How Mallory Kasdan, MILK Podcast Host, Spends her Sundays

(A Parody of the NYTimes column about the Sunday Routines of people, but also how I spent my Sunday)

Mallory Kasdan, 45, host of The MILK Podcast: Moms I’d Like to Know, interviews artist, author, and activist moms in her home studio in Dumbo, Brooklyn. On Sundays, she works, tries to get in a nap and do her taxes, and argues with her husband, Evan, over who will take Miles (7) to basketball and Zoe (11) to Barnes and Noble.

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TOO MUCH RED WINE I wake up groggy. It’s daylight savings so the only person who really knows what time it is my phone. I stay in bed until people start yelling from the living room.

NO SELF-CARE I do not meditate at my window with the sun streaming in. I did use the Headspace app for about six months last year, though. Just telling you. 

BREAKFAST Evan is making pancakes for the kids, which is a nice, Sunday-ish thing that he does happily and well.  I think about making a goop-y smoothie with kale, bananas, acai, and coconut oil for myself, but I don’t have any of those ingredients so instead I drink 3 cups of coffee with milk and sugar and then eat my son’s turkey bacon and pancakes off of his abandoned plate.

TWO MINUTES FOR MISCONDUCT I break up a fight the kids are having over charger positioning and threaten them a bunch of times with taking away their devices “for the rest of the day!”

To make up for yelling, I force affection on them with kissing and squishing. I attempt to get them and Evan back into my bed for full family cuddle. It usually works. 

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NEGOTIATION Evan and I try to figure out who will do which activity with which kid and who will get some alone time to work out or go food shopping alone. It is a familiar dance.

PODCAST PREP The kids have Hebrew school from 10 AM – 12PM, and I have a guest coming over for an interview at 10, which of course was planned way in advance, since she’s is a mom with her own weekend negotiation process.

Evan showers while I clean the dishes and encourage, cajole, and threaten Miles and Zoe to get dressed and out the door. Everyone leaves, and the next ten minutes are excellent, peaceful minutes.

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I shower and dress in my MILK uniform: jeans, denim shirt, bun in my hair, hoop earrings and clogs. My guest, Rona Kobell, a high school friend and journalist I’ve reconnected with over Facebook, arrives and we kibbitz for a few minutes. Evan comes back from dropping the kids and helps set up the microphones and sets levels, which is nice of him. He’s a sound guy, which is lucky for me. We jump into my home studio.

MOM JEANS In the interview, we talk a little about mom stuff, just because we have so many other subjects to cover, like high school, gun violence, grief, nostalgia, sex, Aziz Ansari, racism, empathy, privilege, and her reporting. But we show each other pictures of our kids and partners and think super fondly of them because they are not around. This is when, I’ve found, as a mother, you love them the most.

FILM SET NEIGHBORHOOD I take a walk around the neighborhood with Rona and point out all the bizarre things that happen in Dumbo on a Sunday, like photo shoots with ladies in tutus laying on the cobblestones, bakeries where a box of mini petit-fours cost $15, and the crazy amount of selfie sticks on Washington Street. I wonder how I can harness these Instagrammers who clog my street and convince them to follow me.

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Rona gets a Lyft, and I walk by a few parks and see people with their kids and am secretly happy that I’m not them because it looks cold and boring. I head home.

LAZY LUNCH Everyone is home from Hebrew school and eating their various meals. I’m lazy so I eat some hardboiled eggs, some cheese, an apple and a banana – no dishes to do! I make some tea and take it into my woman cave and shut the door, and hope no one will knock on it. Evan takes Miles to basketball and I have no idea what inappropriate show Zoe is watching on her ipad. I decide not to worry – she reads a lot, so what could go wrong?

TAXES/NAP I sit in my office and put together my receipts for taxes. It sucks. I hate it. I come close to finishing, and then I tackle the to-be-filed file, the source of endless fights between me and Evan. I end up throwing away a lot of paper, feel high from the purging, and decide that I’m gonna throw everyone’s clutter away in this house. I’m serious.

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I start to get really tired. Daylight Savings, amiright?

I get in bed and take a really long nap. It’s awesome. All the years my kids were too young to occupy themselves… those were the years I cared what they were doing every minute, when I needed them to be at a museum or a show or an event every weekend. I have paid for these weekend naps and I am cashing in.

FITSPO I force myself to put on work-out clothes. Exercising is like writing. I love having done it, but I obsess over when I’m going to do it and I often wait until the very last minute to get it done. Our building just bought a Peleton, so I go down to our basement and do a really hard ride to classic rock, and I’m relieved no one can see how red and crazy I look.  The teachers are gorgeous and fierce and bang on the handlebars and say “Ungh” in a way that’s simultaneously sexy and athletic. I wonder if they take naps.

Evan is home from Fairway, where he got his podcast listening and food shopping alone time (don’t feel bad for him, yesterday he was on a bike ride from 8 am – 4:30 pm).  He makes the kids put away the groceries. They whine. I force them to shower. They whine more. I pour wine. 

FAMILY DINS Evan and I make dinner – hamburgers, roasted potatoes, broccoli rabe with garlic. It's one of the only meals everyone will eat. We all sit together without devices. After one kid has a fit that I cut her hamburger and the other wants me to cut his hamburger, the kids and Evan watch half of a Harry Potter movie while I clean the dishes. Then I stare at my phone for a bit, encourage, cajole and threaten the kids to get in their pajamas and brush their teeth, and Evan and I get into bed and watch High Maintenance and Homeland. 

I take my Zoloft and call it a Sunday.  

 

 

MILK Guest Post: Teens, Trauma and Grief with Journalist Rona Kobell

In the wake of the Parkland school shooting and student uprising for sensible gun control, a friend from high school, Rona Kobell, wrote a Facebook post about a brutal incident that happened to our classmate when we were 17 years old. I encouraged Rona to write more about the incident that upended our community, and was our first experience with traumatic violence and an unfathomable outcome. Rona and I worked together on the piece last week and talked a lot about where Karen Hurwitz would be today, and what might have happened if the boy who hurt our friend had access to an assault weapon. This collaboration is a re-connection with our once 17 year old selves, and Rona's words add a painful layer to understanding our own vulnerability as mothers.  -- Mallory

**Following the publication of Rona's piece here on MILKpodcast.com, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette published it in their March 3, 2018, edition.

In middle school, I knew a boy who was smart and talented but often very much in his own head. In high school, he got his hands on a weapon he never would have been allowed to bring to school, prepared his attack at the local library, and set out to do something terrible.

 

The weapon was a samurai sword. And he used it, along with a pair of nunchucks, to kill my friend. We lost one friend that day, instead of dozens, because it was a sword and not a gun, and because he went to her house instead of our school. We lost her because a boy was troubled, and obsessed with weapons, and he decided to kill a girl who had been nice to him.

 

It was 1989. She was 17 years old. And in our minds she still is, a curly-haired girl who loved the Rolling Stones and hoped to be a journalist. She never got to be more than our memories of her. He took that from her, from her family, and from us.

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Taylor Allderdice’s class of 1990 mourned Karen Rachel Hurwitz. We went to her funeral, where the rabbi talked about a beautiful light so unfairly extinguished. We read newspaper stories about her killer, whose defense was that he was influenced by the movie A Clockwork Orange. And at the student newspaper we wrote our own stories, agonizing about what to say in conversations that have become familiar in my adult life as a newspaper reporter. We talked about mental illness and movie violence. But mostly, we mourned our friend. We didn’t think about our own safety. Her killer was not a threat to us. He hadn’t come for us. (He is now serving life in prison, a sentence upheld after a couple of re-trials.)

 

But what if he had? What if, instead of a sword, he had a gun? And what if, instead of going to Karen’s home, he had come to our school?

 

People will argue that guns aren’t the problem. It’s the mental state. But a sword can’t kill 17 students in five minutes. A knife can’t do that.

 

I don’t have answers, nor do I have anything particularly insightful to say on gun control that anyone with an Internet connection hasn’t seen a thousand times. But my classmates and I, unfortunately, have something else: We know what it feels like to lose someone, brutally and without warning, at a time when we are still figuring out who we are and will be. In that, we have something in common with the Stoneman students. We are no longer 17; we are in our 40s, seeing our own children off to the bus, hearing about their lockdown drills and about classmates plotting school walkouts. With good concealer, some Spanx, and regular hair maintenance, we can pretend not that much time has passed. Some of us even run a faster mile now than we did then.

 

But time has passed. There is a void at every reunion. More than that, we think of Karen all the time. We think of where we were when we found out, who told us, what we did. (For me, it was my French teacher, and I ran through the empty halls to the journalism room, looking for someone to tell me it wasn’t true.) And we think of her when we have babies of our own, when we win awards or get promotions, when we achieve milestones that she never got to experience. I think of her when I hear Mick Jagger yowl about getting no satisfaction, or when I see a red bathing suit like the one she used to wear to the beach. No matter what else her old classmates endure—bitter divorces, painful addictions, the deaths of our own parents—the day we found out she was murdered will always be one of the worst days of our lives.

 

Taylor Allderdice is not so different from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. Both are excellent public schools that celebrate their diversity and encourage social activism. Their motto is: "Be Positive, Be Passionate, Be Proud to be an Eagle!" Ours is “Know Something, Do Something, Be Something.” Our two most famous alumni are Jeff Goldblum and Wiz Khalifa. Today, portions of the country are still fighting about wedding cakes for gay couples. But in 1990, when two girls wanted to go to our prom together, our student body made sure they could. When I look the Stoneman kids, I see my own daughters, my high school friends, myself. I hear their stories—five of the 17 killed were Jewish—and I think of my own summers at Jewish camp, the long talks about standing up for those with no voice. I’d like to think we were that fierce. But I’m glad no one tested us.

 

I grew up in Pittsburgh but now live outside of Baltimore. I know that, 20 minutes from me, students are surrounded by violence. They lose many Karens—not, perhaps, in the brutal manner that she was killed, but to altercations, accidents, domestic disputes, and sometimes police shootings. High school kids in Baltimore attend many funerals. They’ve been tested, too. Long before Stoneman, students in Baltimore pleaded for their lives, too. And they still are pleading.

 

Karen’s death inspired me to become a police reporter. As I wrote in our school paper just after she died, I wanted to understand why bad things happened to good people. The Hurwitzes are unquestionably good people. Linda Hurwitz, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, was the longtime director of the Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Her father, Dennis, a prominent plastic surgeon, has helped many children suffering from deformities.

 

I can remember the victims in every murder case I covered: Gracie, gunned down in a convenience-store robbery and survived by her husband and beloved three-legged dog; David, whose ex-wife shot him on Christmas Eve in a custody dispute; Tony, a rowdy fellow who had the misfortune of living on the same block as an armed, order-loving former police chief. An NRA spokesman said reporters enjoy covering shootings for the attention they bring; I’d return every byline to bring the victims back. Each felt personal; I’d come home from my shift and turn on Law and Order, to replace the bodies with fictional ones in my head so I could sleep, wishing the real detectives could wrap up cases like Jerry Orbach did.

 

Even after writing about dozens of victims—many of them good people who, like Karen, found themselves in a terrible circumstance—her death still hurt the most. Once, when Karen’s killer was in court for a re-trial, I stopped in for the proceedings, looking for something to help me understand. I found nothing. I’m no closer now to figuring out why bad things happen to good people. Covering more murders did not dull the blunt force of the first one I wrote about. Nothing ever will.

 

My classmates and I think about Karen’s light. But when a deranged man brings a gun into a school, we think about our own mortality. We don’t want to, but that’s where our minds go. In another time, with a different weapon, the lights so unfairly extinguished could well have been our own.

 

Rona Kobell lives north of Baltimore with her husband and two children. A former reporter for the Baltimore Sun and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, her recent work has appeared in Slate, Columbia Journalism Review, Modern Farmer, The Atlantic’s Citylab, Undark and the Washington Post.

 

MILK is Filling Me Up

We are living in crazy ass times, obviously. The tireless outrages of a reckless and racist Administration, sickening abuses exposed every damn day by men in every field, and the isolation of our own minds and anxieties as we sort through the data, trying to put one foot in front of the other. Plus tending to our relationships and families with normal stuff like groceries and viruses and parent teacher conferences and marriage. It’s a lot to manage.  

I cope by laughing with friends on text and sometimes in real life, hugging and squishing my kids as much as they will allow, and with my clichéd, beloved yoga. And MILK, this podcast I’ve been building, has been giving me life in these dark days since just before #prezvoldemort came to reign.

During each interview I record and edit, I learn something new and nuanced about motherhood, about ambition, about creativity, and about how damn competent we are as moms and humans.  I love meeting people I’ve admired from afar, and getting to spend that time in the studio with accomplished authors, activists, and artists is so fulfilling.

me and  MILK episode 3  Novelist Amy Shearn

me and MILK episode 3 Novelist Amy Shearn

It’s also exciting that my audience is growing, and more people are listening. One of the best things about technology is the ease with which content can be now be created and shared. It’s thrilling to record and get these conversations out to you guys right away. The sharing is easy, and the way I hope to grow it further.

When I interviewed Manoush Zomorodi, from the WNYC “Podcast Note to Self” back in October, she asked me if I knew the “other” podcasting mom in our school. No, I did not know Sally Hubbard of “Women Killing It,” but that was easy to remedy. Sally and I had a lunch, made a plan to be on each other’s podcasts, and this week you can hear Sally on MILK HERE.

Sally’s podcast, “Women Killing It,” is Sally interviewing women who are rock stars in their careers, asking them how they got there, and what they do to adapt and grow. An attorney, journalist, expert networker, and all around cool chick, Sally is smart, accomplished and busy as hell and she still makes an episode each week. It is instructive and motivating! Please listen to her interview of me on Women Killing It HERE, and share if you like it.     

Sally, and Manoush, and all of the MILKs so far, have shown me that we need to help each other and build each other up, us women. It’s what we do best, and we do many things well.

I know this little show I make in my apartment isn’t changing things for most, and that most of my guests come from a privileged place, relatively. Most of my guests believe that satisfaction in life and work is attainable because their basic needs are met – and this is not lost on me. But I find it stirring that there are so many stories and people to listen to and learn from, and that when I feel like I’m paralyzed with worry about the state of this planet, I can look to neighbors and friends and friends of friends to see how other women find strength.

Thanks for listening! And please share the MILK.

talking with yoga instructor Amanda Harding on my MILK podcast

This woman is one of my teachers and a major MILK. Amanda Harding, owner of Prema Yoga in Brooklyn is a graceful and beautiful person. 

I know it's cliche to want to know more about your yoga teacher (or therapist!) but I think our talk should be interesting to many. 

We discuss the importance of the mundane, how to create ritual, some of her ideas for stimulating activism in one's community, and coping with anxiety. She's a wonderful mom and person. 

Check it out on iTunes and Stitcher

singer, songwriter Jamie Leonhart is my first guest MILK podcast guest

Today, we meet Jamie Leonhart, the first guest on my inaugural MILK podcast!

Jamie is truly flawless. She is a singer, songwriter, and mom to Milo. She wrote a beautiful piece of theater with original music called Estuary, all about the trauma and beauty of being a mother and an artist. Then she went on stage with her husband, who is also her musical director, and was honest and funny and real with that crazy voice of hers. 

I ❤️our talk. 

Give it a listen on iTunes and Stitcher.