Author: Heather Barmore

The Loose Ends of Racism

Two months ago, I stood in my kitchen struggling to find the words to discuss the death of Freddie Gray. Another unarmed black man killed at the hands of the police who, in a perfect society, should have and would have protected him. Baltimore is just 45 minutes from my home in Washington, DC and, on that particular day, I was prepared to question why these moments of aggression towards blacks continue to happen with only a sound bite response from our elected officials. Unfortunately, I wound up sidetracked and didn’t write about the death of Freddie Gray, but I will never forget the fear and sadness I felt when I sighed and noted, “It will happen again…I can wait until the next time.” Next time, of course, arrived. This time in Charleston, South Carolina. And I am a black woman struggling with what to say. People finally seem willing to broach the topic of race. They once stood on the sidelines under the guise of “us v. them,” remaining blissfully colorblind. But now, so …

Role Reversal: When My Mom Went Back to School

Four days prior to Christmas, I was the idiot running around Target with a cart full of decorations to put up around my home because apparently I need to invest in a calendar to tell me that a major holiday is fast approaching and perhaps I should think about, you know, participating in some way. Here is photographic evidence of my 10 p.m. Friday night shenanigans. Unfortunately there is no selfie of my look of panic as I decided how many strings of lights I needed for a yet-to-be-purchased tree. This past holiday season was the first in which I had to take the lead. There was no mother around to purchase a tree and make sure the cat didn’t try to use it as a jungle gym. She wasn’t there to put out the photos my younger brother and I had taken with Santa or to tell me which ornaments should go where. I don’t know about your mother, but my mother always just made the spirit of Christmas and all that encompasses it …

Butter

Since spending six months abroad in Madrid, I often follow the Spanish method of enjoying breakfast. Instead of scrambled eggs and bacon, I dive right into thinly sliced jamón Ibérico on freshly toasted bread and chunks of cheese. I continue to fall hard for manchego, large croissants slathered with butter and a dollop of a fruity jam. It brings memories of a host mother who spoke very little English but knew food to be the universal language. “Quieres un sandwich, Heather?” she asked as I rushed to get out the door. I would take her up on the offer of tortilla Española on soft bread. She put butter on that, too, and offered it up with a grin. *** I share this anecdote as a way to show you how far I’ve come. You see, I used to be afraid of butter. Being asked whether or not I would like butter for a roll, or on mashed potatoes, caused a panic. I would hear the word “butter” and my chest would tighten. My face would …

Gifts Under $35 for Secret Santas & Yankee Swaps

Every year I do a Secret Santa and every year, I am boring. I always go the gift card route. This year, I have decided to try something different: Be creative. I’ve been on the look out for cute but unusual presents. Nothing says, “Happy Holidays” like a gift that proves that you’re thinking of the recipient — and that you can be fun with a side of quirky for less than $35. 1. USB Cassette Mixtape  Perhaps the mixtape isn’t a thing of the past. Milktape’s version allows the owner to drag and drop songs to a USB drive, which is in the shape of a tape. $15, milktape.com 2. Groove iPhone Stand Help a friend or a colleague keep his iPhone in plain sight with this stand. $20, etsy.com 3. Cool, Calm and Connected Bento Box Packing a lunch can be a chore. This bento box makes it fun again. $15, modcloth.com 4. Retro Nintendo Controller Soap Be nostalgic and play Mario while in the shower. $13, etsy.com 5. Snackeez I’ve seen one of these …

Why Don’t My White Friends Talk About Race? Here’s What They Told Me

My anger was palpable long before the announcement by the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri. I was already antsy. Wanting to fight. Craving some sort of confrontation, as I often do when life doesn’t hand me lemons, but lobs them at my head. When I learned a decision was made, I was ready. I wanted to go in and tell people what I really thought of them and, most importantly, their silence. I am a feisty person and when I hurt, I use my words not for good but for bad. This pain was amplified by knowing full well that Darren Wilson wouldn’t be indicted. A feeling that many of us had sitting at the bottom of our guts like a heavy meal. I wanted my friends, my largely white, female following, to get angry, to say something and to feel that hurt. So, as a writer, I used my words. I put out 140 characters that explained exactly how I felt: I would love to see those social justice/social good folks to at least …

On Being the Friend Who Doesn’t Like Friends

I am the introvert. The recluse. The one recently described by friends and family as a “hermit.” “Maybe you should leave the house?” said a friend gently. I could sense the concern, even over her text message. “I just have so much to do,” I lie. I do this a lot — the lying. And here I am now telling you all of my secrets in case you, too, have a friend that requires a bit of prodding. For the record, I’m not exactly terrified of people, though I had to chuckle when I read this quote via blogger Luvvie Ajayi: “I was a people person until I met people”. I just don’t particularly like leaving my house and interacting with the outside world. I pride myself on being able to go entire weekends without speaking to another human being. Enthusiastically, I eventually tell others about my 72 hours without actual conversation: “And then I went for a run — ALONE. And I did some writing —ALONE. The only person I spoke to was the …

I Wore a Bikini. That’s What I Did.

“It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes.” – Sally Field Do you watch Girls? If so, do you remember the episode where the girls of Girls head to the North Fork for some R&R and Hannah spends the entire day in that green bikini? I have watched that episode from start to finish 19 times. It was around the 11th viewing when my friend Ali posted to Facebook: “I cannot stop thinking of Hannah’s green bikini”. I popped up out of my constant recline (What? Whenever I’m home I lose all ability to sit up straight) and said “YES” which deserved all caps.  I realized that I had to watch that episode over and over, not because of the writing or the storyline or empathy on the progression/regression of friendship as an adult, but because homegirl wore a green bikini for an entire episode. Never mind my questions on comfort and chafing, but a woman who is not a size two rocked that bikini all over Long Island and I wanted to …

The Two-Sided Story of a Break Up

“When we were good, we were really good,” my ex told me recently. Occasionally, we still talk via text message. Usually sparked by a glass of wine (or three) on my end; a happy hour on his. So, I texted him back with a simple emoticon smile. Do I miss him? Of course. Just as I might miss a long-lost friend. He was dear to me; my bestie. I often say that. I miss my friend and I mean it. During this particular chat we make Beltway jokes. I can feel his smile and remember the way he used to sit next to me at a restaurant bar. His arm wrapped around the back of my chair as he leaned in and beamed. Everything was an inside joke and by the end of the evening the bartender was a member of our secret club. These bits of nostalgia (the ones where I am smiling and not crying while watching Love Actually) are far from how things ended. I was 24 at the time and like …