All posts filed under: Issue: Birthday

Birthday Issue: Not Dead Yet

I write this to you with no pants on.  Sorry for the image, but I’m on deadline to publish this piece, I haven’t figured out what I’m wearing to our big birthday bash celebrating five years of TueNight, and, well, I’m between outfits. It’s not that I don’t take writing this Editor’s Note seriously, but honestly, this is life. Do I care that I don’t have pants on? Hell to the no. This is the kind of thing that has changed, now that I am 51. Now that we are five years in on TueNight. You do what you gotta do, pants be damned. Wait, we’re 5 years old, already? It still feels like we’re just getting started. Which is kind of the essence of TueNight.  We have, in fact, covered a lot of ground. To review: 1287 stories292 contributors275 weekly newsletters15 TueNight Live eventsScores of TueNighter Facebook threads where we’ve uncovered and discussed all manner of things — from how often we wash our towels to what qualifies us as “peak old lady” (e.g. Karen …

The Night I Took Uber Pool to the Emergency Room

I’m crawling around on the bathroom floor, picking up pieces of myself. These pieces are not metaphor. They are actual pieces. Plum-sized, beet-colored, with the consistency and sheen of chicken liver, four of them have shot out of my vagina like shells from a canon. Altogether 18 of these projectiles will erupt from my body. “A chai,” I apparently joked, after the last one shot out, although I have only a vague memory of this. For now, there are only four, I’m still conscious, it’s just after midnight, and my 20-year-old middle child, Sasha, the only other human in the apartment — added bonus, I’m mid-divorce — is fast asleep after having arrived home only a few hours earlier from her Birthright trip to Israel. I am bleeding out. But my brain, starved of blood and in shock at the sight of so much of it, cannot process this information. Instead, I’ve become convinced that the ordnance sliding around my bathroom floor are my internal organs, which I must rescue so someone can put them back inside me. I …

Why It’s Important to #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 retire 39 freelance writing penny wrenn

Why I’m Throwing My Own Damn Retirement Party

At 38, and soon to be 39, I am nowhere close to receiving social security checks or living off a cushy pension or a seven-figure Roth IRA. But financial security hasn’t stopped me from declaring my retirement at the end of 2016. That’s right. I said retirement. This is retirement in the tradition of the thirty-something-year-old NBA basketball player who retires from the hustle of the game. (Except I’m neither as rich nor as famous as Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan.) I have been writing professionally for 15 years, and most of that time I’ve been a freelancer. That means that I’ve been floating from assignment to assignment without an employer to call my own. But this year, I am retiring from that writer-for-hire life. I have not made a lot of money, I have not made an indelible mark (whatever that means) and I have not achieved all that I’d hoped to accomplish in my professional writing life. Having written my way to mediocre success, I am choosing now to say to myself, “Good …

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 …

Masking It: The Night I Started Hiding Alcohol

After a six-month, self-imposed period of abstinence from alcohol, drinking crept back into my life — while I was in costume. It was Halloween night, 2009. I was dressed up as a hippie, with a long, blond, knotty-dread-ish wig (topped with a colorful tam) and a floor-length, swirly patterned dress. My husband (then fiancé), Andy, matched me as my mate in his own wig and Grateful Dead tee, and we brought along my old Cabbage Patch Kid to complete our peace-and-love family. I had also just completed a six-month, self-imposed period of abstinence from alcohol, which I was oh-so-proud of. The fact that I had been able to stay sober all on my own, without AA meetings, rehab, or ultimatums from loved ones, was a major accomplishment; one that I believe proved, once a for all, the thing I so desperately needed to believe about myself – that I was not an alcoholic. So after dousing ourselves in Patchouli oil (the scent of which stayed with us for days — don’t ever do this as …

Silly Things People Have Said to Me When I Tell Them I’m Not Having Kids

There will be no children in my future. Ever. Yes, I am married. Yes, my husband knows that I do not want children. Yes, we both realize we’re extremely fortunate to be able to elect to live childfree. He doesn’t want kids either. It’s part of the reason I married him. (That, and he has excellent hair.) He married me knowing that and also because I always clean the litter box. I probably brought up the topic of kids on the second date — it would have been a deal breaker. My husband would make the world’s greatest father. But that alone isn’t reason enough for me to become the mother I’ve never wanted to be, to take on a crushing financial burden or to add more to my already too-full plate. I love my friends’ children. Because I don’t have to take care of them. Their cuteness is there to fulfill my need to see cute things. I don’t expect them to behave for me, and they don’t expect 18 years of dinner from …

The Mazel Tov Slap: The Jewish Tradition You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

When I told my mother I got my period for the very first time, she slapped me across the face and shouted, “Mazel Tov!” It wasn’t a punishment slap — more like the way you’d slap a person who fainted, or something out of the Marx Brothers — and it didn’t feel violent. I don’t remember the moment in great detail, and I don’t remember it as something terrible that happened to me. I mostly remember knowing that it was part of long-standing tradition from shtetl times, passed down from Jewish mother to Jewish daughter, the purpose (supposedly) being to bring the color back to your face (because it’s all draining out through your vagina now!). It’s possible I even knew it was coming, that it was something we discussed in advance — probably with all of my female relatives! — as I eagerly awaited the big day. And yes, I so desperately wanted my period, because at 14, it felt like ALL OF MY FRIENDS had theirs, and I was on the outside of this magical …

My Struggle With God Ended on a Plane

It was my best friend, Brenda, 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 Brenda 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 Brenda 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, …

Happy Birthday to Us! Get Tix to Our Live Event, 10/23

We can hardly believe it’s been five years. But as any TueNighter knows… Age is something to CELEBRATE. For our birthday edition, we’re bringing back excerpts of some of our TueNight faves — from Dodai Stewart bonding with bodywork professionals, to Susan Linney’s brave “Bottles Down” chronicles, to Tamar Anitai’s “Silly Things People Say When I Tell Them I Don’t Want Kids.” We’ll also have Deb Copaken and Michele Carlo with new stories and Cindy Gallop on why we need to shout our age from the rooftops. Hell yeah.  (Top row (l-r): Deb Copaken, Susan Linney, Dionne Ford. Middle Row: Heather Barmore, Dodai Stewart, Tamar Anitai. Bottom row: Karen Gerwin, Michele Carlo, Penny Wrenn) We’ll walk down memory lane with old friends and introduce some new ones. Plus, CAKE. TICKET PROCEEDS WILL SUPPORT VOTE RUN LEAD Buy tickets here!