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.”

A Woman’s Last Words with her Mother

Just before a young woman’s mother died she had a conversation with her mother and it was recorded on video. It looks as though they lost the sound.

She took to the internet to ask if anyone knows how to lipread and could tell her what her mother’s last words to her were.

A redditor called FriendsAreSh*t wrote this:

“…”

Uh huh.

“Did you pack your stuff away […]?”

I’m okay

“Okay.”

Do you have anything you want to tell me [….]

“Oh. Is there something you want me to tell you?”

Tell me you love me.

“I love you.”

Thank you

“I do. I think you’re […]”

Mmhmm.

“You’re pretty proud of yourself, aren’t you/you’re pretty hard on yourself, aren’t you?”

Sometimes.

“Oh, I think I would say.. uhh.. maybe about 75% of the time.”

“Mmhmm.”

“Strong 75%.”

Mmhmm.

“[…]”

I’m trying/I try.

“You do good […]” ??

“I have to apologize.”

Okay/for what?

“For some strange reason […]”

It’s okay.

“[…]”

I don’t know sound with shrugging shoulders

Mom takes a drink of water.

“[…]”

Okay, sounds good.

“But, I do […]”

Mmhmm.

“Don’t eat em all at once, you’ll get pimples”

Okay.

“Alright.”

And then user ThisIsMyDesktop added the following:

If you crank the original audio right up and put your headphones on the side of your throat instead of your ears, you can hear the voice quite clearly.

Uh huh.

You should pack your stuff away and let me read it to you

I’m okay

Okay

Do you have anything, do you want to tell me that you like me?

Oh. Is there something you want me to tell you?

Tell me you love me.

I love you

Thank you

I do. I think you know that.

uhhuh

And then we all fell in love with the internet one more time.

Can you help decode this video? I was stunned to learn about the neck trick. Let’s all work together to help this young woman with her video.

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.

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 charleneaross.com.

Charlene Ross Headshot