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Aug 18 2014

My Son Smashed His Head Open & Transformed into “King Gauze”

By at 3:09 pm

Gauze

Last spring, my son managed to smash his head into the corner of a bookcase, requiring staples. Upon returning home from urgent care, with his head wrapped in gauze, he gleefully declared that he was “King Gauze.” I seized on the moment–finally, here was my chance to get him involved in my passion: playwriting.

I belong to a playwriting group that sometimes meets at our home. Therefore, my son has known the majority of my fellow playwrights since he was born. And, as he’s gotten older, he’s wanted to stay downstairs to listen to the work being read out loud, none of which would be appropriate for his ears. He has been frustrated by this and by the fact that I won’t let him read any of my work, either.

But with the emergence of “King Gauze,” we agreed that we would write a play the next day about King Gauze in Gauzeland. And so we did. Not a whole play but three scenes. His cast of characters was enormous and grew as we continued to write. The play took place at the birth of Prince Gauze. King and Queen Gauze were being visited by the whole town, along with some weavers (only later did it occur to me that the weavers idea came from “The Emperor Has No Clothes”). My son dictated the dialogue and I showed him how we were writing stage directions and how different characters said their lines. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 2 2014

Looking Back at Life Through What I Wrote

By at 2:19 pm

sarah tuttle-singer typing

I’m looking back through the old scraps of writing I have saved over the years.

And in the detritus of keystrokes, here is what I find: lines about my mother and watching her die, lines about the family I used to have in all its discombobulated beauty.

Thoughts about the baby boy growing inside me and the little girl who would kiss my big old moon belly. Sarcastic strike-throughs to hide the fear I felt during those months and the boredom that followed when I would spend my days watching shadows crawl across the ceiling.

Notes about the man who would bring me Klondike Bars in the middle of the night when I was eight months pregnant, notes about an occasional date at the sushi place down the street, notes that offer no real insight into what would go wrong just a few short years later. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 4 2013

My Children vs. My Passion: Can I Really Do it All?

By at 2:29 pm

where was i? typed on typewiriter

I know I am not the first person to write a novel with my right hand while changing a diaper with my left. It’s just that when I do, the contents of the novel end up very similar to the contents of the diaper.

“Being here now” is difficult when you have to be in three places at once. But if you have a passion, a day job, and you’re an involved parent, then you must learn to compartmentalize on a dime. You know you’re dealing with a passion when you simply have no choice but to do so. Crystal meth has a limp handshake when compared to the grip of a passion. It’s not a desire; it’s an obsession. It’s an elemental–

“DAD!”

Excuse me.

“What?”

“Sarah called me stupid and said my dress is too small!”

“Are you stupid?”

“No.” Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 5 2012

All Work & No Play Makes Mom… Tired

By at 3:21 pm

the shining typewriter sceneConfucius (allegedly) said: Do a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Who am I to argue with Confucius?

So, that’s precisely what I did. Because I loved television, I studied television in college, and then I went to work in television. I loved to watch figure skating, so I became a television figure skating producer. After my oldest son was born and the travel associated with skating competitions became unmanageable, I switched to working in soap operas–because I loved soap operas. In the meantime, because I loved to read, I also wrote books, primarily figure skating mysteries and romance novels. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 10 2012

Reading Your Mother’s Sex Scenes

By at 10:27 am

I write romance novels. I am unapologetically proud of that fact. Since 1995, I’ve published 13 works of “genre” fiction, including three soap opera tie-ins, five figure skating murder mysteries, and four romance novels, two set in the Regency period, and three contemporaries.

This past year, I got the rights to a majority of them back from their respective publishers, and decided to re-release them on my own, as enhanced multimedia editions. (That’s a fancy way of saying e-books with audio, video, and other extras.)

Alas, re-releasing the books meant re-reading them, since I had to make certain they were good to go from a technical perspective. Now, I happen to be one of those writers who, once my book is on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and Amazon, almost never refer to it again. A) Because I am always convinced that every book is out to kill me during the actual writing process, so we rarely part on good terms. And B) Because when I say that I am proud of my work, I mean in an it-never-sounds-as-good-on-paper-as-it-did-in-my-head-so-honestly-this-book-sucks-but-that-shouldn’t-stop-you-from-buying-it-nonetheless sort of way. Some people can’t stand to hear themselves on an answering machine or to watch themselves on TV. I do not enjoy looking back over past work. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 7 2012

Share the Stories of Your Fathers

By at 2:31 pm

cool jewish dad t-shirtFather’s Day is coming up fast, and we’ve just caught wind of an exciting project from the ladies at the Jewish Women’s Archive that’s all about dads. Your dads, specifically.

For their blog, Jewesses With Attitude, JWA is collecting short blurbs from Jewish women about their fathers, and the role they played in their Jewish identity and development. They also want to add some dad voices to the blog, so they’re seeking guest posts from Jewish fathers, or fathers raising Jewish children. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 30 2012

What Happens When My Kids Google Me?

By at 3:37 pm
sarah tuttle-singer parents

Me with my parents, not being embarrassing.

Growing up, my biggest fear was that my parents would embarrass me.

This fear wasn’t completely unfounded:

My mom was known to waltz down the produce aisle at Trader Joe’s like the leading lady in a 1950’s musical, sometimes singing in Tagolog, which she learned while serving in the Peace Corps.

And my dad was worse: When he would “bring it,” (his words, not mine, people) on the basketball court at Mar Vista Park, he would insist on playing “skins.” Even when no one else was going shirtless. Bellowing on the court, he would wave his arms in the air, a force of nature that could easily wipe out a 13-year-old’s reputation. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 10 2012

The Secret Stress-Reducer for Parents: Journaling

By at 3:37 pm

leather journalPassover is a time of new beginnings, a time to meditate on themes of slavery and freedom, a time to consider the mitzrayim, or narrow place, where we may find ourselves. The hametz crumbs that usually litter my dining room have been cleared out, but they were replaced by matzah crumbs just as quickly. The house cleaning that took so much of my time last week was important, but the effects were fleeting, and my internal hametz remains. The details may differ from person to person, but we all have our struggles, including toxic relationships, family difficulties, physical and mental illness, and employment and financial stress. Many of the challenges of life are beyond our control, but what we can change, the hametz we can begin to clear during the Passover holiday, has to do with our own personal attitudes and behaviors. Read the rest of this entry →

May 9 2011

Write at Home

By at 3:47 pm

Sarah and her mom.

Before I was born, my mom spent two years in the Peace Corps. She volunteered in Robert Kennedy’s campaign. She worked for the Western Center of Law and Poverty, and served as Chief of Staff for a California Congressman. She was an activist, and an intellectual, and in July of 1981, she became a mother. So, she decided to make a monumental job-change and exchange her high heels for sneakers.

My mom’s work-shift started at daybreak — long before I woke up to the moan of the foghorns, and the smell of coffee brewing in our teeny-tiny house in Venice, California. While my dad showered and shaved, I’d stumble to our dining room table, where she’d bring me a cup of mint tea, and a bowl of Quaker Oats Maple Brown Sugar oatmeal. While I ate, she’d sit next to the open window, sipping her coffee and smoking her third cigarette. The laundry was done, and folded neatly. Lunch — usually a salami sandwich with extra mustard, a Capri Sun, a baggie of sliced carrots and cucumbers, a hard-boiled egg, and sometimes a brownie — was already tucked away in my neon pink backpack. While we waited for whoever was driving carpool to BEEP BEEP BEEP the horn, my mom would quiz me on my multiplication tables and ask me who I was the most excited about seeing at school.

When I’d come home from school, the house was redolent with the fragrance of dinner. Sometimes, she’d make her famous spaghetti and meat sauce, other times, chicken kebabs, or salmon croquettes. When I had soccer practice, or art class, or Hebrew School, my mom drove, and we’d listen to classical music in the car while she’d fill me in on the latest murder mystery she was reading each night before bed. On evenings when my dad had late-meetings, she would prepare finger sandwiches, and we’d dine daintily like royalty. And sometimes, in the still of the night, when even our cat, Nebbie, was snoring gently, she’d wake me up, and we’d sit by candlelight on the front deck, drink chamomile tea, and eat squares of dark chocolate. We would whisper ghost stories while surrounded by the powerful stillness of midnight.
Still, when asked what she did for a living, my mom would never describe herself as a Stay At Home Mom. Instead, she would tell people that she “worked from home.” You see, during the day while I was gone, she would take her coffee and her cigarettes out to the little shed behind our house, and write childrens’ books at a well-worn library table from the 1920‘s. Along with managing the house, cooking, cleaning, and just being home in case I got sick or hurt at school and needed her, this was how she financially contributed to the family. And more importantly, this was how she nourished her creativity and kept her sense of self happy and alive.

When I started to think about having a family — even before I met B. — I knew that I wanted to follow my mom’s example and (if, financially feasible) “work from home.” And so, B and I have tried to make it happen: He waltzes off to his office on the kibbutz every day, and I take care of the kids. But still, as I may have said before, you can only sing “The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round” so many times before going absolutely bat-shit crazy. Between power-struggles over bath time, scrubbing splattered sweet potato from the floor and walls and — how did this happen?– the ceiling, and spending more time with my iRabbit vibrator than I do with my husband, I wonder how my mom made it all look so effortless. As much as I love my family, some days I feel like I stumbled into somebody else’s life. A life of sneakers and sandwiches, of early mornings and sleepless nights. And it was in one of these moments after while listening to Little Homie go all Ike Turner on his toy xylophone (and wishing – Oh God if only — I had a screwdriver to jam in my ears), that I began to fully appreciate how important it must have been for my mom to have her creative identity. Certainly, I don’t know how I would survive without it, which is why I’m writing through to the other side of midnight. Again.

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