Aug us t
W is h
L is t
Lower mileage on our cars and more miles on our walks (so our bodies will need fewer tune-ups). Un-birthday surprise parties.
More yes, not less.
A Venti life (sweet, strong and stimulating). An English Goldendoodle on a red leather leash. A4<ember time with past lovers in our dreams. Fab abs and pipestem pants
(also in our dreams). The longevity gene. Michelle Obama’s reading list. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s bravura in the Court of alpha males. A
?hysician for the nation, like Regina Benjamin. Italian in-laws (with a villa). Guardian angels with a sense of humor. A moratorium on cute crafts on the internet. Our own photo booth. Multicultural mash-ups in every neighborhood (bring on the block parties). Impossibly fragile dancing shoes. S t u r d y s o u l s f o r w h a t e v e r
l i e s
a h e a d . Cover art by Judy Stead
“We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.” Japanese Proverb
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09 about skirt!
Publisher Nikki Hardin firstname.lastname@example.org
Living La Vida Mocha Stacy Appel ..............................................................................................10
Greenville Editor Sheril Bennett Turner email@example.com
My Personal Peace Movement Camille Cusumano .............................................................................13
National Art Director Caitilin McPhillips firstname.lastname@example.org
“5 Things On My Life List”
Director of Sales Angela Filler email@example.com
Anne Nutter ...........................................................................................16
Sales Executive Kathryn Barmore firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie Cantrell ........................................................................................18
Graphic Designer Shelli H. Rutland
Wendy Owens ......................................................................................20
“5 Things On My Life List”
“5 Things On My Life List”
“The F-Word: Do You Know the Other F-Word?”
Photographers John Fowler Sheril Bennett Turner
Cindy Reid ...............................................................................................24
Wishful Summering Hilary Meyerson ...................................................................................29
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From the Publisher/Editor......................................................................6 Letters..............................................................................................................7 Skirt of the Month................................................................................11 skirt! Alerts/Brava/It’s a Shame...................................................14 He’s So Original w/ Hernan Justo...................................................22
skirt! is published monthly and distributed free throughout the greater Greenville area. skirt! Reserves the right to refuse to sell space for any advertisement the staff deems inappropriate for the publication. Unsolicited manuscripts must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Letters to the editor are welcome, but may be edited due to space limitations. Press releases must be received by the 1st of the month for the following month’s issue. All content of this magazine, including without limitation the design, advertisements, art, photos and editorial content, as well as the selection, coordination and management thereof, is Copyright © 2009, Morris Publishing Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this magazine may be copied or reprinted without the express written permission of the publisher. SKIRT!® is a registered trademark of Morris Publishing Group, LLC.
Products.......................................................................................................27 Girl Power w/ Caroline Grace Moser....................................................30 skirt! Loves..............................................................................................31 24/7 w/ Lucy Beam Hoffman............................................................32 Browse..........................................................................................................33 Planet Nikki................................................................................................34
F ind mo re skir t! even ts on lin e at g reenville .s k ir t . c o m / eve n t
The September Issue, a documentary about Vogue’s monster issue and “monster” editor, Anna Wintour, premieres this month. We can’t wait— Anna is awfully fabulous!
What are your
Five Rules for Life? Read others and post your own at ﬁverulesforlife.blogspot.com.
Situated at the base of Table Rock Mountain in Cleveland, SC, Victoria Valley Vineyards, fashioned after a French chateau, is open year round and produces more than a half dozen varietals. victoriavalleyvineyards. com.
Experience the Country without leaving the City at the Carolina First Saturday Market! Choose from the finest in fresh produce and flowers locally grown and delivered to the market each week. Every Saturday, from May 2 to October 31, Main St. at McBee in downtown Greenville. Play Ball! Fluor Field at the West End is host to more than 70 Greenville Drive Baseball home games each season. greenvilledrive.com.
Love animals? Interested in volunteering? The Greenville Humane Society conducts an orientation for new volunteers every month. greenvillehumane.com.
There’s never been a better time to experience Broadway’s razzle-dazzle smash hit, CHICAGO! This triumphant hit musical is the recipient of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards, a Grammy, and thousands of standing ovations. CHICAGO always delivers! peacecenter.org.
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There’s still time to sign up for Squam Art Workshops in the White Mountains of New Hampshire September 16-20.
During the last dog days of summer, buy an ice cream cone after dinner and let your tongue hang out to catch the drips.
Get out your rhinestones and shine those cowboy boots as Centre Stage pays homage to the legendary queens of country music with their original musical revue, Country Queens! For more information, go to centrestage.org.
The next time you decide to stun your bookclub with an elegant dessert, visit tartelette.blogspot. com for inspiration. It’s written by a French expatriate living, baking and writing in the South.
Join the Foothills Playhouse for the LARGEST YARD SALE in their history. Discover all the treasures their storerooms hold, from albums to zippers. For more information, call 864.855.1817.
25.26 Hispanic Forum and Statewide Hispanic Community Day. Meet Hispanic Leaders from across the state, students can meet with colleges and universities, free health screenings, workshops, consulate services, employment opportunities, and more. For more information, call 803-333-9621 Ext. 14.
For only $25, treat your daughter age 4-10 years old to Her First Mini-Manicure at The Spa at West End. Includes a Jelly Bath hand soak, nail filing, exfoliating hand scrub, paraffin treatment, polish, snacks, and goodie bags. westendspa.com.
32 “It’s a hard knock life.” Foothills Playhouse presents the Tony Award winning musical ANNIE opening August 21. Follow the rags to riches story of little orphan Annie, as directed by Sherri Dunlap and performed by a cast of over 40 from all over the upstate. easleyfoothillsplayhouse. com.
Join the Caleb Group for their monthly film discussion series, Movies Worth Talking About. This month the 1997 movie, Character, which received an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Admission is free at Camelot Cinemas. 864.787.4566.
What is the Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale? It’s a massive used book sale to help raise money for the Greenville Literacy Association’s drive to improve adult literacy levels in Greenville County. Don’t miss it! greenvilleliteracy.org.
The Carolina Ballet Theatre’s annual fundraiser Bourbon, BBQ & Ballet, will feature a preview performance of their 2009-2010 season, music from the True Blues band, a live auction, a barbeque-style dinner, complimentary beer courtesy of Greenco, and a complimentary bourbon tasting. carolinaballet.org.
With three consecutive years of strong crowds and community support, the Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championship returns to Greenville for its celebrated weekend of racing and family events. usacyclingchampionships. com.
Beach Ball 2009! Enjoy culinary specialties, custom cocktails, fine wines, microbrews, and handrolled cigars—all while dancing under the stars to classic R&B, Beach, and Disco. The Beach Ball Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children. beachballfoundation.org.
Join Café Mundo in historic Greer Station for $2 Tuesdays (beers) and $3 Thursdays (wine). 5-8 pm. mycafemundo. charterinternet.com.
Visit the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery, recognized as having one of America’s finest collections of Italian paintings and more. bjumg.org.
Looking for entertainment on a budget? All Distracted Globe Improv Tickets are Pay-What-YouCan ($5 min)! thedistractedglobe.com.
Be a glutton for pleasure. Pick up some Chinese carry-out. Turn down the blankets, turn on the 22 and have dinner DVD player and a movie in bed.
38.3: The 2nd annual Upstate Women’s Show at the Carolina First Center will feature fashion shows, cooking demonstrations, information on health and wellness, decorating and so much more. Bring five cans to benefit Harvest Hope Food Bank and receive $2 OFF Show admission. upstatewomensshow.com.
from the publisher
skirt! & you Let us know what’s on your mind, respond to an article, or give us info on an upcoming event. Send letters or press releases to sheril.turner@ skirt.com, or mail to skirt! Greenville, 1708-C Augusta St. #335, Greenville, SC 29605.
cover artist In college, Judy Stead majored in her two favorite subjects, reading and drawing, and has found this to be an endlessly useful combination over a creative career as teacher, designer, art director, artist and illustrator. Most of her trade book art is painted in acrylic and/or gouache, while many projects for the educational market are fun to create in digital media. Judy’s work has been featured in The Adobe Illustrator CS and CS2 WOW! Books and has been recognized by Print’s Regional Design Annual, Art Director’s Club and Bookbuilders of Boston. Besides illustrating books for children, Judy’s art appears in other print media magazines, greeting cards, gift wrap and on paper partyware. And sometimes, in galleries and museum shops, when there’s time to do work that isn’t on assignment! She lives with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina, land of “Carolina Blue” sky and an incredibly beautiful springtime.
the Crave issue The media is full of articles and commentary right now on how the recession is forcing us to live with less, to get back to basics, to make amends
every book I can find until I’m sated and
for our flat-screen TVs. In other words,
move on to some other goofy obsession.
we have sinned with our greedy, ungreen
If I get a hunger for a BLT, I’ll eat it
consumerism and the recession is
every day until I can’t stand the sight
our hair shirt. The New York Times
of one more tomato. I wouldn’t make a
even featured an urban neighborhood
good Puritan, but I don’t want to tame
whose residents are raising chickens,
my itch for bookstore binges, Ciao Bella
slaughtering pigs and making artisan
pistachio gelato, a trip to Hawaii for
cheeses in order to be self-sufficient
another tattoo from Slik Rik, a soulmate
(and a wee bit self-righteous in the
or the perfect pair of sole-mate shoes,
bargain). Having grown up around and
because it’s just plain fun. And fun is in
participated in the slaughter of chickens,
short supply right now. Everyone I know
skirt.com & you
I have no desire to return to the good
is worried about losing or finding a job,
old days; instead, I forego chicken
putting aside a cash cushion, having
altogether, whether free-range or from
enough to help others, losing their
poultry prisons. And while my life has
house or health insurance, having their
indeed become simpler (fewer trips,
kids move back in with them or being
more savings, less craving), I am still an
stuck in a hell job because they need a
unapologetically immoderate person.
paycheck. We’re overdrawn at the bank
If I get curious about the Russian
and overwhelmed by problems we can’t
Revolution or Gnosticism, I will read
fix. A trip to Hawaii may not be in the
We are always looking for new writers and artists. Our guidelines for writers and artists are available online at skirt.com. Submit artwork or essays via e-mail to email@example.com. Check out our website at skirt.com for giveaways, essays, and other extras that aren’t in the print edition.
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credit cards for me, but I can still dream and desire and crave better times and
more ice cream in the future while I’m trying to wear this damn hair shirt with good grace. If only it were a bit more stylish.
from the editor When I was in my 20s, my “Life List” was not much longer than it is now. After a few decades, there are things I’ve crossed off the list, either accomplished (live in New York City—check) or abandoned (bungee jump—ah…think again). There are things that I’ve added that really interest me (live with and study gorillas ala Dian Fossey) and some just for necessity’s sake (get electrolysis so I don’t look like an ape). Like most people, at each stage in my life I’ve had to reevaluate goals and shift priorities, and what once seemed important to me at 25, well shoot, do I really want to live with primates in the wilds of Africa? (On a bad day, you betcha!) But at this stage in the life game, the most important things on my life list are the simplest things. Things that really make me happy, like make my son giggle or take a nap on the beach. And while technically I suppose I could still marry Prince Albert II and become Princess of Monaco, let me just cross that one off the list right now. I already have a family that makes me feel like royalty. Long live Princess Sheril of Monkeyland!
Visit Us! 6
dearskirt! At the end of a long day, I rush to the nearest location to pick up your recent issue. I can’t wait to go home and read each page cover to cover. skirt! fills me
It is full of refreshing articles, new thinking and best of all, it’s printed on paper. I love skirt! magazine, I love skirt! magazine, I love skirt! magazine. Oh, it’s pure joy to a right-brainer! The cover is always a nice surprise; it opens with a great splash of color. It is a true delight to see the bursts of creativity throughout the magazine. It is full of refreshing articles, new thinking and best of all, it’s printed on paper. Elisa Barger ElisaDesigns Winston-Salem, NC
with inspiration and knowledgeable articles. I can’t go another day without it! skirt! is such an inspiration to
The Healthy Alternative to Fast Food!
women of all ages. I recently picked up a copy of skirt! in Savannah and was pleasantly surprised to see the issue there. Thank you for the positivity you bring to everyone! Irene Corey Charlotte, NC
I was excited to see my profile in July’s issue. Thank you so much, it was fun! I will definitely keep my fingers in the “skirt!-pudding!” I love the magazine and I’m sure I will feel compelled to put my two cents in, again and again! Cynda LuClaire Greenville, SC
I saw the pic today in July’s skirt! of our FusedArt! It looks marvelous!
Someone in my office clipped your
Thanks so much, for thinking of us at
“Interview with Eve” [June 2009, cover]
The Grapevine. Knowing how women
and left it on my desk. Of course you
love to buy what they see in mags, we
know that the sons of Adam could
should see some traffic from the spot!
never sit by without a corresponding
And Leisa, the artist, was excited also!
interview. I am not asking for you to publish this...just wanted you to know what Adam told me: “I had my choice of any chick in the garden, but there was clearly something different about Eve.I mean aside from the whole ‘coming from my rib’ thing…I felt an instant connection. What I didn’t expect was that her incessant need for conversation would lead her into a friendship with a real snake in the grass. I’d told her
Wanda Garcia The Grapevine Greer, SC
I can’t go another day without it! skirt! is such an inspiration to women of all ages.
Delicious food like Grandma served you! Simple tastes you know and remember. Fresh ingredients – everything made on site. t"MM:PV$BO&BU4PVQ4BMBE#BS t4PVQT&WFSZ%BZ t$MBTTJD4BOEXJDIFT t%BJMZ#SFBLGBTU#VGGFU
more than once that he had more on his mind than fruit, but I was being too judgmental. Who’s being judged now? Well, what’s done is done and we made out alright. I got a decent job and we have two wonderful sons. Our Cain is a little hard to handle, but I have a strong feeling his little brother is going
Grandma Would Approve!
to put him in his place real soon. Am I bitter about losing paradise? Well, I’m married to the original naughty girl and the love making improved 100-fold as
a result. Heck, we even have a sex-toy business named after us. Not many guys can say that.” Alfonzo Mathis Richmond,VA
Have an opinion? Email your editor. All letters to the editor must include the writer’s name and city/state.
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I long for a feeling of fun and ease and satiety when I eat, not a merit badge for having done it properly.
uch has been written about the French Paradox—a whole nation of lucky winesipping, pastry-nibbling, cheese-ingesting, saucegobbling people who stroll out the door each day looking svelte and terrific. With one thoughtful change of accessories, they saunter to the corner café, the Louvre or the flea-market outside the 18th Arrondissement, attired in the same snugly-fitting, very expensive suits or dresses which they wore yesterday. Stop by the gym on the way home after lunch? Mais non, unthinkable! One must, by French law, stop by the pâtisserie instead. Americans find this terrifying. How do they manage it? We’ve tried for years to figure out France and why they’re getting As on their homework when we’re sliding by with a D-minus. Maybe it’s in the European genes, a peculiar biological je ne sais quoi. Perhaps they’re more cynical and thus less hungry than we are, or more innately stylish. Our white-coated scientists furrow their brows and come up with data which changes weekly: it’s all that red wine they drink. No, we take that back. It’s three meals a day with no snacks in-between. Oops, wait a minute, it’s the locally-grown asparagus and green beans and the long drawn-out family meals at Grandmere’s house. Hold on, now we’ve narrowed it down: it’s got to be either the naps, the Evian water, the walking, the baguette breakfasts or the dark chocolate mousse. Or all that sex after dinner. But we have something special that the French will never have in a million years, something they’ll never even figure out: our overwhelming sensual guilt. We know exactly how many calories, sugar and cholesterol can be found in Proust’s Madeleine, and thanks very much, we wouldn’t touch one with a ten foot pole. The American Paradox is that the smarter, more austere and formulaic we get about our food, the fatter we get. I hail from a family in which my relatively slim mother was always on a diet or feeling bad because she wasn’t. Preemptively, she refused to stock our kitchen with any desserts other than pineapple sherbet and Fig Newtons—foodstuffs which normal American children under the age of seven might reasonably be expected to detest and which, presumably, adults like her would find only mildly enticing. It worked, in fact; no one ever overdid a bowl of sherbet in an evening. But very naturally, this strategy met with immense resistance over time in her own two offspring. My brother and I developed fierce cravings for all kinds of junk and had the idea that snacks at other people’s houses, not to mention the local Tastee-Freez, were superior in every way. When I was 15, I babysat for the first time for the Caswells, a family a couple of streets over with two magnificently well-behaved children. After putting my bookbag on the sofa, I was given a tour of the cozy house, during which Mrs.
Caswell pointed out the telephone, television and well-stocked refrigerator as if I were a well-liked guest instead of a hired hand. Hoping to sound more responsible and grown-up than I actually felt, when we were alone in the hallway, I asked for instruction regarding the children’s dinner preparation and bedtime. I remember feeling shocked when she said, “Oh, they can have whatever they want. Chrissy may just eat cookies or fruit for dinner, and with Derek you never can tell. But they both know how to open a can or heat things up in the oven if they want anything. When they’re tired, they’ll get themselves to bed. Please help yourself to anything you want, okay?” She smiled reassuringly and went off with her husband for the evening. I was aghast. No rules? Disaster was certain to follow, according to my own upbringing. And it seemed I had been granted no authority to ward it off. And yet the Caswell children proved me wrong. That night, and on subsequent occasions when I looked after them, I got paid to watch two good-humored and energetic kids take excellent care of themselves. Skinny, bookish six-year-old Chrissy showed me her birds’ nests and baby frogs before settling down to read for the evening; her older brother was perfectly content doing math homework in his room, heading downstairs once for a bite of something and some juice. I wandered around looking at all the great stuff in the kitchen cabinets and wondering how many Oreos it was safe to munch without looking piggy. Most of us as adults have lost that innocence of the Caswells. What might have once been an emphasis on health-consciousness is starting to resemble superstition, and we’re wild for formulas because we’ve forgotten how to trust our stomachs. Who can afford to just relax and enjoy a meal? When we once settled down happily in our chairs to peruse a palette of marvelous choices, restaurant menus now look like potentially dangerous pieces of propaganda, hiding ugly food truths. We long for someone to tell us definitively what is safe and what is not, though clearly our nutritionists are as confused as can be. Popcorn, coffee, tofu, wheat—last week they were really good for you, but this week it’s the opposite. The official proclamations flip back and forth too quickly for comfort. We’ve supported fat-fighting fads over the years that must have the French laughing uproariously over their apple tarts topped with crème fraîche. I came of age in an era of Tab, Metracal—a disgusting canned milkshake—and ice milk, none of which, fortunately, have managed to survive into the year 2009. Instead, the last decade has ushered in a love affair with food-like substances meant for people on space missions without access to fresh supplies: designer low-fat frozen meals, giant fiber-laden nutrition bars, canned mochas, fruit leather and soy everything. No wonder we rush off, starving, to the local takeout for a food fix. Our common sense is broken. I haven’t been able to find The Zone, which our slimmest Hollywood stars apparently inhabit daily, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to live there even if I could. I long for a feeling of fun and ease and satiety when I eat, not a merit badge for having done it properly. As any wise child can tell you, there was never any paradox in the first place. It’s just that joy is an art, not a science. Give me music, poetry, irises, a glass of real iced tea, oatmeal cooked the long way, a nap, Liberty, Justice, oh, and a couple of those chocolate macaroons while you’re at it.
Stacy Appel is a writer in California whose work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and other publications. She has also written for National Public Radio. She is a contributor to the new book You Know You’re a Writer When… by Adair Lara. Contact Stacy at WordWork101@aol.com. 10 10
Traci Daberko is an illustrator and graphic designer in Seattle, WA. See her work at www.daberkodesign.com.
skirtofthemonth Skirt by BarilĂ Hampden Clothing McBee Station, Greenville 864.235.5755
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m Wo en’s
n v il l e,
When I took my first steps in tango five years ago, I was 52, not an age one expects to go much distance in new physical endeavors. But I did.
n late 2006, I arrived in Buenos Aires with hair under my fingernails and blood in my eye. I was down and out after a long relationship ended. I had done the unspeakable—pulled the other woman’s hair. Along with three suitcases, I had brought my chagrin, broken heart and adequate skills in dancing tango. I intended to stay two months and chill (and give her peace of mind). But after two days of dancing tango in the place of its birth, I canceled my return ticket. I stayed a year and a half. Doing tango, a dance that elevates the hug to an art form, day in and day out didn’t just feel good—I began to notice that tango gave me the same euphoric effects I had long sought in practicing yoga and meditation. I needed relief from my raging emotions during that dark period. I pined by day and danced by night. It didn’t me take long to learn the Latin culture, the etiquette for dancing tango in the venerable salons of Argentina, where men and women are seated in separate sections. The man beckoned with a nod of his head (called a cabeceo); I strode wordlessly into his arms. I danced with the best. I danced with the worst. And everything in between. After six months, by my most conservative estimate, I was leaning into more than a hundred male torsos a week. I began to feel happy, even off the dance floor. I perceived numerous subtle and not-so-subtle changes going on inside of me. Physically, I felt ageless, timeless. My face relaxed into a line-free smile and looked its best in the wee hours of the morning after I had spent all night in dance halls. Psychologically, I recovered from my poor-me funk. My confidence level soared. Researchers have begun to give scientific support to tango’s untapped medicinal powers, showing how the dance benefits sufferers of arthritis, clinical depression, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Professors, you don’t have to tell me. My personal evidence of the healing power of tango is much more startling than any controlled studies. I was dabbling in swing and some ballroom dance when tango inexplicably lured me away. I was the most unlikely candidate for glamorous, it-takes-two tango. I was an athlete. The bulk of my wardrobe came from mail order catalogues. My physical activity had to be highly aerobic, like cycling and swimming. I enjoyed workouts that didn’t require dependence on anyone else. You can imagine my clunky footwear didn’t include one pair of spike heels. I tried my first tango lesson purely out of curiosity—friends who applauded it would raise their eyes heavenward, hands over their hearts as they whispered breathlessly, Oooohhh, Argentine tango. I didn’t get it. Not after the first class, not after the first week or month. But then something changed. You see, in the United States, beginners start with an open embrace—bodies held apart, not touching. After six months, I had the basic footwork down and advanced to the ranks of those doing tango in close (or closed) embrace, body to body. I stepped into the invisible envelope of warmth that fuses two people. I can’t say if it was after guy number five, number ten or fifty, but along the way something irreversible clicked. A year after starting tango, I quit my magazine editor job of 17 years, ostensibly to freelance. But looking back, I realize I had begun to plan my life around tango.
Tango was not an aerobic workout. In fact, once I relaxed into its grip, it seemed to lower my heart rate. The sheer joy of stepping in sync with another to the music still makes my breath deep and easy. I love that you are not supposed to talk while dancing tango—the dialogue is in the body language. I close my eyes. Walking backwards in four-inch heels while in the embrace of a good leader is a cinch (Yes, Ginger, it is, in tango!). Researchers have speculated that tango’s superior healing power might be due to the dance’s “complexity.” Having tangoed enough miles for several first-class round trips between Buenos Aires and San Francisco, I couldn’t disagree more. The basic steps are easy. But there is something unique to tango, a dance that has originated in the brothels and tenements of Buenos Aires: You learn tango from the feet up, but then you dance it from the heart down. The dance emanates from the body’s mid-section. The torso is the prime mover of the dance, telling you where to go, what to do. The feet follow, whether you are the leader or follower. This alone, I believe, is why as one gets older and wiser, the more one loves tango. Tango is rightly described as a dance of improvisation. It has a basic vocabulary of some six steps and they can be conjoined in numerous ways. This improv aspect calls for total presence and readiness with no anticipation on the follower’s part. (But good leaders all say that they eventually follow the follower—so there is a synergy set in motion.) This is exactly the case in Zen meditation—being here and now, appreciative of each moment as perfection in itself. Argentines are fond of saying that it takes a lifetime and a half to learn tango. Anyone can learn the dance. You may get ten, twenty, fifty patterns under your command, but if you can’t meet your partner, can’t get that connection—that place of absent ego, of intimate touch with total detachment—you cannot get the dance. It is the act of being fully present and prepared for whatever comes next that is not easy. Isn’t that the secret to joy in everything in life? My tango rapture is not unlike what I’ve heard Sufi dancers experience. I empty my mind and enter another realm, a saint-like trance—I harbor no negative feelings while dancing tango. Time stops and I feel boundless love and peace. The world is a beautiful place. And I’ll brave anything—the heat and sweat of crowds in Buenos Aires’ famous salons—to dance tango. Not everyone experiences tango as bliss. Many women and men find the intimate bodice-to-bodice connection repugnant or intimidating and the dance itself just plain difficult. Tango’s pleasure is evanescent and highly perishable. It’s not like an FDA-approved drug that has undergone hundreds of trials to make sure it is suitable and harmless for the masses. All the more reason for researchers to take it seriously. When I took my first steps in tango five years ago, I was 52, not an age one expects to go much distance in new physical endeavors. But I did. Not only have I mastered the dance in all its improvisational glory—I’ll press my chest up against the best of them, from Luis Bravo to the street tangueros in Buenos Aires—but if I’m honest, I now perform better in areas that the researchers soberly call “emotional and cognitive.” In other words, tango has proved to be the attitude adjustment I long needed. I have been able to sincerely wish the other woman well. And the world is a better place for it.
Camille Cusumano is the author of Tango, an Argentine Love Story, the travel memoir of a woman who loved, lost, got mad and decided to dance. She has written extensively on food and travel and is the editor of Seal Press anthologies on France, Italy, Mexico and Greece. She lives, writes and dances between San Francisco and Buenos Aires.
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5 THINGS ON MY LIFE LIST
Anne Nutter | Puppy Love Anne believes in karma, lists “fad dieting” among her hobbies, and watches The Food Network to relax. But it wasn’t until she adopted her first fur child ever (pound pup Peanut), that Anne realized her true calling in life—creating fun and funky dog accessories for her company Paw Paws USA. My Life List: Travel to Belize for a swim in the Blue Hole. Have a closet the size of my garage. Publish a book entitled How to Start a Business on your Lunch Break. Never wear pantyhose to work again. Or ever again for that matter! Bring my dog to work every day. Oh, wait . . . Photo by Sheril Bennett Turner
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The most important F-word for a woman is not “feminism.” It’s not even the big F-bomb. The most important F-word for any woman, anywhere, any time is “finance.” As in money, honey. Money is the make-it-or-break-it word for all of us. Because most women are still making “girl money,” which is usually not enough f-ing money. Circa 1974, I babysat three kids on a regular basis for 50 cents an hour. Once, their mother “paid” me with a pair of earrings. Even at 13 I knew I was underpaid, so I got up my nerve and asked for the neighborhood going rate of 75 cents an hour. Not only did the parents refuse, they called my parents and complained! My parents made me babysit the kids one more time, and then I quit. If I had known then that a variation of this pattern would be repeated for the rest of my life, I would have joined the military right out of high school. I could go on about all the jobs I have had and all the lousy paychecks I’ve cashed, but the bottom line remains the same: It just wasn’t enough money. Maybe if I hadn’t taken student loans, maybe if I hadn’t had a child, or a dog or a car, just maybe, it would have been enough. What I should have taken, instead of loans, was a husband. With his nice big husband paycheck. The magic money message I absorbed from Ms. magazine and the women’s college I graduated from was that you could actually put yourself through school, get a degree in something you loved, get a good job and then enjoy your comfortable life. Plug in a cute cottage and children, and you were good to go. I’m not saying that other women haven’t figured it out and done just that—but that has not been my story (and at almost 50, this is pretty much the whole story). Nor has this been the experience of a lot of my single friends. Being single parents wiped many of us out. As my friend Carolann and I say, until you have to choose between diapers and gas, you don’t know poor from desperate. Until you ration out a dozen eggs over the course of a week (for dinner), or get out of line while signing your kid up for T-Ball because you had no idea that it even cost money, or Krazy Glue your work shoes back together (repeatedly), well, you just don’t know. I have had some well-paid jobs in traditionally female areas, primarily the bookstore business. At least, they seemed well-paid until I understood that I would NEVER make enough money to buy a house. Or retire. At that point, I tried to make up for lost time by reading everything I could on personal finance. I learned a lot, but most of it boils down to the same thing: You need money to make money! A lot of financial-planning advice assumes there are two paychecks in the house. The only two paychecks I ever saw were from working two jobs. So girl money really works best as extra money, the kind married people use to finance vacations or use for the weekly groceries. But what if girl money is all you ever have? It’s socially acceptable, even expected, to be young and broke. Being poor in middle age is embarrassing. It’s like you completely screwed up a huge part of life and it is actually too late to fix it. Women’s magazines can run all the features they want on fabulous entrepreneurial women, but let’s face it, most of us don’t have the big idea. We never thought of the next big thing, or if we did, we were too busy trying to keep our jobs and families going to figure out how to do it. I’m speaking of the women of the world who are damn good employees, the women who make the world tick, who serve you food at restaurants, restock the shelves at the drugstore and ring up your groceries at the food store. Teachers. Office managers. Librarians. Those of us who inhabit the pink collar ghetto. There is a name for this: pay inequity. Women working full time receive 78 cents for every dollar earned by a male full-time worker in the same job. Black female full-time workers receive 62 cents for every dollar earned by white male workers and Hispanic female full-time workers receive 53 cents for every dollar earned by white men. Think a college degree will fix it? Think again. The median annual salary of a female college graduate is $45,400, as opposed to $64,400 for a male grad. An earnings gap of 21 percent. An average of almost $20,000 a year. That’s a pay difference that covers a mortgage, a decent car, braces for the kids and the ability to sleep at night without worrying about how your skimpy paycheck is going to cover the bills yet another month. I don’t want to hear that women’s jobs are less skilled or that women leave careers to have children. I don’t care. It’s not right and we all know it. Yes, feminism gave us the opportunity to live our lives as first-class citizens and has given our daughters and granddaughters choices unheard of in my childhood. I just wish it paid better. Cindy Reid lives in St. Helena, SC, where she is blessed with an abundance of good friends and spectacular scenery but alas, not enough money. She has been a waitress, a bowling team photographer, a switchboard operator, house cleaner, social worker and bookstore manager.
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WISHFUL SUMMERING Sometimes it feels like everyone in the city except me has a family summer place.
have an unholy longing for a summerhouse. Not a luxe mansion with a granite-encrusted kitchen or flat-screen TVs, but a shabby chic cabin with peeling paint, a bunkbed room and a screened porch. Less Ted Kennedy and more Ted Kaczynski. It just needs to be within walking distance of a body of water, next to which I can park a folding chair and watch as my kids get sunburned and happy. The amenities are secondary to the carefree lifestyle the summerhouse engenders. The summerhouse represents a state of mind. The place outside of normal life, a place for dreaming and relaxation and where the rules of the other ten months don’t apply. Where pancakes are dinner, shoes optional and a new vocabulary is learned that doesn’t include “homework” or “yard work” or “matching dishes.” Where the rarest and most useful of life skills is learned: how to be happy. I have constructed this summerhouse in my mind, and visited it a thousand times, but it has yet to appear on more solid real estate. Sometimes it feels like everyone in the city except me has a family summer place. Ideal summer homes have modest origins: the great-great grandfather who swapped the cabin on the beach for a bucket of clams, the cottage at the lake purchased during the Depression for the price of a pair of shoes. I listen enviously to these stories and wonder how my own ancestors managed to die without bothering to purchase waterfront real estate. The beneficiaries of more prudent descent are always apologetic: It’s quite rustic, just a few rooms, the kids sleep in sleeping bags on the porch and there’s no TV or phone. But 100 feet of beach! The kids hunt for crabs or build rafts out of sticks. But the house itself is nothing fancy. As if this would dissuade me from owning one. As if I’d prefer a rigorous summer camp of database programming in a windowless building for my children. At my summerhouse, the car will languish on the grassy driveway. Until then, I will spend half the day in it. For those of us who can’t use summer as a verb, instead of waking with entertainment a few steps from the screen door, we drive. Spending all day in the year-round house with children is not an option. Instead, we visit our nearby urban lakefront beach, where the restrooms are concrete bunkers, the parking lot is littered with cigarette butts and the teenagers appear to be feral. Still, it has that magical convergence of water and land, and there is an ice cream truck parked at the ready. It may never be a photo spread in a magazine, but the kids still enjoy it. At the summerhouse, there will be two tall birch trees with a clothesline strung between them. For now, I drape the wet towels over the passenger seat of the hot car for the ride home. My summerhouse library will be stocked with leather-bound classics that everyone has always meant to read but never got around to. The kids will get a strict diet of classics only, read out loud each night. In the meantime, they participate in the summer reading program at the library, acquiring stickers on a card. We attend every free event at branches across the city. One year, we went to see the “Snake Man,” a reptile aficionado who brought Rubbermaid containers of poisonous snakes and drew them out one by one. One of his pets turned on
its owner and struck, resulting in the most exciting 20 seconds of that summer. Now we go to every branch in the city that hosts him, my kids hoping against hope it will happen again. I just shudder and think, There will be no snakes at the summerhouse. I’m wistful for the board games we’ll play at the summerhouse. No TV for us, just slightly squashed boxes of Clue and Parcheesi. The Monopoly set will be missing the shoe. Jigsaw puzzles and decks of cards will always be available. Until then, we play car games as we drive hours to get to places that would be prime summerhouse locations. We read brain teasers from a book. On our last trip, one went like this: Sandy is found dead, surrounded by broken glass and water. How did she die? The answer of course, is asphyxiation, as Sandy was a goldfish whose bowl had been broken. This outraged my daughter, who railed about it for a hundred miles, making the word “goldfish” synonymous with ridiculous. Hours later, when we arrived at our hotel only to be rudely told our room was not ready, she said, “That is just goldfish.” I had to agree. One of the many indignities we will not have to suffer at the summerhouse. Some days I give up attempts of escaping city life for a Huck Finn-like summer. We take the bus downtown on the free museum days and the kids run through the galleries, electronic audio guides glued to their ears. We hit other downtown highlights, but the real draw is the bus. The kids fight over who pulls the cord for our stop, and they know exactly how long a transfer is good for. It’s not exactly a clambake on the beach, but sometimes we get the very back seats, which are higher than the rest. These are good days indeed. Another summer has almost gone by without that fantasy summerhouse. Instead of packing and unpacking once for the summer, we’ve filled and emptied our suitcases a dozen times, shoehorning relaxation into long weekends and visiting half a dozen places that I’d love to call my own someday. Right now, the kids are sitting on folded beach towels, a vain attempt to keep wet bathing suits from the seats, as we race from the city beach to another show by the Snake Man. My son is debating names for his space exploration organization (a competitor to NASA) and I’m trying to explain why his first choice (Meyerson Rocket Science Association) makes a poor acronym. His sister is lobbying for pancakes for dinner. My bare foot is being scorched by the gas pedal, and we are all sunburned and happy. And just like that, I’m not craving the summerhouse anymore because, well, we’ve been in it all along. I’d forgotten that the thing about the summerhouse I wanted most was the state of mind. We have that in spades. My kids have learned useful life skills: My son conquered the flip turn at the pool, and my daughter painted a large octopus on one wall of the kitchen. They can pack a suitcase for a week in under 10 minutes, know which rest areas on the interstate have pop machines and how to get the most finicky of key cards to open a hotel room. And if they don’t know how to whittle a stick or pitch a tent, they know where to transfer from the 76 to the 48. Most importantly, they know what it is to be happy, even if it isn’t in a picturesque setting. September is just around the corner, and new skills are waiting to be learned. But until then, if you call us at home, don’t be surprised if we don’t answer. We’re at the summerhouse.
Hilary Meyerson is a writer living in Seattle, where summer makes up for the rest of the year. She holds a BA in English from Middlebury College and a JD from the University of Washington and has been a writer in residence at Hedgebrook, Caldera Arts and Soapstone. She is currently at work on her first novel.
11-year-old Graci is an eight-year veteran of dance, a blossoming
Caroline Grace Moser
actress playing the lead role in an upcoming performance of The Hobbit, and like a lot of gifted preteens, would like nothing better than to be a performer when she grows up. But home-schooled Graci has learned a few life lessons from her entrepreneurial parents. “I have to make money somehow,” she laughs. Towards that goal, Graci’s long-term plans include studying to be a medical examiner. In the meantime though,
“Win or lose, grossed $40 the first day. my parents always tell me how proud they are of me.” her neighborhood lemonade stand
Photo by John Fowler
“As much as I wish my girls were attacking their summer reading, they’re more likely to be heading to the ocean. These
cupcake bath bombs are a sweet end to a sandy day at the beach.” Caitilin
, skirt! Art Director
“My fashion forward dog Lilly is skirt!-a-licious in her new collar created by local pet accessory designer Anne Nutter of Paw Paws. Find them at a store near you or at pawpawsusa.com.” Sheril, Editor
3 “Mix it up with these Bitch Bag drink mixes from The Cook’s Station. Just add alcohol and you’re ready for those late summer porch parties!” Angela, Director of Sales
“I’m drawn to the intense colors of Whitney Smith’s pottery, and the poppy motif, which is a recurring theme in her work.” whitneysmith.etsy.com Nikki , skirt! Publisher
“This ice cream attachment for the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer is the perfect summer splurge! Make your own ice cream with fresh seasonal ingredients—yum!” Kathryn, Sales Executive
My passion: I am a historian with a focus on the Holocaust. I’d like to learn to: Make pottery. I love: Fun. Helping people. And sex. I really love sex. I can’t live without: Books. And more books. And lipstick. Whose diary would you most like to read? Hillary’s. If I could be totally wild, I would: Sheesh. I am totally wild. I’m inspired by: Others who overcome great difficulties. What keeps me awake at night: My brain.
I’m thinking about: Writing the next book and finishing it. I wish I’d known: How important and liberating education would be. The world would be a better place, if only: We all allowed each other to live with our own choices, and with the right of those choices. Words I live by: It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. One thing I never want to do again: I don’t believe in regrets. Everything is about learning a lesson, and moving on.
Read more at greenville.skirt.com
Business Owner,Teacher, Speaker, Writer, Mom, etc.
Photo by Blah Blahs Photo by Sheril Bennett Turner
This issue of skirt! was put together to the sounds of: Far Regina Spektor
Wilco (The Album) Wilco Here With Me Holly Williams
Pretty Little Stranger Joan Osborne
Page Turners Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster Alison Weir
I’m a history freak, so this biography of Katherine Swynford, mistress and later wife of John of Gaunt, sister-in-law to Chaucer and a forebear of the houses of York, Lancaster, Tudor and Stuart as well as six American presidents, was irresistible. Weir makes fact read like fiction. Nikki Hardin, Publisher
Quick, Before the Music Stops: How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Life Janet Carlson
“Learn to tango” is on my life list, so I’m guilty of picking up this autobiography simply because of the title. I was pleasantly surprised, though, at how much I identified with the author and her engaging story of midlife re-awakening. Sheril Bennett Turner, Editor
At a Glance My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals Melanie Dunea
The author not only asks each chef what their last meal would be but also where they would want it to take place and who would share it. The book includes recipes and gorgeous photos. What would your last meal be?
planetnikki a visual journal
With headphones and Pandora, I can tune into my own private world on my computer or iPhone. It’s my latest obsession.
Balance, in and out of Tree pose, continues to elude me.
latte, 1 raw sugar
Wishing I were an out-sized personality who could carry off this over-the-top necklace from Betsy and Iya. (betsyandiya.etsy.com)
I want to wake up and walk out my door to a coffee shop on the corner. I want to drop off my dry cleaning on my way to the subway or tube stop. I want to have a book store and a movie theater in my neighborhood. I want to sit in a local bar and have a glass of wine and write in my journal. I want to know the bartender’s name and have a bowl of mussels with butter and herbs in broth. I want to wear black and high heels and fake pearls. On the other hand, I want to own a farm in Kentucky, grow limestone lettuce, adopt a dog and let him run and hunt, listen to rain on a tin roof, raise chickens, drive a pickup truck, sit on the porch at the end of the day and sleep like a baby in a four poster bed that belonged to my grandmother. Except those two sides of my self will never be fully reconciled, so I live in the between-spaces.
Craving a handcrocheted silverbeaded Confusion Bracelet by Bernice Kelly of Ireland (thebeside.etsy. com) to match my favorite silver-beaded macramé bracelet purchased years ago at esdcharleston.com.
This keyboard is custom-made in Japan—it makes me happy just to imagine using it.
August 18–23 800.888.7768 | 864.467.3000 Group Pricing 864.679.9201 www.peacecenter.org skirt.com
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