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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"I Am Turning into My Mother"

A few weeks ago when my friend Patrick was in town, we went to the coolest event at the 92Y in Tribeca.

Called "I Am Turning into My Mother" and timed to coincide with Mothers' Day, it was put on by Smith Magazine, creator of the Six-Word Memoir Project. The evening featured six-word "momoirs" by about a dozen writers. In advance of the event, The New York Times ran a contest and published a number of delightful submissions. Some of my favorites:

Smart, kind, frugal. Makes great kugel.
Kitchen is closed. Make it yourself.
Kids need moms. Moms need wine.

Patrick and I each ordered a beer and grabbed a table with a good view of the stage. Each writer's six-word memoir was projected behind them as they were introduced; they then told a story to explain it. A few I found memorable:

Growing up, Laura Zigman felt her mom looked at her as though there was something wrong with her, as if There's a bird on your head.  

One of President Clinton's former press secretaries, Joe Lockhart, said the six-word memoir for his professional life would be Asked and answered, asshole. Next question. But the story he told that night was about the words his father used for guidance during life-changing decisions...and how those words came to play in his own life in a most unexpected way. Will you have this opportunity again?

A father and son pair told a two-parter about adoption and acceptance: I'm gonna get my own kid and The day I adopted my dad.

Perhaps the most well-known writer of the night, Susan Orlean, called her memoir I have begun ironing his underpants. She explained how her mother's most annoying habits had now become her own.

I think my very favorite "momoir" was by Deb Kogan, whose (actual) memoir Shutterbug: Adventures in Love and War I read and loved earlier this year. (It's her globe-hopping adventures as a freelance photographer in her 20s, from Afghanistan to Amsterdam.) She played the guitar sang a song about being pregnant and going into labor while working at NBC News in Midtown: Hospital bound. Contractions fierce. Taxi stolen. It was clever, cheesy, incredible and hilarious.

At the end, the emcees opened the mic for contributions from the audience. I jotted down my favorites:
A sake mom, not a soccer mom.
Beware of men wearing pinky rings.
Baby: King. Mama: Queen. Papa: Jester.
I'd like my breasts back, please.
My baby fever might kill me.

Patrick's: Smoking at dinner is gross, Mom.
Mine: He might have a cute friend.

Try writing your own. It's kind of addictive!

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