You Know You're a Formerly When...
1. You've even once pulled the skin of your face back and slightly up to see what you’d look like with a facelift
2. High school kids are now wearing what you wore in high school.
3. You count calories in mixed drinks.
4. Your ass is starting to need a bra.
5. You suddenly prefer interior design magazines to fashion magazines.
6. A supermodel could give you one of her kidneys and you would still kind of hate her.
7. Whereas you used to be grossed out by obscene catcalls, you are now relieved first, grossed out second.
8. You have a doctor devoted to a single part or function of your body (your patella, your endocrine system) other than your vagina.
9. There’s a decent chance that the doctor is younger than you.
10. You need to pre-caffeinate before meeting someone for a morning coffee.
11. Your adolescent nieces and nephews are starting to regard you as a potential narc.
12. You let your mother friend you on Facebook because you have that little to hide.
13. Besides, moms is cooler than you ever gave her credit for
14. Conversations about mortgages and 401Ks, while not exactly interesting, are no longer stultifying.
15. You have heard of Death Cab for Cutie, but couldn’t ID their songs on threat of waterboarding.
16. You freeze bread. Like there won't be another loaf at the store when you need one
17. You still think “hook up” means “let's meet up for a drink”
18. You have been ma’amed outside the Deep South
19. You can't fathom why they would remake such classics as Fame and Melrose Place
20. Cosmetic surgery that you once considered deeply anti-woman is now “a woman's personal decision.”

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About Formerly HotBlogWhat's Your Formerly Hot Thing?Formerly Hot News!

you know you're a formerly when...WELCOME! I started Formerly Hot after my sudden realization that I was no longer who I'd always been-a pretty girl who navigated the world partially aided by the advantage of her looks. After 30 some odd years, Spanx had found their way into my lingerie drawer, and men who asked me if I "had the time” really just wanted to know the time. Imagine!

I had crossed a line into strange, uncharted life territory, one in which I no longer felt like me. I joked to friends that I was "formerly hot," and clearly I struck a nerve. There are many women like me, bitchslapped into a new category of person: adult "tweens," not quite middle-aged, but no longer our reckless, restless, gravity-defying selves.

Thankfully, I learned life is so much more satisfying on this side of young--and I wrote a book about it, which is a NY Times national bestseller! Click here for more

Nurse Jackie, out.

February 29th, 2016

2408neopnk-w800h800z1-16023-list-of-things-aint-nobody-got-time-for__87339_stdWhen I used to go to Loehmann’s with my grandmother, my grandpa and a fraternity of tired, dutiful men sat in a row on the “husband chairs” by the door, variously snoozing, doing the crosswords or listening to Howard Cosell on a transistor radio with a little white one-ear headset. They’d give one another a “whattayagonnado?” nod, pop a butterscotch hard candy and plunk down for as long as it took. And it always took a long-ass time.

What I wouldn’t have done for a “mom chair” at H&M, where I took Viv (who’s coming up on 13) for some jeans last weekend.

Clearly I was cramping her style but there was no place for me to sit and give her some alone time with the zodiac crop tops and T-s (“Born in the ’90s” which she wasn’t). Instead I followed her around helpfully saying things like, “How ’bout this?” “This one is cute,” and “Oh, wow, that’s kind of Coachella-meets-MC-Hammer, but clearly ironic.”

For some reason, she opted to cut our mother-daughter retail bonding session short, which was fine because the music was SO LOUD. While we were waiting to pay, the cashier, who was about 20, called someone on his walkie-talkie to help another customer.

“Walking Dead to register 8 for a return. Walking Dead to 8.”

“Ha, that’s so cool,” I said to Viv. “They have code names for each other. It must make the day go by quicker.” She nodded. “What would your code name be?” She looked up at me, forced a terse smile meant to acknowledge my humanity but also indicate my profound un-funniness, and then looked at her hands. She’s a sweet girl, but these days it’s not cool for me to attempt a connection in public, even if no one we know is around. I forget.

I guess I felt a little lonely so when we got to the register, so I smiled and asked the guy if all their Secret Service code names were from TV shows.

He looked at me like he was a Parisian supermodel and I was a mouth-breathing tourist wearing  a “Make America Great Again” baseball hat demanding in English to know where the Eiffel Tower was while standing directly beneath it. His entire face said “What are you even TALKING about?” He spoke not one word.

He couldn’t possibly have heard me, I figured. Music. Loud. “I thought I heard you page ‘Walking Dead’ a few minutes ago. What’s your code name? If I worked here I’d want mine to be Nurse Jackie,” I said louder.

“Um…I paged my manager? So she could help a…customer?” he said, indicating a beautiful young woman on our right with a perfectly unfurling messy bun. She looked as if she had a stylist following her around with a can of Ellnet.

“But did you call her Walking Dead? That’s what I thought I heard.” I was starting to feel a little frantic.

“Um…no. The total comes to $113.11. You can swipe or insert your card.”

And then f*&^k me if he didn’t make eye contact with Vivian, and shoot her a stare of solidarity. (She looked down. Like I said, sweet).

But ouch! All of a sudden I felt my position on minimum wage laws do a giant 180. Well, for him, anyway.

“OK, then,” I said, paying. “I still want to be Nurse Jackie,” I muttered, under my breath.

As he was bagging Viv’s clothes, I caught the eye of the messy bun woman, the one Walking Dead had been paged to help. She was around the cashier’s age, in ridiculous shoes that would hurt me but looked amazing on her. She smiled.

“Code names would be so cool,” she said. “Have a good day.”

And just like that, all was well. Nurse Jackie, out.

T shirt from Living Dope.


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Screw Mother’s Day

May 6th, 2015

A post I did for my friend Louise over at Not grumpy! Just tired! This sentence is purely so I can put an exclamation point after it!

Divorce dreamstime_s_43204962

Published on May 6th, 2015 | by Stephanie Dolgoff

A Single Mom Says, “Screw Mother’s Day!”

I grew up in an anti-Hallmark family in which Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day were ignored particularly loudly.

“They’re made-up holidays that big companies are just trying to get you to spend money on,” my own single mom confided when I was a kid. This made me feel savvy and consumer literate, like I had one up on the tchotchke-buying masses. No needlepoint samplers or Strawberry Shortcake mugs with A Berry Special Mom on them for my clear-eyed, lefty mother. “I always love it when you think of me, but for God’s sake, not because some billion-dollar corporation tells you to.”

Then I married into a more conventional family and had twins and realized that if clasping my bra made me feel I deserved a medal some days, then I was sure as shit going to take my appreciation any which way I could get it. I no longer cared that Mother’s Day was a cloying, sentimental capitalist ruse to part us from our money—if there was chocolate and maybe a brunch to be had, I was going to have it! And it really was nice to feel special and feted and appreciated, whether with a glittery, misspelled card or an afternoon to myself, courtesy of my husband. Once I even dragged my mom to my in-laws to share in the made-up-holiday joy, and she kept her radical views to herself.

Read the rest HERE

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One for the New Yorkers (lifelong or otherwise)

February 12th, 2015

8056749196_b77cb48f4f_z photo by Eric Parker CC


I grew up in New York City, and except for college and a failed attempt to expatriate myself to Seville in my 20s (I’ll teach English! I’ll drink sangria! I’ll pantomime my distaste for rabbit entrails to a man named Carlos who either had a novia or a novela, I’m not sure!) I’ve lived here my whole life.

My theory is this: The best way to measure the age of New York woman is not by how she looks (she always looks amazing) but by her relationship to public transportation. (For you non-New Yorkers, this is a twice a day mandatory up-close-and-personal interaction.) There are distinct behaviors and emotions associated with every life stage. I am in the process of working my way through all of them. To wit:

Little girl You ride public transportation for free and old ladies on the bus tell your mom how cute and well-behaved you are. You draw hearts with your finger in the condensation you breathe onto the window and think yourself very clever. The world is a wonderful place.

Grade schooler You have a bus and subway pass (nowadays a school-issued Metrocard) and if you’re alone, you feel mighty grown-up and offer your seat to old women because you’re still nice. But sometimes they look displeased and say no. You’re not sure why.

You also notice that some of these older women complain about a lot about things, such as how long the bus took to arrive and the way the driver overshot the stop even though THEY WERE WERE STANDING RIGHT WHERE THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO! If you did that your mom would refuse to respond until you changed your whiney tone.

My gals and I, pre-middle school.

My gals and I, just pre-middle school.

Middle schooler You are an utter nightmare on all manner of transportation, goofing around at decibel 11 with your friends and eating nasty orange Cheeto-like snacks, making people want to use backup birth control and/or change cars/and or pray for an early death (yours). You are completely unaware of how excruciating your antics are for tired people schlepping home after a long day, because of your sluggish frontal lobe development or total lack of empathy or whatever. Or maybe you are aware, and are defying your parents by proxy. You pretty much suck.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Gray days

February 10th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 5.40.04 PMThe other day my friend Laurel posted on Facebook this: “Okay, what’s the deal with the 20-somethings dyeing their hair silver and gray? Is it ironic? Are they *mocking* us? I need answers. And ‪#‎getoffmylawn‬

No, they’re not mocking us, because mocking us would imply they thought about us for even a half a second, which they do not. I know I didn’t think about people in their 40s AT ALL when I was that age. Well, maybe my mom, but only as she pertained to me and my personal tragic music video of a life.

What they’re doing is even more irritating.

They’re dying their hair 50 shades of gray to call attention to the contrast between their full lips and dewy, youthful, unlined skin, oozing excess collagen, and something that people associate with old ladydom. “I choose to dye my hair gray because it’s so obviously my choice!” is the message. “I’m young and cute and nothing I do to myself, such as going braless or wearing pounds of eyeliner that makes me look like I’ve stayed up all night–or hell, actually staying up all night!–or dying my hair a color that millions of women pay billions to eradicate, can diminish my youthful glow! Tra la la!”

And they do it entirely without malice toward us Formerlies, because we simply don’t register.

Truth be told, I think it looks cool. And I love seeing someone my age or older who can pull off the natural gray look–some people like (Emmylou Harris and John Slattery) have the right coloring for white hair. But in my opinion, it makes most not-young women look, well, less young. Which, you know, isn’t the end of the world, though I’m in no rush. I’m lucky that at 47 I don’t need to color my hair. I have a few grays, but the overall impression is still dark brown, so I’m leaving it be.

But this whole going-gray-on-purpose trend is “not available to me,” as my yoga teacher says about certain poses that are similarly SO NOT HAPPENING. If I dyed my hair gray, I would look 10 or 20 years older, not edgy or radical and certainly not young.

Ah, whatever. I would have felt a little left out 5 or 6 years ago, when I first stepped over onto the other side of young and started this blog. Now, it’s a few hours not spent bent uncomfortably over a sink that I can use to hang out with my daughters or binge-watch House of Cards and work on my smile lines. People ask what happens after “Formerly.” I think this kind of peaceful rolling with it is what happens, or at least it’s what’s happening to me. And I feel even luckier about that.

Photo from Instagram



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My butt has a mind of its own

December 12th, 2014

8168104608_4009b29528_mYesterday my friend accidentally “butt-friended” her ex on Facebook.

She’d been checking out his page–purely to reassure herself that he’d gotten exponentially less attractive over time while she has become lovelier with each setting of the sun–then stuck her phone back in her pocket. When she got an email saying he’d accepted her friend request, she was mortified.

Quickly, she unfriended and blocked him, so her butt wouldn’t act on its worst impulses. But not before he’d taken the opportunity to post something pointed about how weird it was when exes friend and unfriend you in the space of two minutes. “He probably thinks, ‘I knew it all along, she still wants me!'” she moaned.

Now that our smartphones are ever more capable, that means so are our asses! And they act like they’re drunk all the time! One cheek can not only call people in Brazil (a phenom my 11-year-old inadvertently called a “booty call,” and then nearly died from the grossness when I explained what that means) but it can friend, un-friend, tweet, fill out Survey Monkey forms and join far right Open Carry gun activist groups, before the other cheek even notices!

The other day, I butt-activated Siri in the subway and then got really annoyed at the idiot who kept trying to talk to Siri when she kept saying there was no wireless. Until I realized the idiot was me. I. Or rather, my ass, which, as my friend Sarah says about her own, should get its own Facebook account.

Let’s just hope future world leaders don’t have apps on their phones that let them activate their nuclear arsenals or we’ll be in a world of shit.

Arsenals. That’s funny, in a Beevis and Butthead kind of way.

photo CC  MTSOfan

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Don’t you know it’s all about the mush

November 24th, 2014
Not my booty! (Thanks to Fitness magazine)

Not my booty! (Some hot model in Fitness magazine)

So here’s my question: What if you’re simply not all about that bass, bringing booty back or even a fat-bottomed girl who makes the rockin’ world go round?

In all truthfulness, Sir Mixalot likes big butts (you’ll recall that he cannot lie—not about that, anyway) and Trace Atkins hates to see a woman with a “honky tonk badonkadonk” go but he nonetheless loves to watch her leave.  There was much butt glorification on last night’s AMA’s (see: JLo and Iggy Azalea singing the future classic, Booty).

I’m just wondering, what if, like me, you have an unremarkable butt but a pot belly worthy of an entire chapter in an anatomy text, dappled like expensive luggage with stretch marks due to the remarkable feat of having carried twins? Let’s say you have nice legs–long and thin relative to your belly–but not much of a waist to accentuate your already fairly flat, “white lady” booty. (That’s an inaccurate term, I think, because I have white lady friends with rather majestic rear ends.)  If you read the women’s magazines, which I, of course, do (when I’m not writing stories about butts for them), you know you’re likely either “apple” shaped or “pear” shaped. I’m an apple, otherwise known as an egg-on-a-stick. That is, when I’m heavy—my middle is where all the weight tends to go, rather than to my ass, and so doubling as convenient, portable seat cushioning.

Where are all the hit songs about my body type? Am I, or my fellow eggs-on-sticks any less worthy of love and song lyrics? Yes, for optimum “objective” attractiveness, you’ll be wanting your waist to be 70 percent of your hips (booty inclusive) and blah blah blah. I’m closer to 1:1, 2:1 after a large Thanksgiving meal. But what if the insubstantial butt I do have has a really good personality? And what if there are secret legions of “belly men,” guys who just love a big, squishy tummy you can practically disappear into, who are too afraid to speak out for fear of being mocked by the ass and hooters guys?

I mean, right? And if I’m not right, I’d prefer not to know, so don’t tell me.

Thanks to John, who is working on a song right now, for reminding me that I have a blog and I should write on it.


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Payment in kindness

June 4th, 2014

unnamedI suppose it’s a little unseemly to consider what you’ll get in return for performing an act of kindness. If I were a better person I would excrete selfless good deeds from my pores while whistling all the livelong day, bettering the lives of others with nary a thought how it made me feel. Right. Selfless. Redundant.

But guess what? Not that person.

So here’s what happened: A woman got on the bus (oh, the drama on NYC public transportation!) and didn’t pay her son’s fare. Her son was maybe 8, but there’s a height cut-off and he was too tall to ride for free. Most drivers wave all kids on unless they are loudly, obnoxiously and undeniably middle schoolers, or Amazons, like my gals. Many a parent, including myself, has hoped to save $2.50 a kid, but are prepared to pay if asked. This mom didn’t have it.

The driver was in the right, but was barky about it (“You can’t just march on here…”). The mom failed to take the high road, instead making a left at “jerk-off” and a u-turn at “asshole.”

So I paid the kid’s fare.  The woman thanked me. But then she kept arguing with the driver, even as she steered her son to a seat, muttering and sputtering in anger. I sat putting on my mascara.

I suppose I had hoped that my paying it forward would sprinkle the fairy dust of kindness all over the M21, briefly making our little four-person universe a better place. It kinda didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hot children in the city

February 9th, 2014

150665_582297921786895_416859301_nPeople ask me what it was like growing up in New York City, which is where I was raised and am raising my daughters. I’m still growing up here, at age 46, every damn day. And like most people who have lived in the same place most of their lives, I don’t have the perspective to answer that question very well.

I usually say something about being able to flee my home early and often when it became too dysfunctional is what saved me from being an even more miserable adolescent than I had been. Had I been trapped in a box in a quiet cul de sac, I imagine, dependent on my parents to drive me somewhere else, I think I would have done nothing but eat and throw up and be depressed.

Instead, I ate and threw up and was depressed some of the time, but also ran around this outrageous town with it’s cross-dressing club kids and street artists and the music blaring from every ground floor apartment with my amazing friends who were from all over the universe and stayed at their homes and had them at mine. This allowed us all to see that our family’s way (thank GOD) wasn’t the only way.

Because of that–really, thanks to public transportation and a particular brand of loving but loose ’80s parenting and everything that this city arrays before you like an all you can eat buffet of crazy–my friends and I were able to create a support system and a school outside of school that gave us tremendous room to be ourselves. All things considered, NYC was a great place to grow up, given that growing up is really hard wherever you are.

But who knows? There are pros and cons to any place. I’m here, raising my daughters here, because it’s home, where my imperfect family is, where I feel best equipped to teach my kids how to take care of themselves. None of my native New Yorker friends came here from somewhere else as adults to prove anything or to get away from what they feel was a too-conformist upbringing or to be the best in their industry, as so many do, so we tend not to be prone to excess. Native New Yorker parents–and please, friends, chime in if I’m not speaking for you here–are just moms and dads like everywhere else who want our children to be safe and smart and kind and happy.

Still, it’s trippy to see your young ones living the 2.0 version of your New York childhood on these same streets, especially since the city is much safer than it was in the Koch administration, and because us parents are much more up our kids butts than mine, at least, were back then. I walked three blocks home from the school bus alone in the third grade, crossing over to avoid the crack house on the corner of 97th and Columbus which is now bespoke condos facing a Whole Foods. My mom tells me I insisted, accusing her of being overprotective. I don’t let my kids cross the street without me and they’re in the 5th grade. They’re too giddy, spaced out, and, well, childlike, in my view.

Thing is, while a safer city in which they don’t have to be quite as street smart allowed them to be that way, that’s only a good thing if they don’t get hit by a car.

Which is why I am not one of those people who long for the city’s seedy past, when Times Square was truly the festering, filthy, stinking armpit of the universe (as opposed to the shaved, deodorized and hyper-corporate armpit it is now). New York was often an unpleasant, scary place that smelled like pee. But a lot was easier, both for us as children and for our parents. Things were cheaper, schooling was less complicated, and according to my mom, anyway, parenting was less of an achievement-oriented occupation, here and in the ‘burbs.

Not for nothing, for all the “wildness” of life in the big city as a small person, the only place I remember smoking pot was as a kid was in Livingston, NJ, when I visited my camp friends. I envied their rec rooms, but they complained they were bored out of their gourds. And yet, most of them, too, turned out fine. Go figure.

Photo downloaded from Christine Macaluso-Russo–many thanks.

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Tween cakewalk

January 31st, 2014

Any of yphoto(75)ou who have tween daughters are familiar with the fact that–all of a sudden–if you inhale air within 15 feet of them in front of their friends you are “So not cool, Mom.”

(Yeah, cuz I was totally trying to be extra cool in the way I didn’t let my cells die by depriving them of oxygen. Whatever. Dealing with tweens makes it really hard not to start talking like one, which of course is the MOST embarrassing thing you could do. See: “Mom, no one SAYS that.”)

And if you so much as EXhale (let alone say hello to a friend of theirs at drop off or point out that they have eye schmutz and might want to do something about it) you get the dreaded, “No, Mom. Just, No.”

I was all set to be on my best behavior when I took my girls, who are 10, and my boyfriend’s 12-year-old daughter on a walking tour of great cupcakes around town. My kids are awkward around Ruby, who is beautiful and reserved and more teen than kid these days, which makes my mile-a-minute still-silly girls extra self-conscious.

So on the way to picking up Ruby, I proactively told Sasha and Viv that I was going to make an extra special effort not to be embarrassing, but that they needed to cut me some slack, since I need to be allowed to minimally converse in order to affect the day’s plans, which involved the basics of checking in at the tour, etc.

“Yeah, that would be good,” Sasha said. “Like, don’t go up strange women and say, “O.M.G. I LOVE YOUR HAT!”

I harrumphed. “Oh, come on, I have never in all my livelong days, said ‘O.M.G. I love your’ anything! That’s not fair.” (“Mom, no one says ‘livelong days.'”)

This was our tour guide, on the right. That is indeed a cupcake hat.


“O.M.G., I love your hat!” I whispered to her as we checked in. “Thanks!” She whispered back. She was a pro. Or a mom of tweens.

As we froze our fingers licking frosting off of them at 6 different cupcake venues, I mostly kept my mouth shut, speaking only to facilitate cupcake procurement and to suggest ways of staying warm. But the stress was getting to me.

“Mom, what’s wrong?” Viv asked, as I pursed my lips together.

“Nothing. I just want you to know how many potentially embarrassing things I could have said today that I didn’t say. I really deserve a lot of credit. Oh, wait, I’m not saying one right now. Oooh, it’s hard.”

Three girls looked at me, stony faced, though I thought I saw a hint of a smile in Ruby’s eyes. Probably my imagination.

Then Viv said, “No, Mom. Just, No.”


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IKEA existentialism

November 21st, 2013

hemnesI spent all yesterday morning in a certain kind of Hemnes hell that anyone who has ever assembled a piece of IKEA furniture–especially one with casters and drawers and 17 similar but not interchangeable screws–is familiar with.

But my gals needed a  dresser for their ’80s neon wardrobe, and so I took a deep breath and committed the time and the patience that I normally don’t have to the task.

While I was screwing and tapping and sliding and matching bits and pieces, I queued up what I thought was a clever (if a little obvious) blog post in my head about resisting the urge to try and cram a round peg into a square hole (or, in IKEA parlance, peg number 4001128365 into the hole meant for peg number 4828811165433).

I learned this lesson the painful and expensive way after trying for perhaps too many years to force myself into a marriage that didn’t fit. The wordless instructions, in the supposedly universal language of love, made logical sense but didn’t construct something solid and sustainable. (One could argue that the end result of an IKEA assembly is furniture that isn’t solid and sustainable either, but go with me on this–presumably if you put it together properly your Expedit supports your books and your Tromsö loft bed doesn’t send your kid crashing to the floor in the middle of the night. )

In my triple-clever blog post, everything one does in a marriage was directly analogous to the options one weighs as you assemble an IKEA piece: You can analyze, try a different perspective, bang, cry, cut corners, skip steps, ad-lib with outside nails, call in the experts and force things into where you think they should go, which will result in an unusable pile of particle board. I was then going to sum it up with something pithy about allowing yourself the time and wisdom to figure it out, which you eventually will, even if you abort the mission and call one of the expensive assemblers to come do the job for you.

But now I’m thinking that the IKEA-assembly-as-life-philosophy analogy only goes so far. With Hemnes, there’s a picture of the completed dresser for you to look at so at least you know that you’re screwing up, if not how to fix it.

With a relationship, not so much. There’s no agreed-upon end result, except perhaps the vague shared desire for “harmony” and “peace” and “support,” which obviously can mean very different things to the two halves of a couple. (Add sister wives and things get exponentially more complicated.)

In any case, as arduous as the process of assembling the above was, it was therapeutic and unlike life, perhaps a task better undertaken alone. This cracked me up (thanks Marina!).



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