Posts tagged ‘literary mama’

Mama at the Movies: Sperm Donor X

I’m working on a trilogy of related columns right now, covering three documentaries about different paths to motherhood and changing attitudes toward how we become mothers. The first, Adopted, looked closely at two families who adopted daughters from China. The third column, on the documentary Sunshine, will explore one family’s history of single motherhood. And the second column, on Deirdre Fishel’s film, Sperm Donor X, is up now at Literary Mama. Here’s an excerpt:

I must have been in second grade when I first thought about how old I would be in the year 2000 — 32 — and what my life would be like by then. Basing my vision entirely on my mom’s life, I assumed I’d be married with four kids.

I didn’t spend the intervening years fretting about the gap between that vision and my reality — milestone birthdays came and went without a husband, and at some point I realized I didn’t really want four kids — but by the time the ball dropped in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, 1999, I was engaged and on the way to a more realistic vision for myself. These days, when I’m helping Eli find dress-up clothes for his stuffed dog’s wedding or discussing the rate for a night in Ben’s space hotel, I sometimes pause to marvel that this has become my life, a life I could never have imagined when I was the age my oldest is now.

I’m lucky that my childhood dream adjusted easily to my adult reality. I’m lucky that I didn’t have to give up one dream for another, or struggle to get the family I wanted. That struggle, and that difficult adjustment to an unanticipated reality, is the undercurrent of Deirdre Fishel’s documentary, Sperm Donor X (2002), which follows four women, including the filmmaker herself, who want to become mothers and find themselves unexpectedly doing it on their own, with anonymous sperm donors.

You can read the rest over at Literary Mama. The film hasn’t been released yet, as the filmmaker still needs to raise funds to license archival footage. If you’d like to help, consider making a donation at Kickstarter.

Who Does She Think She Is? benefit screening!

Last year, I wrote about Pamela Tanner Boll’s inspiring documentary about artists who are also mothers; if you haven’t seen it yet and are in the New York area, here’s a great way to see the movie, participate in a lively conversation about art and parenting, and do good — all at the same time!

“This film is not about being a woman or being a woman artist, but rather how to be a human, how to find your true place in life.”

Join us for an evening of inspiration, collaboration and art

Wine Reception* Film Screening* Panel Discussion

May 1, 2010

6:30 pm

Peekskill Hat Factory

1000 North Division Street, Peekskill

Tickets: $30 per person

Hosted by The Peekskill Hat Factory

Benefitting The Garden Road School’s Arts in Education Programs

For more information or to purchase tickets visit: The Garden Road or email infoATthegardenroadDOTorg



WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? is a documentary by Academy Award winning filmmaker, Pamela Tanner Boll that follows the lives of five fierce female artists who refuse to choose between their art and their families. Through the lens of their lives, the film explores some of the most problematic intersections of our time: mothering and creativity, partnering and independence, economics and art. Visit the film’s website to view the trailer and to learn more.


We are honored to have six very talented artist-mothers signed on for what is sure to be a lively, relevant and moving panel discussion following the film. These fascinating women represent a cross section of female artists working to balance their art and families. They bring to the discussion a diversity of artistic mediums, life experiences, and personal perspectives.

Maria Colaco

Leslie Fields-Cruz

Sarah Haviland

Kathleen Pemble

Lowry Reinaur, Artist in Residence at The Garden Road School

Dar Williams

Celebrate World Read Aloud Day

People write to me at Literary Mama fairly regularly, asking me to help them promote this or that event, and most of the time the events don’t have much to do with the mission of Literary Mama. But when I heard from the folks at LitWorld about World Read Aloud Day, it was easy to offer our help, especially since it means I get to a) read aloud to kids (including my own!) and b) go on tv again!

So join me on World Read Aloud Day, March 3rd, at Books, Inc. in San Francisco’s Laurel Village, from 6 – 7 PM for a bedtime story reading! I’ll be joined by my friends and fellow writer-mamas Lisa Harper and Nicki Richesin. Bring the kids in their pj’s for a fun evening outing!

Mama at the Movies: Adopted

“Nearly 60% of Americans are personally connected to someone who is either adopted, has adopted, or has relinquished a child to be adopted.”
— Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

I read this statistic, which runs at the end of Barb Lee’s documentary, Adopted (2008), and started counting in my head: ten cousins, two college roommates, one graduate school friend and two colleagues who are adopted, plus four other friends who have adopted children themselves. Two of my sons’ four cousins are adopted. Yes, indeed, I am one of that 60%, and my life is certainly richer for it, but watching Adopted made me think that perhaps I take these riches too lightly.

Adopted tells the story of two families. First we meet Jennifer Fero, a thirty-two year old Korean woman adopted as an infant by an Oregon couple who experienced secondary infertility after having a son; the second storyline follows John and Jacqui Trainer, a New Hampshire couple who decide to adopt from China after their own long struggle with infertility. The two families are at opposite ends of their adoption journeys.

Please click on over to Literary Mama to read the rest!

Me on TV!

In case you missed it, here’s the clip of my recent segment on View from the Bay:

The Day I Didn’t Meet Florence Henderson

So I was on television today, and I have to say it was a lot of fun, though it all got off to kind of an inauspicious start. I arrived at the studio promptly at 2:20, as requested, accompanied by my supportive friend, only to find I wasn’t on the security guard’s List. I wasn’t listed under my name, or my website, or my segment name. The security guard at the desk called the producer while my friend and I watched the 4 televisions in the lobby, hoping we wouldn’t be there long enough to watch the show on which I was scheduled to appear. Time passed. I began cracking jokes about my life on the D-list. Guests arrived and were ushered in through the locked door by a production assistant with a walkie-talkie and an ear piece, and I began to wonder if I should sneak in with another group of guests.

2:30 came and went. I checked in again with the security guard, who had forgotten my name. I called and left a message for the segment producer, knowing he was likely in the studio, far from his office. I overheard the security guard say to someone, “Oh, that person must have slipped in while I was distracted.” Um, security guard? I think it’s your job not to be distracted! But that’s okay, there’s no reason anybody would ever want to slip unnoticed in to a television studio. I mean, I did, but I wasn’t planning to hijack the news like the other guy probably was.

Eventually I got in. The producer was “looking all over” for me – except, you know, in the locked lobby. I was given a quick tour of the stage, shown where I would sit (grateful that I wouldn’t be sitting between the two hosts, like a friend was during her TV gig, who then felt like she was watching a tennis match, unsure where to look). They took my pile of books, concerned that they might put them in the wrong order. “It’s ok if they get mixed up, ” I said, “I can talk about them in any order.” The producer and stage manager looked at me, amazed. I can walk and chew gum, too, but I didn’t offer to do that on the show.

The green room wasn’t green, but mostly my friend and I hung out in the make-up room (thank you, kind make-up person, who did such a nice job of making me look like a better version of me!), chatting with Amy Tiemann and Jamie Woolf (who were on the show talking about their new project) and watching Florence Henderson talk about her new stage show and the tell-all books the Brady kids have written (and no, she never had an affair with Greg). At this point, understand, I wasn’t yet sure I would actually appear on the show, because although I was listed on the show’s website yesterday, I wasn’t on the security guard’s list, nor the producer’s list, and while it was all kind of pleasant to hang out, I was going to be a little sad if I’d prepped and rescheduled the day and bought a new dress only to be asked to go home (well, I wouldn’t really mind too much about the dress).

At 3:20, the production assistant came and said, “OK, you’re on the schedule for 3:30!” So I had a moment to consider getting nervous but seemed to be done with that, and then spent some time cooling my heels (literally! it was freezing) in the back stage area while the stage manager tried to figure out how to clip the microphone onto me (my TV-veteran friends, having given me so much great advice about how to dress and sit, didn’t mention microphone-friendly clothes, but there’s only so much you can do, right?). It involved quantities of tape and me holding the device and trying not to turn it off until I got settled on my stool. I remembered not to cross my legs (thank you, Vicki), to look at the hosts, not the camera (thank you, Ericka, Sophia and Sybil), and I remembered what I wanted to say. That seemed the least of my worries, really, especially once I met the hosts, who could probably get rocks to say interesting things. They are very, very good at their jobs.

And then, four and a half minutes after it started, the segment was all over, and while I could have said lots (and lots!) more about each of these terrific picture books, at least I got to say one good thing about each of them. And then, at the production assistant’s urging, I rummaged through the basket of green room snacks (Goldfish! Lorna Doones! Chocolates!) to bring treats home to my boys. I didn’t meet Florence Henderson, but still: a pretty good afternoon.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the picture books, because they are lovely, and visit Literary Mama for new reading lists every month!

Mama at the Movies: Fantastic Mr. Fox

One of the sweet highlights of our Christmas vacation was our first-ever family movie outing, which provided fodder for my newest column at Literary Mama. Here’s an excerpt:

We’ve been looking for Ben’s first movie theater-movie for years. It had to be fairly quiet: no big explosions, no loud soundtrack (though we would bring ear plugs to protect against overzealous projectionists.) It had to be a gentle story: no heightened drama, no second act inflated by chase scenes. I could do without a lot of violence, car crashes or gun play (which make a surprising number of appearances even in G-rated kids’ movies) and a well-written movie that didn’t traffic in stereotypes would be welcome, though mostly I just wanted something that would make Ben laugh.

And so we found it, a movie about a fellow who makes a living as a thief until one day, while he is imprisoned for his crimes, he learns his wife is pregnant and he decides to go legit, writing a little-read column for the local newspaper. He settles into a modest life with his wife, a landscape painter, and his quirky son, a boy who embarrasses his father because he wears a bath towel as a cape and tucks his socks into his pants. When the boy’s cousin comes for an extended visit, the father isn’t ashamed to say that he prefers his socially-adept, athletic nephew to his son. But the quiet life bores him and he is tempted back into his life of crime, stealing from his neighbors, deceiving his wife, and ultimately putting his entire community at risk.


Fantastic Mr. Fox was perfect for us; ever since we saw it, the boys have been quoting lines, working on their whistling (to mimic Mr. Fox’s trademark), we even made the cookies. Click on over to Literary Mama to read more.

What I’ve Been Working On…

Check it out.

And if you ever hear that I’m planning to wrap up a longterm project — one my husband has been chipping away at for a year and one that takes up increasing amounts of my spare time, too, until we both find ourselves staying up past midnight, several nights running, to meet self-imposed deadlines — during a big holiday week, while my kids are out of school and my parents are in town, you might want to dissuade me.

But it seems to have worked out okay.

Mama at the Movies: Where the Wild Things Are

We are not, I admit, a Where the Wild Things Are family; we’re In the Night Kitchen folks. Sendak’s fantasy of naked Mickey’s romp in a New York City kitchen offers an airplane ride, guitar-playing, and the promise of breakfast cake; it depicts a child’s solo adventure, but leads him gently back to bed at the end. It is the perfect story for my airplane-drawing, music-loving, kitchen-happy boys. Where the Wild Things Are, with Max’s fierce temper and the Wild Things’ raucous rumpussing, despite its blue-green cross-hatched beauty and peaceful ending, just scares my kids. There was no question of my movie-shy children attending the new film adaptation by Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers, especially after I heard them clarify that Where the Wild Things Are is not a film for children, but a film about childhood.

And for that, I love it.

click on over to Literary Mama to read the rest!

Who Does She Think She Is? DVD discount!

Who Does She Think She Is?, the terrific documentary about women trying to combine motherhood and artistic work, is coming out on DVD! I wrote about the film last year in my Mama at the Movies column. Here’s an excerpt:

I hadn’t really thought about the constraints of space and materials that visual artists work with until I watched Pamela Tanner Boll’s moving new documentary Who Does She Think She Is? (2008), which introduces us to several mother-artists and asks why, when making art and raising children are both crucial for our culture, it is so hard to do both. The film wants us to know about these mothers making art, and it puts their stories in the larger context of all women artists. Like all women, women artists find their work less well-known and less well-compensated than the work of their male contemporaries. Like all mothers, mother artists endure isolation from their peers, sleep deprivation, and myriad claims on their time which make it difficult to continue their careers. But they do.

The filmmakers are celebrating the DVD release by organizing house parties around the country on November 8th. Want to join them? You can buy the DVD at a 10% discount with a special promotional code for Literary Mama and Food for Thought readers; just go the DVD online store and enter the promo code LitMama.

There’s more info about the house party idea here and here. Check it out, and then gather your friends for a screening!