Monday, July 30, 2012

The Pen is Mighty

When I was in the 5th grade at P.S. 87, I had a student teacher named Luis. I loved him. In addition to being charismatic and cute (that never hurts when your a ten year-old girl) I felt that he understood me.

Luis took the time to get to know each and every one of us in Mrs. Gumbs' class. He knew that Jason G. was full of energy and great at kick ball. He knew that Iana was an actress and Ellie was a social butterfly.

He knew that I hated kick ball. This was solidified one day when I was standing out on the field wearing my artistic tweed coat. I was daydreaming about something or another when all of sudden I felt a huge force assault me in the stomach. It was a fire red kick ball that Jason Z. (who was also quite the kick ball connoisseur) had just thrown directly into my abdomen. I fell onto the ground and saw colored spots.

"Are you okay?" Luis said as he rushed to my side.
"Yeah, yeah," I said quickly jumping to my feet and brushing my tweed coat off. "I'm fine." I didn't want to look like a giant wimp in front of the 27 other kids on the field.

Later that year, Luis would mention this incident in my 5th grade autograph book.

Luis was not only aware of my extreme dislike for kickball, but he also knew what I was good at, what I loved. He knew that I was a writer.

At 10 years-old, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to write novels. I was certain this was what I wanted to do with my life. In fact, during my 5th grade year, I had the opportunity to co-write an original opera with the Metropolitan Opera, which we performed at P.S.87.

At the end of the year, Luis left me with something that would take with me for my whole life. He wrote the this old adage in my autograph book:

"The pen is mightier than the sword. And you have one heck of a pen, Sarah!"

This small sentence gave my fifth grade self the courage to continue writing. Over the years, I've written short story after short story. I've filled journals with personal anecdotes, tears, raw feelings, who I really am.

But I have still yet to publish a "real novel."

The other day, I was in a local toy store with Ari and Samara. And I found something that reminded me of Luis:

It's a pen and a sword. It is mighty. I bought it.

This pen will be a continual reminder for me to keep writing.

Over the years, I've lost faith in writing. Maybe my dream will never come true. Maybe I'll never publish a novel.

I've decided it doesn't matter anymore. What matters is that I continue to use my pen, that I continue to tell my story, because the pen is mighty.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Taste of Wool Part 3

They all thought Harry was crazy, except for Terrence and myself of course. And so what, you might think. So what if the entire staff of Rutherford Bacon Elementary school believed that Harry the janitor, the weird guy with the mop, was crazy. He was just a custodial worker. Did it really matter all that much if he went around talking to his mop or himself, depending on who was observing him.

But the problem wasn't the observation of the teachers or even the students. Rather, it was the gossiping of prospective parents eager to send their children to a top notch elementary school. Once these parents got a glimpse of Harry the janitor bantering with his soapy friend on a stick, most parents were quickly deterred from looking into this fine elementary institution any further.

Rumor spread fast around town, and soon Rutherford Bacon's tour population dwindled significantly. This concerned Mz. Sweeny, the PTA president and the unofficial public relations queen of R.B. The few parents that continued to tour the school were forewarned of the eccentric janitor that came with the school like the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. Parents did not shy away from asking questions about Harry and his potential absence of sanity. Naturally, this was all related to the safety and well-being of their offspring.

Well folks, the feces hit the propeller one day on a routine tour of R.B. A father and his buck toothed daughter, a prospective Rutherford Bacon student, were touring the school when the daughter caught sight of Harry talking quite excitedly to his sud-filled friend. The tour proceeded onward down the hall, but the girl decided to stop and examine what was going on.

Being a bit of a know-it-all, the girl thought the she was going to clue Harry into something he had failed to realize.
"Hey mister?" She said insistently tugging on Harry's sleeve.

Harry abruptly turned to face buck tooth as if an electric shock had risen up through his body.
" You know you're talking to yourself?"

Harry's eyes open so wide that it looked as if they might fall out of their sockets. His lips parted and he released a sound that could only be replicated if a lion were mated with a crow. Buck tooth was terrified. Her little mouth opened a peep in comparison to Harry's gaping hole of a mouth, and she went running crying and screaming to her father. Dad decided to take the matter directly to Mz. Sweeny.

"Mrs. Sweeny..."
"Please," Mz. Sweeny said as she held out her hand. "I prefer to be called Mzzz. Sweeny, like the soft buzzing..."
"Mz. Sweeny, What the hell kind of school is this?! How can you live with yourself when you know that you're paying an insane man to scare the bejesus out of innocent children?! You do realize that this man is completely out of his mind?!
"Well Mr. Barns," Mz. Sweeny said with a saccharine smile, "I'm terribly sorry that our janitor scared your little girl. I can assure you that this is not a regular occurence in the Rutherford Bacon community!"
"Well I'll tell you, that man ought to be put away! He's not right in the head, I tell you! He's not right!"

And with that, buck tooth's father slammed the door behind him leaving Mz. Sweeny with those words ringing in her ears, "he's not right!"

During this exchange, Harry was waiting outside of Mz. Sweeny's office whistling Zippity Do Dah and stroking the mop's wooden handle as if he were petting a loyal sheepdog. Occasionally he would put his finger to his lips in a gentle quieting motion, as if he were calming the mop from talking excitedly. Mz. Sweeny opened her office door, took one look at Harry, and thought: he's not right.

**This is part three of my short story, A Taste of Wool, as a part of Wool Wednesdays. I will be revealing a new part each week! Read part two here.

Some questions for you:
1. What will happen next?
2. Who is Terrence?
3. Who's the narrator?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ari Goes To Barking Cat Studio Day Camp

Ari is four years-old now. I can't believe it! It has truly gone fast. He'll be going to Pre-K in the fall. I was nervous about him starting school, which is from 8:30 am to 3pm since he's been home with me for the past four years. So I signed him up for day camp for one week this summer at Barking Cat Studio, where he takes art classes.

Ari being at camp was a great simulation as to how it will be when he goes to school. The hours were the same, 8:30 to 3:30, and he had to bring his lunch. Great practice all around.

The first day of camp I was nervous, but Ari was psyched.

Until we got in the car, and he asked
"Am I going to sleep at camp?"
"No, Ari-Boo, I'm going to pick up up in the afternoon." I assured him.
He breathed a sigh of relief.

It was hectic trying to get up in the morning this past week. I had to wake him up at 7am every day, and I was doing things like holding my coffee and Samara at the same time while frantically searching for my pants and keys.

But it all paid off, Ari had a blast at camp.

This week's theme was Puppets Puppets Puppets! The kids made marionettes:

They also visited puppet-themed places in the city. But first they made personalized sketch pads so that they could record their journeys with artistic memories:

As a part of puppets week, the kids visited the Marionette Theater in Central Park:

They also visited Puppet Works and saw a live puppet show!

Ari also got to visit one of his favorite places of all time, The Museum of Natural History:

And of course, there was an art project each day for the kids to enjoy!

Thank you Karen and Maria for making this such a special week for Ari. He had so much fun at camp!

If you want to sign your kiddo up for camp at Barking Cat, click here!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stop Bragging About Your Sleeping Child

My children are terrible sleepers. I don't what it is, but they just don't enjoy shutting their eyes and moving to dreamland. Maybe they feel as if they're missing out on something terribly exciting. They're not. I can assure them of that. Actually, I can't assure either of them of that, because if I could, they would listen and go to sleep.

I have to say, one of the worst things that I've encountered as a parent, that goes into the category of unsolicited advice and comments, is the parents who tell me all about how wonderfully their children sleep.

This one goes out to you people, the ones with sleeping children. Here goes:

If I tell you that my four year-old can't wind down and fall asleep at night, I do not want to hear about how your child slept through the night at three days old. What I want is for you to emphathize with my situation, tell me how hard it must be, and then maybe if I ask for it, or seem open to it, offer some practical advice about how I might get him to actually sleep.

Should I mention to you my 18 month old, who is teething and doesn't want to be put down at night, my baby, who screams if I'm not holding her every second of every day, I don't want to hear about how independent you kid is, and how he can entertain himself all day long while you run errands at Target. I want you to give me a hug, and tell me it's a phase. Tell me she's going to sleep some day in the future.

I don't want you to tell me how awesome of a sleeper your child is. I don't want you to tell me what I'm doing wrong. I don't want you to be a judgmental asshole.

Get a hold of yourself. You're probably A) Lying about your baby's sleep habits or B) A narcissist who has no empathy or C) An alien.

Thank you. Now give me a hug and watch my kids so I can take a nap.

I apologize for any typos in this post, I'm sleep deprived and I'm not fixing them. SO THERE!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Taste of Wool Part 2

Those who had not overcome their habits of thumb sucking and nose picking who were not approaching middle age at any rapid rate chose to call Harry "that weird guy with the mop." There were a number of reasons who Harry had received this title. The first reason being that it was nearly impossible for the kindergartners to pronounce the name "Harry." Most of them had a terrible problem pronouncing their "r's." Thus, when they tried to say "Harry," it came out sounding more like "Hawee."
But the main reason for the "the weird guy with the mop" emerged one day when Harry had first begun his custodial job at Rutherford B. Bacon. It is not such a strange phenomenon that a janitor should be seen carrying around a mop. After all, a janitor's job is to clean, and a mop is an integral part of this process. The peculiar thing about Harry, was that he was often seen talking to the mop.
Harry would take a break from cleaning, lean the mop up against one of the walls in the hallway, and begin talking to it. Many of the children would catch Harry in the midst of his conversations with the mop. Often, they would run off snickering to themselves at the sight they had just seen.


This is part two of my story, A Taste of Wool. I will be revealing part three next Wednesday as a part of Wool Wednesdays.

To read Part 1, click here.

Some questions for you:
1. Who's narrating the story?
2. What will happen next?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Taste of Wool Part 1

I wrote this short story in 1999, the spring semester of my freshman year at Ithaca College. I'll be revealing a new part every week on Wednesday. The first installment starts today, even though it's clearly not Wednesday.

A Taste of Wool

By Sarah Fader

Harry Ellis was a janitor. Of course everyone who worked around him at the Rutherford B. Bacon Elementary School knew him solely as Harry or "that weird guy with the mop." Those who addressed him as Harry were usually beyond the stages of thumb sucking and nose picking, though this was not always the case. There was Mr. Urie, a fourth grade teacher, who was very familiar with the areas of nasal passage. Sometimes Harry would catch Urie (whom all the fourth graders referred to as "Urine") in the act of familiarizing himself with his nostrils. Urie would abruptly remove his finger from the area in question and clear his throat.
"Well hello there Harry, you old rascal! How's the day treatin' ya?" Urie would remark.
Urie was a scruffy middle-aged man with glasses that always seemed to fall to the edge of his enormous nose. It seemed to the nine an ten year-old population of Rutherford B. Bacon that Urine wore the same red knit sweater vest every day.
Harry liked Urie very much. He didn't mind Urie's nasal fixation, and apparently Urie didn't mind Harry, or as others called him, "that weird guy with the mop."
It became sort of a routine Harry would walk up to Urie, catching him in the act. Harry would stare at Urie until Urie noticed that he was being stared at. Finally, Urie would spark up a conversation with one of his many ingenious conversation starters.
"How's that floor looking, Harry? Can you see your pretty face in it?" This remark Harry identified as remark "p" for "pretty face." It was often followed by a forced chuckle, but not always. On the occasions when the chuckle was included, Harry referred to it as "p-chuckle," which eventually became "pachuckle."
Sometimes, Urie would be so flustered in his activity that he couldn't even manage to form a complete sentence or decipherable word for that matter. Urie would nod and say "Haaarriee." This was between numerous throat clearings that were the product of intense embarrassment. Harry called this remark "cottage cheese." He didn't know why exactly, but he thought it conveyed the essence of what Urie was so desperately trying to communicate.
The third remark couldn't really be considered a remark at all. What would happen was Harry would approach Urie in the midst of his nasal orgasm, Harry would stare at Urie for what seemed to both of them like an eternity. Finally, Harry would assume that Urie was not going to speak at all, and would start to leave. But Urie would realize that the staring had ceased and would begin whistling a a tune that both Harry and Urie were particularly fond of. Then the two would join each other in a duet.
It was always a surprise as to which of the three possible reactions Urie would choose. After Urie would react, Harry would find a way to say the name of the reaction that Urie had chosen. For example, during Urie's chuckle after he said the pretty face remark, Harry would pretend to laugh along with him, but he was really repeating "pachuckle, pachuckle, pachuckle," over and over again. Urie never seemed to notice.
What Urie did notice was that every time he was particularly flustered and could not utter a decipherable phrase, Harry would pat him on the back and say with the wink of an eye, "cottage cheese." Though, Urie had no idea what "cottage cheese" was in reference to, the sound of Harry's voice saying it was always so comforting, so he took it to mean "it's okay."
Urie and Harry had a unique relationship. Very few people understood Urie, and fewer people understood Harry. Let it be known that other than these three possible exchanges, Urie and Harry never spoke at all. It was only through these minute interactions that these two men had any contact at all.

***To be continued

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Lesson in Hydration By Ari

It's the summer, and it's very important to drink water. I find myself getting irritable because of the heat, and I frequently forget that drinking lots of water makes me feel a lot better.

In fact, my acupuncturist specifically told me that my body has a heat excess, so the summer months are  especially tough for me. All the more reason to stay hydrated!

Ari and I were discussing the benefits of staying hydrated, and what happens when you don't drink enough water. This is what he had to say on the matter:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Secret Crush

I've been obsessed with him for a long time. I just haven't had the guts to admit it to myself. I think about him a lot. He's perfect in every way.

I even like the way he tastes.

I can't take it anymore.

I can't hold these feelings inside.

They're eating me alive.

Here he is:

I love him so much.

He's creamy, he's USDA organic, he only has 1 gram of sugar, and absolutely no sodium.
He's also incredibly hard to find. I think he's playing hard to get because he's so amazing.

The only place I can manage to get him is Fresh Direct.

He's beautiful on the inside too.

I feel so much better now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Used to Be Spontaneous and Then I Had Kids!

I used to be spontaneous...

 and then I had kids!

Before I had kids, I owned a 2003 Ford Focus in midnight blue. I'd wake up one morning, and feel like going to the beach. I wouldn't think twice about it, off I'd drive to Long Beach!

Now, I wake up in the morning and I feel like going to the beach. I ask Ari if he wants to go to the beach.
"Yes!" He says enthusiastically.
But then he refuses to put his pants on.

As much as I love to be spontaneous, these days I tend to do it with pants on. 

With kids, things require planning. Here's what I think of planning:

Actually, to be fair, this face is much more fun than planning is. What I really think of planning, is that it's boring and the opposite of me. I miss living my "fly by the seat of my pants" lifestyle. I hate having to think about all the shit I have to bring with me just to leave the damn house.

I just want to grab my bag and go. I don't want to think about diapers, wipes, water, food, toys. Okay my brain hurts.

But I wonder, is there a way to maintain spontaneous while having kids?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

MamaDrama Interviewed Me!

Once upon a time there was a woman named Sarah Fader who hated Twitter. She thought it was silly and an overly simplified version of Facebook. One day, she started to meet amazing people on the bird website known as Twitter. One of those fantastic people she met was named Holly Rosen Fink. 

Holly and her partner Erin Leigh Peck, it turned out, ran an awesome company called MamaDrama Consulting where they promoted artistic ventures to parents, and (more specifically) moms. Sarah Fader was a mom, and she was dramatic.

It was a match made in drama heaven. Sarah Fader was invited to see some of these these fabulous artistic experiences, and she wrote about them on her blog.

One day, Holly Rosen Fink sent Sarah Fader an email asking if she could interview her. Sarah Fader was flattered. She blushed. And then she answered emphatically:

"I would be honored."

Here's what Sarah Fader had to say**:

We continue our new “5 Minutes” series profiling our network’s members with Sarah Fader.  Sarah blogs over at Old School New School Mom about her life as a mother.  She writes honestly about every aspect and will bring you to tears (often from laughter) through her words.  Here’s what we found out when we spent 5 minutes with Sarah Fader – about her, her blog, her passion, motherhood and more.
MamaDrama: Tell us about your blog.  When did you start writing and what do you write about?
Sarah: I started Old School New School Mom in 2009, when my son, Ari,  was 11 months old. I felt like time was going so quickly and he was changing and growing so fast. I wanted a way to document my life as a mother. I’ve been writing since I was six years old, so it’s always been a passion of mine, writing is like breathing to me.
It was hard to come up with a name for my blog. My best friend Mint and I talked about it in great detail. I tossed ideas around with her over the phone while my son was ripping up tissue paper. The inspiration for the name was my internal struggle as a mother to balance things that my parents had taught me as well as ideas that have been around for centuries (Old School) with concepts that have surfaced with the advent of technology and media (New School). I’m on the fence about technology with regard to parenting. I do believe that some technological developments are helpful to kids, i.e my son has learned copious amounts of information from playing on the IPad. However, there is nothing that can replace a good book. Reading to your child is unique and fundamental parenting experience that nothing in technology can replicate.

Sarah Fader
MamaDrama: How has being a mother changed your life?
Sarah: Motherhood has changed every single aspect of my life. I don’t know what it means to sleep in anymore. I have sacrificed most everything for my kids, including but not limited to the right to pee and shower by myself or have uninterrupted telephone or in-person conversations with other adults. My state of mind has changed more than anything. Instead of buying new clothes for myself, I buy a new toy for my kids.
Surprisingly, despite my lack of bathroom alone time and adult interactions, I do love being a mother. I watch my kids grow change into bigger and better humans each day, and that makes my lack of sanity worth it.
MamaDrama: What is your vision of motherhood?
Sarah: Mothers are super heros. They don’t sleep, they have cat like reflexes that stop a baby from putting a coin in her mouth when she’s 20 feet across the room, they know when something just “isn’t right.” They can solve anything by kissing it and making it better. They’re selfless, they’re exhausted, if they had a salary that marked what they were actually worth it would knock Bill Gates out of the park.
MamaDrama: What have you learned about yourself through your writing?
Sarah: I’ve learned and relearned who I am, and how I feel through my writing time and time again. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel about something until I write it down. Writing is a deep catharsis for me that is irreplaceable. It’s like a lover who understands me through and through. I can always count on it to be there for me.
MamaDrama: How important has your blog been for you?
Sarah: Writing my blog has showed me that I’m not alone. Being a mother can feel isolating at times. I’ve connected with so many wonderful people through my blog that have shown me that I am absolutely not alone.
MamaDrama: What are some of the topics or causes you champion?
Sarah: I suppose the cause I’m the most passionate about is diversity and tolerance. I grew up in a culturally diverse city, New York. In my elementary school alone, there were kids from all over the world. I want my children to grow up to be understanding of people from different cultures, and backgrounds. We are all human beings, and it’s important to try to understand one another, while taking into account our differences. Every person has something special to bring to the table.
MamaDrama: What’s in store for you and your blog in the upcoming year?
Sarah: The truth? I don’t know! I’m living life day by day, minute by minute, second by second. I will promise you this, I intend to continue having crazy adventures with my kids.
MamaDrama: Lastly, your favorite theater memory:
Sarah: I went to F.H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where I majored in Drama. In my Sophomore year, I was going through a very difficult time emotionally. It was during a period where I was doing a scene from Anne Frank. The day came to perform the scene, I played Anne. I took everything I was feeling, all the sadness, the anger, the wanting to be loved and transferred it to my role as Anne. It was the deepest catharsis I’ve ever had as an actress. I’ll never forget that scene.
Follow Sarah on Facebook or Twitter at @osnsmom and stay tuned for another 5 Minutes profile of a member of the MamaDrama network every day this week.
**Thank you to the lovely Holly Rosen Fink for interview! To see the original interview click here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Adventures of Samara

Samara is very busy these days. Here's what she's been up to:

Sex in Mommyville

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a reading of a unique and hilarious play reading, Sex in Mommyville.*

I chose to take my amazing friend Donna with me to the reading,  I love you girl!

The reading of Sex and Mommyville was at The Snapple Theater. When we first arrived at the theater, we headed straight for the ladies room. I must say, this theater had the cutest bathroom I've ever seen. The sinks were wearing skirts!

They made me feel a little underdressed for the show!

Our next stop was a wine and cheese display, which we naturally indulged in.

The show commenced, and we sat back and enjoyed our girl's night out!

Sex in Mommyville is about what it feels like to be a mother and cope with one's desire to remain sexual. The protagonist, Artemis, played by Anna Fishbeyn (who is also the writer of the show) struggles between the role of mother, and sexual being. Not only is Artemis a mother and a wife, but she is also a writer. Her inner writer's voice is characterized by Greek muses who speak for Artemis' desires. 

Other characters who play a part in the story are Artemis' Russian immigrant parents, Poseidon and Athena, her daughter, Aphrodite, her infant son, and her husband Zeus. 

Sex in Mommyville is brutally honest, raw, and hilarious! I deeply related to the character of Artemis with regard to her want to feel wanted by her husband, and having tremendous difficulty balancing those wants with the wants of her children. 

Though Donna doesn't have children yet, she remarked that she related to the dynamic between the Artemis and her husband. It seemed like the two were trying so desperately to be understood by each other. This theme can be a challenge in any marriage, and I, too, felt like I related to these characters. 

Sex in Mommyville was a literary, engaging, thoughtful, and hilarious show. I can't wait to see where it goes from here!

For more information on Sex in Mommyville click here. 

*Tickets to the reading of Sex in Mommyville were provided by the lovely and amazing Holly from Mamadrama

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ari Discovers The Road Atlas

One day, we were in a taxi and Ari spotted a road atlas in the driver's side seat pocket.
"What is this, mommy?" He asked.
"These are maps," I explained. "They show the driver different routes he can take to get where he needs to go."
"Ohhhh!" He said with a fascinated expression. He spent the rest of the short taxi ride carefully examining the maps in the atlas, and tracing his finger along the thin blue and pink lines and over the Interstates.

When we were getting ready to exit the taxi, he picked up the atlas and attempted to stow away with it. I caught him thankfully, and explained that the atlas had to stay in the taxi, because it belonged to the driver.

"But I want a map!" He said nearly in tears.
"Well, maybe we can go to the bookstore some time and find our own atlas."
"No! I want this map!"
I had to forcibly eject him from the taxi while he was still pining for the map.
When we got home we even searched grandma and grandpa's library to see if they had any old atlases. Sadly, they didn't.

I remember loving maps as a child. I can recall many instances where I would sit on my parent's couch (I was older than Ari at the time, probably eight or nine) perusing the enormous Rand Mcnally World Atlas that was probably just as big as I was. I would look, mesmerized, at each page that showed a new colorful blob signifying a different place in the world. I didn't quite understand the cultural aspect of what I was looking at, I just thought that these pink, purple, green, brown, and blue shapes were magical lands that I might someday explore.

I didn't forget my promise to Ari. Today, we went to Barnes & Noble in search of an atlas. First, we went to the children's section. He took one look at the atlases in kid's section and said:
"No! I don't want these. I want a real map!"
Okay, I thought, Let's go to the travel section!
We took the elevator one flight down to where the "adult maps" were, and Ari found exactly what he was looking for.

Today, I caught him in the kitchen studying the altas. He pointed to Ohio and asked
"Who lives here?"

Here's to another map lover in the family!