On Friday, I attended the high school graduation of my youngest child (new phase of life for me, hello!). I know many of you can relate to the combination of bursting pride, nostalgia, and weepiness I felt watching Bruno and his classmates cross the stage. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, a former prosecutor, author, and “one to watch” in the Democratic party, gave the commencement speech, and she was a rock star—lively, strong, self-deprecating in just the right way. Hearing her speak made me less teary, and more excited about the future, for both me and my children.

I love the idea of the commencement speech. It’s a special opportunity to impart wisdom from one generation to another, and when done right, it can pretty much be life changing—like seeing the North Star at the critical moment in your journey. Every year it seems like one address captures the public’s attention. (Remember David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water“?). This year it was the speech given by women’s soccer star Abby Wambach at Barnard College. Abby’s words affected me, not only because Barnard is my alma mater, but because she highlighted themes of community, taking risks, and the power of unexpected changes—all values I live by. If you haven’t heard or read Abby’s speech, please check it out below.

Other thrills: NPR’s podcast Inflection Point called What Would Virginia Woolf Do? “Feminist AF,” Salon said we’re “a rally cry for women over 40,” and Oprah included the book on a list of 15 June must-reads. Finally, one woman who asked to join the group told us that she heard about it from “a waitress in Marfa.” That made me feel like we’re in the perfect sweet spot…what’s better than Marfa?

In Case You Missed It…

Smell is our most powerful sense, and the quick trigger of memory. In this humorous and beautifully wrought personal history of perfume, Six Scentsnovelist Rachel Cline, a self-professed closet fragrance hound, chronicles her “hunt for ways to smell like me, just a little less so.” (And on that note, here are six recommended scents to try on your own.)

WTF Do I Do?

Our advice column, headed by a team of badass WWVWD moderators, is live here. This debut installment features questions about the ins-and-outs of an affair with a married man currently in a “monogamous” phase of his open marriage, and a married woman jolted by a never-before-felt surge of attraction to a female classmate with whom she reconnected at a college reunion. WTF do they do? Well, our mods have some pretty strong ideas here..

What We’re Talking About

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

It’s no surprise that Woolfers were seriously pumped about two-time Olympic gold medal winner Abby Wambach’s commencement speech at Barnard College. She confessed that she had always been taught to stay the course like Little Red Riding Hood, even in the face of very real gender inequities, and if she could go back and tell her younger self one thing, it would be this: she was never Little Red Riding Hood; she was always the wolf. “We Are The Wolves,” she told the Class of 2018, urging them to find their own “wolf pack” and make change. That’s a rallying cry we can get behind. You can read the full text of Abby’s speech here or watch it here.

Woolfer Wins

We like big undies; we cannot lie. In a recent thread, Woolfer after Woolfer came forward to sing the praises of full-ass coverage. Nina was so enthused that she even wrote about it for The Woolfer blog. Our two current faves are the Hanky Panky Betty Brief and Gap’s high rise bikini, but check out Nina‘s post here for a comprehensive list of recommendations from WWVWD.

Woolfer Drinks

We’ll come right out and say it: we love our booze. In moderation, of course, and with occasional enforced dry periods (#Whole30). Our thoughts are trending toward sun-filled days, sultry nights, and our favorite refreshment…

The WWVWD Cocktail

• 1/4 cup of Tequila, ice cold with 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, preferably served in a chilled martini glass. Sometimes we add a splash of club soda. Tart and elegant. (For a slight variation: Vodka, also cold, served on the rocks with club soda and a splash of lemon or lime.)

The keywords here? Distilled spirits and citrus. That’s our secret. With no added sugar, the WWVWD cocktail will not wake you up at 4 a.m.—and, as we of the insomnia tribe know all too well, we need every minute of sleep we can get.

For those who don’t mind a little sweetness, we are tickled by these 10 cocktail recipes inspired by iconic women writers, including our beloved VW. (The J.K. Rowling includes ice cream and can double duty as dessert.) And if you must have wine, because it’s summer and the rosé craze is apparently still on, may we suggest our hilariously kitschy, but super delicious, new WWVWD rosé from Lot18? Fab WWVWD Moderators Kara Hailey and Hillary Richard are showcasing it above. You can stock up on it here.

Woolfer Reads

While many of us are divided on how we view Philip Roth through a feminist lens (for two of the many essays on the subject, read here and here), we can at least agree that his death this week marks the loss of an enormous literary genius. And now there’s Asymmetry, a first novel written by a woman in her early 40s, who had an affair with Roth when she was in her 20s, and based one of her characters on him. The reviews have been stellar, from the NYT and Woolfers alike. “Read this book,” says Kristen Buckley, “It’s impressionistic, fresh and true; utterly representative of the world and the way we interconnect.”

Woolfer of the Week

Elise Pettus
55, Brooklyn, NY

Last summer’s garden yielded a 3 1/2 ft head of Bibb lettuce! Naturally, it called out to be used in a burlesque routine.

Tell Us About Yourself? After 22 years in therapy, I was convinced that I was impervious to the marital bumps that led my parents to divorce. But at age 48, I found myself facing my own split with two young sons and a dormant journalism career. I remember thinking “I can do this if I could just talk to some women who’ve been through it.” It seems such an obvious idea, but at the time nobody was thinking about bringing together like-minded women to build a support network and educate them around issues of separation and divorce.   

What’s Your Career Now? Founder, UNtied, online and real life community for women navigating divorce.

What Would You Tweet to Your Younger Self? Chill. The fuck. Out.

Strangest recent middle-of-the-night thought? I spend summers in rural CT. I recently woke up in the middle of the night with a sudden and worrying realization. The local volunteer fire department had sent a letter to town residents urging them to make certain their house numbers and name signs were close to the road, and easily visible at night (in case of emergency calls for help after dark). This was meant for those older people who lived alone, I thought, and threw it in the trash. But suddenly at 3 a.m. that night, I realized “ Shit! I am ‘those older people living alone’”! And of course, my house has no numbers or signage visible at night (only discreet iron numbers over the door). Suddenly, I was lying awake picturing the various scenarios where I would somehow incapacitate myself, but only after calling 911. The paramedics would be driving around in their firetruck unable to find my house, I would be lying on the floor unconscious, possibly bleeding, waiting for help, resuscitation….By 5 a.m., I was on my laptop scouring the web for reflective numbers in a large, but discreet and tasteful font…
Current Crush? The guy who swims at my local pool and looks like a contemporary version of Papa John Walton. I crashed headlong into him on my second day there. I was swimming the wrong way in a one-way lane. I’ve literally invented 22 clever lines I should have uttered, instead of the dumb one I did, which was: “Uh, I think you’re going the wrong way.”

If You Had a Warning Label, What Would It Be? Watch Out for Wild Life.

Upcoming Events

The First Annual WWVWD Creative Retreat, conceived and organized by Hannah Casey, is coming up fast, July 14-21, in the Adirondacks. It’s sold out, but there is a wait-list, and we’re all getting busy planning carpools and stocking up on s’more supplies and ghost stories.

Business Directory

Run your own business? Check out our brand-new directory and use this form to submit your listing!

The Woolfer Newsletter Team
Stephanie Staal and Nina Collins have worked together and adored each other since 1994 when they were both babies in the world of book publishing. Stephanie is a lawyer, journalist, & author of READING WOMEN, and Nina is the founder of "What Would Virginia Woolf Do?" Hillary Richard is also a lawyer and co-host of the Raging Gracefully podcast. Sidney Morss is a recent NYU grad and the youngest member of our team.