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Amy Turner

Guest Posts, parents

A Manual For Girls Who Struggle With Their Moms

April 14, 2019
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By Amy Turner

    1. Do not be afraid. You will encounter therapists and gay men* who will nurture you in ways she never could . They will see you without judgement. This is because despite being big hits on Bravo, they have been forced to collectively shirk judgement /and or this is their job. Both work.(*Apologies for basic stereotype but when your best guy friend finds Sandra Bernhard more intriguing than Sandra Bullock, you’ll collapse, finally understood.)   

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Relationships

Depression Music Matrix: Getting Over Him

October 27, 2017

By Amy Turner

Hey. Wondering if you’re over your ex? Feeling crazy and listening to sad songs is as natural as a West Elm jute rug, but sometimes the line between heartbreak and sinkhole gets blurry.

Here’s a depression music matrix to guide the way.

  1. Lucinda Williams, “Essence”

Okay. You’re sad and whiskey soaked. The lyric “I am waiting by your door/ I am waiting on your back steps” seems totally reasonable. Never mind thinking through the idea that if you were in a healthy relationship, said person would just, uh, open the door. I mean, what are you? A cat? Yes. You have become a cat. A sad, drunk cat. Turn this song off. Turn it off now. You, drunk cat, are over nothing. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Women are Enough

Two Jobs

July 28, 2016
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By Amy Turner

“You must treat career hunt and husband hunt as same thing,” says my Croatian wax lady, Julia.  She is 29 and knows more than I did. At 29, all I believed in was a unilateral work ethic and Henry Miller inspired romantic doom.

“I agree,” I say, shocking even myself. Because if I’d thought about the shitty relationships I’d been in as ‘jobs,’ they were mostly low paying and emotionally abusive.  If I’d have framed them that way, would I have wasted so much time?  One shift at McDonalds and I’d have walked, but at her age, I was working a virtual minimum wage and fry grease trap of the soul.  It was a very anti-feminist idea, this searching for partnership with the fervor of a career, but I liked the possibility that this girl, at 29, was wise enough to design her own feminism. As opposed to clutching Steinem bumper stickers all day and cuddling with rogue charmers at night.

“I like man, in Colorado, handy, lots of tools, good round house,” she says. “But I text him I want to visit and he doesn’t text me back. I don’t know what to do. “ In my heart I want to say, RUN AWAY! DO NOT TEXT HIM! IF HE WANTS YOU HE WILL FIND YOU!! TRUST ME!! But I think she’s really good at waxing and advice is dumb because everyone’s only talking about themselves and every situation is different (BUT NOT REALLY CAUSE GUYS WHO LIKE YOU WIL FIND YOU, BUT THEN AGAIN I KNOW HAPPY MARRIED PEOPLE WHERE THE WOMAN WAITED  WITH THE PATIENCE OF JOB AND UNFLIPPABLE DUDE FLIPPPED SO WHAT THE HELL DO I KNOW?) and kept my mouth shut.

“He said he’d pay for half my ticket. Maybe I text that I bought it?  That he take me camping and that’s the deal?” she laughs. I remember thinking that way. That if he goes camping with you, and your smooth tan legs and your warm single sleeping bagged self, he will never be able to enjoy the natural world alone EVER AGAIN. Buuuuuuuuuuuuut……weirdly, they actually can.

“The camping line is cute,” I say.

“I mean, I’m not defined by relationship, but I want to do some things before I settle down, travel, have career,” she says, “But, the reason I was able to get to better place, better salon, was because I got to live with my ex boyfriend a while when changing jobs.”

I nod, “it’s easier to make changes when we have some support.” These are the things we don’t talk about a lot. How being coupled provides an emotional and economic bravery.  That making Big Life Decisions on your own can be downright exhausting after awhile and at a certain point, one just wants to not make any. Which leads to stasis and a heavy rotation of avocado toast and wine.

“I think most girls are like us now,” I say, thinking of the spectrum of women I know. Everyone wanted some adventure, a strong sense of self, a job that gave you independence, and to fall in love and be committed. The dream, a shared future and the quiet unspoken whisper that one would help the other not wind up living under a freeway underpass. Romance 2016. It was no longer chic to be kept like the fifties (or 90’s if your were a girlfriend of Jerry Buss) or be as ferocious as the eighties ladies. It seemed as if some of the fog had cleared, it seemed as if the most honest feelings, to want both, once deemed selfish (a therapist in her eighties once told me if I wanted to make money and be a wife I was a bit of a narcissist) were now the realest things possible. To give both desires equal weight. This was progress, this ‘both jobs’ idea of hers. It was also the day after President Obama endorsed Hilary Clinton. A woman who, in her twitter bio, identifies first as, wife, then ‘pants suit aficionado,’ and finally, 2016 presidential candidate.

“They are both jobs,” I say to her, as she removes a final strip of wax.

I can’t help myself, I want her to go to Colorado, because she is 29 and she will make love by a river and she will have that moment inside her forever, and that is no small thing. But I don’t want her to waste years waiting for a guy unable to push a few buttons.

“I have a very wise friend who used to say, ‘I can’t wait around for you to figure out how great I am.’ ”

Julia laughs and pulls up the mirror.

“Beautiful,” she says, impressed with her work. My eyebrows perfect.

“I dunno, maybe you should go to Colorado,” I say, remembering my guy in  Montana. The romance in the rearview mirror, worth every bug bite. One week riding horses and swimming in a river and watching him put on chaps for god’s sake. But had the romances blocked other happy vines from crawling in and stilling me, suturing me to one person? They felt like the only thing that fit in those days. But I wasn’t 29 any more, and the exotic now lay in a person who would pick you up from the mechanic, knew how to work the four remote controls, endure the holidays with your family.

“No more wasting time,” she says. Her accent thick and decisive. Resolved. “I don’t think he’s ready for real thing.”

This is the real job, I think.  Defining the real things. Being gentle with your own desires. All of your parts, hired.

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Amy Turner is an author, essayist and TV writer who has published on The Huffington Post. She was a Producer on ABC Family’s “MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, ” a story editor on CBS’s “THE EX LIST” and a staff writer on Aaron Sorkin’s NBC drama, “STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP.” You would like having a Negroni with her. She can be found on Twitter @turnerleturner.

 

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Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are just two spaces left. This will be her only international retreat in 2016 and is her favorite retreat of the year. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

 

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Binders, Guest Posts

My Two Step Program.

March 18, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Amy Turner.

Getting dressed to go take dance lessons at The Broken Spoke tonight I put on a silk dress and look in the mirror. I am in Austin, visiting from Los Angeles. That’s what I do. I visit the places I had imagined an ‘us’.  Where he was from, where he traveled for work, where he wanted to take me. For some reason, we don’t get there. But when we break up, I go.

The trips, I expect to work like leeches, ridding me of longing and restoring me to health. According to the ancient Greeks, bloodletting restored balance. But there is always a point, weather in Paris, the Sierra Nevadas, or now, Austin, where I wonder why I have to do this. People use leeches medically because of ineffective draining. I visit these places, hoping I can empty myself of the fantasy, hoping that as much as it stings, I will let go. It is both indulgent and purposeful. J. talked about Austin, talked about us coming here, to this place, The Spoke, to dance.

The last time we danced was after the Thanksgiving, when I made a salad that cost seventy dollars because I wanted to impress people. It sat on the serving table untouched, a buffet wallflower. Back at my house the mandolin I bought to get the fennel epidermally thin sat in a drawer and mocked me for the rest of the year. We brought the salad home and when we slow danced in my living room, none of it mattered. I couldn’t two step and J smiled and told me he wanted to take me to the Broken Spoke. He said that would make him happy.  I pretended like it was a little thing, but I tucked it in my brain book, a pressed flower I could take out and marvel at when he went back to Texas. A  man wanted to take me dancing. I had told him I didn’t want to fall in love with someone unavailable. He went back to Texas. I hoped he would return, but when we spoke a few months later, he had a new girlfriend. I never learned to two step, so… here I am. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Women

Kennedy Vagina.

June 19, 2014

Kennedy Vagina By Amy Turner

When I was nine my mom dressed me like a Kennedy and told me my vagina stuck out. It was 1984. I had been prepping for a third grade dance recital for retired Balboa Bay Club Patrons when I turned to her, modeling my hot pink Capezio kitty cat costumes with marabou cuffs. My mother stared and said, “Hmm. You know, your vagina sticks out. Just phmph. Just sticks out.” Then she made me turn to the side.

We looked at my 9-year-old mound stretching the cotton-poly blend, and I thought it appeared perfectly normal. She kept saying, “Just…sticks out there, doesn’t it.” I let her continue to stare and laugh. A soft shake started inside of me. The rattle hum of defective. How does one’s vagina ‘stick out?’ What does one do about it?

“Put on your coat and I’ll take you down,” she said.

The coat was three-quarters, royal blue, with a matching hat. She’d gotten up at 4 a.m. to go to a sale of “European Designers” to buy it. When buttoned up and backcombed, I looked like a tiny Jackie Kennedy. I had her Midwestern aspiration written all over me. She’d moved to Newport when she saw a statue of a dolphin that she thought was pretty. My father followed. Two immigrants. South Dakota and Texas trying on Southern California cool.

My mom drove me to the Yacht Club we didn’t belong to, where, along with my dance cohorts, we danced for retired Yacht Club people. Two of the girls in the group belonged to the club, two didn’t. But they all stopped at the gated entrance while my mother drove onto the property without a decal on her windshield, waving like Lady Diana at the teenage boy manning the booth as she barely paused in her Toyota. She gestured to him, to open the gate, immune to country club law. He looked confused as he hit the lever, and she just drove on. I scrunched down in the seat, trying to disappear, as she pulled up in the handicapped space, and told me to get out, dance, “and put my shoulders back.”

How could a person put their shoulders back and hide their girl bone at the same time? I danced cautiously. Timid and protective next to the girls with member numbers that allowed them to walk up to counters ordering grilled cheeses like life was a free carnival. Girls with spiral perms and – probably — concave peeholes.

My mother reminded me often that life was not a free carnival. That the families in the housing developments with the Mercedes, the friends doing a remodel, the wives who didn’t work, skinny women, women who went to nail salons, there was a price for all of it she’d caution me.

“A woman must have her own money to have her freedom. You never want to be a kept woman,” she’d say, smuggling knick-knacks she bought at Marshall’s into the house, hiding the contraband from my father.

Another soap dish made in France! France! The rustle of her plastic bags rang out daily. As if one ceramic swan was going to push us into belonging.

She’d hold it up to the light… “it’s European,” class and glass issues sparkling.

My father hid Marlboro lights in his gym bag and covered up their aroma with cough drops and Old Spice so that every time he came home from work I felt like I was having dinner with a hooker with a head cold.

At nine, it was clear, I didn’t want stockpiled French soap dishes. I wouldn’t be a kept woman. Maybe I wouldn’t be a woman at all. The way my mother explained it, being a woman sounded like punishment. I’d be….a worker. Sure. A worker. Still there was third grade life to contend with. Such as, “Hey, Mom! Brandi Benson invited me to Knott’s Berry Farm on Saturday. Can I go?”

“No such thing as a free lunch,” she’d say, and scowl as if I were a kinderwhore.

It’s confusing to be young and feel bad for liking things. Things that have been crafted to appeal to you, like amusement parks, designer clothes, and Chinese restaurants with children’s menus. My friends had dishwashers and housekeepers and Hawaiian vacations. My mom weeded the garden in her undies and washed her own plates. Every time I grumbled about having to dry, she’d say, “doing chores was the only time I ever got to talk to my mother.” Well, everyone I knew had gardeners and Moms who wear separates, and they still manage to talk, I’d think.

I learned a form of cootie catcher feminism. In one triangle, there was work. But flip up another triangle, and there was the body as currency and phrases like ‘damaged goods’. But mostly, what was happening between me and my mother was a schism of culture more than a schism of gender. Esther Perel says that in the past, “intimacy grew out of lifelong shared work, it is now intimacy itself we work at.” The mother daughter romance is no joke. She wanted it farming style. Families needed each other to survive a winter. But we were not on a prairie. We had trouble.

My mom wanted me to get a job, get married and have children that would grow up listening to Top-40 hits, attend a community college, sleep with enough people until they find the one that most resembles the cherished parent, get a job selling copy toner, have weekends in Lake Havasu where they do a little wakeboarding and wife-swapping, make babies, retire to Palm Springs, and die.

But I had dreams, too. I wanted to live unpunished.

I’ve looked at it, this being a woman. I’ve looked at my pubis too. It’s a real standard issue number. So I think it was probably my mom’s fear that I’d actually grow up and use my pubis. But I didn’t know that then. The way you didn’t know a lot of things.

 

 

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Amy Turner is an author, essayist and TV writer who just this past year had two pieces published on The Huffington Post. She was a Producer on ABC Family’s “MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, ” a story editor on CBS’s “THE EX LIST” and a staff writer on Aaron Sorkin’s NBC drama, “STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP.” She’s working on a nonfiction collection, “Cool Girls Die Alone.” Some twittering at @turnerleturner.

Amy met Jen when she attended Jen’s Manifestation Workshop in L.A. They believe they are long lost siblings.

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Jennifer Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter, is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, among others. Jen’s leading one of her signature retreats to Ojai, Calif. over New Years. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health, Tuscany. She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 30-Feb 1 in Ojai (2 spots left.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

 

 

Guest Posts, parenting, Sexual Assault/Rape

The Conversation We’re Not Having With Our Sons

March 26, 2017

By Amy Hatvany

I don’t remember my parents talking to me about sex, other than making it clear that opening my legs to a boy before I got married was a sin. What I do remember is thinking that I was a lesbian because I masturbated—I knew girls who touch other girls were gay, so if I touched myself, didn’t that mean the same thing? I was confused, ill-informed, and scared, so I shoplifted a Penthouse Letters magazine when I was in middle school, desperate to understand my own body and if the raging, hormonal urges that sometimes took me over were normal. But instead of validation, what I found were graphic stories of women who submitted to men’s forceful, probing mouths, fingers, and dicks. These women protested at first—some of them even said no—but soon found themselves swooning, powerless to resist the “pleasure” of violation.

Years later, I would wonder if what I learned about consent from these descriptions—that it was a man’s job to make a woman realize what she really wanted; that her “no” was simply waiting to be turned into a yes—was part of what kept me from telling anyone about the boy who unzipped his jeans and jammed his erection into the back of my throat when we were sitting together in the front seat of his car. I was on the edge of fifteen, and he was older, someone I knew, someone I’d had a crush on, and so I didn’t fight, I didn’t try to stop him. I only endured, waiting for the pain and paralyzing terror of what he was doing to loosen its vice-like grip on my chest. Continue Reading…

beauty, feminism, Friendship, Gender & Sexuality, Guest Posts, love

Beauty and Bitterfruit

November 24, 2015

By Renee Gereiner

There’s something painful about living in a world where the rules have never made sense to you, where the idea of following the rules breaks your own heart, so you start making bird calls in the middle of the night, hoping someone will hear you, hoping there will be someone else out in the cold night singing.  It takes so long for it to happen so that when it finally does the other bird is old, and she presents you with a bitterfruit.  Like no one you know, she speaks, “We are not of this world.”  And you don’t question her, because she holds you in the deep brown of her eyes.

When you bite it, you become the women you always knew you were.

You sneak into parties you aren’t invited to where the beer is cheap and the women are shirtless; you drink bottles of wine in fancy restaurants standing up; you talk about film and documentaries and both the history of it and all the bullshit of what happened to old fashioned picture taking like you’re a famous photographer who has an honorary PhD at NYU; you drink your weight in wine; you stay up all night literally burning your shit in a bonfire with hippies; and you finally start making those blue nude portraits that actual professionals compare to the late Francesca Woodman.

But, of course, the bitterfruit gives you diarrhea and you end up spending afternoons over the toilet bowl, and even so, you still go back for more.  Because the calling of the bird tickles you from the base of your spine all the way down the sides of your wings until you are flying.

The bird knows shit that women wish they didn’t know. Continue Reading…

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