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The Moment: A Selection

“Just a Man” by Nadja Cada (audio/video)

Monday, July 9th, 2012

“I looked at her wide-eyed, took the envelope and opened it with care and caution.”

When SMITH Magazine began collecting stories for The Moment, it was important to us to represent a vast array of writers from famous and experienced to obscure and never before published. Lucky for us though, Moments don’t happen strictly to writers– everyone has the capacity to take in and be affected by events in their lives. We were especially delighted to see Moments submitted in all sorts of forms (including illustrations, comics, photographs, hand-written letters and tweets, among others) that reflected the immense diversity within the SMITH creative community.

Nadja Cada is not only a writer and The Moment contributor, but also a student in New Media at Ryerson University’s School for Visual Studies, where her instructor, Ramona Pringle, assigned students to recall a life-changing moment in multimedia form. Here, you can listen to Nadja reading her story, “Just a Man” (published in The Moment) about discovering a letter from her biological father when she was thirteen.

Nadja Cada - “Just a Man”

What’s great is that Nadja used her skills as a media artist to take her Moment tale even further. She created a piece of video art showcasing her father’s actual letter, which you can watch below.

“Someday” by Michael Forster Rothbart (video)

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

“My wife was ready to have a baby. I was not. Sure, I supported the idea in a vague, abstract way–I wanted to have kids just as I wanted to retire to a house on a lake. Someday.”

Recently, Obamacare’s preventive care mandate has reignited major controversy over female reproductive rights. It really wasn’t all that long ago when active family planning was more of a dream than a reality for Americans (Griswold v. Connecticut—the landmark case that upheld the right to martial privacy—wasn’t until 1965!) Perhaps because of this struggle, modern tales about adults waiting until just the right moment to have children are common. We hear fewer about children who come as surprises to their parents and whose births are unexpected. But as Michael Forster Rothbart explains in his piece for The Moment, sometimes children just happen, and sometimes that turns out just fine, too.

Watch “Someday: One Father’s Story” by Michael Forster Rothbart here.

“Hobo Beginnings” by Dale Maharidge (video)

Monday, June 25th, 2012

“None of this would have happened if we’d not hit the rails in 1982. That hobo trip dictated the course of the rest of our professional lives.”

What is somewhat magical (and also frustrating!) about the events that affect the paths of our lives is that they are impossible to predict. Sometimes we don’t even know they’ve passed until years later. When we’re young, this can be hard to imagine. Growing up, many of us are molded to believe that careful planning will guarantee achievement, success and ultimately happiness. In high school, counselors encourage extracurricular activities that will increase our chances of getting accepted into college. In college, we are expected to declare a major that will lead to the right internship, which will in turn land us that first perfect job after graduation. We are told to calculate the exact trajectories of our futures again and again.

But life doesn’t always work that way. Looking back, journalists Dale Maharidge and Michael S. Williamson never predicted that one random assignment for The Sacramento Bee would dictate the rest of their lives. When the two young men hopped on the back of a freight train for a story in the 1980s, they had no idea that this was their Moment, the event that would singularly shape both themselves and their careers. In fact, if you’d asked them back then what their life-changing Moment was they probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you—which reminds me, have you had your Moment yet? Share yours on The Moment project.

“Curtain Call” by Attila Kalamar (audio)

Monday, June 18th, 2012

“When we got to the palace our group lined up to enter the building. I found myself last in line, and as we climbed the stairs, I noticed a bathroom just inside on the left. Swiftly, I walked in alone.”

In 1989, the people of Romania overthrew Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu. For Romanians, the ousting of Ceausescu, known for his brutal and repressive regime, was a drastic change in a country that for half a century had been shut off from the Western world. Ten years earlier, however, during a cruise down the Danube River in 1979, writer Attila Kalamar discovered at the young age of 17 that he’d already had enough of his native Romania. In that moment, he decided to make his own drastic change. Listen to the story here.

“Stage Direction” by Said Sayrafiezadeh (audio)

Monday, June 4th, 2012

“It began with the 39-year-old actor, impressively made up to look ancient, staring out at the audience from behind a desk that held a tape recorder. Above him a lone light bulb dangled. This was succeeded by ten wordless minutes of banana eating that was absolutely hilarious. I laughed aloud in the empty theater.”

When I graduated from college my father congratulated me with a Hallmark card. Inside the card, my father had written a single quote by the late German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.” It isn’t always easy to start shaping the lives we want for ourselves; it takes boldness. In his Moment story “Stage Direction,” a young Said Sayrafiezadeh realizes while standing in the wings of a small Pittsburgh theater that he cannot keep waiting on his dream of building a creative life in New York City. He decides, in that moment, to be bold. He decides to begin. Hear him read his story here.

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