All posts tagged: Best of 2015

Touch My Body — I’ll Pay For It

I’m single. Sometimes it seems like I’ve always been single. I’ve had boyfriends, sure, but the default is single. This time around I’ve been single for about five continuous years. I live alone with a small, affection-withholding dog. I’m very busy, and I’m very social, and yet stretches of time go by during which I do not feel the touch of another human. But that’s not entirely true. Because there are those who touch me. Folks beyond my doctor and my (incredibly handsome, erudite, gentle and highly recommended) dentist. For instance: the woman who performs my ritual mani-pedi. Like so many other ladies in this town, I make a monthly — sometimes weekly! — pilgrimage to the nail salon where an attendant awaits with a steaming, bubbling basin. Like the Greco Roman baths of yore, I attempt to relax with my fellow plebeians, other exhausted citizens stealing minutes from our days to try and absorb the healing properties of water and “ballet slippers.” We soak our extremities, they sand, buff and arm us with a …

Sister, Sister: I’m a Black Woman with a White Sister

Penny, right, with her sister, Amy. (Photo courtesy of Penny Wrenn) When people ask if I have brothers and sisters, I don’t know where to begin. Do I say, I’m an only child, the youngest of seven or the seventh of nine? In fact, all these answers are true. I’m my mother’s only child and the youngest of my father’s seven biological children. But if we’re talking the order in which my father’s children entered his life, then I’m not the last. When my parents divorced, my father remarried and I inherited two step-siblings. Still, however I go about answering the “Do you have brothers and sisters?” question, I always get to this part: I am a black woman with a white sister. Her name is Amy. People would come to my old Harlem apartment see her photo on my bookshelf, the one where I’m standing next to her on her wedding day, and they’d ask, “Who’s that?” But I would never just say, “My sister.” I knew that I must follow up with an …

The Life and Death of Roses

There is a dead rose in a vase on our dining room table. “It needs more water, Mommy,” says my eight-year-old daughter. “It’s dead,” says my husband, looking up from his breakfast. “What can we do?” asks my daughter. “Throw it out,” says my husband, who goes back to eating. “No, I don’t want it to be dead!” My daughter looks at me pleadingly, and I feel another gentle lecture coming on about life and death and dead flowers being a natural part of the whole process. * * * The first time I realized that there was something dying inside of me was in my mid-40s, in the checkout line at the wine section of my grocery store. When I got up to the counter to pay, I looked up at the attractive young man at the cash register and smiled. Then he called me “Ma’am.” My age was staring me in the face, in the blank look of an attractive, young man who was simply taking my money, unmoved by my smile. I …

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 …

The Zipper

I read Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying at 19 during my first year of college, around the time my then-boyfriend and I were working together to give me my first orgasm. In the most iconic riff of the novel, protagonist Isadora Wing describes a one-hour trip from Heidelberg to Frankfurt, which she would take four times a week to see her analyst. On the train, she would see beautiful German men and have elaborate sexual fantasies, including one involving an Italian widow and a soldier in a train compartment. She famously called this a “zipless fuck….not because the participants are so devastatingly attractive, but because the incident has all the swift compression of a dream and is seemingly free of all remorse and guilt.” When I set off on a study abroad program in Europe myself a few years later in 1994, I did so with Jong’s zipless fuck in my mind. I would get a Eurail pass, travel alone, and have hot, anonymous sex with a chain-smoking French intellectual. But unfortunately for my scheme, …

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margit

An IVF procedure (Photo: Shutterstock.com) Over the last three years, my body has slowly closed up shop. Four months between periods, then six, then almost a full year. So, I guess we’re done here. It’s a weird, bittersweet feeling — no more bloats, stains and mishaps. I’ve started to feel as if I’ve floated into another galaxy, where most of my friends are still on Planet Menses. That one time a year when it does arrive, it’s cause for a minor celebration. I secretly tell myself, maybe, just maybe at 47, I could still have a kid. Even though I know it’s a distant, nearly improbable concept. I do have a few friends who’ve had planned kids at 45 or even second and third “oops” kids at 45-plus — one, in fact, who grabbed me by the proverbial collar the other day, glared at me and said, “what have I done?!?” I’d never once fantasized about the perfect family, being a mom, spending time packing up carrot sticks in plastic baggies. That was, until I met my wonderful …

14 Things Only a Person With a Tough Name Would Understand

1. I grew up with a tough name. Siobhan Adcock. Look at it. There’s almost no part of that name that’s not sort-of a pain in the ass. 2. People don’t tend to remember it, and when they do, they can’t pronounce it. Siobhan is an Irish name — it means Jane, or Joan, or Joanne, or if you’re feeling like a sparkly unicorn fairy, “sea foam blowing off the waves.” My father told me (incorrectly as it turns out) that it means “Queen of the Emerald Isles.” He and my mother had heard of it by way of Siobhan McKenna, the famous Irish stage actress who was in Dr. Zhivago. (But not the famously beautiful actress who was in Dr. Zhivago. And also not the second-most beautiful actress in Dr. Zhivago. The other one.) 3. My father’s name, by the way, was Dick. They don’t really name kids that anymore. Especially with a last name like Adcock. Dick Adcock, Jr. Because his father’s name was also Richard. So when my dad was growing up, there was …

The Things No One Tells You About Divorce

We had just had sex. One minute, we were kissing and pressed against each other and I was in the safest place in the world. The next minute, I was lying alongside him crying and asking, “What do people do in a situation like this?” And he was saying: “Get divorced.” When I met Erik, I had never been in love with anyone. I was 31, and I saw him across the room at a party. My first thought was that he looked endearing, gentle, like he would never hurt me. We talked about his art and my job as a writer, and when we had our first date on a bench in Union Square we kissed for hours and held hands. I felt like a kid, giddy with excitement that someone wanted me on their team. By the time he told me a few dates later that he didn’t want children, I was already hooked. My thinking went something like this: Some people are never lucky enough to fall in love. I found an …

Madonna’s Most Beautiful Love Song

In 1985, I was 16 years old and spent my weekend nights cruising the streets of Kansas City in my 1979 Fiat Strada. I realize now that a four-door hatchback is not every teenage girl’s dream, but I loved that car because it was mine, because it gave me freedom, and because it had a really great stereo system. I spent most of the money from my part-time job on cassette tapes that would become the soundtrack of my teenage years—The Bangles, the Go-Go’s, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. I was a straight girl back then, though my interest in the women of pop music should have probably been a clue. It wasn’t, however, and it took me years to figure it all out. Now, when I look back on my deep feelings for each of those women, I ask myself one question: Did I want to be them or did I want to do them? This is a very important distinction. Upon much reflection, I can say without a doubt that I wanted to do …

The Birthday Incident: Turning 40 in a Parking Garage

My friend, Andrew, an artist in Los Angeles, was grouchy on the night he turned 40. He did not like the aging process. To cheer him up, I made reservations for a small birthday dinner at his favorite restaurant and invited three of his closest friends. Andrew, being a control freak, insisted that we all meet outside his apartment complex at precisely 7 p.m. and then he would drive us to the restaurant. He was proud of his driving mojo and only trusted himself to get us to the restaurant in time. Getting together for dinner in Los Angeles can require as much precision as a military operation. Friends live far apart, and traffic is always bad. Sandra drove from Pasadena, picking up Hiroshi downtown, while I drove from Redondo Beach, picking up Brian in West Hollywood. We all converged on Andrew’s block in Silverlake, parking our cars near his apartment complex. Part One of the mission was accomplished. The metal security gate to Andrew’s garage creaked open and Andrew appeared, driving his 1996 Honda …

Owning My Desire: Why I’ve Always Been Unashamed of My Sex Drive

You wake in the middle of the night, your arms around me, body pressed against mine, and you stiffen immediately. I reach back with my palm to cup your cock, wanting to see how hard you are. Slowly, I arch my hips back, back and up, to make way for our connection. My eyes are still closed. I lick my fingers, make them nice and wet and moisten myself, then lift my top leg and slide it back, to rest it on top of your legs. You put your hand on your cock and point it toward me, I steer my hips toward you and we come together, slowly. The connection is blissful and wildly erotic, such slow movements, like hanging in dreamtime. I wrote that scene for a lover. A lover I met on the internet. And we wrote dozens and dozens more, sending little erotic vignettes back and forth to each other in a single Word document, adding to it over time. We wrote the scenes to entertain us for all the time …

Why I Want to Live Like I’m 40 In My 20s

My best friend and I are both named Ashley, we’re both 28 years old (born 12 days apart) and we both have brown eyes. That is pretty much where our similarities end. She loves animal print, high heels, Channing Tatum and holding onto the hope that she looks this young (or younger) forever. I love tartan, converse and Idris Elba. I also love aging. In my mind, every year of my life is an opportunity to learn more about who I am and what I want from this life. It also gets me closer to the age I’ve always wanted to be…40. I’ll be honest, watching the years tick by, another scratch on the wall, hasn’t always been a source of pleasure for me. When I entered college, I assumed I would graduate in four years just like I was supposed to, the way we all were supposed to. Being the control-freak I am, I’d studied my course catalog all summer, drawing my own charts until I was satisfied that I had a fool-proof plan …

Karen’s Note: Best of TueNight 2015

(Graphic by Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) Here we are, two years after launching this site, looking at another year’s worth of amazing storytelling from our spectacularly talented and diverse group of contributors. It was not easy for Margit, Adrianna and me to narrow down our list to only twelve posts to represent the best of this year. As we started to think about your year-end “best of” post, I jumped at the chance to write the Editor’s Note, since I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary of joining Team TueNight (woot woot!). For inspiration (er, procrastination), I checked Facebook and Twitter to see what people are talking about this morning (oof, Steve Harvey), listened to Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne,” then watched a YouTube clip of the final scene of When Harry Met Sally, and now I’m listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. I also went back and read the post that launched it all back in 2013, wherein Margit so brilliantly distills who we are: “You aren’t dead yet. Not even close. In fact, you’re …