The ending of Serial… my thoughts.


serialI had the pleasure of interviewing Rabia Chaudry a few weeks ago, the woman who first approached NPR’s Sarah Koenig with the case that went on to be investigated for the now famous Serial podcast. It’s a series that I have been addicted to since one long road trip in November.

The last episode of the series was last night and the response from listeners on social media has been everything from nasty and name-calling to supportive and insightful.

So where do I fall on this spectrum?

Each week, I sat with my husband next to the speaker as if we had traveled back in time to the era of the Fireside Chats. We huddled together without a sound except Sarah Koenig’s voice, or the occasional painful screeching of the defense attorney. We shut off the television, we took a break from our busy lives, and we spent time listening. Then talking. Then listening again.

And on the day of the last episode, I went rouge and off plan and listened all by myself in the car after preschool drop off. I couldn’t wait, I was too eager.

And I was disappointed.

But not in the podcast.

I was disappointed in myself.

I was disappointed because the whole allure of the experience was listening with my husband and dissecting it together.

See that’s what I think the whole point in the series was.

To create a narrative. To get people talking. Not staring at a television screen or getting consumed in their own day to day routines. But stopping, listening and then talking. Each week, I loved that. I loved pouring that glass of wine and picking apart each detail, each witness and laying them out as if we were detectives on Law & Order.

I was disappointed I didn’t have that for the finale. However, I did own up to it and had to kiss his ass for the next four hours after admission. Finally, he asked if I would listen again and we were back on track.

So what did I think of the ending?

I loved it.

I loved it because it was true, it was honest, and it was what storytelling should be.

It was impossible to have a wrapped-up-like-a-bow ending. That isn’t real life and the entire point of the series was the reality of it. Not like “reality tv” reality, but real reality. Real people in real time.

Not all stories have a happy ending. Some are on-going. Some are heartbreaking. But what the ending of Serial did was leave us wanting more. Which, in my opinion, is the always the mark of a wonderful storyteller.

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Elf on the Shelf ideas for us regular parents…


1. Move him to a new location

2. Next night, move him to a different location.

 

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Thanks For The Coupons For All The Sh*t I Didn’t Buy… Guest Post by Meredith Gordon from Bad Sandy


bad sandyA few months ago, I had a little contest where writers got to submit a hilarious post they had written as part of my week of guest bloggers. Choosing just five was pretty much impossible so I decided to save all the submissions and spontaneously post them whenever I felt like laughing. Today was one of those days.

After returning back from Target for the third time in less than four hours, I remembered this post. I have a purse full of coupons that came out of the register at the end of my purchase for crap I will never buy. So if anyone is looking for a dental water pick kit, it seems I’m your gal with a free coupon for ya.

But I can’t possibly express this sentiment as well as Meredith Gordon from Bad Sandy. (By the way, check out her about section to see why she named the blog this – it’s hilarious.) Her letter to the grocery store is absolutely hysterical and I couldn’t stop laughing more and more each paragraph. She says that words that I longed to say as those stupid coupons came printing out at Target.

To read, click HERE.

And go tell her I said hi by giving her some Facebook and Twitter love.

 

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My interview with Rabia Chaudry from the Serial podcast


serialListening to the radio for me predominantly consists of annoyingly catchy Taylor Swift songs that kill a part of my soul each time I listen to them. With two children usually in the vehicle, the idea of listening to NPR or other news stations seems obsolete.

That is, until Serial come into my life.

For weeks I had been having friends, family and total strangers online ask me if I was listening to the podcast by Sarah Koenig from NPR called Serial. Of course, the answer was no because if it wasn’t Taylor Swift or Kidz Bop, I wasn’t truly aware of its existence or how to bring it into mine.

But then my husband jumped on the band wagon.

And then we went on a long road trip where I wised up and purchased ear phones for the kids and decided it was my time to jump into the Serial pool. I’m a sucker for peer pressure.

But, before I could that, I needed to learn two things.

1. What the hell was a podcast?

2. And how the heck to spell “Serial”. For quite an embarrassingly long amount of time I believed it was a show called Cereal. Perhaps about Wheaties.

So once the answers to these questions were revealed, I was in.

And man, was I in. I’m actually still in. Very much so.

Let me bring you into the fold.

A woman by the name of Rabia Chaudry, a wife, mother, attorney, President of the Safe Nation Collaborative, National Security Fellow at the New America Foundation, and a senior CVE consultant, contacted Sarah Koenig from NPR about a case involving her brother’s best friend. This friend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 1999, when he was 17 years old. Adnan was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years.

Rabia reached out to Sarah Koenig because she and her family believe he is innocent.

Now Sarah is playing the role of investigative reporter into the case and presenting her findings week by week on the program called Serial (NOT cereal).

After listening to all the current podcasts, I started thinking about Adnan but from a perspective I hadn’t read or heard anything about. I started thinking about his family and what this must be like for them. What did they want people to know about their life, not just Adnan’s.

I decided to take a huge leap and see if Rabia was willing to be interviewed by me. I’m not a reporter, and geez, I barely can keep up with my hair color let alone the news. But I was drawn to her because she wrote that Adnan was like family to her. And family is what I DO write about.

So slap my ass and call me Sally, she actually said yes to the interview. I was like a giddy school girl when she agreed. Not because of her somewhat celebrity status, but because I was dying to get the real answers to some of my questions. Not legal or case questions, but the personal stuff. The ones that connect to things we all could understand. You don’t have to be a listener of the podcast to be moved by her answers. Check it out.

You mentioned on your blog, Split the Moon, that Adnan is like family to you – him being your younger brother’s best friend. I’ve never had a member of my family, or even close friends, have to do time in jail, let alone time for murder. How do you maintain a sense of family with someone who is incarcerated?

RABIA: First we have to recognize there is no ONE WAY to be a family. My heart is connected to people who are halfway around the world, and they’re my family. Its connected to those who have passed, and they’re my family. So certainly, being incarcerated doesn’t lessen bonds of love, affection, concern, and all the other attachments we have to family. We continue to treat Adnan like a human being, with dignity, talking to him like we would in any other circumstance, sharing kids stories, challenges, work related stuff, crazy things my parents did or said, laughing, crying, etc.

What are misconceptions the public has about someone who is incarcerated? What are the misconceptions the public has about that individual’s family/friendships?

RABIA: There are so many misconceptions, the first being that every inmate is evil, a socio or psychopath, etc. Often these are people who were young, stupid, in the wrong place at the wrong time, have regrets, hopes, anguish. Another is that they don’t change. Like anyone, they grow, change, mature, develop. Some become spiritual, some contemplative, some active for justice. Many of them try to better themselves, continue to learn, study, read. They aren’t just rotting away. Also, they often know whats going on the world better than those of us in it – they watch the news carefully, read a lot, keep on top of events and developments, etc.  The saddest are those who are away from their children because they miss so much, and because they’ll get arbitrarily moved around so they may end up in prisons far from loved ones. In many prisons, it costs money to make calls, so inmates with little means are stuck.

You have stood by Adnan, even going so far as to contact NPR’s Sarah Koenig to investigate the case further. If the tables were turned, do you believe he would have done the same for you? 

RABIA: I don’t know, and I don’t operate like that. No one does, not for your loved ones. Adnan is a very compassionate and sensitive person, and I think he would go to many lengths for those he loves.

What have you learned about the law from being so involved in this case that you wish more people knew? What would surprise people to learn about the law, and specifically, this case? 

RABIA: I’m a lawyer but not a criminal lawyer. I learned how easily the system is manipulated, how many factors play into an outcome, how one thing can turn a case in either direction, and how many flaws and gaps exist in investigations and prosecutions. As for this case, I want the public to think about this – if it was your loved one convicted on the exact same “evidence” used against Adnan, would you buy it? Would it be a solid enough case for you? Would you accept the testimony of Jay? Would you dismiss how Gutierrez defended the case? When looking at it through that lens, most people wouldn’t stand for it.

What’s been the hardest thing for you to deal with publicly, being so close to Adnan, since the podcast started? Has it put a strain or strengthened your relations with him and his family?

RABIA: No there hasn’t been a strain, but its stressful keeping up with interview requests, messages, wanting to honor all the supporters, and stay on top of the podcast by digging up pertinent documents for each episode. I have kids, family, a job and juggling all this is hard. I think we’ve grown closer during this, his older brother who was estranged for many years is back in the family’s life, and we all stay connected constantly.

As a mother yourself, how did you talk to your daughters about what’s happening to Adnan? Has the publicity of the case changed/altered their opinion of him?

RABIA: My older daughter has lived this her entire life, she was 2 when he was arrested. She’s visited him in jail, etc. So there isn’t much explaining. She isn’t following much of the show or other stuff because she’s a senior in high school and busy with applying for college, projects, etc. My little one who is 6 has not met him but she knows that there is an “Adnan Uncle” who is in jail that Mama is trying to bring home.

What do you love most about Adnan? How has that changed/evolved since you first met him as your brother’s best friend

RABIA: What I love most about him that he always does his best to shield those he loves from any sadness. He won’t share his pain, though I know its there. He doesn’t want us to be sad. He loves to make people laugh.

And lastly, Adnan has said that the pain of being wrongly accused is far worse for his family than if he had actually committed the crime. As someone who is like family to him, would you agree?

RABIA: I do agree. There is closure in that, a sense of justice. As Muslims we believe in a scripture that says “stand for justice, even against yourself”. So if he had committed a crime, we would have felt justice was served. The sense of injustice is what keeps us up at night.

Thank you to Rabia for doing this interview. I really appreciate your honesty and determination to help someone you love.

After reading Rabia’s answers, her last sentence really hit me the hardest. I keep going around and around in my mind about this. Was injustice what occurred? Go listen for yourself. I’d love to know what you all think.

And please check out her blog, Split the Moon, for not just aspects of this case, but also for her strong dedication to stopping social injustices and human rights violations. You can also follow her on Twitter at @rabiasquared.

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I went to a fashion show…. at the airport.


airportI’ve always dreamed of going to Fashion Week in NYC. To see the slew of people walking the runway in crazy-ass get ups and clothes real humans over size zero would never actually wear. But alas, no one is beating down my door to have me cover fashion. Weird, I know.

So instead, I have figured out the the airport is actually, in effect, a catwalk.

So while I waited in the airport security line, I pretended that I was sitting next to Anna Wintour and observed.

First down the runway was the young woman in her early twenties wearing leggings as pants. Pants that give her camel-toe and the ability to see the Hello Kitty underwear she was rocking underneath them. She is also the same girl who wears an Aerosmith shirt she bought at Old Navy without having a clue that the band produced songs beyond what is heard in car commercials.

Next down the runway was the high-level business woman. She’s wearing heels that would be used in a James Bond movie to kill a man, as well as a briefcase that is perfectly situated on her shoulder without the slightest bit of strap falling off her shoulder. I had no idea that was physically possible. She is using a Bluetooth device so the entire catwalk  can feel included in her conversation about the merger. Not to give away the ending, but the merger doesn’t seem to be looking good.

Following her is the teenage couple who walk with their hands in each other’s back pocket. Although they both don’t fit horizontally in the space, they are determined to defy the laws of spacial relations and squeeze their adolescent bodies together, as if they were Siamese twins. He is kissing her neck which makes me want to slap him like a fly grazing over a plate full of hot dogs. She is fiddling with one of those earrings that stretches out the pierced hole larger that a crater formed by a meteor. I’m sure she won’t regret that one when she can soon use her ears as a scarf.

Lastly is the disheveled mother. I rise to my feet to cheer this final model. She’s the definition of grace as she balances two diaper bags, a stroller, three children and a husband who is looking at his phone completely oblivious to his surroundings. She is wearing sweatpants with a mysterious stain on the thigh, tennis shoes with one shoe untied, and her hair in a messy ponytail. Her children are grabbing at her for snacks but she still stands tall and walks her strut with ease. She’s the crowd favorite, no doubt.

If I could have applauded at the end of the show, I would have.

Instead, I handed the TSA agent my ticket and hoped for a pat down.

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The Big Book of Parenting Tweets – I’M IN IT!


big book of parenting tweetsIt’s so awesome to see a group of bloggers come together and want to publish a book. What’s even more awesome is when they ask me to be part of it! I was thrilled when the ladies from Science of Parenthood asked me to be part of a new book they were putting together with Kate Hall from Hall of Tweets. They are driven ladies that are not just successful but kind and hilarious to boot!

So this is what they did. They put together a laugh-riot collection of more than three-hundred tweetable moments straight from the parenting trenches from the most hysterical comedians on Twitter, who just happen to be parents.

For some reason, they think I’m one of them. And for that, I’m honored.

And the funniest part is the illustrations they put with them.

Really funny stuff.

So check it out. Put them in some stockings, bring them to a baby shower, or just sneak into the bathroom and pretend to be pooping so you can read for a few minutes in peace.

You can read more about it HERE. And you can purchase it HERE.

 

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A REAL day in the life of a parent video – IT’S HERE!


Woo hoo! It’s here! The completed video!

What is this I speak of?

Last week I put a call out for you all to send me a picture of what a day in your parenting life looks like.

Why?

Because the holidays are a time where parents feel stressed, overwhelmed and usually in need of great amounts of alcohol. I wanted to create a photo montage video that shows what we ALL are dealing with as parents on a daily basis.

It’s a video that will make you laugh, might make you cry and will definitely make you realize that you aren’t alone in this crazy world called parenthood.

Thank you so much for your photos.

Enjoy and have an awesome Thanksgiving!

 

 

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5 celebrities I find oddly attractive…


5 celebritiesSo when I was pregnant with my first child, I had sex dreams about Bret Michaels from Poison. I thought, at the time, that it was simply a result of my hormones being thrown around like kernels in a popcorn popping machine.

However, since those dreams ceased, I have realized that perhaps I have slightly dirty and often confusing taste in celebrity men.

This is highly amusing considering that my husband is very clean cut, normal and not in need of any type of mental therapy (unless there is a therapy program for putting dirty laundry actually inside the hamper).

However, my celebrity crushes are the complete opposite.

In my defense, his celebrity crushes are all Latina women and considering that I can only say “Donde esta el bano?”  I think we are safe to say his tastes also tend to go to the opposite of each other.

So who is in my naughty celebrity hot tub?

1. Pitbull. I realize that he is short, bald, high pants and I have no clue what his eyes look like because he’s always wearing sunglasses, but damn I’m a sucker for that little shrimp.

2. Kid Rock. Now wait, before you go getting vomit all in your mouth, let me explain. Wait. Actually, I have no explanation. In normal circumstances I despise white tight tank tops on men but in his instance, I find myself wanting to spill cheap beer all over his.

3. Seth Rogan. You need someone funny in the hot tub, right? You can’t just have dirty, horny men in there. Someone has to tell some damn jokes.

4. 50 Cent. This guy knows moves that ever porn stars can’t figure out. The first time I listened to “Candy Shop” I remember feeling like lollipops would never look the same again.

5. Eminem. Okay, maybe I have a bit of an affinity for rappers. It’s probably because I can’t even figure out a word to rhyme with lion when my kids ask me. But he is that flawed, bruised from love kind of guy. And you know, like Marvin Gaye said, “I got that special healing”….

So yeah, it seems like I’m a freak in hot-tub land. So I gotta ask – who is in your naughty hot tub? Come on, don’t leave me hanging out here in this STD-filled jacuzzi…

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Twatter: The new social media site for the elderly

twatterThere are folks you meet in the blogosphere that you know instantly you would be friends with in your normal, outside of writing, life. Nikki from Moms Who Drink and Swear is one of them. She tells the good, bad, ugly and always entertaining side of parenting on her blog but she’s also just a damn good person who doesn’t hide her passion for mental health and helping those in need.

I had the honor of guest blogging over on her site today and it’s about an elderly neighbor I have who… well… might be a bit confused about how social media works these days…

It still cracks me up every time I think about it. Go see what I mean. You’ll definitely never look at Twitter the same way again…

To read, click HERE.

 

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Goodbye Diem Brown.


My husband is truly a saint when it comes to my television tastes. Don’t get me wrong, he mocks them profusely, but he always snuggles in close to me and cares more about being together than watching what he would actually prefer to watch.

He’s much nicer than I am because the second he turns on sports I hightail it the hell out of there.

But one show that we both watched for years together, and actually mutually enjoyed, was The Real World/Road Rules Challenges. I grew up as a child of the first ever “Real World” and it was a series that was truly revolutionary. Of course, it eventually became a collection of smut and trashiness, but sometimes, hey, that’s enjoyable to watch too.

And I have to admit, I always had a soft spot for Diem Brown. She and CT had the tumultuous on again/off again romance and it hooked me in, like it did millions of viewers.

But that wasn’t where I truly developed a liking towards her. No, it was when she started documenting for People magazine her cancer struggles. I loved her honesty. I appreciated that she put her raw feelings out there. She dared to do what many writers struggle with – to truly expose themselves at the risk of judgement.

She would post pictures of her failing body, her lack of hair, and her tubes/machines pumping life into her veins in the hospital.

But today, she lost her battle. At just 32 years old.

No, let’s not say that.

She didn’t lose. She beat the shit of cancer but her body couldn’t keep up with her spirit.

My heart breaks for her loss. She openly talked about wanting to get married and have children – a path my life has taken me, and I feel sad that she didn’t get to experience that kind of love and joy.

But perhaps I’m wrong.

I believe in an after-life. I believe that “something” continues after you leave this world. And I once read something very comforting about this. It said that when a person dies young it is because they have learned all their life lessons. They didn’t need to live longer to learn more. For some reason, that brings me comfort.

The holidays are upon us. You’re going to buy tons of crap for your family – and that’s okay, you should. I will too. But how about we give just a bit of that money to cancer research? You decide how much and to where. But how about we all do it and try to make this cancer crap go away? I will if you do.

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The Day the Crayons Quit – Why I love it.


the day the crayons quitThere are only so many times you can read Ninja Turtle books or even worse, the Disney Princess Palace Pet series. I can almost feel the brain cells exiting my body through my mouth when I read them to my kids.

So when we received The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt as a present for my daughter’s birthday, I was thrilled to take a break and dive into something new with the kiddos. By page two, we were cracking up and I knew that I wanted to write about it for The Washington Post’s parenting section, On Parenting.

It’s seriously a book for all ages. And that peach crayon, oh how I love the letter from peach crayon.

Come read my take on it all. It’s an awesome book for kids for the holidays. No one is even paying me to say that. It’s just simply a book I loved. We all did.

To read my post, click HERE.

 

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You’re not alone in parenting. Be part of my video project.


video parentingI was recently interviewed by a fellow blogger and she asked me why I started blogging.

I told her that I started blogging because I wanted other parents to know they weren’t alone in the insanity that is parenthood.

I wanted them to read my stories and laugh because the very same thing happened to them.

I wanted them to feel like there was a place where they were understood. Where it was okay to curse, okay to complain and okay to mock our children behind their backs.

So I’ve decided to do something about that all.

I’m creating a video project where YOU are the subject.

I want you to take one picture of what a day in your life is like. Perhaps it is of something that stresses you out. Perhaps it is something that made you laugh. Perhaps it is something you hate. Perhaps it is something you love. The key is that it is shows what one brief moment of your life as a parent looks like.

My hope is the same as when I started this blog. To show parents that you aren’t alone. Perhaps it will make a mom who is having a bad day laugh when she sees it. Perhaps it will remind a dad of the things that are important to him when he is struggling to balance it all. But in the end, it will be what REAL parenting looks like.

No names will be used. No links will be included. It’s just a visual presentation of the reality that is parenthood.

Email your picture to martinisandminivans at hotmail.com – please have your picture emailed by Wednesday, November 19. My plan is to have the video up by Thanksgiving.

Email me your picture. Do it. Come be part of it all.

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Buses, bands and bitch slapping – My 40th birthday party

hard to handle stage pic

Me “rocking” it on stage. And by “rocking it” I mean pointing my finger in various places without any sort of rhythm.

I had my 40th birthday party this past weekend. My sister-in-law and I decided to do one together seeing this was the milestone birthday for both of us. We decided to rent a party bus for our friends and hit up a few bars. Our entire goal of the night was to play the tambourine on stage with the band at the last bar.

Yes, you read that correctly. We actually rented a party bus and bar hopped.

Okay, okay, so we just ended up going to two bars, and they were both Irish pubs, but damn, we were out until almost 2 a.m. And yep, we got on stage with the band, and my body still hurts so I would say it was a raging success.

Well maybe not a complete success.

There was that little incident of telling off a 22 year old girl in the bathroom.

As my friend and I entered the bathroom at the last bar, a very intoxicated young little twit is cheering about turning 22 years old. I told her happy birthday and that I was celebrating my 40th.

She then had the most horrified look on her face. As if I told her that I was a carrier of Ebola and planned to lean in for a french kiss.

So after she made this disgusted face, I said, “I love being 40, I definitely wouldn’t want to go back to 22.”

And this punk of a kid said, while rolling her eyes and flipping her drunk frizzy hair, “Well I definitely would never want to be 40.”

I stopped for a second, thought about bitch-slapping her but then realized I don’t actually know how to do that. Is it closed-fist? Open palm? What do you do after the slap? Run?

So instead of attempting an actual bitch-slap, I decided to lean in and really sweetly said, “Do you have a boyfriend, sweetie?”

To which she completely perked up, looked freakishly giddy and said, “Yes, yes, I do.” Feeling very proud of herself.

I smiled and in the most flat and matter of fact voice I could possibly have, said, “Well, he’s probably an asshole.”

Her face fell to the floor and I walked out of the bathroom.

My friend and I laughed our asses off when we got outside the door. My friend then turned to me and said, “How do you know her boyfriend is an asshole?”

“Cause he’s a 22 year old boy. All 22 year old guys are assholes.”

“Very true,” my friend said, wrapping her arm around me. “You are wise in your old age.”

Bet that little girl was rolling her eyes out of her head after I walked out that bathroom. But the truth is, she probably knows I’m right. And if she doesn’t, I have no doubt she will when she turns 40.

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Why an old lady made me pee my pants in the voting line…


ballot boxWhile waiting in line to vote this morning, a young woman in her early 20’s was a few folks in front of me. The woman was frustrated at how slow the line was moving. She was muttering things under her breath about how the people behind the check-in desk should move faster and figure out what they are doing.

Of course, the people behind the desk are volunteers or only getting paid enough to buy a cup of coffee. And it is obvious that they are trying their best.

However, this girl disagreed.

As she huffed and puffed all rudely, I looked back to see how many people were now on the line behind me. As I turned, the woman in back of me smiled and moved her finger in a way that asked me to move closer so she could whisper something to me.

Now, before I tell you what she whispered, let me describe her so you can get a visual image in your head of who we are dealing with here.

She was probably in her late 80’s, white short perfectly permed hair, maybe as tall as an Oompa Loompa, navy blue polyester pants that came right under her boobs that showed a lifetime of aging, and a cotton long-sleeve shirt that had a large fall maple leaf on it.

She shook her head as she steadied herself on my extended arm, trying to keep her balance when I suspected she should probably be using a cane.

Then she said it. She said the line that made me almost pee my pants in public.

In her softest, sweetest, grandmother voice she says, “Bitches don’t have any respect, do they?”

I kid you not.

This little old lady, wearing foliage on her blouse, dropped the B-word  as if she was guest rapping on the new Eminem album.

And as the young “bitch” girl walked out, my rapping grandmother shook her head, pulled up her pants up higher and added, “She better not have taken’ the damn last jelly donut either.”

Lucky for the girl’s sake, the jelly donut was untouched by the time I got up to vote. I seriously think that grandmother would have hunted her down and cut the bitch. I’ve now learned, you don’t mess with a grandmother, her voting and a jelly donut.

 

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So I did it. I told my daughter I was married before… And this is what happened.


washington post danielle herzog pictureAfter writing about my concerns about telling my daughter that I was married before, I really thought about all the comments folks left after the post went up on The Washington Post. And I knew what I had to do.

I had to tell her.

I wrote about what happened when I did for my latest piece for The Washington Post’s parenting section, On Parenting.

I’d love it if you read it, maybe share it, maybe talk about it and definitely tell me what you think.

To read it, click HERE.

I’ll simply say this. Navigating this world of parenting is really full of surprises….

 

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