• Ladies' Night

    Rachel McPadden

    Who: Rachel McPadden
    Age: 47
    Location: Chicago

    Where you might know her from: She used to be a regular contributor to now-defunct xoJane.com, a site for women that used to get a lot of shit (even post-mortum).

    Where I know her from: I can’t even say for sure, but I also wrote for xoJane and we have a lot of friends and acquaintances in common despite never having met in person.

    Krista: I used to save this question for last because it kind of freaked me out. Do you consider yourself middle-aged? What is it about the phrase “middle-aged” that evokes such dread? Or maybe that’s just me?

  • Ladies' Night

    Ladies’ Night: Carolita Johnson


    Who: Carolita Johnson
    Age: 53
    Location: Kingston, NY

    Where you may know her from: Cartoons in The New Yorker, illustrations and writing in The Hairpin, including a great tale “The Evolution of Ape-Face Johnson,” and a new series of illustrated essays for Longreads.

    Carolita was kind enough to do an email interview way back in April, right before I moved, and I’m finally getting settled in enough to focus on “The Middle Ages” again. You’ve been warned!

  • Ladies' Night

    Ladies’ Night: Judy McGuire


    Who: Judy McGuire

    Age: Older than Shakira but younger than Madonna.

    Location: Jackson Heights, Queens

    Where you might know her from: She’s the author of “How Not to Date,” “The Official Book of Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Lists” and has written countless features on sex, culture, music, and dating.

    Where I know her from: We both transformed from Brooklyn renters into Jackson Heights owners around the same time and were introduced virtually by a mutual Facebook friend in Chicago who I’ve never met in person. We are also founding members of the Jackson Heights Ladies Cotillion (JHLC), an informal neighborhood group of four fellow transplanted women and one man.

    We met at Kitchen 79, a neighborhood Thai restaurant, for a few beers because there are nearly no bars in Jackson Heights where women are exactly welcome. You have quite a selection if you’re into Latino sports bars, Latino gay bars, or Latino bars where men pay women to be nice to them.

  • Ladies' Night

    Ladies’ Night: Rosie Schaap


    Who: Rosie Schaap

    Age: 47 (46 at the time of this interview)

    Where you might know her from: The Drink column in The New York Times, memoir, “Drinking With Men,” or maybe her regular shifts at South, a South Slope bar.

    Where I know her from: A few writing workshops and mutual friends.

    Krista: Did you fall into the cocktail niche or was it by design?

    Rosie: Not even journalism was by design. I had been working at bars on and off since college, though I never particularly considered myself a cocktail bartender. I like cocktails with limitations. I feel kind of about cocktails the way I do about food: the simpler, usually the better. But I had done a little bit of writing about cocktails. Not a lot. Largely in a literary context like what kind of martinis W.H. Auden drank.

    I had started writing my memoir when the column opportunity at the Times came up. I didn’t know anybody who worked at the Times Magazine. They had approached a friend of mine, a really wonderful novelist, Kate Christensen, who had just moved to the wilds of New England and wasn’t really going out to bars a lot. It’s hard to do in New Hampshire. She told the editor at the time, Hugo Lindgren, it sounded great but it wasn’t really for her anymore, but she knew someone who was a writer and a working bartender. It was really nice of her to do. And I remember her emailing me and saying “I hope you don’t mind but I recommended you for this job at the Times.” Then I heard from the editor and I thought there’s no way I would ever get this job. It’s too good to be true to begin with, and there’s like 30 million people who knew more about this subject than I did. So, I wanted to show them some good writing and give it a shot and just not embarrass the friend who recommended me for this thing.

    And I got the job. It ended in the spring after five-and-a-half years.
    To be honest, it was good timing for me because–and I wrote about this in my final column–I don’t have the constitution I had when the column started.

    Krista: So, you mean that six years ago you had a little bit more bounce back or fortitude? Because I’ve noticed that and I hate to admit it. After a few holiday parties I wasn’t just hungover the next day but the next day too. It’s not like I was doing shots. I was like “OK, I guess this is your 40s.”

    Rosie: I don’t know how you feel, but I’m kind of lucky that my body just lined up and made that decision for me. I certainly had to quit smoking and that was really, really hard.

    Krista: I don’t really smoke anymore. Well, I bought a pack last month in Japan but only smoked one-and-a-half cigarettes. I couldn’t throw the rest away, even though they were cheap. Japan is crazy cheap, like you can still get apartments under $750 in Tokyo. They are tiny but still. The last time I paid $750 was just down the street on 31st around 2000.

    Rosie: It was 1996 when I first moved into my apartment across the street and it was steal even in 1996 at $650. No one in my family is good at money. They are just not good-at-money people. In the late 60s/early 70s my parents were offered what they told me was an amazing deal on an apartment. I think it was in the 60s on Second Avenue. A steal. But they heard–remember this is, you know, 40 years ago–they were going to start working on that subway and it was going to get really noisy.

    Krista: Going back to what you said about your family not being good with money. You’ve had a bunch of different odd jobs over the years. Did you ever really want a career?

    Rosie: My dad was a journalist. A really great journalist. And I never wanted to be a journalist. In high school and college, I wanted to be a poet. And, you know, I realized I’m probably not good enough at that, and even if you are really good it’s a really hard way to make a living. Other than being a poet, being an English professor was what I really wanted. When I decided to kind of pursue academia after college, I wasn’t really ready for that in my 20s. Though I think I’d be great at it now. I didn’t teach for a long time and then I started again, volunteering at the senior center here. I really love it. I made the mistake when I started volunteering at my little workshop, thinking “Oh, these are elderly people. I should cut them a lot of slack and not be very critical.” They wanted it, though, and are open to honest critiques.

    [Started talking about random NYC connections, which is kind of inside baseball but kind of not. It turns out that I knew an editor, John Sellers, who had published an essay Rosie had recently written, not in any professional context but because the guy had met my English brother-in-law’s family in the early ‘90s when they were all on vacation (can’t bring myself to say “holiday”) in Scotland. They had kept in touch over the years and when my sister and her husband visited me in Carroll Gardens a decade ago, we met this person for drinks at Sparky’s (R.I.P.).]

    Rosie: I had only recently become friendly with Jami Attenberg, and our friendship largely grew because of our addiction to Lexulous, a pre-Words with Friends. Jami was more in it for the chat and I was more in it to win. She said, “We’re friends now, we don’t need it anymore. You should play against John Sellers. I play against him and he’s more your speed.” We started playing all-business Lexulous, friendly but serious. This goes on for months and he says “Hey, I just heard my girlfriend bought your book.” Wait a minute, is your girlfriend Megan Lynch? Megan edited “Drinking with Men.”

    Krista: New York has a serendipitous sort of quality. I feel like I’m scared to move to another city because you’re are not going to get that anymore. Is that in my head or is that true?

    Rosie: Krista, I don’t know! I wish I could tell you the answer.  

    Krista: People say because of the internet, there’s no advantage to be in New York anymore. I disagree.

    Rosie: I agree with you. That can’t be true. I’ve met people at various bars, not just the one I work at, who’ve gotten me job opportunities. It’s not that that can’t happen elsewhere but there are more bars and more people here.

    Krista: Do you feel married to New York? It’s maybe a little different for you because you grew up here.

    Rosie: Not anymore. I don’t know if you feel this way, but there was a time in my life, not that long ago, when I would never be thinking seriously about leaving New York.

    Krista: What happened?

    Rosie: Well, I mean, age.

    Krista: I hate to say but I think it’s true.

    Rosie: Age happened but there’s another thing that happened. I am a city person. There’s no use in pretending I’m anything else. But I do love the country. I went to school in Vermont which was the biggest dose of country I had gotten. Traveling over the past few years, I’ve mostly tried to travel to the countryside. I don’t have a massive interest in traveling to cities. Lately when I go away to a beautiful countryside, I really love it. I find myself craving that more and more, which is probably related to age.

    Krista: But do you actually want to live there?

    Rosie: Right now, I think I do. I’m realistic enough to say try it for a year. Don’t commit to it and don’t feel like you failed if you go to live in the countryside and discover it’s not for you.

    Krista: You seem like you’re doing a million things, you just started at Fleishers, but are you ever concerned about the future? That you’re not going to have retirement?

    Rosie: Yeah, I’m concerned. I’ve always been bad with that stuff. I wish I had been taught better.

    Krista: I was not taught about it either.

    Rosie: I don’t know why we weren’t taught things like this. Like why should a freelancer file taxes quarterly? Nobody told me any of this. I’m the kind of person who isn’t organized, not good at paperwork, and I hate saying these things because it makes me seem like a helpless female.

    Krista: I’m lucky that in my 30s, I finally figured out how to get my shit together.

    Rosie: I’ve been inspired by a friend, not quite a generation older than me, but who really got it together in her 50s. I was hoping to leave the country next year for a year, and I’d like to leave with my house in order.

    Krista: I’ve saved the hard question for last. Do you consider yourself middle-aged?

    Rosie: Yes! That’s not such a hard question.

    Krista: It was hard for me to admit, which is demented. I’m not vain but I didn’t think of myself as middle-aged and it was freaking me out.

    Rosie: I totally am middle-aged and I’m fine with it. I don’t know if you saw my baby picture on Facebook, but I was always in my 40s.

    Krista: It’s actually in my notes that you seem ageless, which might be a weird thing to say. When you were younger, you were probably mature.

    Rosie: On the one hand, I’ve feel like I’ve always been in my 40s. On the other hand, I was the kind of person in high school who people thought would be dead by 25. So, I’m perfectly happy to be 46.

  • Ladies' Night

    Ladies’ Night: Gabi Porter


    Meet Gabi Porter, a 42-year-old food and drink photographer (for multiple liquor brands, bars, as well as the New York Post, and cookbooks like Cuban Cocktails and Koreatown) who if you follow even casually on social media appears to be at a non-stop party.

    We met at Amor y Amargo, then almost got “Holiday’d” (a.k.a when you say you’re just going to have one drink at Holiday Cocktail Lounge, then end up leaving practically at sunrise).

    Do you ever feel that because you’re a photographer you’re not subject to the same restrictions or expectations (age-related or otherwise) as others? That having a camera makes you more of a neutral observer?

    Hmmm…  I think that might be true for a lot of photographers, but that’s kind of the antithesis of my style. Since I made a name for myself as a party photographer first, and I’ve always believed that you can’t take a good party picture unless you are at the party, not just observing the party. My presence is more like a canonball into a swimming pool than anything else. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m 42, and I think it’s just as much of an attitude as it is lack of wrinkles. 

    When did you start doing photography?

    My dad bought me my first camera when I was probably 8 years old, an $8 Kodak Ektachrome at the local Kmart . My mother and father were divorced. He lived in Kentucky. I saved and saved and saved for a Minolta when I was 12 or 13. I had that Minolta camera up until my senior year of college, and the shutter started to stick around ‘95. In 2003, I got my next camera and I was completely fascinated with digital photography. I was like oh my god, the image is right there. I can’t describe how incredible that was. I got a little Casio


    which I remember was like $299 dollars which was expensive in 2003. I ran around taking pictures of everything and it would be the drunken night at the bar every night, and then I would be really, really compulsive and go home and upload to my computer and pick the best and post them to Ofoto. And then I would send the link out. It wasn’t public. I’d send it to all my friends look at what we did last night! Then I started to do more interesting things, but I think there’s something about documenting the night.

    When did you start considering yourself a photographer?

    I took one picture that changed my life. It was Iggy Pop, and it’s really, really hard to start there because it’s the best picture I will ever take in my life. My boss saw it and she was like “Holy shit, this is amazing. You’re a photographer?” She was the one who ran corporate communications at the label and every day she was like "You’ve got to take pictures”’ and from that moment onward she introduced me to everyone in the office as "This is Gabi, she works with me,” that was the mumbled part, and then “she’s an amazing photographer.” It was a really generous thing for her to do. A bunch of people in the office bought that photo was an art print and the proceeds from that bought my first digital SLR pro camera.

    My boss said, “There is this really cool thing happening in Union Square tonight and you should  go take pictures.” I had never handled an SLR before. So I go to Union Square and take pictures of the silent rave, and being the compulsive person I was, went home before it was even finished and posted photos to my Flickr account. Brooklyn Vegan poached one of my shots with a link back to my account and I woke up to that and an email from The Village Voice saying they sent a photographer and he flaked and they loved my pictures and captions and would I be interested in more work, and I said yes, sure, so they licensed that gallery from me. I did a few things for them. I had a day job. So the moment I picked up my first dSLR was as a professional photographer–very weird and very, very serendipitous. I’d never had any ambitions to be a photographer, it had never crossed my mind.

    How old were you then?

    The picture that changed my life was taken in 2007. Mid-30s.

    So, can you be choosier about what you cover now?

    You always have to remember who your friends are, and I’m never against the idea of shooting something for people who supported me. I will drop everything to help a friend. There’s still plenty of events going on, it’s just I have other stuff to do. There are only so many pictures of guitars that you can take. I found the hospitality industry in 2009 and was completely floored by how different the world is outside of music. In music you’re always fighting for access, there’s no courtesy, no politeness. It’s a rat race and shooting music for photographs is like that too.

    Doesn’t the restaurant industry also have access issues?

    To a much lesser degree. I’ve shot Eric Ripert. I was going on vacation to London a few years ago and it was right when Food Republic was taking off and I thought you know, I’ve lived in London, I’m not a tourist here, how do I make this trip memorable and maybe do some stories? I had it in my mind that I wanted to photograph Fergus Henderson and Heston Blumenthal. Heston’s office emailed me back a couple of times. Perfectly lovely. Not giving me the time of day. Fergus? I got the interview. I spent the morning drinking Madeira with Fergus Henderson. It was a quick interview, I spent maybe 15 minutes with him, but I took a few lovely photos. To use a Britishism, I was “super chuffed.” You’ve got to put a lot of irons in the fire. I know Fergus is particularly difficult to get face time with, and there were absolutely no problems and it was a great interview.

    Do you ever feel like at some point I’m old and out of place? Like look at the crazy old lady in the pit.

    I still have my label connections and get asked to do those things occasionally. I generally say yes if I’m available. I’ve always been slightly older. going to shows at Terminal 5 and Bowery Ballroom, that’s a 21-year-old’s game. As soon as you turn 25 you’re too old to be there. I do get annoyed these days if I don’t have a VIP access, strictly because it’s more comfortable in VIP.

    I don’t go to as many shows as I used to by any means, but there’s always two or three aging hipster dudes there. But there’s never aging hipster ladies.

    Oh, I’ve encountered them. Some of them are characters. I’m not going to name names. I’m friends with some of these people on Facebook. Some of them I’ve muted on Facebook because they are a little crazy. It’s actually a logical progression. The aging hipster dudes are pretty damn crazy too. Maybe there’s something about being old.

    Maybe you have to be crazy in general to be old at a show?

    It depends who it is. If you’re going to see a band from 15 years ago that are on a tour again, you’re going to see people you’re own age there. The last show I went to at Terminal 5 was They Might Be Giants. I think I saw five or six people I hooked with at college at that show. I was like oh jeez, I need to get out of here. I’m well over the age of doing the walk of shame.

    I was at Glasslands a while back and there was no one over 29. [I sat on this interview for a year fyi]

    I love going to Glasslands–or did–but mainly because it was a really beautiful room. I have an older friend Jonathan Toubin who’s a DJ. He’s probably my age if not older and he’s still doing things and attracts a really diverse crowd. I remember being at Glasslands one night for one of his Dance-Offs, taking pictures for Metromix. I took this one really wild photo of a couple and I grab this woman and say "I love this picture of you” and showed it to her, and I had no idea who I’m talking to. Then I go outside for a cigarette and someone said Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell are here at the Dance-Off and I’d just taken her picture. They’re not youngsters. And they’re not crazy. When you’re at a party in Williamsburg at Glasslands and Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell are there, you know you’re at the right party. I think if Bill Murray was there, it’d be a younger crowd.

    I don’t understand the whole Bill Murray thing.

    I don’t want to understand it. I just love it. His son is a chef. He’s the chef at Roebling Tea Room and River Styx [now at the renamed 21 Greenpoint]. Homer Murray. He makes a damn fine burger.

    It seems like you’re out all the time.

    I think I’m just I’m very good at social media because people think I’m out way more than I’m actually out. I’m home most of the time. I own 15 kinds of pajamas. God bless social media, I’m still relevant.

    I’m home watching Younger!

    I think the woman who plays the lead character [Sutton Foster] is really kind of enchanting. She’s lovely. She’s intelligent. I love Debbie Mazar. Have you seen her cooking show? It’s so funny because she comes off as kind of hard with the characters she plays, but she’s such a softie in her cooking show.

    I didn’t know she was 52.

    Wow, I hope I look that good in 8 years. That’s the Hollywood tradition of casting the older person for the younger role.

    Do you see a point where you can’t go out as much anymore?

    I can’t go out every night. Physically, it is much harder to balance that these days. I’ve got to say since the Holiday Cocktail Lounge reopened–maybe we should’ve met there…you know what, we’re going to have to go there after this–that is a place beyond time. The last time I was there I finished up a photo shoot here upstairs from Amor y Amargo, came downstairs for a drink, saw some friends and said I’d stop in for one drink and go home. I tried to settle my tab three different times. When I got there the sun was still up. I left at 5am. It was really bad. I was hurting the next day and I didn’t even drink that much.

    I can’t do that now. I had maybe four drinks over a six-hour period last night, and this morning I was fine with it but I was tired.

    I know. I hear ya. It’s like your brain is off when you ride the subway, grouchy, irritated. Here’s a weird trick. I remember going to a Zagat event at La Mar and they were serving pisco sours. At one point near the end of the thing I counted backwards how many I drank and I’m not joking or exaggerating, I drank 12 and I wasn’t drunk or a mess. I have heard this could be an old wive’s tale, that egg whites bind the alcohol in your digestive system and you don’t absorb the alcohol at the same rate. I had 12 pisco sours and I was dead sober.

    At what age do you consider someone middle-aged?

    Oh god, I don’t know if I care, you know? It’s so funny because my mother as she’s gotten older and hears someone died at 72, she says, “They were so young” and I’m like I guess so. My mom is 64, so 72 is looming on the horizon. Age is so relative.

    I started getting freaked out in my late 30s when I heard people in their 30s described as “middle-aged.”

    No, no, no.. honestly 35 is like the new 21. When I was 35 it felt that way. Though if you’re being literal, if you live to 80, 40 is the middle. We are of the generation that found themselves much later than previously, and I think that there’s a benefit to that because if I didn’t come from the generation I came from I don’t think I ever would’ve found what I do now. Who’s that nanny everyone is gushing over? The street photographer? Vivian Maier. If I were of that generation I would be doing this for nobody but myself. I’m not even sure how to express this, but we’re slackers yet we take chances. Because we slacked so much that we got worried, you know? What are we going to make of ourselves? And I think if we’re lucky that we find that other thing. Your parents always told you you’re special. Everyone hopes they are special. Finding that thing that actually makes you special is difficult.

    I feel like that’s the criticism of the millennials. That they think they’re special.

    It started with us. Well, not my mother.

    Um, not mine either.

    If I gave my mother a present she didn’t like she’d be like “What’s this crap?” It’s funny because doing this now my mother is like “What the fuck are you doing? You are never going to pay the bills.” I’m just going to try. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll find a job. All these years later my mom actually says to people unprompted that she’s incredibly proud of me and the she never thought I would make it. Oh, and she likes the extra special treatment she gets at bars and restaurants when she comes in with me.

    What made you choose this bar?

    I think the drinks here are incredibly delicious. They’re super unusual. All of the drinks are presented in these tiny little glasses and they essentially have no garnish . There is nothing fancy about these drinks in terms of appearance, but there is so much complexity packed into these little glasses that you know it speaks for itself. It doesn’t need the bells and whistles. I love Sother [Teague, the bartender]. Sother is also of my age group and I actually enjoy coming to hang out with him because I feel like I’m hanging out with a peer as opposed to some of my younger friends. I love amaro. And it’s funny, Sother actually gives a talk with Philip Duff called “The Bitter and Sweet” about how our taste buds function. As we get older we actually lose taste buds, so as we get older our palates change, we crave more flavor, and bitter things become more palatable.

    The perfect place then?

    Exactly. All bitter but not bitter personally. Maybe a little bit. No, not at all. I’m the opposite of bitter. I’m a joyful person. I joke about it because it’s not true. I think it’s…[laughing] years dealing with my mother.

    What was that crazy interaction with her on Facebook when there was a snowstorm?

    Oh my god. I was sitting at Death and Co. with two bartender buddies of mine and my mom was all "Fuck you and your followers!” She was actually really worried about the snow and she was worried that I was going to die on my way home. I was like it’s stopped snowing and it’s mostly melted. And my friend Jane was laughing about how she pictured my mother sitting at home drinking whiskey and smoking Virginia Slims. That’s absolutely not my mother at all. No, she’s more of a vodka and orange juice in a coffee cup with Marlboro Lights. She was worried I might die, but her manifestation of worry is kind of aggro. And then there was that little bit of antagonism from me because I wasn’t coming home. I kept checking in and Instagramming everything and my mom took that as a personal affront. I encouraged her to join Facebook because she worried that I’m dead in a ditch somewhere.

    I stress out when my mom visits, which is rarely, but you live with your mom.

    I get it everyday. And it actually made me more grown up, oddly. Well, in a weird way I will never feel older than 17 and then in another way I feel uber responsible. There comes a point in your relationship with your parents, if that’s how it goes, that you kind of become a parent.

    That hasn’t happened to me yet, thankfully. My mom’s husband just turned 52 this year.

  • Ladies' Night

    Ladies’ Night: Karen Hudes

    Welcome to Ladies’ Night, the first in a series of interviews I’m doing with women about aging, drinking in public, and generally being awesome in spite of having crossed over into so-called middle age.

    First up is Karen Hudes, a 42-year-old editor who just took over the Front & Center blog for Rockefeller Center, in addition to freelancing for Zagat and Refinery29. She’s also the creator of the cooking game Menu Mash-Up, as well as an occasional jewelry designer (see her handiwork on my wrist).

    We met near Williamsburg’s phantom White Castle at Harefield Road where both The Vaselines and Suicidal Tendencies, bands that would’ve put you into slightly different high school cliques three decades ago, were being played.

    What made you choose this bar?

    This bar’s been around for what feels like a long time now–at least ten years. The atmosphere is more like a neighborhood place. I don’t really go enough to be a regular but friends of mine are, and it’s a meet-up place. A couple of my friends got married at City Hall and we got a table here afterwards. It just feels comfortable.

    How long have you lived in the neighborhood?

    Since ‘96. I feel like I’m lucky I got here when I did. I had just been out of college for a year and I grew up in Queens. Back then, there were only three places to go out in the neighborhood. Where I live between the Graham and Lorimer stops, just a few blocks from here, felt a little farther away at the time. Now I’m glad I have some distance from Bedford because this still feels like a real neighborhood. It still has its Italian roots, some of the Italian shops, and old neighborhood and the newer people have integrated pretty well. I just really feel connected to it, and if I tried to move here now I could never afford it.

    Not to make this about me, but when I first moved to NYC at 25 I briefly lived in Williamsburg above what’s now The Richardson, then didn’t move back to until I was 40 and everything was different. I was like wow, I still like going out and doing things but everyone in this neighborhood is under 30. Do you feel like an old-timer?

    Well, through my 30s I felt pretty young and I just didn’t notice it so much. It wasn’t like I was running in circles with the new people or I’d go to a bar and feel like oh, I’m so old. I could pass a little bit, though I definitely had friends who felt very conscious of it. I was on a kickball team which felt unique to the neighborhood at the time and seemed like a good way to meet people. Even then, I was a bit on the older side, in my early-to-mid 30s. That whole culture was strange because it’s almost like you’re revisiting junior high and it kind of lends itself to not growing up, which is the reputation the neighborhood has in general. But this area feels a little more mature–like the clientele at this bar is more 30s, 40s.

    When I first moved here Teddy’s was one of the only bars. It’s really old and it has a really good burger and one time I was hanging out with Jessica [a mutual friend who’s lived on the same block as Teddy’s for 15 years] and I said maybe we could stop in and she said, “Oh, I’m afraid of that. I think that’s where you go when you’re really old.”

    I think it’s been sold. Same with the dog bar. What’s left? Turkey’s Nest? Greenpoint Tavern?

    There’s an old-school bar on Metropolitan but it feels very much closed off.

    Joe Jr or whatever it’s called? [Editor’s note: Jr & Son]

    Yes! I’ve lived here so long I should go. It would’ve been funny if I’d met you there. There are always guys out front that don’t make it feel like they want you there. Then again, it might like Moe’s and they’d be happy to see us.

    Going back to what you said about “passing.” That’s kind of true for a lot of women I know, especially in Williamsburg, and maybe it’s a self-selecting group. A lot of my friends seem young for their age, but it might be because they don’t have kids and they’re not married. Is there something to this?

    Because I’m petite I’ve always looked younger even when I didn’t want to, so I feel like that stayed with me. I think not having kids is the key. You take on a huge responsibility and you take on a different kind of stress. It’s joyful too, obviously, but there’s something about not having kids where you feel less like you’re transitioning to this other state.

    Ok, I want to talk about Menu Mash-Up. Could you explain a little how the game works?

    All the players have a hand of ingredient cards and prep cards (like “fried” or “roasted” or “sandwich”). The judge for each round is called the “diner” and picks a dish card like “midnight snack” or “romantic dinner,” and the other players use their cards to create menus to fill the order. Whichever menu the diner picks as the best one wins that round. So the dishes people come up with can go from totally delicious-sounding to really silly and funny.

    When people think of food and media, board games probably aren’t the first thing they think of. How did you come to the idea?

    Personally, I don’t feel like a natural with social media, and you know that since we’re friends on Facebook and I barely post. I want to be a part of the world, but it’s not a natural extension of my personality. I felt very aware of it being a growing force and in my profession as an editor. I’ve always written very precise things and headlines and I’m writing social media posts and and enjoy the craft of it, but it’s not what I gravitate towards, so I was seeking out another avenue.

    When I was younger my family played a lot of board games. I really enjoyed having this structure where you have a challenge and you are participating with other people and relating in a different way. I had read something about this idea that in the past decade was the rise of social media and in the coming decade games would be on the rise. I thought oh, that feels natural to me. I was working at Zagat and ready to make a change, and if I left I wanted to have a project that I was working on.

    Here’s the big question that I have a hard time even saying without feeling creepy–do you consider yourself to be middle-aged?

    I never think in those terms. Well, my image of it definitely doesn’t match up with me. But it’s funny, I guess technically it makes sense. Everyone just seems younger now. If you look at old movies everyone seemed really old when they were in their 20s. They already seemed sort of middle-aged. Culturally, I think things have shifted so people are more youthful at our age.

    Right. When my mom was 40, I was already in college.

    My mom got married at 25 and that was considered on the later side. The expectations were so different. Maybe it feels like an old-fashioned term because I have an image of it from when I’m younger that seemed so far away. There’s also something about the term that seems dowdy, not lively–ugh, lively even sounds like an old lady term. Middle-aged just feels like an inert phrase.

    I’ve been starting with food and drink women because that’s sort of relevant to my blog’s original mission (whatever that was) but not everyone wants to talk about aging–or even say their age–in a public forum. They’ll talk about it, just not here.

    Food is an area where people can age really well. It’s been one of the great things for Williamsburg, since so much of the music scene moved here, but that can be tougher as you get older. Food goes across all ages–cooks and writers are respected. It’s an area that allows a big range. And your palate matures as you try different things.