jenifer is a beauty expert for

Introducing Jenifer: Our Beauty Expert and Product Junkie

Who the hell is Jenifer*? I’m the lady who will be bringing all things beauty to We Are Midlife. I’m a self-proclaimed beautyaholic in my late 30s trying to keep my face looking the best that it can with or without make up.

I believe that we can enjoy makeup at any age and I’d like to share with you the things that I’ve found in my journey of experimenting with high end, luxury, and drug store make up. I’m also unapologetically addicted to skincare. I know what is on the market to make your skin glow, where to find something with collagen, or how to make a line or two disappear for a night. And if you just want a great moisturizer, I’m your gal for that as well. (Side note: Best tip, drink ALL the water it’ll give you the best skin.)

A little bit about me, I’ve never had cosmetic surgery but this is not my original face. I had a septoplasty where my nose got accidentally altered for the better and double jaw surgery where my face was purposefully and wonderfully altered. It’s a long, drawn out, genetically messed up story.

I’m married to a brilliant man, Brian. He’s my in-house tech support. Brian owns his own IT company and he loves me, so he’s pretty darn special. We have three children of the fur, of the feline variety, Lola, Lucy and Penelope. We reside outside of Houston, Texas where I work trying to save the world one dollar at a time.

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Look for my posts, about two a month and make the world your own kind of beautiful!

*Yes, Jenifer with one “N” because I was born in the UK and they messed up my birth certificate and my parents thought “What the hell?!”

We did a podcast with Lisa Orkin but we had questions for her too.

You Need to Meet Lisa Orkin

Lisa Orkin is the kind of woman that other women rightly embrace. She’s funny, she’s bright, she’s got a boat load of wacky experiences from comedy clubs to parenting to wanderlust. And she’s got a podcast that makes you feel like you’re her girlfriend hanging out with a cup of coffee.

Recently we were guests on Lisa’s podcast, you can listen to it here or on iTunes.

She’s a lovely host and we left there wondering if we’d been good guests. After listening we decided that you don’t need to be a good guest. Lisa will guide you and the episode will be great fun because she makes it that way.

We had some questions for Lisa and thought you’d enjoy hearing directly from her. When we asked her about her day job she said:

My day job is writing and performing comedy, I have done it on stage, made independent films and now I do it on computer screens. I have a company called The Radio Ranch. We write, produce, and voice comic radio commercials. I also teach business owners and entrepreneurs how to get comfortable on camera.

We asked Lisa what would surprise us about her work and boy were we surprised. She said that the men in her life never think she’s funny. Who are these men? She went on to tell us about some unorthodox broadcast methods including recording from inside her boyfriend’s closet, “I have a pretty studio, but a lot of times if I have an audition or I am podcasting with guest, not in LA I do it from my computer. My home is a lot of hard surfaces and closets are great for soaking up the sound. My boyfriend has a large walk in closet that soaks up the sound, lot’s of flannel, denim, and Patagonia and it has room for a desk… and so began ‘My Boyfriends Closet Sessions’. I am not sure it will continue because the closet is hot and with my hot flashes I end up recording in my bra a lot and it feels too weird.”

We asked Lisa Orkin how old she was when she started her podcast about growing up after 50.
We asked Lisa what has changed from her first to her current podcast. And she told us that she started off interviewing men about their feeling but after about 25 episodes she learned men have the same hopes and dream about love as women do and she wanted to talk to women. She describes feeling adrift and wanted to use the interviews for guidance. She talked to us about having a very clear structure for the first episodes and then ditching that and instead making it more like a kitchen or bathroom conversation at a party.

Lisa’s most surprising episode was with Martha Joe Atkins who works with the dying. It was funny and sweet and she is a hoot. They get deep and talk about loss and the wild weirdness of death. She is a rough and tumble Texan.

Can you imagine asking your family if your life freaked them out?

Lisa did it. Listen to this interview she did with her brothers. It’s very revealing and uplifting too.

Lisa describes her episode with Ted Kruse as one of her favorites. According to Lisa, “Ted was a minister in the midwest who had a cheating problem. He lost his congregation, job, and he almost lost his wife and family. Ted worked really hard to face himself and his view on religion. His life had shifted so much and when I talked to him for the podcast he was back with his amazing wife and painting houses. Similarly, I was married to a man who was always wandering and we did not work it out. I was curious to how they did it. We such an emotional conversation. I would say it was the most meaningful for me on letting go.”

It was only after the first tuition bill arrived that I learned about how people pay for college.

Things I Didn’t Learn About the Cost of College Until After the Bill Came

My daughter is off to college in a few weeks and the bill for the first semester has arrived. After the smelling salts kicked in and I regained consciousness I found out a few things that I wanted to share with my friends. We’ve been paying for the kids to go to private schools and I’d (wrongly) assumed that paying college tuition would work the same way.

My first surprise was a happy surprise. Maybe not just happy but joyous. I might have danced a jig. Private secular schools in Los Angeles (I’m finding that some but not all of the parochial schools do not do this) have a finance charge as well as requiring tuition insurance. When I combined the finance charges and tuition insurance for one local school it was an 18% increase in cost over the course of a year. The sad part of this is that a lot of families who pay for private educations can just barely afford it and they are the ones who end up paying the most.

In any event, that first bill came and it wasn’t for the entire year. It was for the first semester! Who knew? Also guess what the finance charge is if you’re planning to pay monthly? $50. That’s right fifty dollars. Not all Universities are the same so it’s going to require research at each school.

It appears that finance charges and tuition insurance are not a given as they are in K-12 education.

Then I found out there are other ways that the rich stay rich and decided to go on the hunt for an expert to tell me more about it. Leah Ingram has written a book about how to pay for college. Here’s something else I didn’t know. You can prepay all four years at some schools, hedging your bets against the 2-3% increase you can expect at private institutions. I asked Leah about this she told me that in the state of Florida you can prepay four years of tuition and housing for less than what one year of college at a Florida state university costs today.

She went on to say that some colleges have allowed freshman to “lock in” their tuition prices for all four years so that if tuition goes up for the next incoming class, it won’t go up for you.

Leah said, “That being said I wondered if colleges did actually offer these prepayment options outside of state plans and they DO. I found prepayment options at both Harvard and Dartmouth, so I guess that is a way for the rich to get richer and not pay for tuition increases that the middle class have no way of avoiding.”

It seems like many of the older private schools may end up being more affordable than a state school. I was sharing some of what I saw on Naviance with a community college student. He is preparing for a transfer and the UC schools would probably cost him more than USC because he’s the first generation to go to college. I relayed this information to Leah and asked what else would shock me about funds available?

What you’ve stumbled upon is a big misconception among so many parents. Everyone is led to believe that a state school is cheaper, and when talking apples-to-apples tuition, it is. However, there are two things that can weigh in parents’ favor with private schools. One, you get financial aid based on cost of attendance (COA) and expected family contribution (EFC). While your EFC doesn’t change depending on where your kid goes to school, the COA definitely does. So an EFC that nets you zero financial aid at a state school could net you significant financial aid at a private college–because the COA is significantly more. The second thing weighing in your favor is that if you do qualify for financial aid, private colleges are more likely to have more money set aside for grants and scholarships. And actually third, a private college looking to boost its student profile is more likely to throw money at a smart student who stands above their “average” student. This is usually in the form of merit aid, not need-based aid.

Leah’s book The Complete Guide to Paying for College: Save Money, Cut Costs, and Get More for Your Education Dollar  comes out in September and if you have a high school sophomore or junior you’re coming up on a busy couple of years. I highly recommend preordering it now.



Fabian Blank

We apologize to women everywhere for being quiet when we should have taken a stand

We Apologize

We catered to the lowest common denominator here. We were silent when Trump was loud. We whispered when Planned Parenthood came under attack. We shook our heads silently and didn’t want to offend the people who agreed with a misanthrope, a xenophobe, and a racist.

And for that we apologize.

When we launched We Are Midlife we made a conscious decision to stay completely apolitical. We declined to publish photos that featured women wearing feminist slogans. We didn’t want to offend anyone.

What is it they say? If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. 

We still don’t want to dive into American (or International) politics. We have treated our Instagram account as a light and fluffy place to be during dark times. We believe that America is currently in very complicated times. We also believe in democracy and freedom. We believe the ship can be righted. We enjoy mornings where we leave comments telling strangers they are pretty. We don’t want to give that up. It’s joyful. We sought joy.

We still aren’t a political site, we don’t aspire to be. But we are women with strong beliefs. We are women that believe in other women.

We are not the kind of women who sit and say nothing when misogyny is unchecked. We are not against the GOP but when the President goes on twitter to annihilate the character of another woman and we say nothing we become complicit.

When Jessica’s friend Elizabeth took another stunning photo in a BAD ASS WOMAN tee we had permission to repost it and then decided not to.

Photo of a beautiful woman in a BAD ASS WOMAN tee shirt holding a Cosmo

That was our mistake.

We decided that we were going to offend no one. We decided that we didn’t want to ruffle feathers with the women we know and love. Women who are staunch supporters of Trump and who decry feminism. These are women who use birth control. These are women who would never willingly work for less money than a man. These are women who rejoiced when California’s Tampon Tax was repealed.

These are women we like. These are women we respect as human beings and as other women. These are women with whom we respectfully disagree. These are women we will fight for. We will fight for their rights to free speech and to have opinions that oppose our own.

With the exception of Trump these are women who may have voted the same way we have. We’re not saying how we vote. Well, Jessica often does, but not here.

We apologize. We pretended like none of this was happening. We pretended like we didn’t hear Trump talk about grabbing women by the p*ssy. We pretended like we didn’t cringe when he talked about America’s past Secretary of State as a Nasty Woman. We pretended like things were normal.

Things are not normal. We Are Midlife won’t jump into the political fray anytime soon but we also won’t balk at posting photos of beautiful women wearing really fun tees.

A case study in how to not apologize

When Mean Girls Hit Midlife

This morning Jessica posted this photo to Instagram.

Like a lot of women who are born and bred in Los Angeles I have a difficult relationship with the sun. I love it. I love summer more than anything and if I had a zillion dollars I’d chase the summer all over the globe. Alas, the sun is responsible for most of our skin’s aging and we need to protect our eyes as well. So I’m slathered in sunscreen (read about that on the blog), and often in a hat and sunglasses too. I’m enjoying this off the shoulder romper but I think that the blousy style is more flattering for women with smaller bustlines. I’m worried that I’m adding loads of fabric and creating heft. You’ll see tomorrow when I show the whole look. #romper #ChanelSunglasses #clubmonaco #over40style #realoutfitgram

A post shared by Jessica & Stefanie | Midlife (@wearemidlife) on

You’ll notice that the caption ends with:

I’m enjoying this off the shoulder romper but I think that the blousy style is more flattering for women with smaller bustlines. I’m worried that I’m adding loads of fabric and creating heft. You’ll see tomorrow when I show the whole look.

Jessica and I have very different figures but we are exactly the same size in clothing and shoes. We don’t wear the same things often because every body is different and one of the things that we’ve both experienced since launching @WeAreMidlife is an appreciation for our bodies as support for our minds, emotions, and health. Interestingly all these photos have freed us from some levels of vanity. We wear less makeup, we don’t touch up imperfections (except cracks on walls), and we’ve learned to delight in the photos our midlife community shares on Instagram. It’s a really special corner of the web most of the time.

We share photos of ourselves in outfits and settings where we are not always feeling most confident.

Shortly after posting this morning Jessica texted me a photo that the founder of a blouse company had shared. It’s a woman who looks an awful lot like Jessica sitting on the subway, minding her own business, and looking adorable for springtime. Unfortunately the founder of this company snapped this woman’s photo …. well, you take a look.

When Mean Girls Hit Midlife: This photo was taken of another person without her permission and shared publicly as what not to wear. We disagree. We think she looks fabulous on the outside and we're willing to bet she'd prettier on the inside than the person who took her photo.

You will never convince me that humiliating strangers will sell a blouse. For the record (not that it should matter), this subway riding lady looked good.

Since we share an account, before we do anything that could be seen as controversial we always chat. After a quick phone call to follow up we left the following comment:

Gentle reminder: this is a real person with real feelings. 

After which many other comments were left in the same vein. Some not so kind. Some downright angry. The account owner was defensive and seemed to genuinely believe that this photo was providing some sort of public service.

After a few back and forths with a rabid Instagram community the photo was removed and this was posted. I’ve blocked out the names because we do believe that the account owner is entitled to make mistakes in relative privacy. It’s a small account and we hope that after some introspection there will be enlightenment.

A case study in how to not apologize

@WeAreMidlife has been on Instagram for almost a year now, and we started this account to celebrate women in midlife – but really women at any age. This is the first online community that I can say I’ve created. I’ve found it to be both rewarding and fascinating. Many people that we follow and who follow us feel like friends now, and I enjoy that immensely. This is a new and exciting experience for me.

Recently a woman who I’ve never met before, but have interacted with a lot on Instagram was body shamed. Many people stood up to the bullying, reported it to Instagram, and then Instagram shut down the account.

Glamour Magazine’s Do’s and Don’ts page was a source of young adult angst for me. I remember getting dressed in my early 20’s thinking, “Thank God I don’t live in New York City – I am sure that I am a Glamour Don’t right now.” It took me a while to figure out my style and I made many a fashion faux pas.

I can’t imagine a photo of me being on the internet as the subject of ridicule, can you?

Author Brene Brown said in her book Rising Strong, “appearance and body-image fear- the most common shame trigger for women.” When you want to hurt a woman emotionally, criticize her appearance.

Not long ago former Playboy model Dani Mathers took a picture of an unsuspecting nude 70 year old woman in the locker room of her gym. When she posted it on SnapChat for all of her followers to see it became a crime.

What I saw today was no different than what Mathers did to her victim. Which leads me to say, a 70 year old women should be celebrated, heck she’s at the gym-you go girl! Dani Mothers is now banned from all LA Fitness gyms and has been sentenced to 30 days (240 hours) of graffiti removal and had to take an anti-bullying course. After looking at her twitter account I am not sure she has learned much from this experience.

I am glad to see people standing up to body shaming and bullying in any way.

I am hopeful that we can present our daughters and sons opportunities to build their self esteem so that they are builders of communities like our friend Jaimie. I hope that I’m raising kids who recognize the beauty in the people around them. I hope that younger women on Instagram can see our account and see that there is so much to benefit from by encouraging everyone. First they must have solid role models, and we are obligated to be those role models.

When a fashion house blocks you on Instagram is it because you've done something wrong or is it something else?

I Wear Lanvin Even Though They Blocked Us On Instagram

Lanvin blocked our Midlife account on Instagram and I am befuddled by the action. With more than 3 million followers how did someone at Lanvin decide that we are the women they don’t want to hear from?

I’m not supposed to have a favorite, but I do. My favorite shoes are a pair of Lanvin Mary Janes that feature a brass chain. They are the kind of shoes that you wear when you want compliments all day long.

Maybe this Instagram photo wasn’t to their liking? 

My second, third, and fourth favorites are also Lanvin. I have slides, I have ballet slippers, I had athletic shoes but there was an unfortunate kitten event when he got locked in my closet… I have flats and I’ve bought footwear for both my husband and my son. I am a ridiculous human being. No one needs these shoes but they bring me pleasure, so I buy them. I love dressing my family nicely. I buy some of the ready to wear as well. I adore great style. I am light on fast moving trends.

Admittedly, at 47 years old I understand that I am the target demographic for few brands. I had assumed that folks will sell me clothes because I can pay for them. But never truly embrace women over 35 in their finery.

For most of my life I had acknowledged the disappearing 40+ woman as a harsh reality and chosen to ignore the phenomenon. Giggled even. And then last August I started an Instagram account with my friend Stephanie. We were both tired of the world pretending we were invisible.

We Are Midlife is the name of our website and of our Instagram account. It’s made some of our friends recoil in horror. One had a meltdown that she almost got into a photo with us. Midlife is a hard word for some folks to say.

We live in the space between Free People and Chicos.

I have no reason to buy dowdy clothes just as I have no reason to wear my teenage daughter’s clothes. Lanvin was one of those brands right in the middle.

So I wore my Lanvin shoes on Instagram. Maybe one too many times?

Lanvin blocked me. Like we just don’t exist to them anymore.

At first I was really sad, and I didn’t want to wear my shoes or my blouses. Then I remembered that it was just one person with access to one Instagram account. Maybe they were having a bad day? I tried to not take it personally.

But later when I went to go open my blue shoe boxes, and loosen the silky bows that hold them closed, I didn’t feel very good about the brand.

Why would they block our account? Are we too old? Too ugly? Too suburban? Too white? Too enthusiastic? Too American? We’re too something, we just don’t know what the something is.

It’s unlikely that we ever will know. I’ve DM’ed @LanvinOfficial from my personal account, the one with the puppy pictures and the tennis store with the dusty taxidermy owl. No response.

I understand that there’s a push and pull with brand management. You want young and willowy women with toothy Kennedy smiles posing for photos bedecked in Lanvin. And then you want those photos cross posted to Pinterest where they will be seen by women a tiny bit younger who will save for an investment piece. All of this will happen if Lanvin happens upon the trend du jour. Or if their moms buy them a gift.

I did note that of the 427 people @LanvinOfficial follows on Instagram there are a few in my age group. A Frenchwoman I cannot identify, Linda Evangelista, and Michelle Obama. We share an adoration of Michelle Obama’s style, me and whomever it is that runs the account.

Women like us, who are devoted to quality, wear their investment pieces everywhere. We know that saving things for special occasions simply translates into never wearing nice things. Later never comes.

And maybe this sounds a little Single White Female of me. But Lanvin, I will always love you.

And I will most likely continue wearing Lanvin clothing and shoes on Instagram, I just won’t tag you in it, because you blocked me. And I’m not sure why that happened when there were so many other options, including the option of clicking twice and untagging @LanvinOfficial.

I did notice that even though the Lanvin account has more 3 million followers and mine has yet to hit 30,000 we routinely have more comments and interaction with our community. Maybe there’s a great strategy in being aloof and never responding to anyone? You know, like that really popular boy in high school who never noticed you and your crush grew deeper.

I strongly suspect that this block has to do with a number. And the number was unlikely the thousands of dollars I’ve spent in your shoes.

These are all instagram photos where the brand @LanvinOfficial was tagged.

Keri Close Pres Creative jewelry for Mothers Day is a great gift and it supports The Africa Foundation

Près Creative: From FriendRaisers to Foundations

Keri Close lovingly makes jewelry that was worn with pride first by the women of Los Angeles, and now the country. Like many artisan businesses Près Creative Fine Handmade Jewelry was born of both passion and need and continues to grow with talent and tenacity.

When Keri’s Husband, Eric Close, was working in South Africa a quick PSA was added on to his work schedule. No one knew at the time it would change so many lives. Because of this PSA, Keri was introduced first hand to the important work that the Africa Foundation does. She was touched by the joy and warmth of completed projects and moments later heartbroken to see a school without a roof. She was informed that $40,000 US Dollars would provide a roof. Keri and Eric headed home, resolute in problem solving, hosted a FriendRaiser (a house party with people you know specifically for the purpose of fundraising), and in one day $56,000 was raised and a roof was built.

After doing a PSA in Africa Keri and Eric Close threw a fundraiser and they were able to build Nhlalala Creche for schoolchildren

This is a lovely story, but how did this lead to Près Creative?

When challenged by our pastor to find a place where our passion and gifts will have eternal value – I thought, “I am passionate about the people of Mduku and Welverdiend,  South Africa. How can I use my gifts to spread the word about the work Africa Foundation does to empower and improve the lives of the people in those communities?  What can I do besides write a check?  Or have a party?” I had been making jewelry for fun for about five years (using only sterling silver, gold and semi-precious gemstones which makes it a very expensive hobby!) and giving my pieces as gifts to family, friends, my daughter’s friends and teachers. Then one day someone asked me “Why don’t you sell your jewelry?” My answer was, “Because I love it, I love being creative, and I love giving it away.  It’s not about the money.”  Then came the “ah-ha” moment.  What if I could marry my passion for Africa Foundation with my passion for designing and making jewelry, giving away the proceeds to help the people in those S. African communities? This was the birth of Près (pronounced ‘pray’) Creative Handmade Jewelry.

As a  natural introvert Keri’s time spent alone creating jewelry during the workday rejuvenates her and leaves her fresh for her family when they convene at the school day’s end.

Armed with a Masters in Social Work Keri’s first career had been in caring for other people’s children at Hillsides Home for Children in Pasadena, California. She was a therapist for pre-adolescent girls. Keri stopped working there during the second trimester of her first pregnancy and Près Creative was born a decade and a half later as her second daughter entered high school and her first daughter began to drive.

One could successfully argue that Keri never did stop taking care of other people’s children. She currently sits on the advisory board for Africa Foundation and at 47 is able to spend her days creatively exploring her passions.

At midlife Keri Close learned entrepreneurship.

She found it both daunting and exiting to learn the ins and outs of small business including how to make a business plan, getting the proper licensure, budgets, product pricing, marketing and building a website.
Her name is Keri Close. Jewelry is her “What”. People are her “Why”.

When Eric Close had to work in South Africa it sparked a philanthropic and creative career for his wife Keri.



The secret to a perfect brisket involves waking up in the middle of the night and shutting the oven off.

Brisket Secrets: There’s a 2am Visit to the Oven

Stefanie and I were talking about Passover and family traditions. She wanted to know what to bring the hosts when you’re invited to a seder. This can be tricky, Kosher for Passover wine is always a good idea as is Kosher for Passover Coca Cola (yellow cap on a two liter bottle), or flowers for the table. White flowers would be traditional in my family.

Then Stefanie went on to tell me that her friend gets up at 2am to make her brisket. Which is when my jaw dropped and I was like, “I must know why! What’s her email? Who is this superwoman?”

I must confess that I was also in awe that anyone could make a brisket taste good without it being in a smoker or smothered in BBQ sauce (not traditional for a Pesach table) so I emailed Jacqui Biery, pescatarian and brisket maker extraordinaire to ask her a few questions.

Stef said you get up at 2am to make your brisket – why? The temperature must be extremely low!

I have two Brisket recipes. The first is my interpretation of Ina Gartner’s Brisket with carrots and onions recipe and the second one is a Japanese inspired sort of teriyaki brisket that I kind of made up when I had a Japanese/California Shabbat dinner a few years ago.

After many years of cooking brisket a friend shared her secret to making a perfect brisket and I do it for both recipes. I put the brisket in the oven when I go to bed. I cook the brisket at 300 degrees for about 20-30 minutes per pound. Then I wake up in the middle of night and turn the oven off, leaving the brisket in until morning. Since the oven is airtight and the brisket gets tender as the oven cools down.

Who handed your recipes down to you?

I am a pescatarian. I don’t eat meat. But my husband and four children do. I love traditions and even more so during the Jewish holidays. I grew up with my mom, aunt, and bubbie cooking a brisket with Lipton onion soup mix, Campbell’s soup “Golden mushroom” and a can of water. I did it a few times, but I like to cook with fresh ingredients. So many years ago I started experimenting with different recipes until my family decided on their favorites. Now we have our own brisket traditions.

How many people are coming for Seder this year?

This year we have been invited to a friends for Passover. I am not cooking the brisket. So it is likely that I will have a Paseach dinner on Shabbat, which will likely be around 20 people, because we always have guests over when we prepare a Shabbat dinner.

Who helps you cook?

My youngest daughter Ilana is ten and she loves to help me cook. She does most of the washing, chopping, and mixing.

What do you do with leftover brisket?

In my house, everyone looks forward to lunch the next day. During Passover, they will eat brisket with matzo, but during the rest of the year it is a brisket on challah sandwich.

Why do people hate brisket (me!) unless it’s been smoked?

I don’t eat meat myself, so I don’t really know. But I remember growing up and brisket seemed like a tough meat. I think cooking the brisket at 300 and then leaving it in the oven at a low heat for a few extra hours, leaves the brisket tender and moist. I know this because of how it slices and of course my family and friends. Perhaps it is the smoke flavor and slower process that make the smoked brisket taste better.

My Daughter Came Out on Facebook

“Are you gay?” I asked my sixteen year-old daughter last October.

“No,” she answered but I wasn’t sure. She didn’t seem gay (whatever that means), she’d only ever had boyfriends, but as co-president of her high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club, she would use words like “us” and “we.”

“What about Alice*?” I asked about her best friend and co-president.

“She’s pansexual,” Marley told me.

“What’s that?” I asked her.

“It’s where you fall in love with a person, no matter what their gender is.”

“Isn’t that bi-sexual?”

“No, because you can love someone who is trans or doesn’t even identify as a gender. You just fall in love with a person.” she told me.

“What about you? Are you pansexual?” I asked.

She shrugged and looked me in the eye. “Yes.”

“So you would date a woman or a trans person?” I asked her.

“Why wouldn’t I?” she asked sounding as nonchalant as if I’d asked her if she was sure she’d like extra cheese on her pizza.

Just so whoever you love treats you well, that’s all that matters,” I said, meaning it.

My husband and I have always told our kids that love is love, that we will love them no matter who they love and it’s true. While I’m proud of the fact that my daughter is very evolved, if I’m honest I’ll tell you it’s not what I’d hoped or planned for. I mean, life is already so damned hard.

The day after the election she posted this on her Facebook wall:

Hey guys. I need to tell you something. This isn’t shocking at all (i hope), but i wanna officially come out as pansexual. if you don’t know what that means, there are a few definitions to explain it, but mine is a very popular one. basically, I’m attracted to people based off of their intellectual ability and personality. I mean by that is, I don’t really care about what a person sexes or the person’s gender is or whatever they are on the outside. I care about who they are as a person and how they make me feel and how I make them feel and how we just are together I find that more important and much better than how somebody looks over they are on the inside.

I have to admit, I wasn’t quite ready for that. The lack of capitalization. “Sexes” instead of “sex is.” And that last sentence is just a run-on jumbled mess. What were people going to think about me after reading that? I’m a writer.

All kidding aside, I was a little worried. I hadn’t told my mother yet or anyone else in my family. I didn’t know how the kids at school would react. I like to think that it’s the 21st century and nobody cares, but a man who thinks you can “pray the gay away” just got voted into office as our vice president and that’s scary as shit.

Then I noticed my mom “liked” the post, as did my brother, all her cousins, and a bunch of her friends. The post was peppered with comments like “Speak your truth” and “You go, girl.” I went back to worrying about the grammar.

The Sunday after the election I got together with three of my girlfriends to commiserate the results. My friend Lisa suggested we find a protest to go to. I told them about Marley coming out on Facebook, that she contacted the LA LGBTQ center, and was planning a protest against Trump and Pence in Hollywood on December 10th.

“How does that make you feel? Marley being pansexual?” my friend Lisa asked me. Lisa’s a therapist and likes to get to the truth.

“Honestly,” I told her. “I don’t know. It would be a lie to say I don’t care. We’ve always told our kids we’ll love them just the same whether they’re gay or straight and it’s true, but it’s not exactly what you wish for. I want Marley to live her truth, but I also want her life to be easy.”

But if there’s one truth we all know by this time in our lives it’s that life can be so many things – wonderful, terrible, usually something in-between, but if there’s one thing life never ever is, it’s easy.

If there’s one truth about Marley it’s that if there is a hard path and an easy path she’ll pick the hard path. Every Single Time.

“Do you think this protest will actually happen?” Lisa asked me.

I shrugged. “Who knows. I admire her passion and intensity, but she’s passionate and intense about everything and not particularly famous for her follow through.”

But the protest did happen. Marley posted it as a Facebook event and it was shared with over five thousand people. Trolls started posting terrible things and at one point Marley had an anxiety attack when she realized she had no idea what she was doing, but there was no backing out. Fortunately a seasoned protester reached out to her and helped her immensely. The police contacted her and provided protection. This was a great relief to me and my husband as even though Marley stressed this was a peaceful protest, there was an uptick in hate crimes after the election and protests can turn ugly. We really didn’t know what to expect.

In the end approximately two hundred people showed up – both gay and straight, including a family with a fourteen year-old lesbian daughter who was so grateful to Marley for organizing a march that spoke to them. There were roadblocks -literal ones, as her march was the same day as the Rogue One premiere and we had to take a different route; and figurative ones as there was a pro-Trump rally being held on his Walk of Fame star, where our march was ending. Marley was encouraged to give a speech, which she hadn’t planned, but she spoke from her heart. We marched from Hollywood and Vine to Hollywood and Highland holding signs, chanting chants, speaking our truth.

The truth is this wonderful-terrible-somewhere-in-between life is hard no matter who you love. But loving Marley is easy.


*Alice is not her friend’s real name. I only out my own kid on the internet.


Charlene Ross is the author of Frosted Cowboy. You can find her at

Charlene Ross Headshot


Like You Never Tried to Take Your Underwear Off Before Your Pants….

I don’t like the dentist. I mean, I like her because she’s a nice lady but when I hear the whirr of a drill I break into a sweat and wish for a quick death.

That is not hyperbole.

Yes it is. I lied to you already.

When I was in Mexico during the holidays I noticed a little dent in one of my teeth. I phoned the dentist to set an appointment, but as everyone knows at the end of the year folks are using up their insurance benefits and it’s tough to get in. Since there was no pain, not even a little discomfort, I took an appointment in the middle of January.

Two days before the appointment my tooth turned grey. It had died.

Since my entire dental history consisted of the removal of my wisdom teeth and filling a cavity at 21 I had no idea what was in store for me. My fear of dentistry and drills was compounded by the fact that my friend’s alcoholic father had removed my wisdom teeth and left me with dry sockets at 19, and then later at 21 I won my one and only filling in a poker game in the back room of the restaurant I worked in. I don’t think that dentist was any better at dentistry than he was at poker. I had that filling fixed at 30 and I’m still recovering from the incident.

In any event my dead tooth meant I needed a root canal. I didn’t know what a root canal is. When the dentist tried to explain it to me I got woozy. I still don’t know what a root canal is except that it’s $650 after insurance, takes three appointments to complete, and you get Xanax.

Oh, apparently there are people who have root canals and then go to the office. My husband has told me about these people. These are not my people. My people sweat bullets, cancel appointments from nerves, and then take Xanax and maybe act a little silly.

My people have good intentions and low thresholds for pain.

There are three appointments for a root canal. The first involves drilling, the second involves drilling and things, and the third involves something and something and a credit card… see I’m a good listener. I made my first appointment and then a few hours before the scheduled time I canceled it. Something about traffic. I made another appointment. I canceled it muttering something else about traffic. The receptionist noted that I lived walking distance from the office and asked if I would like some Xanax so that I could get to the appointment without anxiety.

Yes please. Yes I would like a bucket of Xanax for each and every visit to the dentist forever and ever amen.

They called in a prescription, I filled it, swallowed a pill and dutifully showed up for my next appointment. High. Very very high.

I had my son with me. We took a Lyft to the office and my daughter was to pick us up. He had a cleaning while I had the unnamed first root canal appointment that everyone in the free world knows about and understands because they can listen to the dentist’s words without their eyes rolling back in their head and their stomach churning. Everyone but me.

My recollection is that I sat in the chair with my noise reducing headphones, listened to some music and slept while they worked on my tooth. My daughter then picked us up and I went home and slept in my overstuffed chaise lounge from 2pm until the following morning. My recollection was that I acted like a lady.

Sadly my recollection was incorrect.

The first tip off was that I woke up in bed. Not in the chaise I was sure I’d been napping in.

Apparently there were requests for food. Perhaps calls to my husband during a business dinner. Here are the texts from my daughter’s phone:

text messages with a father and daughter
text messages

In my defense I have taken Xanax a number of times before, particularly for transcontinental flights. Typically I get a few pills at .25mg, break them in half, take half and wake up in a new country. Only after hearing from my children about how I stood on the landing above the living room trying to remove my underwear while my jeans were still very much on my body and buttoned up did I check the dosage the dentist had given me. Two Milligrams! Sixteen times the dose I’d taken dozens of times in the past.

Today I’m going for appointment number three. I’ve decided that I’ll have an old fashioned with a light lunch, wear really strong antiperspirant and let someone drive me to and fro the appointment. Or maybe a smidgen of Xanax, but only enough so that I know how to get myself dressed.

Or maybe I’ll just cancel the appointment… traffic. I mean, I still have enough teeth to get through a meal, right?