Month: December 2018

In Defense of Over-Holidaying

My husband grew up Jewish, and when we started dating, it fell to me to introduce him to Christmas as full-fledged participant, rather than exasperated outside witness. He couldn’t have chosen a better person to adopt Christmas with. With my cookie-making, casserole-baking, community-volunteering tendencies, I’ve been in bootcamp for Christmas mentorship my whole life. But even I was unprepared for how much more fun—how defiantly extra—Christmas could be with someone who’d never had it. On a frosty morning in December, my brand-new Christmas Jew and I were the first customers at the neighborhood tree stand. We struggled back to our studio apartment with a tree no less than five feet in diameter, coated it in lights and tinsel, and spent the day sitting on the couch, staring at it. We were just getting started. Reader, we roasted a Christmas goose. Have you ever tried roasting a goose? Don’t. We ate roasted chestnuts, also disgusting. We went to the Messiah, and my Jewish boyfriend stood up and bellowed “Haaaale-lujah!” with the best of them. We adopted Operation Santa kids, ice skated …

TueNight 10: Jill Abramovitz

Quick Bio: Jill is both a performer and writer. On Broadway she’s appeared in Fiddler on the Roof, Cinderella, 9 to 5, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me and the upcoming Beetlejuice. She has also written four musicals, including Martha Speaks, which toured nationally, and had a song in Broadway’s It Shoulda Been You. You can also catch her in TV and commercials, including most recently as Stevie, the Catskills desk clerk, in season two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  Beyond the bio: “Somewhere along the line I acquired the view that it was cute to belittle myself. I was either doing it to endear myself to people or to make the people around me feel better by comparison. But in middle age (I use that term kicking and screaming. It reminds me of “geriatric pregnancy.”), I’m realizing that disrespecting myself doesn’t make me likable or cute. It sets a bad example for my kid. It feels like a coping strategy for the privileged and, in fact, like another form of narcissism — “Look, just look, at how shitty I am! See?!” So I’m changing it. …

TueNight 10: Penny Wrenn

Age: 41 ½ and some change Basic Bio: I’m a semi-retired magazine staffer and freelancer, the daughter of Evelyn and Curtis Wrenn, Sr., a late bloomer (and occasional wilter), and a moderate income earner. Beyond the bio: “At 41, I often feel guilty about feeling more gypped than grateful about my life. I regularly make SMH-level mistakes that seem immature AF.  When I do, my inner you-should-know-better-than-that voice of wisdom is always like, “WTF, Penny?” And yet, I keep on keeping on. Because at 41, my “GTFOH, Penny!” self-talk game is tight, my comebacks and bounce-backs have stickier than ever landings (though I seldom plant my feet where I expected). What can I say? Middle age has endowed me with the ability to more easily get over myself.” 1. On the nightstand: Bullshit or Fertilizer, written by my friend and one-half of myall-time favorite married couple. This is the simplest, most essential “do the damn thing already” self-help advice ever written for us Generation Xers who are late-70s born and 90s-era hip-hop bred. The book is small and succinct enough to read in a …

Why We #SayOurAge

A little while back I wrote an op-ed for a German newspaper. I was on the phone with the editor, going over the final draft, when he said to me, “Now, I have to ask you something, and I want to apologize in advance. I would never normally ask you this, but unfortunately our newspaper insists. It is standard policy and so please forgive me…” He was so embarrassed and stumbling and apologetic that I got rather worried and was thinking, my God, what on earth is he about to put me through? – and he finished with, “How old are you?” I was so taken aback I burst out laughing. I said, good grief, I have no problem telling you that at all – I’m 58.  I don’t have a problem saying my age. But society does.  I recently went into a store to buy a birthday card for a friend. I came out empty-handed – because every single card I looked at was ageist. Other than the overly serious affectionate birthday greetings, which …

TueNight 10: Dionne Ford

Age: 49 Quick bio: Co-editor of the anthology Slavery’s Descendants: Shared Legacies of Race and Reconciliation (Rutgers University Press, May 2019) and author of the memoir Finding Josephine, forthcoming from Putnam. Her writing has won awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Newswomen’s Club of New York, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She’s also a regular TueNight contributor.  Beyond the bio: “I wanted to write my own invented stories since my parents gave me a drugstore journal with a lock and key when I was seven, but it seemed impractical and indulgent to study storytelling. My parents worked hard to move up the economic ladder to middle class-dom, so I studied slightly more practical journalism instead. It wasn’t until my late 30s that I started to find my personal writing voice. Time can kill a lot of things but not a deep desire. When my daughters started middle and high school in 2014, I went back to school too for my MFA in Creative Writing. I was 47 when I graduated in 2016. …