Year: 2020

TueNight 10: Roberta Lombardi

Age: 53 Quick Bio: Roberta is a three-year breast cancer survivor and founder and president of Infinite Strength, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to underserved/underinsured women diagnosed with breast cancer. Many of the women helped by her organization are single mothers who are financially disadvantaged and/or below the poverty level. Beyond the bio: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 49 after I discovered a lump during a self-exam. I feel like I was just learning to embrace myself at that time: not concerned as much with what other people thought of me, and just enjoying life and my family. I loved my 40s! And then came the diagnosis. I lost my breasts, hair, self-esteem and dignity. When I was through with treatment I had to figure out who I was because I did not recognize myself, and it was a tough road.” What makes you a grown-ass lady?: “Having breast cancer pretty much stripped me down to the bone emotionally. But in a lot of ways that was a good thing as I began …

TueNight 10: Jennifer Owens

Age: 52 Quick bio: Jennifer is an editor, writer and speaker who tells stories to and about women, with a focus on career, family and health. She works with clients through Jennwork, her two-year-old content agency, and her newest project, The Breadwinners podcast, just launched on Messy.fm. Jennifer serves on the board of ProCon.org. Her punk band Two Minute Thrills plays in dive bars (where else?) around NYC. Beyond the bio: “I feel like I’m in the perfect moment right now. My kids are older and (literally) need less hand-holding, my spouse still makes me laugh, Pilates has me standing straighter than ever and I get invited to shout obscenities on various stages. Then there’s my work, which is all about speaking authentically to women. I love it — and love the people I get to work with.” What makes you a grown-ass lady? “That I’m still supporting my family despite the crumbling nature of media. I started out as a newspaper reporter, pivoted to magazines, moved to digital and now audio. I just keep hustling.” 1. On the nightstand: There are sooooo …

Embarking on My Own Year of Yes

I’ll allow Shonda Rhimes to take credit for inventing the year of yes (YOY). This TV titan did make it famous, but let the record show that I invented the concept before Rhimes’ book with the same name became an instant bestseller.  In 2014, I could be found lounging on a tan leather couch in my comfort zone. I had a cool gig as the executive editor of Juicy, a celeb life, hair and beauty magazine, which I co-founded with my soul friend Paula. At Juicy, the riskiest thing I did was subject my skin, hair and nails to all the free goodies beauty brands tossed at us by the boatload. Picture me as an eager test dummy for every BB Cream for mocha skin, matte red lipstick and neon nail lacquer ever invented. I interviewed celebrities, twirled on red carpets and on the rare occasion, appeared on reality TV.  And while all of this was crazy, sexy, cool in that TLC kinda way, I never forgot that one of my purposes in life was …

TueNight 10: Karen Dukess

Age: 57 Bio: Karen is the author of the novel The Last Book Party, which was published in July by Henry Holt. She has been a tour guide in the former Soviet Union, a newspaper reporter in Florida, a magazine publisher in Russia and a speechwriter on gender equality for the United Nations Development Programme. She lives with her family near New York City and spends as much time as possible in Truro on Cape Cod. Beyond the Bio: “I’m the quintessential late bloomer, writing my first novel in my 50s. Our culture celebrates young success, but I’ve learned from experience that late-in-life achievements are all the sweeter. And publishing your first novel just as your youngest child goes to college is a great antidote to empty nest syndrome.” What makes you a grown-ass lady? “I’m much more likely to try new things and not worry about how well I do them or how foolish I might look. Only well after age 40 did I have the guts to learn to downhill ski, scuba dive, and …

The Greatest Risk of All? Choosing Me

I’m an avowed risk-taker.  In fact, I had a business card for a while that bragged about this. I tucked the word “instigator” on there, between “editor” and “writer.” In my career I launched four magazines in a row, and lived to tell – though I can’t say the same for the magazines. I wrote a really raw book about my divorce in which I cried constantly and told the truth about my failures. I joined websites solely for the purpose of finding people to have sex, not relationships. I offend people with my confidence and bluntness and brio – but I don’t mean to.  I like to stir pots and poke bees’ nests and ask inappropriate questions and hold people’s gazes too long. So I got this idea in my head that I was fearless. Turns out that was a lie. I’m a total scaredy-cat. This I have learned in the past ten years, ten years of being unemployed, underemployed and just plain overlooked. In my career, I had enjoyed decades of unwavering success, …

TueNight Live: Photos from RISK

All photos by Neil Kramer For some people, standing up and sharing a personal story feels risky — luckily for the record crowd (almost 120 of you!) at our most recent TueNight event, this was not the case, as 5 women stood up and shared stories of risks taken in their own lives. And we got to hear the good, the bad, the embarrassing, and the lovely. Margit welcomed the crowd to the event, held at the women’s career development and collaboration hub, Luminary. Here she is with Robin Gelfenbein, one of the night’s readers, who offered up a super-special second, bonus story at the end of the night (in which weiners featured prominently — we mean hot dogs!). The event’s speakers shared stories of their own personal risks, involving family (of course), career, identity, taking on new challenges, and sexxxxxxy time… gone wrong. Read those stories here, here, and here, or watch the videos of their performances on our Facebook page. There was fun, laughter, snacks, wine, Hint Water (thanks for sponsoring!), new connections …

The Risk Issue

We each have a list of things we’ll risk, and a list of things we — hell no — will not. Like, I’ll risk talking to a stranger on the subway, risk changing jobs or risk standing on stage to share my thoughts and feelings (Haayy TueNight Live!) But I would never risk skydiving — honestly, I feel like I’m taking a risk every time I get into ANY moving vehicle. Bodily risks are not my thing.  I am not too keen on risking strange meats. I might risk taking a hit of that joint, even though the voice of my mother yelling, “IT COULD BE LACED WITH SOMETHING!” still plays on a backchannel in my brain.  At midlife, we hold many more calculations in our head, experiences to pull from, to decide if the risk is worth it. We can better gauge where the line is, and the categories where we’ll tempt fate, and where we’ll hold our cards. I feel a little less risky as I’ve grown older; I’ve found myself looking for safety …

My Daughter Inspired Me to Take My Biggest Risk

One evening, several years ago, I was walking with my friend, Michelle, in Greenwich Village, shivering. It was late spring and I was chilly. But, that’s not why my teeth were rattling and my hands were shaking. I reached for Michelle’s arm to steady myself as we got closer to our destination. My grade school daughter wasn’t the slightest bit afraid of the risk I was about to take. “B”, as I’ll call her, was nine years old when she said to me, with zero apprehension, “Mom. I really like Demi Lovato.” “Hmm,” I said. “Well, that’s good. She’s cool.” But the look on my B’s face led me to a follow up; “Wait. Do you like her or like-her-like-her?” No hesitation, she said, “Like-like.” My B soon proclaimed herself to me as bisexual and since then, has proudly represented in her life as such. Now, I’m 48 years old. That Greenwich Village walk with my friend Michelle was to enter my first lesbian bar. And that was only four years ago. How was it …

I Kept My Mother’s Secrets for Decades — Then Told Them All

On a morning like most, I sit beside Mama at the dining room table, eating my bowl of Sugar Frosted Flakes and watching her work. She’s on the telephone, its receiver in the crook of her neck as she records her customer’s three-digit bets in a spiral notebook, repeating each one. The crystal chandelier blazes above. “Five-four-two for a quarter. Six-nine-three straight for fifty cents. Is this both races, Miss Queenie? Detroit and Pontiac? Okay. Three-eight-eight straight for a quarter. Uh-huh. Four-seven-five straight for fifty cents. One-ten boxed for a dollar.” Mama writes the numbers 110, draws a box around them, hesitates. “You know, I got customers been playing one-ten all week. Yeah, it’s a fancy number. Oh did you? What’d you dream? He was a hunchback? Is that what The Red Devil dream book say it play for? Now that I didn’t know. I know theater plays for one ten. Well, I can take it for a dollar, but since it’s a fancy, I can’t take it for more than that. You understand. What …

TueNight 10: Kera Bolonik

Kera with David Lee Roth when he stopped by the offices of DAME. Age: 49 Quick bio: Kera is a writer and the editor-in-chief of DAME Magazine. She is at work on a book entitled GULLIBLE, which will be out from HarperCollins/Dey Street Books sometime in 2021. Beyond the Bio:  “They say that as you grow older you care less about what people think, and it’s really true. I was so self-conscious and anxious, literally lost sleep scrutinizing conversations I’d had at work or parties, worrying I’d offended someone or sounded stupid. Now, I can barely remember conversations I had five minutes earlier; unless someone says something deliberately egregious, I usually let it pass. If we have to live amid such dark times, I feel better equipped to handle it now more than at any other point in my life. I’m finally at a point where I like where I’m at. But it feels fleeting, too, because my greatest anxieties now have everything to do with my parents’ aging and my son learning how to navigate …

TueNight 10: Carmen Rita Wong

Age: 48 Quick bio: Carmen is a writer, speaker, and an investor and advisor to women-owned businesses. A former national television host, magazine advice columnist, and faculty professor at NYU, Carmen serves on the board of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and The Moth. She also hosts a podcast, has published two novels, and is currently working on her fifth book, a memoir.  Beyond the Bio: Damn, you get wise in your 40s. And, tired. But it’s the wise and curious parts that keep me going. Self-acceptance, too. There is a level of DGAF that is hard-won and you’d better believe I enjoy the hell out of that. What makes you a grown-ass lady? Grown-ass is a scale. I was a grown-ass lady at 12 years old, helping care for four younger siblings, working, and excelling at school. But now, as a single parent with aging parents and a brother now living with advanced cancer, being grown-ass feels like a given. But what I will never forget is that being grown-ass doesn’t mean being old-ass. Keep playing. …

Her Voice Will Always Be Here: Remembering My Friend Nancy

I scrolled through old text messages to find bits of audio. Here was my friend Nancy Falkow McBride speaking to me direct from Ireland, from her hospital bed. That low, slightly raspy, South Jersey accent — not at all what she sounded like when she sang. Which is how I first met her, her voice. I listened. She was right here. Still. Nancy preferred to talk her text messages, which, to me, was all the better: I could get a living, breathing sample of my friend so many thousands of miles away.  Sometimes I’d listen to her messages in the moment and we’d message back and forth. Sometimes she’d send them at 8am her time — 3am EST — and I’d listen to them later, when my day began.  Once, she left me a blessing of sorts. “My wish for you,” she paused, with a hint of a giggle in her voice, “is that your book comes out, and that it gets made into a movie. And then you’ll put your pal Nancy Falkow on …

Get Tix to Our Next Live Event “Risk” 1/28 at Luminary!

Tickets are on sale for our next event on January 28! Get all the details and BUY TICKETS HERE! For our Winter edition of TueNight Live we’re taking RISKS – telling tales of life after the leap. One of the upsides to getting older is that the math of “If not now, when?” gets just a little bit more insistent, prompting us to consider big changes and small ones that 10 years ago would have been unimaginable. We will be in the stunning space Luminary in Flatiron — a premier collaboration hub for women and women-identified who are passionate about professional development and expanding their networks. As always, we’ll have wine, delish snacks and fabulous stories from women who have been there/ done that. GET TICKETS NOW — We won’t be selling tickets at the door. Our storytellers include: Bridgett M. Davis (@bridgettmdavis) is the author of the memoir, The World According To Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life In The Detroit Numbers, a New York Times Editors’ Choice. She is also the author of two novels, Into the Go-Slow and Shifting Through Neutral, shortlisted for …

TueNight 10: Julia Munemo

Age: 45 Quick bio: Julia is a writer currently living in western Massachusetts. Fifteen years ago, a stack of pulp fiction written by her long-dead father landed on her kitchen table — most of the novels were interracial porn. Julia, a white woman, had been married to a black man for six years by then, and their first son was a toddler. Her memoir, The Book Keeper: a Memoir of Race, Love, and Legacy, tells the story of what happened when she finally faced her shame about her father’s secret career and cracked open those books. Beyond the Bio: “I couldn’t have faced my dad’s books before I was 40. People talk about feeling more confident and questioning themselves less at this age; me, I still question myself all the time and confidence has never come easily. But something did shift after 40 that allowed me to face my legacy. I think it’s about the ability to feel vulnerable. I felt invincible in my 20s and a good chunk of my 30s. Now I know I’m …

I Sent My Anxieties Downriver — On a Grapefruit

A scene from the sacred Loy Krathong ceremony in Thailand A hand reached out of the darkness to give me the pomelo. The hand belonged to my 12-year-old son; the pomelo, a Southeast Asian grapefruit, was mine. On this night, alongside an urban creek with the sounds of rush-hour traffic rumbling in the distance, that pomelo was about to become something magical. I tried to act casual — as casual as is possible for a 51-year-old woman standing in the dusk holding an outsized fruit stuffed with four carnations, a small candle and a scrap of paper. I don’t know whether it’s legal in America to float a flaming piece of citrus fruit down a creek. But I wasn’t going to ask. I had one shot at this, and it mattered. I couldn’t wait a whole year for this opportunity to come again.  A man peered at us through the moonlight from a public bench, watching as we approached the rocky edge of Pine Creek. I pulled a book of matches from my pocket and …

TueNight 10: Addie Tsai

Addie celebrating her recent book publicationAge: 40 Quick bio: Addie is a queer, nonbinary artist and writer who teaches creative writing, English, humanities, and dance, at Houston Community College. Her debut, queer Asian Young Adult novel Dear Twin, was published by Metonymy Press in November 2019.  Beyond the Bio: “Two weeks before I turned 40, and three months before embarking on promoting my first book, my marriage of four-plus years (seven altogether) fell disastrously apart. Forty is coming with lots of changes, both good and bad, exciting and paradigm-shifting. But I’m also excited about what the new decade might bring, too.” 1. On the nightstand: The Map of Salt and Stars, by Zeyn Joukhadar 2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Roller-skating 3. Jam of the minute: “Washing Machine Heart,” Mitski 4. Thing I miss: My ex 5. 80s crush: Janet Jackson 6. Current crush: The DJ who played for Lizzo when she opened for HAIM, before anyone knew who she was 7. Will whine about: Traffic 8. Will wine about: Dating sagas 9. Best thing that happened recently: I made Autostraddle’s list of 55 of the best queer books …

I Said Goodbye to Bad Romance

By Heather M. Graham I walked into my last relationship certain that I just wasn’t good at being with another person. Every relationship I’d had since I had 17 concluded with an unhappy ending. One boyfriend declared that he couldn’t see himself married to me (after having moved in with me), and another was spooning me when he told me he’d gotten another girl pregnant — and her name was Heather, too. But this new thing seemed to have a chance. He was an old friend who’d already seen the unpretty sides of me and he was still in. He reassured me that I’d be OK, and that made me feel safe enough to try. And I was OK. This relationship proved to be different than the ones that came before. There wasn’t a dark and desperate side to it that drove my belief that I was inescapably broken and fundamentally unlovable. It was the exact opposite. It’d only taken me 25 years to get there. * * * * My first love was beautiful, …