All posts tagged: TueNight

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On Going to a Better Place: What I’ve Learned from My Brother’s Death

Originally published in the Loss Issue, 2016 I have a picture of my younger brother when he was four days old. I’m sitting on my parents’ black and white geometric-patterned bedspread, cradling him. It’s one of my favorite photographs. I’m the oldest, followed by my sister, 13 months later. Almost a decade passed before my parents had another baby. Bryce’s birth was momentous. He was charming from the first day, with a wide, impish grin. As time went by, my mother would say, Bryce is going to do great things: He has the brains, the work ethic, the brawn. When Bryce was thirteen, he started drinking. In our family, drinking wasn’t just about experimentation. No one in my family drank. At fourteen, when the cops called to say he had broken into our neighbor’s house on the hunt for cash to buy booze and drugs, my mother called me at college, desperate and knowing there was a real problem. What had begun as acting out for Bryce had become a salve for anxiety and depression. When my …

RISE: Get Tickets to Our Next Event!

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE! It’s time to rise up, get a rise out of someone, watch the bread rise, and rise to this fabulous occasion… Join TueNight for an evening of Gen-X storytelling around the theme RISE on Tuesday, March 6th in Manhattan. We’ll be in the cozy downstairs bar at The Wren where we’ll drink cocktails, enjoy delicious food and rise up together. Our Storytellers: Abby West (@AbbyWestNYC) Now a senior marketing manager at Audible, Abby is the former executive editor of Essence.com, and an Entertainment Weekly and People mag vet. A self-described “pop culture fanatic,” she’s a firm believer in the power of storytelling and will one day finish her own book. Melanie Dione (@beauty_jackson) Melanie is a writer, and podcaster from New Orleans, currently residing in Pittsburgh, PA. She is one half of the creative duo behind The Good & Terrible Show, and can be heard weekly on the popular “Bad Advice Show.” When she is not using her gift of gab, she is making geek dreams come true as the Director of Entertainment for Universal …

What’s the Most Ageist Thing Anyone Has Ever Said to You? (VIDEO)

“You’re old!” “When are you going to dye your hair?” “You look great for your age!” We asked several women over 40 to share the rudest, funniest, and just plain strange comments they’ve heard about being the age they are. Which um, isn’t old, by the way. We filmed this at our last TueNight Live event in Manhattan, sponsored by AARP (High five AARP! We love our sponsors!) and we’re so happy to have them sponsor this video. It’s all part of their mission to reinvent what it means to age — aka #DisruptAging. What’s the most ageist thing anyone’s ever said to you? Watch this video and then tell us YOUR most ageist story in the comments below. We’ll be rounding them up to share for collective commiseration.  We’re #NobodysMaam.  

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 …

The Glow of A Warrior Woman

The sun is a glowing ball of fire in the sky and every pore of my body is sweating. I’m on mile three of the morning run, jogging along manicured lawns in an upscale neighborhood outside of Bangkok. The smell of the morning air is a mix of dampness, jasmine, car exhaust and tropical decay. The Thai sunrise looks different to me, seeing it from the other side of the world from my home. That ball of fire in the sky glows a different orange-pink, not a typical yellow, which I learn later might be air pollution. A few weeks after the US election last year I decided I didn’t need to keep delaying my craziest dreams. Reality was upside down, so why keep waiting to see the world? I booked a ticket to go with my Muay Thai boxing gym for a two-week fight camp in Thailand. I’ve traveled internationally maybe four times. I came to martial arts two years ago, after recovering from some chronic health issues. I wanted to celebrate beating the …

The Best Voice in the World Is… Need You Ask?

For the most part, I don’t trust most people’s taste in music. To debate a musical topic or question with someone is to know for sure that you and your opponent have a shared music-listening lineage and appreciation or, at the very least, the two of you share a mutual understanding and interest for the music that one of you likes that the other person doesn’t. For me, someone with a baseline understanding of many musical genres, the mutual understanding thing is tricky, especially when the mutuality is to be established with: 1. A non-black person — especially a non-black person who hasn’t spent much time around black people. 2. A black person who hasn’t spent much time around non-black people 3. A much-younger person — any race, doesn’t matter. 3a. Case in point: my much-younger white coworker who didn’t know Bananarama’s “Venus” outside of the razor commercial (which until writing this piece and being schooled by our beloved EIC Margit I didn’t know was originally sung by the Dutch garage band Shocking Blue) 3b. …

It’s Getting Hot in Here: The Sweaty Signifier of Age

I was at the kind of music festival that draws packs of “festies,” young people who travel from concert to concert in the summertime wearing Indian-print skirts and bikini tops, their skin pierced and tattooed, wafting a fragrance that commingles pot and patchouli, with a base note of humid sleeping bag. An afternoon spent among them was making me feel my age, 48 at the time. They were groovy goddesses of their own anointing, with crazy-curly-cool hair highlighted in green and purple, bare feet kicking up dirt as they danced. They looked like beautiful children with their exposed tummies — flat or rounded, it did not seem to matter which — playful and unselfconscious. I was sitting under a dusty sycamore, wondering how weird I’d look if I starting reading my library book, when it struck me: a bolt of searing heat, a sudden scrambling of the brain. A hot flash is a bit like a menstrual cramp or migraine. Even if you’ve never had one, you know it when you feel it. And perhaps …

Am I Allowed to Be Happy Even If My Kids Are Not?

I was raised to believe that happiness and motherhood were inherently incompatible, if not irreconcilable. I learned from my mother’s example. Mothers did not live to be happy. Mothers lived to be useful. Mothers lived to be productive. I don’t remember my mother ever talking about being happy. I do remember her always working, laboring, being useful to others. My mother’s hands seemed like they never stopped moving. If she wasn’t pulling strings off string beans or picking worms off tomatoes in her garden, she was peeling apples for a pie or peaches for a cobbler. Or, she was sewing us or herself a new outfit, or turning our old outgrown clothes into quilts. Over time, arthritis made sewing too difficult, but she kept cooking and gardening until the day she took her last breath. As infants, my children were born pushy, in that way that is socially acceptable only for babies and cats. My daughter came out stubborn, demanding and unapologetic. My son, on the other hand, used his fat cheeks, bright eyes and …

A Luminous Photograph with a Story to Tell

It’s a photograph no one else but me could have taken. My mother didn’t take it, that’s for sure. She was great in front of the camera, her rightful place, and pretended — feminine wiles, how quaint — not to understand how to depress the shutter button on a point-and-shoot. My ex-husband was a distracted photographer with an artsy eye that didn’t translate to family photos. Twenty-five years later, no, Philip, I don’t remember whose earlobe that is. But Philip didn’t take it. I’ll describe the image. My daughter, Sophia, is three. Her hair is summer blonde and flows. She is wearing a yellow dress that is now packed in a bin marked “Girls,” in the basement of my building. My father, Tom, is 67. He is tanned and grey and rugged, with a big dad head, square and block-sturdy, the kind of dad head you don’t see much anymore, who knows why, something to do with the internet? Craniums diminish to accommodate next level evolution? I don’t know. Anyway, my father with his big …

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Baked Goods and Bad Trips

Last June was our 16th anniversary, so Scott and I spent a weekend at this funky hotel in the Catskills. Every room is themed at this place. I chose a space-themed room. It was appropriately far out. Before we left, Scott mentioned that one of his coworkers, a fellow video editor, had gifted us an edible. A pot cookie, in other words. (I feel like I’m a million years old when I say “pot cookie” but I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to say “edible.”) He apparently was a frequent user (and baker, I guess) of such things, and thought we’d have fun with it. Sure, I said! Pot’s fun! Couple of important details: First, I smoked pot plenty in my twenties, but not really since. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s … changed a little, in the past twenty-odd years. I learned this a couple of years ago, when I shared a one-hitter with a friend and spent the next few hours paranoid and hyper, my face in a jumbo bag of Cheetos. Number …

June Issue: You Glow, Girl

Hey you! We’re back with a new issue and it’s a hot and spicy scorcher. Our theme this week is Glow — as in “Glow little glow worm glimmer, glimmer.” As in fiery pink and orange lights blazing across a June night. Embers in a summertime campfire. The afterglow from some afternoon delight. Al fresco dinner by candlelight, feeling flushed with some red, red wine. Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.) power slams, then and now. The dazzling rainbow of Pride. Fireflies. The light in a child’s beaming face. Our own ambition, our own happiness, our own dynamic glow. When we hit that midlife mark we think we lose a certain glow — a rosy, just-pinched freshness. We sallow. We fade. That’s oh so much bullshit. I turned 50 last week, and have never felt a more intense inner and outer glow. Maybe it was resurfacing a year after a scary health crisis, maybe it was singing karaoke and then getting an unwanted lap dance (don’t ask), or maybe it was that final shot of Fish …

He’s 25. I’m 53. What Could Go Wrong?

“Make my day go from good to great and tell me you don’t mind that I’m 25, not 45.” Oh, this old trick. Present yourself as a Gen-Xer when you’re really a millennial. I understand of course; my age, in the universe of dating apps, is a moving target. I have the slightest amount of empathy. Slight enough to answer him back at 1:30am instead of falling asleep. Like middle-aged humans do. “You’re closer in age to my daughter than you are to me.” Dating-wise, the formula I’m fond of applying is half my age plus seven. I’m 53. Even with my Bumble age — 46 — this 25-year-old doesn’t make the cut. Unless I make an exception. We’re playing the same game, after all. The liberal age gap. He generously adds 20 years to his age, I’m mindfully lowering mine and we’re both hoping that somewhere along this sliding scale we’ll each get what we want. “I find you very sexy. I don’t care about your age or mine. I want to get to …

Baby Shower 2.0: Celebrating My Transgender Son’s New Identity

The blue jellybeans were assembled in pint-sized mason jars on my kitchen table. My husband was about to head to the store to pick up the balloon bouquet while I put finishing touches on the decorations. The kids and I had made a batch of homemade chocolate ice cream, and the giant, freshly baked chocolate chip cookie was frosted in blue with our son’s new name: Max Grayson. “It’s A Boy!” read the banner across the wall and on the sign in the front yard. We were thrilled to welcome so many excited guests to our home for “Baby Shower 2.0.” We had already thrown our child a baby shower back in 2008, back when we named him Mary Grace and thought he was our daughter. Our son is nine years old now and has been telling us he is a boy since he was two. Once we were able to finally recognize that he was transgender — a process that was neither fast nor easy — and then took the steps necessary to officially …

The Magic of the Bitch and Swap

Long ago in the 1990s, when I was a freelance magazine writer, I never had enough of anything — money, love, other people, and of course, clothing. I worked alone in my West Village apartment and most of my reporting was done by telephone. I rigorously scheduled social engagements at night, from dates to drinks with a friend, or a book party or reading or a real party or a fake PR party at a handbag store. If I didn’t speak to a real person face to face at least once a day, I felt myself fading from the human race. It was a time of living between no money, some money and family-begged money. I was actually fairly successful as a writer, but felt like an abject, obvious failure. I was consumed with fear that I would never meet a man whom I could marry and who would marry me. The latter was the bigger fear. It was a terribly lonely and scary stretch of years, despite the many, many parties. It was good, …

I’ve Pivoted My Career So Much, I’m Pirouetting

In August 2014, I lost my freelancing job as the Director of Content at Grey, a global, 100-year-old advertising agency, often referenced in Mad Men. (It’s where Duck Phillips landed after being dumped by Sterling Cooper.) Because Grey slashed my short-lived position, a frequent mini-tragedy at ad agencies, I was searching for a new full-time gig. I became obsessed with joining one of the bright, shiny digital media start-ups in New York City, partly out of fear that if I didn’t work at a hot, tech-based company, I would soon become a dinosaur. I had studied journalism, and traditional media were on life support. As a Gen-Xer, I felt that my professional currency was quickly fading and I needed to switch gears so I could sparkle…or, at the very least, find a job. I interviewed at a small hybrid PR/social media agency where a dozen under-30-somethings sat shoulder-to-shoulder on ergonomic chairs, huddled around an eco-friendly, reclaimed oak table. Macs lit up the room as an Irish Setter meandered down the narrow aisles, looking to be …

Why I Changed My Son’s Last Name to Mine

When I married David Adelson, I never seriously considered changing my name to Adelson any more than I ever seriously considered changing my name to Duchovny, or Gosling. Caveat: For a little while, maybe because I was super-stoked to be married — and super-confident that 20 years of professional feminism made my creds otherwise clear — I tacked “Adelson” on after Harris in non-professional settings. But “Lynn Harris Adelson” didn’t stick. I STILL LOVED MY HUSBAND, but after the thank-you notes were sent, it started to grate. I’d been a journalist and author forever — and though it was EXTREMELY IRRITATING to be constantly confused with the late bestselling author E. Lynn Harris, whose books best-sold way more than mine — I was not about to touch my byline. Plus, feminism! “Harris” wasn’t going anywhere. Then came our daughter, Bess. We considered “Bess Harris” for about five minutes, two and a half of which were spent thinking, “That’s a lot of S’s,” and two and a half of which were spent noting that both names …

I Tried to Break Up With My Therapist. It Didn’t Go Well.

People say it’s hard to date in New York. (I once went out with a guy who looked like Gargamel from the Smurfs, so I know how tough it is.) But I think it’s much harder to find a good therapist. It’s early 2001. I’ve been living in New York City for a few months to do a seven-month comedy intensive program after moving from San Francisco. In addition to working full-time for my west coast office, I’m going to school every night during the week and doing homework, shows and other catch-ups on the weekend. The pace of Manhattan and my jam-packed schedule begin to take a toll on me, and in no time, I start to have panic attacks. So I do what any other overwhelmed person does: I tackle one more thing. I look for a therapist. On paper, Linda is great. She’s five minutes from work, she’s in my plan and she’s only $5 a visit. Score! In person, it’s another story. When I first enter her windowless office, I notice …

My Struggle With God Ended on a Plane

It was my best friend, Melinda, who introduced God and me. I was four. She was eight and lived in my grandparent’s trailer park with her mom, dad, several rabbits and a dog that scared me. To say that I worshipped her is to put it mildly. She knew everything, and, if I were lucky, she would teach it all to me. When Melinda fell in love with Shaun Cassidy, I was determined to fall harder, even though I still thought boys were sweaty and full of cooties. When she picked out cowl neck sweaters and velour V-necks from the Sears catalogue, I begged my mom for the identical style and color. And in the summer of 1977, when Melinda signed up for Bible Camp, I tagged along without hesitation. Before school started up again that fall, we were both saved. Jesus was our new crush, and we competed to be his biggest fan. We never swore, never took the Lord’s name in vain, always respected the Sabbath by going to Sunday school and always, …

April Issue: Ready, Set, SWAP!

Oh MY we have a jam-packed issue this week, friends. Because this week, we’re all about swaps — trades, pivots, shifts and changes big and small. And by the time you get to be a woman of certain age, well, you’ve probably swapped a bunch, by choice or otherwise. This week, we’re swapping careers, our age, our clothes, our shrink, our kids’ names and we have a beautiful piece about more of a transition: a mother shares the story of her child’s new name — and gender — on a brand new birth certificate. We’re sending out our issue early today so you can snag yourself a ticket and see most of these stories LIVE at TueNight Live. We’re also planning to have a real, live swap meet. I’m bringing three of my own items to trade — think Kajagoogoo, Shephard Fairey and colorforms. Curious? Come with your own swaps and find out. If you’re not in NYC and can’t make it, we’ll be Facebook Live-ing right here. And in other Facebook news, we’ve started …

25 Years Later, Adventures with My Husband Are Just Getting Started

“What’s the Australian equivalent of Ibuprofin?” I asked my husband, handing him Band-Aids out of a medicine chest in a hut in the middle of the Tasmanian wilderness. “Is it paracetamol?” I said, flipping through various tiny white medicine packets stored in a Dixie cup. My husband winced and limped back to a bench to tend to his blistered feet. He’d been pretending they weren’t bothering him, but four days and almost 40 miles into our traverse of Tasmania’s Overland Track, his feet weren’t playing along. “Hey, your legs are still bleeding from the leeches,” he said, pointing to the rivulets that traced their way down my left calf. We’d learned that leeches secrete a chemical to prevent your blood from clotting while they fill up. You can’t feel them latch onto you and it doesn’t hurt to have them there, but once they fill up and drop off it, it takes ages for the bleeding to stop. “I know,” I said, dapping at the blood with a tissue. “Those little Tasmanian bastards.” It was the …

How to Lose at Wife-Carrying, and Win at Marriage

Author and journalist Jo Piazza had no idea what to do when she got engaged. She was terrified of taking on the role of someone’s wife. To figure it out, she traveled to 20 countries on five continents for her new memoir, How to Be Married: What I Learned From Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage. Told in honest prose with astute reporting, the book is a survival guide for the first year of marriage. The following is an adapted excerpt from the book. Most dating advice given to newlyweds is horrible. Maybe not horrible, but at least not terrifically helpful. It’s like the people writing the advice wrote sitcoms in the ‘80s where the laugh track covered the sadness and every problem was fixed in 28 minutes, including commercials. There’s a lot of “don’t forget to have a date night,” and “never go to bed angry,” and “say ‘I love you’ at least once a day.” In other words, there’s a lot of bullshit. In the …

A Pragmatist’s Guide to Adventurous Living 

When people ask how a nice Mormon girl from a small, conservative college town ended up in New York City, I tell them it was by way of the Western Sahara, a desert wedding and a white camel. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was trained for a life of adventure. Conceived in a well-traveled uterus (my parents had spent a grueling 12 months traveling the globe the year prior), I had been to 32 countries and visited every one of the United States except Alaska by the time I was 12. I celebrated my third birthday crying over a lost sweater on a Norwegian fjord. My fourth, waiting patiently in our VW camper for my father to be released from a Mexican jail. My fifth, eating couscous from the henna-ed hands of bejeweled women at a Berber wedding in Morocco and begging my parents to let me bring home a very sweet, very tiny white camel. And the year I turned 18, I furtively exchanged blue jeans for Soviet bezdelushki behind …

How I Officially Became a Middle-Aged Badass in the Finnish Arctic

Last summer, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: a roundtrip holiday junket to the Finnish Arctic region in hopes that I’d write about the region’s beauty, sustainability and why it should be a top travel destination for millennials who are increasingly seeking meaning and purpose when they travel.  But as a woman in midlife, a decidedly non-millennial, I found meaning, purpose and a little bit of a super-hero skill in the deep-freeze. I was offered two, week-long options. The first was to take the trip during the summer solstice in August, featuring hiking, biking and outdoor trekking. The second was a visit during the darkest and coldest time of the Finnish winter, January. Given that I’d be traveling solo and am middle-aged, I initially leaned towards the safe and more “typical” sounding summer holiday. But, after reflection, I thought, “Hell, Susan, why not go the challenging route? Get out of your comfort zone and be a badass for once.” So winter darkness was the selection I made, and my trip would include skiing, …

Oh Ottawa: Reflecting on a Canadian Life Left Behind

If Belle from Beauty and the Beast were 40 today, would she still be living happily ever after or would she have second thoughts about leaving her provincial life? Would she still identify with that life at all? Growing up in Ottawa, Canada, I suppose in some ways I was a modern-day Belle leading the proverbial provincial life*. The grass is green, and there’s lots of it – in the summer months at any rate. With the federal government headquartered in the nation’s capital, the job market is robust and typically weathers market downturns well. There’s access to good schools and, of course, universal healthcare. At home, we indulged in many popular American imports. Our family tuned in to ALF and laughed at Steve Urkel’s silly jokes, my dad received a hero’s homecoming when he signed up for a Jumbo Video membership (Canada’s answer to Blockbuster) and surprised us with a copy of the newly-released Batman movie, and in the 10th grade I became completely obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera when a touring …