When I was in my early teens my wonderful friend’s dad and mom would play music all the time. Her dad, in particular, would play musicals. One of these musicals was Les Miserables.
What was so wonderful about listening to the music was also the narrative he would give to us driving us to and from our dance classes on cold South Dakota nights. It helped me go into seeing Les Miserables with some understanding of what the heck was going on.
I finally was able to see Les Miserables in London when I was 19. A friend and I went to London for our Spring break, we found incredibly cheap deals that had us staying in a hotel in the business district.
I cried the entire first act I’m pretty sure of it.
So moved by it.
I actually watched this actress, Lea Salonga in the London production, sing this song.
What’s your favorite musical? Are you going to see Les Miserables at the movies?
I don’t often go to the movies but I just might. I’ll be bringing tissues, just in case.
Moms LA is run by two very supportive women, Yvonne Condes and Sarah Aureswald. Their site focuses on Life in LA, which can be a challenge for anyone, but especially for those of us trying to raise kids here.
Raising kids in LA sure is unique. Look at my husband urban camping with our son a few years back in the heart of the Hollywood hills. They made it until 8:30PM. Don’t try this on the 4th of July in the city.
My piece is titled “Choosing My Kids’ Religion.” Yes, a little nod to R.E.M. there. Now it’s in your head, here you go.
Anyways, for those of you moms treading through the tricky waters of raising kids in homes with multiple religions you might enjoy some ways we are doing it. This was a harder piece to write then I thought. I felt judged writing it in the solitude of my home office, ha!
I have heard Amy Friedman’s name a few times when people submit to be in Expressing Motherhood.
Then, just yesterday, former performer Susan Sheu emailed me saying that a wonderfully supportive woman here in LA, named Amy Friedman, had just published a book, would I help give it some publicity. Yes! Susan says this of Amy:
“She’s an extremely generous and talented writer and teacher, and it was through her help and encouragement that I got accepted to the two writers colonies”
I love other women supporting other women. Susan told me that Amy taught the UCLA writers extension program she attended when her child was 9 months old.
Amy’s book is titled “Desperado’s Wife.” It is about how Amy was a newspaper columnist who walked into a prison to write about the prisoners, and ended up marrying one. Yes, not your every day story. I remembered I had seen her do a reading at Spark Off Rose a year or two ago.
She has a great presence and just seems cool.
Since I know a lot of moms out there who are interested in writing and finding time to write I thought I’d ask Amy about the classes she teaches and how long it took her to write the book. So often we get frustrated thinking our writing should happen over night. Here are my questions that with her responses:
You have taught classes at UCLA extensions writers program, what kind of class?
I’ve been teaching at UCLA Extension since 2002 and primarily teach personal essay and memoir (and a combination class that covers both). I also teach memoir at The Skirball Cultural Arts Center and at Idyllwild School of the Arts Summer Program and I teach personal essay in high schools through PEN USA’s Pen in the Classroom program (an extraordinary program that results in published collections of the students’ work. My husband and I have been doing this work together for the last five or six years as he’s a high school teacher; we’ve worked together at both Palisades Charter High and Venice High).
You also teach privately, how do those classes work?
I do occasionally teach privately–though I haven’t for a couple years now. I work as a mentor/coach with various individuals. How does this work? A little more complicated. Essentially it depends on what the person is looking to do. I also work as an editor/ghostwriter/co-author, and depending on where people are inside their books and/or collections, I work with them to see what best suits their needs. (lots of info on this on my website in fact).
How long did it take you to write this book?
Ah, how long did it take me to write this book. Nearly 10 years. I was married to my now-ex husband for 7 years (this is the story of Desperado’s Wife). We divorced in 1999, and in 2001 I met my current husband–alas, I was in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and he was in LA. Guess who moved? We married in 2002, the year I began working on the memoir. In those 10 years it took many forms–it began as memoir but I was too close to the story and was still working (despite knowing memoir well since I had published two previous memoirs–in Canada–and had been teaching the genre for years by then) from an “agenda.” In other words, I began with something to prove and soon realized that the story could not work so long as I was delivering a message. I tried to reconnect to the material by writing it as a novel, told from the point of view of a child of a prisoner (After all, I raised two girls whose father was in prison). But when I reached the end of the third draft of that novel, a beloved and important writer colleague looked me in the eye and said, “Amy, you know this needs to be memoir.” I was crushed for a few weeks, mostly because I knew he was right. And I dived in again. That was four years ago, so for the last four years I’ve been devoted to what the book finally has become.
This week I have been overwhelmed with the feeling that I am the woman in charge of putting on our Christmas.
Albeit for a very small group, but none the less, even if I plan on picking up a pre-made meal from Whole Foods I still have to plan it.
All of the wrapping, cooking that goes on this week. A lot of it by the matriarchs in our families. Today as I bundled myself up trying to feel better from a cold I thought, no wonder my mom so frequently got sick at Christmas!
I openend our newly acquired piano bench, a hand me down from my parents divorce, and in it was a piece of paper with my grandma’s handwriting.
She had listed a Christmas list of songs to play. She could not see well and she never had formal training. You merely had to hum a tune and she could play it.
Music and Food.
That’s what I associate with her visits during the holidays. And peace.
A peace would descend over my house while she visited.
I hope your holidays are nice. I hope you don’t stress yourself out too much over the details. And I hope they are filled with music, food and good company.
To all you grandmas and moms out there doing your best to provide warmth for your family, my hat goes off to you.