone by the seemingly endless slog of her illness. He did his best to take care of my brother and me, and, in terms of creature comforts, we were fine. But crushed as he was, my father could offer no emotional or logistical support about the decisions I faced as I contemplated college. There were no discussions of which schools might suit me and no campus tours. Whatever research was to be done, I was on my own. I was a good student, and my options were undoubtedly greater than I thought, but I cast a narrow net, applying to only two places: Barnard College in New York City (about 15 miles from my suburban home) and a large state school several hours north, which was only on my radar because a neighbor went there. On the day of my Barnard interview, I loved the feel of the compact campus, the mix of old red bricks and modern glass walls. …

tuenight do over erin street alcohol

My Rock Bottom Came in a Pretty Dress and Heels

God bless the busted boat that brings us back.” — Jason Isbell, “New South Wales” Here’s what you should know about this do-over: Everything and nothing changed. In my 30s, I had everything I ever thought I wanted. I was a travel editor, catching planes and writing stories about the next great city or restaurant or artisanal cocktail. I had this fancy job, which I’d worked my entire life for, and a family and a home. But while I tweeted images of beach views and carefully plated food, I was also drinking a bottle or more of wine a night. Sometimes I passed out. Sometimes I couldn’t remember things, and I often had unexplainable bruises. By day, dressed in a pink shift dress and gold heels, I gave talks about nimble new media strategies. By night – it was another story. I drank to deal with my anxiety. I drank to deal with my physical limitations. I drank to deal with never “being enough.” I drank to slow my brain when I was enough. I …

tuenight do over nina mccollum

Mother of One: The Fertility Choice That Changed My Life

I got married late compared to others I know. At 34, after several rejected proposals and broken engagements, it was finally time. We both wanted children, and, after a year or so, we began trying to conceive. I’d always thought I’d be a mother of three. Before I ever wanted to get married, I wanted to be a mom and three was the magic number in my head. We came up with first and middle names for both boys and girls. We quickly agreed on a boy name: Daniel Patrick*. The others took discussion. We settled on Zoe June and Luke Bradford. Thus began our four-year conception journey — and it was terrible. As a young woman, I was sick with ulcerative colitis and, after five years of illness, underwent a multi-stage, major surgery that left me with an abdomen full of scar tissue. As a result, nothing worked to get us pregnant. We went from “not trying” to “trying” to “charting and temping” to fertility doctors. We threw more money, time and science at …

tuenight do over margit detweiler

Margit’s Note: Can I Get a Do-Over?

Yesterday was one of those days. I’d overslept. The cat had pooped just to the side of her litter box. (But it’s right there Alice!) I tried to put on a jumpsuit and it took me five minutes to realize my arm was in the leg part. I was not going to make a podiatry appointment because traffic uptown was 100 percent blocked due to the UN General assembly, so I cancelled it (after fighting about a “rescheduling fee”) and hobbled to work. I’d double-booked meetings with two different friends and left one standing at my doorway texting me frantically while I had coffee with the other. Finally, in the afternoon while I was at work, the shower in our apartment leaked into the neighbor’s below and into her electrical box. The super called, needed our key, and when he couldn’t reach us he busted the lock to get in. The kind of day when you yourself would like to poop on the side of the litter box. Can I get a do-over? Please? But, …

We Asked 15 Women of All Ages: What Does Turning “50” Mean?

Fifty is an age and a cultural milestone, marking half a century lived and decades yet to unfold. Here, 15 women who have reached the half-century mark — and those who have years to go — share their thoughts about what this middle age marker means to them. Elisa Camahort Page, 52 Chief Community Officer, She Knows Media @ElisaC “50 means less than I would have thought. It certainly explains the grey streak and the sudden utter understanding about why Nora Ephron complained about her neck. It probably explains fewer fucks to give and more willingness to forgive. But when I’m driving in my car with the radio blasting or giggling about some stupid double entendre that a 12-year-old boy would find amusing or digging in to my eleventy-billionth fruitless internet argument, I’m not sure 50 means much at all. We always learn, and we never learn. I think that’s what being human means.” Meredith Walker, 47 Founder, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, AmySmartGirls.com @meredeetch “I do not think much about eventually turning 50. I am PRO-Aging. I …

tuenight fifty 50 carolyn edgar

It Turns Out Black Does Crack, It Just Starts On The Inside

The author and her tattoo. (Photo courtesy Carolyn Edgar)   Not our faces, if we cleanse and moisturize and exfoliate consistently. Black women’s skin tends not to wrinkle. Our faces can look easily 10 to 20 years younger than our driver’s licenses say we are — if we maintain our health. But that’s the biggest if. Our health is where we black women tend to crack. Our black cracks from the inside out. It cracks under the weight of taking care of everybody but ourselves. It cracks under the pressure of smoothing out our rough edges and filing down our sharp tongues, lest we be tarred and feathered as angry black women for speaking our minds. And it cracks under our need to present our lives to the world as perfect, to counteract all of the negative stereotypes of black women and black families. We crack under the black-love-is-always-a-beautiful-thing pretensions of perfect marriages, children on the fast track to the Ivy League and well-behaved pets with glossy coats and camera-ready smiles. In February of this …

I Got in the Best Shape of My Life at 50…And Then 55 Hit

At forty-nine, I was resigned to being over the hill — an overweight couch potato who avoided exercise and ate pastries with abandon. Walking up a flight of stairs left me winded, but I attributed that to middle age. I was getting old, after all. Then, seven months before my 50th birthday, I got the wake-up call that changed my life: A routine lab test revealed that I had Type 2 diabetes. As a physical therapist, I knew what havoc this disease could wreak on a body. I’d treated patients with diabetes-induced neuropathy, blindness and, in severe cases, amputations that began with an infected toe and led to bilateral lower-leg prostheses. I was shocked and terrified and suddenly determined to beat this condition back with everything I had. I downloaded the Couch-to-5k running app on my phone and started. Designed for couch-sitters like me, it started out so gently it was almost laughable. “Run for 60 seconds,” the voice intoned through my ear buds. A minute? Who couldn’t run for a minute? As it turned …

Not Going Gently Into the White (Blonde) Light

As I edge my way toward 50 — with curiosity, no fear and only a few regrets — vanity is on my mind. But I’m not fretting over wrinkles and the general softening of my flesh. I’m curating my look — as I always have, at every age. But what’s different now? I never think about my age in doing so. And, I won’t lie, I fucking love that beautiful irony. When I was much (much) younger and in leadership positions at a precociously young age, I felt compelled to dress for the respect I wanted to command from the businessmen (yes, mostly men) I did business with, which translated into bright-colored suit jackets with black skirts and pants, mostly, while keeping my youngish hairstyle. Once, I met a friend for dinner after a business meeting, and she greeted me with “God, take that thing off,” referring to my apple-green jacket with its teensy shoulder pads. But the bright armor and nude pumps did what they were supposed to — project that I was playing …

Margit’s Note: 50 Ain’t Nothing but a #

A few weeks ago, I attended a 50th birthday bash replete with beer, karaoke, ‘80s music, wigs (of course) and a freshly minted AARP card. As a drunken reveler wrapped me in crepe paper while singing “99 Luftballons” in German (don’t ask), I realized that my friend’s party was the first of what promised to be a slew of half-century parties over the next few years as I, myself, will turn 50 next year. I needed to pace myself. Nurse a seltzer. Fifty? Seriously? I’m in this strange mash-up of a grand denial and a “no kidding; I’m 50, kiddo” kind of headspace. Many days I wonder when I stopped being 22, and other days I feel like, oh have I been there and, oh, have I done THAT. Many lives have been lived. As I live out this final year of 40s, it has already been a scary mix of illness and renovation. (Literal and figurative – we’re renovating our kitchen! Right after cancer! I am crazy!) My body is recovering, my mind is …