Month: April 2019

The Secret Issue: Shhh…

We all have secrets. I like to think I’m an upfront, transparent kind of gal, yet there are a lot of things I’ve never told anyone. Hey, what if I told you a secret right now? Oh hell no, this is not that kind of post.  A secret isn’t to be toyed with. It’s not some flitty, flighty gossip, it’s a long-held, deep and dark. We keep a secret because it has perceived power. If unleashed, it might impact others — or it might affect how they see us.  Secrets can be good or bad. A friend tells you they are pregnant and to keep it hush-hush until she’s ready. A colleague comes out of the closet to only you, “Can you keep a secret?” And then there are secrets that cause insurmountable pain — a secret love affair, a state secret that if unleashed would cause destruction. A secret recipe that if divulged would mean millions of people would know how to make my grandmother’s perfect chocolate pudding. Locked away. In midlife we take stock …

61% of Women Would Rather Talk About Their Own Deaths Than This Topic

My trigger to stop being so secretive about money occurred in a Palm Springs hot tub, while my sister and I were parboiling ourselves under a clump of shaggily glamorous palm trees. She is 61, I’m 59 and we were talking about money for the first time since the days when our “salaries” came in the form of weekly allowance from someone we called Mommy. Which is to say, we were having a meaningful money discussion for the first time in a half century.  “How much do you make?” she asked. I told her. I asked her the same question.   She answered it.  “Oh, O.K.,” we said simultaneously.  And then, as if we had walked through a heretofore unseen wall, we started talk openly about all sorts of money matters: how much money the family lost after the IRS caught up with some early-80s tax-filing shenanigans; “Mommy’s” financial situation; how much we had saved for retirement.  It was an inexpressible relief to discuss our family’s complicated relationship with money. The short story: my mother’s father made …

Lipstick Secrets: My Quest to Wear Parallel Red, Forever

In 1986, during my first month of college at SUNY Purchase, I spotted a woman on campus wearing the most beautiful, fire-engine-red lipstick — and no other makeup. Just the lipstick. She had curly brown hair, parted on the side just like mine, and her red lips made a singular statement. I walked right up to her and got the name of the lipstick: Estée Lauder’s Parallel Red.  Until this point, I’d only seen girls wear glossy light pink, frosted pink or iridescent pink gloss. No one that I knew wore bold, red colors even though I grew up in NYC. The only strong red lipstick I had seen was my Mom’s stage makeup.  As soon as I could get to a department store, I bought it. From that day on I never wore another lip color or any other makeup. I didn’t need eye makeup or blush; this red was enough to light up my whole face. I wore it everywhere: to see bands, to grocery shop. Because there were two Alisons in my …

A Onetime “Closeted” Republican Decides to Come Out — and Slam the Door.

The term “closeted” has been used to describe many marginalized groups. It rarely has been used to describe a brown woman who is a Republican.  Let me explain.  Growing up I was the girl version of Alex P. Keaton. When Family Ties would air during prime time, I would beg my mother to let me watch. Not because I loved the snappy one-liners of Justine Bateman’s character. I loved how Alex would use Socratic method to lay out conservative arguments with his parents. I took copious mental notes.  My divorced Indian parents were split down the middle when it came to politics. My mother was Elyse Keaton while my father was a skinnier, browner, better dressed Archie Bunker. My mom would host ACLU meetings at her house. My dad would play golf with rich, white, old guys secretly hoping he would become one of them.  In 1996 I was excited to cast my first vote. Because of my age, I had missed the 1991/1992 elections by two years.  During his campaign, Bill Clinton came out like a lightening …

Learning the Truth About My Real Father

Growing up, I never knew my name. I mean, I had a name but I never knew it because I was called “Piggy” since I was born. Story goes, when my mom gave me a bottle, I curled my hands and feet like pig’s hooves around it. How fucking adorable. Just call me bacon why don’t you?! We lived in Crown Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant, & Prospect Heights, Brooklyn in the late 60s and early 70s. You could say my mom was a rolling stone and wherever she lay her hat was her home. By the age of 25 she had seven kids by six different daddies. Yeah, I know. My mom was rolling more than her hat back in the day. No judgment! My Dad must have loved my mom because by the time they met, she’d already had three kids by three different men. He still wanted to be with her. I love my Dad for his persistence in getting with my mom but looking back, they broke up mainly because my mother continued …

TueNight 10: Rachel Cline

Age: 62 Quick bio: Rachel Cline is a writer and editor. Red Hen Press just published her third novel, The Question Authority, which took her ten years to write. It’s about a middle-aged woman coming to terms with the lifelong impact of her 8th grade teacher’s bad behavior. Beyond the Bio: I like to write about women who struggle with everyday life, because I am one of them. I’ve done a lot of  different jobs to keep that going: from proofreading the yellow pages to writing (with others) season 13 of Knots Landing and taking the curse words out of Glengarry Glen Ross so they could show it on a plane. For the past ten years, I’ve held various jobs behind-the-scenes at the NYC Department of Education, but I’m “retiring” next week! I’m so psyched to purge my wardrobe of stretchy non-descript black slacks: see ya Marissa/Sloan/Cassidy/Curvy/Sailor/Crop! Anyway, my close friendships (mostly with women I’ve known since the 80s) are what I care most about and what sustains me. 1. On the nightstand: Ocean nasal spray, CBD salve, Stitcher …

TueNight 10: Joanna Briley

Age: 50 Quick bio: Joanna is a New York City-based actor, stand-up comedian and writer. She has appeared on Lifetime TV’s “Fempire” ad campaign, “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen, and several appearances on Wendy Williams “Street Talk” segment. Beyond the bio: “In 2018, I created the “Black Women in Comedy Festival,” which was an amazing call to action for black women comedians who are hilariously talented yet routinely overlooked by the industry. With over 20 years in the comedy business, I felt compelled to create this festival to highlight the wide range of comedy, storytelling, improv, and sketch from the perspectives of black women in a supportive and safe environment. I am proud to say that the festival empowered so many funny black women who just needed someone cheering for them and rooting for their success. We look forward to opening more doors in the coming years.” 1. On the nightstand: Lust for Life by Sylvester McNutt III, Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore with Eric C. Westman, MD, She’s So Funny by Judy Brown and Essence Magazine. 2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: …

TueNight 10: Marci Alboher

Age: I’m more than willing to #saymyage, 53 Bio: Vice President of Strategic Communications for Encore.org, “I cook up ideas for Encore.org on how to frame longer lives as a force for good and intergenerational connection as a natural way of life. I’m really excited about our Encore Public Voices Fellowship, a partnership with the OpEd Project to identify and support 20 diverse thought leaders working on issues relating to aging, longevity, intergenerational connection and social justice.” Marci also serves on the board of Girls Write Now, a phenomenal organization empowering girls through writing and mentoring. (If you’re in New York City, you should check out one of their Spring events.) Beyond the bio: “In my free time, I walk excessively around Manhattan, and recently started taking piano lessons to keep the brain sharp. My long-term hobby is low-skates poker (Omaha) with a group of artist/writer types — and increasingly, my mom’s pals. The coolest thing about being middle-aged is that you are perfectly positioned for cross-generational friendships up and down the age chain!” 1. On the nightstand: Mary Pipher’s Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We …

TueNight 10: Anne Mourier

Age: 55 years old. Quick Bio: A conceptual artist, a mother, and a feminist who loves men, Anne Mourier hails from France and New York (and a little bit from Venice, too). Her latest performance “Cycle,” in collaboration with artist 2Fik, will be presented during the open studio weekend at The Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn in May.  Beyond the bio: “I love more and more human interactions. Material things have less importance for me as time goes by. This is why I am interested by performances…they allow me to have deeper interactions with strangers. They nourish me and help me progress in my journey. I feel more and more the synchronicities of life also and smile when people are “sent to me.”” 1. On the nightstand: One book from Carl Jung, one book about the spiritual life of water, two books about witches and one artwork from Claudia Paneca. 2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Not dying my grays and making love. 3. Jam of the minute: A new artwork I bought at the Armory show and have to hang in my apartment …

TueNight 10: Beth Arky

Age: 59 Quick bio: After two decades as an entertainment magazine editor (Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide), Beth now writes personal essays and covers children and teens with developmental, mental health and learning challenges for the nonprofit Child Mind Institute. She is also a warrior mom, advocating for her 15-year-old son, who is on the autism spectrum. Beyond the bio: “At 59, I’ve discovered that I have a strong voice and that confidence can’t be tied to a number on the scale. I’ve also learned the hard way that I need to take care of myself—in other words, put the oxygen mask on first—before I can help anyone else. And since my marriage ended four years ago, I’ve found that dating younger men can be fun!” 1. On the nightstand: The Blue, a historical novel by my friend Nancy Bilyeau; a stack of New Yorkers I’m going to get to one of these days, damn it; my iPhone (I know, terrible for an insomniac like me but it’s a hard habit to break); Lubriderm; a Voluspa candle in French Cade & …