Author: Dori Fern

Choosing Calm Over Chaos Made Me Less of an Asshole Mom

(Image: Isabella Giancarlo) For a long time, I couldn’t relate to mother-daughter relationship drama stories. I was way too preoccupied with an operatic level of paternal drama for that. My father’s attentions, and the absence thereof, consumed my childhood. I was too busy being adored, smacked, screamed at, and gaslighted by my dad to have any emotional space left to hate my mom. My own daughter, Amira, was born 11 days after my 30th birthday. Four and a half years later, my son Lev was born. I did the stay-at-home-mom thing for 10 years, throughout my 30s. My job performance was fair. In the “pro” column: I think I gave my kids pretty good advice about how to stand down bullies. “If someone teases you,” I said, “squint real hard, look totally grossed out and say: ‘Ewww…! What’s that green stuff coming out of your nose?!?’” They both say it never came to that, but I know they knew what I was getting at: Don’t dignify shitty behavior. You’re bigger than that. My temper, however, …

Tears of What, Exactly? Taking My Daughter to College

The crying jags started the day my daughter Amira turned 18.  All of her best girlfriends came over for dinner. They are friends she’s had since elementary school, a couple from high school and a few others from camp who came all the way to Brooklyn from upstate New York and Connecticut just to celebrate her birthday. There was a big strawberry shortcake and a strawberry cheesecake, because I couldn’t decide which one to make, and one of her friends made her a headband with a strawberry on top. Strawberries are her favorite. When Amira blew out the candles, I realized this would likely be the last time all these beautiful, wonderful girls would be together.  Girls I’ve watched grow up into women.  I cried watching her blow out the candles, which was sappy and sentimental and I hate being so… obvious, but I couldn’t help myself. Two months and a day later, Amira left before dawn to drive down to college in New Orleans with her father and stepmother and my son. I hugged her …

Women Who Inspire: Alex Raij

NAME: Alex Raij AGE: 45 OCCUPATION: Chef and owner, Txikito, El Quinto Pino and La Vara WHO SHE IS: As one of few chefs serving innovative-yet-homey Spanish fare in New York, and garnering much praise for it from restaurant critics and customers alike, you’d think Alex Raij would be a more well-known figure, especially in New York City. But unlike many flashier, and often less accomplished, chefs, whose faces get plastered all over the press, Raij has quietly built a mini empire serving a diverse assortment of Spanish cuisine at the restaurants she owns with her husband (and co-chef) Eder Montero including the Basque-themed Txikito and El Quinto Pino, which serves tapas, are both in Chelsea; La Vara, serving Spanish food with Jewish influences, is in Brooklyn. Raij also added “working mom” to her list of more-recent accomplishments: She and Montero have two children under the age of five. WHY SHE INSPIRES ME: As a serious home cook and sometimes-food-media professional, Raij serves exactly the kind of restaurant fare that delights me: warm and personal, yet very seriously top-quality …

My Passion for Purple: Prince, Donny and Me

 In Europe and America, purple is the color most associated with vanity, extravagance, and individualism. Among the seven major sins, it represents vanity. It is a color which is designed to attract attention. Purple is the color most often associated with the artificial and the unconventional. It is the major color that occurs the least frequently in nature… (“Psychologie de la couleur: Effets et symboliques” by Eva Heller) Back around the time I turned double digits, in 1976, I changed my sign-off from “Dori” to “The Purple Princess.” My signature on letters to real and imaginary correspondents, for example, was now Love Always, or Sincerely (or whatever), The Purple Princess. Or even more often, was written over and again and with calligraphic flourish on the myriad scraps of paper also doodled with flowers and hearts and such. This newly-imagined identity was a quiet, pissy rebellion on my part. If I wasn’t going to have a popular name that could be found on pins and belt buckles at roadside gas stations or gift shops – like, …