Week in Reviewish

by Marinka on April 28, 2012

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’ve had a really busy week and I am exhausted.

I went to the Erma Bombeck Writing Worskshop in Dayton (the Asheville of Ohio, which in turn is the Paris of North Carolina) and I’m still enjoying the dividends of that.

Maybe it’s the whole being surrounded by so  many humor writers, or being with dear friends, or listening to people like Alan Zweibel tell about getting a job as a writer for Saturday Night Live and  Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist Connie Schultz tell about the moment that she found out that she won a Pulitzer  (her Senator husband cried) and was trash talked at her local Target, or attending sessions run by Kyran Pittman and Anna Lefler and Karen Walrond  and Tracy Beckerman and getting more takeaway from each of them than I think I have in any other one-hour period of my life, to the extent that I started applying the things that they taught me on Monday morning, 6:30 am and  have not stopped.

Granted, it’s only been a week.

But it’s been a great week despite the fact that I was so busy with my other, non-writing life and that Young Ladrinka is now sick and is camped out on the couch and Husbandrinka is saying things like “I really hope that I don’t catch whatever he has because I don’t like being sick.”  Please write that down. Husbandrinka does not like to be sick.  This is what makes him different from the rest of the world.

I’ve been reading a lot too.

I’ve been reading Crispin, because Young Ladrinka is reading it in school and the teachers and I have decided that it’s better if I read along so that I can encourage him to push his thinking beyond his comfort point on the text. Unfortunately for everyone, my thinking comfort point seems to be at a relatively low threshold as I’m mostly grateful that I’m no longer in school and don’t have to read stuff I don’t want to.

I read Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Can Be  Normal a memoir about growing up with a lunatic religious zealot mother. I disliked it immensely, even though I know and accept that Jeanette Winterson is a literary genius.

Then I read The Sometimes Daughter  by Sherri Wood Emmons and what a surprise that was.  I can’t remember how I came upon this book, but I liked the cover on Amazon, which makes a lot of sense since I read it on my Kindle.  I expected a light read about a mom who has a baby at Woodstock and it was lightish, but I cried while reading it twice, first because there were elements of high school like that resonated so much for me, and then because there was a part about being a stepmother that I loved.  It’s not the kind of book that I usually read, but I enjoyed it immensely and I loved that it reminded me that my literary tastes are not so fixed that I can’t find joy in the unexpected.

And  that sometimes it’s really important to  judge a book by its cover.

I also wrote for Babble.  I’m so grateful for an opportunity to do a different type of writing, to think out loud about parenting choices and struggles, humorless as that can be.

This week I wrote about what it feels like to come home to my family after being away, a round up of some of the best books that bloggers read over spring (break), manners I wish all parents would teach their kids before they came over for dinner at my house (and not just so that they could teach my kids.  Although, yes, that too), whether parents should be ok with letting their children fail, instead of doing everything we can to prevent it and inspired by Young Ladrinka’s reference to Carnegie Hall as Carnegie Hell, I wondered whether exposing children to the arts is Culture or Torture.

And finally, I have something to tell you.

I was going to write a whole post about it, but someone at Erma Bombeck said that the worst thing that can happen to a humor writer is to have something funny happen to them and I’m finding this to be the case.  Because a few weeks ago, I was on the subway with Young Ladrinka and a woman approached me handing out pamphlets for life insurance and as she handed me one she said “ma’am, for your grandson, oh, I mean, son?”

This woman, who was about my age or maybe a few months younger thought that my 10 year old son was my grandson. And I have to live with it.

Have a lovely weekend, if at all possible. Knowing that I look like I’m someone’s grandmother.

One year ago ...

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

April 28, 2012 at 9:47 am

All I can say, honey, is join the club. Around here, apparently, 48 is the new 60.


April 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Been there. I’m so sorry.

Maybe Erma 2014 should offer botox – at least I hope so because I’m attending and that would be some awesome swag.

Anyway, your blog makes you look really young and hot. And funny of course.


dusty earth mother April 29, 2012 at 7:52 am

I’m not sure I can live with that. Getting out my torches and pitchforks and looking for this broad.


Tracy Beckerman April 29, 2012 at 8:39 am

Having developed something of a reputation (somewhat deservedly) of – I shudder to say – a COUGAR (did you hear about what I did at Blissdom?), I can tell you the only thing worse than being called someone’s grandmother is when someone thinks you are hooking up with your TEENAGE SON.
Ick. Ick. Ick.


Marinka April 30, 2012 at 7:23 am



April 29, 2012 at 9:20 am

Obviously she was blond-hostile. And if she was blond, she was self-hating blond hostile.

Loved loved spending time together at Erma. xo


April 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I have heard of people complain they are asked if they are the nanny. Wish someone thought I was my kid’s Au pair…


the mama bird diaries
April 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm

With all that reading, where do you find the time to watch TV?


Cary April 30, 2012 at 7:56 am

Thank you for comparing our town to Paris! We love it here in Dayton…


Steph April 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm

No way! She must hate you because your are beautiful and Russian. What did you say to her?? You said something, right?


Marinka April 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I didn’t say anything because I seemed to have lost the power of speech. I’ve yet to regain it.


deborah l quinn
April 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm

you could’ve said “that’s madam grandma, bitch,” and leveled a roundhouse at her. A roundhouse is always a nice option, I find. Or perhaps said “gosh, is it hard carrying those pamphlets around when you’re at such an advanced stage of pregnancy?” Also a very useful putdown, but in the more metaphoric sense.

And you can tell Young Ladrinka that Crispin? Kind of Sucks. Skulduggery Pleasant, much much more fun and not the least bit educational.


Alexandra April 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm

As much as I love you and get teary at your kindness…(yes, the way you got up out of your seat to walk across the banquet hall at EBWW to say hello to my son — just, makes me fan my face clear away the tears style…)

Anyway, as much sympathy as I’d like to have for you being questioned on the possibility of grandmother/mother is she /isn’t she/she could be?

I think it feels much worse to hear an old fart say, upon seeing me kiss my 17 yr old son good-bye at the Dr.’s office, “disgusting.”

I know, Mother Theresa warned us to not compare sufferings…but, yeah, seen as a gross perv.

Pretty bad.


Amanda Hill April 30, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I was signed up to go. I paid my entrance fee with glee. But it was such a stressful week and my husband was busy with work and I caved on attending the EBWW the day prior. Gave up $375 and a chance to improve my writing. I’m still mopey about it. Damn my laziness.

And don’t you worry about the crazy subway lady. Just think – if you were his grandmother you’d be a hot sexy young-looking grandmother, and that’s something. Cling to the positive. And this is all coming from some random stranger who is handing out insurance packets, for crying out loud. Think of the source. She might actually have a disease that prevents her from taking in reality. Or partial blindness, which forces her to hand out packets on the subway. You’re overthinking it.


May 1, 2012 at 4:56 pm

She was probably jealous because no man would knock her up and clearly she saw that you had this beautiful child with you and she needed to knock you down a little.


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