Month: October 2017

TueNight 10: Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky is one of us. She’s a Gen-Xer who figured prominently in our 20s, who had to grapple with both her nascent, female power and naive mistakes on an unforgiving international stage.  We witnessed and absorbed the presidential scandal (let’s be clear: the scandal was always his — not hers) with rapt fascination. And maybe we weren’t just watching the news; we were putting ourselves in her shoes, literally (I recall hosting a Halloween party in the late ‘90s where two people showed up in a blue dress and beret). Distancing ourselves, yet, perhaps wondering what we would have done in her place.   Owning her narrative. (Photo: Twitter) In 2017, our national conversation about how women are bullied and shamed has thankfully shifted (though there’s a shit-ton of work still to be done). And at 44, who better to lead that charge than Monica, someone who has faced down ridicule on an almost unfathomable scale — and continues to fight it in her Twitter feed to this day. Monica has become a fierce advocate for anti-bullying, collaborating on a powerful PSA and leading the #ClickWithCompassion campaign during October’s …

TueNight 10: Crystal Durant

She’s an artist, an educator, a model, a DJ, a singer, a writer and for many a muse — Crystal is undoubtedly a modern renaissance woman.  These days she writes for The Z Review, sings in a monthly tribute show with F*BOMB at Arlene’s Grocery, and has her own Prince Purple Rain tribute band. In her own words, she’s a “magnet for all kinds of crazy, always smells like fresh flowers, and is waiting for the right guy to show up, man up, and make a semi-honest woman outta me”. Crystal slayed us with her her story about her father at last week’s TueNight Live: Trust.  1. On the nightstand: I hope you’re not expecting a book to be there, because I don’t read in bed. The last thing I do before I go to sleep is watch TV, so there’s a remote control on my nightstand. 2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Cutting the neck out and the sleeves off of my t-shirts because they’re too constricting.  I think this is why people always ask if I’m a Rock Star, because I’m okay with looking unkempt in …

Before We Ever Met, He Tattooed My Name on His Hip

When he got my name tattooed on his hip, we hadn’t met yet. He was 50. I had just turned 30. He had a big job in the city at a law firm, lived on Long Island, and wore tailored suits to work. I assumed he was rich. He sounded rich. I was working as a telephone dominatrix from my ramshackle apartment deep in Jersey City and had just filed for bankruptcy. His voice was measured, wise. I liked him more than the others and more than I was supposed to. My voice on the phone, was confident, lulling — often just a whisper. It was one of my trademarks and how I controlled them. I was good at it. The other women on the line thought the guys would spend more money on you if you yelled at them. They were mostly wrong. One of my best clients, a shy music professor from England who had six pet rats, left me five stars and this comment on my site one time: “I’d sell my …

Choosing Calm Over Chaos Made Me Less of an Asshole Mom

For a long time, I couldn’t relate to mother-daughter relationship drama stories. I was way too preoccupied with an operatic level of paternal drama for that. My father’s attentions, and the absence thereof, consumed my childhood. I was too busy being adored, smacked, screamed at, and gaslighted by my dad to have any emotional space left to hate my mom. My own daughter, Amira, was born 11 days after my 30th birthday. Four and a half years later, my son Lev was born. I did the stay-at-home-mom thing for 10 years, throughout my 30s. My job performance was fair. In the “pro” column: I think I gave my kids pretty good advice about how to stand down bullies. “If someone teases you,” I said, “squint real hard, look totally grossed out and say: ‘Ewww…! What’s that green stuff coming out of your nose?!?’” They both say it never came to that, but I know they knew what I was getting at: Don’t dignify shitty behavior. You’re bigger than that. My temper, however, was at the …

Life Blindsided Me And Then I Learned to See.

One Sunday afternoon about fifteen years ago, I wandered into a panel discussion at The Brooklyn Public Library just as Carmen Boullousa, the Mexican poet and novelist, was being asked a question. “How do you write?” the questioner asked. Carmen Boullousa threw her hands up in the air and slammed them down the table in front of her. “You don’t know what you’re doing!” she burst forth, with a shout and a laugh. “You start off blinded, and you work until you begin to see.” I was 37 or 38 at the time, with a husband and two young daughters doing whatever they were doing in our Prospect Heights brownstone a few blocks away. And for as long as I could remember, I’d been trying to connect life’s dots with a modicum of elegance and a minimum of fuss. Determined to press on, to be a trooper, to feign competence, to not give passport, ever, to a willingness to be blinded. Carmen Boullousa was talking about writing but I sensed her advice might help me …

That Last Day I Ever Trusted My Father

I trusted my father to always do the right thing because he constantly barked at my sister and me about how hard he was working for us to have a good home, go to good schools, go to college, etc. My father was the first Black man ever hired at Western Electric in their managerial program. He did a lot of good, helping other Black folks get jobs, being the President of the NAACP chapter, and integrating the Kiwanis and Lions civic organizations. In hindsight, though, there were signs I shouldn’t have trusted him as much as I did. He was of the generation of men who did not cry and were not affectionate with their family. From the time I was four years old, I knew that he and my mother didn’t have a very loving relationship. When I was five, I remember being awakened by a huge fight they had one night. They were yelling at each other, and she grabbed a giant glass ashtray and tried to smash him in his head …

The Day I Stopped Trusting My Memory

“I don’t have time for this shit,” I grumbled to myself as I searched the apartment for my keys. Moving piles of unopened mail around on the kitchen table, I felt the familiar pit in my stomach begin to grow. “Why didn’t I put the keys on its porcelain dish as usual?” I chastised myself. “And why was this happening so often lately?” Just last week, I went searching for my iPhone and found it in the freezer. In the freezer. Don’t even ask me how I did that because — guess what — I don’t remember. Back in my years before Impending Cronehood, I had a remarkable memory — almost photographic. Dates, names, and intimate details were etched into my brain so clearly that I could recall them vividly, and I was often used as my friend’s journals, to be opened when their own recollections of the past grew hazy. “Hey, Issa, what was the name of that guy I used to date our freshman year in college? You know, the one who was …

Why Don’t We Trust the Institutions We Create?

In June of 2017, the Gallup organization conducted its “CONFIDENCE IN INSTITUTIONS” poll, which it has been conducting pretty much every year since 1973. And this year, despite what you might expect would be some sort of pre-apocalyptic low water mark in America’s trust in institutions, our trust in general went up. Specifically, it went up 3 percent. The poll measures confidence in 14 major public institutions — from public schools to banks to labor unions to the Supreme Court to police to big business to small business to newspapers to television news to churches to the military to the medical system and, yes, measuring trust in Congress and the presidency as well. The fine people at Gallup found that in 2016 just 32 percent of the American people on average said they trusted these institutions. A year later — this is THIS YEAR — we now trust these institutions 3 percent more or a WHOPPING 35 percent. Now, you may be thinking — as I was when I encountered this data — that WHOA, that 35 percent …

TueNight Live: Photos from “TRUST”

Walking into the red room at Spring Place, one of our storytellers, Jenny Douglas squealed, “This place is like a ’70s sunken living room!” Later, she corrected herself and whispered, “No, it’s more as if Hugh Hefner had a vagina. I love it.” Last week, on October 17, we brought TueNight Live and our TRUST issue,  to the seriously swanky Spring Place, where we shared wine, sandwiches, and — of course — stories, in a sort of loungey theater in the square, with a beautiful view of Tribeca. Margit kicked off the evening, thanking both Spring Place for hosting and our evening’s sponsor, AARP. Reading her story via her phone — because 2017 — Dori Fern described how choosing calm over chaos improved her relationship with her kids. (While she read her story off her phone, her daughter actually texted her, “do you have the laundry card on you?”) After fixing our microphone (it was backward — sigh) Crystal Durant told a harrowing story of learning her father was untrustworthy. Oft CNN contributor Sally Kohn posed …

TueNight 10: Nilofer Merchant

Nilofer Merchant took time while on her book tour to share her TueNight 10 with us. A few weeks ago she got to speak at the same conference in Boston as Michelle Obama, “which really just means my shoes might touch the dust that her shoes touch.” Her book, The Power of Onlyness, shows how seemingly powerless people now have a new way to be valued, AND create more value in the world because of it. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter. 1. On the nightstand: Just finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Next up: Grant by Ron Chernow. 2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Judging myself. I always set the bar so high that I never achieve it. 3. Jam of the minute: Hamilton soundtrack (still) 4. Thing I miss: Grace & gravitas in the White House 5. 80’s crush: Oprah. She taught me the life lessons my mom just couldn’t. 6. Current crush: My Family. 7. Will whine about: Sitting on the tarmac. 8. Will wine about: Whiskey. Writer’s Tears is a new one I just found; it’s perfect in both name and flavor. 9. Best thing that happened yesterday: Oh, that’s easy. A nap. …

Get Tickets to Our Next Event in Manhattan!

  CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS! Join the TueNight crew for an evening of storytelling around the theme TRUST. We’ll be in the swanky Spring Place red room, where we’ll drink cocktails, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and put our trust in — who else? Each other. Our Storytellers: Jenny Douglas (@BrooklynCottage), founder of The Brooklyn Cottage, television producer, and helper of women going through divorce Issa Mas (@IssaMas), New York single mom balancing writing, raising a 10-yr-old and staying sane. BlogHer Voice of the Year, 2012 Sally Kohn (@sallykohn), founder and CEO of the Movement Vision Lab and CNN commentator Crystal Durant (@DJCrystalClear6), Black Renaissance woman, vocalist and performance artist who writes for the Z Review and Forces of Geek Lu Chekowsky, SVP of Brand Creative at Comedy Central. She once ate a turkey sandwich with Britney Spears Dori Fern (@dorifern), Content marketing strategist and award-winning latke expert CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!

TueNight 10: Jenny Douglas

If you are a woman over 40, who lives in a certain part of Brooklyn, at some point you will likely hear a friend say, “Do you know Jenny Douglas?” Move over, Kevin Bacon! Jenny is the ultimate connector of women. She is currently “setting up house with my cute boyfriend (made strangely sweet for doing this in midlife), planning an evening in which all attendees read aloud from their most embarrassing teenage journal entries, and investing in real estate in the Hudson Valley (a wholly unexpected turn).” We are thrilled that she will be one of our readers at TueNIght Live: TRUST on 10/17!  1. On the nightstand: American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst (Jeffrey Toobin); The Principles of Uncertainty (Maira Kalman); Exquisite Pain (Sophie Calle); The ABC’s of Real Estate Investing (Ken McElroy) 2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Dancing on my coffee table (no matter how old I get, nor how many new cracks get made in the table). 3. Jam of the minute: Peach. 4. Thing I miss: Nana D’s mustard pickle; dial telephones.. 5. 80’s crush: Jay McInerny 6. Current crush: Ray Donovan; Pink 7. Will …