A local publicist’s divorce inspires memoir | Jenice Armstrong
Mindie Barnett's upcoming memoir is basically an every woman's story about going after something that you think you want only to find out that that's not what makes you happy.
She's short. I'm tall. I'm black. She's white. I'm Catholic. She's Jewish. She's a mom. I never had kids. I'm a newspaper columnist. She's a publicist.
Opposites, right? But we are friends. We got to know each other over nearly two decades as we worked on the Daily News' annual singles spread. I would profile the participants while she did the other legwork — organized the party in their honor, scheduled the photo shoots, located sponsors, and handled publicity.
Other than that, our lives didn't intersect much. I mostly watched from afar as she created what looked to me like an enviable life for herself. Oh, she complained about her life, but that's what girlfriends do once the wine is poured, right?
To me, we were just venting. What I didn't realize, though, is that Barnett was living a life that was only "perfect on paper" as she describes it in her upcoming memoir, Intermission: How Fervor, Friendships and Faith Took Me to the Second Act.
I don't usually write about books — especially those written by my friends. As a metro columnist, my job is to mainly cover Philly and its surrounding neighborhoods.
I made an exception this time because Barnett's memoir is kind of an everywoman's cautionary tale that a lot of folks will be able to identify with. It is a reminder that you can have all the trappings of wealth and success and still be miserable.
Life isn't always the fairy tale that Facebook postings suggest. There's value in being open about our struggles.
Looking back, I wish I had been a better friend to her when she was going through it, but I couldn't see past her having not one but two healthy babies. I couldn't see past all of her new clients and her rapidly expanding business, MB & Associates Public Relations. I couldn't see past her beautifully appointed offices.
Besides, I had my own problems. I was juggling deadlines with caring for my beloved ailing parents in Washington, followed by their subsequent deaths and complicated estate issues that included selling my childhood home.
The years flew by, and Barnett and I would make a point of meeting up around Christmas each year at a New Jersey diner. We would dash in, discuss logistics for the next year's singles' spread, and try to fill each other in about what was going on with us before rushing back to our separate lives.
I was dismayed when Barnett announced her decision to divorce during one of our breakfast meetings. Her decision to separate unnerved me. I urged her to reconsider and give her ex another chance. But her mind was made up. The day she texted that the divorce was final, I went home and hugged my husband really close.
We had never talked much about things of a spiritual nature, but I was happy when she told me about signing up for religious classes and preparing for a midlife bat mitzvah. I got up early one brisk Saturday a year ago to watch as she underwent this important coming-of-age ritual. She also started dating online, leased a stylish apartment in New York City, and took up running to relieve stress. We met up a few times as we trained together for the Disney Half Marathon, which we completed in January.
These days, I'm glad to see my buddy smiling and moving on with her life. Not always getting it right, but figuring things out like the rest of us. Not to sound all Oprah Winfrey-esque, but this journey we're on is a process, which is why I invite you to join us at a party in her honor on Sept. 26 at the Deck at the Moshulu, 401 S. Columbus Blvd. Barnett will read an excerpt from Intermission and answer questions. The event is from 6 until 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public.