About Me (RIP 3)

Hello, there. I’m Carla.

The only thing I’ve ever wanted to be is a writer. Well, aside from those brief moments where I toyed with the idea of being a midwife, a magazine editor, a policy analyst and a yoga instructor. I have always had a healthy and thriving ability to dream. Ain’t no mountain high enough, right? After a neither long nor short stint in corporate America, here I am – a mother, a writer, a dreamer.

I go to the movies by myself. I read books while I’m walking and never finish ones that don’t hook me from the get go. My grandfather is my rock. Just this year, I learned I’m my sparkliest, shiniest self when I’m surrounded by the brilliance and kindness of others. Dirty Dancing still feels like love at first sight. I’m 32 but still feel like the young woman I was at 16, 21 and all those years in between. My daughters are my breath, the sun, moon, stars.

This blog is where I write my heart out. While I spend my days pouring my love into mothering my daughters, here I abandon myself to writing. This space is for me, who so easily gets lost in the routines and rituals of motherhood, a testament of who I am and who I want to be. It’s for them, my little warrior women, who inhabit my every move – a declaration of the woman I want them to witness.

I hope you’ll stick around to read something. Better yet, I hope you’ll stay and write something along with me.

Heard, Seen, Read

Some favorites I’ve recently heard, seen, and read.

best podcasts for women
Death, Sex, and Money is my favorite podcast in the history of podcasts. Each episode is an intimate listening session that catapults past small talk and deep into the bones of its guests. Host Anna Sale, in my opinion, has the best job in the world. We should all strive to be the kind of listener she is, part therapist, part detective, part story midwife. A few favorites I listened to in January are here, here, and here. The series covering the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was beautiful and made its way straight to my heart.

Anna Faris Is Unqualified is my guilty pleasure of podcasts. When I need my morning or afternoon commute to include lots of laughter, Anna Faris gets the job done. It reminds me of the morning radio shows I listened to growing up – silly, fun, and full of antics. Her latest podcasts with Michael Rapaport, Ike Barinholtz, and Justin Long are tops for me. For the love of all things piss in your pants funny, listen.

Another Round’s interview with Anil Dash (a stranger to me before I listened) is a must listen for anyone who a. is the offspring of immigrant parents and b. loves conversations about diversity. My favorite quote, talking about the TV show ER, “You have a hospital in a major city and you have no Indian people? That’s science fiction.”

And last, but certainly not least, Call Your Girlfriend. They can’t put out new shows fast enough for my taste. I’d list favorites but the truth of the matter is I have yet to listen to an episode I didn’t enjoy. My people, right here.

Clearly, female storytellers are tops for me

movies worth watching
Desert Dancer
Based on true events, this film is tragic and beautiful all at once. It tells the story of a group of young dancers who live in a time and place where dance and self-expression are violently forbidden. I felt this one deep.

I love a good boxing movie. Plus, I’m a big fan of the cast. I grew up on Stallone, Michael B. Jordan has yet to let me down, and after falling in love with Tessa Thompson in Dear White People (totally worth your time), I’m down to support her work.

Scandal Season 2 & 3
I’m a gladiator, what can I say?

Sleeping With Other People
As the romcom queen, this one is a new favorite. It’s smart, well written, and full of characters that feel real (except for one which I have to believe was written to embody all the stereotypes of “men” women lust after for all the wrong reasons). Jason Sudeikis needs to make more movies. And I’m girl crushing on Alison Brie who is fantastic as the leading lady.

Infinitely Polar Bear
Anything I want to say about this is bound to sound over the top. Mark Ruffalo is nothing short of brilliant. Zoe Saldana is tender, hard, and human. I was  mad at myself for not having seen it sooner. I fell so much in love with these characters I didn’t want to see the movie end. Also, the little girls in this are impressive to say the least. They added a layer of fragility to a film already heavy on the vulnerability.

Hello I Must Be Going
Confession: I love myself a movie about life after divorce. This one is subtle, like a raspy whisper. Melanie Lynskey continues to be one of my favorite actresses. Bonus: Blythe Danner tops the list of actresses I’d want to play my mom in a movie.

Z is for Zachariah: I had high hopes for this one but it caught me on an off night; I was multitasking and tired. I’m going to  pick it up again and give it another go. Margot Robbie and Chris Pine really impressed me because their roles were so different from ones they’ve had in the past. Also? Chiwetel Ejiofor, holy talented hotness.

Take Me Home Tonight: The 80s girl in me wanted to be head over heels for this one. It was alright. However, it does remind me of other comedies that haven’t done it for me the first time around but then become addictive after multiple viewings.

Ted 2: I mean, Mark Wahlberg. And Boston. I had to.

When Breath Becomes Air – I knew going in this would be one I couldn’t put down and wouldn’t forget. I was compelled to read it after joining the masses in celebrating the author’s skillful writing and soulful insights in his New York Times article and later in a piece he wrote for Stanford Medicine. I could think of no better way to start off this year than by reading this book. It was an eloquent reminder to live. Also, I have a new and profound respect for anyone, like Mr. Kalanithi, who has a similar passion for their chosen profession and who so entirely devotes themselves to it in pursuit of not just hands on mastery but full bodied understanding of what they’re doing and it’s impact on others.

Carry On Warrior – I started this book last year and just finished it as I ushered in the new year. My copy is a mess; just about every page has long passages, and short ones, covered in orange crayon (my highlighter of choice). I want to make motivational posters of every word in this book. I want to hand this book to every one. It’s made me a better person, or at the very least a. made me aspire to be better and b. aspire to be gentler.

Wildflower – Drew Barrymore has held legend status since I fell in love with her as a young girl. I breezed through this one quickly and imagine it a perfect beach read you can jump in and out of with ease.

Sounds Like Me – I picked this up on a whim after coming across it every where I went. I didn’t really know who Sara Bareilles was until I looked up her music and discovered…oh yeah, I know who she is. Another light read full of wonderful moments that could have come from my life. She’s got a keen way of remembering and capturing her experience and it spoke to the young woman I once was.

Year of Yes – I was ready to love this one hard; but it just wasn’t for me. I like what she had to say but the writing wasn’t for me which was surprising since I love her shows. Having said that, I’m sharing because her message is a powerful one we could all use. And just because the writing isn’t for me doesn’t mean it’s not for you. Sometimes, even though we may need the same guidance, the delivery has to come in its own unique way.

Co-Parenting Through The Holidays

I’m grateful beyond measure for getting divorced but that doesn’t mean life is a breeze now. Despite the gifts divorce has given me, it’s also a challenging, emotionally draining, and isolating experience. My anecdote for this trinity of struggle is to comfort myself with stories. I look for books, movies, blogs, anything to remind me I’m not the first and certainly won’t be the last to get through whatever the current very sucky chapter of divorce is. A lovely side effect of turning to stories is I usually catch an idea which serves my current situation or at least inspires me on how to approach the issue at hand.

This time of year, knee deep into the holiday season, is  a prime example of a time where been-there-done-that and going-through-it-now stories come in handy.

This is our third holiday season as divorced parents. The first was an awkward attempt at reassuring my daughters they’d still be connected to their family and the second was less than ideal. This year looks to be our best effort so far. There is no right way to do things when you’re divorced. What works one year may not work the following year. Priorities and schedules change, relationships shift, and life happens.

The folks over at VProud.TV put together a video about co-parenting during the holidays. It’s the kind of thing I wish I had when we first separated. I’m already taking mental notes for next year (plan early, discuss which traditions mean the most).

When I come across content like this I get a little click happy. A voice inside squeals, “My people!!!!!” and I start clicking around the internet to see what these single moms have to say. If you’re as hungry for single mom voices as I am, you can find the women in this video here, here, here, and here.

If you’re separated or divorced, or maybe your parents were, I’d love to hear how you approach the holidays. Together? Apart? Do you split Christmas day? Do you divide it down to the hour? Does travel play a role? And, here’s a biggie, what’s your strategy for planning? I’m all ears!