All posts filed under: Issues

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 …

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 …

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, …

9 Books for a Better World

Let’s face it: The ’10s have been quite the shitshow of a decade. Given the sad state of our democracy, extrajudicial police killings, and the reinvigoration of fascism and white supremacy, never before have I wished so hard for peace on Earth and goodwill toward humanity. So, as a firm believer in the transformative power of a good book, I invite you to roar your way through the ’20s, starting with these deep, daring, delicious reads.  1. Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman Did you know that at the beginning of the twentieth century, young Black women in New York and Philly sparked a radical cultural movement defined by free love, queer relations, and alternative forms of cohabitation, intimacy, and kinship bonds? Neither did I, until I read this aching, gorgeous, brilliant book. Hartman spins painstaking research into gold that reads like fiction. It is at once scholarly and literary, imaginative and the hardest truths. $28.95, wwnorton.com 2. Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani PerryAt a time when Black children’s lives are …

Useful and chic? Yes! 7 Great Gifts to Give

To my mind, the point of gifting is to give another person something that becomes indispensable to them, or very nearly so. To that end, I like finding attractive, well-designed versions of useful, everyday things, because that way the items in question will actually be loved and used, instead of re-gifted or put away in a drawer somewhere—which is always the fear.  1. Emile Henry Salt Pig First of all, you just have to love something called a salt pig, and I like how it looks kind of retro and space-age. It’s also a super-handy and easily accessible way to store salt, and when you’re done cooking, it looks great on your dining room table. Also, it comes in a ton of good colors, but I’m partial to this poppy red, which is what I have in my kitchen. $40, Bed, Bath & Beyond 2. Brass clips Your gift-ee can use these cool brass clips as she would an ordinary paperclip, or as a bookmark. I think the shapes are really cheery and fun. $18, …

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While Writing a Book About Self Worth, I Had to Learn How to Practice It

Earlier this summer, after learning a writing teacher I wanted to study with in Cape Cod wasn’t available, I asked my literary coach and yoga instructor, Lisa Weinert, to help me put together a personalized writing retreat that I could enjoy at home in New York City. Instead of escaping to spend time writing in some remote bucolic place, I’d find peace in the chaos of Manhattan. I spend a lot of time focusing on fleeing where I live in order to get in touch with — or to reclaim — another part of myself. And although I love a good island or mountain vacation, all too many times I’ve come home and the sense of peace I enjoyed evaporates as I try to shove my suitcases onto the closing doors of the subway after a long flight home.  It was ironic. I spent so much time dreaming about visiting other places, but here I was, planning more time in the thick August heat of New York City while everyone else was dreaming of the …

One Cookie at a Time: Carrying the Weight of My Anxiety

I’ve been anxious for most of my life. I can trace my anxiety back to age six, the year my parents officially separated. Back then, we called my dad an alcoholic. Now, we’d call him what he really was: bipolar, self-medicating with alcohol. I remember sitting on a blue velvet couch in our living room, as a police officer, a friend’s father , came to haul my dad away. Our dog insisted on getting into the squad car with him, so the officer took her too. Just moments before, dad had arrived at our house to find himself locked out due to his volatile behavior. Enraged, he smashed a window trying to get in and cut the phone line ensuring we couldn’t call for help. A retired cop himself, he knew all the tricks. Thanks to our neighbor whose phone line was not cut, that’s as far as he got before the cops arrived.  My father’s violent and erratic behavior continued, several days later, when he arrived at my elementary school, trying to convince my …

Following the Black Line: How I Found Peace in the Pool

I was a competitive swimmer in my early teens. My coach, Paul, always had me swim backstroke even though I wanted to swim breaststroke. I was faster in breaststroke. It didn’t make the water slosh over my face, gagging me, and causing me to vomit after every race. But, I raced backstroke in every meet because coach asked me. Regardless, I was a swimmer and I loved the water. I didn’t love throwing up at swim practice or after a meet, but I did love how I felt underwater.  The water was fresh and cool and so crisp and clear. I was strong in the water, in control. At the same time, I was nearly invisible with a cap and goggles, nearly unrecognizable as I swam under the radar. Stealthy. In charge of me. It was when I felt the most confident, the most myself. I don’t remember exactly why I stopped. But I stopped when I was 15 years old. Athlete or not, I probably succumbed to adolescent worries of body image and getting …

A Porch of One’s Own: The Perils and Pleasures of Building My Happy Place

For 20 years I dreamed of a place where I could just “be” at my house: feel the breeze, watch the trees, hear the birds, avoid the bugs. In my mind, this place would be shady (I’m allergic to the sun) and serene. I just wanted a quiet spot where I might read a good book, with a simple table where I might eat a tuna sandwich.  But each time I brought up the subject of constructing such an oasis with my husband, there was a more pressing project that bumped it down the line.  Sometimes, the house needed painting, or the barn burned down, or the pond had to be dredged. Granted, these were all valid and important, but they certainly weren’t transformative for me.  Then, a year or so ago, we had some room in my construction schedule. It was my turn, and we decided to build a screened-in porch. I’d already stopped working full time, and had generally deferred to my husband’s vision as far as expenditures went. But, going into the …

ESPN the Magazine Shutters

Block & Tackle: My Role in Redefining Sports Journalism

At a fancy Manhattan restaurant, over a very mid-90’s seared tuna salad, I make an impassioned pitch to be the creative director of a sports magazine. I tell the editor-in-chief, Gary Hoenig, that his startup needs a new visual presence and that I am the man for the job.  Gary has an overwhelming aura — a true New Yorker and a bear of a man. I’ve been drawn to his warmth, intelligence, and egalitarian approach since we started discussing my potential role at a new publication called ESPN The Magazine. The idea of working with an editor who wants to bring a little wit and self-deprecation to the world of sports is appealing. And it somehow feels like I’ve known him my whole life. Gary asks for another baguette (this was pre-Atkins), and I am suddenly desperate for him to take me to a Knicks game and buy me a hot dog.  But wait. Sports? I’ve spent five years designing Metropolis, an architecture and design publication whose latest cover featured a modern $95 toilet brush. Designing …

Heather Barmore at Pride Festival

I’m Proud That I Never Had to “Come Out” to My Parents

There is a photo of my friend Hannah taken during the Pride parade in Philadelphia. Her arms are raised to the heavens, the sunlight landing perfectly on her face. Her eyes are closed but she is joyous in a white tee emblazoned with the rainbow colors of Pride. She exudes the freedom of expression that all Gay Pride events represent: gathering, inclusivity, community, and ever present hugging, as we each send well-wishes of ‘HAPPY PRIDE!’. Our community and our allies are exuberant, happy to dress up, to be free. It’s the freedom of loving and being loved.   I posted the rest of my Pride photos to social media for thousands to see, glad that I could revel in a day of such happiness and solidarity. Apparently, there is a thin line of pride between affirming your identity and announcing to your moderately conservative family that you have the right to be happy loving who you want to love. But still, why ruin the illusion? Compartmentalize. Compartmentalize. Compartmentalize.  *** When I was 16 years old, I …

Comfy shoes for summer

9 Summer Shoes That Will Keep Your Feet in a State of Happy

Happy feet, it has been said, are the secret to a happy life. Or maybe I just said that. Anyway, as someone with a myriad of foot ailments, I am ALWAYS in search of the next, better, comfy — and not cringingly ugly — shoe.  The kind that keep your heels on a bed of squishy softness, the kind that don’t crunch your toes into a triangular point, the kind that air our tootsies and display our fabulous orange pedi, the kind you can walk in for more than 10 minutes, the kind with enough of a toe box to fit hammertoes and bunions. (Did we say we’re a site for women over 40? We know from toe box) Two of TueNight’s most popular posts are this 2015 one on comfy summer shoes and, go figure, this 2017 one on comfy summer shoes, so clearly we should be a comfy shoes site. Instead, here is our basic update for Summer 2019. This time we asked TueNighters, friends and a few fashionistas about their fave hot weather soles. They …